Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Re:

Monday, June 25, 2018

Friday, February 23, 2018

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Symphony

Yesterday was what I call a symphony of chaos. A strategy in randomness. A whirlwind of disorder that landed with everything right side up. As I watched Robinson navigate the customs universe of Haiti it was something to behold. He knows his country, his people, and the system that runs it all. His connections are brilliant. As we sat in one place listening to the noise of so many negotiating people, he said to me: ‘I never need to do this’. The dear friend that is doing all the footwork for us is a very powerful and smart woman, but she has had to go all over the place getting our documents stamps and properly verified. I said to Robinson one time as she was walking away from us, she is really sweating. He said, she is really working hard! I knew in that moment that without her, there is no way we would get our trailers for days.  In the midst of this activity I purchased new mattresses for our orphan boys beds, their old ones are really worn out. Stuff here is terrible in quality, and the boys are a little rough. On the way to the house I asked Rob how we could get rid of the old ones and he said, someone will need them. I cringed on the inside. But then I remembered the woman I have noticed each day who spends hours sitting or sleeping on a concrete ledge on the street corner close to the Mission house. Sometimes she was naked, sometimes clothed, and I realized she would not even notice the condition of the mattress compared to what she has now. Rob said they have a song in Haiti, whatever you don’t need or want, someone else will. He went on to say it’s the same with people. If there is someone you don’t think you can use, someone else will. How out of sorts does our thinking get. We are a country that proclaims tolerance, and yet divisions abound. 70 churches here in St. Marc work together for a city wide evangelization one time a year, on so many levels this is profound. When I asked Robinson about the differences in the churches, he said we need to set those aside for the greater mission. How quickly we race to judgement on what divides us rather than entertain discussion and forward momentum on what unites us. The woman who is such close friends with Rob is a Seventh Day Adventist, but they way they get along with each other one would suppose they were brother and sister. Back to the symphony, as we tumbled through all the minor cords, all the confusion and chaos, something amazing began to emerge, out of all the twists and turns of the day, we were getting our trailers. The day they came off the ship they come into our hands. Someone recently challenged me on how God does all he does. I was reminded of a saying my Great grandpa used to repeat, 'a God comprehended is no God at all'. We received the trailers into our care after the dock was closed, all the offices were closed, and people were staying around to make our shipment release happen. It’s a miracle people. You may have wondered were the post was last night. Well, we never stopped working all night long. The symphony had a crescendo that landed with me and Robinson at the police station at midnight with them having confiscated the license plate of the Toyota over a parking issue on the street while we unloaded the larger trailer. I was out of my mind with disgust. When you have been in Haiti for ten years and witnessed the kind of parking violations I have that have lasted years, yes, I mean years, take for instance a broken down car parked in front of Rob’s house for years with dogs dying under it. I was ready to give them a piece of my mind. But grace prevailed and I waited for an hour in the Toyota while Rob worked with the police inside the station. I had given him $100 to pay them off, when he finally came out and told me what went down, I was ashamed of myself. His gracious and truthful demeanor along with telling them of the day and his work, ended up with him with his license plate back for free. As he was leaving he said to them all, I am Pastor Robinson Louis and I want to thank you for your good service in the town. Eyes bugged and arms flew up, and shame stormed through the room. They exclaimed to him he should have told them he was a pastor. He said there was no reason to do that, that he was human and was capable of mistakes. They were astounded by his response and told him they were sorry. I think this will be news in town today. It was humor laced with incredible grace. It was a reminder how God takes the chaos and confusion of our often sorry decisions and renders them into a stunning symphony of angelic proportions. As I stood in the darkness at around 12:45 am this morning at the new church property with the new trailer parked on it, I looked up at the star studded sky and couldn’t help but wonder at the accomplishment of the day in spite of everything that had gone wrong, much more had gone right. I won’t lie, I’m exhausted today, at the end of the busiest last day in Haiti ever, but it’s a good feeling. A couple days and we’ll all be fine. It’s been another great trip. Blessings from between St. Marc and home.  

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Frozen

I am currently on a plane part way between Miami and Chicago. Our trip is quickly coming to a close. We finished out our last full day in Haiti well last night although I must admit that it turned out differently than I had planned. We all crawled out of our bug tents, got ready for the day, ate breakfast, cleaned up the mission house and got to the orphanage by 9:30. The kids had made sure to inform me that they wanted us to come early in the morning so we could have lots of time together. Everyone had known that it was birthday party day. It is something we've been doing for at least a couple of years now. Our best laid intentions of spending the day playing were vetoed by said party though. The whole place, children included were happily running around cleaning and cooking. You could feel the buzz of excitement vibrating throughout the entire household. Instead of the nice and calm day we had been expecting, we all quickly got sucked into the vortex of preparations for home, preparations for the party, unexpected and last minute tasks and all while trying to handle the idea of leaving. Dad, Lee and Pat spent a great deal of the day working hard to get the trailer off of the docks. Deloris and Mom were busy and hard at work organizing the storage room, taking inventory, passing out the rest of the goods we had brought in the suitcases, as well as tons of other things most people are unaware have to be done on these trips. Abigail and Kelly were rocking it out helping to cook all the food with the Haitian ladies for the party. Emma, Caeli and myself spent hours in a deathly hot kitchen, pouring over 12 giant banners with each of the kids names on them. Our extremely talented Caeli had drawn their names in beautiful lettering for the children to decorate and hang on the walls for their birthday party. It backfired a bit on us this year because they ended up begging us to decorate them because they wanted them to be perfect. So we stood, bent over a table with crayons and paints, drawing everything from flowers and frogs to planets and soccer balls all over these banners. Partway through the afternoon, I could feel tensions getting high. The pressure of getting everything done, spending time with the kids, getting the trailer, not having a translator around and creating a magical party for the children was getting to many if not all of us in different ways. However, everyone pulled together the frayed ends of our emotions and plowed through. Dad and Rob got the trailers off the docks and the house became an even bigger bustle of activity as many hands started bringing every kind of good imaginable and filling nooks and crannies all over the house. The ladies worked themselves to the bone to get all these important but extremely monotonous and tiring jobs finished up. Every table surface in the house was soon filled with bowls and platters of rice, beans, chicken, goat, noodles, plantains and many other things that Abigail and Kelly helped bring to fruition. The living room and kitchen were transformed into a Frozen winter wonderland/ Avengers superhero dream land  with everyone's beautiful names acting as a rainbow wallpaper affect in the background. It all fell into place. Our party started much later than planned but the smiles on these kids faces was worth every drop of sweat and every frustration felt throughout the day as they sat listening to Dad tell them why we do these birthday parties. Because we are celebrating the day God placed them on this earth and into our lives. To celebrate how special they are, how important they are and how loved they are. Let me tell you, if you've never been in a room full of children that everyone else has written off as hopeless causes, children who have suffered more in their short lives than most, children with all the odds stacked against them, and tell them the exact opposite of those things... it is an indescribable kind of joy and heartache. We sang, they blew out the candles on their cake, opened their gifts (dolls for the girls and remote control cars for the boys), we ate dinner, passed out Coca Cola bottles for everyone, took pictures with photo booth props, played pin the tail on the donkey, played an intensely wonderful game of 'balloon keep away' with 30 balloons filling the small room and ate cake. It was truly wonderful. Rob and dad had more work to do with the trailer after that even though it was getting late. Us girls all voted to stay at the orphanage even though we didn't know when they would finish and be back to take us to the mission house. I am really grateful that we did that. Those last few hours with the kids were precious. I spent most of it sitting on the floor of the kitchen playing clapping games and talking with the kids. I am not even close to fluent in the language but the kids and I have figured out a simplistic but effective way of communicating back and forth about most things that kids want to talk about. Last nights topic of conversation was all about not wanting us to go. Dina and Otelson gave me a whole list of people they would like for me to bring next time I come. They begged for us to stay another month, another week and finally just one more day. I tried to play along, tease back and smile all while holding my overwhelming emotions at bay. Vladimir fell asleep on my lap and our oldest girl, Liline, who is trying so hard to act and feel grown at the difficult age of 14, leaned curled against me crying for over an hour. I don't even begin to know how to explain this to anyone. I love these kids as much as I can imagine loving my own children someday. They are literally pleading with me not to leave them. Begging me. What do you say to them? I still haven't figured that out. Not sure I ever will. I don't know what God's plan is yet but I was reminded strongly last evening that He is not done with me in Haiti. I don't know why He has called me to this or allowed me to be here but as I went to kiss 13 year old Dina who was sitting on the stairs, goodbye, she wrapped her arm around me, pulling me close and whispered in my ear 'Krystle, please. Everyone else can go home to Michigan but please don't leave. Stay here with me.'. Ugh. I choked back my own sobs and kept them buried deep in my heart as each of them in turn clung to me. No words. We didn't leave until close to 1am. We got back to the mission house to pack, shower and be ready to leave at 4am. The most sleep any of us got before being up again was about 30 minutes. No one seemed to care in the longer scheme of things. Our travels thus far today have been smooth and without any unforeseen difficulties. Prayers for a successful and uneventful finish to home. Also, for a smooth transition to getting back home and jumping back into life. This is something I particularly struggle with. It is never easy for me to switch back and forth. My heart longs and aches for both and it always seems to be a losing battle. 

I don't write my posts to sound beautiful, to have perfect grammar, to have profound thoughts or anything else of the kind. They are written to be raw and straight from my heart and hopefully give the tiniest glimpse of what this journey looks and feels like for those who can't be there. I want to thank each of you for reading, supporting, encouraging and praying. You are a very important part to this ministry. Blessings to all from 30,000 feet and somewhere between both of my homes. 


Krystle 

Monday, October 30, 2017

Panic

Another day down. Today was church day which means morning came earlier than our already early mornings. I have decided to tell a truth in this post... for several reasons which I hope to pull into collective thoughts as I continue writing. I have felt that because I have grown up in a Christian home, because I have a personal relationship with Jesus and because I voluntarily go on these trips, that I should just adore Sunday's and going to church while here. Here is the truth though... it is the part of the trip I dread most and is only trumped by one other thing which is leaving. Now, before anyone freaks out, let me explain myself. It is not the act of going to church that I dislike. It is everything that goes with it and piles together, making it feel completely overwhelming. Lack of sleep followed by an early morning. Trying to apply make up that keeps dripping down your face with beads of sweat. Taming manes of frizzy and partially wet hair into something presentable. Stuffing swollen feet into dress shoes. Scarfing down granola bars and cups of coffee. Riding on the back of the Toyota in dress clothes trying to remain unscathed by the dust and dirt we are surrounded by. When you finally pull up to the church gate, you have to crawl over, under, and through scores of people and children, only to be led across the platform in front of the entire congregation to the benches they have recently cleared of people for us. The service starts with singing which is always enjoyable but just a few minutes in, there is so much body heat being produced that the feeling of suffocation becomes a reality. We have a fan... but you can be guaranteed that half of the team is not getting air at any given time. The culture and way of worship is beautiful and inspiring but at the same time, completely different from what most people would be accustomed to. You don't understand one word being said for the first two hours. Your one comfort is when mothers hand you their babies or little ones come up asking to be held... it gives me a momentary sense of purpose but the extra bodies only add to the feeling of death by lack of air. Then comes the moment we have all been waiting for... the one that has left the younger half of this crowd feeling nauseated and stressed out of our minds. We are asked to come onto the platform and 'introduce' ourselves which actually means they would like to hear something personal and meaningful. I talk often about how grateful I am, but when it comes to this situation, I am beyond grateful for a translator as amazing as Claudy who makes us sound good even as we stumble through our introductions. Skip ahead a few hours and I am once again using Claudy's talents to speak with one of my best friends here in Haiti. It's been a difficult year for both of us but he has so few resources to help him and I want to be there for him in whatever way I can. I asked him a question which I have been pondering myself for some time recently. 'What do you want out of life?'. His answer was simple, direct and honest. He knows what he wants. He knows how to get it. He is extremely bright with one of the best personalities a person can be in possession of and unending amounts of talent and potential. He has to take those steps towards what he wants out of this life. His struggles and pain are real. None of these little things we find ourselves complaining about. My heart broke as he poured out his heart to me, tears quietly slipping from his eyes and down his face as he described the horror that is currently his life. I told him he is more loved than he can possibly imagine and that this is just a chapter in his story. There were lots of hugs and tears and 'I love you's' passed around and I felt a piece of my heart slip back into place. He thanked me and told me how much I mean to him but he has no idea that I was given as much help this afternoon by him. My challenge for him was to attend church on Sunday's for the month of November. I told him that even if it's uncomfortable, even if he doesn't feel anything from God, even if the whole thing seems severely uncomfortable, just to show up and be there. See what God does from there. I laughed at myself afterwards because I gave the exact advice I needed to hear. It was a stressful morning getting ready but I was ready on time. I felt like death through part of the service but I got to hold some precious kids who needed me in that moment. I had made myself practically ill over speaking in front of a crowd but I did it... and I actually spoke pretty well as did the rest of the team. I heard a great and uplifting message from my father. As the service ended, I had streams of people approach me for greetings, hugs, kisses and pictures. And you know what? I looked decent enough in my photos. It was actually a pretty fantastic morning. God blessed me in a huge way just for going through the motions this morning exactly as I later told my dear friend would happen for him. I swear God has a killer sense of humor. It was a fantastic reminder for me today that sometimes, you just keep going. You don't have to understand how or why. You don't have to be happy or feel capable. Sometimes you just put one foot in front of the other and trust in the fact that God will lead the way. I have more to share about our day but it will have to wait for another blog, as this one is already much too long! Love and blessings to all who are following this amazing journey. 


Krystle 

Taming

Another day down. Today was church day which means morning came earlier than our already early mornings. I have decided to tell a truth in this post... for several reasons which I hope to pull into collective thoughts as I continue writing. I have felt that because I have grown up in a Christian home, because I have a personal relationship with Jesus and because I voluntarily go on these trips, that I should just adore Sunday's and going to church while here. Here is the truth though... it is the part of the trip I dread most and is only trumped by one other thing which is leaving. Now, before anyone freaks out, let me explain myself. It is not the act of going to church that I dislike. It is everything that goes with it and piles together, making it feel completely overwhelming. Lack of sleep followed by an early morning. Trying to apply make up that keeps dripping down your face with beads of sweat. Taming manes of frizzy and partially wet hair into something presentable. Stuffing swollen feet into dress shoes. Scarfing down granola bars and cups of coffee. Riding on the back of the Toyota in dress clothes trying to remain unscathed by the dust and dirt we are surrounded by. When you finally pull up to the church gate, you have to crawl over, under, and through scores of people and children, only to be led across the platform in front of the entire congregation to the benches they have recently cleared of people for us. The service starts with singing which is always enjoyable but just a few minutes in, there is so much body heat being produced that the feeling of suffocation becomes a reality. We have a fan... but you can be guaranteed that half of the team is not getting air at any given time. The culture and way of worship is beautiful and inspiring but at the same time, completely different from what most people would be accustomed to. You don't understand one word being said for the first two hours. Your one comfort is when mothers hand you their babies or little ones come up asking to be held... it gives me a momentary sense of purpose but the extra bodies only add to the feeling of death by lack of air. Then comes the moment we have all been waiting for... the one that has left the younger half of this crowd feeling nauseated and stressed out of our minds. We are asked to come onto the platform and 'introduce' ourselves which actually means they would like to hear something personal and meaningful. I talk often about how grateful I am, but when it comes to this situation, I am beyond grateful for a translator as amazing as Claudy who makes us sound good even as we stumble through our introductions. Skip ahead a few hours and I am once again using Claudy's talents to speak with one of my best friends here in Haiti. It's been a difficult year for both of us but he has so few resources to help him and I want to be there for him in whatever way I can. I asked him a question which I have been pondering myself for some time recently. 'What do you want out of life?'. His answer was simple, direct and honest. He knows what he wants. He knows how to get it. He is extremely bright with one of the best personalities a person can be in possession of and unending amounts of talent and potential. He has to take those steps towards what he wants out of this life. His struggles and pain are real. None of these little things we find ourselves complaining about. My heart broke as he poured out his heart to me, tears quietly slipping from his eyes and down his face as he described the horror that is currently his life. I told him he is more loved than he can possibly imagine and that this is just a chapter in his story. There were lots of hugs and tears and 'I love you's' passed around and I felt a piece of my heart slip back into place. He thanked me and told me how much I mean to him but he has no idea that I was given as much help this afternoon by him. My challenge for him was to attend church on Sunday's for the month of November. I told him that even if it's uncomfortable, even if he doesn't feel anything from God, even if the whole thing seems severely uncomfortable, just to show up and be there. See what God does from there. I laughed at myself afterwards because I gave the exact advice I needed to hear. It was a stressful morning getting ready but I was ready on time. I felt like death through part of the service but I got to hold some precious kids who needed me in that moment. I had made myself practically ill over speaking in front of a crowd but I did it... and I actually spoke pretty well as did the rest of the team. I heard a great and uplifting message from my father. As the service ended, I had streams of people approach me for greetings, hugs, kisses and pictures. And you know what? I looked decent enough in my photos. It was actually a pretty fantastic morning. God blessed me in a huge way just for going through the motions this morning exactly as I later told my dear friend would happen for him. I swear God has a killer sense of humor. It was a fantastic reminder for me today that sometimes, you just keep going. You don't have to understand how or why. You don't have to be happy or feel capable. Sometimes you just put one foot in front of the other and trust in the fact that God will lead the way. I have more to share about our day but it will have to wait for another blog, as this one is already much too long! Love and blessings to all who are following this amazing journey. 


Krystle