Friday, June 21, 2013

the God of angel armies

This morning, I was able to worship among friends from my Atlanta church family. This past week, a team of single leaders from Buckhead Church made their way to Bohoc - and opened their hearts and arms to me. They spent the week pouring into our community - - emptying themselves. It was evident that they spent the week loving well. I went to say goodbye and stayed for worship and devotions - I listened to a friend, a leader and a man of God remind them that they are all part of one body, each one important. Before they left I told them that they were important to me - their light, their freshness, their desire to be givers of the Gospel. I said it with much less grace, and many more tears - but I think they understood. 
I've said it many times before…"Being light is darkness is hard." Their light, your light - renews me on this journey. We sang a new song [for me at least - not a lot of "new releases" here in central haiti] and I was so grateful for the reminder that not only do I have pray warriors at home but God and His angel armies always by my side.
The battle cannot be lost. 
Thank you Jesus for so many reminders of your love this week. 

I know Who goes before me
I know Who stands behind
The God of angel armies
Is always by my side
The One who reigns forever
He is a Friend of mine
The God of angel armies
Is always by my side

And nothing formed against me shall stand

You hold the whole world in Your hands
I’m holding onto Your promises
You are faithful
You are faithful
You are faithful 

Monday, June 10, 2013

when it rains, it pours...in my bedroom

To be perfectly honest, most of the time my life in Haiti just seems ordinary. It's nothing special or unique, it's just my life. However, an event this weekend caused me to reflect on a few of the…stranger things that have happened in the past six months. 

On Christmas day, a chicken was slaughtered just outside my house and then de-feathered in my kitchen (it wasn't even for me).

One day, I was in my outhouse when part of the "box" that makes the seat, just caved in. 

This morning, a moth fell in my coffee and I just spooned it out and took a sip (this is certainly not the first time something like this has happened).  

I spent this past Saturday morning on fairly ordinary tasks, hand-washing some clothes, cleaning my water filter, grading papers - then around 3:30pm we had our second pretty bad storm in a week (it's rainy season, so it rains nearly every day - but bad storm = excess rain, downed trees and holes in my roof). Last week, I had a fairly small but menacing hole in my roof, in my dining area. I squeegeed out my house, Colin fixed the hole and we all moved on with life. Until this Saturday's storm, when it started raining IN MY BEDROOM.





I know, it doesn't necessarily look that bad, but the initial crash christened everything in my bedroom and the ensuing downpour sufficiently flooded it. Thankfully, the rain stopped soon after the branch became a new chandelier and the clean-up process began.

So, next time you buy chicken from the grocery store, sit in a bathroom, drink non-mothed coffee and endure a rain storm…think of me and the time I needed to wear a raincoat in my bedroom. 

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

body of Christ


What, then, shall we say in response to this? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own son, but gave him up for us all - how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things?
Romans 8:31-32

This morning my devotion gave me this verse - and after my weekend away, it said everything I felt. 

Graciously gives us all things. 

My tired, frustrated, confused self was fed beyond what I could have imagined. Graciously given so much. Fed literally, figuratively, spiritually. I flew into Port-au-Prince Friday afternoon with MAF, and as we entered the city and flew just over the coast to the runway I felt my spirit inexplicably open-up. It was just the beginning. I would like to say none of the physical things gave me rest or sabbath, but the truth is they did. An air conditioned vehicle, gathering at a table to eat among friends, grocery stores & restaurants, oscillating fans, warm showers - - God used these gifts to refresh my weary bones. My greatest refreshment was in my company of course. Friends who have walked through this season of life with me, who are walking through the same kind of season - we shared joys and sorrows, disappointments and hopes. We talked and talked and talked. In English. About Haiti, about God, about heart matters. 

The fuzzy picture in my brain began to sharpen. The image in the mirror cleared, I stood in the bathroom Monday morning looking at my reflection thinking "Oh, there she is, there's the girl I lost."

This might surprise you, because as a missionary I should share the joys, the success the big beautiful God moments- and I assure you there are so many. So, so many. But they come at a price. God is here, God is big but He never promised it would be easy, and my friends, it is not. It is hard.  I have poured and poured and poured, not for my own benefit but for others, for God - and I do not regret one moment. I have not let God pour back into me though. Maybe I have thought others need Him more - but He has no limits. Maybe I have just been to tired to do anything but empty out my brain of all of it. I have lacked to ask Him for refreshment because I am spending all my energy asking for relief - for myself and for my neighbors. For my brothers and sisters. This weekend though, refreshment arrived, is still arriving. And as I reflected on God giving me grace for sometimes doing this thing wrong, I began to think about the refreshment I felt. It was not just a weekend away that did the trick. Not the environment or company alone - but it has been slowly revealing itself for a while now. In fact, refreshment has never left me. God was pouring into my very closed up vessel all long, you know why?

Becasue of YOU - -

 and Him, of course. The Holy Spirit prays for us when we cannot.  But, YOU, your prayers carried me through when I felt lost. Certain of where I was and what I was doing - because I know I am in God's will - but still feeling lost (it's a strange place to be). In that lostness, in that desert, your prayers carried me. They carried me each step my tired aching feet took. They are carrying me now. Your prayers have been the life running though my veins when I didn't know how to face the next plight of third-world life. Those prayers allowed me to do the work God called me too. Pray warriors, you are more a part of my journey than you know. You give hugs, prayers, comfort, money, time, energy each and every day. We are the body of Christ, and while I am his hands and feet in rural Haiti, you are the body willing the rest of me to move forward. 

Thank you for carrying me. Thank you for healing me. 

God has done so much in my little life in these almost 6 months. He us changing my heart in ways I didn't know possible. He is teaching me why he created me. He had to empty me to get me there - but His ways are perfect - and He has never left me - you have never left me. I am surrounded by love even when I am alone. 

Now, as I figure out what's next, as I decipher this plan He is setting in motion I ask that you continue to pray. Pray that I give, give and give more. I can, if you pray. Together, we can serve the people of Haiti - with Christ, the sick can be healed, souls can be won and hearts mended. I see it everyday, thank you for being a part of it. 

A mountain top view of Port-auPrince

Saturday, April 27, 2013

April Newsletter

April happens to be one of my favorite months of the year - and this one was not a disappointment! School is back in full swing and my 11th grade class is keeping me on my toes. At the end of March we hosted medical clinics with a doctor who visits regularly. It was a blessing to assist at these clinics and to pray with many of patients. In addition, we hosted a team this month, which kept us very busy. The team arrived on my birthday, and I was grateful to have new friends around. 
With the team visit we were able to work in a morning at a primary school. This was kind of a trial to see how we could work young children's ministry into team visits. Often, visiting teams want to interact with children, and in doing so through schools in the community we are able to enhance what is already there (and VBS isn't an option during the school year). First we shared a preschool version of the Gospel, then the children colored in Christian coloring books. Later we played in the school yard with bubbles, mini frisbees and airplanes! It was a great opportunity to show God's love. I'm excited to see where this will lead us with preschool teacher training . We also hosted two amazing conferences with the team. One conference was for youth and the other for adults, each was divided by gender. God broke down some big barriers and we saw some amazing things happen in our women's conferences. There was a particularly touching moment with my language tutor and God has opened up some doors for our conversations. Please be in prayer about our relationship and how we can grow closer to God together. 
I've also spent a lot of time at the hospital over the past month - not for me! Through a series of events HAFF became involved in the life of a family new to the area. A mother and her four children moved to Bohoc in December. One child has a medical condition that requires much attention. In order to pinpoint the right treatment we spent a lot of time at the hospital for testing. The hospital in Pignon (which is pretty close to what you might imagine a third world hospital to be) started to become a second home for us all. We were grateful to meet some really wonderful doctors and nurses and currently have a course a treatment - the next few months will determine if it is working. I've grown very close to this family and love them dearly. I see God working in their lives and I am so grateful to be a part of their story. Please be in prayer for this family of five. Pray for healing and the finances needed to care for them. If you would like more information, please send me a email. 
I also have some other BIG NEWS! Due to a variety of factors we've made some adjustments to my time here in Haiti. As of now, I will be coming back to the States on July 25th for about eight weeks. Then I will return to Haiti for the Fall semester (which begins in October) and stay through early December, heading home in time for the holidays. This way I will have spent a full Spring and Fall semester teaching. With school out and the Wilson's in the States on furlough during those same eight weeks, I wouldn't have much work to do here - so we decided it would be best for me to visit home too. My budget is able to cover most of those extra months, but am accruing some additional travel costs - if you feel led to help please send me a personal email. I am so excited to be home during some of the Summer and reunite with so many of you! By that point I hope to know a little bit more about my future plans. I would love your prayers that God continues to guide me in the path He has for me.

As always, thank you for your continued prayers and support. I hope each of you has a blessed Spring and I'll see you in July!

God Bless,
April 

Prayer Requests For Me
-The Wilson family will be in the States for the month of May, please pray for their travel and also for my time being the only American at HAFF
- In May I'll travel to Port-au-Prince for a weekend to stay with some friends. Please pray for safe travel and a relaxing/renewing time
- Continued guidance in how I should be used in the primary school program
- Strong relationships with the high schoolers I teach
- Finances to cover new travel expenses

Prayer Requests for HAFF
- The HAFF stateside board meeting on May 4th
- Financial support to pour in so that we can give much deserved raises to our staff
- Each member of our Executive Committee as they balance a commitment to HAFF and personal responsibilities
- The spiritual lives of our teachers and students at IPB


Working with my 11th graders

Derold playing with frisbees at the primary school.

With our visitors from Iowa after a hike!

Two girls from the family I refer to above. During one of
of our many sessions of "hurry up and wait". 

Monday, April 15, 2013

a wall

To know me well, is to know my love for rich tradition. 

I am forever wanting to participate in traditions -to be bonded with people through these ancient rituals. If there isn't a tradition, I will work to create one. I do embrace change, but I yearn for traditions that will live through change after change - after change. 

So, it is no surprise that my absolute favorite author is a former Jew, who fell in love with Jesus after years of being deeply devoted to Judaism. To me, her Jewish past permeates most of what she writes - I love learning about these traditions, I am hungry for her words - but more than the beauty of ancient traditions she knows there is freedom in Jesus. Her words help me find balance in yearning for the steadiness of tradition - but knowing Jesus is steady enough on His own.

I just began reading her most recent book, Still: Notes on a Mid-Faith Crisis

She finds herself in the "middle" of her faith - past her conversion - past the place of being ravenous for Jesus - she talks of a place many of us know. Maybe you call it a "rut". It's hard to believe I could be in a "rut" living in Haiti - but I think, here I am...at a wall. 

Lauren Winner writes this about the glory road that led her to Jesus

"... I thought that road would carry me forever. I didn't anticipate that, some years in, it would carry me to a blank wall, and at that wall a a series of questions: do I just stand here staring at this wall? Do I go over? Under? Do I turn around and retrace my steps?"

I hoped, that in the days after reading these words I would find answers about the wall - find something meaningful to say about Jesus carrying me over the wall - which I know, He inevitably will. But, just knowing I am at a wall doesn't mean I know anything about the wall. 

Later, Winner writes about advice given from one of her friends, who said this:
"one of God's gift to some of us is just not to be immediate, so that we have to undergo the kind of discipline necessary to have what others seem to have effortlessly." Winner follows this advice by writing "This is something of a comfort."

A comfort it is. Staring up at this wall, wondering what to do about it. Do I even go over it at all? Do I possibly stop at this wall...? Asking these questions, I know God is there. He is working. I am waiting - trying to listening - but sometimes plugging my ears with useless nonsense. I am looking, but often blinding myself with "I wants". 

No divine answers have reigned from heaven - but this I know - He is working on my stubborn, selfish heart and He loves me still.

I don't know what to do about this wall - but He does. 

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

turn your eyes

Turn your eyes upon Jesus
Look full in His wonderful face
and the things of earth will grow strangely dim
in the light of His glory and grace

I must have sang it hundreds of times yesterday, over and over again. Holding the hand of a brave 11 year old, soothing a crying baby boy, cradling a sleeping 5 year old, cuddling a sick 8 year old. Singing and praying over their little lives was all I could do while we spent 8 hours in the hospital. Hours of waiting, crying, sweating, hunger, shots, shots and more shots. This day could seal their fate. These test results potentially mean life or death. Not value though. Those little eyes, so full of potential, if they turn to Jesus - - look full into His wonderful face - the challenges of this life will grow dim and they'll light up with His glory and grace.

It was a long day of waiting [but, oh what a chance to give Christ's love]. Now, we wait more. Wait for results, wait for God to work. Wait for His answers. Doing for one what we wish could be done for everyone - doing for one, what I wish didn't have to be done at all. 

Saying "yes" to Jesus in this season of life has turned out to be more painful than I had imagined. It's taken me to some dark places, the only light seems to be a pin hole at the end of of a long tunnel - and I find myself running in the wrong direction. But - - when I stop, slow down, reflect, spend time pouring my love out, looking to Him each moment, the light grows and grows and grows.

Even in hours that could have been full of darkness, His light found us. His light filled us up and knitted our hearts together for the duration of whatever is ahead. 

Saturday, March 30, 2013

March Update


The month of March has been a busy one - a month of adventures - and a month of many lessons.
This month I am just barely getting my newsletter out in time! Last week a doctor who regularly visits HAFF was here and we were busy with clinics. Earlier this month I was able to briefly see two Atlanta friends - one working in Port-Au-Prince came North to the Central Plateau and another led a short-term team of college students to Bohoc. These reunions were true blessings from God. Due to visa issues I also needed to cross over to the Dominican Republic for an overnight trip - so I had a much need "mini-vacation". God fed my soul over and over again this month - - and I am so grateful. 

March began with a testing period for our students. I coordinated with our Haitian English teacher to prepare the exam for our 11th graders - and did my best to make sure they were prepared. Currently the students are on break through Easter, but when they return in April we will hit the ground running again. This break from school made time for a few other things. Carla WIlson and I are working very hard to produce everything we need to get a new school partnership program off the ground. I look forward to sharing more about this program with you soon!

In addition to teaching and helping with writing projects here at HAFF  - we are continually seeking the Lord's will in what other projects I should be involved with. Several ideas have come and gone but God has not opened those doors yet. After being in the classroom with 11th and 12th graders I discovered I needed to learn more about their educational background to better serve them.  The Wilsons and I decided that for a couple hours on Monday mornings I would spend time visiting primary schools. We have several in the area, and HAFF's students usually come from these schools. In addition to understanding the life of my Haitian students better, hopefully these visits will serve our Primary Teacher Training Program. This program helps teachers to understand and apply the national curriculum, methodology, and how to integrate Biblical principles into their lessons. It is my hope that I can apply my knowledge of child development and preschool education in this program. All primary schools offer at least two years of preschool and these teachers are usually the least trained. I hope to help them create a better learning environment where children are empowered and learn to love school. In April, we also hope to integrate a visiting team into our primary school program. I believe exciting students about school early, is one of the best ways we can bring change to the education system in Haiti. Please pray for how God would have this unfold and the best ways to present new information to eager teachers.

As Spring approaches (although it feels like early Summer here in Haiti), things will continue to pick-up speed. I'll do my best to update my blog with all the newest information. Please feel free to email me with any questions!

Happy Easter & God Bless,
April

"You are looking for for Jesus the Nazarene, who was crucified. He has risen! He is not here."

Prayer Requests
For Me: 
- Guidance in how I should be used in the primary school program
- Strong relationships with the high schoolers I teach, particularly breaking down the walls of some of the girls
- Comfort in being away from family & friends - and making new friends here
- Continued prayer for language learning

For HAFF:
- For God to raise up more financial support this year
- Wisdom for the Executive Committee in decision making
- Each member of our Executive Committee as they balance a commitment to HAFF and personal responsibilities
- The spiritual lives of our teachers and students at IPB

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Stories of God's provision, indoor plumbing - and grapes

Life in Haiti has picked up speed recently. We're working hard to get a new project off the ground - making sure the HAFF blog stays updated - I had tests to grade from our first term - I spent my first day in a Haitian hospital as my new friend Gerald prepared for a long awaited surgery - and I went to the Dominican Republic this week. 
And now, I have a terrible cold. 

My friend, Emily is working in an orphanage in Port - and I began following the story of her friend Gerald months ago. Despite being in the capital city, the surgery he needed brought him four hours North, to our region. Emily and Gerald picked me up on their way into town and I spent the day experiencing a little of what Emily has been doing for so long now.  It was an eye opening experience - but mostly a heart warming one, as I watched the tender friendship that has developed between Emily & Gerald - and the gentleness the visiting doctors used when treating this boy who has experienced so much pain. Despite the conditions of a third world hospital - God allowed me to see through His eyes - I could have seen so much pain and disparity - but I saw His love, His gentleness and His healing displayed by people who love Him. 
I also used a flush toilet for the first time in 3 months at the hospital, so there's that. 

With Emily near the home God provided for her to stay in
during her time in Pignon. 


That was last week, this week my in Caribbean adventure,  I crossed over to the DR. Haiti only allows you to be in country, as a tourist, for 90 days and yesterday, marked my 90 days. Since I'm not ready to apply for a permanent visa (a long and expensive process) we researched all of the other options and discovered an overnight boarder crossing was the best way to ensure I would not displease any Haitian or American officials. Thankfully a couple we know needed to go too, she is American and needed to cross and he is Haitian and knows Spanish - a major, actually a necessary plus. So Monday morning, we set out on the very bumpy 4-ish hour drive and eventually crossed over into 2nd world status. You simply cross a bridge - and enter a different World. Suddenly - air conditioning, indoor plumping, television, restaurants and groceries stores become the norm again (these things are also common in Haiti's largest cities - but their not quiet the same and certainly have not spread to local communities). 

I took my first motorcycle ride -  my thought process went something like this - -
Wait, you want me (in a skirt) to get on a motorcycle with some random man, wearing no helmet - in a place where traffic laws are mere suggestions at best...?
Ok - -  
why not?  After all, "life is either a daring adventure or nothing".

It was a smooth 3-5 minute ride to the hotel, where air conditioning, toilets that flush and WARM SHOWERS awaited. We had lunch & dinner at the same restaurant and I ate delicious (& authentic) fajitas. We found a grocery store where I happily purchased two boxes of soy milk - and you would have thought I found the holy grail when I saw a street vendor selling grapes. The grapes excitement was only surpassed when we found ice cream. Here in Haiti, there are some truly delicious flavors - but variety in the rural area is very limited - this min-vacation reminded me that I am, and always will be someone who intends to appreciate all of God's flavors to their fullest. 

Meat, green veggies and dairy products all in one meal?!

BASEBALL. Granted, it was the yankees & 
 the cards in Spring training - but I'll take 
what I can get. 


Colorful and Delicious


As always, Haiti provided 
breathtaking views. 



So now, with a God gifted mini vacation behind me (including my fair share of indoor plumbing in the past two weeks) and after a busy day helping at an auction (for the items of a past missionary) I am exhausted to the fullest - and trying to recover from a nasty cold. This Sunday, a team with 410 Bridge arrives and a friend of mine is the team leader. I am looking forward to visiting with her and watching this team of college students make an impact on the little community of Bohoc, which is quickly becoming my home. 

Thursday, February 28, 2013

basketball and slinkies


find something more adorable than this. i dare you. 
[you won't]

The basketball is still to heavy for her to pick up, so they
compromise.

"Go dad!!"

"What do i do with this weird toy the white woman gave me?"

"Oh, I can stay attached to dad forever!"

Monday, February 25, 2013

February Update

February Newsletter (contrary to my spelling skills in my emailed letter, I can spell "February" correctly ;) 

The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still.
Exodus 14:14

This past weekend I finished reading through Exodus and I find myself relating to the Israelites more each day. I have left the home I always knew to follow the God I love - and through all my grumbling and doubt He provides all the manna I need. 

This month has been a busy one for HAFF. We recently hosted a small team, which included our board president and vice president. I was grateful for the opportunity to learn more about HAFF - and to hear everyone's visions for the future of the ministry. Our Haitian Executive Team shared their dreams for HAFF with our board members - everyone is excited and ready to move forward. We also spent a lot of time in prayer seeking God's will for this ministry. First and foremost, everyone involved in HAFF wants the ministry to be one with a rich spiritual life - a life that makes disciples above all else. Please join us in prayer in discerning God's will for HAFF. 

I have been very busy teaching as well. I teach 11th grade English on Tuesdays and have also been working with the 12th grade classes lately. Class by class I learn more about out how to best help my students. I am so glad I can work with a Haitian teacher, who can explain more difficult concepts in the students native tongue. My language learning is moving along - but I am not quit ready to teach direct and indirect speech rules in Creole :). I did have an exciting "language moment" last week though - when we were praying at the home of an Executive Committee member my turn came around and I almost prayed in Creole! It was the first language that came to my mind - it was so exciting! I ended up praying in English though - just not confident enough to pray in Creole yet. 

I have also been spending a couple hours a week working with the daughters of one of our agricultural workers. One is his biological daughter and the other is an adopted niece. The girls are both around four and five. I've worked on some sight words with them - but mostly spent time playing with them and loving them to pieces. The chance to invest in the age range I am most comfortable with is a answer to prayer! 

As Spring approaches life will continue to pick up pace here at HAFF. We have a few teams scheduled over the next few months - and I am looking forward to a few friends coming with teams from Buckhead Church/The 410 Bridge! 

As always, thank you for your thoughts and prayers. The picture you give me of the body of Christ is so beautiful. I'll continue to update my blog - and hopefully you will see new posts on the HAFF blog very soon. Feel free to email anytime if you have any questions. 

Blessings,
April

Prayer Requests
For Me: 
- Discernment for which projects at HAFF I should work with
- Continued prayer for how to connect with children in the community
- Comfort in being away from family & friends
- Rapid language learning, more diverse language learning opportunities 
- My tutor, Phanette & her mother's worsening health 
- The young girls I am working with & their family

For HAFF:
- For God to raise up more financial support this year, particualrly to cover increased teacher wages
- Wisdom & courage for the Executive Committee in decision making
- For the U.S. Board & all the work they hope to accomplish
- The spiritual lives of our teachers and students at IPB

Thursday, February 14, 2013

healing

Someone is feeling much better these days!




He heals the brokenhearted
and binds up their wounds.
Psalm 147:3

Friday, February 8, 2013

back on my feet

Yesterday, I ran. It was a good - sweaty - dirty - I probably got dehydrated run (sorry mom). I've been itching to run, to clear my mind, to sweat out all the worries. While I live in rural Haiti, running down national route three isn't exactly…recommended. But I live on a 40 acre gated campus, surely there's a path somewhere, right? Well, two days ago I went searching for one and didn't find anything I thought would suite me. Everything was too short, too jagged or just pure woods with no paths - - and I was afraid to explore too far. Yesterday though I found myself in a mood where only a good run would do the trick. So I persevered and kept looking, I mustered up the courage to make a few new twists and turns, going beyond what I thought might be safe. That's when I found it. My perfect running path. It's narrow and I have to dodge rocks and cactus, there are hills, but it is perfect. I found the very edge of our campus and ran along the gate - a few times I was fairly certain I had crossed a boundary and was somehow out of the safe confines of HAFF, I kept going though. I didn't want to turn around. The path ahead was unknown, sure, but it was adventurous, and anyway, I knew somewhere deep inside that no matter where I ended up, it would be fine. Honestly, I didn't care where I ended up I just knew I had to keep going. It was beautiful and quiet and so very peaceful. Sure enough though, after some huffing and puffing I ended up back in a familiar spot…and then I did it again - - with more assurance (and speed) the second time around. Each song on my ipod was more perfect than the last and each view at the top of a hill reminded me why I feel in love with this country.

This path isn't 100% safe (again, sorry mom - the guards do walk it twice a shift though, so if I trip or collapse out there I will be found). Not safe, but good. There are still unknowns along the way, turns and twists I can still take if I'm brave enough. 

Out there, in complete solitary peace God revealed to me that my new running path is just like life right now. I cannot turn around. There is no point in going back and surely no reward. The way ahead is unknown, I am scared and I have no idea where I am going. Everything keeps moving though, weather I am walking or running - - and sometimes the moving is found in stopping, in waiting, in taking in the views. 

I know each afternoon, I'll put on my running shoes and set out on my new running path, welcoming whatever comes my way. And I know each morning, I need to get dressed and face the road ahead - - embrace the journey - - and know God will make sure I ned up exactly where I am supposed to.  


This place is trying to break my belief 
But my faith is bigger than all I can see 
What I need is redemption 
What I need is for You for to put me back on my feet

I swear I'm trying to give everything 
But I feel I'm falling, oh make me believe 
What I need is resurrection 
What I need is for You to put me back on my feet

I lift the knife to the thing I love most 
Praying You'll come so I can have both 
What I need is for You to touch me 
What I need is for You to be the thing that I need 

If I could feel You shine your perpetual light 
Then maybe I could crawl out of this tonight 
If I could feel You feel You shine 
Oh let me feel You shine 
So beautiful and warm 
So beautiful and bright 
Like a sun comin' out of a rainy sky 
Oh let me feel You shine 

God I need a Savior 
Oh come Generous King 
Oh God I need a Savior 
To come rescue me 

Oh let me feel You shine Your magnificent light 

Let me feel You shine 
-David Crowder

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

coke, coffee and choirs

There are a lot of emotional, deep topics I've been sorting through and dispersed throughout them I have shared frustrations of all kinds - of course every frustration is met with God's grace - and my thankfulness for His presence is unmatched. 

During this season God has taught me so much already about my heart - but He's also provided a lot of surface level blessings I have failed to share - - but they are blessings from Him, and blessings from Him, of any kind, are to be shared for His glory. So here are a few 'superficial' blessings about living in Haiti…

Sunshine. So much sunshine. A constant loop of Spring & Summer. More sunshine that you could ever want and I love every minute of it. 

Coke in glass bottles, made with sugar cane. 

Homemade peanut butter. and bread. and cinnamon rolls. Pretty much everything is homemade - and delicious. 

Pumpkin soup. Pumpkin bread. Pumpkin is a celebration food in Haiti - I know, I know, they so have the right idea here. 

A dog who loves when I pet her, begs for food and often brings me comfort by sleeping inside my house. 

For lack of a better description, Colin is a handy man. Living in rural Haiti, you need a handy man. 

Lots and lots of coffee. Grown here, cooked here, ground here, consumed here. 

Choirs practicing within ear shot. The Haitian choir is a gift from God. 

The Haitian sense of humor. They'll laugh at just about anything, and everyone is more relaxed when laughing is involved. 

Missionary Flights International. We get mail because these rockstars fly it to us, it's an amazing ministry that helps each of us feel closer to home. 

How often I'm told I'm pretty. I know, this is really and very literally superficial, but seriously, it doesn't hurt the self-esteem that these people treat me like a beauty queen. 

Then there are the things I am endlessly thankful for that so many Haitians don't have: a bed (to myself at that), a mosquito net, blankets, clean water, food (three times a day). 

This unique season of life full of challenges is also full to the brim with blessing beyond blessing - even on the hard days, the sun shines bright, the smiles are plentiful and grace flows. 

Thank you Jesus. 

Thursday, January 31, 2013

I'm a "cross culture worker for Jesus"...?

The Very Worst Missionary. 

I came across this blog title the other day- and thought - who stole my life and wrote a blog based on it? I need this material. 

Turns out she - and her husband- have figured out a few things about missions that I'm still learning. They've lived a bit more life than me - I still have to make my way through some of these lessons- I'm thankful for the validation that these feelings are shared though. 

So, yea, I feel like the very worst missionary - and I think being honest about it is best. I think Jesus would want me to be honest. Paul was honest - sometimes he had a rough go of it out on the mission field - and his stuff made it in the Bible - so I think its ok. 

I feel like the very worst missionary. Most days I wonder if I really help anyone at all. I cry (literally) at the sight (or mere thought) of a mouse in my home. I cry all the time. I manage to butcher this beautiful language - yesterday I was singing a Haitian hymn during our weekly prayer meeting and I was definitely not positively contributing to our ministry. I get annoyed with the teenage students who, gasp, act like teenagers when I'm trying to teach. When I am tired - and just need a nap - I do not have a servants heart about manual labor or administrative tasks. I live in a third world country - and still I manage to be bratty enough to whine about first world problems.

How did I get here? The feelings I had about coming to Haiti - they were all true. and real. If I knew on Christmas day I would find a giant tarantula in my dresser, I would have still boarded the plane. If I knew I would face this kind of struggle - -

I'd still be here.

So I keep wondering - where did that go? Knowing the reality of the situation - I would still feel the same -  I would make the same choices - in fact this whole 'turn my life upside down' thing was never really a choice. This was what God told me to do and saying yes wasn't easy - but I knew deep down there was no other choice. 
So where did that yes feeling go? Did I cry it out? Did I use it all up during the fundraising process? Did the mice take it away? It must have been the mice. 

Truthfully, I don't know where it went. I don't know why I don't wake up everyday smiling, ready to bask in the Caribbean sunshine and complete any and every task God lays in front of me. Instead, I crawl out of bed, head immediately for the coffee and grasp for inspiration from Scripture. Some days I get it, for a minute - and then I have to translate what my cook is saying to me and frustration wins the battle. 

So, what do I do about this? I have to do something - I'm telling my supporters that I think I'm a bad missionary. It's not good for business - assuming anyone is still reading this instead of calling up everyone I know and telling them I need to leave Haiti (I hope no one is doing that.) So, I've decided to drop the whole missionary thing all together - the word - not my life here. I never liked the term - I hated it. It felt like people put me on a pedestal or thought I put myself on one - I slyly avoided the term "missionary" when talking about my cross-cultural move. I think sometime during my training at MTI I embraced the term. It didn't have any connotations with my new friends - it was what God called us to do. I was around really cool people who were being obedient - and they were missionaries and it was fine. So I embraced the term - I took on the job - and then I got on the actual mission field and it feels like as a "missionary" this is my mission field - and somehow the overwhelming needs became to big of a responsibility. What I'm grasping for here is the difference between "Christian" and "Christ follower". I am a Christ follower. I follow the example of Christ, loving people - giving grace. It's the way I live my life - not my job. I do not want to be defined as a "christian" - most of you don't either, "christians" get a bad rep. 
People act different around "christians" - and around missionaries. People tiptoe around "missionaries" - and say "wow" a lot. Feel free to keep using the term "missionary", just understand that it carries as much connotation as "christian" - "preacher" - or "only child". On a bad day, I'm called 3 out of 4 of those. 

God has called me to live my life - a life that follows Christ - here, in central Haiti. That's it. Live life as a Christ follower in central Haiti - that's the only job description I've received from Him. That feels a lot easier than "make a difference". 
This is do-able. 
God took my life and plopped me in the poorest country in the World - the things I'm best at - are not what He has called me to do. There are a lot of skills needed in this country - I'm not sure I have any of them. Some…'cross culture workers for Jesus' are lucky enough to be called to use very specific skills on the field, which is awesome - some of us, are called to less specific jobs - but we're all called to  love.

So, the way I see it - I will take this life God has given me and I will live it in love. I will not love the mouse or the lizards who inhabit my home - but I will love that my cook Madame Da just thinks they're funny. I will not love the process of language learning - but I will love my amazing tutor who tells me I have great Creole, with a straight face. I will not love the pain and suffering I see all around - but I will love the little victories that this amazing ministry provides for people - even when what my eyes see as victory seems few and far between - I will love the victory. I will not love the animal who kept me up half the night trying to get into my house, but I will love…ok, I got nothing. I will not love the classically bad teenager attitude - but I will love that there are teenagers here who beat the curve and smile all the time (no really, boys who I think smile in their sleep - and I love them). I will not love the loss of convenience but I will love the ability to problem solve in a whole new way. I love the lesson of learning to let go of stuff
I will live my life as a follower of Christ. 
It is not glamorous - and it won't feel like I have a lot to report on - but if love is being spread, as followers of Christ, we have to call that a win. If I leave this place and just one person feels more loved than when I arrived - I consider it a victory. I hope God uses my time here to spread so much love - I hope to make a big difference - but God is in the business of personal relationships - and pursing those will make me a very good missionary - or cross cultural worker for Jesus. 

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

details

I am lucky enough to live in a beautiful, green and lush pocket of this island. Despite all the scenery around me though, sometimes I find myself getting lost in the little details of my new home.








Thursday, January 24, 2013

January Newsletter

Happy New Year!! I hope everyone has had a great start to 2013! It was about a year ago when I wrote my first support letter for long term service in Haiti - now I've been in Haiti for over a month and am looking forward to many more. 

Adjusting to life in Haiti has taken time, but I feel more at home each day. The holidays made for an unusual schedule, but the slower pace allowed me to acclimate in my own time. Currently, I spend a lot of time working on learning Creole. I study on my own, work with a Haitian tutor and work with the Wilson's daughters to improve my language skills. I can understand far more than I can manage to say most of the time. I am so thankful for my very patient tutor, Phanette, who is improving my Creole tremendously. 

It didn't take long to settle into my house. The living room and spare room still need to be painted, so I'm living in the back half of the house - but I have more than enough space. I become more comfortable here every day. I've also opened up a bank account and received my first piece of mail and first package through MFI. God continues to help me feel settled in small and big ways. 

Right after the new year HAFF hosted a team of high school and college students from Ada, Michigan, led by a former board president. I was thankful to have people to speak English with - but I was also encouraged by their willingness to serve. It was a busy week, jam packed with activities , many of which were new to me. Their visit was exhausting but so rewarding for the American and Haitian staff here. They kept a detailed blog of their trip here

The new school term started for our students last week and I began visiting classes. Instead of jumping into teaching right away, I took some time to sit in and observe our different courses and teachers. It is a great chance to work on my Creole and to get to know the way a Haitian high school functions. School in Haiti is so different from any classroom in America. This week, I began working with our Haitian teacher in some of the English classes. I knew a few of these students prior to teaching and I am excited that I have already formed some relationships with them. I am also spending time brainstorming ways HAFF can further invest in the lives of our high school students. We are in the beginning stages of working on an after school program. It is my prayer that this program would flourish and give our students joy, value and hopefully improve their performance in school. 

I am also working on social media for HAFF. I am beginning to craft and write blog posts in partnership with Connie, our stateside co-coordinator. Soon I'll have our Facebook page updated as well as a new Twitter page. We hope incorporating more social media into HAFF will allow our supporters and visitors to stay more connected to our work here. Part of this work for me is taking lots of photos, something I love to do. I love the opportunity to capture what is happening here in Central Haiti. The chance to show and tell peoples stories of this beautiful country is a privilege. I am so excited to help bridge the gap between people who pray and support Haiti and Haitians themselves. Stay tuned here and to the HAFF blog - and check your mail boxes for the latests addition of HAFF Happenings soon!

As you can tell, I am keeping busy - and will continue to do so in the coming months. I look forward to updating you on everything happening here in Haiti.
Thank you for your continued support. You are each a part of my journey, you helped to get me here and you are so special to me. Thank you for being a part of what God is doing in Haiti!

All my Love,
April

Prayer Requests:
For me:
- I would learn Creole at a rapid speed
- I would begin to see how I can best fit into teaching English - and working with our high schoolers
- The Lord would open up ways for me to serve the young children in our community
- My adjustment of being away from family and friends - as well as their adjustment

For HAFF:
- HAFF would see a growth in partners and financial supporters this year
- Wisdom and boldness for the HAFF Executive Committee as they make ministry decisions
- God would continue to provide for each ministry need

Thursday, January 17, 2013

l'ap vini

It started out like any other task. I was sent to give our clinic nurse, Madame Te, three packs of gauze, and ask her if it was enough. She said "plu" - meaning "more" and I wondered what it was for. I came back with three more packs, in my limited Kreyol I understood that she didn't have anything for cleaning. I went and told Carla who went to discuss with her in Kreyol what she needed. I was sent to get my camera, Carla gave me a bottle of hydrogen peroxide and told me a little boy was at the clinic and he had been badly burned from falling into a fire. I walked quickly, camera and medical supplies in hand, having no idea what I would see. Falling into a fire…I kept thinking how fire is a necessary part of life here. Gas stoves are scarce, and electric stoves are unheard of. To feed your family, to get clean water - you must have fire. Falling into a fire is not shocking here - it's not necessarily careless. It's a little boy, being a little boy and going one or two steps further than he should when you turn your back for just one second. 

As I approached the clinic I saw the little boy with his mother and father, not jumping for joy but still quietly content standing with his head in his mothers lap. The night before the family went to a different clinic where they were told they couldn't be helped and their little boy would die. Without the proper care the wound could have been infected and easily led to death. Coming to the HAFF clinic was all they knew to do. We had explained to his mother and father that we were going to take pictures - so our supporters could see the kind of services being offered at the clinic - and now we can hopefully see the stages the wound goes through. So, I took photos of the wound and braced myself for whatever was ahead. 

I followed everyone inside where the nurse and his parents placed him on the exam table on his hands and knees. The nurse began to clean the wound, which covered most of his back. The crying began and this precious little one wailed out in pain. The nurse was gentle and tender and his parents were loving. I held back tears hearing his screams and watching the distress on his innocent little face. The nurse was done cleaning, but then she took a pair of scissors and gently peeled off a few small pieces of skin. His mother had tears streaming down her face as I fought the urge to leave the room and throw-up, cry - or both. Instead, I put my camera down and rubbed his mothers back, silently crying "God help". God help this little boy and his parents. God help this family that couldn't drive to an American ER to have a staff carefully watch over them until the burn was healed. God help this mother and father as they tenderly apply and reapply Silvadine burn cream cream for the next several days. God. Help. 

The nurse worked gently to apply a thick layer of cream, another nurse fanned the little one, his father wiped the tears from his face and I prayed with every fiber of my being for his relief. When the family walked outside to wait for their medicine the little boy stayed with mom and dad went inside - he kept crying, "Papa, papa, papa!!" His mother said "L'ap vini, l'ap vini" - "He is coming, he is coming." My heart cried the same thing - Papa, come soon. We need you. We need you when innocent little boys fall into a fire and their parents have to walk to find care. We need you when hydrogen peroxide is hard to find and this big wound on this little boy needs to be clean. We need YOU to cleanse us Father. Cleanse us from the inside out so we can better serve you while we wait - while we eagerly wait for you to come. 

The family collected their things, a loving papa held his son and slipped his sandals on. They opened the umbrella used to cover his back from the heat of the Caribbean sun and walked off as I said I would pray for them…and pray I have. Prayed, cried, agonized - and I have been thankful that they did find their way to the HAFF clinic. Thankful that we had enough gauze to give Madame Te, thankful Carla had the hydrogen peroxide we needed and I am thankful that God let me see suffering and his provision and his healing all in an hours time. 

Papa, come soon. 

our brave little man
sad mama


applying the Silvadine burn cream
safe in the arms of his papa 

Thursday, January 10, 2013

roll call

Today, God transformed a small, random task into a big feeling for me and I thought you'd appreciate me sharing...

The plane landed at the airport...otherwise known as a field of grass while I was talking with some area missionaries I had just been introduced to. A short term American team began figuring out how their luggage was loaded on this tiny plane as we got the mail bag off. Another missionary got the bag open and began shuffling through the papers. The mail was all organized in bundles, by organization and my new friend began calling out names as people came over to get their bundle of news from America. While I was standing there I was so - happy. There wasn't any cargo delivered today or even any mail for me, but being there to collect it somehow made me feel...like a real life missionary. A task that took such little time had such an impact. It was something about the unity of waiting with others of like mind - the reality that a big task in the week on our ministry is to go pick up mail - the gratitude that there is a missionary flight organization that will deliver just about anything we need. Somehow this task was packed with emotion and transformed some of my feelings from surreal to concrete. There is no major change in how I will do ministry, no improvement in my work here - just a gift from God in the unlikeliest of places.

"You belong here, you have a place here, rest in exactly where I have you and begin to flourish."

Let God move you in the small moments. 

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

feel life while you are living it

I came across an article about Sean Penn and his work in Haiti recently. His typical snarkiness and colorful language were there - despite that - he seems to have a good model and his work in Port-au-Prince is helpful. What really got me though, was when the reporter asked Penn what he was doing here, why not stay in the comfort and safety of America?
Why trade in a life of luxury and ease for a crowded flop house near a refugee camp?
“The hardship that’s here allows an individual to feel alive with a clearer lens and more honest perspective,” he says. “You feel your life while you are living it.”
Feeling life while you are living it.  There is no other choice. List making and plans are not the way we live day to day life. We certainly have specific ministry goals and plans to accomplish these goals. What I think Penn's point is - is here you live life exactly in the moment in front of you. Your perspective - is NOW.

The lens you see through is so much clearer, living in the past is useless and looking to far ahead will cause you to miss the current problem -- and the current problems are to grave to miss.

Adjusting to this new normal has been, surprisingly, easy. My mind turns off all the white noise when I see someone who is severely ill or a child who just needs to be loved. I am so thankful for this chance - - to live life while it's happening. To experience each moment throughly. I hope and pray it is a way of life I will be able to carry with me for years to come.





Monday, January 7, 2013

mail


I've had lots of inquries abourt mail, so here you are! Haiti does not have a postal system (a strange concept to grasp, I know) -- but we are blessed with Missionary Flights International, who diligently delivers mail and supplies to missionaries in Haiti and the Caribbean
All mail for me can be sent here:

Unit 1069 -- HAFF
April Lambiotte
3170 Airmans Dr
Fort Pierce, Fl 34946

Packages can also be sent to the FL address. If you send a package there are additional shipping charges and customs costs. For the shipping from FL to Haiti, the charge is $1.50 per pound. If you send a package over 3lbs, I would ask that you also considering covering that shipping cost. To cover additional shipping, please separately send a check to MFI at the address above (without my name on the envelope) and include "April Lambiotte (HAFF) Shipping" in the memo line.

Generally, MFI flies into Pignon on Thursdays, the same day HAFF goes into Pignon for errands, so we pick up mail and cargo then. Thursdays can be exciting around here ;)

If you have questions about sending something specific, feel free to email me! Any piece of mail brings a smile to my face and makes me feel closer to home!