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


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,

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

- 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 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


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!

Saturday, January 5, 2013

VBS with 410 Bridge

I hope everyone had a lovely Christmas and a great start to the new year! HAFF is hosting a team of youth from Michigan and keeping very busy this week. Just after Christmas, a 410 Bridge team came to Bohoc for a VBS with some local children. I stopped by to pick up some items brought through a mutual friend and…

got to love on some pretty cute kids. 

I was also reunited with some very familiar faces!

Plus, learned some new games to
pass onto our kids at HAFF. 

Check out the HAFF blog for a few Christmas updates!
Wishing you and yours a lovely 2013 from Haiti!