What Would You Do if God Called You to Haiti?

I was sitting in a Pastor’s meeting when one of the guys suggested, “How about we go around, and each say how God called us to ministry?”

All I could think of was, “Please, no.” That and, “God, please call this meeting to an end.”

He didn’t.

I would love to have one of those “Burning Bush” stories of God calling me into ministry. Rahab’s deliverance is dramatic. Paul’s going blind isn’t bad either. My story is more like Jesus’ disciple Thaddaeus.

Who was Thaddaeus?

Exactly.

This Sunday, I hope to give some suggestions on knowing and following God’s call on our lives, even if it is to Rio Rancho. The call of God is how ordinary people become extraordinary.

But today I have a question for you.

What would you do if you thought God was calling you to pick up your “normal” life in the USA to live in Port-au-Prince Haiti? What would it take to move you from our wonderful, magic flush-and-goodbye waste system to one of the largest cities in the world without a central sewage system, a non-system which would also mean moving from safe tap water to “Haitian Happiness” on tap, and from fresh air to yuck? Of course, you would also be moving from city electric to a generator when diesel is available, from A/C to fans when the generator runs, from safety to danger, from English to Creole, from, well, I could go on. What would it take to move you there and bring your family?

A divorce for starters? OK, let’s assume if you’re married that both of you agree. Sorry kids. You think a low IQ would help? Sorry, the quotient doesn’t go that low. It would take a clear call from God to convince most of us to make a move that drastic. But, if it is from God, then it’s worth it, because God’s will is best, all the time.

It may be hard to swallow, but it is always best.

This Sunday at church Byron and Shelley Tlucek, our Haitian missionaries will be here. The plan is to interview them at the end of the service for a few minutes, and after church to let you ask them questions on your heart. This will be a wonderful opportunity to dive into Byron and Shelley’s answer to God’s calling, what they’ve faced and are facing, and how they have overcome the obstacles that appear to be beyond overwhelming to most of us. You should be able to get the YouTube Livestream, or on Facebook Livestream at 10am New Mexico time, or watch the replay after Sunday on our website.

For more on their ministry in Haiti, or to donate, click here.

Needing a Miracle

If you could buy God one gift, what would it be?

I’d get Him a watch.

I want to get God on my time. I want Him to see things like I see them. Am I the only one who has wanted to shout, “God, can’t you see what is happening here? Help out already!” God on our time would be handy, no?

To illustrate, here is what happened to my mother, in France, in the ‘50s.

After WWII my parents went to France as missionaries with my oldest brother and sister. The picture is of my mother and older brother David and sister Janice. The country was still rebuilding from the war, and things were… difficult. My mother remembered two things in the French language. One was she could always quote John 3:16. The other was “Don’t poop in our yard!” Difficult times. While there my folks had two more daughters born in the American Hospital in Paris, but my parents lived in the smaller towns of Dijon, St. Michele sur Orge, and Arc-sur-Tille.

After some years of living in France, my dad developed a severe case of pneumonia. They had dad hanging almost upside-down to help with postural lung drainage. It got so bad that it looked like they were going to have to remove a lung, something the hospitals in France were ill-equipped to do. Their mission board sent plane tickets (they had gone over by ship) to fly the family back to the States so dad could have surgery. Dad was under care at the hospital in Paris, but my mom, brother, and three sisters were in Arc-sur-Tille. All four kids were under eight years old.

Thankfully, no one had thought about me yet.

My mom was stuck with having to pack up all their belongings and close the apartment. She got everything ready to go except for one thing she could not do.

They had no money to get to Paris. As in NO money.

But she packed up anyway, knowing they needed to be ready. It seemed impossible God would leave them without help. How my dad was supposed to get to the airport without help I don’t know. How mom was supposed to live in post-war France without dad I have no clue.

First, the good news. The day before mom was to leave for Paris, she checked the mail. Sure enough, God made sure the money was there. Her sister and brother-in-law, who had promised to support them while there, had, for some reason, not been doing it. Now they took three years of back financial support and sent it by one check. Had they been sending it all along, my parents probably would have spent it on immediate needs. Now it had been saved for them and it arrived at what seemed to be just the right time.

But it wasn’t the right time from my mother’s perspective.

The bad news is that when mom went to cash the check at their local bank, they told her they would have to put a hold on it. The check was from the United States after all. It would take weeks or months to clear, and they had no way of knowing if it was valid. She tried other banks with the same result. I still remember mom telling me how defeated she felt walking back to the packed-up apartment with four kids in tow.

I bet she wanted to give God a watch.

Had that check just come in a month earlier, how different she would have felt. And being human I bet mom was praying, “God, can’t you see what is happening here? Help out already!”

On the way back to the apartment she thought of the American Consulate in Paris. Was this a God idea? Would they back the check? They had no reason to back it, but still, it seemed worth a try. It was closing time at the bank, so she went back as fast as she could. The bank called; the American Consulate was still open. They backed the check, somehow, they got dad through the airport and to the plane in a wheelchair, and my parents and siblings flew home together.

A little side note, my sister Judy, the youngest at the time slept in a hammock in the plane made for infants. It would sway as the plane flew and rock them to sleep. Brilliant! Well, until you hit turbulence anyway. There might be a reason we don’t have them anymore.

And side note number two, when the plane landed in the states and everyone got off, they were spraying around it. I have no idea why. What I do know is that my brother David loudly said, “THEY MUST HAVE KNOWN WE HAVE FLEAS.” Mom was mortified.

Maybe they did know?

Still, I love that mom trusted God enough to pack up with no clear way forward.

1 Corinthians 13:12 says, “Now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face.”

I’m convinced that peace comes from trusting in the love (God wants what is best for us), wisdom (God knows what is best for us), and power (God can bring about what is best for us) of our giving God.

Life is hard.

God is amazing.

Would You Like to Live Off the Grid? Do You Like Kids? HAVE I GOT AN OPPORTUNITY FOR YOU!

Imagine this for a minute…

Imagine having no city water or sewer, but you do have an electric-powered well and a septic tank. You can’t drink the water because it is dangerously polluted, so you use it for bathing and order your drinking water delivered.

You have no dependable city power, but you do have a generator and some solar panels for partial power.

You teach in an old-fashioned one-room school for preschool through grade five. Life is difficult but rewarding.

Then the world goes berserk.

Gangs go to war against each other. They aren’t zombies, but they are evil. It’s no longer safe outside of your walled property. There is no more gas, so you can’t get around by driving with windows up and doors locked. Walking is a sure ticket to being kidnapped or killed. The city is weirdly silent with no traffic, no generators, and businesses boarded up. The water company closes as they can’t make deliveries. Your generator is out of gas, so the dirty well is also dead.

You smell. You are thirsty. You are stuck.

What will you drink? How will you eat? How can any children come to school?

What do you do?

Welcome to Port-au-Prince, Haiti. I’ve spent a lot of time there over the last 15 years, but never in circumstances like today. But, if you like living off the grid and like kids, I bet our friends at Maranatha Children’s Home have some openings. If you don’t want to go, can you pray for them?

Here are the most recent requests from our friends at Maranatha Children’s home.

Will you please be praying for us as we look for God’s help to overcome the following challenges?

  • Safety for all of our staff, including our US staff in Haiti. As one of our students said…..people with your color of skin are being stolen right now. It seems everybody is at risk of being a target.
  • The safe return of the 18 people, including 16 US citizens, 1 Canadian, and 1 Haitian, who were kidnapped last month.
  • The gangs will permit the fuel trucks to deliver fuel to the gas stations. Culligan water company has closed, and many of the businesses are only days from closing. They do not have electricity and are unable to obtain fuel to run their generators.
  • Our weather will include lots of sunshine. Our solar panels are our main source of power right now, and they don’t provide much power on cloudy days.
  • We will be sensitive and obedient to God’s direction as it pertains to our US staff remaining in Haiti.
  • Wisdom and safety as we locate food to feed the children at school, the children’s home, and the orphanages.
  • We will be able to keep the school open and functioning.

Thanks for your prayers.

Dan

Voodoo Caesarian

HAITI TRIP, June 24, 2019

What a fun day! I got to tell an opening assembly Bible story—chose the one about King David’s 3 friends sneaking into Bethlehem to get him a glass of water while others acted it out. We added some xtra-biblical events like crawling backwards and falling into the pool. Good fun.

Sue from our church taught four Science classes today, while Jenn rotated through them all to see how things run. I believe Jenn is teaching the Bible class for the rest of the week. One of the new folks, don’t know if she is an interpreter or junior counselor, accepted Christ during training!

Not to be out done by a simple salvation, I did a quick supply errand and then went to Sue Spinny’s house, the crèche, to put the brain back in her car.

I forgot about the stares when a white guy is driving around here. I keep thinking I blend in, but maybe not.

I also forgot just how frustrating it can be living here. The car has sat since the brain was stolen (again) back in January. So, there was also a tire to fix, a dead battery, stuff they broke when taking the brain, and side mirrors they stole to replace. Of course they cut the wires when taking the mirrors rather than simply unplugging them, so replacing is taking longer. And they took the running lights. And of course stuff is busted, including a window, to get inside and get the brain. Anyway…

I got the tire, battery, and brain done, car running, and thought I’d drive over here to Maranatha to finish things. All went well till I turned on the main road. It’s the width a desert two-track, with deep cement trenches of death cut in the sides of the road to total cars and kill people who aren’t paying attention, filled with cars and trucks and tap-taps, as motorcycles weave in between at 40mph. I hit the road and floored it.

Nothing.

I crept down the road at 12mph idle speed.

Thankfully I didn’t have far to go—and thankfully I don’t know Creole. I imagine the motorcycle riders leaning on their horns were yelling, “Sorry I can’t help, but my wife is getting an emergency caesarian at home by the voodoo doctor at 3.”

We may need to find a way to raise some $ to help to make the crèche safer. Losing a Toyota brain is one thing. Losing your own is another.

So much for Monday!

Pictures are:

Top is just a fun homemade see-saw we use for camp. Bottom is the Bible class, Science class, driving through town (yes, it is a two-way road. Aren’t they all?), and the final is stolen from the Babylon Bee. It seems Lot’s wife was actually taking a selfie. Even Haitians need humor.

Dan

IMG_20190624_131645

IMG_20190624_131507

IMG_7573

lots wife

Missionaries Lie

IMG_7495

Haiti June 22, 2019

Missionaries Lie.

That or I’m a bit slow in understanding. It did take me 8 years to get that 4-year-degree.

THE GOOD

When the missionaries say “English Camp,” they are referring to the entire camp, from training of leaders through the end of camp. I didn’t realize that. So this coming week is…

Training for the junior counselors and interpreters. That means there will just be 100 or so of us here at the house, rather than the 400 campers plus the rest of us. During the training they will go through some “normal” camp days, so everything does need to be up and running. But it is way less stress knowing all classes and meals will be smaller. At the end of next week, they will pick which interpreters and junior counselors will be used for the next 5-weeks of English Camp.

Our little team has been trying to do what we can. Sue and Jennifer are about finished with the Science and Bible curriculum. Today will hopefully wrap it up—pretty much has to as they or someone will be teaching it on Monday. Sue was able to give a grand devotional to the staff last night. I’ve been able to give a few also, one to the national staff yesterday morning. I hope to record them singing hymns one day, and will try to upload. Mercy it is beautiful. Otherwise I’ve kept busy repairing and installing all the trampoline stuff, putting up shade cloth, getting the tool room organized, a bit of small electrical repairs, and totally enjoying talking with the staff and missionary family. They have some amazing kids!

But, there is still an opportunity, as I see it.

THE BAD

Once we leave they have a team coming in, and are pretty well covered for the first couple weeks of the real, not training, English Camp. And, wisely, they have shortened Camp to just 5 weeks, 6 with training. But there is a major issue with so few teams coming in this year.

Stuff.

Each team that comes brings 2-50lb bags of stuff with them that the missions team then doesn’t have to buy for Camp. Everything from crayons to peanut butter to back packs normally comes in those bags. A team of 10 brings 1000lbs of stuff. Also, because teams are invested here, they tend to also bring money. So, there is a double issue. Less stuff and less money to buy the stuff here.

Help?

 So, if you would like to help, their website is www.mcmhaiti.org, for the giving page click here. You have to scroll down past the sponsorship stuff and then there is a place for one-time gifts.

THE UGLY

I believe the dogs have taken a liking to me. They have three dogs here, and a little white curly-haired thing that I have yet to identify. Some call it a dog; I have my doubts. The dogs, it seems, are quite good hunters. Yesterday I thought they had forgotten me, but then, late in the day working on the trampoline, they showed up, rat in mouth. If they do to intruders what they do to other unwelcome animals, they are good guard dogs indeed.

OH – the pool was also a bit ugly. But, it is now empty, cleaned, and being refilled with wonderful generator power and well water. We will shock the typhoid out of it and have a grand time swimming before doing it all over again in another week. Blessings!!

IMG_7511

The Man Named Jabez

image1170x530croppedHaiti June 21, 2019

Yesterday I had the most amazing conversation. I met Jabez, a man from India living in Haiti.

Jabez came to Christ in India. From there he immigrated to the States for higher education. While in Bible School for his undergrad, he married a Haitian gal—apologies I forget her name. Jabez went on to get his Masters and PhD degrees, and became a pastor.

He and his wife have… 4 kids I think. The oldest works for YWAM in Texas, the youngest was with them.

Anyway, they believe God is calling them to start a school here in the Port-au-Prince area. They met our missionarys, Byron and Shelley and family at church. So, yesterday, they were here visiting to learn how things can be done. I really learned a lot just listening to him, it’s amazing what some folks have done for the Lord.

It is good to see things taking shape here to prepare for next week. Yesterday the pool got bailed out, cleaned, painted, and re-filled with water. Sue and Jenn got much of the Bible and Science curriculum completed. Today I hope to repair the trampoline and install the pads and net, and re-install two toilets, among other misc. jobs that keep coming up. There was a long meeting yesterday with nationals who will be hired to help with the meals and kids ext week. Lord willing, we will be up and running by Monday!

Blessings,

Dan

What’s Up With Haiti?

Lately I’ve been getting asked, “Are you going back to Haiti this year?”

The short answer, yes. I hope to bring a tiny group to Haiti this June, if God allows. And, if you want to give to that endeavor, that information is at the end of this blog. Mostly, this year especially, we covet your prayers. The place is a mess.

But, if our missionaries can live there, I suppose we can go for 10 days. We will rely mostly on the recommendation of our missionaries in Port-au-Prince shortly before the trip to make our GO or STAY decision. Here is some information to bring you up to date. For some odd reason, the U.S. news isn’t big on giving Haitian news.

The “AND” Mess

1: No Prime Minister. Haiti President Jovenel Moïse just picked Acting Prime Minister Jean Michel Lapin, to lead the government. (The president is more like a vice-president, but not exactly. Google it, that’s all I know) Parliament still has to affirm the nomination. AND It’s the third government in two years. AND Lapin has been acting as PM for just a month. AND The last PM lasted for six months. It’s not great job security.

2: Financial problems: Last year Haiti hit a record $350 million budget deficit. That doesn’t sound like much by US standards, but then Haiti only has 11 million residents. AND This year they look to hit a $450 million budget deficit. That makes the US debt look responsible. AND Lapin needs a budget ASAP, or Haiti could lose $100 million in international aid. AND some folks with extreme creativity found a way to embezzle around $2 billion through the Venezuela oil program. You can’t make this stuff up.

3: The UN is leaving. When I’ve been there, folks liked to call them the U-Nothing. Maybe, but it sure made me feel safer when I saw their white Toyota Land Cruisers, or heard a helicopter flying overhead. Made me jealous too, those are cool Land Cruisers! The UN was around before the earthquake, they seem to be everywhere after the earthquake, and seemed as nonexistent last summer. AND They plan to be totally gone by October. I believe their timing is just before yet another election. Why is that?

4: No Petro, no life. Electricity has always been a rare luxury when it happens to come on, but now there are lines to buy petro for cars and generators. The gas isn’t being delivered because the government that owns the stations, owes the gas suppliers. 95 degrees and humid is one thing with a generator powered fan blowing on you at night, it’s enough to make you riot with the only breeze coming from mosquitoes.

5: Enough already: Inflation is at 17%, AND unemployment over 50%. The people have had it. AND Since December, there have been over 200 protests government, business, and school shutdowns; AND a Level 4 travel warning from the US State Department, simply stating, “Level 4: Do Not Travel. Last update April 9, 2019.”

But all these problems are only symptoms. There is a failed 200-year-old system of corruption and dysfunction. As one young Haitian man said to me a dozen years ago, “We sold our souls to the Devil, and we’ve been living in Hell ever since.”

I believe the island could flip. Not flip-over because it is heaver on one side, but turn from selfishness and corruption to unselfishness and redemption. Jesus died to redeem people and cultures. Even our planet groans for the day of redemption (Romans 8:19-23). Even before the earthquake, our missionaries and others were educating children and youth in a culture with no public education. Catholics and Baptists, Nazarenes and Mennonites have been sharing their faith, language, morals, standards, and education for some time now. One child from Compassion International has made it into Parliament.

If the nation needs those with good skills in French, English and Creole; if it needs leaders with good math and science backgrounds, then there is really one clear place to look. For the most part, the up and coming educated will be educated with a foundation in Christ. AND That can change any culture.

OK, if you want to help me go, please pray. If you want to financially help, that’s cool to. But, truth is, I’ll go either way. The price this year is $1500. We’re making sure to get tickets with insurance in case things change last minute.

To give go to AnchorPoint Church online giving app by clicking here. The page should look like this.

giving 1 (2)

Yes, I know – it’s an extremely ugly page. But it’s secure, and cheap for the church.

Just fill it out like normal, no need to “Login or Register,” with this exception. Where it says “Message” write “Dan Cooley Missions Trip” in the box. Otherwise the church may spend it on the Pastor’s Ferrari Fund.

Thanks,

Dan

Groan

miracle-on-voodoo-mountain-wide-800x445Read through without groaning.

I can’t.

I was wondering, why would a single, white gal from the states move to the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere? It’s dangerous. It’s hot. It stinks.

You take one-step off the plane and you groan.

That’s the reason.

In Mk 7:31-37 Jesus is moved by a mans suffering, and groans.

Later in Mark 8:12 when the Pharisees refuse to believe, Jesus groans.

This is the same word used in Romans 8:22 when it says all creation groans under the curse.

We pray, “Thy Kingdom done, Thy will be done, on Earth as it is in Heaven.” God has given us the power to bring a taste of Heaven to Earth, but we will never be effective in that commission without heartfelt groanings. We have to hate the curse. And we have to want Heaven.

Last week we had Sue who lives in Port-au-Prince come stay with us. I asked why she moved to Haiti on Sunday. The answer?

Groanings.

The article below can help put it in perspective. It is from one of my favorite books, Miracle on Voodoo Mountain. It is writing by a 20-something-year-old gal who also moved to Haiti. I cut and pasted some sections of it below – in the hopes that it will get you to purchase it here.

Book Excerpt below [except brackets]

 Deye mon gen mon./ Behind the mountain, there are mountains.–A Haitian proverb

As I sat on the roof and watched the sun go down on my second day in Haiti, I ate another energy bar for dinner. I felt so very alone. Am I crazy? My friends are right. I must be crazy to leave such a great life in the States for a place like this. I don’t even know why I’m here. Oh Lord. Did I make a mistake? Should I just go back home?

 I needed to hear a familiar voice that night, so I made a quick decision to splurge on an expensive two-minute cell phone call to my mom. As soon as I heard her voice, the tears began to well up in my eyes.

“I’m fine, Mom.” I tried hard to keep my voice steady and to sound sure of myself even though I wasn’t. “It’s beautiful here.” As I got off the phone I repeated the same routine as the night before, except this time my sobs and sniffles drowned out the beating drums in the distance as I cried myself to sleep.

I awoke the next day to the same goat-chicken-pig-people sounds and knew if I stayed around the house again all day, I would implode with fear and anxiety. I ate my breakfast energy bar, dried up my tears, and looked at David, the roof boy….

I pointed to myself, then moved two fingers like legs walking uphill and pointed toward the front of the house to show him I wanted to walk to Bellevue Mountain. It was the only place I had a name for in Gressier, and since I had holed myself up in the house for two days, I thought it would be refreshing to get out.

“Okay,” David said with a smile. He got it! I smiled, too, with a little jolt of happiness at having a plan, if only a small one…. Tons of children waited for their turn at the community water pump right outside of my gate. I looked at my feet as we walked, avoiding the gaze of dozens of dark brown eyes on me. As we strolled down the street, people yelled at me in Creole, and children ran up and grabbed my hands and clothes.

I followed close behind as he led me down the uneven brown road. We stepped onto a narrow footpath with clumps of weeds and bushes dotting the sides. We walked through a group of long-horned cows with tiny ropes around their necks, grazing peacefully. The path wound between a few decrepit houses and down into a small valley through a leafy green mango grove where the soil was rich and dark. As the path began to curve upward, we climbed a steep hill and came through some bushes to the top. It was flat and green, and my eyes followed the path that cut through the grass until I saw it. There, just as I remembered, stood the tamarind tree. It was a rich dark green, about twenty feet tall, with a single sturdy trunk and strong, supple branches that curved gracefully down at the ends.

I waved toward the tree and the land around it and asked, “Bellevue Mountain?”

“Wi.”

 …The top of Bellevue Mountain is a beautiful place. A cow relaxed nearby on the lush green grass, and I could see beyond the edge of the mountain all the way out to the turquoise sea. I smiled and took a deep breath, staring off into the distance.

A movement caught my eye, and that’s when I first saw her–a little girl, maybe six or seven years old. She was wearing a raggedy, soiled, yellow tank top that was too big, hanging off one shoulder down to her thin elbow. It must have been a woman’s shirt, and she wore it as a dress.

She was barefoot with matted orange hair, and her bony figure screamed of malnutrition. I watched as she threw a rock at a blackbird.

I felt drawn to her. She was so little. What is she doing out here all alone? I remembered the girls I’d seen earlier that morning, walking to school. They each wore a uniform with their hair neatly braided and tied with bright ribbons. Why isn’t she in school?

 I got close enough to call out, “What are you doing?” I was sure she didn’t understand me, so I glanced at David, and he repeated my question in Creole…

The little girl answered back in Creole. “There are two blackbirds.” David turned toward me to translate… “Yes, I see them. But what are you doing?” I asked again.

As she rocketed off in Creole, I received another loose translation from David. “Throwing rocks at birds.”

“Yes, I see. But why?”

Her beautiful brown eyes widened as she looked up at me. “To eat!”

…Bernard arrived shortly after to help with translation; David had called him when we left the house. Bernard was fluent in Haitian Creole and English, which he’d learned from a group of deportees from Brooklyn.

A few moments later I saw an older woman walking up the mountain toward us. She spoke broken English and told me the little girl’s name was Michaelle (Mick-kay-ell). Then, in an emotionless voice, she explained, “Mother dead. No father. Nobody wants her.” She looked at me, then turned to Bernard and began explaining in Creole that no one wanted Michaelle, so she had taken her in. She called herself Michaelle’s aunt, even though they weren’t related.

…The woman continued, telling Bernard her house had been destroyed in the earthquake and she’d moved from outside of Port-au-Prince to Gressier several months ago. “No one wanted Michaelle, so I brought her here although I can hardly afford to feed her.” Bernard looked at me, his eyes sad as he translated.

“Does Michaelle go to school?” I asked.

“No, she can’t go to school. No money,” she said.

…Early the next day I found the path and climbed Bellevue Mountain again, following the woman’s instructions to find Michaelle in a big blue tent on the side of the mountain with the older woman, four other children, and several adults. The relationship this mishmash family shared was unclear and unsettling.

Michaelle was playing in front of the tent in the same ragged yellow dress she had worn the day before. When she saw me, she ran inside and changed into a blue-and-white princess dress costume with white shoes and ankle socks. Her excitement propelled her ahead of me down the path. I had to walk fast to keep up with her. As I followed her down the mountain, I wondered who she was and why she was living in such a strange situation. Is it because of the earthquake? How did her mom pass away? Why was she trying to eat a bird? Was she really that hungry? Why isn’t she being fed? And why was she wearing that old yellow rag when she had a cute dress to wear? I had lots of questions, and I wanted some answers.

A person’s a person, no matter how small. –Dr. Seuss

 “Non,” she shouted, clinging with all of her strength to the branches of a scrawny little bush in the mango grove. Michaelle was refusing to let go. It was a Sunday morning, and we were halfway up the path to the blue tent on the mountain where she lived. With tears streaming down her face, yelling and screaming hysterically, words poured out of her so fast I couldn’t understand even one syllable. I crept closer and sat down next to her in the dirt. When I got down on her level, I realized I didn’t have to understand any Haitian Creole to know what was going on. I didn’t need to understand a single word to see that her face was filled with fear, fear of returning to her tent. I was rocked by the waves of terror emanating from her tiny seven-year-old body.

My heart ached, and I felt anxiety rising inside because I knew I couldn’t really talk to her, even though I tried. In my most soothing and confident voice, I called her Micha (pronounced “Mee-ka,” my new nickname for her) and told her everything was going to be okay, but it didn’t seem to help. After a few minutes of feeling completely helpless I, too, burst into tears as I stared, transfixed, at her frail body shaking and plastered to the dusty bush. I’d never before felt so helpless, and I begged God to show me what to do. Why is this happening? Please! Tell me what to do, and I’ll do it.

 …Micha’s aunt and the others in the tent where she lived didn’t seem to love her. At least they didn’t show it when I was around. It was so confusing. Why is Micha so sad all the time? Why is she the one that seems to be doing all of the household chores and all the work? Why doesn’t she want to go back home? The questions and curiosity and confusion swirled around in my brain and wouldn’t stop. My stomach clenched, telling me there was something deeper happening and I needed to find out what it was. After the emotionally exhausting morning I wrenched open the front gate, crossed the front yard, and burst through the front door, frantic to find my cell phone. I needed answers, and I didn’t care how expensive the Internet data charges were going to be.

I turned on my cell phone and pulled up Google. Then I typed in the three words that would forever change my life: Haiti + child + servant.

 A word I’d never heard before popped up in big, black, bold letters: restavek.

I froze, staring at the word on my cell phone screen for a good five minutes before scrolling down. There is actually a name for this way of treating children in Haiti. My mind reeled in confusion. I didn’t want to believe it, but as I continued reading, my head felt as though it would explode with this horrific discovery. The word restavek (sometimes spelled with a c instead of a k) is translated “to stay with” and is a common arrangement in Haiti, where parents force a child to live with another family because they are very poor or because of parental death or illness. Sometimes it includes the child being sold, kidnapped, or borrowed for a period of time.

I read a statement by the United Nations, condemning the restavek system as a “modern form of slavery” where even young children are put to work as laborers and treated as less than human.1 The majority of these restaveks are girls between the ages of four and fifteen, and they are responsible for all of the cooking, cleaning, laundry, and fetching of water for their households. Additionally, restaveks often suffer severe abuse and are very rarely enrolled in school.

There was much more, but I’d seen enough, and I put down  my phone. The room felt as though it was spinning. “Micha,” I gasped. Like an overwhelming rush, everything started to make sense. This is why she wasn’t in school when I met her. This is why I always saw her carrying heavy buckets of water or washing clothes in a tub outside the tent or surrounded by endless piles of dirty dishes. This is why she sleeps under a table on cardboard.

 Like a slideshow, images from the last few weeks popped up in my head as I remembered the many young girls I’d seen around Gressier who seemed to be working constantly. I had wondered why they stared down at the ground, eyes glassy and sad, and shoulders drooping. It was all starting to make sense, and I knew I had just made a life-changing discovery; I was finally able to put a finger on the disturbing feeling that had crawled its way up into my heart every time I passed these children. It was as if I could see the darkness of the situation and the evil behind it. I realized what the Holy Spirit had been stirring up in me the past few weeks, and I felt as though the Lord was igniting a fire inside me.

Children’s faces, one after another, popped into my head as I realized that Bellevue Mountain and much of Gressier were full of restaveks in an epidemic of child slavery. It made me sick to my stomach that I had been walking around this community for the last few weeks, knowing that something was wrong, wanting to question the situation, but not knowing how to begin. And it made me even sicker to know that so many Haitians had accepted and participated in this form of slavery in their own country with their own people.

I couldn’t find any firm statistics, but organizations that had studied the situation estimated that 300,000 to 500,000 children in Haiti are restaveks. I couldn’t get my mind and heart around that number. I still can’t. I never will…

I knew cooking pots of beans and rice or singing songs with kids wasn’t going to be enough.

[Get the book here.

I get to go back to Haiti this summer. What a privilege.]

 Romans  8:26 (NLT)  The Holy Spirit helps us in our weakness. For example, we don’t know what God wants us to pray for. But the Holy Spirit prays for us with groanings that cannot be expressed in words.

 

total cover png

 

 

Miracle on Voodoo Mountain

voodoo-mtThe Good:

A 24-year-old girl from the States goes to live in Haiti and lives. And God changes her life. And her community. Sometimes there is nothing more unbelievable than the truth. Fiction could never been this crazy. I’ve been going to Haiti since 2007, and this book brings you as close to being there as you can get short of a plane ticket.

This is a MUST read.

 

The Bad:

The restavek system, voodoo, crime, humidity, fake orphanages, child slavery. . .  But not the book, the book is terrific – about a young girl moving to Haiti and watching God work to defeat the restavek system, voodoo, crime…

 

The Ugly:

The Son of God Orphanage was the ugliest part of the book for me – even worse than the voodoo. At least voodoo is what it is, it doesn’t pass itself off as light. Anyhow buy this book, it’s the first time i’ve found myself crying while reading in a LONG time. If you want to know more before ordering here you go!

http://www.respirehaiti.org/

Meanwhile, I’ll be back in haiti soon, at a ministry we believe in. Someone needs to write it a book! http://mcmhaiti.org/

 

Heartline’s Hurricane Relief Continues

I’ve been connected and worked with Heartline Ministries a bit over the last 11 years. A trustworthy organization with a great report of Haiti after Matthew.

Heartline Haiti Blog

Having lived in Haiti for twenty-seven years, I’ve seen a lot. I’ve seen the damage caused by several tropical storms; I’ve seen the destruction caused by coup d’états and numerous manifestations, and I’ve seen the incomprehensible damage caused by the 2010 earthquake, that ravaged much of Port au Prince and nearby cities. Some estimate that up to 250 thousand lost their lives, perhaps just as many were injured, tens of thousands of houses and buildings were destroyed or damaged, and thousands upon thousands were left homeless. It was unimaginable.

And then on October 4, 2016, Hurricane Matthew made landfall near Les Anglais in southwesternHaiti, as a Category 4 hurricane with maximum sustained winds of 130–156 mph. This seemingly demonic force uprooted untold thousands of fruit trees, damaged many more and wiped off the face of the earth tens of thousands of gardens belonging to people that depended on them for food and for…

View original post 857 more words