For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also!
Wednesday, October 30, 2013
Guest blog... Life in Haiti
I love the look on people’s faces when I tell them “God told me to sell my stuff, leave my career and move to Haiti… He coordinated my move. I just said ‘Yes’”. A few years ago, I would have been that person with the blank and/or skeptical stare. But now I know otherwise. Saying ‘yes’, although extremely exciting and rewarding, is a scary step… to trust God for the things that don’t make sense to the human mind; that is hard. John 14:21 summarization basically says that the more we obey God, the more He talks to us. This is exactly what is going on in the life of Linsey Jorgenson. God said ‘start’ and she said ‘ok’… At StreetHearts, daily, you will see God move in the details. You will see how much God loves Linsey by His provision and you will see how much God loves those boys. Linsey’s interactions with them is one such example.
If you go back and read the archives of the blog, you’ll read her sincerity and transparency in writing the blog. Her work is hard. Her work is rewarding, but it is hard. She is quick to tell you this isn’t her, this is “Gods project”… and it is. After being with her for one week, there is no possible way a human can accomplish all that has been accomplished in the last year. He is doing amazing things with those boys, with her staff and with her.
It was my absolute honor to fill in the gaps wherever I was needed. I had a few commitments of my own, but other than that…and playing momma to Lins during her bacterial infection (there’s always something going on!), my time in Cap was devoted to StreetHearts and to the boys. It’s funny how you can fall in love with a child after mere minutes. I found that much of my time was spent, yes laughing and talking with the boys (they were so patient with my broken Creole), but really observing the house, the interactions, the staff, the needs; physical, emotional and spiritual. How is it possible that this precious child laying here in my lap sleeping, has lived a life I would not wish on even the most heinous of enemies? He has lived his childhood in a mans world needing to provide and protect himself. When can he be a child?…
Thus… LET’S HAVE SOME FUN!! The week was Awesome!! Another volunteer popped in for a few days and so the two of us decided to pool our money and take the boys to the beach. We were able to afford to take 6 boys and 3 staff; the staff picked the boys and off we went. The ride there is one of the most beautiful rides. Northern Haiti is lush, green and the ocean is spectacular. We were taking the boys to Paradis beach, a public beach only accessible by taxi boat from the landing at Labadee… where the Royal Caribbean (RC) cruise ship comes in. RC is pretty intense about security of their passengers in any country and because of an over dramatized media portrayal of Haiti, they are extra tight on security in Haiti. When the cruise ship is docked, entry from the road to Labadee is prohibited.
We rounded the corner of the road at the security gate to find another car with some wealthier locals talking to the guard at the gate. The car drove in and the security waved us through as well. The road from the top of the gate to the shore is winding and really bumpy. As we are driving down the road, you can smell food. Pizza, hamburgers, hotdogs… not typical Haitian cuisine. I can see the RC staff inside the fence line staring at us… note: I’m used to being stared at in Haiti, but this was intense staring. We passed another guard gate where we didn’t even pause, we just kept driving. Again with the intense staring, but we had a beach to go to! As we round the corner at the bottom of the road, even my mouth dropped to the ground! The ship was there… how the heck did we make it through 2 security check points?! I have been on a cruise before, but this ship was HUGE. The look on the boys faces and even the staff was priceless…. even better was the huge smile on Linseys face just before we both started to laugh about the fact that WE SHOULD NOT BE THERE! We got the boys to pose for a picture before we took off in the water taxi’s. Pay not attention to the censored shirt on the right. It really cracks me up when people here wear shirts when they don’t know what the words say. Needless to say we got him a new shirt once we read what his said!
The day was amazing. The boys had a great time splashing, swimming and doing flying ninja sidekicks in the water. Lavila, one of the staff got in and swam around with us for a few hours. He was so fun to watch him with the boys. Discipleship changes lives and seeing the staff interact with the boys and the boys respond makes my heart happy! Since Paradise is a beautiful beach, RC apparently offers it as a beach excursion. One curious couple from the ship made their way over to talk to me. They were from Israel. They could not comprehend why I, a white woman, would chose to leave my life and career in DC to work with Haitian children. It made for a very interesting conversation about Jesus. They asked A LOT of questions and eventually asked for the website. Who knows… regardless, the day with the boys was richly rewarding!
By mid-week I was giving tours of StreetHearts as if it were my own baby (which it is now a precious “neice” or “nephew” like project in my mind). I am passionate about what God is doing through Linsey and with those boys. I am also passionate to see Haitians provide for Haiti. Linsey is not teaching these boys to rely on her to provide for them. She is teaching them to be proud of THEIR heritage. She is showing them that with God all things are possible. She is giving them a safe home to be kids. A safe place to learn, to play, to be loved. She is trying to provide connections to families for jobs so they can get their kids back. Every child should be raised by their family. No family wants to tell their 7 year old to go live on the streets of a city and send money home, but that is the unfortunate reality for some rural families in Haiti. Why water the fruit when the root is what provides for the fruit?! Water the root and entire plant will thrive. Linsey’s vision does just that. She has an amazing 3 tier program depending on the situation of the child. I won’t go into it here, but I encourage you to check it out.
(I am learning a new Jido move in the above photo. Clearly, I’m intensely listening to the details of the move.)
The nature of Haitians: Before the feeding program kicked in (special thanks to God for hooking up random encounters with Chick-fil-a to provide all we needed for the kitchen and thanks to all our donors!) and the boys were still providing their own meals. The boys would tell me “I’m hungry” when I first got there in the morning. I would tell them “me too. You haven’t eaten yet and neither have I” by the end of the week, the boys were using their money to bring me food. I couldn’t believe it. Here they are, haven’t had breakfast or lunch and they want to provide for me. That is true Haitian culture. You share your first bite with someone who also is in need. Linsey felt the strong prompting of providing meals for the boys. This is a huge financial commitment. Two meals a day is no small task in any country for 80+ boys. The only thing cheap in Haiti is manual labor. I’ll just tell you. Prices of groceries here are more than I paid in DC. Haiti may be the poorest country in the western hemisphere, but it’s expensive to live here (thank you Clinton for your rice embargo… and yes, I’m happy to discuss in detail). I strongly encourage you to consider being a reoccurring monthly donor to contribute to the food budget.
Our last Friday night together… Linsey and I were exhausted. As we went over our day and all the amazing things that happened during the week, we commented on the fact that we were going to bed before 10…Life is different these days. Thank God for new perspectives and priorities in life!
The hightlight of my time with the boys?… after telling them all week how much Jesus loves them, Johnky (one of the rougher boys that didn’t believe Jesus loved him) asked me to pray for him. I can’t wait to go back!! My dear sweet Nixon!!… N’ap we talé!!