Is it really a year?! It actually feels like years have past, that is how much has happened! It’s one thing to know life would be different and I would face challenges, but nothing could ever quite have prepared me to walk through them. But for every challenge there has been great reward. And for every story, there is a new chapter!
Whoever invented Apple's Photo Booth is my hero. Hours of entertainment!!!
Me and Johnky acting like fools and laughing for what felt like hours.
What I’ve Been Doing
My roles and “title” have morphed over the last year. But my objective is the same: Love big. Take time out of the administrative tasks to respond to my name for the 78th time in 2 minutes with a smile, to shoot a basketball, and to give a hug. Sit with the 20 year old and practice writing his name. Surprise the kids at school so they know I love them enough to check in on them. I will never forget Wedky (one of our rougher kids) at this past annual Karnaval. I gave him about $10 to go pick up something and bring me change. Another “regular” kid told me I shouldn’t trust him with money because “he’s a street kid.” Before I could say anything, Wedky turned around with a smile (not a razor blade!) and said “she’s my mom, she has complete confidence in me.”
me and Wedky... I've known this kid for more than 2 years. He's come a LONG way!!
And I do. I have confidence in these kids because they are working so hard to change their lives, and I’ve seen the change. They are studying after school. They are practicing soccer and basketball to learn to be a team. They do their chores. But for me, more importantly, they are grasping the concept of Gods grace and mercy. God is love. He is encouragement not judgment. He offers forgiveness not shame. The change in these kids’ attitudes and behavior is astounding to me when I think back to what they were like during my first trip summer of 2013… whoosh!! These are different kids all together. My heart is full.
Challenges and Rewards
I’ve had some real heartache this year. For example, some kids made the heartbreaking choice to leave our program and go live back on the streets. A young girl who lived in the slums, Emmanua, really won my heart. But she died unexpectedly this year, without the ability for her family to get her medical help or even properly bury her body. And most recently, voodoo practitioners trying to affect the outcome of local elections murdered street kids (not in our program). One of the kids was murdered near my house, and I was one of the first responders on scene. Not only am I dealing with the aftermath of that personally, but I’ve also helped other kids talk through this. Even now, every day I pass this part of town, I look down hoping that it never actually happened. But the blood stains are still there. It’s hard to keep tender-hearted and full of love and joy in the middle of all this.
Markny made the decision to return to the streets while I was home in June.
As I sit in a hotel writing this blog he is outside on the streets calling my name.
I go outside, give him a hug and a kiss. Tell him he's better than life on the streets and God has a plan.
He says he knows, but just can't go back...
One of the ways I’m staying strong is by remembering the rewards! I have seen many more street kids come into our program this year. Because of our love, academic focus, and Christian development activities, I have seen beautiful growth in the kids! I have had the privilege of leading several youth and staff to Christ and help them begin their faith journeys. And I got to see the kids’ lives changed when we moved them into a much bigger, cleaner group home. I’ve led Bible studies, baptized kids, helped kids learn to read, and scooped boys up off the street to forever transform their lives. That’s amazing! I am humbled to have been a part of these transformations.
What’s Next: “No Way!”
Much to my surprise, a couple months ago I felt the Lord was leading me to go serve the women and children who are victims of rape and violence in the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo. This will be a far more challenging mission assignment than my current one, so I sought counsel from advisors and input from my pastors. They agreed that this was how the Lord was directing me. While this will be hard, I’m committed to going wherever Jesus leads me.
Pastors: Vanessa, me, Ester and Camille Ntoto (of Africa New Day) and Niki last October meeting over lunch
Thus, I’m currently wrapping up my season at Streethearts. I’m transitioning the Christian Studies program, saying goodbye to the boys, and finishing well. While my heart grieves the goodbyes, I’m really excited about this next adventure. I plan to spend the latter part of this year moving out of Haiti, receiving missionary training, joining my new mission partners, and engaging in some long overdue soul care. At the start of the next year, I plan to join a Christian organization called Africa New Day in Goma, Congo to help with their women's and children's programs. Even though the region is different, the objective is the same: Love big.
What You Can Do!
I’m embarking on a great Kingdom adventure, and I’d love for you to join me! To everyone who has supported me this past year, I say THANK YOU! You’ve provided me with the means to do the work I am called to do. Not only have you sustained me, but also you’ve enabled me to help feed and provide for several street kids.
Me and Ti-ton. He's pretty quiet, but when he opens up, he's funny and very smart
Please consider partnering with me again to love and serve women and children in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. I will need your help and support to stay safe and to keep serving. Here are two ways to partner with me:
Financial Support- My current goal is to raise US $22,000 to cover all my expenses for one year. This will cover my health insurance, travel and transportation, room/board, phone and Internet, clean water, food, and security (which is critical in the Democratic Republic of the Congo).
For tax-deductible monthly or one time donations, you may send checks made payable to: Mount Vernon Foursquare Fellowship (“MVFF”) 5200 Eisenhower Avenue, Suite 200 Alexandria VA 22304; **please be sure to designate your donation by writing “Missions- Congo” on the memo line of your check. You can also donate with credit card at
https://www.razoo.com/story/Missions-Funds-For-Congo (Please note, however, that if you choose this option, 4% of your donation will be deducted.)
Prayer Support & Encouragement- Please pray for my spiritual and physical health and safety. Please pray for the armor of God to guard my body and spirit, and that no weapon formed against me shall prosper. Please also pray against sickness. If you could possibly send me encouraging messages or notes, it would mean a great deal to me. Even if I’m not able to immediately write you back!
Countryside in Haiti... Gorgeous. I will miss it here
Thank you so much for reading this blog and considering my support needs. Please continue to follow my blog here at www.heartcross-studios.blogspot.com. Also, if you have any questions or if you want to know more about what I am doing or if you know of anyone else who would be interested in hearing about my mission work, please feel free to forward my information.
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