Strings

Adoption comes with strings. And those strings are often a tangled ball of yarn. Or maybe it’s more like fishing line. Strands wrapped together and around each other so tightly you cannot tell where to begin to untangle the knot.

When we picked up Amania to bring her home, the orphanage director brought her birth parents to Lifeline to meet us and to tell her goodbye. This was a hard, beautiful, terrible, wonderful gift, and we have always been thankful. And my heart stopped when I saw them.

Our girl’s mama was great with child that day.

There are no words for what I felt when I saw her.

For over a year, Matt and I would travel back and forth to Haiti on teams, fully expecting that each one would be the team when we would see Amania’s baby brother or sister at Lifeline. But s/he never arrived and we sort of moved on mentally and hoped that one day we would be able to visit her home village and meet her family and ask the questions we didn’t have the wherewithal to ask that spring day in 2013.

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And then June came. I was there with our two oldest, leading a vocational team. Out on the front porch sat a man with a small child – not an unusual sight at Lifeline. But when I stopped and took a closer look, I knew that man. And the face of that child was like my own daughter’s face staring back at me.

There are no words for what I felt when I saw them.

Amania’s father was there to drop off this, their youngest daughter – the child mama was pregnant with when we picked Amania up four years ago – into the care of Lifeline. My knees buckled and my heart gave way.

My girls and I grieved our way through that week and Matt and I talked when I got home. Haiti’s adoption policies have changed drastically from 2011 and our hands felt (and still feel) tied. We shelved the conversation and went on with life, not sure what else we could do.

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And then came today. On Facebook we saw pictures from the orphanage director of little sister at the orphanage and my heart gave way again. We talked to all the girls – Amania first and privately – about the little one. And Amania handled it with strength and grace and I marvel at how God has empowered her to so confidently roll with every wild curve life has thrown at her. She amazes me, and I’m so glad I get the privilege of raising her.

But I find myself still reeling, the wind knocked out of me. The anger, the sadness, the helplessness I feel – they all seem too big to be contained. I don’t know where we go from here, and it’s hard to see God in this.

We will travel in a few weeks. I will see her and I will hold her and I will undoubtedly cry. I will pray for her and I will pray for God to show us clearly the next right thing that we need to do. There are no easy answers: there rarely are in life, there never are in Haiti.

I will pray – as I always do when traveling to Haiti – that God will reveal Himself; that He will show Himself faithful and present in Haiti.  And I will grieve. I will grieve for this sweet girl – a poverty orphan, victim of a broken world. I will give thanks that she is at least in a place where I know she will be cared for and we can see her regularly. But I will shamelessly grieve that another child is without a family tonight because her family cannot afford to feed her.

And I resolve to continue to fight to change that in the next generation. We cannot and will not ever fix Haiti. Only God and Haitians can fix Haiti. But we can make an impact, we can change the future for at least a few. We can empower them with tools and skills and resources to care for themselves and their future families. So that maybe, one day, there won’t be poverty orphans in Haiti. Instead, boys and girls will grow up in families that love them and can provide for their daily needs and the cycle of abandonment will begin to be broken and redemption and restoration will be written all across their land. Because God is in this.

But even if the cycle of poverty never changes, even if the number of orphans never declines, He is still God and He is still good. Not because I’m sitting safe and comfortable in my home in the United States, but because He is sitting next to me tonight in my grief and He is sitting next to that little girl at Lifeline in her confusion and sorrow, and He sits every day next to each and every Haitian as they face the daily struggle that is their life. He is with us all, even when it doesn’t seem possible.

There are not enough words for His goodness.

For His Glory ~

~ Sara

 

Week in Review: 2014 {Week 18} Reflecting on a Week in Haiti

Sometimes we go some place hard and we see miracles.  My husband gets to see them almost every time he travels to Haiti.  Sometimes we go and we just quietly serve and God meets us there in small, secret ways.  That is almost always my experience in Haiti.  And I’d lie if I said I wasn’t ever envious of his “Wow, God!” trips but there is simple beauty in the “wow, God” moments I have as well.

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This trip to Haiti was stocking the clinic and counting pills.  It was cards with my dad and several nights of heavy rain.  It was getting to know old friends better and making new friends.  It was cleaning toilets and wiping tables and washing dishes.  It was being made less, while God became more.  It was medical clinics and the Creole word vagen (lots of female issues treated on this trip).  It was holding sweet brown babies and watching tweens braid hair.  It was ten year old boys who look like they’re eight and some seriously impressive Haitian futbol (barefoot, no less).






It was watching an adoptive grandpa bond with his future grandson.  It was devotions on Heaven and one day being invited into the homes of those we were there to serve and sermons on the dying, conquering sheep.  It was Psalm 23 said simultaneously in English and Creole.  It was worship and being prayed over by a beautiful teen girl in a language I could not understand but deeply stirred my soul.

It was diesel smells and unbelievable dust and drought conditions.  It was mountains and trees and fresh mangos.  It was food distributions and Pastor Daniel guarding the door and thoughts of Teddy Roosevelt’s exhortation to “walk softly and carry a big stick”.  It was a day at the beach and watching these children whose lives are anything but normal be normal for one whole day.


And it was watching two precious boys be united with their forever family.  It was seeing the huge, unbreakable smiles on their faces when their parents arrived, and remembering that exact.same.look on our own Amania’s face just a year ago.  It was their unspeakable joy as they said farewell to their friends, and it was their friends’ returned joy for them.  It was hope and beauty and a reflection of Heaven.

This Haiti trip was like going again for the first time.  Without Amania there, I was free to experience a team as a team member, not an adoptive parent.  I was able to spend time with any and all of the children.  And I was able to walk away and not feel guilty if I wasn’t “bonding” with my child.  It was a gift and a privilege to be there again.  It is a hard, messy, special, wonderful place, and it gets in your blood and gets a grip on your heart and you can’t ever forget.  You don’t want to ever forget.  These kids, this place, they are all amazing.  God is here.


For His Glory ~

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Why We’re “Forget(ting) the Frock” Again This Year…

Last year was the first time I had heard the term “Forget the Frock“.  Always looking for a way to simplify life and help the less fortunate (and a bonus if we can do both at once!), I immediately jumped on board.  A shirt was designed and promoted supporting Haiti Lifeline Ministries, starting an adoption fund within the ministry.

And as Easter came closer this year and I knew we needed to start planning for Forget the Frock if we wanted to do it again, I wrestled a bit.  Because Easter feels like such a slighted holiday anyway, yet it is one of the most important.  I don’t want to participate in hijacking the resurrection of Christ in the name of raising money, even for such a worthy cause as adoption.  But on the other hand, we (as Americans) can spend so much time, money, and energy on clothes that will be worn one day, fussed over for pictures, and then stuffed in closets and sold next year at garage sales, I decided maybe this wasn’t really hijacking anything, but maybe taking it back.  Because Christ came to seek and save the lost, to lead the charge to care for the orphan and widow, and if we are adopted in Him then we are commanded to do the same.  So maybe a simple shirt that can be worn year round, proclaiming His name and the good news, that helps put orphans in families….maybe that really is the best way to dress for Easter.

So we are excited to do this again, with some great new shirts designed just for this event.

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Click here to order yours.  And then feel free to share with your friends why you’re simplifying your Easter by sharing this post.

Forget the frock.  Help an orphan.  Buy a shirt.  Change a life.

For His Glory ~

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* Special thanks to the Fox Family for starting this movement and letting the rest of us be part of it!

Revisiting the unpacking….

A repost from the archive as friends and loved ones return from Haiti and sort through the raw and real and the American dream.

I’ve sat here for nearly an hour, trying to figure out what to say.  I sort through this past ten days and don’t know what to think.  I sit here, my emotions a strange combination of protective numb and completely raw.  I don’t know if I should sleep or cry.  I only know I don’t feel like I expected to feel.

This orphanage has been a part of our lives for a few years and a huge part of our life for the past twelve months.  I have lived it in other peoples stories and pictures and in my own mind I have dreamed of the day I would get to go.  And now I’ve lived it for myself for eight days.  Eight wonderful, hard, dirty, beautiful days.  And I guess I just expected to feel differently today.  But I honestly don’t know how I feel yet.  Just that numb rawness.  How do those two even co-exist?

I sort laundry and I sort memories.  I wash out Haitian dirt and pray to never wash out Haiti memories.  Those kids.  Their laughs.  The singing.  The cheers every time our truck pulled into the compound.  The food distribution.  Two hundred people with nothing, showing us around their village, showing us their homes.  Two hundred voices lifted in praise to God so thankful we have come.  We leave rice and beans to fill their stomachs for a few days, maybe a week?  They have filled our hearts for a lifetime.  The crazy trips into town. The traffic.  The wild driving.  The stories of Matt driving the Isuzu.     Pterodactyl.  The dirt that you can never get off your skin for very long.  The three minute cold showers that felt better than my ten minute hot showers at home.  Taking some of the kids up to the beach.  Water like I’ve never seen before – green-blue wonder.  Haiti is so beautiful….why do they not develop that?  That old woman on the side of the road.  What becomes of someone like that in a country like that?  The beauty of this people amidst all this poverty.  Knowing that it is their poverty that makes them love Jesus all the more.

I think of meals with the team and laughing and new friendships formed and all of the strange references I’ve heard that finally make sense, have context.  I think of Stan’s message on Sunday and Daniel’s passionate translation and the looks on the faces of those Haitians as they heard bagpipes probably for the first time ever.  I think of Nicole’s testimony and how it tapped some deep well of emotion.  I think of crying on the porch of the medical clinic with Matt as I try to process all of these feelings amidst all of the fatigue.

I think of all those little companions I had for eight days.  A dozen shadows everywhere I went.  I think of Liknay and how he nearly drove me crazy, but somehow I miss his ornery face.  I think of Misterline and Camberry and Adline and Miliane and Stella.  Those sweet girls and how they cried when it was time for us to go and I wonder do they still hope for a family or do they believe they have run out of time, that this is their life?  I think of beautiful Shela and the mama she is to my girl and how I know it tears her heart out that one day Amania won’t be there anymore and yet she loves her well.

I think of meeting my girl for the first time.  Shyness.  Tentative love.  How she warmed up to me but stayed cool toward Matt.  I think of yesterday morning and how she cried so hard before school Nicole let her stay with us until we had to leave.  I think of sitting there at the table, her on my lap, just counting down the minutes, wanting to get this band-aid ripped off, so to speak, get the leaving over with because I know it’s going to be hard, but I have no idea how hard.  I think of her starting to say softly “kay” in Creole and pointing outside.  We ask the social worker there what does this mean.  And he tells us “kay” means house, home.  And I feel my heart break into a million pieces.  I think of going outside and her pointing to that truck, begging through her tears for us to put her on it, to take her with us and having to tell her no, that she must stay and praying to God she trusts us when we say we will come back for her.  I think of literally peeling her off of me and getting on that truck with my head low so I can’t see her, thankful that the loud motor of the Isuzu helps drown the sound of her tears.  I think of Matt weeping as he has to leave his little girl there, unable to do what men are made to do – protect, provide.

And here I still sit…raw and somewhat numb.  A good tired.  A good overwhelmed.  One cannot have these experiences and not be changed.  The effects of the fall are so obvious in a place like Haiti.  Here we gloss over them.  We make our sin shiny and clean looking.  There man’s brokenness is undeniable, in your face, unavoidable.  Even though I feel somewhat numb, I do not want to become numb to what I saw, heard, smelled, felt.  God is at work.  He is on the move.  I want to be part of whatever He is up to, even if it means having my heart shattered time and again because that is what He has done for us.

For His Glory ~

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* originally posted February 10, 2012

Our Haiti Baby Turns Six

So, my sweet Haiti girl turned six today.  And while we all celebrated with news of a Visa for her and plans to travel in a matter of days, I can’t help but wonder what she’s feeling, and I can help but think of her birth parents.

Amania

Does she understand what’s about to happen?  How her world is about to turn upside down but she is loved and accepted and safe?  Can she comprehend a family, especially a strange American one, being forever?  Does she even know that it’s her birthday and does this day make her happy or sad?

And her birth parents.  Oh, them…  My heart has hurt for them a little bit more each day as her departure comes closer and closer.  I know they made the choice and I believe they did it out of love for her, choosing life for her future.  But do they keep a calendar? Do they know what today is?  What does her mother feel when she thinks about her?  How much do they miss her laugh, her beautiful smile?  Do they have dreams for her future in the States?  Do they pray for her?

Oh, beautiful Amania Hope, we are so thankful for you and so thankful that you will soon be joining us here, in your home.  We are excited to finally have you with us, everyday.  And while this is a day and season of celebration – your birthday, your home coming, we also realize this is a time of sadness as you leave your homeland, the family that gave you life, and the family you have known and loved for as long as you can remember.  We will rejoice with you and we will mourn with you and we will respect you in this process.  This adoption thing is a beautiful mess, but it’s given by God to all of us, and so we know that it is good and it is for His glory, because He loves us.

We love you, Amania.

For His Glory ~

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Doing Something Different for Easter

What if we all took back Easter and did something completely different this year?  What if we decided that Easter was about more than fancy clothes, baskets, and bunnies that lay eggs?  What if we all showed up to church on Easter morning in tee shirts supporting orphan care, a cause close to the heart of Jesus?  What if we, as one mom put it, decided to “forget the frock”?

Forget the Frock is a movement started three years ago by a mom who decided that all of that time and money she was spending on Easter “frocks” for her family could be put to better use.  She decided that instead of all the Easter finery, they would don jeans and orphan awareness tee shirts on Easter morning, bringing awareness to a worldwide crisis of children without families.

Enter Haiti Lifeline Ministries and the orphanage that our daughter will call home for a few more weeks and an island with thousands upon thousands of orphaned children and I knew we somehow needed to be a part of this.

So, in that vein, Haiti Lifeline Ministries has launched a new tee shirt design just in time for Easter.  Shirts are just $12 and shipping is available for a small fee.  Proceeds from this campaign will be used to do something new and needed within the ministry – an Adoption Fund will be opened to help place children at Lifeline in forever families.

Will you consider joining us as we do something different for Easter?  Will you join us wearing these great new tee shirts from Haiti Lifeline Ministries and help place orphans in homes?

Go here to learn more about Haiti Lifeline Ministries.

Go here to place your order and take a stand for orphans this Easter.

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For His Glory ~

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Week in Review {2013, Week 2}

We come to the end of another week and I find that we’ve made it through that tremulous first week back to balancing school and life.

I practiced peace while wrestling testy appliances and a messy house.

We found our way through some new curriculum and found that the second grader absolutely LOVES it.  After a few days of doing school from breakfast until bedtime (not exaggerating!), we found a little bit of rhythm and were done by dinnertime.  Now if I can get a certain child to stop disappearing between classes, we could have something close to a normal school day.

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All week we walk a dark road with a daughter who wants to choose her own path and we continue to learn what it is to pray and beg mercy and be humbled because we really have no clue what we’re doing in this parenting thing and by the time we think we’ve figured something out everything changes.

We pass another week with no word of movement in Haiti while on Facebook I see an acquaintance post pictures of their Haitian children at home.  An acquaintance we met standing in line nearly a year ago at the embassy in Port-au-Prince both waiting for our I-600 appointment.  I marvel at how their kids are home and will myself to say the Lord’s ways are higher and His timing is perfect.  Because I am done with this being “pregnant” and there are no old wives tales to test to start labor.  I must simply wait.  And I’m reminded as I do of some of the wisest adoption words I’ve heard so far, and we heard them early on in this….”Respect the process.”  No amount of grumbling or being impatient or thinking how this or that could be done better will change the adoption process in Haiti, at least not right now.  My safest and most peaceful place is to trust God and respect the process.

Last night we celebrated the new year with our Sunday school class and as I crawled into bed at nearly 1 am, I prayed thanks to Jesus for the community He has been quietly building around us this past year in our own church, a place where we had felt painfully disconnected for many months.  We are blessed.

I realize today it’s been three years since the earthquake, since Haiti appeared to almost fall in on itself.  Three years since we watched unimaginable images on television screens and prayed for our own loved ones and friends to come home safe.  It’s been three years since we felt compelled to move, to act, to be involved. Three years since a massive community-wide sale that really was the beginning of our involvement in ministry in Haiti.  And I sit and reflect on all the mighty ways God has moved in just three years and I am amazed and how can I not worship and praise His name, for He has done good things.

For His Glory ~

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