God Moments: Wednesday in Haiti

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Wednesday was a very emotional and moving day for me.  I knew our plan was to walk the ravine and visit Pastor Cenor's orphanage.  I did not, however, know that God was going to break my heart in more ways than one, push me to consider options I'd never thought of, or encourage me at the end of it all with a good laugh.  God is pretty incredible like that.

Wednesday morning we woke up, had a fabulous breakfast (thank you Donna & Debbie!!) and walked over to Sherrie's place. Sherrie Fausey runs a school/orphanage/feeding program/everything just down the street from Jim's place.  I worked at her place back in 2009, during my first trip to Haiti, but this was the first time in three years that I got the opportunity to spend time with her and see what all she does again.  Sherrie gave us a quick tour of the school (side note: that place is HUGE now!), and then proceeded to walk us up to the roof; her favorite spot.  From her rooftop you get a complete 360 degree view of Port au Prince.  You could see the ocean, the mountains, and everything in between.  It was stunning!

(View of the ocean from Sherrie's roof)

As the team stood around admiring the view, Ken asked Sherrie if she would tell us about how she got started in Haiti.  I knew all about what Sherrie has been doing in Haiti, but I had never heard the story of how she got started.  To fully understand how much her story meant to me, you need to know that just the night before I spent a couple of hours talking with Jim, Debbie, Donna, and Mom about my calling to Haiti.  It was an emotion filled conversation with lots of added encouragement, challenges, and direction (more to come on that soon).  As Sherrie told her story, I felt Jim looking at me, but I also felt God saying "SEE!!  IF SHE CAN DO IT, SO CAN YOU! JUST DO IT!!"  At the end of her story Sherrie said "If you feel like God is calling you to do something but it's scary, and you feel completely inadequate or unable, then He is definitely calling you, so just jump in feet forward!"  She said, "It feels like you're stepping off the side of a cliff and that you're going to fall 1,000 feet, BUT if you're following Gods call then He is walking with you, and will not let you fall."  

And then my heart started racing.  Tears were welling up in my eyes and it was another one of those moments where there is absolutely no denying that God was calling me.  I've had quite a few of those moments over the last few weeks.  They are insanely scary yet the most peace-filled moments you can imagine.  I've written quite a bit about my fears in moving to Haiti; how I feel completely inadequate and question "Are you sure God?? You really want ME?"  After this week, there is no doubt in my mind that He is sure.  He wants me there. He has orchestrated every single tiny detail up to this point to get me to where I am. It's crazy, but I've never felt more at peace about any decision than I do right now.

After Sherrie shared her testimony, she walked us down to the Ravine.  For those of you that do not know about the ravine, it is basically the slums of Haiti.  These people have next to nothing but their little concrete block, one room home, and a tin roof where their entire family lives.  Their houses are situated on the ravine; a river filled with sewage, waste, and everything else.  This water is what the people drink from, bathe in, go to the bathroom in, cook with, wash their clothes in, etc.  Until you see it first hand and experience the poverty yourself, you cannot imagine what these people must go through each day.  
 (Danny crossing the Ravine)
(Mom crossing the Ravine with Jim's help.  He was so graciously willing to step into the trash and parasite ridden water to help us across.  Thank you Jim for your Servant's heart.  You are an inspiration!)

As we walked through (and across) the ravine, I found myself in awe of the people who live there.  With my selfish American spoiled mindset, I found myself thinking these people should be angry, saddened by their conditions, broken even.  But what we found was nothing of the sorts.  Every. Single. Person we passed had a smile on their face.  They greeted us with "Bonswa" and "Alo" around every corner.  Kids ran out from behind their curtained doors to grab our hands and walk with us.  The people came out to help us navigate our way through the maze of a tent city.  They were the most loving and gracious people we encountered all week.  These people who have every reason to be mad at the world, love it in a way that I can't even comprehend.  They are grateful for what they do have.  They never forget the joy a smile can bring.  They jump at the opportunity to hold your hand and express their love to you.

In this realization I found myself feeling guilty for all of the selfish thoughts, actions, and motives I have each day.  I have NOTHING to complain about, yet we as Americans find things daily to groan over.  We are blessed in thousands of ways, yet we are still not content.  I was encouraged and challenged by these people to find contentment.  To love regardless the circumstances. To smile even when things are hard.  To love fully and unconditionally.

(Sherrie talking to a mother about her child)

And then, just when I thought my God moments were over for the day, I was wrong (no surprise there).  After we left Sherrie's Jim told us about this sweet elderly lady that lived down the street from him who was in her final days of battling cancer.  He went into her home to see how she was doing and to ask if we could come in and sing to her.  She was not having a good day, but agreed to have us anyways.  I was not prepared for what lay beyond that door. We walked into a tiny little concrete block home.  It was dark, hot, and just a tiny little fan was blowing.  And then we saw Elizabeth.  
(Elizabeth & Jim. Picture taken from Donna Tyson's blog)

Jim was sitting beside her on the bed.  She had only a sheet on and it was covered in blood from the tumors that had come through the surface of her skin and broken open.  Her right arm was swollen, and her left one was so frail.  She took all of her energy to sit up and greet us.  Mom started us off and we sang hymns to her while she used what little energy she had left to sing along with us.  As we sang How Great Thou Art, my heart was breaking. I will never be able to sing that song again without seeing Elizabeths face or thinking of her (I broke down on Sunday at Grey Stone when they started singing it).  Here was this incredible Christian woman, fighting her way through her last days on this earth.  She was pain ridden, bleeding, frail, and dying yet she still found the strength to praise God.  When we finished singing, Jim asked if someone would like to pray for her.  It was all I could do to not break into an uncontrollable sob, let alone get the words out to pray.  He prayed over her, and at the end said to her, "When you get to Heaven, your pain will end.  You will have a healthy, strong, and cancer free body.  And when we get to meet you in Heaven one day, we will be able to sing those songs together in the same language."  What an incredible picture that was.  How joyous Heaven will be.  I only spent a few short moments with Ms. Elizabeth that day, but she will forever hold a very dear place in my heart. I cannot wait to see her singing, dancing, and praising God one day in Heaven, with her healthy body!

After visiting Elizabeth we headed back to the house, ate some lunch, and then headed out to Pastor Cenor's orphanage.  I've met Pastor Cenor twice now, but had never gotten the opportunity to see his orphanage.  His place and the kids were great.  We all noticed how well behaved and polite all the kids  were.  While the kids ate lunch Pastor Cenor shared his testimony with the team.  
(Pastor Cenor and his wife)

I heard his story back in 2009, but it is an incredible testimony.  He shared about how real and evident demons are in Haiti.  Here in America, we don't face demonic possessions or see their power first hand, but we have our own demons: like technology, pornography, hatred, etc.  The Devil knows just how to get in between us and God, and here in America it clearly doesn't take much.  In Haiti however, they experience evil in a much more head on way.  Pastor Cenor shared about how VooDoo spirits took over his mother, how he escaped from that world, how he came to know Christ, and how he has led many VooDoo priests and followers to Christ over the last few years.  It's an incredible story, that I simply can't do justice to with my own words.   I was encouraged, however, to hear his story and about how big his faith is.  He will do anything the Lord tells him without question.  He's incredible.

Now, I mentioned above that God also spoke to me that day through laughter.  Before we left for the orphanage, Debbie mentioned that we should ask the kids to sing and dance for us.  We had no idea how much fun it would be.  The kids danced and sang their heart out (see link below).  The workers were cracking up with laughter and we ended the day on such a fun note.  It was a beautiful reminder to me that God see us and he knows just what we need.  He is faithful to guide us, direct our paths, push us to new beginnings, expand our comfort zones, and use us for his goodness; but he is also faithful to fill us with joy and a happiness we cannot explain.  He blesses us with those moments where we can sit back, laugh, and enjoy His creation.

We serve a Mighty God yall.  One who loves us more than we will ever understand.  This was just one day of how God worked this past week.  I'm just getting started so stay tuned.

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One Response to “God Moments: Wednesday in Haiti”

  1. You did such a good job at putting your emotions and experiences into these posts...i cried thinking about Ms. Elizabeth and laughed remembering Pastor Cenar's kids dancing for us. I am so proud of you and how you are allowing the Holy Spirit to lead you! What a scary but incredibly fun ride! Certainty is so boring, ha! Praying for you as you make next step decisions and looking forward to seeing the Lord continue to work in your life.