Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Haiti Recap: Part 1

Tomorrow will already mark a week since we have been back from Haiti so it is about time that I fill you in on our trip!  I feel like I've now had time to process most of it and I have written daily accounts and stories in my journal.  I would love to share some of the highlights with you in the next couple of posts.

As I told you in my last post, it was a total God thing that I even got to be a part of this awesome team!  I only knew for two weeks prior that I would be going and was so amazed at how He worked out all the details so perfectly!  No matter how many times He shows up in big ways and small, I am always in awe! 

I have to start by telling you what an amazing group of people I was blessed to go with!  Each person brought something unique to the rest of the team and it was evident that the Lord orchestrated it. 

Wes and Nicole, Taylor, Kari, Jamie and Matt, Brent, Stephen, Me

March 17, 2012
Saturday was a long day of travel, but making it to Haiti and being greeted by Pastor Joseph was well worth it!  He was waiting by the parking lot at the airport with our driver and greeted us with his always smiling self, hugs, and kisses on the cheek!  We made our way through Port-au-Prince and towards Petit Goave on the crazy and busy road that connected them.  The 40 mile drive can take anywhere from 2-5 hours because of the road conditions and traffic but we were on the shorter end of that this time.  Things looked pretty similar to when Daniel and I were there almost 2 years ago.  There were some improvements to the roads and some bulidings, but still several tent cities lining the roads.  It was definitely hard to see these conditions again.  Even though I had seen this very place before it served as a reminder of how a lot of the world lives.  Often struggling with becoming too busy, this was a reminder I needed that as Christians we are called to minister to the poor, the widows and orphans, and everyone who needs the hope of Jesus where God has us now and where He will lead us.  

After getting settled in our hotel rooms and eating dinner it was dark outside and let me tell you, I have never in my life seen as many stars as you could see from our balcony.  The sky was crystal clear and we were able to spot constellations and planets.  What a testimony of how BIG God is! 

March 18, 2012
We started the morning off with a ride in the Tap-Tap.  I absolutely love the tap-tap!  Let me explain it:  a tap-tap is basically a smaller truck like a ranger that has wooden planks in the bed to sit on and railing around the bed of the truck.  Whenever you all pile in and are ready to go someone in the bed taps the roof of the truck so the driver knows when to go!  I don't know why, but I think it is the cutest thing! 
Some of us in the Tap-Tap on the way to church

When we pulled up to the church we couldn't believe our eyes!  Almost 2 years ago the church was nothing but a concrete slab and a few concrete pillars left after the earthquake.  Today it is one of the most beautiful buildings we saw in Petit Goave!  Pastor Joseph and Philadelphia Baptist Church has served as a beacon of Christ's light in their community and it is so awesome to see how the Lord has provided for them to have a beautiful place to worship.

 Nearly 2 years ago after the earthquake


 The same angle that the pic from 2 years ago was!

The beautiful wood pulpit

Worshiping with Haitian brothers and sisters was such an amazing experience.  Even though we didn't know what words they were saying because it was all in Creole, it was evident that they love the Lord and His presence was in that room!  They all had such beautiful voices and are so enthusiastic!  We could definitely use a little more of their excitement in America! :)  It was really cool too because we could recognize some of the song tunes such as the Doxology and sing along in English.  One thing they kept shouting was Hallelujah which was awesome because Hallelujah is the same or very similar in most languages!  What a sweet reminder that no matter our language, we serve the same God.  I also couldn't help but think about heaven and when people from every tongue and tribe are all gathered around singing praise to the Lord!  In a class, Perspectives, that Daniel and I took they talked about how every people group has some way of worshipping God that no other group can offer and it is such a beautiful thing to think about!

Miel and her sisters singing

After church we went to check out the site where we would be having the basketball camp.  It was a great slab with 2 goals behind one of the schools. 

One of the goals in front of a tree full of mangos

After lunch back at the hotel, we had some free time that afternoon so we decided to go out on a boat trip to a beach further around the island.  What a beautiful place Haiti is!  Blue water, white sandy beaches, and mountains!  I'll let the pictures speak for themselves!  On the beach we found sand dollars and huge conch shells and we were surprised when we were served lobster, fries, and plantains!

We went back to the evening worship service and they were having a type of open mic where several people came up to sing.  One high school aged boy came up to sing and said his mother wanted so badly for him to be educated, but she never taught him about Jesus.  He said, "now that I know Jesus, I am teaching my mother and sister about him".  The next group was 3 little girls including the pastor's daughter who sang.  They were around 8 years old and the middle girl with the mic said, "We are going to sing for the glory of God".  The translator was sitting right beside us, so he would tell us what they were saying!  I loved being able to hear some of their stories and testimonies!  One of Pastor Joseph's friends who is also a pastor gave the message and it was translated for us!  It was awesome to hear God speaking truth and challenging the congregation through the message. 

I got to Skype with Daniel that night which was wonderful!  I really missed him being with us on the trip but am so blessed with how encouraging and supportive he is of me! 

Stay tuned for Part 2 of my Haiti recap and thanks for reading!

Friday, March 16, 2012

Haiti: It's Go Time!

Wow. . . it still doesn't feel real that I will be in Haiti tomorrow!  After finding out only two weeks ago that I would be going, it doesn't seem possible!  Almost 2 years ago when Daniel and I went the first time we knew and prepared for months but it is so awesome how the Lord has opened the door to this amazing opportunity! 

I've been playing over in my head our last trip and thinking about this upcoming adventure: the beautiful people we met and the struggle they face every day, the faces I will know and the ones I will get to meet, the church service all in Creole and the spirit of God alive as if we understood every word, and the awesome team members that the Lord placed together then and this time around!

In the mornings we will be teaching some fairly simple but useful crafts to about 30-40 women.  I am so excited about being able to use a passion the Lord has given me to serve Him!  I want to briefly introduce you to two of the main crafts we will be teaching and when I return I will post tutorials for them and I plan to do an overview of my time in Haiti. 

You've probably noticed the popular paper beads that are often sold through fair trade from women in other countries.  We thought it would be a wonderful skill for the Haitians to learn as they could make jewelry to sell in their local markets and possibly internationally in the future. 

This is a sample bead I made while practicing to teach the women:

For these beads to be more shapely than a small cylindrical tube, you need longer paper than that from a magazine or a regular 8.5x11" sheet.  As I researched how to make them better, I found that posters would work wonderfully!  The paper is longer, thicker, and a lot of times very colorful.  After I discovered that posters would work well, I set out to find some.  I began emailing some local businesses in Nashville but the doubting Thomas in me really wasn't expecting much response.  Within two days almost everyone I had contacted had replied or contacted me wanting to donate old posters they had.  Here is a shot of the posters that were donated so graciously by some of Nashville's finest!

Vanderbilt Sports Information
Vanderbilt Special Events
Hatch Show Print
The Sounds Baseball Club
The Country Music Hall of Fame
Average Joe's Record Label (not pictured because I received them after this pic was taken)

I want to give a BIG thank you to all of these Nashville businesses who so willingly donated these posters for Haiti.  You don't know how much it is going to mean to the Haitians and I can't wait for them to make beautiful beads using these!

The other craft we are going to teach is a basic fabric flower as pictured below:

I feel so incredibly blessed to be going on this journey tomorrow and I can't wait to report back to you about our trip and how God is working in Haiti.  Please be in prayer for our team as we build relationships, teach crafts, do discipleship training, and host a basketball camp.  We leave bright and early tomorrow morning and return on March 22nd.

Thank you in advance for your prayers!


Monday, March 12, 2012

A Season of Change

My last post back in January was an announcement that I had taken a new job in event planning at Vanderbilt University so it may come as a surprise to you that Friday was my last day in this still new position.  Don’t worry, I didn’t get fired or anything; God just has some pretty amazing ways of working things out!  Looking back and thinking about where I thought my journey would go, I never could have imagined it the way it has happened.  For starters, moving to Nashville from Texas and away from most of my friends and family with my new hubby three years ago was a huge step out of the ole’ comfort zone for this small town girl, but God has beyond used that experience in itself along with unrest about my job situation to grow me and teach me so many things.
Shortly after taking the job at Vanderbilt in January, opportunities started presenting themselves for me to work more and more on Claudie Belle Designs.  I opened a booth in a local boutique called La Vie En Rose Cottage in Lenox Village and began having late night after late night.  There is only so long you can work a normal 8-5 and then go home and stay up until midnight working on your own business while neglecting to keep up with housework and spend any quality time with friends or your husband.  I began praying that the Lord would clearly show me what direction He wanted me to take to best serve Him.  After a lot of prayer and talking with Godly people in my life I made the decision to pursue working on my business. It was an extremely hard decision being unsure of if CBD will be profitable vs. having a steady paying job in a hard economy.  Daniel was so supportive from the start and I have been overwhelmed with how God has affirmed my decision over the past couple of weeks.
I was so worried about what my friends and family would think about me resigning from such a new job but everyone I’ve shared the news with has been so supportive and encouraging.  And as if affirmation through my friends and family wasn’t enough, God took it a step further as He is well known for doing!  On Tuesday after I had submitted my 2 weeks’notice on Monday, I met with a sweet girl who along with her husband is leading a team from our church to Haiti on March 17th.  They are going to be teaching crafts to some of the women there and I was giving her some ideas on different things to share with them.  We talked about our weeks and I told her about my job transitioning. We started to talk about the possibility of me going on the trip which I thought was impossible being that it was less than 3 weeks away.  She and a lady at the church did some research and found another plane ticket for me, so that Wednesday night it was confirmed that I would in fact be going to Haiti in two and a half weeks. . . crazy!!  Haiti and especially the church we will be working with holds a special place in Daniel's and my heart.  We traveled there almost two years ago right after the devastating earthquake.  I can't wait to see and love on the people already have a relationship with and many more that God will place in our path. 

I'm so excited to share with you what we will be doing in Haiti from teaching the women there to make paper beads and fabric flowers to conducting a basketball camp for the sweet kiddos.