I recently returned from a 10 day trip to Haiti. I got to spend the last of 2015 and bring in the new year while I was there. This is something I have always wished to do, but just never had the opportunity. I have always heard about how great New Years Day is in Haiti. It is not only the start of a new year, but it is also Haiti’s Independence Day. Haitians are very passionate about their independence. Haiti was the first slave nation in history to become free. They have a lot of traditions and they spend the day together with family and cook pumpkin soup (which happens to be my favorite.) So I was so happy to be able to spend this week there. I was staying in Petionville and there were a lot of parties and events happening on New Year’s Eve night. I kind of imagined that I would go to Asu’s rooftop lounge or another prestigious restaurant up the mountain and overlook the lights in the city of Port au Prince and all her magical beauty. I imagined I would be surrounded by Haitians, Americans, and other foreigners as we celebrated the night. So when my friend informed me that we would go spend a couple hours at a nice place, but then we would be going to church to bring in the new year, I thought “really….church on New Year’s Eve?!” Sadly I didn’t really wish to spend my night at a church in the blazing heat where the pastor speaks so fast and loud that I can’t comprehend the Creole; and sit on a hard pew for hours while I got hotter…and he got louder…while watching others drift off to sleep in their pews. But I knew this was important and I would make the best of it. Because every moment in Haiti usually turns out good. So we went to Best Western’s outdoor restaurant to eat and listen to the DJ’d music, which was spectacular by the way! Then at 11:00 we left to go pick up the rest of the family and head to church. We arrived at church at 11:55. The church was packed out! People everywhere! Of course the preacher was screaming, as expected. And I comprehended only a little. But then it reached 12:00 and the people got up out of their pews and started rejoicing. They prayed and praised God, and they hugged, and cried, and greeted everyone, friend or stranger, with a hug and kiss. I’m pretty sure a couple people picked me up off the ground as the hugged me so intently! These people were happy about a new year! They were happier about this new year than I have seen people at their favorite sporting event. They expressed themselves in the way that I would assume the winner of our recent lottery would express themselves! And you just can’t help but feel a little happy when you see stuff like this. These people were happy about their future. They were full of hope. Hope for a new year. Hope for a better year. Hope for anything better than what they had the previous year. I had to repent for dreading going to church on NYE. In these moments, I was reminded, like I am many times while in Haiti, that these people have it figured out better than me. I can learn so much from them. Learn how to be a better servant of Christ. How to be a better family member. How to be a better friend. Learn more about trusting God. Learn more about hope. And joy. We went home after the celebration winded down. We sat up for a couple hours longer, talking about the new year, spending time with family, prepping to cook pumpkin soup in the morning, and praying for the new year.
A couple days later we went to visit our friend Wilbert at her children’s home. It was great to catch up with her and check out her kids in the mini clinic we had for them. Everyone was mostly healthy. Then we headed to the south of Haiti to visit our sponsored kids through Nou Se Timoun. I love south Haiti! This is where I was first introduced to Haiti. This is where my dream began so many years ago. We had a wonderfully productive few days. We went to each of our 24 sponsored kids’ homes. It was so cool to see where each child lived and get to meet their parents or grandparents and siblings. We brought each family a food kit that contained rice, beans, spaghetti, oil, sardines, and milk. Six families also received chickens. We had gifts for the kids. It was a fun-filled couple days. We brought one child that has to walk a long distance to school his first bike! We also picked up another child to sponsor. We put pictures and told our stories on social media, and we have since then added 4 more kids in the sponsorship program! To refresh your memory on what this program is about, in the fall, we started sponsoring kids by paying for their school and bringing food or other needed items to their homes every couple months. This keeps kids at home with their families. This prevents parents from sending their kids to an orphanage because they can’t pay for their school or feed them. This program has been a huge blessing and has kept families together.
Now I will tell you about my plans for 2016. I will be moving to Haiti in March. I will be going back and forth between Haiti and home. I will stay in Haiti for 2 months and then come home for 1 month. Back and forth. I will be working with a local nursing school and clinic. While I am at home for the month, I will continue working at TriStar Horizon Medical Center. This has been a dream of mine for 15 years! And I am finally getting to live it! As much as I have always wanted to do this, the thought of leaving my family behind and my job at Horizon saddens me. I have always loved what I do and loved my work family. I have always believed TriStar Horizon is the best hospital in the world. But now I see I don’t have to make that decision. I can do both! I can live my dream, while also getting to be with family regularly and work at the hospital that has raised me and that I love so dearly! GOD IS GOOD!!!
I need your help. I am asking you for prayer. As happy as this makes me, I am sure there will be times when I am discouraged. I am sure I will feel alone sometimes. I am asking you for encouragement. I am asking you to send me a good, uplifting, encouraging book. I will need encouraging words. I will need humor. I will need words about being brave. I will need to laugh often to get me through the day. So please pray for me, send me messages, send me humor, send me books (and no I don’t do electronic…I still read actual books!) I will desperately need you. If you wake up in the middle of the night and think about me, then please send me a facebook message or a text. Because I am probably needing it! When I get sad or discouraged, I will remember the hope I saw on the faces of all those I saw at church on NYE. I will remember how powerful that hope felt. Hope for a better year. Hope for what God is going to do! I am excited and grateful and humbled by what all God has for me this year! The video below is from our latest trip.