Thursday, September 20, 2012

my most beautiful mark

It’s been a difficult few weeks. Some of the difficulties have been due to circumstances and some due to mental blocks that I can’t seem to get through. I’m the type of person that can’t write about it until I have worked through it. Once I have worked through it, I write it. Once I write it, it usually means I have made peace.

I have been wrestling with the Lord about heavy things…Poverty, war, motherhood, death, life, loneliness, sin, passion, and fear of the unknown (just to name a few for you). The kind of wrestling that keeps you up at night, decreases your appetite, and makes you ask A LOT of questions.

Living in Haiti in and of itself raises questions everyday that I will probably never know the answers to. The poverty, injustice, and difficulties that the Haitian people endure every day with such grace, beauty, and tenacity amazes me.  I came to Haiti full time to be a part of the solution and to work towards improving the medical and midwifery crisis. There are some great organizations (both national and international) that are actively addressing the health care crisis, and as a nurse and student midwife, I long to jump in and “get my hands dirty”. As I have received offer after offer to jump in with both feet to help, God has shut each door. Each time an offer comes up I get so excited at the thought of actually being able to work here in Haiti… my heart beats a little faster… and then I hear a still small voice coming from the other side of the room… “Mommy”.

On February 24, 2012, I made a decision that changed my life forever. I became her mommy. It has been the hardest and the most beautiful thing I have ever done. She is my first priority… and she should be.

As nurses we are taught that it is our duty to sacrifice so that others can be cared for in their time and need. Our families sacrifice, too. There is definitely some truth to my profession and I take pride in being able to sacrifice my personal wants so that others can be cared for in their time of need. But since Haiti is in the business of stripping me of all of my pride, I am learning that she cannot sacrifice me right now. She needs this time with me (I have no way of knowing how long this time frame will be that I am in Haiti with her until her adoption is complete). Especially since it’s just her and I.

I am continually wrestling with God about the freedom I have to work as a nurse and serve the people of Haiti in a way that brings me so much joy. It hurts because I cannot nurse right now. And I need His continual affirmation that I am doing the right thing… that I am indeed following Him by giving myself to my daughter for His glory. Wrestling with the fact that each hug, each bath, each story, each moment of gentle correction, each song, each prayer is just as important as the life saving work that I was giving my life to before she came into my world.

God gently whispered to my heart in another way yesterday. I was reading Ann Voskamp’s blog and these words were like balm to my spirit:
It is more noble to give yourself completely to one individual than to labor diligently for … the masses.” Christ left the ninety-nine for the one.

My Heavenly Father is constantly reminding me that His thoughts are not my thoughts and His ways are not my ways. I thought I was coming to Haiti to be a missionary (whatever the heck that even means) and I am now a mother. I thought I would be in Haiti longer term and God seems to be leading back to “home” after the adoption is complete.

I thought my mark on the world was going to be made through caring for the sick and helping women bring their children into the world safely. But what if that’s not my greatest mark? What if my greatest mark is raising this little girl and teaching her the ways of Jesus? What if she is the one who comes back to her country and is a part of transforming Haiti’s health system? I have no idea. But I have to believe that “every tremor of kindness might erupt in a miracle on the other side of the world.”(Ann Voskamp)

So even though I thought my most beautiful mark would be through health care and midwifery, maybe it isn’t. Maybe it is through this beautiful little soul that God has entrusted to me while she is on earth. Or maybe it is both? I pray that God gives me the grace to pour and invest my life into what He has set before me.

I am trusting that He will not let me leave this world until I leave my most beautiful mark – to show Him.

Phoebe Kate (3.25 yrs)

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

beauty that fills the soul

We have had some note worthy experiences since the last blog I wrote…

We weathered Tropical Storm Isaac a week and a half ago. Thankfully Isaac was not as bad as predicted, but we still got some pretty intense wind and rain that put us out of power for over a week. Our internet was also out of service so we felt pretty disconnected from the outside world. Tropical Storm Isaac also prevented Christin from being able to come to Haiti to celebrate my birthday. So… TS Isaac and I are not exactly friends.

A week ago today I turned 25! That’s a quarter of a century… and I feel like it is an accomplishment :) I was uneasy about spending my birthday here in Haiti without my family and my friends who love and appreciate my presence in their lives… but because of God’s faithfulness… yet again He gave us another sweet day full of joy! The phone calls from my closest friends and parents and the countless electronic birthday wishes were so special. And on top of that, the beauty that I was a witness to this past week truly filled my soul. 

For my birthday we went out to Wahoo Bay on the north coast of Haiti with our new friend, Holly Helton. Holly has been such an undeserved gift from God! PhoebeKate and I were so thankful to have Holly join us on our birthday vacation :) And it turns out it was her birthday on August 21… so we were both able to enjoy a fun outing for our birthdays!

Our first night’s sunset was TRULY INCREDIBLE! Absolutely one of God’s precious gifts to me on my birthday. I also really enjoyed spending my first birthday with Phoebe Kate :) 

Wahoo Bay at sunset 
PhoebeKate and I with our new friend, Holly :)
the love of my life
Day 2 at Wahoo Bay was spent enjoying the beach and the pool. Phoebe Kate LOVES the sand and the ocean.... well really... just the water in general. I feel so blessed to have a child who is so enamored by nature and who entertains herself so well. She also is genuinely happy while doing so!
my little beach bum :)
Wednesday of last week we ventured out to "Sodo" (Kreyol)/ Saut d'Eau (French). I will let the picture speak for itself, but even the picture doesn't do the actual falls justice. It is truly a breathtaking piece of God's handiwork!

Phoebe Kate and I hiked up to the highest point that we were allowed to go. Such an amazing experience for me... and it made it that much more special to have my girl with me :)

Mommy & Phoebe Kate at Sodo

We also made it out to Gressier last Thursday for my friend Arland's wedding! Phoebe Kate and I felt so blessed to be a part of Arland and Sandra's special day :) This was also my first Haitian wedding... and although it was super long, we really enjoyed it! 

Arland & Sandra (photo credit J.Anderson)
Wow. So after that week, we have been resting! We have needed some downtown at home and have also enjoyed getting to know 2 new girls who arrived in Haiti for the next 6 months- 12 months. Sandrea will be walking with Emma Barlow through her last year of high school here in Haiti and Callie is here to do art with the children in the OVC Program. We are already enjoying our new friends and are excited to see how God uses them to bless Haiti and how Haiti blesses them :) Please be praying for Sandrea and Callie as they adjust to life here and as they find their place. 

As for Phoebe Kate and I... we are just living life. Day by day. Phoebe Kate is learning, growing, thriving, and seems to be blossoming with each it and every day. There are opportunities that come up occasionally for me to volunteer and use my gifts as a nurse and I usually try to take advantage of those opportunities when they arise. But if I am honest, I consistently feel like God is telling me that the main reason I am here is for Phoebe Kate. And as hard as that is for me to swallow, I am continually submitting myself to the will of God and graciously accepting the responsibility for this little person! She deserves and needs ALL of her mommy's attention right now. So... if I seem a little boring... it's because I am a little boring :)

Heavily on my heart daily is my sweet friend, BonnieKate. As some of you may know, she was a victim of the Aurora, Colorado shooting in July. BonnieKate was shot in the knee and since July 20 has undergone several surgeries to have complete reconstruction of her knee and is now on her road to recovery. But as you can imagine, this road to recovery is long and tedious. This precious girl is SO SPECIAL to Phoebe Kate and I. She is a dear friend of mine and I ask you to take a look at her blog: Pray for Bonnie Kate.

BonnieKate and her Phoebe Kate :) 
Sweet BonnieKate, we love you so much! We have not forgotten you on your road to recovery. Our prayers are only increasing as the need is increasing. We trust that God is able to do abundantly and immeasurably more than we could ever ask or imagine in your life! Thank you for showing the world that forgiveness is an ongoing attitude and that with power of Christ living within you that it is possible. Thank you for your faithfulness as a servant of the most High God. I know that He is going to prove Himself faithful in your life. Your courage, strength and bravery as you wrestle with this difficult season has inspired more people than you could ever imagine. My continual prayer is that God would wrap you up in His loving arms and that you would FEEL His nearness. Because He is so near. Phoebe Kate and I are some of your biggest fans :) Rooting for you as you reach your goal of 110 degrees... all the way from Port-au-Prince, Haiti! Kenbe fo, zanmi'm!