Tabitha Sheaver wrote the post for the last two days. Been a great trip so far. Keep praying for us. We are in the middle of a break right now at a place called the Guest House, swimming in their pool. A refreshing time for all of us. Also, a quick update on Allison. Thanks for praying if you did. She is feeling much better and was able to participate fully yesterday and today.
Hello from Haiti! WOW! God is good! I was asked to share with you yesterday (Thursday) but in order to do that I have to start with Wed. As I watched our group play with the little girls, crossing the language barrier teaching Kids Club, I started to questions God’s purpose for me on the trip. I was the floater so I went from group to group taking pictures, making sure nobody needed anything. I guess my motherly side came out because I was pushing water and sunscreen. That evening, as we reflected on the day, I shared that during my personal prayer time I realized my purpose was to serve the team so the team could serve the kids. After a few people shared with me their thoughts, Mike said tomorrow is your day to shine. Prior to leaving on the trip, Mike assigned group leaders and I was in charge of preparing for the Grannies. Mike then asks me to lead the ladies of our group to prepare the devotional for the next day. I immediately knew it was my time to share my faith story. I just started coming to church about a year ago and just being baptized 2 weeks prior to coming on this trip, so I haven’t exactly shared my faith story with many, much less a group of 30 (mostly believers) in a foreign country. I prayed about it and went to sleep. The next morning I was awaken with a sense of peace about the day. I prayed Lord guide me, speak through me today, help me to find just the right passage to speak on today. I then opened my Bible and it fell open to Ephesians and my eyes skimmed down to 4:25 (which as I am writing this I just realized is my birthday!). It was perfect! It covered EVERYTHING that I as a women need to remember- Sharing the word, Anger, Gossip, Forgiveness and verse 32 perfectly summed up what I have been saying to my husband is my #1 priority in raising my children- “Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.” I share the passage with the rest of the girls and they of course agree and each person speaks to one of the passages.
Let me give you a visual as the Grannies walked in. A group of dark skinned elderly women start to flow through the gates. They are all wearing dresses and some have big hats. They are skinny but strong looking. Beautiful salt and pepper hair peaking out. The biggest smiles you’ve ever seen. And I feel a sense of God’s love just pouring off of them. One of the grannies starts to approach me… “Oh my, what does she want? If she tries to talk to me I am not going to understand her,” my mind starts racing. She grabs me and embraces me with the most amazing motherly hug. She kisses my left cheek and then my right. With my face held in between her hands she says, “Bonjour bel”. WOW! God is Good! All my fears and worries slip away!
We paint their nails as we go through each passage of Ephisians 4:25
25Let each one of you speak the truth with your neighbor,
“Grannies, you are the church in this community, you are the hands and feet of Christ share with your neighbors,” I say and quickly I hear “Amen” from a smiling face in the crowd.
25For we are members of one another
“Whether in Haiti or United States we are all breathing the same air, doing the same work, spreading the Glory of God,” Mandi shares.
26Be angry and do not sin, do not let the sun go down on your anger
“It’s ok to be angry just don’t take it to the point of sin and remember to forgive,” Mercy speaks about anger, sin, forgiveness and how not to let the devil get a foothold.
29Let no corrupt talk come out of your mouth
“Don’t gossip” we remind the ladies and I quickly realize that’s not easy especially when you put 8 girls in 1 room for a week (although we do have 2 bathrooms!)
32Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.
As I read this part of the passage the Grannies are all shaking their head in agreement and understanding!
In my Bible, the title of this passage is “The New Life” so I shared my faith story. As I shared I didn’t even feel like I was in my body. God was literally speaking through me. It was amazing. Sam ran up, got lotion and started massaging the Grannies hands, knees, feet; any place they indicated pain. As I painted their nails and held their women hands I didn’t see grossness or thick calloused hard wrinkly leathery hands, I saw these women’s lives. The hardship, all of the things these women had survived. These were the hands that raised generations, built the tent houses they lived in, carried the heavy bags of rice to feed themselves. They were beautiful. There is a magnificent beauty in a person’s hands. Look at your hands for a moment what do you see? Every scar, callous, the veins, and the wrinkles are all telling the story of your life. I will never forget that beauty
As part of my leadership responsibility prior to leaving the states, I was tasked with buying a gift to give to all the grannies. I don’t know why but I picked up these small composition notebooks and I though, ‘they can use these as prayer journals’. When we get here, I am told most of them cannot read, but as we handed them out anyway and explained theses books were to write prayer needs in. Moments later one of the ladies walked up to me and hands me her journal (written in Creole) so I take it to the translator and he reads- “problems with her kids”. She then comes to me and asks me to pray for her. Mike, Alex and I pray with her and then the next grannie comes up and then the next and then the next. Each one asked us to pray for her fever, her headache, her back problems, or her stomach pains. Each of them praying simply for their health and not once did I think “Ew, I better not touch her because I might get her germs and get whatever illness she has.” I thought “Hug them, kiss them, show them Gods love!” Shewy, God is good!
In the afternoon we got to play with the girls. We built them a swing out of jump ropes and an extra board we found lying around. It brought such joy, much more than the gifts we gave them, which they loved! But here it’s more about relationships and not stuff.
If I could bottle up the sound of 18+ little girls laughing and sell it I would be a millionaire. It is the BEST sound in the world! We had a water balloon fight. Ben, Katie, Gabby and even Andy rocked the jump rope with the girls. They jumped in and out of the rope with ease. If you were doing ‘too good’ the girls would speed up until you couldn’t keep up- that’s how you knew your turn was over. There is no one hovering over the girls saying “Do this, don’t do that”. They all just work and play together, which as a new parent was an eye opening approach.
We went into the community to visit 2 of the grannies. So many people will tell you about the brokenness of Haiti, that isn’t what I saw at all! I saw beauty all around. There are these gorgeous mountains serving as the backdrop to everything. There are small shops all around. One woman is carrying 5 brightly colored chairs on her head, with no hands. We visit a grannie who is the mother-in-law of a VooDoo priest so we go into a community with a Voodoo temple and a sacrificing pole/tree into the grannies room, which is about the size of my bathroom at home. It has 2 twin beds and is the cleanest most organized room I’ve ever been in. We gave her the gifts, for which she was very grateful and prayed for her.
The second Grannies house wasn’t a house at all… it was a tent, in a tent village and it was seriously impressive! They made door hinges out of flip flops, nails and 2 liter soda tops. The grannie wasn’t there but from about 500 yards up the street she sees us and breaks into a full out sprint. Keep in mind she is over 75, wearing a dress, about 4ft 8 inches, wearing no shoes, and a knit cap SPIRINTING in 90+ degree weather! She arrives with such joy, barely even out of breath and invites us into her home. In her home she created rooms using light clothes and sheets to the left there is a concrete wall that is held up by 2 trees. It’s obvious if those 2 trees weren’t there in the earthquake that wall would have crushed someone. As we leave a taptap (their version of a taxi) shouting “Look at the white, look at the white tourists!” and I have this sinking realization its sort of like we are at a zoo looking at the “exhibits” certainly not out purpose but I can’t help wondering if this is how they feel about us being here. We are done so we go back to the gated community of House of Hope.
After dinner we go to have devotional up on the roof as a storm is brewing. Sam prays for the weather to hold off until we are done. And God, of course, completely changes the course of the storm and we get some amazing time to share! Gabby struck me the most when she shared that, when holding the girls that day she felt a new kind or level of love– meaning that, this little girl doesn’t even know me but she has run to my arms and I am so filled with love for her that I don’t want to let go of her. And then Gabby so astutely adds that’s the way God’s love is for us. WOW that hits me in the gut! That is exactly how to describe Gods love for me and how I feel when I put my hope and faith in the Lord! Mike asks Carole how we are doing and what we could do better and Carole responds you are all doing so great… there are no whiners… you have all come with such servant hearts. I realize this is us becoming more like Christ, which we all keep praying for and I thank the Lord for bringing Mike to lead us and teach us to work with servant hearts and reminding us its all for the glory of God. WOW God is GREAT!