Monday, January 30, 2012

"Taste The Joy Of It"

sa·vor (svr) - 1. To impart flavor or scent to; season 2. To taste or smell, especially with pleasure 3. To appreciate fully; enjoy or relish

I've been staying with my brother since I got to Nashville last month, so I have been spending a lot of time with my 4-year-old niece. She is a bundle of thoughts and energy, always on the "go". Most days, she can't be bothered with sitting down for meals because it intereferes with whatever grand activity she has planned to do next. In an effort to curb her "speed eating", have a nice family dinner, AND teach her some new vocabulary (because us teachers can't resist making any moment into a teachable moment), I introduced her to the word "savor". We discussed it's meaning and implications on eating habits and proceeded to enjoy our meal and conversation for a few brief moments. Each day, at the start of a family meal, we reviewed the word and went about our meal. About 2 weeks passed, and one day I asked her if she remembered what "savor" meant. She answered, "To taste the joy of it."

As often happens when teaching "new" concepts to small children, when they reflect back what they have learned, it first strikes a humorous chord, then a genuinely profound one. I chuckled at her response, and then thought about how her definition relates to my own life.

I am a Producer, a do-er, a fixer. I see a need and I want to make something happen NOW to meet it. Most of the time, this is a good thing, but I sometimes forget to put myself and my own individual needs in the equation. Everybody needs nurishment, physically and spiritually, to keep going on a daily basis. If you don't take time out to stop and eat a nutritious meal at regular intervals, you will eventually become weak, and maybe even pass out for lack of energy. The same is true for our spiritual and emotional health.

Being in the States for the past 2 months (and another 6 weeks to go), has given me an opportunity to re-learn this concept. For a while, if you asked me, I would tell you that I would rather be in Haiti, doing the work God has called me to, instead of being "stuck" here, in transition, just focused on getting back there as quickly as I could. Now, I'm choosing to take a little of my own advice, to slow down and savor this season I am in. I don't want to miss out on the heavenly flavor and scent God is imparting in my life. I want to enjoy the goodness of all the blessings that surround me, and fully appreciate the nourishment that being in relationship with family and good friends brings to my soul. I want to "taste the joy of it", and in so doing be filled up to overflowing to accomplish the work that has been set before me.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Saying Goodbye To 2011: The Preface For My Next Adventures

This year has been an amazing year of growth, change, dreams realized, favor, endings, and new beginnings. And not just for me, but all the amazing people I met and shared life-changing experiences with along the way. It all started in January, with my first trip to the Hands and Feet Project. It was my fourth trip to Haiti  in less than a year. Teacher's don't normally take off a week to go places in the middle of the school year, but I had an extra day off for MLK day, and a principal who understood the need for me to be there at that time and gave me her blessing to go.  That's when I met baby Esthere, who turns 1 year old today. Happy Birthday, sweet girl!
The Pink Princess - 3 weeks old, Jan 2011

Esthere, with her daddy, Nov 2011
(her mama died after childbirth)

I also met baby Woodley for the first time on that trip. He is such an angel, and truly a miracle baby. He has come such a LONG way in a year. He turned 1 on November 18th.
Woodley - 2 months old
Jan 2011

Smiles, face squeeze, and eye contact. Yes, please!
Oct 2011


I came back to Nashville and met with the stateside directors to say,"Sign me up! I want to love on orphans with the Father's love!" I was totally ready to quit my job and move to Haiti mid-school year. Thankfully, I have incredible wise, loving, and supportive leaders at Grace Center, who gently encouraged me to rethink that idea and invest time in developing relationships and getting more "tools in my belt" here in Nashville, until the conclusion of the school year. (OK, my dad said the same things, too. But he's my dad, that's his job!) :)  I recruited my dear friend, Amy, to return to Haiti with me for the week (reluctantly) of spring break in March. I'm not-so-secretly trying to recruit her to lend her amazing speech therapy skills to kids in Haiti full-time... ;)  That week in Haiti in March cemented everything for me all over again. It felt like home. I met some amazing new friends that week. Tamara even came back to serve at Hands and Feet with me for three months this fall and we are both returning to Haiti in the New Year, with different visions, but the same love for the incredible people and country.

Me & Tamara with Wendia and Wendi, Sept 2011
I also met baby Jeziman, who had just come down from up in the mountains. He was SO tiny and fragile then. Losing weight rapidly because of the difficulties with eating due to his cleft lip/palate. We made it our personal goal to get him over 6 lbs before we left. Despite a close call after aspirating and going into respiratory distress, he made it...and he keeps smiling, and fighting, and growing at his own little pace. He also turned 1 in November.

Happy Dance for Six Pounds! Mar 2011
Sitting up all by himself. Oct 2011

I wish I had enough space to document all the milestones reached and amazing progress made by each individual child I had the privilege of loving and caring for in 2011. They are all so special and unique and have the fingerprints of their Heavenly Father all over them! I will give you one more before/after picture from recent months. Luckson came to Hands and Feet less than 2 weeks after I arrived at the end of June. He was terrified, traumatized, and attached himself to me (physically and emotionally) from the moment he entered the toddler house... He even called me "Mama" for a couple months, then "Mama Ka lo", then just "Ka lo". :) He is such a sweet kid! He turned 3 in October.
Can't get enough of that happy face!
Nov 2011

Luckson fell asleep clutching "The Okay Book"
on his first night at Hands and Feet. Jul 2011

I wish I could say I will get to continue seeing these same miracles every day. I HOPE I will get to see them periodically, but I know that there are many more, new miracles in the form of precious Haitian children out there waiting to be loved and to know the Father's love. I'm am incredibly thankful for the lessons I have learned, as well as the the ones I've been able to teach.

Many people have already asked me how they can support me financially as I embark on my next adventure in 2012. I am officially going back to Haiti under "Fire For The Nations", a non-profit that was started by my parents. Tax deductible gifts can be sent to:

Fire For The Nations
P.O. Box 54
Monroeville, PA 15146

*You can write "Haiti" in the memo line, or write a note to me and it will go directly into the Haiti account. Thank you all for your prayers, love, and continued support! Happy New Year!!