Pixie Perfect

I chopped off all my hair.

April 2014 photography by EdCC TritonLife.
April 2014 photography by EdCC TritonLife.

I thought about it for an incredibly long time, but if I’m really honest I was incredibly terrified.

I waited until the most opportune time, and sure enough, my school was doing a locks of love event.

I was scared, even though I knew it would grow back–if I wanted it too. I became even more scared when they sat me down in front of a mirror to do the ceremonial cutting of the pony tails.

It took chopping off all my hair to realize how incredibly hard it must be for men — women in particular–to lose part of their identity. Because whether we admit it or not, hair is something that defines us women and it’s part of what makes us feel beautiful.

I would never go so far as to say I now know how it feels to struggle with cancer or alopecia or other diseases or treatments which cause hair loss. But here’s to hoping that this experience, has broadened my perspective more and maybe increased my ability to empathize.

I don’t mean for any of my posts to inflict guilt, just provoke thought so take away what you will from the following: I believe in giving what we have. If I possess hair that grows back, but others do not, why should I not take advantage of such a wonderful opportunity to share my treasure that God has bestowed upon me?

Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as elaborate hairstyles and the wearing of gold jewelry or fine clothes. Rather, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight.

3 Peter 3:3-4

P.S. I cut my hair all the way back in April of 2013. I kept pushing off this post because I was afraid I’d say the wrong thing. Don’t be afraid of telling stories. You are completely unaware of the wonderful actions your story could inspire.

‘Tis the season to give back

I strongly believe that we underestimate the power of our own abilities. And God’s. At least not the full extent of it.

“For where two or three gather in my name, there I am with them.”

Matthew 18:20

For whatever reason, when we hear of any major crisis. We feel numb and helpless. Helplessness doesn’t move a person to action. I want to challenge you to do what you can with what you have.  If you live in America, you’re rich. Now, I’m not one to use statistics for the purpose of burdening you with guilt. So I’m not going to go there. Just know that you’re richer than most of the world.  So if you just found out you didn’t receive the pay raise, let it go, and have faith that your needs will be provided for. Guilt does not move a person to action either. Guilt cries out,” You filthy, rich, spoiled brat. You should be ashamed of yourself.” I’ve been down that road. It took me nowhere.

I believe that every individual whether you’re a “broke college student” or a person making six figures every year, you’d be surprised with how any amount has the potential to contribute to life saving relief and relational efforts. From the time I was in elementary school, I always gave each of my teachers a small Christmas present. I continued it on all the way through High School. I believe I was a sophomore in High School, when I stopped competing with other classmates on who would buy Mrs. Clark the biggest chocolate bar. My mom had the brilliant idea of giving five chickens through Samaritan’s Purse in my teachers’ names. In our American minds this sounds rather lame. Because my teachers’ didn’t get anything out of it. However, I found that each year, they were rather touched. They felt they were part of something bigger. When we give, or partake in an effort that on the outside bigger then ourselves, something inside of us comes alive. It’s the flicker of compassion in our hearts sparking to a bright flame.

So where am I going with all of this?

In case you were unaware, and I hope this is not the case, on October 15th of this year, a devastating 7. 1 earthquake devastated the Philippines. It was heart breaking and tragic. BUT, it brought people together, to fight something that appears to be so much bigger than themselves. This week, a category-five super-typhoon, struck the Philippines. It is currently the worst hurricane ever recorded in recent history (and possibly ever). Keep in mind that the earthquake already displaced almost 300,000 residents all across the country.

You have the power to give back, and fight something, bigger and stronger. Donate to Help Bohol as they partner with  Montana on a Mission. Damage from the earthquake has already been assessed. Funds are being adequately distributed.

Montana on a Mission is tax deductible  http://www.razoo.com/story/Help-Bohol-1

Keep in mind that finances aren’t the only way to support a cause. You can share this link without having to give yourself. Serving comes in the form of time, talent, and treasure. Which will you choose?

“You may choose to look the other way but you can never again say you did not know.”

William Wilberforce

-Kayla-

Constant In the Trials

I can’t sleep tonight. My heart is aching. Breaking. Tonight my heart is with my brothers and sisters in the Philippines and those I know who have served there. Last night their world literally crumbled beneath their feet when a 7.2 earthquake hit Bohol and Cebu.
When I hear of news like this, I feel helpless. Simply because I cannot be there in physical form. But God sent His son, SO THAT we could intervene. He wants us  to come to Jesus with our prayers and concerns. For we cannot handle these trials on our own. My lack of faith astounding. For God tells me if it were just as large as a mustard seed I could move mountains!
God is changing me. Humbling me. Reminding me how blessed I am to have a roof over my head and four walls enclosing me. Everyday when I cone home from being educated at school I am welcomed with parents and brothers and sisters who love me. I have never known starvation or poverty. I’ve seen these things with my own eyes, but it is hard for someone so blessed with material items to follow the narrow path. I have so much to lose by following Jesus. But if I really give Jesus my all, I make an eternal investment. I previously did not take this passage in the Bible very seriously. Then I started thinking. Just because I’ve given him my life doesn’t necessarily mean I’ve given him my all.
I have a powerful God who loves and protects me. Always. Even when I stumble and sin against him. I am reminded and grateful for all these things as all around the world many are struggling. Significantly.

But God is constant. He is the anchor to which I cling to and the one I must trust.

For we have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure. It enters the inner sanctuary behind the curtain, where our forerunner, Jesus, has entered on our behalf.
Hebrews 6:19-20

Lord, heal those who are broken, strengthen the weak, and call those of us who are able to you. Thank-you for loving us always. Thank-you  for being the only One we can always count on; through every storm, up every mountain and down every valley.

Fear of Average

Fear of Average

Making Voices Visible

  1. Last night I finished the book Start: Punch Fear in the Face, Escape Average, Do Work That Matters by Jon Acuff. Let me tell you, that book scared me to death. Once I finished it, I was afraid that I’m already to average to be awesome. However, as Acuff said “Voices are invisible bullies, and they hate when you make them visible.” If you haven’t read the book, read it. It’s OK to be scared so long as that fear doesn’t paralyze you.

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A One Way Ticket.

Alex and I went on our first trip to Haiti together last summer in 2012. Deep down somehow I knew that first trip wouldn’t be her last. Your time, talent, and treasures will send give Alex and her multiple teams they need to make this world a better place, and what’s more, shine Jesus’s light in one of the world’s darkest places.

By faith Abraham, when called to go to a place he would later receive as his inheritance obeyed and went, even though he did not know where he was going. by faith he made his home in the promised land like a stranger in a foreign country; he lived in tents, as did Isaac and Jacob, who were heirs with him of the same promise. For he was looking forward to the city with foundations, whose architect and builder is God.

Hebrews 11: 8-10

From Home to Haiti

Dear family and friends,

A few years ago I was having a conversation with a friend when she asked me, “What kind of person do you want to be when you’re older?” and I surprised myself by answering with, “I just want to be someone in love with Jesus.” It’s a simple concept really, for me to be someone in love with the man who bled and died for me specifically, the man who in constantly seeking to spend time with me and loves me no matter how many times I fail Him. The tough part is trusting, trusting that He knows His plans for me and that I need not worry what tomorrow holds or where I will be in 10 years (or one to be completely honest here). We as a fallen people try so hard to hold on tightly to the control and direction of our lives…

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This is My Story

I’ve written a lot. I adore writing.  I’ve written about practically anything and everything. However, I dislike I talking about myself.  It is the one topic I avoid  at all costs. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve filled journal on top of journal filled with life. But wait, sharing this knowledge? That’s a totally different story. God has been convicting me of something lately (as He always is); God turns our messy lives into messages.  I can make Him famous by sharing my story. We all have stories. They started the day we took our very first breath.  Our lives are a book written by God. Each day is a page. Every decade a chapter.  We were created to be read. We were written to put God on the Bestseller list!

 God formed Man out of dirt from the ground and blew into his nostrils the breath of life. The Man came alive–a living soul!

Genesis 2: 7

If that’s not crazy, astonishing and thrilling, I don’t know what is.

Apparently, I am really good at putting on a poker face.  I don’t try to look like I have it all together. In fact, oftentimes I feel like screaming “I’m not strong, but He is! Every waking minute Jesus is holding me!” It is because of His strength that I am capable of being strong in my weaknesses.

But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing is from God and not from us. We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair;  persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the LIFE of Jesus may also be revealed in our body.

2 Corinthians 4: 7-10

Before I begin sharing my story, I want to exhort you to share yours. Your story may not sound exciting to you, but you never know whose life you can touch without sharing it! If it means anything, your story matters to me.  If God, the one who created us to be full of purpose, shouldn’t we have faith that He is using it for something epic?

I’m going to share with you mine . I would start with day one, but I’m 6,791 days old.

Eleven years ago, at the age of seven. I had my first epileptic seizure. I conked out on the floor of the Olive Garden Restaurant on 196th St. in Lynnwood, WA. Here’s the catch: I was perfectly healthy, and nobody knew it was a seizure. We didn’t even call an ambulance.  I took a sip of water and finished eating dinner with my family. I felt fine after gracefully smashing my head on their then-brick floor. (OK, I make that sound much more exciting than it actually was). Nothing showed up on my post-fall MRI. Not even a minor concussion! Clearly, angels do exist.

My mom scheduled an emergency appointment of course. She figured the whole thing was just a fluke. It wasn’t. You may be thinking “wow, that is unfortunate.” Well, you are wrong. That day changed my life forever. OK, now you’re thinking “well duh.” It was a good life changing experience. I’m still not sure exactly how it has changed my life for the better, but everything takes some figuring out. Can I get an amen?

In the beginning I saw three different doctors. These three doctors proposed three different diagnoses:

– Most likely Vasodepressor Syncope

-Colloid on 3rd ventricle

-Small chance the episode was a seizure

I went through so many tests it’s CRAZY. EEG’s, MRI’s, blood tests, the tilt-table test, cat scans. The whole bit. I even wore a heart monitor for about one month. God was there. Holding my hand. He was upside down with me when I was strapped on that table.

My mom, being the awesome woman that as she is, finally pull out her handy dandy Taber’s Medical Dictionary from the bookshelf, performed her own research and she basically said, “Let’s take the focus off the heart and look at what is going on in her brain.”

Since my diagnosis of absence seizures has been confirmed, life has been a whirlwind. I’ve been tossed hither and thither. Since that time I’ve tried two alternative treatments to medication: 1) The Modified Atkins Diet and 2) a Vegas Nerve Stimulator. Concerning the MAD, let me just say this. After six months of eating fifteen and 10 carbohydrates per day, I obtained a whole new appreciation for bread and an extreme dislike for milk and peanuts which I practically thrived off of.

The Vegas Nerve Stimulator brings me to where I am today! Contrary to popular belief, the Vegas Nerve Stimulator is NOT brain surgery. Think of it more as a pacemaker for the brain. Well, I remember the day of my implant. I was supposed to have a history exam that day and all I could remember was that April 9th. The date of my surgery was ironically a date in history I needed to memorize. What a strange coincidence! Fast forward to today, 9/13/ 2013. Today I am recovering from the surgery  I underwent yesterday  to have the device removed. Why, you ask? I was given two choices: 1) replace the battery or 2) remove the battery. As of today I am fifty-one days seizure free! It’s these little victories we must embrace.

IMG00011-20090409-0939
VNS Implant. April 9th, 2009. This is my non-poker-face.  Seattle Children’s Hospital.

A few days ago I received my OUTPATIENT NOTE in the mail. One sentence written by my physician stuck out to me: “She has been approximately 40 days seizure free. It is not clear to us the reason for the increased efficacy…”  To doctors, these instances are just medical mysteries. I read this and thought to myself, Clearly, Jesus is at work in my life right now. I realize that while he is always at work in my life, I tend to only recognize this truth when I am having either a really bad day or an extraordinarily good day. Something about that needs to change. Whether or not I’m having a particular high or low day, I need to  start off each day saying these words:

This is the day which the Lord has made;Let us rejoice and be glad in it.

Psalm 118: 24 (NASB)

God is consistent. That being said, I shouldn’t “shelve” God. I ALWAYS need Him. I should never take Him down when I think I need Him and marginalize Him when I am under the impression that I can do things myself. So how is your storybook going to look? On the cover of my current journal, I wrote “The story of how Jesus wrecked my life and put me back together again.” He knows exactly what is wrong in our lives and puts us back together the way he sees fit! So why do we worry? We’re still human. God recognizes that. We are extremely blessed because He looks at us the way He looks at His Son. Incredible!

Your story matters.  How will you use it to change the world?

Kayla

Let’s Make Jesus Famous

God turns our messy lives into messages. We all have a story. Our story began on the day we took our very first breath.  Our lives are a book written by God. Each day is a page. Every decade a chapter.  We were created to be read. We were written to put God on the Bestseller list!

Child of the One True King, saved by His incredible grace

Stay tuned for more on making Him famous…….

Ayiti Ap Dekole: Final Days

Day 8 Saturday, July 28

Today we had the privilege of visiting Haiti’s most elite trauma hospital, Medishare. Medishare is considered the Harbor view of Haiti. Most of Jeff and Terry’s first connections in Haiti worked here. Thankfully, we took Pierre’s–EMPACT Haiti worker–advice and visited on the day we did. I’ll a little bit more about EMPACT as I discuss the next couple of days.

Medishare is so unlike any hospital I’ve ever visited in the States. Based on information I’ve received previously, improvements seem to have been made to the complex. The hospital is very large and we were able to view a lot.

We interacted with patients suffering from all sorts of impairments. In the Spinal Injury Unit, we visited paraplegics and quadriplegics. The smiles on their faces by our simply being there were so rewarding. The director or PIC of the clinic said they hardly ever receive visitors because many feel intimidated. The place is intimidating. It arouses a sort of helplessness.

Scott, the PIC who showed us around the Spinal Injuries rooms is super neat. He does more than just his job. He helps patients learn basic life skills and encourages those who will eventually be able to go back into their communities. It’s hard enough finding a job in Haiti-especially with an unemployment rate of %80. When you add a handicap to that, it makes SURVIVAL even more difficult to achieve. The Spinal Unit began a sewing program so that once patients recovered they would have some means of supporting themselves. Jeff arranged for Jehovah Nissi School uniforms to be made by the unit!

Spinal Unit
@Kayla Nicole “Spinal Unit”

From the Spinal Unit, we went on to see the place where prosthetic limbs are mad are made. The place is super cool. The hospital is really blessed to have this at their immediate disposal. The captain of a soccer team for disabled guys helps oversee things! Team Zaryen is funded by Knights of Columbus and Medishare. The rules for this soccer league is very interesting. For example, one of the requirements for goalie position is that both of your arms must be missing! None of the players are allowed to play with a prosthetic and all must use crutches. Touching the ball with either crutch equals a hand-ball. I cannot even fathom how hard that sort of play must be.

My favorite part of our tour would have to be visiting the pediatric triage (ICU). One child, whom I was unable to see, had actually been hit by the president’s car. When I heard this, I was horrified. Seeing the preemie babies was a very precious and also heartbreaking.  They were so, so, so tiny, yet perfectly formed (at least by external appearance). The youngest baby there had been born five months early. He had so many IV’s, masks, and tubes all over him that his body was hardly visible. I think there were five preemies total. All but one baby were in incubators. Pierre, another guide of ours, said that some are orphans. I pray that God heals them fully and restores them to their families. Nothing is more comforting that they all have a Heavenly Father who is constantly watching over them.

Last but certainly not least, we scoped out the room reserved exclusively for patients recovering from surgery and/or having a known disease. To say this place is somber would be quite an understatement.

After visiting the Medishare project, we went out to lunch. Mr. Clark (Jeff) discussed different locations, he finally decided on the Pizza Garden. Mr. Clark had previously taken a group of EMT’s there. One man cried over the cost of water. I want you to think about that for a moment. How often does our gratitude bring us to tears? This is a question I must ask myself constantly. Because I know, that while these trips provide me with a deeper perspective into my life, nothing is more easy than falling back into my normal routine after arriving home.

This place is no Pizza Hut. The restaurant is pretty ritzy. Most of the seating is outdoors and in the cool shade. Mr. Clark went in ahead of time–not because we were expecting a long wait–but because filling an order actually takes awhile. Our team is a good size too. While eating AMAZING food, we quickly debriefed our day thus far and discussed plans to drive to Rodney’s orphanage directly after lunch. Rodney said his place is “only fifteen minutes,” away from Port-Au-Prince. Hahaha, just a s midge farther my friend. I miss my Haiti team already, and we haven’t even headed back to the  States yet! Rodney’s orphanage is in the mountains. A place considered “cold” by Port-Au-Prince residents. The cooler air was indeed a relief, but I didn’t go so far as to put on a sweatshirt just as Windy decided to do!

Rodney’s kids  were all ready for us and dressed in their Sunday best. They are adorable. At first, when I first saw them I thought “wow!! They all look so healthy!” And some of them were, no doubt, but then I looked more closely. Many of the kids’ bellies were protruding. And not because they’d been eating well.

Rodney’s kids definitely inherited his gentleness and warm smiles. He is very organized. He has a lady working as a “director” who I guess manages everything and some friends who help to pitch in. Rodney has about the same amount of help as Pastor Silar, only Rodney only has 21 kids. Both are eager to welcome more into their care.

While visiting, I held a little baby girl named Kristy. Kristy had a twin sister, but she passed away. I am a little worried about her. She has pink scars all over her head and little hair. Rodney didn’t say what condition he found her in. Terry said the scars looked as if they could be from rat bites. Just thinking about it sends shivers through my body.

At long last, we finally drove home. BUT, before we left, we handed out Ayiti Ap Dekole shirts and all the kids sang for us–in their best English– our national anthem while holding the American flag. Culture shock causes me to think excessively. Both during a trip and long afterwards. Does America really live up to everything we say we are? Land of the free, home of the brave? No doubt. The real question I think is this: what are we doing to help others achieve the American dream? Personally, I think we’re a little lacking there.

Our team chilled back at the guest house before eating, debriefing, making our nightly stargazing trip, and sleeping.

Twas a great end to a great day!

Day 9 Sunday, July 29

Today, our team decided to attend Port-Au-Prince Fellowship’s church service. I felt somewhat disappointed that we did not attend Windy’s church, but it is in Cite Soleil so that option was out of the question. Port-Au-Prince Fellowship is a church serving missionaries and English-speaking Haitians. So we encountered quite a mix of people.

I felt poorly physically today. I think many people did. I’ll spare you the details. Thank God for two team leaders who work in the medical field! Given my condition, Terry told me to just start chugging water. I think everyone’s water intake has slowly declined as our trip has progressed. It hit me today how disgusting the water at Heartline is. While I am thankful it is safe to drink–most of the time–the water is so chlorinated it fills you up, causing you to desire a smaller amount.

Terry was concerned because she thought something might be wrong with my kidneys. I shamefully admitted that I most likely hadn’t been drinking enough and wasn’t needing to use the restroom often. She talked to Jeff and told  him we needed to go to the Deli Mart on the way to church and buy more fluids. So, we stopped at a grocery and I stepped out of the car. For some stupid reason I chose to buy a ‘Naked.’ The last thing I needed to ingest was more sugar. I ate some Cheez-It party mix which helped some. Terry said the salt would help me retain more of the water I drank.

I drank a Limonade and some water. By the time we finally arrived at the church, my bladder was near exploding. I basically shoved all my water bottles at Gomez [Samuel] and booked it to the restroom.

The message spoken at the church was very edifying. It would have been more enjoyable of course if I hadn’t been so exhausted. Nonetheless, I needed a spiritual uplift.

God’s Grace (Sermon Notes)

  • Because of his grace we are loved and accepted.
  • We try to get people to behave instead of letting them belong.
  • The grace of God cost him his son.
  • Jesus did not deserve to die, but he did, and we do not deserve to live but we do.<—I love this!
  • God loves us just the way we are, but he loves us too much to let us stay that way.
  • We need to be patient for God to change others.

I continued chugging water and made a second trip to the bathroom. I started feeling shaky and faint.  I finally asked for something to eat–my blood sugar tends to swing like a pendulum.  It always seems to be high or low. Jeff gave me a granola bar and a bag of dried apple slices. I scarfed everything down quickly.

After church, our team went to go visit T-Papi’s neighborhood. Also home to EMPACT. EMPACT is the team that Pierre from Medishare trains. It was started by some EMT’s from Tacoma, Washington. Mr. and Mrs. Clark met practically everyone they know now–and more– through this growing group of people.

Apparently, the house is under reconstruction. So far everything looks really beautiful. After a really quick tour we sat outside and listened to Pierre’s life story. Don’t get me wrong. I’m all for testimonies, life stories, and what-not, but today, all i really wanted to do was take a nap.

After listening to Pierre we all changed out of our church clothes. T-Papi, Pierre, and Esther took us on a hike. This was a hike to a place that your average tourist to Haiti is unable to see. The hike was pretty strenuous. We hiked up two sides of a large stream/creek. The incline was steep, wet, and rocky. The water was very dirty and there were people bathing out in the open and washing their clothes. Esther, being the sweet girl that she is, held my hand and guided me all the way and showed me the best places to step. I probably wouldn’t have made it without her. I had been very lethargic since church that morning. The humidity today felt incredibly high.  We saw one of three waterfalls when we reached our destination.  The view? Outstanding.

Not only were we able to visit EMPACT, but we were also in T-Papi and Esther’s neighborhood. T-Papi coaches a soccer team and we handed out soccer balls. While the boys played the girls held babies and painted nails. Girls don’t play soccer. Humph. No comprehendo!

Everyone was tired and hungry coming “home.” More tired though than anything else though I think. We followed our usual end-of-the-day schedule. Rest, eat, debrief, rooftop, and freshen up.

Day 10 Monday, July 30

Today, we dedicated to Windy. We talked to and visited Windy’s mother, brother, sister, and nephew. Windy’s mother is a very quiet woman. However, we were able to receive a little glimpse of what life in Jamel was like when she was a little girl. She said “life was a lot better then than it is now.” Something many elderly people say–only because it is quite true.

We met briefly Windy’s other brother. Not Wendell, the Jehovah Nissi school director. His name has escaped my memory. We also met Wendell’s son, Windy’s nephew. He’s such a cutie!

I have not ceased to be amazed at the protection and shade one fruit tree can provide. We walked up the road from Windy’s mother’s house to his sister’s house. As far as I can understand she is letting him stay for a few more months before he must leave. Anyways, the fruit tree! We gathered around under its outstretched branches where the air is much cooler and a strong breeze rushes through.

Windy proceeded to tell us about his book. It is very interesting, but somewhat scary as well. His book is only two chapters long. If I can understand correctly, his first chapter is about creation with a focus on the three different types of angels. The second chapter is all about the voodoo in Haiti. It is very creepy.

I helped Windy’s nephew ride his bike in the gravel. Claire and I ventured to the toilet in the backyard. That thing is pretty creepy too 😉

@Kayla Nicole

Our team discussed various places to eat out. We had a meeting scheduled with Medical Teams International. Jeff and Terry wanted to eat at a restaurant that is part of the U.S. Embassy, outside of Port-Au-Prince. Unfortunately, this didn’t work out. The political festival happening in Port-Au-Prince shut down a multitude of restaurants in the area. We ended up going to Deli Mart and buying everything needed to make PB&J.  Our meeting place ended up being Heartline. Jeff and Terry were finally able to pass on to the MTI agent, Windy’s precious medical records. The last doctor Windy saw diagnosed him with Lymphoma and told him “go away Windy, and don’t come back.” Today Jeff and Terry were given the task of telling Windy that Lymphoma is indeed a type of cancer. Sadly, no one had ever taken the time to explain this cancer connection to him. With this new information, the reality of his possible fate became very real.

In some strange way, Windy is a lot like myself. I felt at least, that he is someone I could relate easily with. Although his health issues are more extreme than mine, we both kinda stick out. The doctors don’t know why I have [epilepsy] and I know what how it feels to wait on a prognosis. People call me strong. Windy is more than just strong. He is a fighter. I took away many things from Windy, but the most important thing I learned is to value life. To value every second of every day. I was convicted strongly when I thought of all the HOURS I’ve spent worrying instead of doing. Even during this time of sickness he [Windy] refused to be anxious. He is writing a book and learning his fourth language–Portuguese. I know this sounds cliche, but his life really is the definition of YOLO…with a twist. Windy will only live once…on earth. However, Windy is a believer so he knows he’ll be reunited with Christ whenever God so chooses to take him.

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.”

Philippians 4:6

Windy’s favorite Bible verse is Exodus 14:14. I am so glad I was given the opportunity to ask him what this was. The verse reads “The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still.” 

After eating a simple lunch of of PB&J we faced our helplessness. We no longer maintain any control over Windy’s situation. In fact, we never did.  Jeff, Terry, and Mr. Wilson, from MTI, didn’t really need any of our skills. Jeff talked with Geoff #2 and the two of them decided that we would go back once more to Pastor Silar’s orphanage to hand out the promised T-Shirts. Jeff told us not to be at the orphanage for more than fifteen minutes or so. The longer we linger, the more difficult goodbye become.

On our way back to Heartline, Rodney told Jonas to stop the Tap Tap. He stepped out of the car and asked us if we could by a stalk of sugar cane. We said “sure why not?” The local immediately took up his machete and cut the “skin” off and then divided it up into pieces about five inches long. Rodney educated us in the art of tastefully eating sugar cane. It’s meant to be a simple process, but I tend to complicate many small endeavors. One must take a bite and suck all the sugar out and then spit out whatever is left. It’s really sticky, but pretty tasty;one should expect sugar in its purest for to be so. The Haitians enjoy it because the price is right and easily satisfies hunger pains. In a sore attempt to spit a mouthful of cane off the back of the Tap Tap, I completely failed and ended up spewing my mouthful all over Geoff.

Tonight’s evening debrief was more painful and emotional compared to all of the rest combined. The one thing on everyone’s mind was Windy. The last thing we felt called to discuss was leaving. By the end of our talk, half of us were in tears.  Everyone except for myself went on the roof. I took a shower and then went on Facebook to ask for my friends’ prayers. Typically, I am very against the use of social networking during a trip–I feel as if distracts me easily from my purpose I am striving to achieve. I joined the team later on the roof and listened to Emily’s sweet words and guitar music fill the air all around us. Precious air. How often do we take advantage of breathing you in?

On our final night here, God blessed us incredibly with yet  another amazing lightning storm. Almost as if he knew we needed a reminder of his incredible healing powers.

Ayiti Ap Dekole: Part 2

Day 6 Thursday, July 26: Debrief

Praise: somehow, I managed to acquire at LEAST three hours of sleep!

I took a cold shower before going to bed, and I firmly believe clean sheets played a huge part in helping me relax more. Praise Jesus for prayers answered!

Image taken from http://www.abovetopsecret.com

Today, was a very refreshing day. Although we were all very sad to have ended Vacation Bible School at the orphanage in Port-au-Prince, we looked forward to whatever plans God had in store. On our “day off,” we celebrated two birthdays on our team. Luke turned 19, and one of our leaders turned fifty-something. In the morning, four of our team members went to the Jehovah Nissi School in Cite Soleil. It was unfortunate that the entire team couldn’t go, but our team leaders Jeff and Terry promised our parents and team leaders to keep us safe. Anywhere we go, we tend to stick out like a sore thumb. Taking such a huge risk with our first youth team just didn’t seem to be a wise idea.

Ti- Papi arrived late with our rental and so all of our plans were delayed, but not really changed. We had a lot of time in the morning before our day really started.

We ended up leaving around 10:00 am to go to Club Indigo in Montrouis. A.K.A the Caribbean!!! Since we weren’t sure how long our team members in Cite Soleil would be delayed, we decided to take a head start to our beach destination.

The two-hour drive in the Tap-Tap was just plain fun. We have seen so much in a mere four full days. It’s pretty incredible. As we inch ed closer to the beach, “houses” became few and far between. The land was still poor, but at long last, on this lonely road, we found two distinct lanes on the road!

First things first at Club Indigo: Food. The system they have set up is really confusing. You tell the person taking orders what you want to eat–simple enough. Then, you pay. Each order bought equals a certain number of tickets. So instead of just buying food, or a drink from the snack bar, you must make sure you have the correct number of tickets. Due to the lengthy process, we weren’t able to eat right away.

We basically found the closest shade and beach chairs and ran to the water. I dove straight in. This was a poor decision on my part. The water, though  cold and refreshing, was by far the saltiest water my poor eyes had ever made contact with. Once I had recovered from my hasty immersion, I gazed out across the waters. The cloudless sky and transparent water almost melted together.

I love trying new things. Fresh coconut was an awesome “first.”412515_4272218093429_1651764971_o (1)

After we had all absorbed our first views, we trekked a little farther down the beach to satisfy our hunger. After much more confusion, we presented our tickets at the snack bar and retrieved meals for everyone on our team.  I ate a very interesting sandwich. It was satisfying, but very peculiar compared to every other ham sandwich I had previously consumed.

We sang the happy birthday song to Luke and Terry. I love Windy. He is just so adorable. He calls Terry his mom. After much convincing, he went all the way into the water. He blew bubbles and attempted to swim. He did so well!! He ate French fries, a hamburger, and a chicken nugget. All for the first time. H e really loved that chicken nugget though. 🙂 Every time I think of Windy, he reminds me to be thankful and value EVERY SINGLE SECOND of every minute, every hour, every morning, every evening, every night, seven days a week of all the twelve months that make up a year.

After eating, we moved even farther down to find some umbrella shade. The sand was far to hot to lay on, even with a towel. This one of many problems Washingtonians never face.  Despite the brief shade, I burned, but in the moment, it felt incredible.

Our ride home was delayed by a blown tire in the Tap-Tap. Windy handles these little incidents so well. While our drivers sorted through the situation and we figured out who would ride where, Windy was found dancing in the street, head phones on,seemingly oblivious to the world, and listening to Imagine Me by Kirk Franklin.

The team arrived home–Heartline very quickly became home to me. Rachel found a dead gecko on her bed. First we thought  it was fake, then we discovered it felt and looked pretty legit. It crawled up on Rachel’s bed and just died. Alex picked it up and put it in a cup. From then on we didn’t really know what to do with it. I took it and thought about how to dispose of it ceremoniously. Claire came out of our room and we made eye contact. At exactly the same moment we thought of something brilliant. “PUT IT ON LUKE’S BED!” We started laughing to hard and made a failed attempt to prank him. We were too loud and then we worried we had put it on the wrong bed–not a risk we wanted to take with a complete stranger. Luke took it and put it out on outside railing. We told Melissa about it later and she said “Is it still there? It’s kinda gross, but my cat loves geckos and lizards.

We ate dinner, ate some delicious cake homemade by Melissa, chilled out, and then slept.

The best part about today was blessing our drivers and translators with this trip. None of them had been to this beach! It is a luxury they would not have otherwise been able to indulge in. To enjoy bonding with Ti-Papi, Jonas, Esther, and Rodney have fun with us was awesome. There are so many things–both big and small– that can impact a person’s life forever.

Day 7 Friday, July 27

Today was busy, busy, busy! Our first destination: a visit through the heart of Port-au-Prince to see Jo Jo the artist. On our way to Jo Jo’s, we had originally planned to stop by the presidential palace in the heart of Port-au-Prince. However, not even our drivers, locals, felt comfortable taking us close enough to climb out and take pictures. If my research is correct, there was a festival called the Carnival of Flowers occurring. If I HEARD correctly, the last time this festival occurs there was a shooting. All that being said, we decided to avoid the masses.

Ever new person I encounter here in Haiti has a unique story. Jo Jo is a very inspiring person. His testimony is outstanding. Jo Jo was born with no arms and no legs. His mother dropped him off at an orphanage. The lady who cared for him FORCED him to persevere and find a purpose. His journey began when he started painting with a brush strapped firmly to his stump of an arm.

Jo Jo grew up in a home for disabled persons where he now works on staff. He speaks nearly perfect English and has been to the States multiple times as a motivational speaker. Jo Jo has personally met the president of Haiti and his wife and presented them with one of his paintings. He is a Haitian celebrity.

There are roughly 1,500 in and out patients at the home. The patients’ disabilities are so varied. Some are quadriplegics, paraplegics, blind, deaf, mentally ill, and have had limbs amputated.

We brought Jo Jo a whole pile of art supplies. Canvases, water colors, brushes, water-color paper, and acrylic paints. Being given the opportunity to paint in the same room with him was truly incredible. To save paper, the team members wanting to paint shared pieces of paper. My partner chose to observe rather than participate. This meant I had an entire, empty piece of paper all to myself.

I struggled long and hard to decide what I would attempt to paint. For inspiration I began searching through pictures on my camera. I began with a picture I had snapped at Indigo Beach– a single palm tree. Going off of this as my focus point, I painted a picture of me holding Louisa’s hand. Louisa is a young girl–about six– from Pastor Silar’s orphanage who stuck close to my side for all three days of VBS. In this picture–see my previous post–I successfully indicated to her that Jesus loves her so much, and so do I. No words were used. Just a simple action of joining my hand with hers to form a heart. Because of my poor painting skills, I filled the inside of the heart with red to emphasize that it was a heart. To finish my work, I painted the Haitian and American flag side by side–a symbol that two vastly different countries may indeed work together.

I felt gratified with my finished product, regardless of all its imperfections. Sure, I’m no artist, but at least it means something to me. I titled my picture “Beauty in the Broken.” There is beauty even in a place as broken as Haiti!

Jo Jo’s pictures are incredible! If I had brought more money–a LOT more money, I totally would have bought one. One painting in particular caught my eye because of its intricate details. Jeff inquired how long the painting took to start and finish. Jo Jo answered nonchalantly, “three days.”

We brought Jo Jo a whole pile of art supplies. Canvases, water colors, brushes, water-color paper, and acrylic paints. Being given the opportunity to paint in the same room with him was truly incredible. To save paper, the team members wanting to paint shared pieces of paper. My partner chose to observe rather than participate. This meant I had an entire, empty piece of paper all to myself.

I struggled long and hard to decide what I would attempt to paint. For inspiration I began searching through pictures on my camera. I began with a picture I had snapped at Indigo Beach– a single palm tree. Going off of this as my focus point, I painted a picture of me holding Louisa’s hand. Louisa is a young girl–about six– from Pastor Silar’s orphanage who stuck close to my side for all three days of VBS. In this picture–see my previous post–I successfully indicated to her that Jesus loves her so much, and so do I. No words were used. Just a simple action of joining my hand with hers to form a heart. Because of my poor painting skills, I filled the inside of the heart with red to emphasize that it was a heart. To finish my work, I painted the Haitian and American flag side by side–a symbol that two vastly different countries may indeed work together.

Jo Jo and I
Jo Jo and I

I felt gratified with my finished product, regardless of all its imperfections. Sure, I’m no artist, but at least it means something to me. I titled my picture “Beauty in the Broken.” There is beauty even in a place as broken as Haiti!

Jo Jo’s pictures are incredible! If I had brought more money–a LOT more money, I totally would have bought one. One painting in particular caught my eye because of its intricate details. Jeff inquired how long the painting took to start and finish. Jo Jo answered nonchalantly, “three days.”

The Inspiration of a Left Gifted Hand

@ Luke White Photography
@ Luke White Photography

This is what reads on Carlot “Carl” Dorve’s business card. As we were about to leave the disabilities center, Carl meandered his our way playing his beautiful trumpet. Carl studied at the most esteemed music school in Haiti–I have yet to learn the name of this school. He now studies at Michigan state university. Carlot “Carl” Dorve. As we were about to leave, Carl meandered his our way playing his beautiful trumpet. Carl studied at the most esteemed music school in Haiti–I have yet to learn the name of this school. He now studies at Michigan State University. I watched a You Tube video to learn a little more about him. Seeing that at the time this picture was taken, I knew nothing more than his name. What stood out to me the most, is that Carl lost his arm when he was five. He started playing the trumpet AFTER he lost his arm. I took a double take at my notes to make sure I didn’t mess up the order of events.

I gained some wise words from his video: “Making progress, or being able to do something is a state of mind.”

Next Stop

From Port-au-Prince, our final destination was Grand Goave. Grand Goave is located in a more mountainous part of Haiti. Our business there was to visit an orphanage in the making. It’s name is Be Like Brit (BLB) Orphanage. The story behind BLB is long, but I’ll attempt to summarize without leaving out any important details.

Brit Gengel died in the earthquake. She was visiting with her school, Lynn University. According to her mother, she had been in Haiti only one full day before the earthquake submerged the country into chaos. Brit’s body was missing for 33 days before her remains were uncovered. Brit fell in love with the country and told her parents she wants to start an orphanage. In a call to her parents just three hours before the earthquake occurred, she said

“They love us so much and everyone is so happy. They love what they have and the work so hard to go nowhere, yet they are all so appreciative. I want to mover here and start an orphanage myself.”

I’m going to be completely honest, this made me feel quite conflicted. According to American standards, this may be true. Haitians aren’t going anywhere. However, their value’s: faith, trust, joy, and hope for a seemingly unsolvable wreck of a country, get’s them a lot farther in the big scheme of things. With these virtues and with God, anything is possible!

Brit’s parents, CherylAnn and Len Genegal are building a $1.2 million dollar orphanage. The finished product will be 19,000 square feet. [The building is now complete]. Throughout the layout of the orphanage there are a lot of interesting symbols. The building is in the shape of a “B.” Even with all of this space, they will only house 66 children-33 boys and 33 girls.  This symbolizes the days it took to recover Brit’s body. Throughout the building CherylAnn spoke of flat screen TV’s and advance medical technology. While there is ABSOLUTELY NOTHING wrong with any of these revolutionary features and the Genegal’s intentions are pure, Americanizing Haitian children does not do much for them in the long run. There are no distinct social classes except these: poor, poorer, and poorest. Leaving Haiti is practically impossible. In order to be eligible for a green card t the states, you must either be engaged to someone there or be in possession of legit medical and legal documents.  Considering applying for a green card is pretty much the only reason you might need any of these things, most don’t have them.

What frustrated me the most–what didn’t seem fair, is that the resources and space they have is unlimited. Pastor Silar has more than 66 kids in his home. In fact there are so many kids that he and his wife cannot even sleep in their own house! Instead, if they do indeed sleep, they sleep in a tent. My prayer for BLB is that the Lord’s will would be done. I send out my condolences to the Genegal family. Their influence in Haiti has the power to to amazing things in Haiti.

After we finished touring the construction site, we traveled even higher in the mountains to absorb the breathtaking view. It was incredible. No picture could ever capture the feeling of looking out across this beautiful city. After a long day, we headed “home” to Heartline. More to come on Haiti! I thought simply two posts could cover my trip–I was very wrong. One day in Haiti equals a few days in the States.

@Kayla Nicole
@Kayla Nicole

More to come on my extraORDINARY trip to Haiti in 2012!

Kayla

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