Saturday, March 30, 2013

Good, morning sunshine.

Yesterday morning, we awoke early to carry out our annual tradition of watching the Easter sun rise. And it was a good one.

the boys doing their best to keep warm in the early morning air.

noah jamming

joseph calling out 'there's the sun!'

morning masterpiece... He is risen, indeed!

This Easter weekend, I am reminded of a love like no other. A relentless love that pursues and consumes and overflows. A love so marvellous that words fall short. And just like that morning sunlight could not be suppressed by darkness, so it is with His love. It radiates and washes over and redeems my heart.
Thank you Jesus for your extravagant love.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Ti Pierre.

Pierre, affectionally called 'Ti Pierre' (Little Pierre) by the Hope House kids, is a child like no other.

I remember Sarah's phone call like it was yesterday, when she told me that there had just been a baby boy abandoned at the clinic. Later, when he was plopped into my arms for his first night at Mission of Hope, I was at a complete loss for the questions that flooded my mind. He was so helpless, so weak, so fragile. As Sarah and I attempted to care for his small frame, I wondered how his journey would unfold. Little did I know how significant he would become, or how much I needed him.

In the weeks and months that followed, Pierre grew in strength and spirit. His soft murmurs gradually turned to contagious laughs that rippled across this campus and beyond. His hollow eyes were lit with new life that twinkled like stars and shone to those around him. To this day, his magnetic personality draws in friends both new and old, regardless of age, gender or nationality.

And does he make friends... Just about every North American visitor and staff member knows him by name and can't get enough of his zest for life. Whenever someone passes by, he is the first to strike up a conversation or offer a classic 'Hi!', regardless of whether they are strolling uphill from school or flying downhill on an ATV. Pierre's dynamic enthusiasm for those around him despite his physical setbacks causes us all to be captured and in awe of God's amazing presence in his life.

Music is his joy. Every Sunday morning when the worship band starts their set, Pierre's grin stretches to the farthest sides of his cheeks and he claps and shouts along with the lyrics. Other days when I visit, we sing 'Jesus loves me' (his favourite) over and over again, until the generator comes on and his head naturally starts to bob up, down and around to the blaring Haitian radio.

Lately, Pierre has also developed quite a growing vocabulary. As soon as he has someone's undivided attention, he doesn't miss a moment calling out requests, telling them where he wants to go, what he wants to touch, and how to get him there. His chattery dialogues with the mommies are my favourite.

Here are more highlights in picture form:

Pierre and Sarah waking up on day one
Another one of Pierre's favourite people - Naoki.
Hope House sister love 
Jolly Jumping with Julien
Building those neck muscles!
Broc turns Pierre's wheelchair into a race car
Birthday songs with Rocky and Lily
That toothy smile.

Somehow over the past 2 and a half years, Pierre has filled a part of my heart that I didn't know I had. There have been countless evenings where I've felt an inner restlessness, and I have found myself sitting off on the hillside with him in my lap. He has listened to my discouragements and vents, heard me cry desperate prayers for strength, and has let me tell him my wildest dreams about the future, all the while never losing interest. His head on my shoulder and little arm around my neck has comforted me and blessed me more than I could ever express. And every time I reach the foot of his doorstep, he calls me by name and welcomes me back in.

Early last winter, Rocky and Lily Evans visited MOH to meet Pierre in order to begin paperwork for his adoption. As you can imagine, I was pretty guarded about the whole idea. Knowing Pierre's setbacks, I understood the importance of him receiving medical care and therapy from the states, but it was hard to picture life at MOH without him. However, the more I witnessed their perseverance and ever-growing love for Pierre, the more I knew that the Lord had His hand in such a wonderful new chapter of his life. This past fall, when they visited him again for his birthday, I found myself praying along with their family and friends that Pierre would be released into their capable hands.

This morning, our prayers were answered. Pierre was granted a medical visa so that he may travel to his new home in Indiana. There he will begin receiving treatments and therapies that he so desperately needs, not to mention receive the beautiful love of a mom and dad, and 2 brothers to call his very own. I stand amazed at the Lord's provision in his little life, and can't wait to see and hear about the impact he will have on the people around him in his new northern home.

And so in these final days, we hold him longer. We let him smudge those greasy fingerprints all over our phones and cameras. We take extra long walks just to feel those little arms wrapped around us. We cuddle him closer. We kiss him because we can.
And then, we let him go. We acknowledge that he has given us far more than we could ever give him. But even so, we send him off with cuddles and kisses full of gratitude for the joy he shared with us, for the lessons he taught us, and for the fresh love he sparked in our hearts. And knowing that he is held in the Everlasting Arms, we entrust him into new hands, believing that they need him just like we did. Our tearful smiles beam as we remember our time with 'Ti Pierre'. We will never forget these days.

Saturday, March 16, 2013


Week by week, Joshua, Olivier, Joseph and I have turned page after page of the Jolly Phonics storybook. As each letter and vowel combination is introduced, we flood the chalkboard with words where we hear the sound, and then we take the letters and turn them into art to be plastered on our classroom walls... We are getting quite a fantastic collection!

Friday we didn't waste any time getting down to business... Joshua was eager to create a boat complete with stick-mounted sails for the 'oa' sound. Olivier grinned all the way through his creation of a mouth, teeth and lips to end with a winning smile for his 'ie' sound. And I sat down beside Joseph to tell him about my idea for his 'ee' sound... It was going to be messy one. But as you can see from that look in his eyes, he is always up for a good challenge.

After a few giggles and his nod of approval, I pulled the paint tubes from their shelves and snatched the biggest brush I could find, while Joseph took off his shoes and socks.
And then, with a confident sweep of bright blue paint on my brush, I took a breath and painted his feet.
As the cool, wet colour covered his toes, his heels, and the ticklish arch in between, his sole swerved and scrunched and he let out many uncontrollable shrieks and kicks. The look in his eyes was a combination of despair and pure thrill. I'm sure the gardeners outdoors were questioning what on earth we were up to this time. Joshua and Olivier stopped their work to watch the show, and by the end we had all reaped a generous dose of laughter for the day.

Several dozen wet wipes later, we had exactly what we had hoped for: 2 perfect footprints to hang on the wall for 'ee'.
'ee' for Joseph's feet. And 'ee' for all of the squeals.
Mission accomplished.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Window seats.

It's a perfect day for flying, and I'm soaring over Haiti. Below me are the barren mountains, the hazy clouds, a jigsaw arrangement of block homes, and the Mission. I see the Hope Village long houses, and  follow the goat trail of a road to the tin roof of my classroom, where Noah, Caleb and Corinne are working diligently even now.
As the ground pulls back from this plane in our ascent, I can see far off into the blue, and my heart is full. Full of love for this place. Full of gratitude for the life below me. And as my mind shifts towards my destination, full of anticipation for all the coming weeks will hold in my roots.

Almost 2 weeks later, I sit in Chicago. Mumford and Sons have a song titled 'Hopeless Wanderer', and here on the ground, that is what I suppose I am. After countless baby cuddles and belly laughs, I find myself here again. Wandering foreign terminals and feeling estranged in body and spirit. Spotted across this continent, I have lighted homes and warm-blanketed beds and steaming cups and bright eyes and tight hugs. But in these airports I feel small and easily forgotten. The chill in the air seeps into my heart. I feel alone and vulnerable and long for a place to belong.

Time ticks by, and we board. Weary hands carry bags and tired eyes gaze out a small port window into the hollow darkness. Then we lift off, and I see it.
The softest glow of a horizon. Through the darkness, there emerges a line. The bluest of hues that grows ever wider. And then my eyes behold the beauty of new colours, evolving and emerging from the darkness. In a matter of minutes, the once-hidden horizon is all glory in a majestic climax of a sunrise. My mind is awakened and my heart warms once again as I marvel at His love lavished upon me. That high above a sleeping world and overcast clouds, I am gifted with a window seat to be reminded that He is still with me.

Thank you Jesus that just like the sun, you are radiant and ever present. And though I find myself lost and wandering, I can rest in your faithfulness and constancy. That despite my fears, my doubts, my weaknesses, and these ever changing circumstances, your right Hand holds me fast and leads me into Your marvellous light.

 You are chosen by God, chosen to be a holy people, 
God’s instruments to do his work and speak out for him, 
to tell others of the night-and-day difference he made for you
—from nothing to something. 
~ 1 Peter 2:9-10 (MSG)