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(Sorry for the delay in posting. Due to a country-wide blackout, the Girl’s Home, which is where the Internet router is, unfortunately had no power and therefore no Internet. The generator at the Grace International Children’s Hospital (where I am staying) fortunately is still working, but we are conserving the electricity just in case of an emergency. Now I want to buy the Girl’s Home a generator…

Anyways, as you’re reading this, I’m at the airport waiting to board the plane back to the States!)

Everything folded together beautifully today.

Last night, before we went to bed, several of us decided to pre-empt the darkness we experienced previously by worshipping with some of the young men working at Grace International until the sun had slipped away and our eyes were literally dropping shut. We prayed, we heard more stories, and we slept long and peacefully.

This morning, I said my temporary good-byes to Amy, Tim, and Sharon, as they headed off to Gonaives to visit Beyond All Boundaries, while Ms. Tracey and I stayed behind to work at the Lord’s Kitchen.

As we peeled garlic, stuffed peppers, and sorted through beans, we shared what was on our hearts and re-hashed what we felt and saw during this trip. We were completely blown away by the almost unreal stories that we heard since Wednesday, and shook our heads in awe of the power and might of God our Father. Here are some of the stories we heard:

Chris

Chris had been walking home from school when the 2010 earthquake hit. A benefactor of Grace International’s Boy’s Home and schooling system, Chris had been raised as a believer in Christ and educated at a great school. He didn’t realize it, but that day, God spared his life. For some strange reason, he felt the need to leave school early that day and head on home before classes had ended. As he was on his way, walking down the middle of the road, the earthquake hit hard. He had never experienced an earthquake before, and was terrified at what was happening. Buildings around him literally crumbled into rubble before his eyes, and people were crushed and killed right in front of him. All he could think about in that one moment was “Jesus…please save me and my family!” And the quake was over. With destruction and devastation literally surrounding him, he had been spared without injury. The school he had been in just minutes before had collapsed, and his teachers and classmates had been crushed. It took him an entire day to walk home, but his family, who God had also spared, rejoiced and praised God to see him alive and well, when they had feared the worst. Ever since that day, Chris has never worried or allowed fear in his life. He lives with a passion and security knowing that God had been the one who spared his life, and that very same God did so for a reason. Therefore, Chris, who desires to become a preacher and run his own orphanage and school one day, does not worry about how or when this will all come to being, but works hard day-by-day knowing that our God works miracles, provides for his needs, and will ultimately fulfill his dreams.

Madame Jeune

Madame Jeune’s story sounds like something straight out of a novel or drama. She was born to a young black girl that worked as a cook at a girls’ orphanage and a married white European doctor that had been volunteering at the very same orphanage. When the doctor found out that the young girl was pregnant with his child, he tried using pills and a coat hanger to abort the baby, but ultimately, both attempts failed. God had bigger plans, the baby was still coming, and there was nothing that the doctor could do about it. Despite the laws at the time concerning unwed mothers and mixed blood children, when the baby was born, the orphanage’s headmistress compassionately allowed Madame’s mother to stay and work as a cook…on one condition: The headmistress would adopt Madame Jeune as her own daughter, and the cook would not be allowed to show even a hint that she was her real mother. Madame recalls her days living at the orphanage as frustrating, harboring an immense dislike for the cook who was inexplicably mean to her at every turn. What she had been unaware of was the fact that her real mother was doing this to harden her daughter’s heart and keep them emotionally distant for Madame’s sake. And because of her mother’s sacrifice, Madame grew up with an education, Christ, food and a home. Unlike other girls her age, she never had to even consider selling her body for money, nor would her convictions allow her to. Finally, on the day of her wedding, Madame’s mother finally revealed her true identity, and the two were joyfully reunited in love. Michael, Madame’s son, laughs as he ends the story. “If you saw my mother and grandmother standing next to each other, you can see that they look identical! I have no idea how she (Madame Jeune) didn’t realize it sooner!” God obviously had a plan for Madame and knew that she would be one half of an amazing partnership that would affect hundreds of thousands of lives. Abortion, laws, and circumstance couldn’t outdo what God was doing in her life and now her legacy stands as testament to this.

Edward

Edward is an older gentleman that stopped by Grace International’s campus twice to show us his arts and crafts and sell them to support his ministry. Under Michael’s advice, we asked Edward to share us his testimony and life story, and he happily obliged with the English he picked up on his own. When he was a young man, Edward had been blessed with a wife and two children. But one day, during a hurricane, both his wife and children perished and he was left as the lone survivor. Instead of raging against God, Edward picked himself up and realized that God had spared his life for a reason, and was given a mission and desire to start a ministry of sharing Christ to others. On his first day of ministering to his Haitian brothers and sisters, 5 people came to know Christ. On his second day, 15 people. On the third day, 25. On the fourth, 50. God kept sending him people that ultimately were moved to give their lives to Christ and turn away from their old ways and practices. Today, Edward tells us with a huge smile on his face that he is re-married and blessed with 6 children. All of whom have joined him in his cause to minister to his fellow Haitians, and support him through the creation of the hand-made crafts that he was selling at Grace International’s campus. (Needless to say, our team bought a bunch of things.)

Christmas 2010

Every Christmas, Madame Jeune organizes a huge Christmas event for thousands of children in Haiti (from both inside and out of Grace International’s campus) to give them donated toys, a hot meal, and a Christmas pageant that teaches them the story of Christ’s birth. The year of the earthquake was a particularly difficult year. The number of donated toys that came in was very limited, and Michael saw that the 2,500 donated shoeboxes from Samaritans’ Purse were not going to be enough for the 5,000 children that showed up. Madame was adamant about giving the toys out nonetheless and told her son to start handing the shoeboxes out. After arguing back and forth over the logistics of passing out 2,500 toys to 5,000 kids that had the potential to riot, fight, and go nuts, Mom’s voice reigned supreme, and Michael obediently instructed the volunteers to continue handing out the boxes one-by-one. They saw in their inventory that they only had a couple hundred boxes left to hand out to almost 2,000 more kids. But they continued handing them out one-by-one, and before they knew it, every child in that room left the event with a shoebox. The numbers didn’t make any sense at all. There was such a huge disparity between the number of boxes and children that it didn’t make sense for there to be additional leftover shoeboxes to be given to the volunteer’s children. And there were 15 of those extra boxes. Michael could only shake his head in awe at the miracle he witnessed.

(There are even more stories, but these were the ones that resonated with me the most. If you want to hear more, let me know, because I’d love to share them and pass them along!)

Before Ms. Tracey left, I talked to her about something that lay very heavily upon my heart. On the first day of our trip, when Michael gave us the tour of the campus, he told us about an issue that was occurring Haiti-wide due to the lack of food: girls under the age of 12 were selling their bodies to men for a single plate of food. Not even money…just food. And men were taking these children up on those offers (which infuriates me). Ever since I heard that, every little kid’s cry in the night made me wonder if something abominable was happening to him or her, and I couldn’t rest easy with that thought in my head. More than ever, the need to fund Grace International’s feeding program is evident. Not only is it sustaining the lives of these kids and their families, but it’s also keeping them from having to do irreversible, terrible things in order to get a little bit of food. By feeding the children every day, we are taking away the desperation that causes little girls to think that they have to take such drastic measures to survive.

Ms. Tracey left for the States soon after, and I stayed back alone to work at the Lord’s Kitchen. I was given a 20-pound bag of beans to sort through. Yesterday, it took hours for 3 of us to get through one bag, and on my own, I was hardly making a dent. For the type-A personality in me, I was incredibly frustrated that this 20-pound sack of legumes was besting me.

As my mind raced and my little hands attempted to work as quickly and efficiently as possible, I heard God laugh at me. I pouted internally.

“I wish You could grow me another pair of hands, Lord.” I muttered immaturely, scooping beans into my lap.

God shook His head and gently said, “You’re asking for the wrong thing, my love.”

I sighed, looking at the huge remainder of beans that were left. “I know…I know you’re trying to tell me that I can’t do this alone.”

He smiled. “My silly daughter, you are always trying to do even the smallest things in your own power. Even now, I know you’re calculating how long it will take you to complete this task on your own, when this task was never meant to be done alone. Why do you have a hard time trusting that I have others out there that are willing and waiting for the opportunity to help you?”

I continued sorting and muttered, “Something tells me that You’re not talking about the beans anymore.”

He spoke again, graciously ignoring my back-sassing. “If your life ended tonight, would there be anyone out there to pick up the baton where you left off and run with it in your stead? Or would this entire endeavor die with you? And since when were you ever doing things on your own? The prayer warriors that are covering you at home, the hundreds of donors that contributed your call to action, the job you have that supports you flying out of the country for missions…I am the One that provided all of these things, and yet you’re still trying to think things through with your own power. Now ask me again, love.”

I stopped working and laughed quietly. I realized that during the past several months that I spent raising funds and supplies, I never once prayed to God for a team of people to run this race with. I gave it another shot. “Lord, you know that I am grateful and joyful at this opportunity to serve the people of Haiti and work alongside with Grace International. But at the end of the day, You and I both know that I am just one person. Lord, I ask that You send me an army of people with a heart for the orphans. People who are just as passionate, if not more passionate about feeding these children…people who want to partner with this mission and add their two hands to this project…people that can, in turn, raise their own armies and make a real difference.”

God smiled. “Do you believe that I can provide this?”

I smiled. “Yes.”

“Trust and know that I Am. And be ready for whatever comes.”

After lunch, Alex (a young man working at Grace International that I had met in 2010) and one of the older ladies working at the Lord’s Kitchen helped me tear through the bag of beans that triggered a wonderful conversation where I was able to ask my Father for something that He knew I needed.

Another 400+ children were fed today, and treated with candy that had been donated and brought by our team. At the end, a small mob of men had attempted to storm the gates to demand food long after it had run out. They were quickly ushered out by Grace International’s security guards and local volunteers. It was quite an eventful way to end the program, but I was impressed to see how well-equipped Grace International was with both their security and volunteers, who respectfully but strictly kept the compound in order.

The rest of the afternoon and evening was spent talking with more people (including the new group coordinator Grant, a young man who moved from Oregon to Grace International for 3 months when he heard God calling him to Haiti) and typing out their stories. After listening to the testimonies I heard, witnessing the things that I saw, and all in all having the time afterwards to be still and quiet in the presence of God, many of the worries and troubles I had battled with in the States seemed so miniscule and petty. Not because the problems were petty or miniscule, but because I had held onto them instead of completely trusting those problems to God. But seeing how God worked literal miracles in the lives of my friends, and seeing them walk in faith humbled me and encouraged me to do the same. I worship the same God that spared Chris’ life. I worship the same God that brought Madame Jeune to where she is now despite the efforts of man’s every attempt to prevent even her birth. I worship the same God that multiplied those boxes on Christmas in abundance. I worship the same God that gave Edward back his life in excess, with a new mission and purpose. And I worship the same God that was willing to talk to me while I sorted through beans for my own benefit. That same God will continue to care for my life and use it as He sees fits. And I trust that He will continue to speak to me and to the partners and people He wants me to join hands with.

I’ll be flying home tomorrow and will be back around midnight. Thank you all for your prayers, donations, and covering. I am so excited to come home and share these stories in person, and am looking forward to the next time I get to come back to Grace International!

PS: I couldn’t find Clemen. As she was a girl living in the tent community around the Boy’s Home (a 5-10 minute drive from the Grace International campus), no one at Grace International knew who she was or where she lived. I will continue to pray for her and will cling onto the hope that I will find her one day.

Things keep getting better and better.

But it started off as incredibly difficult. Last night, our group agreed that we had experienced the longest night ever in our lives. I remember waking up more than ten times throughout the night, and each time I did, it felt like I had already slept for 7 hours. And when I went to settle myself back to sleep, I would notice that another team member was also awake and passing the time by reading, praying, or just sitting up in bed.

There was a dark spirit that came in the night, and our team felt it. So we all battled in the Spirit against the darkness until we fell back asleep. I remember having dreams of people (that I cared about) telling me to stop talking about God so much in my blog posts on Haiti. And when I woke up in a cold sweat, I would repeatedly denounce that spirit of discouragement and go straight back to bed.

Later that night, I abruptly awoke to the sound of voices and worship outside the window. I later found out from Michael Jeune that within Grace Village, there is a group of people covering the campus in prayer at every single hour in the day, to battle against the secretive gatherings of Voodoo and dark spiritual worship that take place at night behind closed tents. How amazing is that?!

So when it was time to actually get up (around 5:30 am, to the sound of roosters crowing), our group gathered to worship, pray, and read the Word out loud to do our own battle.

The verse that ministered to us the most was in 2 Corinthians 4:4-12: “The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. For we do not preach ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, and ourselves as your servants for Jesus’ sake. For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ. But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power 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. For we who are alive are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that his life may be revealed in our mortal body. So the, death is at work in us, but life is at work in you.”

And so our little group spent the remainder of the day walking with the peace and light of God within us, and I know that I was at peace for the rest of the day.

We started off by working with the amazing women of Grace International, removing pebbles and dirt from bags of beans, taking the husk off of garlic cloves, and doing dishes. And then, the Lord’s Kitchen was open!

If you remember the last time I wrote about the Lord’s Kitchen, you know how defeated I was and the despair that I felt.

Completely different this time around. Completely.

The people at Grace International did an amazing job when it came to organizing the Lord’s Kitchen! Now, they created a system where the kids bring in their bowls to be filled, with the youngest of the children being fed first. The children would file in, line up, get their food, and leave the gates to bring the food back to their families. And with the amount of money that was donated by the New Mercy Project and by Bridgeway Community Church, we fed every single child, pre-teen, and teenager that had been waiting outside the gates in the line.

That was almost 500 children. We even had enough leftovers to feed some of the elderly. And we knew that they were also bringing home back their food to share with the rest of their families. If we assume that 3 people were fed off of one heaping bowl of food, a portion of the total donations therefore touched the lives of 1,500 people.

And there’s still enough money to feed the kids for every single day this week.

My lovely readers, do you see the impact that you’re making in the lives of these children? You’re feeding them AND their families. Let’s continue to donate and spread the word, so that these kids can eat like this every day of every week of every month of every year!

I saw the compassion in the eyes of my teammates, who were witnessing the Lord’s Kitchen for the first time. The intimacy of touching every child that came into the compound, to even having touched every bean that went into the food was enough to bring them all to tears as they worked, and I was reminded of that day almost 2 years ago…

But this is just the beginning. The beginning of something amazing. And you all have a hand in it.

We got to go to the Boy’s Home and drop off the donations of candy, soccer balls, and stickers that were brought by our team. And I was able to find another friend. 15 years old, and looking more like a man than the boy I remember…Wilkins! He is so tall now!

What a blessing to recognize old faces and see progress and growth in their lives. I even got to bump into my favorite Grace International driver, Kibe. That man knows how to barrel down tiny roads filled with crowded people at 50+ mph without braking, while simultaneously waving at everyone he knows (which is LITERALLY everyone) and honking the horn non-stop.

As a funny side note, the other team members were nervous at Kibe’s seemingly reckless driving, but I have to say…if I had to trust my life to any man in Haiti (when it comes to traveling on the road), it would be Kibe. Man can drive through Haiti blindfolded with no hands and backwards.

There are so many stories from the women and men working here that we heard today. And I will write about them more in detail tomorrow when the rest of the team drives up to Gonaives and Tracey Tiernan and I stay in Grace International. I have the honor of working one more day with the ladies at the Lord’s Kitchen and I am already feeling a bit sad about having to leave on Saturday.

Again, thank you all for your prayers and covering. Please keep Amy, Tim, and Sharon in extra prayer tomorrow, as they will be taking a 3 hour drive through the rural areas of Haiti.

And as usual, I love your faces. And I hope you all can come with me next time to see first-hand how great our God is and how much your generosity is changing lives.

I wish you could all be here with me right now.

I am sitting on the rooftop of Grace International’s Children’s Hospital in Carrefour, which is the same place where our team will be staying over the next several days. The sun, which was relentlessly beating down on us during the day has just slipped beneath the horizon and has allowed the stars to come out in indescribable numbers and vibrancies. Orion’s Belt has never looked so clear and bright, and as I type this post, I can’t help but be distracted by how beautiful our God is.

The breeze is sweet, and I feel…at peace. So amazingly at peace. In the midst of destruction, rubble, and chaos…there is a quiet and stillness in my heart that I just can’t find when I’m at home in the States.

And I think that it’s only when you are at a level of complete vulnerability that you truly realize how much you NEED God. And that there is a peace that comes with knowing how NOT in control you are.

This morning, the prayers and covering that came from all of you have allowed us to experience an uncanny amount of travel mercies. Despite having to get up at 2am, our team had the wonderful opportunity to enjoy our drive to Dulles without any traffic or speed traps. At the airport, we had our very own heaven-sent “angel” of an American Airlines representative, who not only allowed us to check in our extra bags (which were full of your donations and medical supplies) for FREE, but also allowed us to upgrade our plane seating arrangements for free. All of our bags met the weight limit by a few pounds, and even as we went to go through security screening, a brand new line opened up just for us and allowed us to bypass the early morning rush. And when we landed in Haiti, none of our bags were missing any supplies, and the customs representatives didn’t even bother to stop us from bringing anything in.

The first thing I noticed when we landed was how nice the airport was compared to 2 years ago. Right after the earthquake of 2010 hit, there was no roof, no lighting, and no fans in the baggage claim and immigrations area. This time, it was fully finished, and the chaos that used to be was now orderly, clean, and manageable.

When we finally got out of the airport, I saw a sight for sore eyes. My friend Chris, who we met the first time we were in Haiti, was there to pick us up with a hug and a smile. It felt like only yesterday when I saw him last, but he looks older, as I probably do to him.

The drive to Grace International was nothing short of incredible to me. The smoke, the dust, the smell…all of the things that had blinded and choked us in 2010 were gone. The traffic and mobs of people? Gone. The piles of rubble? Stacked and replaced by new construction.

I saw hope. After 2 years of struggling, determination and perseverance, Haiti is finally showing signs of progress and tangible hope.

But for the team members who had never been to Haiti, they found it difficult to join in our enthusiasm, as the remaining signs of destruction were still difficult to comprehend and digest.

Once we were inside the compound, we were immediately greeted by Madame Jeune and her son, Michael, who took us on a comprehensive tour of Grace Village. The most immediate change that I saw was the number of tents that were missing from the campus’ plots of land. And I found out that it was because the 25,000 people that were originally staying there had dwindled down to 10,000, as Grace International provided their people a means to move on and live in actual housing instead of tents.

As we were guided throughout the campus, we were informed of both the latest developments and the recent struggles that had popped up at Grace International. Nevertheless, the running theme throughout our walkthrough was how God had and continued to use people to provide for the needs of the Haitians. Despite the improper use of donations from big-name corporations, despite political corruption, despite the evils of human nature, despite the overwhelming number of issues that still needed to be dealt with…God sent people, volunteers, churches, synagogues, and small organizations that were willing to donate funds and supplies to the one cause that spoke to them most until the cause fulfilled. And the combination of everyone removing one issue each ultimately added up to a very big difference. And it was noticeable.

More than ever, I realize how important it is that we (that means you and me, my lovely readers!) continue to focus on the cause of the Lord’s Kitchen and getting these children fed. This was the one important cause that God specifically laid on my heart, and I want to see this huge issue crossed off Grace International’s list for good.

Tomorrow, our team is going to be doing the Lord’s Kitchen, to feed the children with the funds that you donated. Please continue to keep us in your prayers, and we will do our part on the ground in Haiti to show your love to the Haitian children here.

Love your faces. See you tomorrow!

PS: I was blessed enough to find two of my old friends while in Haiti! Chris AND Big Bebe! I’m still praying that I find Clemen~

I am in love.

Dictionary.com defines “Love” as “…a profoundly tender, passionate affection for another person.”

And I have that kind of tender, passionate affection for my kids in Haiti.

In exactly one week, a small team and myself will be going back to Haiti to re-visit Grace International. And this time, when we go, we will be bringing far more resources (financial and medical) than we did the first time we went. I praise God for His provision and for moving the hearts of the donors who generously gave last Sunday and look forward to seeing Him move next week as we prepare and continue to fundraise.

(If you want to see the video that was shown last Sunday, click the image below):

While I am abroad, I will be attempt to update this blog every day, journaling what I see and what I experience. And I hope that you all will keep me and my teammates in your thoughts and prayers as we travel next week.


A personal mission of mine is to find a little girl named Clemen that I met a year and a half ago. Lord willing, whether or not she remembers me, I want to sponsor her and reconnect with her.

There is so much to look forward to. Thank you all for your donations, your support, and for your encouragement.

See you on the other side!!

To all my lovely readers, Happy Valentine’s Day~

While it may be another year of a solo Valentine’s Day (25 years must be a record somewhere, right?), Goonies never say die! So here’s hoping for next year! Again!

As my gift to you, my virtual valentines, I’ll give you a fun little cultural tidbit/lesson about how Valentine’s Day is celebrated in South Korea!

(^_^)

Did you know that, in Korea, there’s a day that allows all the single ladies and men to celebrate their singleness together?

Here’s how it breaks down:

February 14 (Valentine’s Day): Women give chocolate to men.

March 14 (White Day): Men give non-chocolate candy to women.

April 14 (Black Day): Those who did not receive anything on the 14th of February or March go to a Korean restaurant to eat black bean noodles called Jajangmyeon (짜장면) to “mourn” their single life together.

If you’re like me, the idea of Black Day is kind of hilarious.

Buuut…since I do enjoy Jajangmyeon, Black Day is certainly something that I can look forward to this year~

Love your faces. For those of you who do have Valentines this year, have a beautiful day together~

And to my fellow singles out there, don’t give up hope! Let’s go eat some noodles in April and look forward to next year!

Is it just me, or was January a really really long month?

Even after the hustle and bustle of the holidays died down, the combination of work, fundraising, studying, church activities, and getting ready for my February trip to Haiti has generated a little bit of stress.

And (unfortunately) this week, it’s beginning to show on my face. I finally decided to take a minute to just stop what I was doing and get things under control. Mini-Grace tagged along. Again.

Ew. I wish my face understood that I am way too old to be breaking out like a teenager. Despite temporarily deactivating my Facebook account, which has not-so-surprisingly opened up my schedule considerably, I still find myself wishing that there were more hours in the day.

On the bright side,  I am super pumped about returning to Haiti! I have had the wonderful opportunity to work with my church in order to partner up with Grace International (as well as another non-profit called Beyond All Boundaries) on a much larger scale. This trip coming up at the end of February will symbolize the start of something amazing for Haiti, especially for the children.

[If you are in the DC/VA/MD area and are interested in joining me on future trips to Haiti, check out the pamphlet I made below and shoot me an e-mail!]

As ususal, I love your faces. If you live around the DC area, enjoy the beautiful weather this week~

A Cartoon Stuck in a Real Girl’s Body

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