Tuesday, March 14, 2017

A Pallet of Bleach

I need to tell you a story.  Lots of details so I hope I will do it justice.

Bleach.  I need to explain the value of this simple liquid.  It is almost five to eight times more expensive to purchase in Haiti than in the states.  MOH is blessed to occasionally get supplies from Convoy of Hope and bleach is one of the items we get. We use it for multiple tasks, so it is a huge blessing when we get it in large quantities.  We do not get it every time but when we do, it is basically like Christmas.                

Story time. 

Rewind back to Hurricane Matthew, October 4th, 2016.  The hurricane had devastated the southern portions of Haiti and Mission of Hope was working with various partners to help bring immediate supplies via barge to the south.  I remember standing in the warehouse looking at our Mobilization supplies (Mobilization is the department that specifically works with short-term volunteers & sending them to the villages we work with), and figuring out if there would be anything helpful for us to send.  We had a three-fourths of a pallet of bleach.  You now understand that value of this item and if I’m being honest, there was a moment of hesitation when I wanted to maybe keep some of it.  I could easily justify keeping a few bottles but when I thought of moms and dads worried that their children may get cholera, I knew we needed to send it all.  I called the Haitian guesthouse coordinator that I work with and told her that I wanted to send it all.  She too mentioned if we should keep any.  I told her I had the exact same thought but if we were living in the south, would we want someone to send us the bleach or keep some.  She immediately said, ‘we need to send it all.’  I told her that I believed the Lord would somehow return the bleach to us, that if we trusted in the goodness of who God was, somehow we would get more bleach.

On February 1st, I received an email from our stateside support office letting us know we would be receiving some supplies from Convoy of Hope and that they should be arriving by the end of February or the beginning of March.  The items on the list were tuna, paper towels, cereal, and granola bars.  I made a note in my calendar to check on the status of this container at the end of February.  February came and went and still no container.  We knew it would be arriving any day but with customs and fees to pay, it was a guessing game as to exactly when it would come.

Yesterday, March 13th, 2017, I got the call that the container was here.  I was so excited because we are right in the middle of spring break and with over 200 volunteers here this week; the extra supplies arrived just in time.  When I walked into the warehouse and headed to the look through the pallets of supplies, I instantly noticed a pallet of bleach.  Simultaneously the emotion of excitement and doubt entered my mind.  I knew that it might be meant for Mobilization but I also know that many departments receive things on containers and it may be intended for someone else.  I called the stateside office and asked for confirmation that the bleach and also a mystery pallet of Clorox wipes, another amazing item to have in Haiti, were intended for Mobilization.  It only took about ten minutes for the confirmation to come.  It was ours.  Not only did the Lord return the bleach, but we got a whole pallet of Clorox wipes in as well.  I stood and looked at both pallets and got misty eyed.  Here it was.  AND he gave us back more than what we originally gave.

This will be the last container of supplies I will personally see come through for Mobilization.  With my time in Haiti ending in April, there won’t be another container of supplies that I will need to do the paperwork for.  This was it.  The last one I would see.  I get misty eyed now as I think about the Lord’s attention to detail and His faithfulness to provide what we need exactly when we need it.  As I step into the unknown of transitioning back into the life in America, I will remember this day and remember the faithfulness of God.       

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

a season of change

People are always surprised when I tell them I live in Haiti.  Most conversations on the plane rides to and from the states result in blank stares, lots of questions, and most times, the final result is people not understanding why I live in a country that so many have deemed broken.  Almost six years ago I came on a one-week trip to the small island of Haiti, never realizing that it would change my life forever.
2011 - Internship time in Leveque

Fall 2015.

It started with a whisper, “I am going to move you.”  It was one I quickly dismissed, as I didn’t want to pay attention.  Days would pass, maybe even a week and there it was again, “I am going to move you.”  I shooed it away like a quick motion of my hand dismissing a mosquito buzzing in my ear.  I didn’t know what it meant, and I didn’t want to.  Weeks passed.  Months passed.  The whisper stayed the same.  Never changing.  Never increasing or changing in tone.  The same, calm and steady whisper, “I am going to move you.”

Spring 2016.

It wasn’t until an all too familiar night at the guesthouse dining area and I was sitting and talking with team members who had just arrived to Haiti, when all the dots connected.  Visitors who come to Haiti all ask the same challenging question, ‘How long will you stay?’  This question came when I had been on staff for only a week and it is the same question I answer five and half years later, ‘How long will you stay?’  And for all these years I have answered the same way every time.  And on this night it was no different, but this time I heard that same answer in a very different way.  ‘I will stay until the Lord…. Movesme.’  The words literally came out slower this time as I heard the whisper in my answer, “I am going to move you.”  I politely ended the conversation and quickly headed to my apartment.  I needed to think.  I needed to figure out what had just happened.  And as I sat alone and began to think of all the memories I have had in this place, an overwhelming sense of joy, sorrow, laughter and tears filled every space of the room.  How could I ever leave? 

Spring 2017. 
2011 - More afternoons painting in Leveque

Today, I have come to a new crossroad and while I used to think that moving to Haiti was the hardest thing I’d ever have to do, now I know that leaving Haiti will prove to be the even bigger challenge.  At least when I came to Haiti I knew, for the most part, what I was moving to.  But as the end of April gets closer and closer, the realization that I have no idea what I am moving to next, becomes my new reality.  And in that reality I remind myself of this, He is the one who is moving me.  He is good and He does good.  And all I have to do is be obedient.  So even though I am leaving behind countless memories, friends, and the place that has become my home and captured my heart, I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that I am stepping into the next great adventure that He has for me.

To those who have journeyed with me on this Haiti adventure, thank you.  Those two simple words do not do justice to my heart’s deepest gratitude for the prayers, financial support, emails, texts, messages, cards, care packages, gifts, and so much more.  Thank you for loving me well and being a part of my story.

To my family who has graciously let me follow this crazy desire to live in Haiti, I am coming home!  I am looking forward to birthdays, holidays, camping, picnics, hunting, niece time, movies, and so much more!  Thank you for being my greatest support.  Thank you for listening to my frustrations, triumphs, heartaches, good days and days that I never thought I would make it.  Thank you for always encouraging me to put my hope in Christ and to follow what He has for me.

To the countless MOH staff and interns I have served with these last five and half years, you are the only ones who will ever truly ‘get it.’  You will be the ones I need the most as I make this transition back to America.  For those of you who have gone before me, be ready for questions.  To those of you who stay, you know I am just a text message or FaceTime audio call away!  Thank you for loving me, being gracious with me, allowing me to fail and being a part of so many great successes.  Thank you for being co-laborers in Taking Kingdom Ground! 

My journey is not ending.  It has only just begun. 

2011 - fun days in Cabaret

2012 - January birthday celebrations

2012 - Sunday afternoon soccer games! 

2012 - Some my favorite days were spent in Leveque.

2013 - Residency status is official!

2013 - Mountain time in Fretas.
2013 - My bucket skills need some work.

2014 - Little Matthew!  What a cutie!?

2014 - VBS!  VBS!  VBS!

2015 - Sunday morning church friend.

2015 - Graduation time at MOH.

2016 - What an amazing woman.  Can't wait to see her in heaven one day.

2017 - Peace out Haiti!  See you again soon.

Monday, April 6, 2015

Living out your calling…. One assignment at a time.

Calling.  Until about 3 weeks ago I got really hung up on that word.  
What is my calling?  Am I living it out?  Did I miss it? 

 I believe that in the Christian world there is a undeniable pressure that we need to find our calling, seek it out and then once we find it, we have to operate in it and then that’s all there ever is to do.  To be honest, it could be Christian culture or it could be something I’ve formulated in my head over the last 31 years of my life. 

Being a missionary in Haiti it would appear as if I’ve found it!  My calling!  I’ve found the thing I was made for.  People would tell me all the time, “Elizabeth you were made for this.”  I appreciated their comment but wondered to myself, so if this is my calling, is there anything “next” or is this it?  This also began to explain the guilt I was starting to feel at the thought of one-day possibly leaving Haiti.  How could I leave my calling? Wouldn’t that be failure?  How could I possibly walk away from my calling?

Three months ago, I came back to the United States to work at the Mission of Hope offices in Austin, TX.  It was a crazy adjustment and still is.  I decided that I wanted to do something that could be considered weak and something that would label me as broken, but I knew it didn’t matter what people thought, that this was something I needed to do.  I decided to go to counseling.  I had no idea what to expect.  I had no idea that it would change my life forever.  As we sat and talked about my life and my past, my hopes, my fears and my dreams, it began to be obvious that my perspective on my life was rather skewed.  It was very easy for me to see my faults and flaws but it was a challenge to acknowledge the things that I excel at and do well.  With an in-depth personality and core value test, things began to rise to the surface.  There began to be a common theme in all the past experiences of my life.  Work.  School. Church. Family.  This theme of administration began to connect the dots to all of it.  When I locked eyes with my counselor and he uttered the words, “Elizabeth, do you believe that your calling is administration?”  it wouldn’t compute.  My mind raced with different “callings” that were familiar to me; teacher, pastor, doctor, missionary, mother, accountant, manager, housekeeper.  I repeated these thoughts to my counselor and with a small half smile, he said, “Elizabeth, those aren’t callings, those are assignments.”  For the next five or so minutes, he began to unpack this new revelation.  He recounted my years in 24/7, my work in the restaurant world, my time at the tax office, the leadership positions at church and now, working as a missionary in Haiti.  He said, “Elizabeth, you have an unbelievable gift and the Lord has created you in such a way that you can organize and process like not many others I’ve ever met and in all these different life experience you’ve shared with me, it is evident that the Lord has placed you in different assignments to the make the most of your calling.” 

This huge rush of relief washed over me.  Warm tears streamed down my face.  My calling wasn’t something I needed to find and seek out, it was something the Lord had already strategically placed inside of me.  He had given me my calling and all I had to do was walk in the strength and giftings he had given me.  My calling was something that would be inside me for the rest of my life and all I had to do was faithfully live it out one assignment at a time.  The freedom of realizing that I would never miss my calling or accidentally walk away from it was like a deep breath filling every bit of space in my lungs, slowly exhaling to let it really take over and settle in.

It may not have as nice of a ring to it, but my calling is administration!  And no matter what the assignment might be; student, restaurant manager, office assistant, small group leader or missionary in Haiti, my calling will always be present.  And no matter where life might take me; wife, public speaker, mother, business owner, it will always be another amazing assignment that I have been blessed to live out.   

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

You Revive Me.... A Season of Growth

I have the ability to get lost in a song.  I’m not sure if this is really an “ability” as I would hope everyone has the “ability” to feel lyrics and melodies penetrate to the very depths of their heart and soul.  With eyes closed, humming the tune as it becomes more and more familiar.  Meditating on the combination of words placed together to capture thought and longings.  If there were anyway for a iTunes track to be worn and tattered, You Revive Me by Passion - Christy Nockels, would be my most tarnished and faded song of late. 

It is the chorus that has taken me to a new place of comfort and strength.  You can click here to listen to the song as you continue reading.

You see, this summer in Haiti has been one of the most difficult seasons I’ve ever walked through.  The hustle and bustle of the summer was the same as in years past.  Literally thousands of volunteers came down.  It looked to be the most promising summer MOH had ever seen.  And it didn’t disappoint.  Thousands of lives were transformed.  The Gospel was advanced.  The battle raged on and we pushed back against the enemy and his schemes.  But with great victories for the Kingdom came great opposition from him.  The words in John 10:10 have new depth and perspective for me.  “The enemy comes to steal, kill and destroy.”  This summer, I experienced the deaths of three people that left me in a place I’ve never been before: one of a dear friend, one of a beloved partner in ministry who radiated the love of Jesus to all he encountered, and one of a complete stranger whose life echoed a pure love for Jesus and a life well lived. In a flash, each was gone.

This summer wrecked me.  It left me more broken than I have ever been.  And yet, the love of my heavenly Father was more tangible and real than I have ever known.  The peace and comfort was something I clung to.  Psalm 91 became a cherished and transcendent portion of scripture as I took one step at a time, one day at a time.  I also believe that I have a small glimpse as to why Jesus finished the John10:10 statement with “I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.”  Even as I type these words I cannot contain a small smile.  He has not left us or forsaken us.  He does not leave us to be devoured by the enemy.  No.  He has come that we may have LIFE.   We are alive!  I am alive!! 

I’m alive!  I’m alive!  You breathe over me.  You revive me.

Revive.  It is defined as the act of restoring to consciousness or life.  To restore from a depressed, inactive or unused state.  To bring back.  To renew in mind.   

Jesus -  Thank you for not leaving me.  Thank you for seeing me.  Thank you for taking my place.  Thank you for dying on the cross for my sins.  Thank you for paying the wages of sin and death that I should have paid.  Thank you for the gift of eternal life.  Thank you that you are peace, you are joy, you are comfort. 

Hopefully the song has begun to weave it’s way into your heart.  Maybe play it a second time. Thank you for letting me share my heart. 

Friday, May 2, 2014

Memories of Meme

If you knew my grandmother well (we called her Meme), then you would know that she loved ice cream.  I remember her homemade peach ice cream.  If I close my eyes and think of it, sweetness starts to tingle my tongue.  If you knew my Meme really well, then you also would know that it wasn’t just a love for ice cream but banana splits!  Those were her expertise!!  I don’t know how she did it, but she had every ingredient - at all times.  Whipped cream, maraschino cherries, hot fudge - they all had prime real-estate in her refrigerator.

My Meme would be proud.  This last tuesday we had banana splits.... IN HAITI.  It wasn’t easy gathering the necessary supplies.  I had to search multiple places and even get a bit creative with substitute toppings but I know she wouldn’t have minded.  

She never got to see my journey from Colorado to Arkansas to a little island in the Caribbean that I now call home but I know she would have loved every minute of it.  I really believe she would have even come to visit me.  She loved to travel!  I miss he deeply.  But with a plastic bowl, chopped bananas, creamy goodness, walnuts, whipped cream and a cherry on top - she was the first one I thought of.  I love you Meme and can’t wait to see you again some day!

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Thankful each day....

Are we as aware in the days after Easter?

I had a very unique thought go through my mind over and over this past Sunday, "Will I be as thankful tomorrow?"  Please hear me when I say that taking a day to remember and celebrate the resurrection of Jesus is something I believe we should definitely do!!  But i was challenged in my own heart and mind if I would be as thankful and mindful in the days to come.  If I'm honest with myself, probably not.  I can quickly get carried away in the business of work and life and so quickly forget that the reason I even exist and have this hope, is because Jesus died for my sins over 2000 years ago.  Without his sacrifice and atonement for our sins, we wouldn't have the DAILY joy and promise of an eternal life with him.  I promise I won't get preachy.  Just a simple thought - Will my heart rejoice today and in the days to come as much as it did on Easter Sunday?