Haiti Trip Videos - Kids

As promised, here are a couple of videos showing some of the precious kids at the mission. Most of them are there for the nutrition program. Notice that they know the word 'photo.' :)


Haiti Trip Part 3 - The Children

Kids tug on my heart strings. They're so innocent. Pure. There's something that feels so wrong about the fact that there are kids all over the world that live in dangerous, unhealthy environments. Many Haitian children don't have advocates. You just don't really see that in the US. Here, if a parent is unwilling to be an advocate there is usually a family member, friend, social worker, or judge that is willing to fill that role. These pictures evoke a few different emotions in me, some conflicting. Sadness, confusion, simple joy, anger. It's ok to feel a mix of emotions - it's a complex situation that is so much bigger than you or I.

Toms shoes sent a TON of shoes to the mission where I was staying. One of the teams that was volunteering there went all over the NW Haiti region to pass out the shoes. It was cool to see the little kiddos running around in their new shoes! Interesting side note: Toms asks that when people hand out the shoes they not speak of Jesus or any particular religion.
There is an infant orphanage on the mission campus. This place was both fun and heartbreaking. I loved holding the sweet little babies, but felt very sad leaving them knowing that their care {though better than many kids in Haiti} would be in inadequate.
Meal time! I tried to figure out what they were eating. It looked like some type of gravy to me. 
One day we traveled to La Baie - about an hour away. It's a more rural area. I'll blog more about that day in another post. 

Christy is on the left below. Oh my goodness she was so sweet! Her dad is a physician in Port au Prince, but they don't have any ophthalmologists there. One of her eyes crosses in, so our pediatric ophthalmologist did a pretty quick surgery and fixed her up. The surgeon was in surgery for quite a while so she hung out with us in clinic for a  few hours. After about 30 minutes she was running the place!

On the right is a picture of a super cool mom and her son, M, whom she and her husband are trying to adopt {along with his sister}. Haiti's adoption laws state that you have to be at least 35 years old to adopt. WHAT?! They're the poorest country in the western hemisphere with a huge overpopulation and orphan problem and they so strongly limit who can adopt?! That's nuts to me. I'll blog about this family's Haitian ministry soon so you can learn more about them.
The girl in the red shirt runs the special needs orphanage and is way cool. She LOVES living in Haiti and taking care of those kiddos. This little boy is in one of her outreach programs and has severe autism. His smile could light up a room, though! He had strabismus surgery (crossed eyes).
Ugh. I just want to eat these kids up. I don't have my flip camera with me today, but tomorrow I'll blog a video that shows these kids in action. It. Will. Melt. Your. Heart.
This girl is only 17 and has been in prostitution for a few years. Prostitution is a big problem in Haiti. Lack of leadership, financial resources and education all contribute to this issue. I heard stories of disabled, blind women in prostitution - just kills me. I mean, can you imagine?? She has some type of tumor, but the surgeons didn't know what kind. They took a biopsy home with them and will hopefully learn more about how to best take care of her for their next trip.
These kiddos are from the St. Louis du Nord community. Due to the high mortality rate for kids under the age of 5 (50%!) many parents don't name their children for a while. The little boys on the right didn't have names yet.

Random fact: there was a Mizzou student and an Arkansas student on this trip. None of us knew the others, but how random to have those type of connections meet up in Haiti. Sean in the picture below is from Mizzou.
This little girl, Miriam, had her second corneal transplant this trip! She had her first last year. This is Dr. Moyes in the photo, someone I work with and is from the Kansas City area.
This image is burned into my mind. Tears are welling up in my eyes as I write this. When I walked close to these babies they would all reach for someone to pick them up. I wish I had 5 arms! I tried to rotate holding these babies, but they did not like to be put down. That was really hard for me. It's seems silly for me to write what was hard for me, considering what is hard for these kids every day. I felt like I could never do enough - so overwhelmed by the whole experience.

This little guy is 12 years old, 5 feet tall and 41 pounds. He has been in the special needs orphanage for two years and is dearly loved by the staff and volunteers there. I think he probably has some sort of absorption issue - he's getting the same meals as the other kids who do not look like this, but he just isn't getting the nutrition he needs.
I'll end with this one because it's a happy one. These boys chased me around outside asking me to take their picture. They just giggled so hard when I showed them their picture from my camera. Their life is simple. Their life is much harder than mine. Their life will be full of seemingly insurmountable challenges. But they're happy, smiling and laughing. I learned a hard lesson in humility while in Haiti. Be joyful always.


Haiti Trip Part 2 - The Campus

The Northwest Haiti Christian Mission is a special place. They do have full time staff that live at the mission and help it run, but for two months out of the year the Haitians run all operations. Here are some photos of the grounds to give you an idea what we were working with.

This is a picture of one of the women's dorm rooms. They were totally full during my trip because there were so many volunteers at the mission.
 The kitchen area. The mural cracked me up because it was a painting of every food you would not be enjoying during your time in Haiti. Pizza, ice cream and wedding cake were not on the menu. We ate a lot of rice, beans, goat meat, and oatmeal. I'm not a picky eater at all, so I didn't mind the menu. It's hard to say no to the food they offer when you know there are literally hundreds of kids downstairs that don't get enough food to eat.
 The dining area.
 This is a new chapel area at the mission - where we had morning and evening devotionals.
 This is going to be a new aquaponics facility. They will raise fish and grow plants on water in hopes of making the mission for self sustaining. There is a cool couple who lives at the mission full time trying to get this off the ground.
 Waiting area in front of the clinic. A surgeon out of Kansas City paid for this clinic to be built. The benches (and more) were completely full all day when we were in clinic.

 This is the machine I ran most of the time while I was in clinic. It's called an autorefractor and tells you their prescription. See that AC unit in the window? It. Was. Glorious.
 The mission has two orphanges on campus. This is the infant orphanage and there is also a special needs orphanage. I think both have 20-30 kiddos enrolled.
  This is the post-operative recovery room.
 Pre-operative area.
 When I helped in pre-op I just administered dilating drops, pain medicine and took vital signs.
 There are two operating rooms at the mission. Physicians and surgeons coming from all specialties visit the mission.
The mission also runs a nutrition program. Kids have to be in the 2nd or 3rd stage of malnutrition to enter the program. Once admitted, the kids and their caregivers can get two meals a day M-F at the mission. Kids who are in school can also get breakfast before heading to their classes. The meal is a special type of rice that has been infused with vitamins missing in their typical diet. Something else I learned about while is Haiti is a product called Medika Mamba {peanut butter medicine in Creole}. It's produced by a company called Meds and Food for Kids, owned by doctor out of St. Louis. Visit this website to learn more and see some before and after pictures.
 It was pretty hot at night, so a lot of people just put their mattresses out on the deck to sleep. I did this the last night I was there and it felt amazing {but I was covered in mosquito bites, which is why I didn't do it every night}. That dog, Duke, lives at the mission. He came from America to stay with his family who also lives at the mission. 
The mission itself has high concrete walls and guards at all gates {armed with sawed off shotguns...yikes!}. They really try to ensure that everyone within the gates is there for a purpose. I felt very safe the whole time I was at the mission.

The next post I will share with you some photos, videos and stories about the precious Haitian kids I had the priviledge of loving on.


Haiti Trip Part 1 - Getting there

I've had some time to process my experience in Haiti and attempt adjusting back to the American way of life. My prayer is that I don't let the American way of life get in the way as much as it did before the trip. I'll start off my Haiti series with an easy post - how did I get there?

On the way to Haiti, I connected through Ft. Lauderdale. From southern Florida, Haiti is only a 2 hour plane ride away. Here's an aerial view of Haiti - it's seriously a beautiful nation. Much more mountainous that I expected. Haiti has less than 10 major cities and is approx the size of Massachusetts. There is much of the island that is unpopulated, but the cities are severely overcrowded. When we landed in Port au Prince, we hopped on a small plane that took us to NW Haiti. Here's something that really surprised me: I didn't see any direct damage from the earthquake. The area that was damaged is very centralized in Port au Prince and is the most populated area of the country, which is why it caused such severe devastation. Although I certainly did witness some of the economic and social impacts of the earthquake, the actual physical damage, though, wasn't widespread over Haiti.
This is the landing strip in NW Haiti. There were donkeys present.

From Port de Paix, we hopped on a bus and drove about 90 minutes to the mission in St. Louis du Nord. There are seriously people everywhere on the streets. Some people were walking back from markets, asking for food, hanging with their friends, eating garbage that others have left behind. It was really shocking for this to be the first thing I saw in Haiti. It's heartbreaking and difficult to look at. I tried to not take too many pictures - I think the people of Haiti are aware of their state of poverty and having a bus full of white people leaning out of the bus taking your pictures probably doesn't make them feel very secure. Any pictures I took of people I tried to ask permission first.

Trash is everywhere. I didn't see a trash can in public the entire time I was there. This was honestly really hard for me to understand. Why is it like that? Why do the people seemingly care so little? I'll post more on this later, but what I have tried to remind myself of frequently when I felt a judgemental nature creeping in on me is that I, too, am guilty of sin. When sin entered this world everything changed - our relationship with God, our relationship with others and even our relationship with the environment.

When we arrived at the mission, I set up my home for the week. I liked having a tent - it was my own space. They do have dorms there at the mission with bunk beds (think like camp), but there aren't any windows and it was SO hot at night that I appreciated the little wind I did get in the tent. The temp was probably around 95 during the day and probably 80ish at night - it felt like 100% humidity. A few people on our trip did get sick from dehydration. One day I drank four 32oz. bottles of water and didn't pee once. TMI? Sorry.

This is the view from my tent. LOST, anyone? I was bummed because no one else on the trip watched the show LOST - I kept wanting to make references to the black smoke, Locke and the others, but no one understood me. I looked it up - it was filmed in Hawaii, not Haiti.

In the next post I will show pictures of the Eye Clinic and talk more specifically about what we did while in Haiti.



For most of my life I wasn't very talented. I have two left feet, a black thumb and couldn't carry a tune with a bucket. My sister was always way more athletic than I was, so when my parents would brag on us as kids it was usually about some record Kristel set and that I was "doing well in school." It's true that God blessed me with academic talent, but I hardly considered that a real talent {although it did help pay for my college education}.

I'm not sure what led me to buy a sewing machine, but I'm so glad I did. Now, I have a talent. A real, live talent! I can create. It's not really anything special or unique and it's certainly not perfect, but I can take a pile of fabric and turn it into a dress that brings team spirit, a curtain that helps make a house a home or a set of bedding for a sweet little baby to snuggle with.

God gives all of us different gifts and talents - that's the beauty of the body of Christ! We are all used by Him in different ways, both big and small, and the body doesn't function well if any one piece of the body is missing. Think about how cool that is! Whether you're a stay at home mom, a teacher, or a corporate executive God created you just for that role.

Do you know what your talents are? Are you allowing God to use those talents for His glory? I know that I certainly fall short of this far too often than I would like. It's easy to think things are our own, whether that be possessions, time, people, talents. Nothing I have is mine - oh, how I need to be reminded on that often!


Sewing to-do list

For accountability purposes, here's my current commissioned sewing to-do list:

1. Razorback dress for Sarah (her little boy is having a Razorback party this weekend, so this is priority numero uno)

2. Flower girl dress for Christy - new adventure but I'm up for the challenge!

3. Crib bedding and window treatments for Mandy - also up for this challenge. Almost done with this!

4. Bench seat for Sarah's sister

5. 2 SMU dresses

6. Nebraska dress

7. Little girls robe

8. Arkansas dress - online order


Home again

I'm back from Haiti and I have mixed emotions. Its hard to understand why the people of Haiti live the way they do and here I am back in America getting a pedicure.

Immediately upon my return I felt like my joy was being stolen through cancelled flights, exhaustion and the news that Seans grandfather passed while I was in Haiti.

I still need time to process my thoughts before I offer them up. Today I feel angry and annoyed. Hearing people complain about a flight delay, the price of gas and how hungry they are is really frustrating when contrasted with the life most Haitians are living. I'm praying through this and hope God shows me the right balance of conviction of stewardship of the gifts he has given me and living outside of my comfort zone with a changed world view.

The trip was overall really awesome. We saw over 800 people in clinic and performed over 90 eye surgeries. Praise God that those surgeons are faithful and give of their time and skill to people in great need. Our group stayed generally healthy with the exception of a bit of dehydration. I saw a lot of devastation and terrible conditions, but also saw the beauty of hospitality and humility of the Haitian people.

I will share pictures and stories soon.


Leaving for Haiti

Today I start my trip to Haiti. I will fly from Fayetteville to DFW to Ft. Lauderdale today, then stay overnight in FL. I've got an early flight out of FLL tomorrow to Port au Prince, after which I will hop on a small place to NW Haiti.

Tropical Storm Emily is expected to have already passed Haiti before we arrive and will not have yet hit Florida by the time we leave.

I have a mix of emotions right now. I'm so thankful for this opportunity - God opened doors that I thought would certainly remain shut. Praise Him! I'm excited to get out of my comfort zone for a bit and feel a heavy burden to not let his opportunity go by without it impacting my life for the long haul. Am I going to try to do my minuscule part to help the people of Haiti? Yes. But if I look at this trip as only a way to serve the less fortunate, I am missing the impact that sin has on my daily life and the great need I personally have for growth.

We are all in some type of poverty, whether the source be financially, relationally, spiritually or {fill in the blank}. The people of Haiti are in great need - I'm not sure my heart is ready to experience the disparities I will witness. I, too, am in great need of my Savior and am full of gratitude that He has afforded me an opportunity like this to learn more about myself and the chance to love on others like Jesus did. Oh, how I pray I'm able to do that!

I'm not exactly sure what communication will look like. I hope to update a couple of times from Haiti, but we'll see. I will return from this trip late on Saturday the 13th.

Thanks for all of your support and prayers along the way.

Sean's 26th Birthday Fiesta!

Yesterday was my dear husband's 26th birthday!

He started his day by waking up at 4:30 for football practice. :/ I stayed in bed. After practice we hit up Chipotle, where they gave him a free birthday burrito! I don't think this is a regular practice there, but he of course accepted the gift.

After lunch we prepared for the party and spent a little time at the pool with our friends Kristin and Jon. Here's an action shot of the fiesta!
We played and laughed at mustaches...

I made some yummy lime cupcakes with lime buttercream icing.

I decorated our front door wreath for the occasion.

Even Wyatt was dressed to impress!

Happy Birthday, Seany!

Thanks to everyone to came over to celebrate! Sean felt very loved and said it was his favorite birthday ever!