There’s a lot to discuss these days. My heart is so full and light with love for this country and the people we have the privilege to call friends and family here. At the same time, there is a heaviness that comes, I think, from doing something for/with people you care so much about. I find myself asking the Lord constantly “What am I doing? How can I do it better?” Together, as a married couple, and as an entire Justice Water team, we are seeking His heart for the people we serve. It has been a humbling time as the relationships we have cultivated over a long, stretched out period of time have begun to take root on this little island. Over and over I am reminded of how fortunate we are to partake in the larger story of redemption and love God has for the people of Haiti and the Dominican Republic. We have so enjoyed it- though super challenging at times.
So I don’t continue to write so much that no one reads and people lose interest, here are a few photos to go along with these thoughts. :)
Love doing ministry with this guy. We celebrated 5 years of marriage at the end of May. I can’t believe we’ve been in missions for 4 of those years! Where has the time gone? I feel beyond fortunate to have someone to do life alongside in the midst of all that is happening here on the island of Hispaniola. What a picture of God’s love for us- a romance full of adventure, trials and fun- I love it. Here, we are pictured at Haiti Outreach Mission, a place we love in Port-Au-Prince. We were also able to see a good friend of ours who is starting a small Haitian factory- so keep your ears peeled for Haitian hand-made premium medical scrubs!
Let’s play a game— “Spot the foreigner” :-D haha. Actually, there are two of us in there amidst the cutest children of the #7 orphanage. Jesselyn and I (Steph) have been working especially close with the orphanage this year to begin to implement many of the Pastor’s ideas for the children’s home. Talk about learning curve…it has been one frustrating, confusing, though joy-filled ride. These children are precious and we are so blessed to be able to work along the Pastor. Due to the incredible amount of foreign aid that has ridden this country, we are finding it increasingly difficult to inspire the Pastor to DEVELOP his own vision and mission. How do you help an orphanage without creating more need? (As in, how do you care for the children there without creating such a nice space that other impoverished parents want to drop their children off there?) I have found that the command of James in “taking care of orphans” means more than painting their nails. It means doing what is right, though it might not be popular. It means protecting their dignity because they are children for crying out loud. It means learning the language. It’s been such a challenge- and you can count on a more in depth blog post as soon as I sort through some more of my thoughts about this precious place.
This is the view from our HOUSE! Can you believe it? Thanks to YOU, we have been able to rent a Justice Water Haiti office space and home. We are overwhelmed at the outpouring of love we have received from all over the place, but especially from Sweet Home Alabama. Thank you, thank you, thank you. It needs so much more work, but we are thankful to say we have rented it for the next 14 months and we will begin seminars in the house next week for the community and our Justice Water staff to learn more about our projects. This week we are starting with latrines! We are so thankful for this place, this city and what we GET to do. It is amazing.
What you see before you is a glimpse of some of the people who came to join with us in what we are doing here in Haiti. We sent a last minute invite to some of our friends across the US and Canada and we had a wonderful response! The outpouring of love was amazing. The problem with “hosting” people in the past is that they have not really seen the way we live, the people we work with or what we really DO. This time, that’s kind of all they saw. They saw the needs we have for our house; they met some of our Justice Water staff; they saw the kids at the orphanage- they got it. And, while it can be a bit overwhelming, I believe that Haiti was imprinted on their hearts. To those who came, Deer Park Alliance, John, Justin, Drue, David and Black Bear- THANK YOU. There are no words for the amount of encouragement you provided us with and the physical labor you did was also SUPER helpful. Thank you, thank you!
Here are some workers in the 5th Section. Rain means flooding for this part of Haiti, but it also means the ability to plant rice. When we took a ride out there recently, we saw an incredible amount of people working in the fields. Our hearts are full at the people of Haiti doing something like this- a skill which will earn them a living. Please continue to lift these farmers up in prayer, as living and working in the 5th section can be quite the challenge.
More news from our house/office. It would probably not come as a shock that clean, running water is a priority for us as a Justice Water team ;). We used this time to show more ways to treat a well, including a time to explain why an open well is not good! Our team closed the open well and covered it. Much to our surprise, the staff’s children decided to write this inscription on the well, which totally cracked us up. It says “God loves Ryan” and then there is a flower which says “Flower for Stephanie”. We felt so loved! Of course, we didn’t cover it up because we didn’t want to offend anyone. So- if you ever visit- you can see it for yourself. We are happy, also, to say that we have mostly clean, running water!
It has also been a big season of dreaming with Justice Water and beyond. Above, you will see Rony, our main man and Justice Water Community Director for the Montrouis and Lubins area in Haiti. He has begun work for new rain catchment tank forms, which will greatly aid in the length and cost of creating rain catchment tanks. He is such an incredible guy and we are fortunate to have him- always innovating and dreaming of what Haiti can be! We are so proud of him and his goals with Lubins and Montrouis.
Also, above, is Drue! She is such a good friend of ours (from Alabama) and recently she ran a clinic in the area of Lubins where Rony is doing Justice Water. Our talks with her have once again reinforced the dreams on our hearts- to empower, educate and help sustain Haitians who want to change Haiti. It is just not about us and what we can do- its about seeing them through the lens of God and empowering the locals to do more for their own country. We so believe in that and we are excited to begin working with people like Drue who have a heart for short-term education and long-term impacts.
Once again, we are blown away at what we get to take part of here on the ground. Thank you, to all of you who stand with us in prayer, finances and love. We love you all so much! We can’t wait to begin to talk with you all about the future, even as we continue to sort through it all.