Author Archives: debby

A Different Perspective

In my last post, I talked about some of my first thoughts on returning from Haiti, and how I was having some difficulty processing my feelings. After a week at home I was able to sort out some of my feelings, and in the end, had a very different perspective on our trip to Carrefour Poy, Haiti.

Here are a few of the things I was feeling during the trip.

  • Frustration. I can’t solve this problem. EVEN OPRAH WINFRY CAN’T SOLVE THIS PROBLEM. (I actually thought that…) I also get frustrated at “rich Americans” who can seemingly turn a blind eye to the problems of the poor and needy in our world. I call it flipping the channel. We all see it–the devastation that poverty and injustice brings to people all over the world– on television. But if you can’t stand looking at it, you can always just flip the channel.I read a story about a little boy who had an ant farm. He watched them working together, building homes and gathering food, and he grew to love them. And then he was devastated as he saw his friends stomping on some ants. His mother explained that you cannot love what you do not know. I think this is one of the biggest reasons for personally visiting third world countries. Those people you see on the news become friends, and you can no longer “flip the channel.”
  • Disconnect. I felt  a little disconnected from the process. I even felt disconnected from God, which was VERY irritating. I didn’t have the passion that Wendy was feeling. When we ran out of shoes, Wendy was VERY upset about that. I was just pragmatic. I had hoped we would have enough, but the common sense side of me knew we didn’t have quite enough shoes with us, even if every pair had fit every child. Like I told Wendy, “there are 200 kids here, we would have had to have about 400 pairs of shoes to ensure we had exactly the right size for every kid.” That said, I have to admit that I was wrong before we left–those kids have big feet! They are not very big people, so I thought we needed more smaller sized shoes. We will be sending another suitcase soon with larger shoes.

So. The frustration I can get over. I even wrote about it here. You know, that old starfish story. I can’t help everyone, but I can help this one that I see.

The disconnect, that took a little longer to work through. Its funny the ways God chooses to speak to you. Well, at least the ways He chooses to speak to me… a friend called who had actually been to both the places that I have been (Nairobi and Haiti) so she knew in person what I had seen. That helped a little. A sermon by David Platt that I watched on video gave me a few more insights. Then, Saturday night, I watched a YOU TUBE video (and I cannot recommend this video to you highly enough–it was amazing) and I found a different perspective.

The youtube video was an amazing one-man play called C.S. Lewis: My Life’s Journey. It was so well done. The actor portrayed C.S. Lewis sitting and and actually talking to a group of writing students. When he talked about his wife, and the short time they had together, and how mad he was (at God) at her death, he said he finally realized that the three years they had together (she was expected to die in a few weeks and instead had a 3 year remission from bone cancer,) was a gift.

And that changed my perspective. The trip to Haiti was a gift. It went unbelievably smoothly. The difficult physical aspects (no electricity, sketchy running water, ? food) were all easy for me. None of us got sick. I saw one mosquito the whole time I was there, and NO spiders. (well, okay, I saw one small daddy long legs. I see more spiders than that in my own home in a couple of hours.) And this morning I finally put a couple of other things together. That personality trait that served me so well as a nurse, the ability to disconnect, was still in play. As a nurse I always credited that as a gift, as I was able to be truly compassionate to my patients and their parents, and yet I could go home and not think about them on my days off. I believe that this is what allowed me to minister more whole heartedly to my patients without ‘burning out.’ So that hasn’t changed about me. Its not likely to change. That’s how God made me. And that is why, by Saturday morning, on my weekly talk with my brother, we could talk about making plans to return to Haiti.

I can’t leave the subject of Haiti without sharing my favorite memory with you. One of the little girls I sponsor is Elvena. Her mother is dead, and her dad is, well, just plain crazy (I’m quoting one of the locals.) So when I met her on Thursday, she was very shy, not too many smiles. On Friday, we walked around the village, and visited some of the sponsored kids in their homes. Out came Elvena, dressed in her new hot pink and coral Old Navy outfit! And by Sunday, when we went back to Carrefour Poy for church and our last visit, Elvena just kept hanging around me. Big smiles. Not wanting hugging or touching, just being around. And as we left Carrefour Poy (in the only car that even goes to that village!) it was just like a scene from a movie. There was Elvena, still in her colorful outfit, running along behind, laughing and smiling and waving. And as we went on, she came to her road, and turned and ran on back to her home. I didn’t get my camera out for a picture, but I will never forget that. It was a gift.

 posted by debby

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Categories: Child sponsorship, Haiti, Missions, Shoes | Leave a comment

First Thoughts

Thought I’d share some of my first thoughts on returning from Haiti. It took me a bit of time to process all I’d seen and experienced. I’ll share a different perspective in a few days.

I had been to the slums in Nairobi and Ngong, Kenya two years ago with Vapor Sports Ministries. The slums in Haiti were shockingly similar to the African slums. It was difficult to see again, and to think about how many places there are like this in our world.

The city slums:

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The country slums:

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Side-of-the-road slums (a strip mall??):

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What I thought were little ATM boxes everywhere on the side of the road. Turns out they were lottery boxes. Just what a devastated country needs.

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Do I sound… I don’t know how I sound, or even what I feel. We were headquartered in Port-au-Prince, and drove through rubble and slums and tent cities and garbage and a LOT of people every day and all the way out to the country area where Carrefour Poy was. Its just a lot to process.

We did have a very ‘successful’ trip, accomplishing almost everything we set out to do. We brought over 150 pairs of shoes with us, but we still ran out before we were able to give every child a pair of shoes. We were able to meet with each of the sponsored students, and quite a few of the students still waiting for sponsors. We had a ‘teacher appreciation dinner’ (served them American style sandwiches) and we were able to visit with some of the students in their homes.

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The similarities to Nairobi (I visited Nairobi in January 2011) were almost eery. And as I learned in Nairobi, there is peace in a simple life. Our host and chauffeur and interpreter, Pastor Gilbert, lives in a modest home in the middle of the rubble of Port-au-Prince. Sometimes there is electricity, and sometimes there isn’t. When there isn’t electricity, there isn’t running water (one of the most useful things I learned was that I could wash my hair with 5 cups of water! One to wet my hair, and 4 to make sure it was rinsed. That will come in handy someday.) There were always people coming and going from his house, and they had several women living with them who had no where else to go. A young nursing student and their 5 year old niece also lived with them. And yet, in the midst of all that, I thought, “Gilbert’s home is a very peaceful place.” Oh, and they had THE MOST WONDERFUL COFFEE ready for us each morning. What else could a person want?

Here’s a couple of shots of us at the San Francisco airport, all bright and shiny, at the beginning of our journey.

My friend Wendy and her son Jason, with their healthy choices of kombucha and coconut water.

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Guess what I found?

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And at the end of the trip, Wendy and I and the three outstanding young men who worked with us as interpreters and more.

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 From left to right: Claudel, me, Wendy, Sander, and Alex.
posted by debby
Categories: Haiti, Missions | 1 Comment

Tips for Letter Writing

If you are like me, sometimes its just hard to start a letter to a child you’ve never met before. But its helpful to try to build a little inter-personal relationship with your sponsored child. Here are a few tips to help you get started.

Write as if you were writing to a family member. Be encouraging. Avoid discussing the material aspects of your life.

Here are some topic suggestions for your letter:

  • Describe your family (where they live, what they look like, their interests, type of work, pets, etc.)
  • Talk about special holidays and family customs.
  • Share your dreams, or just the activities of your daily life.
  • Write about life in Amador County–what it looks like, the climate, etc.
  • Talk about an important life lesson you learned.
  • Share your favorite Bible verse or story.
  • Tell your child that you pray for them regularly. Tell them what a privilege it is to be their sponsor.
  • Affirm that God loves them and has a great plan for their life.

Don’t try to write about all of these things in one letter! Just pick two or three topics that interest you, and write a short note to your child. And then next time you write you will still have something to write about!

Categories: Writing to sponsored child | Leave a comment

Food for the Children

In her last post, Wendy wrote about our goal of having 100 sponsored kids so that we will be able to regularly provide a daily school lunch for all 250 children that attend the school in Carrefour Poy.  This is a big goal, but ultimately it will be the simplest way to make sure we can keep a school lunch program going.  It will provide long-term sustainability.

The thing is, we don’t want to wait until we have 100 sponsored kids to start a school lunch program.  That’s going to take a while, and in the meantime, these kids routinely have one meal a day.  They come to school in the morning without any breakfast, and they go back home after school still not having eaten anything.  This is so hard for me, a food-obsessed American, to comprehend.

Recently, Wendy and I were looking through the kids pictures again.  I like to look at what some of them want to be when they grow up.  Some of them have pretty lofty dreams–an engineer, pastors, nurses, an agronomist.  Those professions could really make a difference in the village of Carrefour Poy.  But to learn at the highest level, it really helps if you are nourished.  So when I started doing the math, I said to Wendy, so if we can raise the money to feed the kids a meal every day at school, that will bring their weekly meals from 7 meals a week to 12.  That’s right.  They would still only be getting 12 meals a week!  That’s how often many of us eat in 2 days…

To start a school lunch program will cost $250/week for 1 meal per day for 250 kids.  That is 20 cents per meal.  When I was a kid, I thought of money in terms of candy bars.  For the price of one candy bar, five kids can have one extra meal that week.  Or, there’s the whole ‘give up a coffee’ trade-off thing.  For one large coffee, two kids can have a meal every day at school for a week.  Or are you one of those latte-drinking types?  Man, you could provide 20 meals for the price of one of those babies!  The point is not for you to give up a coffee or a latte, or even a candy bar.  I think the point is that because we are blessed to live lives where we can treat ourselves to a coffee or a latte or a candy bar is evidence that we can afford to help feed “the least of these.”   This week I am working on a quilt for a special exhibit titled “the least of these.”  I am embroidering all of Isaiah 58 on this quilt, and let me tell you, the words are quite convicting.  I encourage you to read the words and see what God really cares about in our world.

Let me get back to Carrefour Poy and give you the bottom line.  It only costs 20 cents to give a kid a meal.  20 cents can make a significant change in the life of one child.

I know the problem of world hunger can seem overwhelming.  It can seem hopeless.  The way I feel about it is that Carrefour Poy is our starfish.  You know that story, don’t you?  We might not be able to solve world hunger, but we can make a difference to the village of Carrefour Poy.

Won’t you join us by donating out of your abundance to help feed the children of Carrefour Poy?

Categories: Child sponsorship, Children, Haiti, Hunger, School meals | 2 Comments

The Clothing Drive!

Last fall, when our pastor visited Haiti, Pastor Gilbert mentioned that the parents were sometimes reluctant to send their children to church because they did not have nice clothes for them to wear.  That is hard for us Americans to even conceive of.  Not enough clothes?  We have so many clothes that for many of us it is a yearly event to go through our closets to take the old clothes to the thrift store so there will be room for the new clothes coming in.  Even those of us who shop at thrift stores tend to have too many “nice clothes.”

So we decided to have a clothing drive for the children of Carrefour Poy.  A group of men were planning a trip to build a roof on the church in Carrefour Poy, and we wanted to take advantage of this trip to send clothes along for the kids (when you travel internationally, you get one suitcase included for free.)  Because of Easter and other special events in our church, we did not even announce the clothing drive until three weeks before the guys were to leave on their construction trip to Haiti!  But our church (Grace Fellowship of Amador County) responded with the great generosity that they are know for.

A couple of days before departure, Wendy and I sorted through all the clothes that had been brought.  So many pretty new dresses, and lots of cute shirts and shorts–I wish we had counted the outfits that we were able to send with the guys.  We do know that we loaded two giant duffel bags  full of clothes, and the official weight was 100 pounds of clothing!

Wendy and I are planning to travel to Carrefour Poy at the end of September, and we plan to hold another clothing drive then, with a special emphasis on shoes!  So as you get ready for school at the end of summer, remember the kids in Carrefour Poy.  Watch for special sales, and if your child has outgrown their shoes before they wore them out, save them for us.

Women in Carrefour Poy helped to sort the clothes!

Happy kids leaving with their new clothes!


Categories: Children, Clothing, Haiti | Leave a comment

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