God didn’t tell them where to go. He actually went with them. Exodus 30:21
But one of the most beautiful, soul-sanctifying things God ever does for us is to bless our lives through those we’ve come to bless, to expose the pride and superiority that makes us think we’re in perceived control of them, and to realize that God is the one who’s truly in control of all of us. Sure, people learn and grow from what we do, but we learn and grow as well by being in their company.
— Joey Lankford
We all recognized that during the move from the old house to the new home, Cesnel worked. He worked hard. He worked like a man. And we wanted to honor that. So we asked him to go with us to Doko to work on the latrine project.
Of course, none of us could have anticipated the events that would transpire on July 6, the day after he and Maken left for Doko.
When we were all reunited in Doko the next week, Steeve and I began to discuss how to get Cesnel home to Port. We were uncomfortable with the idea of leaving him behind to travel by bus with Maken, not knowing when it would be safe for them to return via that means of transportation.
So the decision was made to take Cesnel with us back to Jeremie by moto and fly him home with us on the MAF flight. We did not tell him what we were doing, and he did not know he was going to fly until we were actually walking out to the airplane.
Surprises are the best!
For so long I have quoted Proverbs 16:9 to prospective teams along with catch phrases like "God knows who's supposed to be on your team," "Be ready to be flexible," and "Plans change every hour in Haiti."
It is one thing to be the one saying those things. It's another thing entirely to be the one living them out.
Although we could not have anticipated the events that began on the night of July 6, we are thankful that none of our children, staff, or guests were ever in imminent danger. Further, though we were so eager to welcome our friends from The Bridge, we are grateful that JetBlue 1709 never landed in Haiti but was instead diverted to the Dominican Republic before returning to the United States.
I sat with one of our interns, Alexandria, this morning, and we both had the same thought. Many people don't really know what to say to us, so they make caring statements like, "I'm glad you're home. I'm sure you're glad to be here."
Alexandria and I agreed - it's not easy to answer the question: "Are you glad to be home?" The reality is we weren't happy to leave, we wanted to stay, and because of the way everything happened, we didn't get closure in so many ways.
Those of us who were there are thankful that so many of you have understood our need to decompress and process through the events. Maybe one day we'll be ready to talk about certain things freely. Maybe we never will. Thank you for understanding and giving us space.
Thank you for loving Haiti Awake, for caring, for praying. How incredibly blessed we are to have so many people love the people we love and are privileged to walk with through this journey called life.
We didn't take many pictures that weekend. In retrospect, I wish we had documented everything a little better, but capturing the moment while living it isn't easy. Below you'll find a few videos and photos that give a small glimpse into a weekend we'll never be able to forget.
Thinking about my safety and the safety of our Haitian co-workers, Steeve has asked me to return to the United States today.
This is a difficult decision for all of us, and we request that you give us time and space to process the events of the last 10 days.
Please continue to pray for Haiti and for Haiti Awake in the days ahead.
It's been a week since the beginning of civil unrest last Friday here in Haiti. The current political environment is still uncertain, and people are cautious, but we are hopefully optimistic that the situation between opposing political parties will be resolved soon.
After 3 weeks of teams this summer, the events of last weekend here in Haiti necessitated our cancelling the rest of our summer plans and sending our interns home early. Our staff, our children, and our guests were never in any danger, and we are grateful for God's provision. We understand that many Americans were affected by our decision, but we ask everyone to keep the focus on those who are living this reality - our Haitian brothers and sisters. Though the cancellation of teams is disappointing to Americans, this is a week, not the day-to-day reality of life for the foreseeable future.
The video with this message shows some of the events over this past weekend from Haiti Awake's perspective. Pray for the faces you see in the video for they are the future of Haiti.
By far, the most common question people ask me is, “When are you going back to Haiti?” and since April 18, the answer has been, “June 14.” Over and over people expressed surprise. “But that’s so far away!” And it was. But now the date is drawing close, and last minute preparations are being made.
And my heart is happy.
It’s been a while since I took such a long break from Haiti. But this break was so needed. I had become a little weary, a little overwhelmed, in need of a sabbatical of sorts. On March 12, through tears, I shared the following with our Haitian staff. It was that day that I realized how weary I had become.
How can a place so foreign become so familiar?
How can I have more questions, fewer answers?
How can the place where I am so completely different become the place where I feel most accepted?
How can a place so broken be so whole?
How can a place that is far from home be the truest form of home?
How can these amazing individuals I've known for a few short years be the very people who know me most fully?
How can there be so much joy mingled with so much heartbreak?
How can one explain something for which there is no explanation?
How does one remain hopefully optimistic?
I still don’t have answers to these questions (and I know I probably never will), but my heart is more settled, more at peace. During this time away God has used so many people here in Wilmington to fill up my heart, remind me who I am, and encourage me.
Every week I have gone to The Bridge with expectation of hearing and seeing God, and each week I’ve walked away overwhelmed by the beauty and majesty of our Saviour.
In His power, in His strength, I am ready for a busy summer in Haiti, doing life with the amazing staff of Haiti Awake and the sweet American friends who will join us this summer.
More than ever I find truth in the words of Frederick Buechner:
Haiti Cheri, m’ap vini! I can hardly wait for the first night I am there, sitting on the roof, listening to this song by Leeland, and praising Jesus for allowing me to know and love and walk the journey of life with some of the most amazing people in the entire world.
On Monday, May 7, 2018, over 200 people gathered at Scotts Hill Baptist Church in Wilmington, NC, to celebrate missions around the world. On this night, 25 tables were set to share more about missions based in the Wilmington area but operating all over the world.
Two of the tables hosted by Pastor Roger Barnes, Sophie Leonard, Alexandria Augi and Jennifer Augi (all members of the March 2018 team) highlighted and told the story of Haiti Awake.
Sophie Leonard and Alexandria Augi were also able to talk with the children in attendance at this event about the Bible schools they led in Haiti while traveling with Haiti Awake. They encouraged the children not to feel limited by their age but to listen for God’s calling to go and serve being the hands and feet of Jesus.
The mission night was a wonderful opportunity to share in our local community how lives in Haiti are being changed through friendship, discipleship, community, teaching, resources, time, and most importantly the unifying love of Jesus Christ.