July of 2013 found me in Haiti for the 5th time. But I was not in Port-au-Prince. Instead, I was north of the capitol, in unfamiliar territory, with unfamiliar people, and feeling quite lonely and out of place. In fact, I felt so "homesick" for PAP that the day after I arrived, I found a way to get back to PAP, and I asked Steeve to meet me at EpiDor to talk.
Once there I explained to him how miserable I was, how isolated I felt, how much I didn't think I was in the right place. I was having trouble integrating with my team, I felt marginalized, I felt I had no place or purpose where I was.
Steeve reminded me that God has a plan in every situation, and he told me that I needed to stay where I was and learn what I needed to learn.
Two days later, I was still struggling to find my place with the team I was with, but another team welcomed me with open arms. So I basically joined up with them, and I was invited to visit some orphanages back in the PAP area.
That day we visited three locations. I had no idea where we were, and I did not know the people I was in the vehicle with. I had never been involved with orphan care before, and this new experience tugged at my heart in a real way.
I remember seeing this sign in the first orphanage. It had a profound impact on my thinking the rest of the day.
That day we visited three orphanages, but one grabbed my heart in a special way. And at that one orphanage, one little boy stole my heart. His name is Handy.
When it was time to leave these children, I felt so helpless. I had nothing with me that I could share with them. Nothing but a pack of gum that didn't even have enough pieces for each child to have one. As we drove away, my heart ached for those precious children.
Fast forward seven months. Rick and I were taking a short trip to Haiti to visit Steeve and Manoucheka. And I thought, "Hey! We could see those kids again. We could take some things to them . . ." Except there was one problem. I didn't know where "those kids" lived, and I had no contact information for them.
But I had photos. So I sent the following photos to Steeve and asked him if he could possibly find these children. I knew it was a long shot, but I also felt God really wanted Rick and me to see these children.
And you know what? I was right because Steeve found the director and was able to make contact with him. He agreed to let us visit in February of 2014.
The summer of 2014 found us once visiting the precious children under Federick's care.
The fall brought unexpected changes regarding Haiti for the Graves family . . . and the first Haiti Awake team in October of 2014. It seemed like a natural choice to do a 4 day Bible school with these children who were quickly becoming a big part of each trip to Haiti.
And in January, the 2nd Haiti Awake team spent 4 days with these precious children. We all felt there was more we should be doing for them.
And God has made that possible. Through the generous monthly donations which have come in, we are now able to help these children in a real, tangible way each month. They are "our" children. There are still many needs (school, furniture, toiletries, more caregivers) and we need more monthly support, but we are doing SOMETHING now. We are so thankful for what God has done.
God is sovereign over all circumstances in our lives. We don't always understand why He has us in the place He puts us. We might feel alone, forgotten, unneeded. But the beauty of those moments comes later when we can look back and see WHY God had us where we were . . .
I am thankful for that very hard week in July of 2013. I'm now thankful that I didn't fit in with the team I *thought* I was supposed to be on. I am thankful God had another plan. And I'm thankful that He directs each step we take.