Orphanage Work

Reflections on Four Years

On March 12, 2012, the Graves family landed in Haiti for the first time.  Little did we know how this one trip would change our lives in so many ways.

One of the first photos we took after we landed.  Mountains upon mountains.

One of the first photos we took after we landed.  Mountains upon mountains.

We have learned so much, and we still have so much to learn.  Perhaps the most important thing we've learned is summed up in this quote from the book, Overrated:

 

We need to do away with the “I can change the whole world” mentality and language because it’s impossible, and actually unhelpful.

But we can impact the worlds of some. And some may be many. Some may be just a few. Some may be just one family or one person, but we can make an impact and in the process, be changed ourselves. This, in my opinion, is the best part of wanting to change the world. Inevitably, we will be changed in the process.
— Eugene Cho

There are so many people in Haiti.  So many.   We'll never know them all.  
But . . . we're incredibly thankful for the few we are privileged to call friends.  Because their story has become part of our story.  

And, si Dye vle, there are many chapters still to write.


Little children, we must not love with word or speech, but with truth and action.
— I John 3:18

A Year of Abundant Blessings

And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that always having all sufficiency in everything, you may have an abundance for every good deed.
— 2 Corinthians 9:8

January - March

Highlights

  • The 2nd Haiti Awake team

  • Food for Haiti Yard Sale 2015

  • Steeve's 2nd visit to the United States

Juno1.jpg

April - May

Highlights

  • Time together

  • Caleb's birth

  • The children move into their new home

June - July

  • Three Amazing Teams

  • Strengthening relationships and growing together

August - September 

  • Funding received for the children's schooling

  • A 4th summer team

  • Steeve began seminary

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October - December

  • Haiti Awake's 6th team 

  • The children's first day of school

  • A new wheelchair for a special boy

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Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.
— Ephesians 3:20-21

Believing Ephesians 3:20-21 as we enter 2016.

 

Why?

One of the things that I love about hosting American teams in Haiti is hearing them ask questions.  No matter how many times you go to Haiti, you'll always leave with more questions than answers.  And many times that question is a "Why?" question.

 

The roads that are now routine to me, the things that no longer surprise me, the questions I no longer ask, the things I no longer even see . . .   These are all new and exciting to first-time visitors.  Beyond that, those who are new to Haiti have so much optimism and enthusiasm.  They ask questions and challenge the status-quo in a new way.  They don't realize, "We can't do that."  And when you don't realize you CAN'T do something, you do it.

 

Why are the children living like this?
— January Team

That why question took the children from the house above to the house below.

 

Why aren’t the children in school?
— June Team, Week 2

That question took the children from no school to the first day of school photo below.

1st Day of School - October 2015

1st Day of School - October 2015

Why can’t we get a new wheelchair for Wendy Divine?
— October Team

Because of that question, Wendy was in his new wheelchair just over a month later.  And . . . it didn't even cost anything.  Someone had a nearly new wheelchair they didn't need.  And they gave it to Wendy.  We just had to ask.

Isn't God amazing in how He provides?

I'm looking forward to more questions from team members in 2016, questions that help us all see more clearly the direction in which God is moving Haiti Awake.
 

Amazon Approved Charity

Haiti Awake is now an approved charity on Amazon Smile! Some of you might not know this, but if you make your Amazon purchases throughhttp://smile.amazon.com/ .5% of your purchase is given to a charity that you can designate. It is easy. Simply go tohttp://smile.amazon.com and sign into your Amazon account. Search for and choose Haiti Awake (Wilmington NC) and you are all set. Just make sure in the future that you start with smile.Amazon.com when you shop on Amazon (and most of the time it will assume you do or it will remind you). This is a great way you can support Haiti Awake as you shop for Christmas and all year long.

Today's the day!

The first day of the 2015-2016 school year for some special kids.  For most of them, this is the first day of school they've ever attended in their entire lives.  A day to remember.

The first day of the 2015-2016 school year for some special kids.  For most of them, this is the first day of school they've ever attended in their entire lives.  A day to remember.

Thankful to the friends who saw the need and helped us believe it was possible to do something.  Thankful to the friends who financially gave to make this day possible.  Thankful to those who continue to pray for Haiti Awake as we seek God's will regarding our future with these children.

Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.
— Ephesians 3:20-21

The Clarity of Compassion

And if we take the risk of personally touching and being touched by a suffering person, the miracle of sight can break into our own darkness.

When the clarity of compassion illuminates our vision, we can visualize healing that goes far deeper than physical cure. Through eyes of faith we recognize that this could be an opportunity for tragedy to be transformed into celebration so that the power of God may be seen at work in him and in her.

And even more amazing , when we stoop to personally touch one of these “undesirables” with hands-on care, we are touching the very heart of God :

I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers [and sisters] of mine, you did for me
— Matthew 25:40

                                                                                               ---Thoughts from Bob Lupton.

Romans 12:13

One of our goals at Haiti Awake is "to equip these local Christians to reach their own communities and their own country through showing Christ’s love in action."

Today our Haiti Awake staff was able to live that out in a very practical way.

A local minister has been sick and unable to work. Today, because of money raised at the Food for Haiti Yard Sale 2015, Haiti Awake provided his family with some basic provisions. These provisions meet so much more than a physical need.

Share with the Lord’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality.
— Romans 12:13

 

Thank you to those who helped make last year's yard sale a success. Please consider what part you might have in making the 2016 Sale even better.

 

The 2016 Food for Haiti Yard Sale will take place on January 30 in the fellowship hall at Grace Baptist Church.


‪#‎foodforhaiti2016‬
‪#‎haitiawake‬
‪#‎haiti‬

Now that I know.

You may choose to look the other way but you can never say again that you did not know.
— William Wilberforce

Some days my heart is just so full of Haiti.   Today is one of those days.

Prior to the August trip, I didn't know every single child at the orphanage by name.  I knew their faces, and I had a list with all of their names and birthdays.  But I couldn't match each individual child to his or her name.

But now I can.

And some days that's just so hard.

Like today.

 

This is Handy.  He's the one who captured my heart in 2013.  He has a way of capturing everyone's heart who has the chance to meet him.

This is Handy.  He's the one who captured my heart in 2013.  He has a way of capturing everyone's heart who has the chance to meet him.

This is Augustin.  He's the oldest boy at Federick's.  He dreams of being a pastor one day.

This is Augustin.  He's the oldest boy at Federick's.  He dreams of being a pastor one day.

This is Phebe.  She's small for her age (9 years old but the size of a 5 year old), and all she wants is to sit in your lap and be loved.  And . . . she has the most adorable dimples.

This is Phebe.  She's small for her age (9 years old but the size of a 5 year old), and all she wants is to sit in your lap and be loved.  And . . . she has the most adorable dimples.

This is Davensky.   He's four years old.  He's the smallest child living with Federick.  Federick's son is younger, but Davensky is smaller.

This is Davensky.   He's four years old.  He's the smallest child living with Federick.  Federick's son is younger, but Davensky is smaller.

This is Antonide.  She'll be 13 in October.  She's interested in learning and helping, and she mothers the younger boys and girls.

This is Antonide.  She'll be 13 in October.  She's interested in learning and helping, and she mothers the younger boys and girls.

Esterlin is 10 years old.  He has the kindest, most gentle spirit.  

Esterlin is 10 years old.  He has the kindest, most gentle spirit.  

The is Fabenson.  He's a clown.  He likes to make people laugh.

The is Fabenson.  He's a clown.  He likes to make people laugh.

This is Antoine.  He will be 9 years old on September 11.

This is Antoine.  He will be 9 years old on September 11.

This is Yvenson.  He's slow to warm up to people, but when he does, he lets you see his sweet spirit.  He feels things so deeply.

This is Yvenson.  He's slow to warm up to people, but when he does, he lets you see his sweet spirit.  He feels things so deeply.

This is Lorvens.  He has the best smile.  He loves people and having fun . . . and he has some great dance moves.

This is Lorvens.  He has the best smile.  He loves people and having fun . . . and he has some great dance moves.

Widcherline will be 8 years old in just a few weeks.  She is Davensky's older sister.

Widcherline will be 8 years old in just a few weeks.  She is Davensky's older sister.

I'm just getting to know Cesnel.    My favorite thing about him?  His birthday is the same as mine!

I'm just getting to know Cesnel.    My favorite thing about him?  His birthday is the same as mine!

This is Migerlson.  He's quiet.  He's easy to miss.  And I've got to make a great effort to get to know him better.

This is Migerlson.  He's quiet.  He's easy to miss.  And I've got to make a great effort to get to know him better.

The other 4 children are Federick's own.  And they're loved by us, too.

Fenley

Fenley

Fedlin

Fedlin

Roudelin

Roudelin

Kertchie

Kertchie

Every child you encounter is a divine appointment.
— Wess Stafford

 I have called you by name, you are mine.  Isaiah 43:1

When Jesus Says Yes . . .

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.

Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.
— James 1:27

 

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 LORD watches over the alien and sustains the fatherless and the widow, but he frustrates the ways of the wicked.
— Psalm 146:9
Defend the cause of the weak and fatherless; maintain the rights of the poor and oppressed.
— Psalm 87:3

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.

 

In their hearts humans plan their course, but the LORD establishes their steps.
— Proverbs 16:9


This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters.
If anyone has material possessions and sees a brother or sister in need but has no pity on them, how can the love of God be in that person?
Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth.
— I John 3:16-18