orphan care

July 17, 2013

Three years ago today, God in His providence, caused my path to intersect with a little guy named Handy.  Handy was three years old at the time.  I met many, many children at different orphanages that day, but Handy was the one my heart could not forget.

Only God could have known what the future would hold.   About six months later, God brought our lives back together. The circumstances surrounding our reunion can only be explained as God's enabling.


When we said goodbye that day in early 2014, we had no idea when . . . or even if . . .we would ever see each other again.  But God knew!

In July 2014, our paths intersected again.  And this time, Rick and I knew we had to do something.  We weren't sure what something was, but we knew we had a future with Handy.

When Haiti Awake was founded in October that year, the very first children's Bible school we did was with Handy and the other children at his home.

Since that first trip, every Haiti Awake team has held Bible schools with the children, and thanks to team members who came and got a vision for the future, we are now doing life with Handy and his friends.  The children now have better living conditions and a constant food supply, and they are going to school.

One life encounter has turned into many friendships and lots of love for Handy.

For You, O LORD, have made me glad by what You have done, I will sing for joy at the works of Your hands.
— Psalm 92:4

This photo was taken in January of 2015 as we said goodbye after a week of Bible schools with the children.  It was so hard to leave that day because, at that time, we had no communication between trips.   This entire team felt so burdened for the children, but we still didn't know what the future would hold.  But God knew.

Just over three months later, God provided a way for the children to move to their current home . . . which is roughly a mile away from our Haiti Awake home.   He provided funds for monthly food.  And He provided a vision of the future.

Just a month after that, God added Polo to our Haiti Awake staff . . . with his primary responsibility being the children.

And one month after that, God provided the finances for the children . . .  Handy and all of his friends . . .to go to school for the first time.

Now goodbyes look like this. . . because goodbyes aren't goodbyes.  They're "see you later"s.  We know there will be another trip soon, and we know Polo, Hudson and Wesly will send plenty of photos in the meantime.

You have multiplied, O LORD my God, your wondrous deeds and your thoughts toward us; none can compare with you! I will proclaim and tell of them, yet they are more than can be told.
— Psalm 40:5

Getting outside the walls

Yesterday our kids had the opportunity to go on a summer field trip with Hudson, Polo, Dieussait, and Wesly.    One of our goals as we walk through life with them is to expand their world, helping them to see possibilities they never imagined.  Each trip outside of the orphanage allows them an opportunity to learn and grow.

Thankful for monthly support that provides the funds needed for days like this.

Happy birthday, Miss Phebe!

Happy 10th birthday to the sweetest girl with the cutest dimples.  We love you, Phebe.


Make Your face shine upon Your servant, And teach me Your statutes.
— Psalm 119:135

Looking in the Rearview Mirror

I journal a great deal, especially when I am in Haiti.  But I've never really shared any of that publicly.  But I think today is a good day to share a little bit of what I wrote back in 2013.


July 15:
I am sitting at EpiDor waiting for Steeve. Maybe I will be able to bear the next few days if he visits for a while. The last 24 hours have been very difficult for me - emotional ups and downs . . . mostly downs.

I feel so isolated up there at Children’s Lifeline. I hope it will get easier as the days go by. I don’t know why I feel this way . . .

Sitting here, I am beginning to wonder, “Have I become too comfortable where we are at MTH?” God is definitely stretching me.

Micah 6:8 is running through my mind: “He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the LORD require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?”

Lunch with Steeve was encouraging. He had the words to say that I needed to hear. He reminded me of how the Bensons are leaving and it’s God’s plan. He reminded me that God has a plan for my life - each moment.

July 17:
Today I went with Hillary, Assiah, and Robenson into PaP to do sponsorship work. Three different orphanages. All so different.

July 18:
From Dan Huffstutler’s Facebook this morning. Luke 17:10: “When you have done all that you were commanded, say, ‘We are unworthy servants; we have only done what was our duty.’

What an incredible week of seeing a land God has not forgotten.
This photo of this sign eventually led us back to the children I met on July 17 - the children we now have under our care.

This photo of this sign eventually led us back to the children I met on July 17 - the children we now have under our care.

You see, today, April 12, 2016, is a day that brought all of this full circle.  A day when I can look back and see how God was working everything together for good.


Without that difficult week, I would never have met Tyler.  We would never have become friends.  And I'd have one less person in my life who gets me, gets my love for Haiti . . . and loves Haiti just as much . . . if not more!  Tyler knows how hard that week was for me because he was right there to listen to me cry.  We didn't know each other before, but we became friends and have kept in touch ever since.  And I'm so thankful for that!

Without that difficult week, I would never have met the children we now consider part of our Haiti Awake family . . . children we feel tremendous responsibility for . . . children we know by name and love with our whole hearts.

First photo of Handy and me together.  Such precious memories!

First photo of Handy and me together.  Such precious memories!


Without that difficult week, I probably wouldn't speak nor understand Creole as well as I do because a little over a year ago, Tyler introduced me to Gloria Board who became my Creole teacher, as well as a mentor.  I love Gloria, and I am so thankful that God providentially put her in my life to help me learn and grow and understand more.  

 In June of 2014 Tyler and I got the opportunity to visit Gloria and her husband at their home in Haiti.  What a blessing that was! Gloria has helped me in so many ways in understanding and loving Haiti better. 

 In June of 2014 Tyler and I got the opportunity to visit Gloria and her husband at their home in Haiti.  What a blessing that was! Gloria has helped me in so many ways in understanding and loving Haiti better. 

Today I got a series of photos from Polo.  He was at our orphanage . . . and Tyler was visiting with some of his friends from Children's Lifeline.  And I was so struck by the goodness of God in bringing all of the circumstances of the last three years together.  

Partnerships in Haiti are so important.   Those of us who love Haiti need each other.  We can't do this alone.

Three years ago I had no idea where we would be today.   No idea.  But God did.


My God is awesome
He can move mountains
Keep me in the valley
Hide me from the rain

My God is awesome
Heals me when I’m broken
Gives strength where I’ve been weakened
Forever He will reign
— Charles Jenkins



I waited patiently for the LORD; he inclined to me and heard my cry.
— Psalm 40:1

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


  • The 2nd Haiti Awake team

  • Food for Haiti Yard Sale 2015

  • Steeve's 2nd visit to the United States


April - May


  • 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


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.



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.