This. Is. Haiti. Part Two – A Heart Full of Love

Real Stories of Faith, Hope, & Love in Haiti

Part Two: A Heart Full of Love

“But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved)…”

Ephesians 2:4-5

I had been to Haiti once before with another organization that our church supports.  Both Matt & I had gone on the same trip (in 2007) and we both knew God was going to have us come back.  We were 100% prepared to move there after we got married, although we didn’t really have a solid idea of what we’d be doing.  We stepped out in faith & did the things that God asked us to do….but things just didn’t work out & doors were closed.  We were so confused because we thought we had been doing what God asked…yet it all seemed like a test.  A few months later, we found out we had a baby on the way, and during the course of my pregnancy/birth, I became passionate about sharing healthy birth with moms (particularly new moms).  Two years later I became a doula.

mother-with-baby-in-haiti-ayiti

Momma with her 10-month-old baby at the clinic in LaSous, a rural area outside of Cotes-de-fer, Haiti. Haitian babies are FAT! (And I mean that in a good way – babies are supposed to be fat!)

Lots of life changes had happened since that first trip!  With that, I finally knew more of what God’s plan for me in Haiti was: Change birth to glorify Him and to share with the moms that they are loved by the most magnificent Father.  The details are still being revealed to me along the way, but I dream of this happening all over Haiti.   (If you aren’t aware, Haiti has the worst maternal death rate in the Western Hemisphere; it is a 1 in 11 chance of dying from childbirth during your lifetime.  Eleven.)  [Sorry, I cannot remember where I found that statistic a few months ago, but will update it with a reference if I can find it.]

Then I met Missy a few years ago when my father-in-law (a pastor) told me she was holding Haitian Creole lessons for people in the area who were interested in traveling to Haiti. Missy is originally from Cotes-de-fer and moved to the states when she was a teenager.  She eventually got married & moved to Branson, where she became an nurse.  At that time, I told her I’d thought about opening a birth center in Haiti where women could have a safe, clean place to give birth, attended by a loving & well-trained midwife.  She also mentioned that she wanted to open up a clinic and a birth center in her hometown area.  But we didn’t really talk much else about it at the time, other than the possibility of working together on that in the future.

Fast forward a few years and Missy told me she was planning a second medical mission trip to her hometown.  The idea with these is to see people who may otherwise not seek out care, and to get de-worming pills to as many people as possible….but Missy told me she had also been thinking a lot about the birth center lately.  And I had been, too!  God was really laying this on our hearts at the same time…so after some prayer & talking with my husband, I decided to step out in faith and go on this trip.  Even though we were the most tight financially than we ever had been before & I had absolutely no extra funds at the time, nearly all of my travel costs were donated by supporters who felt the tug on their hearts. (Thank you all again!)  I loved that I would be getting the real experience of this country by going with someone who was born and raised there.  It seemed like I’d get the inside scoop on life in Haiti & more easily be able to find out information that I really wanted to know, but lack the language skills to ask (like about midwifery care in Haiti).

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Dr. Freed and Missy attending to a patient at the LaSous clinic.

While I was on the trip, I realized how unique of a position God had put me in…a photographer, with her camera, in the middle of the Haiti that HE knows….living with a Haitian family for a week; getting to chat in part-English/part-Kreyol with new acquaintances; hanging out with them in the evenings; learning some really detailed stuff about Haitian culture & everyday life; seeing beautiful sights in this area…..none of that is portrayed in the media.  So I am ever so grateful that God crossed my path with Missy so that I could share these photographs of the land He created and the people He loves.

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Beautiful sunset from the hill above Cotes-de-fer.  Image is for sale (print & digital) – please email for more info.  Proceeds benefit Hope for a Village projects in Haiti.

Missy has been ever-so-patient with me asking so many [weird] questions about Haitian culture & language.  I tend to think on these rabbit trails but she graciously went along those trails with me!  And I started to see more & more of her heart as I got to know her on this trip.  While walking through the downtown area of Cotes-de-fer one day (and yes, it is PERFECTLY safe to do so in this town), Missy pointed out the church where she had accepted Christ as her Savior.  When we got back home, I asked to hear more of her testimony.  When she was a teenager (13-ish), a friend invited her to go to this church.  Near the end of the service, the pastor invited anyone who wanted to accept Jesus as their Savior to come down to the alter to pray.  Missy felt a warm sensation in her heart, like she was being tugged to the front to respond to the message….so she went & prayed and accepted Christ as her Savior.

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Missy attending to a young neighbor during a housecall in the home of our hosts, Missy’s parents.

What follows is a story full of God’s grace, love, and leading in Missy’s life.  And I could see how that was reflected again in this trip.  For example….We were very late in getting to the airport the morning we had left.  I’m talking 5:25-am-flight-well-over-the-speed-limit-praying-desperately-to-God-something-would-be-delayed-running-to-the-gate type of story here!  Unknown to us, a plane had come in late the night before and the flight crew had to have a mandated rest period, making them arrive at the airport a little while after we did.  After running to the gate, we had a few minutes to breathe when we realized God’s little arrangement had already taken place & they hadn’t even boarded yet!  Because of that delay, Missy ended up being on the same flight as me to Port-au-Prince.  (Previously, we would have split up at the Dallas airport; then her flight was going to be an hour ahead of mine into PAP).  While I thought I would have been fine by myself, it did make things easier & more enjoyable to have a travel buddy through the rest of the airports and into the PAP airport.  (The new airport is really nice & more organized, compared to before the earthquake.  They have a wonderful little band playing music for you when you get off the plane!  It was very festive & welcoming!)

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Missy attending to a young patient at the clinic in LaSous.

It was little things like this (more of which will be sprinkled throughout the upcoming stories on this blog) that gave us the confidence that God’s hand was on this trip.  I saw the grace of God that Missy reflected onto the people around her, no matter what their circumstances were….I saw His love in her heart as she conversed with her patients during checkups at the clinics & housecalls….I saw how He led her through some sticky decisions that had to be made during the trip…I saw her heart for children poured out upon them.  And I saw all of that grace, love, and leading reflected in the legacy of faith she instilled in one of her four beautiful children, Stephanie, who also came on the trip.  Steph just finished her first year of college & is also going into nursing – this was her first time in her mother’s homeland.  I really enjoyed getting to spend time with her and see the never-ending smiles and the absolute LOVE for children that shone from her heart.  (When I asked her back in the States what her favorite part of the trip was, it was not really a surprise to hear: “Hanging out with the kids!”)

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Missy & Steph wading in the water at the beach in Cotes-de-fer, Haiti

After a few days and a few very interesting conversations with the locals, I started to sense the big picture of why our group was there (and why we will continue to do these clinic/de-worming trips). I know without a doubt that God loves me.  He doesn’t love me because of anything “good” I have done.  It is through my faith in Jesus as my Savior.  It is one thing that is extremely hard for many of us to grasp sometimes.  It defies society and many cultural beliefs (as it did at the time it was written), yet it is so simple: “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast.”  (Ephesians 2:8-9)

But not everybody knows how great God’s love for them is!  He showed me on this trip that this is the case with many of the people in this area of Haiti.  It’s the case in my city, yes, but this is just another place where God wants me to be & wants me to share that fact with the people I meet.  God has many different means of ministering to people….a quick flip through the Bible can prove that.  I’ve noticed He mostly works through me by giving me chances to form personal relationships with people, forming trusting bonds with them, and simply sharing His truth or what He is doing in my life.  Yes, it is a type of ministry that takes time, and it may not be one of these impressive numbers-oriented things you see in a missionary statistic sheet or something.  But it works for the other people in this world whose hearts God created to also work in relational ways.

Haitian girl hugging woman

Micheline, a neighbor girl whose incredible smile absolutely lit up her face every time she saw us, especially Stephanie!

And I love that providing a much-needed clinic gets that opportunity to build a repertoire with one-on-one contact.  We had over 600 opportunities during the course of this trip to show God’s love to people in various ways, including towards Haitian doctors, nurses, and community leaders who also may not know the love of God or need to be encouraged in the ministry that God has called them to.  I look forward to hearing of lives that are changed not just physically but also spiritually as we start forming deeper bonds with people on successive trips.  Eventually my husband & I hope to take longer & longer trips, maybe even moving there after retiring.  I could definitely see us living in the Cotes-de-fer area!

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Some team members setting up the pharmacy for the health clinic the next day.  Left to right: Rebecca (me), Steph, Dr. George, and Nurse Nadya. (George & Nadya are residents of Cotes-de-fer and run the clinic. They just married each other this summer!)

God wants the whole world to know how much He loves His people and what He has done to reconcile this world to him through Christ.  Christians are called to reflect the light of Christ and be the body of Christ to everyone, everywhere.  I love that our backyards stretch beyond our comfortable houses with 24/7 electricity and running water, and that our God cannot be confined to a box as small as our hometown!

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