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)…”
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.
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).
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.
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.
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!)
Missy attending to a young patient at the clinic in LaSous.