He Doesn’t Waste a Thing

The last place I thought I’d hear about Janine’s brother was in a medical clinic in Canaan, through a curtain that divided me from a private triage area as a team member shared a story about someone that she didn’t even know.

Covered in sweat, half pacing/half reminding children to ‘stay out’ in creole every five two minutes/half making sure everyone was drinking water (yes, that is three halves. Welcome to leading a team in another country.) – I heard a gentle voice reaching out to a patient who said that they “would be ready later” through a shower curtain that kept blowing into my face. Held up by PVC pipe, it helped transform the tin-and-tarp church into a clinic but it did not keep me from hearing what happened in each interaction when I tuned in without even meaning to. Kids called my name outside as I started to tune in to a story I had told myself being retold by a nurse. Immediately pulling away I opened the door to respond to Billy asking for water to drink and gently asked him to move aside as I let two more patients in to get their vitals taken while they waited for an available nurse.

Aka: In the midst of controlled chaos.

Aka: In the midst of controlled chaos.

 

Billy at the door.

Billy at the door.

All the while, a story of one of the heaviest days in Haiti for me was being told by one of my new friends on the team.

You remember Janine, right? Kiki’s mom, makes me great food – including fresh chickens from the yard? She’s the closest to me in the family that lives next door, so I refer to her family in relation to her, “Janine’s brother, Janine’s mom…..”. She’s a middle child, with older brothers as well as as a younger sister and brother. At 22, she’s almost as old as me but has way more years of life throwing stuff at her. Her mother is a widow, she has a son, and she’s worked her whole life – including having the initiative to work both in market and sell from her home daily. Last August, Kelly (another intern at the time) and I visited Janine in market and bought pates (all you need to know is delicious Haitian food) a day before heading to America.

Remember this? That's Janine's cooking (aaaand her son, Kiki.)

Remember this? That’s Janine’s cooking (aaaand her son, Kiki. Whatever he’s doing.)

It was a weird day, we went to Cabaret way later than planned and in market happened to run into people all over, getting distracted with conversations and pushes to buy all kinds of merchandise. All you need to know here is, we were NOT on our own schedule. I’m still sure that God took over our timing.

Mickens started on Route Nationale #1 on the moto with us to get back to Bercy (home) and before getting halfway, there was a crowd on the side of the road. We didn’t have to stop, but we did. (Not normal.) Kelly, an EMT in America, hopped off to see if someone needed medical attention. (Not normal for her.)

She broke through the crowd, a white girl that people were confused by at the scene, to get to the center. Once she got there, she looked at me with a “seen-a-ghost” face and said “It’s Janine’s brother”.

To make an extremely long and emotional story short, he had been in a moto accident. I didn’t know until we were at home, there was no hope – he was killed on impact. Of all the people, in a crowd of Haitians, we were the ones to call his mother and to call Janine. I was the one who had to hear Richard, 15 at the time, ask where his brother was as I stood at the scene. Kelly was the one to hug “Mama” when she arrived and began to publicly mourn.

He was 27 years old.

He was a vodou priest.

No matter what cultural lines and differences there are, even if we could break through them all, there’s still no way to comfort in that situation with words. There’s no “He’s in a better place”.

Kelly and I had no idea what to do. What was God’s purpose in this? Why were we there? He clearly planned it, but why? He placed us in the center of this, for Kelly a day before leaving Haiti for good, why? What was He going to do with this? Why were we there?!

There could be a week long blog discussion on this, but we’re not going there today. We’re focusing on one aspect.

All the time in Haiti, you hear a common response to the gospel. “I’m not ready yet.”

For this neighbor, he was witnessed to constantly by Pastor Pierre. Pushed every interaction. Every time his response was “One day.” For the money that comes in with vodou ceremonies, for the rules he wasn’t ready to follow (sadly, the church can be known for rules more than relationship in Haiti. This is keeping people away from saying yes. Sound familiar….?), for wanting to live life to the fullest in his twenties. That was still his response to the gospel when he got on his moto to come home after a ceremony ten minutes away.

Pastor Pierre talked about this with me after hearing that I was at the accident and my heart only cracked more. What reason can I hold onto for a lack of urgency for reaching people with the gospel? For a lack of persistence?

And then, months later, teams started again in Haiti. Which meant leading people around to homes to build relationships and also share personal stories of salvation, while hearing where others were at. Over and over again I heard it: “I’m just not ready yet.” “One day.” “When I’m older.” From the mouths of twenty-somethings who are planning on plenty more years.

So I felt a push. And I followed it, asking people if they would be gracious enough for a five minute story. And every time there was a respectful silence, there was even response emotionally….but “not yet”, still. “Thanks for the story, but I’m not ready.”

And this has happened a few times. Every time, that push to tell. Every time, “not ready”.

Okay, whatever, I just know that God was pushing me to tell it. Thanks for listening.

The first day in the community with the medical team in Canaan, I told this story at a house while both the family and some of the medical team listened. One of the nurses used this story about Janine’s brother as she wrapped up triage with her patient. This nurse killed it relationally and was not pushing but talking about life with her patient before parting ways, and I heard that story intermingled with a dozen other voices in the background before getting distracted.

 

Shower curtains & PVC.

Shower curtains & PVC.

Dust blowing, sweat pouring, door opening, kids calling, patients asking, sun beating, pharmacy running, translators talking – and then a cheer from behind curtain #1.

The same curtain where I had heard that gentle voice retelling a story that surprised me since it was my own.

The young mother had accepted Christ.

Six months down the line, someone else’s conversation, a completely different community, a situation you’d never picture in the moment of the disaster and the questions of “Why?” and “How will He use THIS?!” – He doesn’t waste a thing. 

And when He uses things, it’s in ways that we could never imagine in our limited imaginations and knowledge.

It’s so fun to see what He does when we release the control & trust that He knows how the pieces we don’t even know exist will come together.

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Don’t Touch Your Phone for 10 Minutes, Provide a Day of Clean Drinking Water For a Child In Need

Higher Learning

UNICEF recently teamed up with clothing designer Giorgio Armani for the latest campaign in the UNICEF Tap Project, which has been striving to increase access to clean water for children worldwide since 2007.

For this latest scheme, they have created a mobile website app (you don’t have to download anything) that can tell when your phone is not being used. For every 10 minutes you leave your phone alone, Armani will provide a day of clean drinking water to a child in need.

According to UNICEF, 768 million people lack access to safe, clean drinking water, 2.5 billion people live without proper sanitation and 1,400 children die every day from diseases linked directly to unsafe water and lack of basic sanitation.

Millions of children lack clean water. How long could you go without something far less vital… like your phone?

Visit the homepage of the UNICEF Tap Project on your phone and…

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Snapshots.

After a few weeks of a whirlwind schedule, I’m almost ready to get back to writing. In the meantime, I’d love to lift up your rainy day with some pieces of March.

The patient, his mama, and a friend that wanted to be in the picture.

The patient, his mama, and a friend that wanted to be in the picture.

Dr. Stephanie is a thing now. People joke about it, but then really bring burns and cuts to the gate and ask for me. TiYuyu here, the one being held up by his mother, was a brave patient when it came to an old burn that needed scraped and re-cleaned. He’s doing great now and is infection free!

ADORABLE friends who came for support.

ADORABLE friends who came for support.

Around the community….

Kiki has been himself.

Kiki has been himself.

His mom & family have been working hard as always, this day was laundry and preparing food to sell.

His mom & family have been working hard as always, this day was laundry and preparing food to sell.

TiYuyu needed checked up on, for bandages to be changed and to make sure that I treated him the right way
(cause, besides prayer, I had no idea what to do). Instead of telling him to come back, I used it as a way to build a relationship with him and his family and neighbors. We had a blast every time I’d visit.

I've had a ton of fun with this family.

I’ve had a ton of fun with this family.

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Accidental selfie that we all laughed about for the rest of the afternoon.

Accidental selfie that we all laughed about for the rest of the afternoon.

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Featured accessory: The dog.

A family chicken came out as a photo accessory as well.

We also have house guests this month as Pastor Samedy prepares to move his family to Canaan. He has three daughters and his wife, Venise, is a beautiful woman of faith that I love having time with.

Schama & Ruth, 5 & 8

Schama & Ruth, 5 & 8

Schama is all about getting her picture taken and loves being by someone's side whenever possible.

Schama is all about getting her picture taken and loves being by someone’s side whenever possible.

Ruth is super smart and super expressive, just like her father.

Ruth is super smart and super expressive, just like her father.

Pheobe, one year old, loves the camera too. She can be found constantly with people.

Pheobe, one year old, loves the camera too. She can be found constantly with people.

I introduced the girls to our neighbors and they had a blast playing with new friends and teams over the past month. Pheobe just loves people and getting loved on, by the last week I was in Haiti she was only taking naps if I walked with her first.

Pheobe also met Westhlineda and LOVED her. Wes...not so much. Mickens was everyone's favorite playmate as well.

Pheobe also met Westhlineda and LOVED her. Wes…not so much. Mickens was everyone’s favorite playmate as well.

I did lots of hair between teams. I had a few moms tell their daughters, “Go over and sit with Stephanie so she can undo your hair”…and they sat, so I shrugged and unbraided hair while mothers cooked food.

Mom was cooking while I did hair. The goat was searching for a snack.

Mom was cooking while I did hair. The goat was searching for a snack.

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One Sunday afternoon I got to get some time in Labourdie before leaving Haiti: doing hair, watching kids jump into a fishing net (the family makes them to sell), and being politely forced to eat a generous meal after church.

Everyone undoes their hair on the weekend to get ready for school on Monday, so I went ahead and took care of Biyence & Jessica.

Everyone undoes their hair on the weekend to get ready for school on Monday, so I went ahead and took care of Biyence & Jessica.

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Making juice for the big meal. Corrosol is an ugly but delicious fruit.

Making juice for the big meal. Corrosol is an ugly but delicious fruit.

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I got to see some awesome progress in Archaiae, a city fifteen minutes away by moto that has projects successfully finished by President Martelly. This president ‘for the people’ has done an awesome job of coming up from Haiti’s corrupt past.

New bridge about to be opened this month with a ceremony.

New bridge about to be opened this month with a ceremony.

Huge indoor market: Sanitary, Cool, Smells better, Dry....I could go on...

Huge indoor market: Sanitary, Cool, Smells better, Dry….I could go on…

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I gave Joslin my phone and permission to use it. This quickly turned into him constantly saying "smile!" and snapping pictures everywhere as I talked to merchants about the market and what their prices are like compared to other cities.

I gave Joslin my phone and permission to use it. This quickly turned into him constantly saying “smile!” and snapping pictures everywhere as I talked to merchants about the market and what their prices are like compared to other cities.

That view! (The market has two stories, this is from an upstairs window)

That view! (The market has two stories, this is from an upstairs window)

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We had two teams this month, the first was a medical one from Grace Pickerington. More than the physical healing and powerful work that happened (OVER 350 patients seen in 3 1/2 clinic days!), I loved seeing evidence of RELATIONSHIPS all week long!

I missed the jumping hug, but Ryan and his friend were thrilled to reunite after months of asking about each other.

I missed the jumping hug, but Ryan and his friend were thrilled to reunite after months of asking about each other.

Shashu smiling is a big win.

Shashu smiling is a big win.

Hanging out under registrtion.

Hanging out under registrtion.

Billy became a good friend of my sister in January and also a fan of Pickerington sports thanks to Devon!

Billy became a good friend of my sister in January and also a fan of Pickerington sports thanks to Devon!

Schama LOVED Amberly.

Schama LOVED Amberly.

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Devinson, my buddy since trip one, has a habit of hanging out in doorways where I'm working. He's on the right.

Devinson, my buddy since trip one, has a habit of hanging out in doorways where I’m working. He’s on the right.

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Christopher is an awesome helper, a comedian, an artist, and a friend who always asks about Sarah (who came in June)

Christopher is an awesome helper, a comedian, an artist, and a friend who always asks about Sarah (who came in June)

Fregel, our driver, came to church every time we were in Canaan on a Sunday since January! This is a big win.

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Sunday school after church with the kids was a big hit, talking about Jesus calming the raging seas.IMG_5214

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LOVE Venise's leadership and heart, she is a joy to watch with the kids and other women.

LOVE Venise’s leadership and heart, she is a joy to watch with the kids and other women.

Schama came to me with a loose tooth in the middle of church....her mom sent her to me. So we pulled it in church and she now has this adorable one-less-tooth smile.

Schama came to me with a loose tooth in the middle of church….her mom sent her to me. So we pulled it in church and she now has this adorable one-less-tooth smile.

As I prepared to come to America in the midst of teams, I partnered with Simon and Gabe to make OSU bracelets to sell. They were happy to partner and show off their work when they finished on Sunday.

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Clinics throughout the week were loaded with waiting patients when we pulled up, people to follow up on at home, and lots of intentional care.

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Augustine stopped breathing in January, but was waiting with a big smile for visitors for this trip

Augustine stopped breathing in January, but was waiting with a big smile for visitors for this trip

This is just one patient that captured hearts, a sweet woman who we all called "Manmi" and who was waiting when we arrived. She gave thanks and kisses in abundance to everyone she interacted with.

This is just one patient that captured hearts, a sweet woman who we all called “Manmi” and who was waiting when we arrived. She gave thanks and kisses in abundance to everyone she interacted with.

I snuck away to visit one of my favorite family homes when I needed it one afternoon.

I snuck away to visit one of my favorite family homes when I needed it one afternoon.

Mom is pregnant with #8! She wasn't happy when she found out because she has no means, but I was happy to see smiles and excitement from her this visit.

Mom is pregnant with #8! She wasn’t happy when she found out because she has no means, but I was happy to see smiles and excitement from her this visit.

They live right by Samedy's new road, his house in progress is on the left.

They live right by Samedy’s new road, his house in progress is on the left.

After Pickerington left, our Director of Operations Scott Feather got some QT playing cards with Ruth, who LOVED it. This smart girl picked up quick and then waited patiently every day for Scott to have time to play after dinner and team process time with Movement Church.

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This happened with Kiki:

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I know.

Then Marie Claude came over:

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& talked about some rough stuff going on in her life. Pray for her with us, please.

Jessica came over to play with Schama, who loved it!

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And then Movement Church arrived:

Movement Church was on their first trip, they met Pastor Patrick for the first time and shared introductions and vision.

Movement Church was on their first trip, they met Pastor Patrick for the first time and shared introductions and vision.

Patrick showed Movement Church the community of Total, where they are partnered now

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He also showed them a schoolhouse with three rooms, put together with tarp and wood pallets. There are over 70 students.

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Later that day, I got a ride in the rain on a moto and laughed with the driver about his poncho (which turned into a balloon in the wind as he drove)

His joke was "I am inside, you are outside"

His joke was “I am inside, you are outside”

It hardly ever rains during the day (I can count on one hand the amount of times it happened the past year), but Kiki was prepared:

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Samedy spent his rainy day going to market and individually packing packages for over 20 families in Canaan who cannot afford to eat. He was bursting with excitement as he asked me to come see and take pictures of bags with three days worth of food for every family (we’re talking families of minimum half a dozen people)

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He was SO excited, that my pictures were all blurry from movement.

Later that week, Ruth did my hair for school.

Schama jumped in.

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Actually, I have a lot of pictures that Schama jumped in…

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While they did hair and jumped all around, Pheobe rocked the “socks with my sandals” look:

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And then Movement Church rocked it out relationally for the week:

Visiting the home of the woman opening her doors for prayer meetings of the Total church plant.

Visiting the home of the woman opening her doors for prayer meetings of the Total church plant.

Kids writing their information down for Tanner after taking back roads with him through Total.

Kids writing their information down for Tanner after taking back roads with him through Total.

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Visiting homes: The host always pulls out the best chairs.

Visiting homes: The host always pulls out the best chairs.

Mark, Movement Church's pastor, asked people like our translator Enoch about the community

Mark, Movement Church’s pastor, asked people like our translator Enoch about the community

Coming home, Movement loved on both Bercy and the kids staying in our home

After a day in Total, Movement loved on both Bercy and the kids staying in our home

And finally….Mickens. Bummed that I was leaving soon, he started jumping into every picture.

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(Dalinsky has the BEST smile though, doesn’t he?!)

& there you have it, your photo fix until I start writing again. There’s a tiny glimpse into March for you.

I’m now in Ohio, support raising and “refueling” until June. If you’d like to partner in these relationships by supporting me, feel free to use the “Partner With Me” page or shoot me a message at steph2haiti@gmail.com!