I Need Your Help

Friends, I am so thankful that I can come to you with prayer requests.

I need your prayer.

Wes & her mom remove themselves at times and it’s happened again. Pray for Nadia’s heart as she is so, so deeply loved and treasured by her Father. Pray for food, water, health, and safety. Pray for her as she told me she was kicked out of the home she was living in (in June, before I left). Pray for them as they haven’t been seen and God is moving in connections and networking to find medical help for Westhalineda, who is not developing properly in her legs. Pray for TiKris and wherever she is at in her heart and in her pregnancy, maybe she’s with Wes and it’s working in her heart and maybe she hasn’t seen them at all. Pray for God’s love to win out over lies and hardship, hunger and critical neighbors.

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God is bigger, God is always working, and God holds them both in the very hands that stitched them together.

As he works in lives I’m also asking for bold prayer for the world changers that made up Momentum 2014, a youth conference where I saw real heart change and beautiful community and love for Jesus like never before in people’s lives. Pray for strength, boldness, communiy, truth that overcomes lies, protection against warfare that will make people want to back down and the boldness to look the warfare in the face and say “I STILL choose Him”, pray for friends and families and truth to be rooted down in hearts, pray for personal ridiculous growth and hearts just all out in love with Jesus. Pray for leaders as we follow up and love.

Thanks, friends! You make a difference.

Highs & Lows #3

If you’ve been following “Highs & Lows” this past week, you’ve read as we cover pieces from all over the five weeks spent in Haiti last month.

We’re moving past “glimpses of June” that attempt to scratch the surface of this past month and going way deeper into my heart with this post. This isn’t written lightly & leaves me talking to you from the vantage point of a daughter simply clinging to the Savior who sent me in the first place. Instead of grasping for answers or reasons why, I’m resting in the One who knew this would happen long before I heard. I have been placed in it for a reason, and I can rest securely because He knows the reason – it’s for Him, anyway.

Low: This is what I’m still “feeling” the most emotionally right now. As I channel feelings into prayer, He carries them for me, but it’s still heavy. Westhalineda’s aunt Christella (TiKris), the half-sister of Nadine, is a day younger than my brother – 15 years old with a birthday in September. She loved this coincidence when she first heard about it. She’s beyond beautiful, bubbly, has the best laugh, and she’s definitely 15 in the way she can act at times, but I love her. Her dad is in Brazil & has been out of her life for the majority of it. Her dear mother Juslaine moved to South America last August to look for work to send money to TiKris and her brother. Her mother was torn up about this and would talk to me about it, and I told her “I’ll check on the kids while you’re gone!”….as the past year has had highs and lows, I’ve both seen TiKris and gone through periods of not seeing her. I’ve helped her as she prepares for school and also asked her why she’s skipped for a week. I’ve seen her cute and bubbly around the house being responsible and I’ve also watched her walking around with guys that don’t value her as much as she should be treasured. I’ve stopped by as she eats with family & opened the gate to have her stopping by saying she hasn’t eaten all day.

You mat have seen this picture before - I love this picture from September that captures TiKris' personality!

You might have seen this picture before – I love this picture from September that captures TiKris’ personality!

I found out the day before I came back that she is pregnant, three months. It explains vomiting and sickness that I was trying to help her with in June and also why she was so quiet.

It both breaks my heart and frustrates me as I see her potential and know the opportunities that she has passed up for ‘the moment’, where she would act her age instead of choosing better decisions for the long term.

And within that, she is just that – her age. 15, without parents to hold her right now, with a huge event in her life. She lives near an aunt that she didn’t tell until the news came up another way, and her busy aunt looked at me with sorrow in her eyes as she cleaned to prepare to sell for the day and try to make money, “She didn’t tell me.” Her aunt is sad about not being told as I look at the situation and see a lost, scared, turning-inward-as-she-isn’t-sure-where-to-turn little girl. A little girl with some big girl things in front of her.

I know that she doesn’t want the baby, to the point that she may go to a life-threatening procedure – and now I’m heartbroken a second time.

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& now I get this information right before getting on an airplane back to America, at a loss for words or even thoughts as I just look at pictures of her gorgeous smile from the past year and reflect on where to even start praying for her.

But then, there’s the high.

High: The one I got the news from is Nadine, who I look at as my mind slowly works through what she just told me. I met her as a 16-year-old mom who packed a punch of attitude as she joked about throwing her own child in a latrine a year ago, last June. As she told me about TiKris, she kept getting tugged by her little Wes – who she would look down at with adoring eyes. She kissed, held, loved on, and bragged on her little daughter. She cheered little Wes on as she attempted to walk – despite the fact that Wes needs leg braces and isn’t developing like her peers. This now-17 year old mother is head over heels for her daughter.

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I love this picture that I captured as Westhalineda was swept up by her mom for a cuddle after taking steps, Wes looks like “whatever” but her mother’s face has this expression that wasn’t there for the camera – it’s her face lighting up when she picks up her daughter.

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Her mother grabbed me and had me follow her to the one patch of grass she could find, asking me to take pictures of Westhalineda to send to my mother and sister (she loves to update them on Wes as she grows, and loves to show off pretty pictures such as those with grass & flowers)

Her mother grabbed me and had me follow her to the one patch of grass she could find, asking me to take pictures of Westhalineda to send to my mother and sister (she loves to update them on Wes as she grows, and loves to show off pretty pictures such as those with grass & flowers)

 

And in that, God comforted me with the promise that every prayer he knew I was going to send up as I have absolutely no clue what to do about TiKris, would be heard. And He is bigger. He’s the one, in fact, stitching the little one together in TiKris. And as hard as that is to rest on – because I’m human and hurt and looking for answers and trying to grab my thoughts as they fly around – He is bigger. I want to be with TiKris in Bercy, to know what decisions she’s making, to somehow help (see: control).

But He knew way before I did this was going to happen and He knows what will happen next.

And that is TOUGH for me when I get the news, but I am so, SO thankful for when the truth clicks (when I let it click) I can rest in Him.

TiKris loving on her little niece last fall. (Bonus: look at Wes' little chunky baby cheeks!)

TiKris loving on her little niece last fall. (Bonus: look at Wes’ little chunky baby cheeks!)

 

{I am so thankful for encouraging words you send my way as you follow Jeziseespwa. I am finishing a three-part-series to talk about the past month in Haiti called “Highs & Lows”, tackling a lot of immediate highs and lows from the five weeks just spent there leading teams. I am back in Columbus, Ohio looking for prayer and financial partners to send me for five more years. If you have been following the movement in Haiti this past year and it tugs at your heart, I want to challenge you to be a part of the movement. Either ask yourself if there is room for sacrifice in your budget or share this blog and information to others. I have 50% of my support left to raise for year one and am in need of people to send me. I love to talk! My e-mail is steph@cpr-3.com}

Highs & Lows #2

If you haven’t read yesterday’s highs & lows, check it out! I’ll just start off where we stopped:

Low: Speaking health – do you remember hearing about the mother who was pregnant, but wished she wasn’t because she already has seven children she can’t provide for? She’s pregnant with twins. She has no idea what she’s going to do.

High: But she is SO happy, so hospitable to me as we sit and talk away the hot afternoons in her humble home that somehow fits everyone. We sit on the floor, made of plywood, propped up against the straw beds as we fan each other in the heat. She happens to be the mother of Davinson, who I connected with my very first time in Haiti, and she has beautiful teenage daughters that I now spend my time with as well now that they’ve warmed up to me. She was overly thankful for baby clothes that were donated by YOU.

Devinson, who sneaked to sit behind me at the anniversary for the church, playing around quietly in the background like usual.

Devinson, who sneaked to sit behind me at the anniversary for the church, playing around quietly in the background like usual.

Potential low, but it’s a High: She told me a story that reminded me how important it is to pray. A man from Brazil offered to buy her youngest daughters as well as her unborn children – and with no other hope for the future she was going to. Thank the Lord, literally the Lord, someone told her not to and she listened. Her family is prayed for, especially by one friend who has connected with her youngest daughter Shashu. And what a reminder to continue to pray against human trafficking – and for awareness to become global as it just now starts to make headway in America. It’s disgustingly low that someone would come see a vulnerable mother as a potential to make a profit off of human lives – but our God is so much bigger, and holds her and each child in his hands.

I just love sitting in her home, she asked for this photo & I don't know if she understands how beautiful she is.

I just love sitting in her home, she asked for this photo & I don’t know if she understands how beautiful she is.

Her home - the inside is about the size of the average living room in America.

Her home – the inside is about the size of the average living room in America.

Low: When I first saw Shashu when I returned to Haiti in June, she walked slowly up to me with her big eyes and silent walk and came up to stand behind me until I turned to notice her and give her kisses. As I turned to pick her up, I noticed her hair was a brighter orange than I’d ever seen on her before – a sign of malnutrition. I hadn’t seen her mother yet but my mind went quickly to her mother’s initial reaction to pregnancy, “I have seven children I already can’t feed”….cue my heart dropping into my stomach with an immediate heaviness.

Shashu & Merielle. Merielle prays daily for this family & Shashu was SO excited to show Merielle her home for the first time.

Shashu & Merielle. Merielle prays daily for this family & Shashu was SO excited to show Merielle her home for the first time.

High: The next day I brought a big bag of Moringa to Shashu’s mother, talking to her about how I brought  for her as I know it must be hard to provide during her 7th month of pregnancy. I asked if she knew about using “doliv” in the form I had come with, dry and in powder form – with a big smile she replied yes, as the President’s wife talks about it on the radio and so did teams with CPR-3 in June 2013. By the end of June Emily Klipa, one of our summer staff, turned to me and asked is Shashu was in the family I had taken moringa to. She asked because she said she could see the physical difference and her interactions with Shashu were different as well. (What’s Moringa? https://cpr-3.com/moringa/). Physical & spiritual coming together again, I love it! And I love moringa as people can’t help but call it “The Miracle Tree”. Most of all, I love being able to simply hand a tool over to a mother who needs just that – a simple resource that she knows how to use and believes in, that she can bring into her life, adding it into meals for her children that she is already making.

Devinson, his sister Kiana, and neighborhood friend Kali.

Devinson, his sister Kiana, and neighborhood friend Kali.

Bonus high: “Graduation” ceremony for the end of the year. Over the top and I don’t understand it (or necessarily agree with it, as parents can never afford it) – but the pictures….just look. From big sis leading them to have me take pictures (because they can’t afford the studio) to the oversized clothing bought to be able to fit for as long as possible with the high price being paid.

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Keep checking for more updates on summer 2014 with CPR-3!

{My 5 year commitment will start when I am funded for my first year in Haiti. This is about 28,000 & I am at almost 50%. I am in need of partners. This includes one-time but also annual or monthly partners who are willing to play a huge part in this mission by SENDING. The mission does not exist if I am not sent. If you felt led to give or you have a church or organization you can connect me with, please e-mail me as I am in Columbus, Ohio support raising! My e-mail is steph@cpr-3.com & I love to talk about anything you have to ask or share. For more info on giving, simply contact me by e-mail}

Highs & Lows #1

After a month of teams, I’m in the habit of the icebreaker “What was your high of the day? And your low?” – and with so many things that passed in such a short amount of time, I think this exact phrase is the best way to “break the ice” in the things I have to tell you about what’s going on in my corner of the world.

High: I can’t start this Hi & Lo series without mentioning the fuel behind it all. The summer staff, I’ve said it dozens of times but can’t stress it enough, was wonderful. Rock stars. Watch out for what these leaders will do next. Missing Erin, who left before everyone else, here’s our “family picture” from the day we left:

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High: There were many new family members to celebrate this past month! This includes our driver & friend Friegal (spelled for pronunciation) & Simon’s father, a vodou priest who has been slowly building a deeper relationship with us for months! You can spot Friegal in our family picture, in the top row near the right with a red shirt on. There were many others, including another vodou priest in Canaan who had dreams that the pastor would send someone to talk to him – and then another dream of a weight that could not be lifted until someone came to help him. It’s crazy how our Father will go so far for his children. Simon’s family does not agree with his father – however their hearts continue to soften, even to the point of asking for prayer – as we go deeper in relationship.

Simon Sr. (Photo by @esfeather, a dear friend to this family)

Simon Sr. (Photo by @esfeather, a dear friend to this family)

Low: When we asked “Creole” or “French” to see which Bible to get, the answer was neither because this father is illiterate. [There is a company that has created solar powered audio Bibles in Creole, I’m just trying to find the information!]

Low: Simon’s family has been SLAMMED with illness. This includes Chikungunya (with an extreme case for Simon Sr.), head fungus, fevers, complications from malnutrition, and infections. Their family mirrored Haiti in general (on a more severe level) – there was at least one member in each home I visited that was sick and usually needed simple Tylenol just to be relieved. I still flinch as I remember Minoosh & Sian telling me about how children further away from help were dying – simply from fevers.

Visiting homes around Canaan, we had a stock of supplies we walked around ready with as each home had at least one person laying inside with fever and joint pains.

Visiting homes around Canaan, we had a stock of supplies we walked around ready with as each home had at least one person laying inside with fever and joint pains.

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Simon’s brother, photo taken by Dalinsky while we visited one night in early June.

High: There was an ABUNDANCE of medicine donated for Chikungunya – medicine being basic Tylenol & Ibuprofin, which is not a household item where we are in Bercy. This medicine helped literally hundreds – both by CPR-3 getting to represent the physical and spiritual sides of the cross together AND through training Haitians how to correctly use these items and them watching them own it and distribute it. I LOVED having Venise talk excitedly about helping people in Canaan, or listening to Emily’s father explain how helpful these basics were in Labourdie.

High: You probably won’t believe this story. But Simon’s family, still closed off to the gospel, was able to witness why I believe so strongly in prayer. One of the boys had a fungus the size of a swollen thumb growing straight out of his head that seemed to have grown way faster than normal within a week of visits. We had medical professionals on a team at the time that it was at it’s worst who said we could offer cream – but that it would be more for mental ease than anything else. They expected that a downtown hospital visit would be necessary. We prayed in a large group over the entire home after asking permission, asking for healing, protection, specifically for this son, provision after leaving the profession of a vodou leader in the community. The next day – the next MORNING – the fungus was completely gone, to the point that Regan & Alena double checked that it was the correct boy. I’m talking, GONE. God is so radical & I love it.

Here’s what I love about these high’s – there are lots of seeds that were planted this month, even seeds planted WITH Chikungunya medicine, or people watching us pray over things like head fungus that cleared up overnight.

But we also got to see seeds, a lifetime of seeds, come to life. Friegal & Simon are both constants in CPR-3, with long-term relationships and stories coming to this point. Simon Jr. said of his dad last spring, “He’s not a Christian yet.”….YET. That’s a BOLD word to say about your father, who hates Christianity so much that he beats you and would rather you be homeless.

And then, after that conversation a little over a year ago where I congratulated Simon’s optimism and trust in God, I got to see that “yet” come to life. That is straight awesome.

Keep watching this week for more “Highs & Lows!”

Let’s Try Our Luck With Natcom!

Natcom is the picky internet, let’s see if it’ll work with me tonight. (It didn’t, for the record, this draft has been saved for a week)

Our team is spent but refreshed in community with both each other and with time with our first love today, we love down time where we can go to our quiet places after a few weeks of chaos!

God is MOVING (in saying that – PLEASE, PLEASE remember us in our prayers. In movement there is both the work and hard part, but also the pushback from our enemy – in physical health, dreams, mental issues with lies in our heads – please pray for and with us).

I want to attempt an update on some of the big things that have happened – just this week. It’s too long for a status.

I want to start with thanks.

In the hectic scheduling, the busy times of summer, the teams that we are working to keep up with going on at the same time that you have school letting out, vacation, and messages about plenty of other things going on – you make the choice to be missional.

You make the choice to read this now.

You have made choices to pray, encourage, and act on what you have read in the past.

You have made the choice to come or help send others.

You are the movement in both prayers sent up and in words sent here that lift us up when there is a battle for our mind that attempts to discourage and defeat.

Thank you, before anything else is said, for the part that you play in every moment. If you are just now finding this, thanking for taking the time to be here and for choosing your precious time here.

Let me start first with what I’ve been promising for so long: the updates that are so awesome, but too long for social media.

A little over six months ago, Pastor Samedy was hunting for land in Canaan to buy to build his home – he ended up buying a piece near the church from a vodou priest who is now his neighbor. Last week, a group went to this man’s home from the student team from Grace Pickerington to talk about Jesus….he wasn’t interested. What they didn’t know is that he had a dream before they came that Pastor Samedy was going to send people to talk to him. He remembered this dream as he sent them on their way. That night he had another dream – but it was much more unsettling than the first. He was being held down by a great weight that he could not lift himself. There was no relief and no way out, no matter how hard he tried. But in this dream, someone came and lifted it off of him. So after THAT dream, he was sitting at his house the next day – this time, with his family instead of alone. Another group came – despite the children shaking their heads and saying “Don’t go there!” – to follow up with this man from the day before. And there, this man left vodou behind and accepted Christ. And his wife – who had not been present the first day – heard this and accepted as well. He then opened up about the dreams, with the team dropping their jaw at what just happened. We celebrated his new life the next day as he attended church with his wife. He asked for heavy prayer as he knows there will be huge spiritual warfare over his family’s life.

You’re getting this story with the perspective of the big picture and details – but I want you to think for a moment, to imagine you are the boy walking onto the property that first day: sent away with no idea of the dream or what would happen tomorrow with the whole family present as opposed to one man. Imagine you are Samedy, buying property months ago from this man with no picture of the future – only prayers and a strong and persistent character shown to a man, no idea that his heart was being simultaneously softened and he’d be in your church just months later. I’m sure you are in the center of something right now that is testing your patience, making you question where God is, or challenging your faith on God really using you to work. We are simply details with such a small, small view on what He is doing. Please use a story like this to remind yourself of how BIG our God is, how He is CONSTANTLY moving, making millions and billions of puzzle pieces and speck of dust lives come together to create beautiful things on a second by second basis. He does not waste a thing, and He is working on a scale we don’t get the privilege to see right now – one bigger than we can imagine.

Whew. Told you that this was too much for social media – that’s just one story! Let’s take a picture break!

Regan learning how to do laundry Haitian style!

Regan learning how to do laundry Haitian style!

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ESL one-on-one!

ESL one-on-one!

Girls hearing the truth that they don't NEED a boyfriend.

Girls hearing the truth that they don’t NEED a boyfriend. And they are beautiful!

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Are you ready for another one? Just one more and it’ll be time for me to stop taking up your time today.

Friegal (that spelling is incorrect, but spelled for pronunciation as you read) is our driver and friend for CPR-3, fearlessly driving our tap-taps full of teams and sacrificially coming on time and working hard – never saying no to a request no matter what time I call him. His brother used to be our driver until he moved to the Bahamas, and when his brother moved away over a year ago we all thought….”Oh, Friegal is our only driver now?” – He was a good guy, but used to talk to me only about relationships if I would sit in the cab. I knew him best as the driver who was less social and would just sit back, besides jokes about marrying me.

As time has gone on though, the relationship has changed. Personally, we have a relationship that is deeper than “white girl, Haitian driver” and he respects me in my singleness and role in CPR-3. I’ve gone from rolling my eyes at his comments to overhearing him defend me or stop the same questions from others in Creole when he thinks I’m not listening. I invite him to sit with us when he drives us to church and he started to come, and he jokes more and more with teams. When I returned at the beginning of the month, he had a big hug and “STEPH!” waiting for me at the airport – and he has loved the summer staff. He has continued to sit in church more (his hair isn’t cut and he’s “swag”, which isn’t accepted in church in Haiti often – so he’s not a regular church attender), he has started to walk with us in market and both protect and lead, and his jokes are some of the best. He is always on time and also patient with us when we’re the late ones – as opposed to being late and impatient like in the past. He’s family.

Last Sunday, we prayed boldly for him to accept Christ THAT DAY as he said he was “almost ready” and summer staff Brooke prepared to talk to him about it as they’ve become friends this month.

And what happened?

That night, we cheered over and over again, calling him brother after the time presented itself to have a conversation.

Every day now, we greet each other saying “My brother!” as he says back to CPR-3 staff “My brothers, My sisters!”

Guys, God is good. And a lifetime of seeds being planted led to this moment – and every moment to come of now growing in community, going to church (he wants to come here in Bercy), and falling more in love with Jesus.

And those stories are the ones that just can’t be given justice in a few sentences.

There are so many more – Rachel, a student on one of the teams, also accepted Christ. My favorite family in Canaan is being lifted up by Moringa and was saved from human trafficking. The physical and spiritual sides of the cross came together in huge ways as we went to neighbors to help with Chikungunya. God is answering prayers for community. Westhalineda is alive after falling in a drum of water – which still amazes both the community of Bercy and myself. The summer staff is AMAZING, God put together an amazing team. Grace Bath has visited Simon’s family constantly after his father accepted Christ and there has been jaw-dropping healing there. Relationships are deeper. There are the hard stories too Keela talking in process time last night of a girl, a child, who passed away that she found out about yesterday as she visited the family. The orange hair of malnutrition. The constant balance of blessed to bless others….but helping without hurting. And more stories will continue to come.

Thank you for the part that you play in them.

And now – the fuel that creates that movement. The offense and defense needed in what we’re doing. I can’t say it enough, these things are not because the people here but the GOD who is working through them on a much larger scale. We need both prayer for work but also prayer for protection. If you are interested in being on the e-mail for prayer warriors, send a message to steph2haiti@gmail.com. You can also go over to the “Prayer Request” page here on Jeziseespwa.