When tears fall…

It seems like almost everyday that I live in Haiti, I am either filled with joy to the point of tears or broken to the point of tears. There are times that I feel overwhelmed. What would God have me do? There is so much pain, hurt, illness, starvation…where do I start? And how can helping ONE person in a sea of need do anything to make a difference in this world?

I have seen children with special needs left alone for hours at a time on the porch of their home because their parents don’t want to be seen with them in public. Or maybe the parents believe the child will never be worth anything. The children rarely get food, often lie down in urine for hours, and have bugs crawling all over them.

I have held a six month old baby that weighed 5 pounds and begged with God to help save the baby. I could see nothing but skin and bones, yet the baby’s life was so beautiful and worth so much. I found out the following day that the baby died.

I have watched children in our village work by cleaning, cooking, doing laundry, and caring for other children just to earn their place to live. Child slaves…something that is accepted in this culture.

I have watched my husband, Chris, and friend, Elizabeth perform CPR on one of the most incredible children I have ever known. I have loaded him into a car to go to the hospital knowing something that my heart couldn’t bare. Jay was dead.

I have watched Jay’s parents overcome with grief, crying out to the great Healer, knowing just how they feel. I had a child die just a few years ago. But, words don’t come easy…we just sat, we cried, we hugged and we held each other.

I have witnessed living conditions that I wouldn’t allow my greatest enemy to live in. Rat infested, crawling with bugs, shacks that someone calls home.

I have watched children get beaten with tree limbs so severely that they have welps to prove it for hours. What exactly can a child do to deserve such beatings? Nothing.

So much pain, so much hunger, so much heartache, so much tragedy, so little to celebrate….or so it seems.

But, then I can’t help but look further into the hearts and lives of the people that I am surrounded by. Unspeakable joy? Yes, I see it. Authentic worship for our Lord? Yes, I hear it. Genuine laughter? Yes, it is contagious. So, once again I am brought to tears by simply experiencing life with this tiny village.

As I walk through the village, I hear my name…lots of little children are hollering and running after me. I pass out hugs and I give away kisses. And I look them in their eyes and say to them, “I love you…you know that, right?” Yes, they know…their smile shows me.

I sit and spend time with families of special needs children on a regular basis. One family wanted to give their son away only three weeks ago. God is working in their family and I get a front row seat in the beauty of it all. Not only has this sweet little boy received better care and nurturing from his family, his brain and muscles are responding rapidly. Three weeks ago, he could hardly move…tonight, he was sitting up all by himself. God is changing their hearts…they are beginning to believe that every life was created by God and EVERY life is worth so much.

My husband, Chris, and I are constantly being watched (which, in a sense, is very scary)…in a foreign land, it is very foreign for couples to show any type of affection to one another publicly. Women are often viewed as objects rather than beautiful women worthy of encouragement, service, and love. But now, couples are beginning to see the value of showing your spouse that you care about them. The husbands enjoy hollering at me just to show me that they are going to hug their wives. They call my name just so that I will watch them kiss their wife on the cheek. Redemption is beautiful…the rebuilding of beautiful and biblical marriages has started.

We have been blessed by so many people that want to love and protect our children. Our family is being served on a daily basis. People are teaching us so much. They are teaching our children so much. Our children are blessed beyond your imagination because they are experiencing life beyond what is comfortable. Real, genuine life does not happen as often as we might think…but, here, it happens every day.

And every day, you can find me moved to tears by the difficulties and challenges of life in Haiti. And at any given moment, you can find me moved to tears by the realization that, in so many ways, these people have it so right….and I have so much to learn. So, if I had to choose the easy life with all the comforts I have ever known or the life that God has chosen for me right now, I would choose life in Haiti. God is here, He is alive, and He is using this land for His glory.

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Freedom in Family

The dictionary says that the definition of family is “a group consisting of parents and children living together in a household.” In my heart, the definition of family is far from that of which resides between the front and back cover of the American Oxford Dictionary. So many words come to mind when I consider family and its meaning: unconditional love, safe place, growth, tenderness, discipline, discipleship, laughter, sacrifice, trust, respect, genuineness, transparency, attachment, adventure, service, understanding…the list goes on for so long. Living in Neply, Haiti has stretched the meaning of family for me and my family. Family goes beyond four physical walls and invades your heart, imprinting the very soul of your being. Without warning. The true meaning of family permeates you.

I would like to share a story about two young people in Neply. Josseline is our neighbor. She lives in a home two houses down from our family. She is ten years old. She is radiantly beautiful. She is full of joy. She enjoys laughter. She loves sugarcane. She plays with her friends, including our children. She even goes to school. In so many ways, Josseline is a typical, ten year old girl living in a small village in Haiti.

Noha (pronounced Noo-ye) is a young man that lives just around the corner from our house. He is a broad shouldered, fourteen year old boy with a story written in the depths of his eyes. He loves to play soccer. He, too, loves to laugh. He is respectful. His smile is inviting. He carries wisdom far beyond his fourteen years. His boyhood is swiftly turning to manhood.

Noha is Josseline’s older brother. They do not live in the same household nor do they live with their parents. They are restaveks. A restavek is a child sold into slavery in order for the remaining family members to get money for food and survival. These two beautiful children are slaves. Slaves. They each work for a place to stay, food to eat, time to play, and the opportunity to attend school. Some days, as I walk past Josseline’s house, she nods her head, to say “No, please don’t talk to me. Keep walking.” It is these times, I know she is working and she is being watched. She will receive punishment if I talk to her. My heart breaks. Other times, she runs to our house to play and have fun. It is those times that I treasure. In so many ways, Josseline and Noha have nothing that resembles family and no one that is family any where close by.

I want so badly for Josseline and Noha to experience family in a new, safe sense. Jesus said that He is going to heaven to prepare many rooms for us. Our Heavenly Father is preparing a household for us. But here on earth, where times are hard and the light of family grows dim, we are here to impact families with the love of Christ. We are here to create a sense of family based on trust. We are here to accept people where they are and grow with them. We are here to display Christ’s love in a way that draws people nearer to Him…into His family.  We are here to love, encourage, serve, disciple, laugh, respect, and understand.  We are here to be a safe place, a place of tenderness and trust, a place of discipline and understanding, and a place of growth and attachment.  We are here to display Christ’s definition of family.

I get it. I understand the necessity of family.  I believe in so many ways, though, I take for granted how powerful family really is.  I haven’t had to long for a family the way that Josseline and Noha do. I haven’t had to wonder if the love my family gives me is contingent upon the works that I perform.  Romans 8:38-39 says, “For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” I find comfort and freedom in this verse. I can’t do anything to lose my love from my Heavenly Father. He is my Father, my family, for eternity.

My prayer is that the sense of family that our family displays can impact the hearts and thoughts of the families living with Josseline and Noha.  We have so many opportunities to develop relationships with these people and show them the love of Christ, no matter their life choices.  Over time, I pray that Josseline and Noha will not only experience freedom in their earthly families, but also the freedom in knowing Christ as their Heavenly Father.  Our Father is the King of righteousness and Lord of lords. My commitment is to share what I know about Christ and family with this nation, beginning with my neighbors. In Micah 6:8, God tells us what He requires of us…”to act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God”. There is a fine line to walk while ministering to the families with restaveks, and I want to do what God has asked of me in Micah 6:8.  I also pray that my life will speak by my actions according to 1 Thessalonians 2:8: “We loved you so much that we were delighted to share with you not only the gospel of God but our lives as well, because you had become so dear to us.”

Please pray for the restaveks around the world.  Pray for Josseline and Noha by name.  And pray for their “owners”…that a true conviction for family will come over them, and they too can experience the freedom of knowing Christ and experiencing family here on earth…and for eternity.

Settling into LIFE in Neply, Haiti…

 

 

 

Life in Haiti (our first newsletter from the ground in Haiti 🙂

What an honor and privilege it is to write our first newsletter from Neply, Haiti!  Our family has lived here for just over six weeks and it is already feeling like home.  God has truly blessed us with the most amazing family adventure and God-led journey in the world.  We have so many stories and memories to tell already, and we are excited about sharing these with you all as best we can.

We are now living in our own home with our children…still just five kids in the King family, although many of you have asked if we have found any King family additions since we have been here.  Our home is incredibly beautiful and more than we could have ever imagined being able to live in here in Haiti.  The home is three bedrooms and two baths, with a kitchen and dining area plus a living room.  We are still painting and building shelving spaces to store things, but the house is looking great, and we know that we are very blessed with the opportunity to live here.  Now…all we need is visitors…we hope to see you all very soon!

Our whole family has adjusted very well, but we are so thankful that God has given our kids such an amazing heart for enjoying this journey and the village we live in. All of our kids bring such amazing gifts to this village…Carter is a kind and wise friend and mentor to the children.  Kynlee is a gentle and warm nurturer.  Faith is curious and selective with her trust, while gathering as much knowledge as she can about how Haiti is different than the States. Kyler is a bubbly and joyful friend to all.  Camp is ‘chips’ as they call him…their little village mascot, so small and rotten.

We put together some frequently asked questions to give you a concise view into our everyday lives here.  There are no days that look exactly the same.  Life in Haiti is different in so many ways, but it feels so right and so rewarding to be in the center of God’s will for our lives.

Thank you for loving us and supporting us better than we could ever imagine.  We are so thankful for the love and encouragement that we receive from you all.  Words cannot describe our gratitude for your prayers and financial support for our family while we follow God’s amazing will for our lives.  Thanks for being such an important part of our journey.  We love you all!

What does the role of Director of Operations look like at myLIFEspeaks?

Although we have focused much on our family, building relationships with people in the village, and moving into our house, we already have a taste of what our positions look like with myLIFEspeaks.  We are already overseeing the daily operations of the campus and ministering to people in the village regarding parenting and being purposeful with family.  There are many talented staff here, and we can see that God has great plans in store for the vision of myLIFEspeaks.  Chris and Tracy are both in and out of the campus and in the village throughout the day working to meet the needs of our Haitian staff, the campus, and the people in the village as well.  This has already been an incredibly rewarding experience for us.

Have you started home schooling the kids?

Yes, we started homeschooling the week of October 15th.  We are really enjoying getting into a routine.  Please pray that we will learn how to use our schooling time wisely in order to leave time for us to minister to people and build relationships in the village.  We are so blessed to have been able to purchase curriculum for all of the school-aged children (thank you!), and look forward to learning with them this year.

Do you feel safe?

YES!  We feel very safe! Obviously, it is protocol that we would have security with us most all of the time.  We have several amazing day and night security staff that work to keep our family safe.  We feel safe to walk around the village freely during the day as we please. We know that if we ever need anything, our staff is close by to help us. Our security guys are incredible with our children and have become a part of our family!

How is your family dealing with the death of one of the myLIFEspeaks house children, Jay?

On September 30, 2012, Jay went to be with Jesus. These past few weeks have been very difficult for our family, our staff, and especially the house parents and children at myLIFEspeaks.  But, God is sovereign and He reigns forever.  Jay was a beautiful young man that taught us all so much in his short time here.  We hope we never forget his courage, his smile, his singing, or his heart.  We have always prayed that God would use the death of our sweet baby Ty to one day help us minister to other hurting parents.  We did not know we would be given this opportunity within a month of moving to Haiti.  Please continue to pray that our LIVES will speak to the house family and this village regarding this situation, and that God will use us for His glory alone.

How can we support you?

As we continue down this amazing path, we cherish your prayers.  We could never do this work with our own strength.  Our Lord guides us each and every day.  Please pray that our lives will be centered by His will.  We continue to need your financial support as well.  We have been totally amazed by the generosity of our friends and supporters both while we were in the U.S. and during our time in Haiti.  The gifts and donations that you provide allow our family to perform the Lord’s work in Haiti.  Without your giving, we would not be here. Ongoing financial support is crucial to our mission work here and our ability to make ends meet for our family and ministry.  Please see the enclosed donation information card on ways that you can help.