Sunday, February 23, 2014

BIG PLANS

I've not written a blog post in almost a month! I claimed I was doing great and getting my thoughts written down, but then I realized the last post was Jan. 25th. Time sure does fly!

Big time plans are coming to fruition. Last post, I wrote about what your calling is. Mostly, what I believe my calling is and how that calling came to be.

I have so many thoughts swirling in my head that it's hard for me to form them into a blog post. I absolutely love writing and this blog is selfishly for me and later on, my child. I want my daughter to be able to go back long after I am gone and see the words on paper. 

Most of my readers, friends, and family know that I am leading a team of 17 to Haiti in 49 days. I can hardly believe it myself. I never in a million years thought that God would call me to serve in a third world country such as Haiti and definitely never imagined leading a team on my own there. 

Lil 'ol me!!

BUT, I serve a Big God who has Big Plans for me. All 100 lbs. of me and 16 others will travel to Despinos, Croix-des-Bouquet, Haiti on April 12th. This will be my 7th. trip and besides my own family and one other college aged girl a first trip for everyone else.  I love taking a new group of people to the country I love. 
On my first trip to Haiti, I almost reluctantly agreed to go. I knew that God had called me to do a mission trip, but truly thought I would hate it. I. REALLY. DID! I had full intentions of going and serving my 10 days there and coming home to never return. Little did I know I would fall in love with some big brown eyed, dark skinned children. Not only the children, but adults too. I got on the plane crying like a baby. Missing them and I hadn't even left Port-au-Prince yet, yearning to schedule my next trip, and planning to take my own blonde-haired, blue eyed girl back with me. I had no clue, I'd be returning less than 6 months later, 5 months after that, and again and again! Praise God! 

I say this b/c taking a whole new group of people to the country I love is exciting. It is amazing to see the wonder and awe (and shocking!) view from their eyes. I want everyone to experience the love that these kids have. I want them to feel the same passion I feel for them. The more people that know about our ministry the better we can help them. Our kids already have Jesus, they need our affection, spiritual growth, physical growth, and knowledge that the God of the universe that loves me, loves them too! 

Big plans are coming! In just a few short weeks, I could amaze you at the miracles God has been performing just to make this trip happen. Donations are pouring in, food, money, clothes, etc. It's not just my story, but the story of 17 people whose lives are about to be changed and I believe for the better. I can't wait to see it unfold. Stay tuned and I'll share the testimonies of these missionaries!

Saturday, January 25, 2014

WHAT'S YOUR CALLING?

What's your calling?

Do you know?

I believe our mission in life is to find out our calling as soon as possible and get to work on that calling!

Sorry to say that it took me well into my 30's to find my calling. I have known since 9 years old that I would be a nurse. I am a planner and have literally had my entire life planned out since I was very young. I knew I would marry and have only one child. Don't know why I never wanted more children, but my husband and I had a ready made family when we finally married after 7 years of dating. He had a daughter in high school and if I'm being honest.... I loved being a mom at an early age. It was just something that came natural to me. I was very responsible and while I was in nursing school, I was paying all the bills at my house (mom was basically living with me) and helping to raise a child on the weekends with my then boyfriend. We've been together since she was 5 months in utero. I've always had a mostly great relationship with her mom. Gratefully!

When I graduated nursing school I wanted to go on a medical mission trip, but didn't know how or when I could make that happen. I was already raising a family! 
Then, I went to Haiti in May 2011. Just before I left, I had been caring for my mom, along with my sister. I was her power of attorney and had all the medical responsibilities and her financial responsibilities. However, mom got very sick and died that year on March 1st. I was 36! I spent the next two months wallering in sadness. I have never been one that was what some called "depressed", but I was deeply sad. Mom was my best friend. She was the one person I could tell literally everything to. 
When I got to Haiti in May, I met an 18-year-old girl named Woodland. Maybe I've written about her before. Woodland couldn't speak a lick of English except to say hello and I love you. She could also sing every word to "Blessed Be Your Name". Melissa, our American missionary had taught her this song and she had a beautiful voice. One Sunday, I found her sobbing! Turns out she was crying b/c it was Mother's Day in Haiti and she was sad b/c her mother had passed away. Her father had too. She was only 18!! Here I was feeling so alone b/c my mom had died at age 36. 
God spoke to me that day! He called me to help the orphans of Haiti! I felt the tug on my heart to do whatever I could to make this my calling. I never wanted to live there or adopt, but I was called to serve Him there. I have given up my vacation time (2 weeks) since to spend it in Haiti. Thankfully, my family also feels called to serve there.

I have a young friend, Amelia, that is 19 years old and in college. I'm 20 years older than her, but she is like my daughter, friend, and mentee wrapped in one. She is a great girl and also has a heart for Haiti. She's been with me several times and last year we were able to spend the entire week of Christmas in Haiti. Amelia has found her calling at such a young age. She is planning to spend an entire month in Haiti this summer. She doesn't really know how God is going to use her there or even what her future plans are for her ministry, but I am so thankful that she has obeyed the call on her life.  Wish I had known earlier what my calling was, but I know God reveals everything to us in His time. 

What's your calling? Do you know what your mission is in life? It doesn't really matter if God calls you to serve locally, internationally, in your church, or even in your own home! Every Christian's mission is to spread the gospel and take as many people to Heaven with us that we possibly can. If you don't know your calling yet, ask God to reveal it to you!

Thanks for reading!

Thursday, January 23, 2014

IN MY DAUGHTERS EYES


In my daughter's eyes, I am a hero.
I am strong and wise and I know no fear.
But the truth is plain to see
She was sent to rescue me
I see who I wanna be
In my daughter's eyes

In my daughter's eyes, everyone is equal
Darkness turns to light and the world is at peace
This miracle God gave to me
gives me strength when I am weak
I find reason to believe in my daughter's eyes

And when she wraps her hand
around my finger
Oh it puts a smile in my heart
Everything becomes a little clearer
I realize what life is all about

It's hangin' on when your heart
has had enough
It's giving more when you feel like giving up
I've seen the light
It's in my daughter's eyes

In my daughter's eyes I can see the future
A reflection of who I am and what will be
Though she'll grow and someday leave
Maybe raise a family
When I'm gone I hope you see how happy
she made me
For I'll be there
In my daughter's eyes

I love having a "mini me". Everyone tells me that Tori-bug looks just like me. But, you know what? She acts like me too. Sometimes I think that is a good thing. I like to think that I am always setting a good example for her, but I know that isn't true. She is the one that teaches me. She has taught me so much about how to love and she never sees color or disability. When she was young, I worked at a nursing home on Saturdays. I would have her daddy bring her to see me and sometimes they would bring me lunch. The elderly can be very scary to a small child, especially the ones in a nursing home. They sometimes scream, shake, drool, or would try to reach out to her. She was never afraid of them and I think that helped her when she got into school to always include everyone. I love her heart. When I took her to Haiti for the first time she was 11-years-old. She jumped right in and loved on those orphans like it was her job. She never said a word that they were dirty, didn't have shoes on their feet, or invaded her personal space. They were her friends from the moment she met them. I am so proud to be her mom and I hope one day when you want to know me..... all you have to do is look in my daughter's eyes!!

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Pastor NeNe

PASTOR NENE On my first trip to Haiti, I had the priviledge of meeting a Haitian gentleman named "Pastor NeNe". He is a big old teddy bear of a man. Not too tall, but a big guy with a big heart. In fact, the biggest heart! Pastor NeNe has a story to tell. Much like many Haitians, Pastor NeNe has a lot of life experiences. At the time I met him in 2011 his wife was pregnant with what I believe was his 6th. child. His baby should be like 2 years old now. Pastor Nene is a very dramatic, enthusiastic speaker. He talks loudly with a lot of vigor. He waves his hands in the air like he is unable to control them. He is a preacher to every one he meets. You can't meet him without hearing how God has influenced his life and provided for him. He speaks English fairly well. Sometimes he gets the words mixed up but he makes up for it with his enthusiasm. You can definitely understand him. He is a very funny guy the way he explains everything. He sat, well, stood actually and talked to our first large mission team to come to Haiti. MY TEAM!! He walked in with the biggest smile on his face proclaiming his blessings from God and pure joy just bubbles out of the man. A little history now...... Pastor NeNe and his wife took a large group of kids in immediately after the earthquake. Kids that had been abandoned, kids that their parents died in the quake, kids that literally nobody else wanted. He spent several days digging out some of his family members from the rubble. He was only slightly injured in the earthquake but he never worried about himself. Several months after the earthquake after he and his wife took in 14 children, he was injured in a "moto" accident. He was riding on a motorcycle (very common in Haiti with no helmet- DON"T EVEN GET ME STARTED ABOUT THAT!) and was in a wreck. It nearly killed him and injured him very badly. It took him several months, but he recovered and continued to preach and provide for his family and the new children he had taken in. This is when I met him. In January I believe, 2012, an American man came to Haiti to help construct a building for his orphanage. This man, from what I hear was a great guy and had started several hospitals/clinics in Haiti. All around good guy that had a heart for Haitians. One day while he was there he went to the bank to withdraw some money. Around $4000 I heard to start this project for Pastor NeNe's orphanage. Going to the bank in Haiti is very risky. Especially if you are withdrawing a lot of money. To go to the bank, you go stand in line outside the bank, sometimes for hours. They only let 2-3 ppl in the bank at one time and it is highly guarded by Haitians. Like I safe, it isn't exactly safe. Pastor NeNe was not with this man at the time. He went in and withdrew the money and when he came out of the bank he was shot. He somehow managed to get himself to one of the hospitals that he helped start. He was very critically injured and actually ended up passing away from his injuries. My team heard about this man and had been praying for him for several weeks. Pastor NeNe was devastated because the gentleman was there to help him. He had a really hard time accepting the first few weeks. Turns out, the would be robbers didn't end up robbing him. He was found with the money in his front pocket. Haiti is corrupt. Sorry, but it is. We felt that this was an inside bank job. Like someone on the inside knew he withdrew that amount of money then was going to shoot and rob him. They only succeeded in the shooting and killing of this dear guy. Several months later, it came about that some of the man's family (mainly his wife) thought that Pastor NeNe had this done to him and knew about the shooting. He didn't! She hired an attorney and Pastor NeNe was put in prison for the crime although he has never had a trial. He is still there 1-1/2 years later. Prison in Haiti is not the place you want to go. You are in general population which means you are in a one small room with 75 men. You don't get fed three meals a day like here. You don't eat unless your family brings you food. Pastor NeNe had 14 children and a wife counting on him to provide their needs. She never had a paying job. Our directors were able eventually to write a letter and asked that he at least be put into a semi private room and thankfully they moved him, but he is still in prison. Never once, he has questioned, "Why me?" He continues to believe that Christians are still persicuted all the time. He continues to be faithful even behind bars and still shares his testimony. His wife has tried the best she can to move forward with her life all the while struggling to provide for them. Our orphanage tried to help the best we could, but our funds are so very tight. God continues to provide for us and his children. They wouldn't be eating at all if we weren't. They now actually are going to our school. Pastor NeNe is near and dear to my heart and I truly believe God will get him out of that prison some day. I am not sure why he is still there, but God has a purpose. I will continue to be faithful and asking God to allow him freedom soon. Would you pray that too? Let's storm Heaven with intention. Intention on his freedom. Intention on his famuly being provided for! Please?

Saturday, January 11, 2014

STORMS

I woke up early this morning to bad storms in our area. High winds, heavy rainfall, and a possibility of tornadoes. What is interesting is that just four days ago our temperature was 7 degrees and we closed schools due to the cold. Today it is 56 degrees!! I didn't want to get out in the storm but knew I had gymnastics carpool this morning. Tori-bug and her friend needed to be at gym by 10am in a METAL building. The weather forecasters were saying to not venture out if you didn't have to. They also said this 4 days ago. Living in Georgia..... it's like a joke around here saying "bad storms, ice, snow (even if it's only two flakes), lightning, etc. run to the store before the storms hit and grab your milk and bread in case you run out when the storms come". It's rather amusing. I traveled to Haiti for the first time in May 2011. Just 15 months after the biggest "storm" ever to hit their country. In case you have been living under a rock, an EARTHQUAKE. Haitians called it "gwo machin ki pase" or the "big truck that went by". I read several stories about the earthquake including the book called The Big Truck that went by Jonathan Katz and Paul Farmers book "Haiti After the Earthquake". Great reads if you find the time. Traveling to Haiti just months after this huge "storm" was an experience. Not only was life still devastating for them at that point, but much, much more was still emotionally devastating. People continued to walk around in a daze, living in tents, searching for food, etc. The ones that had lost family members were still very much grieving. The others were that didn't were just as bad. Everybody was living in fear. Fear that another "storm" would come and not knowing when made it even more difficult. As I was preparing to go out in the storm this morning, I was fearful. I was plain out not wanting to get out in the mess. I hate driving in rain and it had already dumped large amounts all night. We had our own personal Lake Whiddon in my front yard. But.... I knew the girls needed to get to gym. They have their first meet tomorrow. Tori-bug is injured and won't be competing but has continued to practice and we will show up to cheer on our team mates. So, I put on some clothes and shoes and off we went. I had to drive very slow the entire drive and we passed a truck wreck where a man was up on his side in a 10 foot embankment. We arrived safely a little bit late since I was trying to be so cautious. On my long drive home alone, God gave me this devotion. Christians are never promised that the "storms" won't come. We all know they will. It is a guarantee. We never know when or where they will hit in our life, but they WILL come. Much like Haitians, some of us are afraid. We shouldn't be though. We have the King of the Universe watching over us. We should be ready. We should be willing to face the "storms" head on, just like I did this morning. Maybe you are facing your own "STORM" today. Maybe you have been facing a storm for quite some time. Maybe it looks bleak and messy just like it looks outside today. BUT..... take heart and face it head on! You have the King on your side!! Sometimes He is walking beside you, sometimes He is falling behind you, and some days He is just plain carrying us through! But He is there!! P.S. Tomorrow Jan. 12, 2014 is the four year anniversary of the Earthquake that hit Haiti. I am so happy that most have moved on with their lives, moved out of the tents, and are not still wallowing in their grief. Praise God for that! I will be remembering all of them tomorrow just like I do every day. Say an extra prayer if you think about it. The Haitians I know, know that God is still carrying them through 4 years later! Always serving Him, Wendy

Friday, November 15, 2013

BACK AT IT!!

I am back trying to do better at updating! Two times in one week!! LOOK OUT!! I have a mission trip planned to go back to Haiti in April! Have you ever been on a mission trip? Ever thought about it? I did think about it many years before going on my first one! I always thought I would go on a medical mission trip, but God had other plans for me. Two-and-a-half years later, I have been six times! Sometimes I "nurse" while I am there, but most of my time is spent investing in the kids! Sharing God's love with them and just loving them! My first trip was May 2011. You can find my pics from that visit on here in earlier posts. It changed my life. Here I was thinking that I would go bless some kids in a third world country when truthfully I was the one blessed. Always pay it forward! You will always be the one that is blessed. I love my Haitian Sensations and can't wait to see them again in April! It can't get here soon enough! Blessings, Wendy

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

WHOAH!

I was reminding today to get back to blogging. Not that I have anything all that interesting to say, but I enjoy writing for myself. When I started this blog.... it was to be a little journal about my life for my own self and for my daughter. It was to have a place to post pics and be reminded about all life's little happenings. Now, it has been another 9 months since I have journaled. BUT... I am going to restart. Let me see... where did I leave off? I went back to work in Feb. after being off for six weeks. I love my job and the doctors I work for. I am so blessed to have a job with Bible-believing, Jesus-loving bosses. It is a fast paced and very busy clinic. I have worked there as a pediatric nurse for the past 10 years. MARCH 2013 March 1st marked the second anniversary of my mom's death. I can hardly believe 2 years has passed since she passed away. It was literally the hardest thing I have ever endured. I miss her every day, but I am thankful for the legacy she left me and how I have been able to share love more abundantly b/c of her love for me. APRIL/MAY 2013 I celebrated my 39th birthday in April. I also found out this month that I would have the opportunity to return to my beloved Haiti. This would make my fifth trip to Haiti. I have had the beautiful experience of ministering to the Haitian people and loving on 120 kids in an orphanage. I was able to spend 2 weeks altogether in Haiti. It came as a surprise that I would be able to return since I had just taken off for six weeks. God has really blessed me. My Tori-bug was not able to go (I had not renewed her passport from when it expired). I missed my family at home terribly, but it was a fabulous trip. I said I would never go without her again (or at least one of my family members). Seeing my "kids" in Haiti was so awesome. Myself and all of our team members held a vacation bible school for the kids. I was in charge of crafts. Putting together five days of crafts for an entire orphanage was mind boggling. If I forgot something, it wasn't like I could run to Walmart and buy glue dots!! HAHA JUNE/JULY/AUGUST 2013 Tori-bug turned a teenager on June 14th. Hard to believe I had a teenager in the house. Tori is the light of my life. I have always said she is my mini me and it is true. She is! We didn't get to do much camping this summer. Life was busy b/c I had already used my vacation time to go to Haiti. Kevin continues to own and operate a heating/air business and thankfully God has blessed us with work in this area too. He was really busy all summer! School started back in August and Tori-bug started 8th. grade. Back at the top of the totem pole in her middle school. I remember when she first started in middle school in 6th grade she got in the car the first day and said she loved middle school b/c they "treat you like an adult, not like a little kid like they did in elementary school". Now she is really experiencing that (maybe too many responsibilities now). Tori-bug is still very active in gymnastics although we pulled her out of her gym in May and placed her at a new gym in July. She did take about 3 weeks off in there, but you can't have too much time off in this sport or you fall way behind. We have found a gym that really suits our needs and she is LOVING it again! She had sort-of lost her sparkle for gymnastics the past year with one injury after another (first a back injury/sprain then a stress fracture in her foot). She lost a lot of skills that she had already mastered, like her backwalkover on the beam, but she quickly gained it back after being at the new gym. SEPTEMBER 2013 Once again, I was surprised by a trip to Haiti. It kind of fell into my lap. My dear sweet Haitian friend and "son" had an appointment at the US Embassy on Sept 12, 2013 and I wanted to be there. Pascal speaks excellent english, but I was worried about him only being able to speak conversational english, NOT English-English!! I worried about him going to the appt. alone. Melissa, our American missionary was not in the country at the time so he was going alone. I had a dear friend purchase my airline ticket and I flew out on Sept. 11th by myself. Very scary for me to fly alone internationally on 9/11, but knew that God had called me to do so. This again made my now 6th time to Haiti. I am almost an expert at flying now :-) I have learned to speak quite a bit of Haitian Creole although I still can't carry on much of a conversation, but I know a lot of single words and can get by. I need to tell about my Embassy experience. Pascal was nervous as a cat the morning of the appt. Everybody in Haiti dreams of coming to America. They realize that even a short trip here would show them so much of a different life. I have prayed about Pascal coming to visit me for 2 years. We got up early that morning and I had bought us matching outfits. Corny I know, but I had a very nice baby blue shirt and tie for him and a blue/white dress for myself (my Easter dress). We get downtown PAP, the capital of Haiti and see hundreds of people in line waiting to get in to the Embassy for their appt. PAP is the busiest city in all the world (I am not really sure about that- haha, but it sure looks and feels like it to a blonde-haired, blue-eyed white girl from Georgia)! We walk up to the line and finally figured out there were two lines and which was the correct one to be in. A nice lady and her nephew were standing in line behind us. When Pascal got up to the first of the line, they said I couldn't come in. I thought he might cry and that I would too. What was I going to do while he was in the appt?? I told him, unsure of myself, but with all the confidence that I could muster, that I would be fine. He handed me his keys and cellphone and went in. I walked across the street and sat down in the blazing heat on a sidewall. The US Embassy had a little shopping mall like place across from it and the stores were closed but there were two armed guards there and this white girl was going to stand next to them!! I tried to look "busy" on my phone, but I was truly scared out of my mind. Here I was in downtown Port-au-Prince alone and not knowing how long it would take Pascal when a young man came up to me and said in perfect English, "hello ma'am. How are you"? I replied back that I was fine. He sat down and started talking to me and said that was his aunt in line behind my friend. He asked me who Pascal was to me and what he wanted to go to America for and that his aunt was trying to go back to Miami again for a wedding. He asked me what I was going to do while Pascal was in the appt and I said I guessed I would just sit here and wait. He said it was about to be REALLY hot and there was no way I could or should sit in the hot sun. He asked if I felt like I trusted him enough to walk to the store in the shopping center. I did. Don't ask me why, but I did. He was a very nice young man, maybe 20 years old. This was so out of character for me that I could hardly believe I said yes, but for some reason I felt God telling me I was fine. We walked slowly behind the armed guards and into a little park. The stores were all closed, but there were several lawn care men sweeping, cutting, and what-not in the park. It was historic and beautiful. Lots of trees, beautiful flowers, and park benches. I never knew Haiti was this beautiful. All you can see from the street is poverty, cars everywhere, and people begging on the streets. Lots had already asked me for money and kept "eyeing me". He started telling me his testimony and his story. Turns out he is a computer genius and did Christian ministry in an orphanage. His job was to do speaking engagements and set up sound systems for ministers to have revivals. I couldn't believe my ears! We talked for more than 2 hrs and I lost track of time. I was able to ask him many questions about what Haitians believe about Americans, is racism prevalent in Haiti, what they think of our president, and share with him how Americans think of Haiti. I also asked stuff like what he thought Haitians can do to help themselves and how someone like little 'ol me could make a difference in his country. His answers were surprisingly candid. I wish I could remember all of his answers. They did impact me though. Turns out also that his aunt is the professor of nursing at the largest university in Haiti. That was a God-thing too b/c some of our kids in the orphanage want to be nurses and perhaps she could give us information on some of their programs. He asked me for my phone number, but I told him I didn't give it out. He was confused about that b/c he wanted to be my friend. I explained that good women don't give out their numbers to men and especially in a third world country and the fact I was married. He wanted to know if he could find me on FB and I said yes and he gave me his name and I wrote down my name for him. He said he would look me up on FB, but never did. When I got home, I looked for his name too, but guess what? I couldn't find him. I honestly believe it is because he was an angel. Perhaps or perhaps not, but to me THAT day on THAT busy street in PAP he was to ME! I was not scared one tiny bit. Pascal had been standing and waiting on me for over an hour. He couldn't see me down in the park and remember I had his cell phone and his car keys! I knew he couldn't leave me. Pascal was denied the visa that day (they don't even really give you a reason why) but he WILL come to the U.S. some day. I know God will make a way. God Bless! Wendy