Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Small Town to the Busy City

Oh Port-a-Prince how you stretch me...
Monday and Tuesday morning our day began by loading into a vehicle and making the 45 minute commute down to PAP.  The purpose of this journey was to receive our photo i.d. cards and our drivers license.  We had a driver from the mission take us down.  We also picked up a lady who works in the government office who is neighbors with a man who works with the mission (it's great to have friends!)  The four of us made the commute to PAP, after picking up a friend of her's who needed to go to PAP and knew we would be driving through.

 This is a picture I found on google but it is a CLEAR image of travel in Haiti.  All the people piled into the Tap Tap (Haitian taxi)

The vehicle stopped and we heard "Ann ale!"  (Let's go)  I couldn't help but look around and wonder where they were wanting us to go.  We were in the middle of the street with cars and people all over the place.  So I said, "Nou bezween ale?" (We need to go?) The response..."Wi wi, ale!" (Yes, yes, go.)  Out we jumped.  We were quickly ushered through a gated area that opened up to a courtyard filled with people.

There were different lines leading to different buildings, each person holding some form of paperwork in need of being processed.  We were led past all the lines and up a set of stairs.  At the top of the stairs we were taken to a room where we sat, and sat, and sat some more.

People came in and out regularly and conversation was constant!  In this 10x10 room we counted 16 people, 3 desks, and lots of compact mirrors with makeup!  We definitely stood out as the "blancs" who were there.  We enjoyed adding our own dialogue to what we thought all the activity was that was going on around us.  Anything to pass the time, right?

After being in the tiny room for almost an hour on Monday morning the lady who was helping us came in and said, "Nou gen gwo pwoblem" (We have a big problem.)  We asked what it was and the Creole words began to flow.  I tried to figure it all out in my head, as best as I could, and the next thing I knew we had agreed to return again tomorrow in hopes that the problem would be fixed.

Same scenario this morning in the drive, the drop off, and the sit and wait for two hours.  Only today in the process of sitting in the room another "blanc" was brought in to sit and wait!  We had a friend.  Our friend was from VIETNAM!  Trey and I have traveled to Vietnam three times.  We were able to talk with him about the places we have seen and how much we enjoyed his country.  SMALL WORLD!  I would not be surprised if our other company in the 10x10 room were adding their own dialogue to our conversation today :)

After getting our pictures taken, which by the way you can't smile, I had SEVERAL people laugh at me today as I sat in the chair for my photo and pasted on the cheesy white girl grin.  The lady behind the camera looked at me like I was crazy and said, "Pa souri." (Don't smile.)  After this and distracted by the laughter I turned and caught Trey out of the corner of my eye and FLASH!  The picture was taken and I was not looking.  The laughter from SEVERAL onlookers began again.  Bleh, I was so ready to be finished with my time in front of the camera.

After our photo opp we were ready to return to the mission.  We still have a few more logistics to work out in order to receive our i.d.'s, but the PAP runs should be close to finished.  This small town girl is stretched quite a bit in city life, especially city life that doesn't share the same language.

We are so thankful for the friends we have already made, who we can trust to help us in the confusing moments.  Those involved in our PAP trips were amazing.  We could NOT have been able to do it without them.  In the midst of this thankfulness, I'm also thankful at the thought of spending tomorrow in the mountains.


Saturday, February 25, 2012

A Grand 'ol 24 Hours!

There is nothing quite like spending time with good friends.  Stephen & Autumn Byxbe work with New Vision Ministries, they are about 2 hours away from us in Haiti.  We have been planning a weekend gathering for quite some time and it finally worked out for the Byxbe family to come up to our house yesterday.  

Trey & Autumn grew up going to the same summer camp and have known each other for several years.  I have had the pleasure of getting to know Autumn over the past few years as well.  Autumn came to Haiti on a short-term mission trip and met her husband Stephen.  They are such a fun couple and it is a huge blessing to get to be serving in the same country as them.

We enjoyed an afternoon, evening, and Saturday morning of relaxation.  They are in the process of adopting and brought there little man Josiah up to spend some time with us as well.  He is soooo much fun!
 We don't have any items in our house for children so we had to get creative and give little Jo Jo a booster seat for dinner last night.  

Stephen and Autumn will be celebrating their one year wedding anniversary one week before Trey & I celebrate our two year anniversary in March.  Upon making this realization yesterday we instantly began planning a "2nd Honeymoon/Couple Vacation"  Stephen and Trey were on the internet for quite some time last night scouting out a variety of different options.  Josiah was a faithful assistant.
We enjoyed some good eats, and watching the movie Courageous (Put out by the creator of "Fireproof", very good!), and some good 'ol chit chat.  I'm pleased to say the weekend was a success and we look forward to getting together with the Byxbe's again soon!
 Pray for Stephen & Autumn as they raise Josiah into a man who loves the Lord.  Pray for the Byxbe's as they are hoping to begin renting a house in Haiti very soon, pray that finances and logistics fall into place.  Pray for the young missionary families throughout Haiti who are seeking to make Haiti their home.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

A Little Break in the Day

Wednesday afternoon, the week is in full swing!  There are so many tasks that can fill a day and keep one quite busy.  Sometimes I wonder if a majority of the tasks we do in a day are really necessary.  Or, have we grown so accustomed to the business that if we were to be still in the midst of it, it would feel like everything is coming unglued.  On this Wednesday, when we are half-way through the week and pushing for the weekend perhaps we just need to quiet our hearts and be still...

I took a picture of this sweet little girl a few weeks ago at God's Littlest Angels orphanage.  It was the middle of the day when I visited the orphanage.  Children were running around and playing everywhere you looked.  Nannies were working and painters were painting in the room next door.  In the midst of all the business this little one slept.

She was not being lazy, no one thought less of her, and she was not concerned in the least with what was going on around her.  The image of her sound asleep on such a fast paced afternoon has stuck with me.  In case you need to hear it today, it is OKAY to be still.  In fact scripture commands us to BE STILL and know that He is God (Psalm 46:10).

Do not hear me wrong, do not be lazy and idle with your time.  We are to work diligently and to make the most of every hour.  However, do not miss the gift of being still in the process of your busy schedule.  Take a moment, and enjoy being still today.


Monday, February 20, 2012

Opening the Cabinet Door

Can you see the fresh cotton candle in this picture?  Note: Just look for the candle don't judge the cluttered mess :)
 Look for a few more seconds if you have not found it yet...

Yup, you see it.  Right in the center of the picture is the little candle.  Second shelf, sitting beside the huge bag of whoppers.  True confession time, I have been searching for this candle for the past two weeks!  I have looked in every drawer, in every room, and every little corner or random place I could think of in our house to find this little candle.  We do NOT have a big house and I have been completely baffled as to where this candle may be.

This morning as I opened the cabinet door to get out a bowl for cereal I was hit square in the face with the sight of the fresh cotton candle.  I cannot tell you the number of times I have opened this cabinet over the past two weeks and looked directly past the candle.  The old saying "if it was a snake it would have bitten me" would be an understatement.  It would have bitten me several times and had plenty of opportunity to invite it's buddies to join in on the fun!  I have no idea how or why I have overlooked this candle so many times.

Before you think I'm crazy and have decided to write an entire blog about finding a candle in my cabinet I must tell you how AMAZING our God is.  The exact moment I saw this candle my mind began to flood with lessons the Lord has been teaching me recently.

I have decided to read through the Bible this year.  I have absolutely loved this experience so far.  Over the past several years I completed a number of Bible studies, devotional books, and even graduated from Bible college where our main text book was the Word itself.  Even after this time I have had so many moments over the past two months after spending time in the Word where I stop and think, WOW, how in the world have I missed that concept all of these years?

The Holy Spirit has enabled me to see so many big picture truths in His Word.  Stories I have read many times before CONTINUE to have new and important application for my life.  I have made a conscious effort to not just open the Word and read it quickly, but to seek hard after the Lord during this time.

I had opened the cabinet door many times not seeking and not expecting to find the candle.  I missed it!  Jeremiah 29:13 says, "You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all of your heart."

I wish 2 weeks ago, that I would have opened up the cabinet in the kitchen seeking to find the fresh cotton candle.  I could have been enjoying the aroma quite some time ago!  The visual this morning was a vivid reminder how EVERY TIME I open the Word of God I should seek the Lord.  I must seek to learn more about the character of our great God, seek to discover His guidance for my daily life, seek to learn more about His kingdom purposes.

He created me to be a visual learner. Today, through a fresh cotton candle I have been encouraged to continue to search hard after Him!  I love candles and having a house that smells fresh and clean, so I was just a tad bit excited when I found the "missing" candle this morning.  This excitement does not even begin to compare to the joy that comes when I "find" yet another new truth in the Word of God.  I praise God that He does not hide Himself, but wants to make Himself known to His people.

I am so thankful for His patience with me.  As many times as I open and close the cabinet doors and miss Him all together, His truth remains and He patiently waits for me and enables me to understand!  

John 17:17, "Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth"

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Annabel Marie

February 19 will never be the same again.  A HUGE congratulations is in store for my brother Dempsey and Sister-in-love Selena on the arrival of their precious baby girl,
Annabel Marie Ballou

Shortly after we announced we would be moving to Haiti, Dempsey & Selena announced they were expecting their first baby.  Since their announcement I have been beyond excited to welcome this precious child!  This afternoon we were able to skype with the brand new mom & dad...Praise the Lord for Skype!!!

I cannot stop looking at pictures of precious Annabel!  She is my first niece ever.  She is the first guaranteed companion for our children one day.  From this point forward family gatherings will never be the same.  Family vacations will be completely different.  It is no longer Dempsey and Selena, but Dempsey, Selena, & Annabel.  Thank you Annabel for the joy you have already brought to our family!

Selena was a pro through labor and delivery.  Dempsey was a faithful supporter and I know they are going to be wonderful parents for little Annabel Marie.  I cannot wait to personally wrap my arms around this precious bundle of joy!  She is by far one of the most adorable little ones I have EVER seen.

Pray for Selena as she strengthens and enters the world of motherhood.  Pray for little Annabel as she grows!  Pray for Dempsey as he leads his family well.  Pray for the new grandparents :)

Thursday, February 16, 2012

The Count Continues...

I am pleased to announce in my effort to record 1,000 blessings in the year 2012, I am now up to #140!  I am definitely enjoying this practice and hoping it will only get better.  Throughout the day I find myself searching for new and creative ways to record the blessings the Lord is bringing into my life. 

#31 Checking items off my list of "to do's"
#42 Standing in wonder at the many tribes and tongues my Father has created.  How in the world does He know and understand them all?!
#75 Finally being able to get my hair into a ponytail!
#109 A peaceful heart from the Lord that allows me to climb into bed and rest well.
#136 Denise Austin, everyone needs a good dance party!
#137 The captivating eyes of the children of Haiti. 
I took this picture at church last week.  I was working with the ladies on the jewelry project and when the kids received a break from class we received quite a bit of attention as they watched us through the windows.


Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Just the Two of Us...

Happy Valentines Day!!!
I must admit I am a true sucker for Valentines Day.  I love LOVE.  Even when I was as single as single could be I loved Valentines Day.  Combine love notes, chocolate treats and flowers, and you have the perfect mix for a fantastic day!  Trey on the other hand does not quite share my appreciation of this holiday.

His exact words are, "If you do not get the day off of work, it is not a holiday."  While this may be true he has still put his best foot forward to make this day special for us (even though everyday together is special, aww.)  

Living in Haiti has created quite a unique Valentines day for us.  We have no plans to go out to dinner tonight, we were not able to go to a store and buy cute sappy cards for one another, and I do not have access to the ingredients to make many of the tasty treats I have seen on Pinterest.  So...we have had to get creative.

Trey left the house this morning to do some work in his office on the mission property.  As soon as he left I went into "creative Valentine making mode."  My dad sent me an amazing care package composed of dark chocolate hearts, Russell Stover chocolates, Little Debbie Valentine Cakes, brownie mix, and the list continues!  Thanks Padre!  So, this morning I decided to surprise Trey by making brownies.

I then took a piece of construction paper and put my third grade art skills to the test and made Trey a heart shaped Valentine.  Since Trey's favorite part about brownies is licking the bowl, I called him shortly after finishing the brownies to ask him to come home.  I had placed his hand made card on the bed and had the brownie bowl waiting on the table upon his arrival.

After enjoying a few spoonfuls from the bowl he walked back to the bedroom.  A few short seconds later I heard laughter coming from the room.  Why you may ask?
 He, too, had made me a Valentine card.  He was sneaking into the bedroom to place my card on my pillow and discovered his card already laying on the pillow.  We both made our cards in the shape of hearts and they both began by saying, "To: The Love of My Life"  It was so funny to discover that we had been designing our cards in secret and they turned out oh so similar!  I think this is a very clear indication that throughout the past 6 months we have been spending A LOT of time together.

I absolutely love spending our days together and am INCREDIBLY thankful for this season of life with Trey.  He is my best friend, my biggest fan, and "the love of my life."
 One of our favorite pictures from a night out in Louisville.

Embrace the day today and truly live it to the hilt!  Eat some chocolate...I admit I had a few pieces at 8 a.m.  Tell someone you love them today.  Be intentional and enjoy the day the Lord has made!

Saturday, February 11, 2012


"I think it would be good if you had a hobby," said my sweet husband Trey shortly after we arrived in Haiti.  Before you gather your pitch forks and come to rescue me, know that this statement was said in love and has been the cause for some very exciting events.

I have been a student for as a long as I can remember.  The concept of not having homework or a test to study for is a very surreal experience for me.  Due to a sudden change of lifestyle and moving to Haiti where we have no where to go in the evenings, no t.v. to watch, and no regularly planned activities at night our life patterns are changing quite a bit.

Instead of relaxing during the still evenings I would find my brain would RUN WILD with worry, anxiety, or a feeling that I needed to be doing something.  It was on one of these evenings that Trey suggested I find a hobby.  I have never been in a season of life where I was able to choose what my night time schedule looks like.  So, what is a girl to do...I googled "Hobbies."

I wanted a hobby that would not simply be a time killer, but would be beneficial to myself and others around me.  A variety of hobbies came on display such as; learn another language (already doing that), learn to sew (not quite feeling it), take a dance class (I live in Haiti, where am I supposed to do that?), make jewelry, etc.  The idea of jewelry making really stood out to me.  

During some girl talk one afternoon with my friend Deborah (missionary with BHM) I shared with her I was thinking about making jewelry.  As we chatted connections began to be made and ideas formulated and we "stumbled" on an organization in Haiti called the Apparent Project, which trains men and women in Haiti in a variety of trades.  Within the week we contacted the founder of the organization, Shelley Clay, to find out more information about the jewelry making.

Through several long conversations, a lot of planning, and a great amount of logistics to sort out, I am beyond excited to share with you that we are in the very beginning stages of creating a jewelry program for women within the churches of Haiti.  I have had a number of conversations with the pastor of our church, Pastor Edrice, about beginning a program in the church for women to be able to support their families while still staying at home.  Pastor Edrice selected 3 ladies from our church to begin this program and to hopefully train more ladies in the days ahead.

A few weeks ago the three ladies selected, my mom who was in visiting, and myself traveled down to the Apparent Project to receive training in making jewelry.

Not only am I a far cry from crafty but learning a new craft in another language, whoa!  At one point the girl who was training me called over her friend, who spoke English, to help explain the thing I kept doing wrong.  I wish I could have explained to her that I understood what she wanted me to do I just simply couldn't do it!   

The ladies so enjoyed their training and have been very eager to begin making jewelry.  I have been gathering supplies for the ladies to begin making their own jewelry.  Just last week our good friend Scott visited and brought our last necessary material, our paper cutter.  This past Thursday the ladies, Deborah, and myself gathered at Thomassin Church to begin making jewelry.

The pictures below show Madam Pastor Edrice and Madam Amanda working hard in the sanctuary with their materials.  Cereal boxes and a paper cutter, classic jewelry 101 :)

The ladies are so excited to have begun working on their first couple of pieces.  As we worked together on Thursday they shared how excited they were to have something they could do that they knew would help send their children to school and would make things better for their family.  I am thrilled to see their first pieces reach completion and look forward to being able to provide an outlet for their jewelry to be sold.

Each piece of Jewelry will come with a business size card attached to it with a picture of the woman who made the jewelry and also a short description of her.  The other side of the card will have the name of our organization and a brief explanation of the purpose of the project.  The name selected for the organization is:
Kouri Deye [koo-ree, day-A] 
Kouri Deye, is a creole word and translated into English means Pursue.

The key verse that led to the selection of this name is Proverbs 31:27.  This passage describes how the Proverbs 31 woman looks well to the way of her household and is not idle with her time.  By making this jewelry the women within the churches of Haiti are looking well to the ways of their household and are not being idle with their time.
Below are two examples of the jewelry that the ladies are making.  The rolled beads are made by rolling cereal boxes.  I made the bracelet you see below out of a Cheerio box.
 The necklace is long and can be wrapped around the neck to be a shorter and doubled.

I have been looking forward to sharing this on the blog for quite sometime, but was waiting for all the little details to get worked out.  I look forward to keeping you up to date with things from here on out (which means shorter posts).  Please keep the women of Thomassin Church in your prayers.  Pray for guidance for me as I continue to figure out a good "system" for working alongside of these women.  The Lord is definitely STRETCHING me and I am eager to see where He leads.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Permis De Sejour!

Fingerprints, check!  Haitian bank account, check!  Police report from the U.S. proving we are in good standing, check!  Papers and more papers filled out giving all kinds of details about our lives, check!  After 5 months in Haiti I am proud to announce we have now officially received our permis de sejour's, permanent visas.

[Google Image:  Didn't want to post our visas, just to be safe :) ]

We were definitely excited to receive our permanent visas, we have been approved by the country of Haiti to live and work here.  These visas provide us with a new found confidence.  Although we may not look like the people here, we struggle to speak the language, and we have no earth shattering talents to offer, we have been approved to reside in this beautiful land.

Now that we have our permanent visa we can begin to work on receiving our Haitian license.  Trey is very excited about having full access to driving in Haiti.  There is no speed limit here, you can create another lane of traffic anytime you choose,  the typical "road" is rocky and up a mountainside, and anytime you feel like passing someone you can!  Due to these facts alone I am slightly hesitant to hit the road so I may get a license but, I do not plan on using it anytime soon.  One step at a time, right?

Continue to pray for us as we seek to grow in our relationships with our Haitian brother's and sister's here.  Pray that we would be sensitive to the leading of our Savior and trust in His timing in ALL things.

Monday, February 6, 2012


Trey & I had a blast with his mom and dad visiting us these past two weeks.  It was great to be able to catch up and have them see first hand all where we are and what we are doing in Haiti.  You do not have to be around Trey's parents long at all before you realize they are very hard workers and always willing to help!  I am so thankful to have married into such a wonderful family.

I used to watch the show Trading Spaces with host Ty Pennington and be amazed with all his made from scratch ideas.  I now have my very own Ty in the family and have loved having our little Haitian home receive quite a few home improvements.  Below are just a few pictures I have taken to try to capture the changes.  The picture can only show so much so consider this your personal invite to come and serve with us one day here in Haiti!

 "Entertainment Center" 
*The letters on the mantle were an idea I saw on Pinterest.  Ty & Terri brought us burlap left over from our western themed wedding rehearsal and I was able to paint our initials.
*Ty built us a bookshelf for our fireplace.  We hardly use the fireplace because the wood stays too wet to burn up here in the mountains.  The bookshelf is removable and definitely helps to complete the space.
*Hanging on the wall are two made from scratch light covers.  We have two very random bulbs coming from the wall that we never used, but now with the proper coverings we love them!
*You will also notice flowers from our yard in mason jars, new wall color, and new curtains made from drop cloths.

*The wall decor/headboard is a curtain rod, pictures Trey & I bargained for out on the street, and fabric Terri & I cut and sewed to hang up the pictures.
*I saw an idea similar to the "floating shelves" on Pinterest.  Trey & I both needed a little night stand but with a small room shelves on the floor would completely take over the space.  I pitched the idea to Ty and off he ran to make us the perfect space savers!
*The room is also painted, more drop cloth curtains hung, and drawers are placed under the bed.

*In a previous post I showed the area of the kitchen over the stove.  This picture allows you to see how the kitchen color blends with the rest of the house.  I absolutely love having a bright and cheery kitchen!  
*It is at this table I sit most mornings working on stories and other items for Baptist Haiti Mission, listening to the school kids down the hill recite their morning lessons, and looking at the palm trees and ocean water you can see out our window.  It is in these moments I have to stop and praise God for bringing us to such a beautiful country to be a part of making His name known among the nations!  

Living Room
*We now have a new handmade table built placed behind our couch.  This helps to give definition to the room and provides the perfect spot for a Ty Salter created lamp.  Using a variety of materials he found around the mission property Ty made this lamp stand & shade.  I love the character it gives to the room.
We love all of our new home improvements!  It was such a blessing to be out at different parts in the day and come home to a house that we had already made home and now feels even homier (if that's a word)!  

In the midst of all the renovations we still made time to get out for a little fun as well.  Terri & I enjoyed feeling like "Miss America" as the guys drove us around.  Remember Ty & Terri today as they have a full day of travel back to the states.



Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Pencils, Paper, and Glue Sticks, OH MY!

This morning was just an all around FUN morning.  Association of Christian Schools International (ACSI), has a program called Project Hope for Haiti.  For quite some time they have been collecting school supplies for students and teachers in Haiti.  Baptist Haiti Mission has received over 750 fully packed bags for the schools.  BHM added a Creole New Testament and two Bible storybooks to these bags.

Today we were blessed with the opportunity to deliver some of these bags to a variety of schools.  The teachers and students were thrilled and so surprised to receive these gifts.  When the students first received their bags they were cautious and hesitant to open them.  This did not last long at all as smiles became uncontrollable and the excitement became contagious!

Chatter overtook the classroom and items were being ripped out of bags and displayed for all to see.  It was wonderful to see the students celebrate with their friends as each opened their gifts.  An 8 year old boy asked me if the glue sticks in his bag were candy.  I quickly said no, no do not eat it, it is for paper.  He then said oh, is it for my lips?  Thinking the glue stick was chapstick.  I responded again, no, not for your mouth, for your paper.  I hope all these "little details" get clarified before the use of certain items.

BHM is so thankful for these very generous donations!  And, judging by this last picture I think it's safe to say the teachers and students were very surprised and happy too!

Oh how I LOVE those times when excitement just takes over!  I'm so thankful I got to be a part of these special moments today and can now share them with you.   Pray for the teachers of Haiti as they seek to train these students.  Pray for the minds of these precious students, pray for them to be alert and ready to learn!