Thursday, May 2, 2013


Advocating for a cause can be so rewarding, yet exhausting. I have learned that advocating for the materially poor is one of the toughest jobs out there. The poor, especially children are the most vulnerable and at risk people in the world. They need advocates because most of the time they are voiceless and powerless. However, the spiritual warfare can be strong at times, making it very complicated and difficult to push through the barriers to reach the most vulnerable.

We partner with Kids Against Hunger (KAH). They provide all the food we need to feed 20 families in the area that we work. These families rely on us for food. Without it, some of these family members would be dead today from starvation! The Kids Against Hunger food is saving lives!

I should mention here too that we are not just giving out free food and walking away. We are well aware that feeding people does not resolve the problem. God has given us 20 families to feed and we are assessing each of these families one by one, building a relationship with them and searching for a better understanding of their needs and how we can come alongside them for the LONG haul. We have launched a program called our Strong Family Program. Each of the families in this program will be mentored and discipled. We will provide education for their children and literacy classes for the parents. In addition, we will offer vocational training and support for each family so that they may start their own business or find work that will place them on the path of becoming self sustaining.

We are doing all of this through the help of the local church and it's church members. Right now we have begun bringing 4 of these 20 families beyond feeding them. As God provides funds, we will continue to do more with each of the remaining 20 families.

I will write more about this program as it progresses, but just wanted clarify our goal here. We are not in Haiti to feed people or even to cure children of malnutrition. We are in Haiti to come along side the local church to disciple and share the Gospel. We are reaching them spiritually by intervening into their physical lives.

Now back to the KAH food and advocating:

Getting the KAH food to our ministry has been one of the toughest jobs for our team. We are grateful for our local community that comes together to package the food that will be set aside for our ministry. Packaging the food is the easiest part.

Getting it to our ministry is very complicated. Once the food is packaged, we need to take it to KAH warehouse where it is labeled for our ministry and then sent to a military base on the coast to be flown to Haiti. Once at the military base, it needs to pass an inspection first and then it will wait its turn to be loaded on an aircraft travelling to Haiti.

Once in Haiti, we have to line up an NGO to check it through customs and we need to rent a forklift to unload the pallets. We pay the NGO 10% of our boxes and the remaining boxes are ours!

Up until this point, there are a lot of email and phone call exchanges between all the parties involved to make sure we are still on track.

When our first shipment passed inspection, I was told that ours was the NEXT food that would travel to Haiti. This was great news until we learned that through a government budget cut, our food would  not leave the U.S. until the budget restraints were lifted. We rallied our followers and wrote to Senators and members of Congress.

Three weeks later, still no word and we begin to run out of food. We borrowed food from another ministry and agreed to pay them back when our food arrives in Haiti.

When Steve traveled to Haiti last week, they visited the ministry that checks our food in for us. Mickey asked me to check on our food because while visiting this ministry, they learned that ban had been lifted and the military is transporting food once again. This ministry had already received a shipment. Feeling bad that our food had not arrived yet, they loaned us enough to get us through another week.

Hmmm...I had a hunch that the food this ministry received was actually OUR food! Kind of comical to think that they were loaning us 'our' food! Mickey had no way of knowing at the time, so she didn't question anything.

I started making phone calls, shooting off emails, even writing FB messages to all involved in the U.S. side suggesting that this ministry unknowingly has our food!

I was told that it wasn't our food and that ours had not left the port yet. Yet, I knew deep down inside that this had to be our food because I was told that our food was the next in line to go just before the ban. I just had this gut feeling!

I pushed back! I sent a flurry of more emails and FB messages. We are once again running out of food!

Days went by and no one responded to me. I continued to not let this rest, making more phones calls and demanding a response.

Then someone finally responded stating that our food would most likely be on a flight May 18th! This was not going to work for us! That would mean another 3 weeks without food!

I suggested over and over again that maybe the food that our ministry partner received WAS our food. I asked them to please check again and confirm.

Then, earlier this week, I was copied on an email to the ministry from our contacts in the U.S. The email stated that after further investigation, indeed that is our food they have in their warehouse! They were asked to make arrangements to get us our food ASAP!

I forwarded the email to our team in Haiti and they attempted to make contact with the ministry, which is not always an easy task. Still unsuccessful with making contact, I woke up to an email yesterday morning that our food will be in PAP in one hour and we were suppose to come pick it up!

This is how things work in Haiti! I forwarded the email to Mickey who finally connected with this group. More than an hour had passed since I received the email, so there was no way we could rent a truck and be there within the time limit they gave us. Crazy! This is the kind of stuff we deal with all the time in Haiti!

We made other arrangements and we will have our food early next week.

My reason for sharing this story is not to complain about my work. But I share this story as an example of the extra miles you sometimes have to go in order to effectively advocate for something. Advocating is not as effective when you just simply share with others the cause and wait to see what happens. Advocating means to be actively working towards your goal.

Advocating takes perseverance, continuous follow up and no rest until the issue is resolved. In this case, it takes going with your gut and pushing through the barriers what ever it takes, even if it exhausts the heck out of you and makes you grow weary. Advocating sometimes makes you look like a crazy person.

But when it comes to a matter of life or death, you better believe that I will do whatever it takes to push through the spiritual warfare that could keep us from going forward with our work for His Kingdom.

So, when someone asks me, "What do you do for the ministry?" My answer most often is I advocate! I manage a lot of tasks and do a lot of busy work but overall my role is to Advocate for this ministry and the people in Haiti. It's the most rewarding, complicated and exhausting job, next to raising my four children, that I have every had in my life! I love my job!!

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

A Father to the fatherless

Steve is in Haiti this week on a vision planning trip with the president of our umbrella organization. This is an important trip for many reasons. They have important meetings this week with the pastor and leadership of the church in Haiti. We want the local church to own the work of the ministry in Haiti. So, it's crucial that we work in unity together.

As part of this vision planning trip, the team will be climbing the mountain to visit with and learn more about the needs of two families who are part of our Strong Families program. The mother serves as the head of at least one of these families. Most of our Medika Mamba families are missing a father figure. Most households are run by the mother.

I shared about our ministry at a local church's global missions meeting last night. One member on the board asked specifically about the fathers of these families. Having a discussion about the void of a father figure in the lives of these children, got me thinking about how this is an important void that our ministry can help fill.

Actually, this is why we are there - to share about Christ and to tell those who have not heard that there is a daddy who loves them and cares for them.

I can't help but think that God will use Steve and Tory today to show families a father's love. The fact that they care enough to travel all the way to Haiti and climb the mountain to understand their needs is enough for God to show these families how important they are to Him.

God is a father to the fatherless but only when we go there and share God's love through our love for these people, will they know the love of a father.

Then I was thinking about our sponsored child, Martial. He is a double orphan, loosing his mother most recently in the earthquake in 2010. This week, Steve has the opportunity to show the love of a father to Martial too.

Martial and I have had more time to build our relationship than him and Steve. He thinks of me as his mother because that is the kind of relationship that God has woven in our hearts. Here is what he wrote to me in a letter:

"I didn't think I would ever have a beautiful mom like you. I thank God because he gave you to me. I am not the same as others who don't have a mother because God gave me grace."

Here is a young teenage boy who has experienced the loss of both parents. He knows the pain and the void of these figures in his life. He has every right to think of himself as unlucky. But now that I am part of his life, he believes this sets him apart from others who don't have a mother.

My prayer this week is that Martial will feel the love of a father through his time with Steve. As much as it kills me not to be there with Steve this week, I know it's time for God to build their relationship now. I so wish we could be there 24/7 for this amazing boy who has changed our lives. But I believe, even with being several hundred miles apart, God can still use us to show the love of a parent in ways when we are not together.

I pray that God helps our ministry reach as many of the fatherless as possible, teaching them about a relationship they can have with a Father who loves them dearly.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

I'm Back!

Oh my goodness! Have I neglected this blog or what?!

This is an attempt to get back on track and write more. If anyone is still or will continue to follow this blog, I promise to try harder to write.

Much has happened since I last wrote but I'll try to bring you up to speed in a nutshell.

It was one year ago January that we took a vision trip to Haiti, to meet with a pastor and his wife and to get a better understanding of their needs. They care for their 6 biological children and 14 more who were orphaned from the earthquake in January 2010. Since the earthquake, they have been living in their back yard at first in tents and now temporary shacks.

They do all their cooking outdoors on a 2 burner camp stove and eat as a family at a large picnic table, all on dirt floor.

I am so blessed to have met this family! They have become like family to me!

Since I last wrote an update, I traveled to Haiti for the third time last year as part of a medical team. We conducted a 3 day medical clinic out of the doors of the pastor's church. You can read about it here and here.

Have I mentioned the non-profit we created to come along side the pastor and his family? This time marks the one year anniversary of the creation of this ministry called Bread to the Nations. You can check out the website here. Go read about the opportunities God has put before us to minister to the people in Haiti.

Our medical clinic launched an on-going malnutrition treatment program. The program is called Medika Mamba, a peanut butter paste that is used to treat severe malnutrition in children up to age 5. It's called Plumpy Nut in Africa.

We have an American team serving on the ground and overseeing the ministry activities. They live in Haiti about 75% of the time and are committed to serving there long term.

Speaking of long term, when we entered into this work, we did it knowing that this could mean that we would be working there for many years.

Haiti hasn't always been where I envisioned God was going to use me. Serving in developing countries is messy and complicated. But serving in Haiti challenges of its own. When friends and family hear about our work in Haiti, they sometimes get skeptical and sometimes we are told to not go there or asked why there?

Well, it's because God has brought us there. We did not go searching for anything like this, God brought the need to us. After sponsoring the children in the pastor's home, God opened up ways from us to work in the  church community among the poorest of the poor. This area has been almost untouched by outside assistance. To not respond would be turning my back on God and turning my back on what we are all called to do.

If Bread to the Nations had not come alongside families in this church community, most likely many children and some mothers would be dead today from lack of food. In fact at least one mother informed us that she was dying of starvation until our team came along to support her with food. Several mothers that we support tried giving their children up to an orphanage but now can keep their children because they are receiving food from our ministry. In essence, he work of BttN has helped prevent orphans.

Our main purpose of serving there is to bring the Gospel to the people. We pray for people to be transformed and have new life in Christ through physical healing and Biblical teachings. We reach people for Christ through providing for their physical needs.

As a result, we have seen many miracles of lives bring transformed. We have had several mothers and older children come to know Christ through physical healing.

One of the greatest and most rewarding part of this work is to watch how God provides for all the ministry needs. If you would like to follow this journey, please join us on Facebook and/or leave me your email address (will not be published) and I will make sure to keep you in the loop.

At this time we are raising funds to build a home for the pastor, his wife and 20 children. We would really like to get them in the home before the rainy season, which is coming soon! Construction has begun for the first phase but we need more funds to complete this phase. You can follow the progress here.

Raising funds for our malnutrition treatment program is on-going. The more funds we raise, the more lives we can touch. Learn more about this program here. Right now we have a generous donor who will match up to $5,000 for donations towards this program. We only have a few days to raise this, so if you would like to double your tax free donation towards saving the life of a child, go to the BttN website and click on "support the ministry" located on he right sidebar.

I hope to write soon about the struggles and challenges yet rewards of serving in a developing country.

Thanks for reading this far!