A post by Judi, who was a member of the November 2013 medical team.
I went on this trip with a blank canvas. I shut out comments such as “the United States has sent millions to Haiti, where is the money”, “when I was growing up and refused to eat broccoli, my mother would say there are children starving in Africa who would eat it”, and ones to me – “you are the one who should have stock in sanitizing wipes and hand cleanser.”

How can I know if I don’t go? A time of self-examination and defining of the word poverty and who are the poor. What does it look it?

So here’s my heart story for my Haitian family.

IMG_5102I joined Nick, an efficiency manager, and Jean, retired pediatrician, in Miami and off we flew to Port au Prince. The airport crowd and hustling of people and luggage was the first step – an immersion into life in Haiti. Mickey and Ramey, Tap Tap driver, met us and the luggage and supplies were loaded between the side benches.

I have thought about what theme I would choose to tell my story — Isaiah 61:1 The spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me, because the Lord has anointed me (as in me Judi Smith?) to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from the darkness for the prisoners… to comfort all who mourn,… to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes”

I could write about the Tap Tap rides, the roads, the electricity, or water. However all of those I once felt necessary are overshadowed by the love, graciousness, and kindness of the people and the children.

The children – basic needs are the same as in the USA. How they are supplied becomes the difference. Basic is basic existence – minimal. But the smiles – who could replace smiles with any material item?

The medical mission:

IMG_5123Friday off to Firmin’s church, the “clinic”, Tap Tap loaded with supplies and typical clinic stuff. I didn’t mention that I am not nurse material but I can pray so Mickey and Liz were gracious to me and I set up a corner of kid activities and a pray station.

We arrived at the church and the front was crowded with mothers, some fathers, and children. The line serpentined around the building. The clinic would open in about an hour. We got busy setting up 2 exam rooms on the altar divided by sheets. The banner was hung – Bread to the Nations. Various stations set up: Intake, Medika Mamba counseling, the pharmacy & the waiting room.
I met Emmanuel (God has a sense of humor) “my translator”. Clinic opens and it goes non-stop from 9-4 with a lunch served from Pierre’s wife around 2.
Some would say people’s faces become a blur but not for me. I can still see each face each little one each adult from young to old seeking medical assistance.

Oh, the ones who touched my heart. Lord heal this little one. The despair on parent’s faces how could that become a blur in my mind.

I see each one I prayed for; those God graciously brought to me. I traced my hand and Emmanuel helped me write “Map priye pou ou” (I am praying for you). Not a casual I’ll put you on my prayer list but I have you in my heart – you and I are sisters and brothers in Christ. We will pray for each other.

Patience
Waiting for hours to be seen, buying water in sealed plastic bags, eating crackers, no food, stomachs growling, and then finally they reach Nick who weighs the babies with a sling and a “produce” scale or a Weight Watchers scale (as I write that seems like an oxymoron as few are in need of Weight Watchers). Then the adults are seen by Dr. Lejette and the children by Dr. Jean.

IMG_5132The success of Medika Mamba is visible. If you support Medika Mamba you are the daily bread to those newborn to 5. (I cringed when a buffet restaurant’s image flashed in my mind – “American poverty”)

Besides praying, I had coloring pages of the Armor of God soldier, stick puppets, origami shirts, and plain paper for coloring.

Can anyone imagine having to teach a girl or boy how to color?? I wish I had hundreds of those restaurant packs of colors. ~~ The beautiful coloring of the children~~

DSC_0211Sunday afternoon we had a kids’ program. Oh did God bless us with children. We planned on maybe 50 and I think we had close to 300. Each one had paint put on a hand. As the crowd grew, I prayed “God you multiplied fish and bread please multiply the paint” and He did with leftovers!!! Each one placed his/her handprint on mural paper for Catalyst Church and the Catalyst Kids will send their handprints to them. The other activity was the Armor of God – what fun to do! Thank you Pierre for translating and singing. Also to Yasmine (my adopted adult daughter) who began the afternoon with songs familiar – Sunday school songs in Creole.

God’s word woven in and through all of the Bread to the Nations’ work.

Death has an almost accepted meaning in Haiti. It happens!!

1464887_10201191107118983_379757609_n-2One of the healings Mickey and Liz witness — I was asked to pray for a baby whose oxygen level was very low, heart rate 165, eyes rolling back. “O come Lord Jesus come to Danaika, breathe on her the breath of life.” The motorcycle was called and off she and her mom went to the hospital. “Go with God little one.”
Thank you Jezi she survived and we saw her again. (Right, post hospital stay!)

I could tell of the other days at this clinic and the one afternoon clinic up in the mountains in Bwadjout where we met August, a small boy. Pastor Pierre said he is one of the poorest of the poor. No food for days and yet a smile.

Bread to the Nations isn’t financed by large corporations or wealthy people — it’s grassroots. Maybe that is for the best because for the former it’s easy to write a check– the grassroots people give from their hearts.

Mickey, Liz, and Nasson provided delicious meals and fellowship. I must mention Talie, my sunshine girl.1473822_10201182209896558_141362514_n

There is an art activity where children totally color a paper with bright colors, black crayon is colored on top and the students take a sharp point and gently scrape away the black to uncover a design. That is what Bread to the Nations means to me. The people are under the “black” and each team member scrapes away a little of the darkness to reveal the light of God’s people.

I will never be the same!

I give thanks daily for Bread to the Nation and my opportunity to be a part of its work in Haiti.

     We were thankful that we had Medika Mamba clinic scheduled for Friday, the day after the long walk up the mountain. The wimpy Americans needed a day of rest. Saturday morning at 8 a.m. ‘Team Water’ (minus Doug and Yasmine) headed up the ravine behind Pastor Firmin’s church that fills with flood water when it rains on the mountain. This day it is completely dry and there is no rain in sight, at least early in the morning!
      We hiked up the right side of the ravine and came to a fork. The ravine went right and the ravine went left. We prayed and after several minutes, we went left, which meant gong part-way back DOWN the mountain. We do not like backtracking down since it means climbing that part twice. Really, once is sufficient! As we walked we saw many ‘rocks’ the color of the one we had seen earlier. After a fairly short time, in this case short time is relative, maybe 30 minutes of hiking beyond the fork, as we were walking along a narrow road on our right a sweet site appeared! We saw the source of the big ravine – a deep gully that was filled with plush vegetation and many tall trees. It looked so much like what we had seen two days earlier that we stopped again and prayed and just looked at how beautiful it was. We continued a short way up the road to a small tree where we could again rest in the shade.
     We had now come to the end of the ravine and the road at this point. Continuing up the mountain meant trying to climb another 60 – 70 degree slope of lose dirt that was planted with corn. There were several people weeding the corn and they were not enthusiastic about us trudging and stumbling and falling through their very precious corn field. Before we made that decision, we started wandering a little and discovered (it is now 9:30 a.m. and the sun is getting higher in the sky) there were beads of water on the grass! It was NOT dew at 9:30 a.m. when it was already 80+ degrees!
     On up through the corn field we went pondering the water on the grass (the fact that there was grass was amazing to me!). Carefully we managed to destroy zero corn plants. At the top, we discovered there was a road. I thought,”We could have driven here instead of walked.” How lazy am I? Another blessed tree to sit under and rest for a few minutes . . . and a man comes literally running full speed up the corn field -hill after us in dress shoe and pants and shirt! He was so excited he could hardly talk! He is the pastor of a church across the ravine that we had stopped at one day on another mountain walk. It turns out he had a dream 7 years ago that ‘blan’ as we are called in Haiti (whites), were coming to find water on the mountain! AND he had had a dream that there is water in the plush little valley we passed earlier! By this time we were nearly as excited as he was. He was jumping up and down, praying, preaching and praising God all at one time. His name is Pastor Jean Pierre St-Cyr. He was living in the US until a few years ago and God told him to return to that mountain to share the Gospel with the people. He obediently returned, giving up a much more comfortable life in Miami I am sure. Nasson, Liz’s boyfriend, confirmed that he had also heard a voice saying there is water in that valley.
     Thinking Pastor Jean was going to change clothes before we headed down, we walked up the road to his church. Wrong, he just wanted us to see his church, which is only about ½ built. From the church we headed down the other side of the valley and walked down, down, down into the depths of the green plush little oasis. It was tranquil, with a few butterflies, birds and a gentle breeze. The slopes were rocky and somewhat treacherous but with helping hands from our Haitian friends, we made it down safely. We spent a couple of hours exploring, praying and just sitting and listening to God in that valley. Of course, we hoped to see water begin to pour out of the ground, but God works in His time, not ours. It was confirmation enough for this day to find the little oasis, meet Pastor Jean and hear his story and hear Nasson’s ‘word.’ We agreed to return on Tuesday or Wednesday and sent the pastor on to work on his Sunday sermon as we headed back down to fill our hungry tummies.


Tuesday & Wednesday we returned and . . . stay tuned!

We hiked up the ravine between the two mountains.

We hiked up the ravine between the two mountains.

Looking down into the lush ravine, the future source of the water

Looking down into the ravine

The corn field

The corn field

Lush ravine - the water will come from here!!

Lush ravine – the water will come from here!!

Pastor Jean Pierre and Dennis

Pastor Jean Pierre and Dennis

Pierre Richard exploring the ravine

Pierre Richard exploring the ravine

     This will be one of the hardest blogs I’ve ever written! There is so much to write and I don’t know where to start. Last March, BttN was approached by Dennis Conn of Living Waters and On His Wings about the possibility of a team of people coming to Haiti to search for water and to look for a way to make use of Dennis’ water bagging machine. Because water is scarce in Haiti and clean water is almost unheard of for the poor, we were intrigued to say the least. Every family we see in clinic is given Clorox to treat their water, both for drinking and bathing.
     On May 16, Dennis, Doug Holm and Lionel Wanek arrived in Haiti for an 8 day water search. Over the course of the past several months they had personally had dreams and visions about this water and had had other people say some very remarkable things. More than one person quoted Ezekiel 47: 1 – 5:

The man brought me back to the entrance to the temple, and I saw water coming out from under the threshold of the temple toward the east (for the temple faced east). The water was coming down from under the south side of the temple, south of the altar. 2 He then brought me out through the north gate and led me around the outside to the outer gate facing east, and the water was trickling from the south side.
3 As the man went eastward with a measuring line in his hand, he measured off a thousand cubits and then led me through water that was ankle-deep. 4 He measured off another thousand cubits and led me through water that was knee-deep. He measured off another thousand and led me through water that was up to the waist. 5 He measured off another thousand, but now it was a river that I could not cross, because the water had risen and was deep enough to swim in—a river that no one could cross.

     They knew they were looking for some nuns, for a source of water with a large tan and gray rock, and it would be ‘up the mountain.’ On day one we set out – armed with water (one bottle each) and, ummm, nothing else but a lot of enthusiasm. We went down the river bank and across the river, which was very low at that time. Back up the bank and onto the road, we hiked going toward the nuns’ school up the hill. We walked about ¼ mile up a 60 degree grade before we got to slightly more level terrain. At least that was cobblestone and easy walking! We reached the nuns and walked around a little. They had a fairly new well on their school site but no new water to be discovered. There was a rock by the well and Dennis asked Doug if that was the rock he’d seen. Doug, “Nope.” We decided this was just our first stop and continued on around the compound and up the mountain.
     Near the edge of the nuns’ compound, we asked some passers-by about water. They said, “Yes! There is a big rock and a source of water!” Where?! Up, they pointed, up the mountain. So we hiked and hiked and soon were out of the city and into the true country side. The views of the bay and mountains were spectacular to say the least! Everyone we met along the path kept saying, keep going, it’s up there. It was high noon and the usual 88 – 90 degrees with humidity in the high 60s or low 70s. Everyone was very hot and tired and beginning to think this was not where we wanted to go. We found a nice shade tree and rested for a few minutes. We were also all out of drinking water. Oh, dear! Someone suggested that some of us who were tired wait under the tree and the others would forge ahead. Well, no one was willing to give in after only a two hour hike up the mountain! Onward we marched!
     Somewhere around the tree, we met a young man of about 12 years carrying a pink cross-body purse. We asked him about water up the mountain and he confirmed that there is a spring up the mountain and that there is a large rock very close to it! Wow! Everyone got really excited and we picked up the pace a bit. One very important tidbit is that we have discovered that all Haitians are part mountain goat and can walk anywhere! Eventually we reached an area that was very rocky and steep and without a discernible path. The Americans struggled and tried not to fall down (did I mention we were getting very tired and very thirsty by now?). Every time we asked how much farther, we were told only 20 minutes or so. We walked at least 2 ’20 minutes’ and finally we took a turn in the path and gasped! There was a real oasis on the barren mountain! A small house surrounded by tall trees and green vegetation! And the owner shared her water with us. She assured us that she had treated it that morning so we decided to take the risk! A few snacks – she had cookies and crackers, too – and we were off again! (More than one of us suspects that house will not actually be there next time we pass that way!) We were so thankful! We started to descend slightly over a rocky area but ahead could see GREEN everywhere and a level path. Dennis and I lagged behind the others a little (oldest, wisest (pace yourselves) and slowest). We were talking and came to a fork in the road and had no idea which way to go! We started shouting for our team and a man emerged down one path. I tried to talk to him in my rather marginal Creole (unsuccessfully) but Liz returned to rescue us from the other path. She and Manno started talking about who we were and why we were there. He said that his grandmother owns the property in that area and that she will not let anyone cut down trees! Bless that woman! It was plush rain forest and there was water literally oozing out of the ground along the path! Pierre Richard came back looking for us and we found out that he and Pierre Richard know each other! It’s a small world even up on the mountain.
     On we went and behold we came upon the huge rock (THE exact rock we were looking for) and a trickling water flow from a pipe in the ground. Prior to the 2010 earthquake they had a steady flow of water coming out and captured it in a large underground cistern. They had enough water that they piped it down the mountain to the nuns! After the earthquake the water trickled instead of flowed. They believed that the earthquake had moved the earth and slowed the water. We spent a long time praying over the water, sharing Jesus with about a dozen kids and adults in the area. Many accepted Christ on the spot!
     After a rest, we went to visit Manno’s house just off the main path. He had someone climb a tree and gave us each a coconut to drink the milk and eat the meat! Delicious! He also gave us a few abrico, a sort of melon-like fruit known by Mexico travelers as mamey. He had a tiny but beautiful cabin the woods and said his brother is studying agriculture in Jacmel. They had a large garden growing on the mountain including trees. An unusual sight anywhere in Haiti.
     Then we headed back. It was mid-afternoon and there was a large thunderstorm looming in the distance. The rain came and we were soaked! Walking down slippery rocks and through mud and streams of water running off the mountain. The mountain goats (Haitians) fared just fine but the rest of us landed on our behinds at least once on the walk down. The good news – no injuries! The walk down was faster but we were amazed at how far we had come! I estimate at least 5 miles at a 45 – 60 degree incline 80% of the way. We were tired! We stopped to rest in the shade for a few minutes and the Pierres started playing hacky sack with some kids! Really! With soaked clothes, soaked shoes but cooled off considerably by the rain, we belatedly arrived at Pierre Richard’s house for ‘lunch’ at about 4 pm. That was the best food I’ve tasted in months!
     We agreed to bring more water and snacks next time we hike up that mountain, because we are sure there will be a next time! For now we are waiting and praying expectantly that the water will begin to flow forcefully from that mountain to bless the surrounding community with clean water.
Photos below!

Beginning the climb up the mountain. Carrefour is down by the ocean.

Beginning the climb up the mountain. Carrefour is way down there by the ocean.


Resting under the tree. We all felt spent by this point, and said only God can get us up the rest of the way.

Resting under the tree. We all felt spent by this point, and said only God can get us up the rest of the way.


up, up, UP!

up, up, UP!


The miracle hut!

The miracle hut!


Stunning views!

Stunning views!


We came upon a mini rainforest. Once Haiti looked like this everywhere!

We came upon a mini rainforest. Once Haiti looked like this everywhere!


Yasmine sitting on THE rock at the source of water.

Yasmine sitting on THE rock at the source of water.


The cistern that captures the water.

The cistern that captures the water.


The trickle of water.

The trickle of water.


Rainforest!

Rainforest!


Praying for the water to come in.

Praying for the water to come in.


Manno at his house

Manno at his house


Looking towards home just before the rain came.

Looking towards home just before the rain came.

The main focus of our medical mission trip was to serve the needs of the people in Pastor Firmin’s church community through a 3 day medical clinic. This was in itself, one of the most amazing parts we experienced on the trip.

But we experienced much more than that. As a bonus, we got to spend time (almost every night!) with our kids! To date, 13 of the 20 children we sponsor in Firmin’s home, have met their sponsors face to face.

The sponsorship program is my baby if you will. Seeing how much their sponsors mean to them, has forever changed me.

Just before our medical team arrived, a few of the kids’ sponsors, who were part of a Adventures in Missions team, got to not only meet their sponsored child but also spend several hours with them throughout the week.

Budjury, Patrice and Jeffly all got to meet their sponsors!

Pastor Steve and daughter Jennie, part of the medical team met their sponsored child, Beaudrin.

Jeffly got to meet his other sponsor, Jodi, who was also part of the medical team.

Levy asked over and over when his sponsor was coming to visit. His dreams came true when his sponsor Mark came with the medical team.

Another member of our medical team, Jill met her sponsored child, Lorry.

Of course I got to spend time with this sweet young man!

We brought soccer shirts for all the boys!

We celebrated 2 team members birthdays! Happy Birthday Jodi and Jennie! May this be a birthday to remember for each of you!

We visited the kids’ school!

 

We were able to provide a pair of crocs for each kid who needed them! Thank you to all who helped us collect these!

Thank you to those who donated skateboards! They were a huge hit with the kids!

And, I got to experience all of this with the most amazing team ever!

Photo: My kids! Thanks, Jodi! You are up way too early!

Mickey and Liz, our brave hosts and on the ground coordinators.

Pastor Steve and our only teenager on the team, Jennie

my brother Mark and my sister Jodi! What a true blessing to share this journey with them!

Photo

Thank you Mark and Jodi for giving up a week with your families to come on this crazy adventure with our team!

Our medical team returned just over a week ago from our trip to Haiti. There is so much to process and it will take several more weeks, possibly months and years to process all that we experienced. But one of the coolest things for me to watch was how the Body of Christ, all parts, came together to work towards one goal and that was to serve each other all in the name of the Lord.

 

It truly takes all parts to accomplish His work. We could not have done it without those who stayed behind to pray. We could not have done it without the members of the church in Haiti who gave selflessly of their time and energy and we could not have done it without the financial support of dozens and dozens of people. Despite language and cultural barriers, we were able to function as One Body, working in unity with our brothers and sisters in Christ.

Our team had the privilege of serving alongside our Haitian physician, Dr. Lejette. A follower of Christ, Dr. Lejette performed her duties above and beyond anyone’s expectations. Over the three days that we operated the clinic, she managed to see 430 patients!

Another hero in the group that stands out for me is church member Pierre Richard. He lives in a small home a short walk from the church building. He coordinated the efforts to build a temporary shelter to register, weigh and measure our patients. He was there when our team arrived each morning until the end of each day, greeting patients, coordinating tasks and lending a hand wherever he was needed. To this day, he stores all of our Medika Mamba supplies in his home. I will be forever grateful for his serving heart.

On our second clinic day, God sent us a Haitian nurse, Yasmine. She came alongside our fearless pharmacy team members Jill and Mark. She was a lifesaver, helping our team read and fill the doctor’s orders with much more ease.

God also sent us the most amazing translators. Gregory came with prior experience in registering patients at medical clinics, so he sat right down alongside our team member Mandy and filled that role well.

When we had a patient who needed to be transported to the hospital another translator, Ricardo, volunteered to take the child and his mother on his motorcycle (our other form of transportation was already en route to a hospital with another very sick child).

There were several church members who showed up each day of the clinic and gave of their time and talents. Magalie was there each day for crowd control and managing the order the patients were seen. Firmin was present each day as well, greeted the patients and delivered our boxes of Kids Against Hunger food that was given to us for free to hand out to each family. Our team members had the privilege of praying over each patient as they received their food.

Our main focus for the clinic was on malnutrition in children. We enrolled 40 children in a life saving treatment program called Medika Mamba (MM). Liz and Mickey continue to operate a MM clinic out of the church several days each week. They now have 55 children enrolled in the program who are anywhere from moderately malnourished to severely malnourished. Because we want to ensure we have the time and resources to care for the children already enrolled, we are delaying further enrollment until after Mickey and Liz return to Haiti in December (they leave at the end of November).

In an effort to serve more in this community, we enlisted the help of our nurse Yasmine and our translator Pierre. They have now been trained in administering the MM product and will serve our patients while Mickey and Liz return to the US.

Photo: A brief lull for lunch. This is Pierre our translator & Yasmine our nurse. We have followed up with about 30 of 39 kids on Mamba.  Most are doing well! Pray for the rest to find us today!

We see the MM program as a key on-going effort to combat malnutrition in children in this church community. When Mickey and Liz return in December, we plan to grow the program so that we can serve more children. Expanding the program means more Medika Mamba product and enlisting the help of more people to do the work.

We have already seen the success and impact of the MM program on many of our patients. We don’t know of any other product that can treat malnutrition better than MM. Unfortunately, we were too late for the young child who was rushed off to the hospital on the motorcycle. He went home to live with Jesus the next day. His little body was too weak to recover from his severe malnutrition. We have another patient, a 4 year old boy who came to our clinic weighing 18 pounds, currently fighting for his life in the hospital.

Remember Pierre Richard, the young man I mentioned earlier in the post, the one who gave of his time selflessly during our medical clinic? We enrolled both of his children in the MM program. What an honor to give back to him by serving a basic need for his family. We are able to serve him because of your prayers and financial support.

The work continues and the opportunities to serve families like Pierre’s are countless. Part of our bigger vision for Bread to the Nations is to bring a school to Pastor Firmin’s church community. At this point, however, we need to get these kids healthy.

As the part of the Body of Christ, please consider coming alongside BttN to help serve our brothers and sisters in Haiti. We do not want to show up too late for another child. Even more, a parent should never face the difficult decision to give up a child because they cannot provide for their basic needs.

 

Our MM program is in effect preventing orphans.

Today is Orphan Sunday, a day set aside for us to reflect on how we can advocate for orphans.

“Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress . . . “.James 1:27

God doesn’t call just certain people to care for orphans. He commands all of us to look after orphans! Furthermore, orphan care is NOT just adoption! It starts with orphan prevention, and includes adoption and foster care.

It will take all parts of the Body of Christ to continue the good work God has begun in this church community.

“For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.”  Ephesians 2:10

Will you join us?

 

 

I traveled to Haiti with Mickey the end of May. Two days before we departed, sponsors stepped forward to sponsor the last two kids remaining to be sponsored. I was both grateful and relieved to have with me a letter for each child from their sponsor. I did not want to arrive in Haiti with letters for all the kids but two.

The night we presented the letters to the kids was when we first began to realize how big of a deal this program is for them. My own personal experience engaging with our sponsored child, made me realize that for me, this was not going to be your typical “write your child twice a year” sponsorship program.

Most of these kids are survivors of the 2010 earthquake and have suffered great loss to be part of their new family. For example, our 12 year old sponsored child lost his father when he was just a toddler. Then, after the earthquake, he was rescued from underneath the same rubble that killed his mother.

When I left for Haiti with letters in my carry on, I knew what a privilege it was for me to be the one to hand deliver them. Not only that but I know each of the sponsors personally, so I was able to share a little more about each of them to their child, such as “Your sponsor will be coming in October”, “Your sponsor is my sister”, “Your sponsor is the pastor of our church” and then, “Your sponsor is me”.

I have read stories of sponsors traveling to meet their children through programs like Compassion or World Vision. I have read about how heartfelt these meetings can be for the sponsors and their child. But nothing could have prepared me enough for “meeting” my child.We sponsor Martial, a bright, ambitious, kind young man. We met him in January. My husband Steve connected with him well during the January trip and chose him for our family to sponsor. I did not really know Martial until I traveled in May. When we were handing out letters that evening, I was distracted with the process of helping each child open their letters and preparing them for a photo opportunity to share with their sponsors back home, capturing the smiles the letters brought to their beautiful faces.Then it was Martial’s turn. I was not prepared for his reaction. I was so caught up in the excitement of presenting the letters to all the children, that I had not even thought about what me being there for Martial would mean to him. More than that, I had no idea how much full my heart would be after the special moments we shared together that week.

The night we handed out the letters was the beginning of a beautiful relationship between my Haitian son and I. During my first trip in January, our team really didn’t have time to connect with each child one on one. But this trip, God gave me just this one child to focus on and grow in relationship with him. All of a sudden, he became much more than a picture of a young handsome boy dressed for church. He was a real person, with emotions, with much love to offer, still grieving the loss of his mother and desiring to have a mother again to care for him and love on him.

We continue to build our relationship through letter writing and Skype calls. He has given me more than I can ever give him but it does take effort on both of our parts. When we sponsor a child, like through World Vision, sometimes I don’t think we expect something in return. I think we sometimes get caught up in the idea that we are doing a good thing for this child already with our monthly contribution, that we do the bare minimum to let them know we exist. But my experience is proof that when we pour even more into a relationship, we are going to receive much more in return.

The night Mickey and I walked back to our house after handing out the letters, our hearts were bursting and overflowing with joy and love for these kids as we recapped, through our tears, the events that took place moments before. Still today, our feelings for these kids are indescribable. When I left Haiti, I knew that this relationship would be more than about hanging a picture of our sponsored child on our refrigerator so we would remember to pray for him. For our family, Martial has very much become part of our family. He may not be with us physically but he is part of our family in every other sense.

Over the past couple months, I have had the pleasure of watching several families meet their children through Skype calls. This is the next best thing to meeting their child face to face. I have witnessed many sweet moments exchanged between sponsors and their children. These calls mean more to the kids than words can express and all sponsors walk away with full hearts. What a blessing that God has opened up the opportunity for sponsors to grow in relationship with their child in this special way, another reason why this is truly a unique sponsorship program.

Tammy
 

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