“Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot,
Nothing is going to get better. It's not.”
-Dr. Suess, The Lorax

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

This is it!

The other day I was having lunch with a long-time, dear friend.  I was telling her all about my recent trip to Haiti and the new endeavors that are unfolding in my life.  She paused and said, 
"You do realize you're glowing right now, don't you?"  

I was.  Like a mother fawning over her beautiful newborn babe.  Or a giddy Spongebob.  Whatever....you get the picture.  This new season in my life that I've been blessed with.....I can't help it....it makes me light up with joy and anticipation of what lies ahead.

I think I've finally figured out what I want to be when I grow up.  And considering that I'm quickly approaching the big four-oh, I suppose I am well into official grown-upary and this revelation is long overdue. 

I am pursing...
 ((drumroll please))
becoming a child advocate.
As in: trained, legit, for reals.

Today I began my training to become a CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocate) volunteer.  That means that I will be advocating for children that are victims of neglect/abuse that are involved in the court system.  It will be my job to be a voice in court on the child's behalf to express the child's wishes and my recommendations about what is in the best interest of that child.  I will be working through Child Watch Counseling & Advocacy Center here in Paducah.  

I'm excited about this opportunity to put my previous experience to good use - from my time working in law enforcement, to foster care, adoption, and being a mom of a kid with special needs - it's a great avenue to combine my gifts and knowledge with my passion.  Pretty stinking cool.  Not to mention that future training and certification opportunities are on the horizon that will give me more skills to do what I love more effectively.
But I think in terms of Acts 1:8 -
"...you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”
CASA work here in Paducah is my "Jerusalem."
Now let me tell you about my version of "Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth":
(Like you didn't know.  Duh.)
But I want to tell you specifically about where in Haiti.  During the course of this year, Brennon and I have been seeking where God wants us to serve in Haiti.  God made it clear to us that He isn't done with us in Haiti, but He took His sweet time to reveal where exactly He was sending us in that little Caribbean nation.  Now we have reached the point that we are clear and confident where we are going and who we are going to partner with.  
Let me introduce you to our dear (new) friends:
 Haiti Foundation Against Poverty (HFAP) is located in Port-au-Prince, and was founded in 2007 by an extraordinary young woman by the name of Mallery.  A mutual friend of ours suggested I stalk her send her a friend request on Facebook to get to know her.  I quickly realized that this chick was somebody that I could relate to.  In February, I got to spend some time with her and her awesome husband Frentz (and their absolutely adorable son Jayvan) and see HFAP with my own eyes.  The top-notch Hope House orphanage, the amazing Les Bours School, the Gift of Hope program to empower mothers and keep families together.  Love love love!  The mission and heart of HFAP, the team, the way things are run, the ministry's transparency, everything was a resounding "YES!" in my heart.  Since February, Brennon has made two trips to HFAP to help out with work projects that required someone with his skill set.  And I'm eager to get back there in just a few months to work on a few projects.  Woohoo!
Mallery and Frentz Neptune (with Jayvan in his arms) with the Hope House kiddos.
And also meet:
On my way home from my trip to Haiti in February, God sat me right next to some guy named Calvin, the co-founder of Living Hope Haiti.  For two hours on that flight to Miami, despite my best effort to convey the message "I'd like to be anti-social now," Calvin talked my ear off and made a list of all the projects that me and my husband (whom wasn't even present, mind you) would be a great fit for within the ministry.  By the end of the flight, I knew one of two things was for sure - either this guy was nuts for trying to recruit us (being total strangers) OR God was opening up an important door.  Or maybe a little of both.  Ha!
LHH is located in St. Michel de l'attalaye in northern Haiti.  It is a beautiful, mountainous, rural location that makes me joyful to my very core.  LHH is a multifaceted ministry with one ultimate goal: to witness the gospel of Jesus Christ to the people of the St. Michel area through education and medical services.  Elementary schools, a vocational school, church plants, medical clinics, economic growth projects, a radio station, and an orphanage.
View from the yard of Living Hope Haiti's high school.
In May, Brennon traveled to LHH with the ministry's president, Dr. Gueillant Dorcinvil, who is a native of St. Michel.  It was a fast trip filled with a bunch of electrical work and learning about the ministry.  Brennon came home with a peaceful "two thumbs up" feeling regarding LHH and our future involvement with the ministry.  We had hoped that this past summer would allow us to travel to St. Michel to get our feet wet with the work there, but the nasty mosquito-transmitted virus Chikungunya made us put our plans on hold.  I was finally able to head down there just a few weeks ago to see LHH for myself....and it was a definite Yes! that this is the other ministry that we are to partner with.
Kiddos at one of the elementary schools run by Living Hope Haiti.
 Brennon....well, he's the Jack-Of-All-Trades and is a total MacGyver that is useful anywhere he goes in Haiti...so he'll fit right in to help with the many projects that LHH has going.  Me...well, I've just met 18 of the most precious kids that are true orphans living at the LHH orphanage, and have been invited to be a voice for their needs.  Yep, Calvin and Dr. Gueillant invited me to help LHH accomplish their goal of providing excellent care for these little ones entrusted to them.  I've never been so humbled and simultaneously bursting at the seams with excitement to have this opportunity to invest deeply into the lives of vulnerable kids.  When I got home from my trip and was relaying all my stories to Brennon, I told him, "I want to pour myself into these kids...not just now, not just this year, but long-term.  I want to watch them grow into healthy, happy adults and flourish as leaders in their community, thriving with families of their own."  So...our family just grew a bit... by 18 more kids that happen to live across a little ocean.          
Because there's always fun to be had with an iPhone.

As I told the 18 kids and my new friends Merceda, Chrismarie, Emanise, and Evanie (the orphanage administrator and the housemoms...unsung heroes and my sisters in Christ).  "By the grace of God, Brennon and I will be back to St. Michel in January."  Yes, our tickets are already booked. 

So to summarize:
We are not moving back to Haiti.
We have work to do right here in Paducah.
But we will be traveling to Haiti often.
There's lots of work for us to do there, too.

And I finally know what I am going to be when I grow up.

I am a child advocate.
I am a servant of Jesus.

 In Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.
The Lord of Heaven and Earth has graciously shown us the work He has for us to do, both here and afar.  We are humbled and ever so thankful that He is giving us this incredible new season of adventure, allowing us to be a part of His great plan.

Our hearts are full and we are ready to roll!