I want the Impossible, too!

Have you ever had a random conversation that becomes a monumental moment in your life? Like one of those awakening moments where you think, “yea,I want that too!” I had one of those a couple of months ago and these thoughts have been brewing ever since.

It was just a normal day in the life of Katie and I found myself having a conversation with someone who had some pretty significant struggles going on mentally. The conversation seemed to be going nowhere and I finally just said “Is there something I can do to help you right now or make things easier for you?” Their reply was this, “You know what I want, Katie? Your name is Katie, right? I want to see the impossible become possible. That’s what I want.”

Tears instantly stung my eyes and I immediately thought to myself, “Oh man. That’s what I want too.”  That thought has been brewing in my mind for weeks now. I want that so badly.

The last 9 and a half months since leaving Haiti and moving to America has been a roller coaster ride. It has seriously been insane and I’ve felt every emotion in the book! There are so many moments where the dreams that God has laid on my heart have felt impossible and simply out of reach.  And then moments where I feel so alive and full of hope that I literally just shout out or jump for joy because of the joy and hope that I have. That’s where I want to be. I want to live in that state of expecting the impossible.  Because, well, because God.

One of the many beautiful gifts God has given me since returning to America is my church. I love it there and I don’t even know too many people yet…but you know why I love it?! I immediately felt like I belonged there. It’s my new home and I’m so excited to call it  that.  God is using that anointed place and those anointed people in incredible ways in my life and it’s reignited what I didn’t even realize had fallen asleep a long time ago. It’s reignited that desire to live in a constant state of expecting the impossible. When I was at church last Wednesday night there was a guest speaker and one of the many things he shared that hit me was this–

“Limitations are N O T part of the life of a Christian”

Whoaaaaa! How often do I put limitations on myself? On the people around me? On God? I said “bye-bye” to limitations that night and a big ‘ol “HELLO” to the impossible. God has shown me over and over again in my life that He is capable of far greater things than I can even fathom and He wants me to be part of those things. So today I choose the impossible, whatever that might be. I choose to continue to wait for God to open the next doors in this season of transition. I choose to wait with anticipation and expectancy and to remain present in the waiting. It’s in the waiting that I find Him. It’s in the waiting that I grow. It’s in the waiting that I’m reminded that God is working on something NOW for the future.

Do you need to experience the impossible?! Ask God for just that and be ready for it when it comes because it will come!

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Hope is Up and Running!!!

This week marks 8 months since I left Haiti. Most days it still feels like I should be mentally gearing up to go back for the next stretch, yet here I remain in this new life.  I’ve been pretty silent on the blog for the last few months because, well, truthfully I haven’t had a lot of words. It’s taken me 8 months to come up with words to describe it and not too long ago i came up with two…

Painfully Beautiful. 

Those are the words that so perfectly describe this season. Leaving Haiti was painful.   Saying goodbye to the 61 kids and the dear friends who will forever have a special place in my heart was painful.  I knew leaving was going to be hard and I knew it was going to hurt, but truthfully? It was a million times more painful then I could have ever anticipated.  I was hit with grief so deep that for weeks upon returning home I could barely even leave my house.  If I’m going to be real here there were days that getting out of bed and joining the world was even too much for me to handle.  I’m telling you, it was painful.  But that second word is so crucial in the description of this season because despite the pain it has been one of the most beautiful seasons I’ve walked through.

Upon leaving I realized there was so much that I walked through over the last 5 years that I had never even been given the time to process. Life was non-stop there and while you had a day off here and there you were always on, even on the “off” days.  God taught me so so so much and I wouldn’t be who I am today without those 5 years. But coming home and having some distance showed me I needed to work through and process a lot. I had to process the deaths I experienced, both at home and in Haiti, over the last 5 years. I had to process being hurt by people that I had never really faced. I had to rest because I poured out so much of myself for the last 5 years and looking back I didn’t do enough to keep myself filled up .  But the biggest thing I saw when I got home is that I had become so comfortable in the UN-comfortableness of life in Haiti. The un-excpected was normal. The chaotic was normal. The struggle was real…and normal.  I had become comfortable. At the beginning of 2016 I started to get a glimpse of that and started to pray that the desperation to be close to Jesus would rise up within me again..and it did, it has, it is.

I long for knocks on my door and dirty feet all over my furniture with my tiny little tile-floored apartment full of way too many kids talking over the movie that nobody is even really watching.  I miss it more than I can ever express with words.

I thought that coming “home” would feel like coming home. But it hasn’t. It’s almost harder than moving to a new city because everyone’s lives have gone on without me (as I fully expected they would) and I just don’t really fit here the way I did before.  I’ve been on this journey of searching for home.  God has so gently been reminding me that my home is with Him, wherever He leads me.  From the time I got home in July until the end of 2016 I was stuck on the struggle bus.  I felt like an alien wondering around in this land called America trying learn the ways of the land, remembering not to speak creole to every African-American I see and seeking out what God wants to do with me here.  I felt kind of hopeless and lonely most of those months and it was really hard.  As i rolled into 2017 I took time on January 1st, as I do every year and asked God what His word was for me.  He very quickly gave me the word RESTORE.  You see,  I spent so much time pouring so much out that I started to lose little pieces of who I was in Christ.  Early on in January I started attending the Life Center in Harrisburg, PA. It’s an incredible, beautiful group of Jesus loving people and I instantly felt at home there.  I was listening to a podcast from one of their services and this little blurb stuck out:(paraphrasing)…

“You’re like a runner in a race that’s fallen down on the track.  All these runners start trampling on/past you…the runners are called discouragement, depression, despair, etc.  All of a sudden hope comes up to you and stops.  Hope takes your hand, helps you up and as you are filled with hope you start running again. The announcer comes over the speaker and says “oh wait, you won’t believe this, but Hope is up and running! It’s running past discouragement…oh man! now it’s passing despair…and it just passed depression! Hope is in the lead!! Hope just won the race!”

I’ll never forget the moment I heard those words.  I was working out at home that morning and was doing a plank.  I literally started weeping and fell to the ground because that was me.  I was that runner who had fallen on the track. I was that runner getting trampled on.  But for some reason something in the atmosphere shifted at the beginning of this year and I felt hope again. I’m up and running again and I’m winning this race!

I’m confident that I’ll never stop missing Haiti. I have a book of pictures of every single kid and I look through that book praying over my babies every single day.  They hold a piece of my heart that will forever be reserved for them.  But friends this is more than just the next thing. God is doing a new work in my life. He is preparing me for a new season and He is raising me up for the adventures to come.

Over the last few months I’ve had the most beautiful encounters with the Lord. Encounter’s that remind me that He has so much more in store for me. Encounters that remind me that my mission didn’t end in Haiti. He’s been romancing me and in this season of feeling lonely on this earth He has been my constant friend and guide, so gentle and gracious with me as I find myself realizing He’s been waiting for me to dive in to this next season all along.  I remember feeling this way two years before I moved to Haiti. I remember that feeling of anticipation, knowing that God is preparing me for something. And just like He told me for those two years before I moved to Haiti he’s telling me again, “Katie, go be a light wherever you are. Love me people and point them to me. And make sure you’re ready because you’ll know when it’s time, just like before”.

There have been some ugly days for me over the last few months, and I mean u-g-l-y. I’m so thankful for each friend, old and new, that God has placed in my life to walk through this season. I’m so thankful for the JOY He has placed in my life and I’m so excited for what’s to come!  If you’re in a season of despair, get up and run with Hope! I promise the prize is worth it!

I Want to See You.

I have been so busy the last 3 weeks! I’ve jumped into this new job and I’ve been busy learning everything that comes along with it. My morning’s start between 5:00 and 5:30 at the gym, come home, get ready for work and then I’m off for the day. It’s been so wonderful, so refreshing and so encouraging to have this job.

But can I be honest? I’ve been struggling. I miss community. Life is so busy here. I went from getting to sit down and have time for conversations with friends to trying to squeeze them in when we each find free time that overlaps.

I’ve been struggling to see God. 

It’s not like I don’t know he’s there. Because He is. Always. I’ve felt pretty off the last few days. So much so that I texted one of my dearest friends this morning in tears to ask for prayer. Within minutes of texting her I walked into church and the opening song was “Open the Eyes of My Heart”. Old school classic right there. But I just immediately started crying. 1. Because as we were singing I could hear the lyrics being sung in creole in my head. 2. Because I knew that’s what was missing. My eyes were closed and that’s why I haven’t been seeing Him. I haven’t been spending time with God as much lately. I don’t even really have a good reason for it, other than my own shortcomings.  Church couldn’t have been more on point for me this morning and I’m so thankful God led me to this new (to me) body of believers.  I was reminded of so many truths. I was reminded to show myself mercy. I was reminded that when I seek Jesus I WILL find Him because that’s a promise He gives us in His word.

I’ve been so challenged the last few weeks to be different. I keep trying to figure out what life in Lancaster is supposed to look like now that everyone else’s, including my own, lives are different. I’ve been praying through what ministry is supposed to look like for me now. Do I volunteer at church or do I just go out into the community and meet people where they’re at? What God’s been showing me is that I need to continuously put Him first. I need to fight to do that and make it a priority. I need to open my eyes and look for Him even if it doesn’t feel like He’s right in front of my face.

God has been so gentle on me in this season of transition. He continuously shows me Mercy and grace. He’s teaching me so much. A few months ago I had no idea what I was stepping into. He’s so faithfully given me a job and has provided every single little, and big thing I’ve needed.  This season continues to be beautiful and challenging.  I just don’t want to miss any part of what He has in store for me. I don’t want to be deceived by my feelings on the hard days and I don’t want to fall into the busy lifestyle that doesn’t leave room for investing in people around me.

A year ago I was praying a prayer asking God to make me uncomfortable. I know that He answers prayers and I truly wouldn’t trade this season for anything. I’m so thankful that God allows me to walk through seasons of life like this. And I’m so thankful that as I walk through them He draws me closer to Him, reveals Himself to me i new ways and makes me stronger for it.

May my eyes always be open to what God is trying to teach me.

3.5 Months Later…

Some morning’s I wake up and it still seems so surreal to me that this is my life now… that I’m not just home on a break and that I’m not heading back to Haiti in another week to continue my work at the orphanage.
As I’ve mentioned, this has been a painfully beautiful season.  It’s been a season full of sweet blessing’s and joy, it’s been a season of waiting and it’s been a season of growing.
I’ve been so in awe of the Fall this year.  Anytime I go for a run or I’m out driving I can’t help but be moved by the beauty of the colors. The weather has turned more crisp this week and it officially feels like Fall.   While the colors are changing and the leaves start to fall I can’t help but see the symbolism of the changing of seasons in my own life.

.SO.MUCH.CHANGE.

I’ve realized a lot in the last few weeks. I’m always going to cherish my life in Haiti and I’m quite confident I will always deeply miss it.  Some days my heart literally hurts because of how deeply I miss those 61 humans that have become part of my family. I miss my community. I miss that life.  And that’s ok.   That’s what I’ve realized. It doesn’t have to be one or the other.  When I was in Haiti I missed my life here, but I had to learn to embrace the season God had for me there.  It‘s time to do the same thing here.   I don’t want to miss out on the beauty of a new season because I’m too busy wishing I was somewhere else.

.SO.MUCH.REST.

God has blessed me with 3 incredible months of rest since leaving Haiti.  In the last 3 months I’ve slept a lot, read a lot, joined a gym, and spent time connecting with family and friends (old and new!)   I’ve had quality time with my cousins, my grandma, family and friends that are family that I haven’t seen in years. I’ve had so many opportunities to sit down with friends I haven’t seen in years and catch up on life.  Not only has time with so many wonderful people blessed me, but it’s reminded me time and time again of how many truly incredible people God has blessed me with in my life.

.SO.MUCH.NEW.

Two weeks ago I started a new job! I LOVE it. It’s truly the perfect job for me in this season of transition. I’m the Program Director for a residential program for adults that live with Mental Illnesses. Our program helps empower and equip them to grow and get ready to confidently live independently. I seriously love what I get to do. Not only do I get to help people, but I get to be in a position that I’m growing individually and professionally. I have the most encouraging boss who is walking alongside me and speaks so much encouragement over me, she truly believes in me and values me and I couldn’t be more thankful to have that.  I know that God is going to use this season, not only for rest, but as preparation. I believe he has very strategically placed me in this position while I’m finishing up school to prepare me for what’s to come in the next few years.

.BLESSED.

This season has been one of the hardest. Leaving the kids in the orphanage will always be one of the hardest things I’ve ever done. I miss their hugs, movie nights, laughter. I miss the way the pushed me to be better without even knowing it. I miss them. Deeply. But how truly amazing is it to know that, despite all of those things, not once have I questioned that God was calling me home. There is not one ounce of doubt in me that I was supposed to leave and that I’m right where I’m supposed to be. God is so so so good. I’m so so so blessed. He continues to provide every single thing I need. HE continues to put the right things in front of me at the right time.

Friends, obedience is far from easy. It rarely makes sense, especially at the time, and it can be so painful. BUT,  Living a life of obedience is so beautiful, it’s so worth it, and I wouldn’t have it any other way. So thankful for this journey, past and present, and I can’t wait to see what the future holds!

21 Days Later

Today marks 3 weeks since I left Haiti. That’s 21 days since I’ve gotten to see my sweet kiddos, hug them and squeeze them and laugh with them. I truly miss them more than I even know how to express. I feel like a piece of my heart is missing.

I’ve sat down so many times to try to blog over the last few weeks, but to be honest I just haven’t had words. I knew leaving Haiti would be hard, but it’s so much harder than I ever could have anticipated. I’ve had some really good days and some really bad days.

One of the biggest “surprises” in coming home was walking through a depth of grieving and loss that I never saw coming. It took me days after I got home to even be able to talk about Haiti without bursting into tears. Like I said I knew it was going to be hard, but the depth of the grief I feel completely blindsided me.

I’ve started asking God “why?” a lot. I’m not questioning, doubting or second-guessing my decision. It was undoubtedly the Lord that called me back to the U.S. I’m confident of this. I’m just not sure why.  I think I feel like I need to figure out the why because I’m not really doing a whole lot. God just keeps telling me to rest. So that’s what I’ve been doing.

I haven’t been up to seeing to many people yet, truthfully, because it’s just so hard to talk about this season of life and to help people understand what I’m going through. So to keep myself busy I’ve been spending time with family and going on lots of runs.  One of my favorite parts about running right now is running past the farms in our area. The corn is growing so tall, everything is so green, the flowers are in full bloom. There is so much life in the land here.  As I run past the flowers each day God keeps showing me the picture of this season of life. I’m the flower waiting to bloom and He’s giving me a glimpse of what’s to come, something beautiful. Those flowers didn’t grow into the beautiful plants they are overnight. It was a process. They were planted, watered, the weeds around them needed to be pulled and they needed time to grow into their fullness.

I don’t know what my next steps are. It’s pretty humbling to refer to myself as un-employed. It’s even more humbling, though, to see how God provides when we walk in obedience. He gives us everything we need, always. And so I wait, like a growing flower. I wait with anticipation that what’s coming will be good. I wait with expectancy that God will provide. And while I wait I ask the Lord to show me and teach me every little thing He has for me in this season. I don’t want this time to be wasted.  I could SO easily (probably more than you know) fall into a season where I just isolate and waste my time away watching netflix and movies to numb the loss that I’m feeling. But that’s not what God has in store for me, at least not all the time!

Haiti was the best and hardest season in my life. I would do it over again in a heartbeat if God asked me to. But I know my journey didn’t end when I left Haiti, it’s just beginning and that was just one chapter.

Today I took a big step. I started unpacking. And today was actually one of the best days I’ve had since I’ve been back. I’m starting to make the space my parents have so graciously given me my own. I got to FaceTime with a big group of my kids today and I can’t tell you how good it was for my heart to “hang out” with them and laugh. My heart is so full. They will always have a huge chunk of my heart. That will never change.

I’m making my way through a Re-Entry workbook. Right now it’s having me focus on processing through who I was before Haiti, and how God called me there. I’ve been reminded that when God called me to Haiti I didn’t know why. It truly didn’t make sense and I couldn’t figure out why He would uproot me from my wonderful life here to something I didn’t understand. I get it now. And while I probably don’t even understand in full yet, there’s no question my time in Haiti was meant to be. I’m excited to see where this new season will take me.

It’s Going to Be Ok.

I did it. I got in the car to go to the airport and then I got on the plane and left Haiti.  A number of the staff and kids sat with me on the porch before I left.  I can’t even remember, now, how many times I was the one standing on that porch hugging and waving goodbye to friends that had become family. This time I was the one that left.  When I got in the car yesterday I hurt for myself, because I’m leaving something so great, but I hurt for my friends too, because I know what it’s like to be the one saying goodbye. Oh I miss them so deeply. All of them.

I cried all the way down the hill but by time we got to the gate I had pulled myself together. As we boarded the plane I sat in my seat and just cried. I cried as we took off. I’ve never felt so out of control of my emotions before! It’s so weird.

For the last 4.5 years, everytime I’ve flown in or out of Haiti I’ve tried to spot MOH from the plane and have never been successful. So of course, on my last day of travel I look out and spot it. In that instant I thought, if skydiving was an option right now I would jump out of this plane and go back. I pictured myself like a kid throwing a temper tantrum and not wanting to leave. haha. Shortly after I fell asleep and then we landed in Miami.

In Miami I said goodbye to Dennis and Donna. They were a godsend yesterday. I think I would have just sat in the Port au Prince airport and cried yesterday if I didn’t have them with me to talk to.

Shortly after we parted ways I got a call from my dad that my Grandma had passed away early yesterday morning. I’m glad that she’s not suffering anymore, but selfishly I was hoping to get to see her one last time before she left us on earth.  I’m so thankful for the time we had together at Christmas and the beautiful things she said to me. I actually left her at Christmas and felt in my spirit that it was our goodbye. I truly believe my Grandma waited for me to come home. I know it makes me sound selfish, but I can’t imagine if she would have died last week having to choose between my family and my family. I”m so thankful God gifted me that time with my kids and Haiti family and now I can be home with my family to walk through this time together.

So there I found myself riding the sky train, tears just streaming down my face. I could see my reflection in the window and just thought, “katie you’re a mess today.” I assured myself I’m going to be ok.

A beautiful gift God has given me through this whole process is confidence. Despite how hard leaving has been, I still have no questions it’s what God wants.

As I took off from Miami I cried again, it was one more plane ride taking me farther away from Haiti and my kids. I closed my window and slept for awhile and then turned on the movie Joy. It’s about a woman doing something great.  Her grandma even died in the movie (of course i cried again!)

Right as the movie ended it was time to land and so I opened my window. I like to know when we’re going to touch down so I can brace myself.  Right when I opened my window I saw a rainbow in the sky. I’ve obviously seen lots of rainbows in my time, but never had that view from a plane.

As I sat there and I watched I just felt God whispering, “Katie, I’ve got you. I know it’s hard, I know it hurts, but I promise you I won’t let you fall. I will be your comfort and I will be your guide. You’re going to get through this.”

I can’t think of a better way to be welcomed home. Friends, this is hard.  It’s so much harder than I even could have imagined, and I imagined it being really hard. It’s weird unpacking my things. It’s weird that I’m making my parents house a temporary home until I figure out what comes next.IMG_7071  And while it’s hard, it’s right.  It’s a weird tension, because I’m SO excited to be home. I’m so excited to be with people that I love so dearly, but it means leaving people I love so dearly. It’s a weird tension of feeling so sad, but not wanting the people I’m coming home to feeling like I don’t want to be here! I’ve never felt so many different things at one time.

So I’m going to take it one hour at a time. I”m going to ask you to have patience with me when I’m a mess. I’m going to remember that rainbow welcoming me back to PA and the promise that comes along with it that God’s with me every step of the way.

 

Loved.

Today was perfect. Well, technically it was yesterday since it’s 3:30am. But you know what I mean.

The kids threw me THE most BEAUTIFUL surprise party ever! Thank you to all who were involved! It was complete with a Miseline and Lumaine singing Bless the Lord, followed by a group dance of Watch me Whip ( i mean, it wouldn’t be an orphanage party with out a little whip and nay nay), and topped that off with Clara, Christella A and Christella J sharing kind words.

I was presented with a certificate by Mr. Marc on behalf of the mission thanking me for my years of service here. Mr. Lookens shared many kind words and then we all popped some bubbly and had lunch together. Lunch consisted of ALL of my favorites.

I found out that the kids are the one that planned this beautiful party. They went to Mr. Lookens and asked for his help and it truly was the best.

The rest of my day consisted of packing, a full house of kids and laughter, and visits with my people.

I went up to Rachel and Kenol’s and said goodbye to my sweet Jubilee. I got to put her to bed. I read her a story and I cried through the whole thing.

A Friday night tradition that often gets lost in the busyness of summer is Friday night Family dinner with the staff. I requested one last “porch night” and it meant the world to me that people rearranged their schedules to eat dinner!

After dinner it was finishing up packing, again with a full house of kids. As I sit here I’m surrounded by sleeping kiddos. There are 4 in my bed, 1 on the couch, 2 on the daybed, and the rest are scattered across the floor. There’s gotta  be close to 15 girls here.

There’s not too much that’s easy when it comes to leaving. My heart is sad, yet excited for what God has in store. I’m going to miss this place so much, but more than anything I’m deeply going to miss these people. It’s a depth I can’t even really find words to describe. I slept for a little bit in the bed of 4 (so ya, that’s why i’m up now, haha), but when I woke up to a knee in the back, I just laid there.

As I laid there I just felt so overwhelmed with love. God has given me the greatest gift ever by allowing me to live in Haiti these 4.5 years. Today I didn’t just feel loved by the kids and my friends. I received an outpouring of love from Jesus.  God has brought so much redemption to so many things over the last 2 months.  In a little over an hour a car is coming to pick me up and take me to the airport. I’m already crying. But I know when I get in that car and travel down the bumpy lane at MOH and onto Route Nationale #1 that I will have poured out everything I possibly could in this season. I’m leaving knowing, without question, that the kids know how much I love them. I’m leaving confident that God has so much more in store for them and will be faithful to complete it. I’m leaving knowing that I got to be a small part of raising an army of Christ-Followers that are going to change the world. I’m leaving knowing that the scared Katie that moved to Haiti in January 2012 is no more, but through this journey Christ has made me new. I’m leaving knowing that I could have run so many times but  didn’t, and I”m so glad because I know this was the ordained time for me to go. I’m leaving and walking into a scary season of the unknown. But I’m leaving knowing that this is just the beginning of the next chapter. I’m leaving knowing that God’s not done with me yet, there’s so much more to come.  I’m leaving a piece of my heart behind. But I’m leaving knowing that this is not goodbye, because I’m leaving knowing that I won’t be able to stay away from this precious place and these beautiful people.

Today is hard. The days to come will be filled with so many different emotions. Don’t get me wrong, I’m beyond excited to be reunited with my family and friends. But when the reality sinks in that I’m not going to be coming back I know it will be hard. I’m looking forward to a season of God challenging me and growing me. I’m anticipating watching God move in incredible ways in and through me. Today I step into a new season, arms open wide. I’m yours, God, and I can’t wait to go on this journey together.

Passing the Baton

One more day. Whoa. I can’t believe that I am waking up to my last full day in Haiti. Time didn’t listen to me, it didn’t slow down. Yet, God has graciously allowed me to do so very much in such a short amount of time!

Yesterday I got up and walked/ran the rocky mountain that knows my deepest darkest secrets. I reflected on the countless number of hours and miles I’ve spent walking that path over the years with Rachel, sometimes on my own.  I can look back on so many incredible encounters with God on that hill. Sometimes I’m glad it can’t talk because it knows most of our secrets, other times I wish it could remind me of all the things I’ve processed and learned over the years. It could remind me of so many beautiful encounters I’ve had with the Lord in those moments.

I came home, had some quiet time with the Lord, and not long after the knocks on the door started. I eagerly opened the door to my sweet kiddos.  I can’t tell you how much it warms my heart that they want to spend time with me before I leave! I got a giant hug, like a big, huge, squeeze your brains out hug followed by an “I’m going to miss you so much!” Annnnd the tears started, it wasn’t even 7:00am!

I spent the morning tying up loose ends and cleaning out my office. And I cried some more.  As I was going through my office I was just flooded with so many memories, good and bad.  That office has been full of laughter, dance parties and creativity. It’s also been full of really hard conversations, discipline and desperate prayers because most of the time I have no idea what I’m doing!

Yesterday was my last “training” time with Pastor Frantz, my replacement.  We covered a lot of ground. When we were done he said this:

“Katie, I need to share something with you.  Haiti used to have a leader. That leader planted trees.  The people ended up taking him out of the country in a boat. He told them ‘You can take me away in a boat and you can cut off the branches of my trees but a part of me will always still be here because my roots are here and those branches will grow back.’  Katie, you are leaving us and we are so sad. It’s like we’re losing a branch. But I want you to know that what you’ve done here will keep growing. You’ve poured so much love into these kids and people. I’ve always appreciated how much you’ve loved Haiti. I will continue the work that you started.  You have planted so many seeds and you will always have strong roots here.  You will always be a part of these kids lives and you will always be a part of Haiti”

There were many pauses in this beautiful story as Frantz kept stopping to say “don’t cry.” It didn’t work. I cried. A lot. How beautiful is that!?  Gosh, I feel loved.

When Rachel transitioned into her new role and I transitioned into being the Director, she always used to tell me that she couldn’t imagine passing the baton onto anyone else in this season. I get that now.  Frantz is going to be great. I believe in him.  I can’t think of anyone I know that I would rather take my place in this season. He loves Jesus and he loves those kids. And so today, I pass the baton.

Today is my last full day living in Haiti, at least for now.  I’m going to hug a lot, laugh a lot, and no doubt cry a lot today. I’m going to try and cherish each and every hug, each and every moment. I probably won’t sleep tonight.

I am forever, FOREVER grateful that I’ve had this opportunity the last 4 and a half years. Tomorrow I’ll be leaving part of my heart in Haiti the size of 61 kids and my deep love for them.

I’m not really sure how I’m going to do this, how I’m going to say goodbye, but I’m confident that the Lord is carrying me through every step of the way. My dad messaged me yesterday, like he does most days. He said “I was just thinking, I wonder how many hundreds of people are praying for you this week?”  He’s right. I have an army of people praying for me and that is humbling and beautifully overwhelming. Thank you, praying friends and family, and please don’t stop!

 

Slow down, time!

After today I have 3 full days left in Haiti before I leave on Saturday morning!  Time is moving way too fast, and I’d love for it to slow down just a little!

Up until this morning I had experienced little pockets of emotions, just little reminders that I was leaving soon. I haven’t really cried much though, which for me, is shocking.  I mean, I’ve cried, but just tearing up here and there. I had anticipated being much more emotional, much earlier in the process of leaving and I just haven’t been.

It hit me this morning. I like to call it spontaneous outbursts of the ugly cry. It could hit me at any moment. I was organizing my earrings, figuring out what I was bringing home with me and what I’m going to let the girls take.  We were sitting there and out of nowhere I just started bawling.  The girls didn’t really know how to react, but then they started to tear up too.  They said “why are you crying, you’re going to make us cry too!” I just told them I love them so much.  It’s the day to day. The knocks on my door, the visits just because they want to spend time with me. Those are the things I’m going to miss.

When I left there I ran a few errands on campus and then I went to our depot.  While I was down there, one of the manmies came to talk to me. She thanked me for helping her that one time she was sick and i paid for the hospital visit and sent our orphanage staff to stay with her since she had no-one to go be with her. She reminded me that she would have died if she hadn’t been able to go to the hospital.  Insert ugly cry #2 of the day. She kept saying, “I don’t want to make you cry.”  Too late 🙂 I explained that I’m crying because I just have so much love for everyone in my heart and Im going to miss her and everyone else so much!

Later on I was sitting in my office and another manmie came to the office.  She had bought me the most beautiful pairs of earrings that I’ll take home and cherish.  She hugged me and thanked me and I cried some more.

I’ve realized a few things these last few days.  There were a lot of seasons here that I just felt really unloved.  That’s parenting though, right? You pour out so much and wonder if any of it’s sticking, if they actually love you back a fraction of how much you love them.  I’ve never felt so loved in my entire life as I have since I told the kids I was leaving.  At times it’s been shocking, but it affirmed what I’ve always known deep down. They really do love me.

I’ve also realized that I have made an impact.  I don’t say that pridefully in any way, but can I be real?  I feel like I’m just like everyone else. I am, actually.  But I’ve always just done what I knew I was supposed to do.  The words of the kids and my peers have been nothing but humbling, honoring and I’ve never felt so affirmed in my life.

I’ve realized I want to be the kind of person that intentionally affirms people, calls out their gifting and tell them how loved they are on a regular basis.

I’ve realized I’m becoming increasingly terrified to leave Haiti and move back to America.  I’m scared.  I’m really scared.  I’m leaving a place that has become uncomfortably comfortable. I’m going to a place that will be so drastically different. I’m going to a place that should be comfortable, that should feel natural, and should be all of these things that it’s just not going to be because I’m different and that place is different. America has changed drastically in the last 4.5 years and there’s no question I have to. Fears creep in sometimes, will I fit in? Is everyone gonna think I’m crazy?

I’m not sharing this to seek attention or affirmation. This isn’t one of those “does this dress make me look fat” statements looking for a “oh no! You look so great!” responses. This is me being real.  When I moved to Haiti I always said I want people to be part of my journey…the good the bad and the ugly and the beautiful.  I rejoice because I know truth. My flesh let’s these thoughts and uncertainties creep in, but God is sovereign in my life and always brings me back to the truth.  This is all of Him and from Him.  He will not call me out of something great to leave me to figure it out on my own.

Moving home is going to be hard. Like way harder than I anticipated….and I haven’t even left yet. But it’s made me realize how comfortable I’ve gotten in Haiti. Yea, you read that right. I’m comfortable sitting in my blazing hot office, dripping in sweat, with kids fighting in the other room and a desk covered in a checklist I need to do. I’m comfortable living a simple life. I’m comfortable riding my 4-wheeler around and not having my car (ok, sometimes I miss my car… but most days it’s fine). I’m comfortable. God is about to move me to a place that is not so comfortable to me anymore.

My prayer moving to Haiti was taken from the Bridge in the song “Hosanna” (see blog from earlier this week!).  It’s my prayer in going home too. I want to be changed. I want God to grow me and change me and make me better. I want to serve Him more, I want Him to use me in ways like never before. I want to make His Kingdom bigger. I want people I cross paths with to know that God has created them for a purpose and that their lives are significant. I want them to know that God has a plan for them and they matter.  I want to be a light in a dark place.

So here I am, once again, laying down my fears, laying down my comfort, laying down my flesh and saying, “here I am, God! Send me. Use me. I will go.”

I know it’s going to be hard. I know there’s going to be good days and bad days. But I know that God’s got me and it’s going to be ok. I know on the days my heart is longing for my Haiti family He will love me through it. I know on the days I feel lost in America He will love me through it and show me the way. I know this is just one more chapter in the beautiful plan He has for my life.

I know that when I go to Tuesday night worship tonight, my last one, I’m going to cry. And I know that’s ok, because it hurts to say goodbye. But I know that God is good, and that He’s carrying me through, and knowing that is enough.

Hosanna.

The last few days have just been perfect! Thursday we took the entire orphanage to the beach!  I couldn’t have asked for a  better day with my family! Fun days with the kids are my absolute favorite and I’m so grateful it worked out for us to go to the beach before I leave!

Thursday night we had staff night. Through this process of leaving I’ve been so overwhelmed by the love and support of my staff family. Truly.  We had steak and baked potatoes (shout out to Craig Smelser!) and then our whole staff gathered in a circle.  You guys, I get awkward when I’m the center of attention. I think that’s why I don’t like speaking in front of people or singing solos, I’d rather be back-up any day!  Anyhow, there I sat in this circle full of people I love and they shared funny memories of me and a lot of affirming words.  We laughed, we cried, and I was reminded of God’s goodness!  I can’t thank my staff family enough for speaking such fun and kind, and encouraging words over me and then covering me in prayer that night. Truly blessed.
Saturday was another fun day of adventuring as we celebrated Scott’s birthday! I got to spend the day with the Bernard’s and the Campbells and we had a day full of laughter, celebrating and adventure!

Sunday morning was my last Sunday worshipping with my Haiti family before I go. Let me rewind for a minute though.  When I was getting ready to move to Haiti, the song Hosanna was a song that ministered to me.  It was my anthem, if you will.  It was so meaningful to me that I even had the lyrics from the bridge printed as the border of my very first prayer card in 2012.  Ok, bring it back.  We never sing that song here, or at least haven’t for a very long time.  As i went to staff church, wouldn’t you know it was the very first song we sang! Bring on the tears!  God is so cool. I went down to Haitian church and we sang it again in Creole!!!  Hello ugly cry!  I was reminded, as we sang those precious words, that this is my prayer as I enter into a new season stateside.  I’m not going to be Katie in Haiti anymore, but God’s still given me a mission. I’m Katie. I’m a daughter of the King. And I’m heading back to a broken place to be a light for Jesus.   How precious is our father that he so intentionally reminded me of that on my last Sunday here!

After the singing my dear friend, Pastor Kenol, called me up to pray for me. The church extended their hands and sent me off covered in prayer.  I have learned so much from my church family in Haiti. I’m constantly being challenged to love deeper, worship more and serve more from my Haitian brothers and sisters. They love Jesus fiercely. They understand community in way I’ve never seen before. They live with a joy that radiates such a beauty.  Not only has God changed me, but the people of Haiti have changed me. They’ve made me better.

Last night I got to spend the evening with our Transition kids! We ate, we laughed, we watched some Sharknado and I let them go “shopping”in my apartment. The biggest gift God is giving me this week is time with the people I love!  I’m so grateful for each of them!

As I sit in my office for my last Monday morning here, I can’t help but tear up. I 100% anticipated that leaving would be hard. It’s way harder than I could have ever imagined. While I know God is calling me to go, my heart is sad.  I’m forever grateful for the opportunity to love and be loved here in Haiti! Praying the next few days slow down so I can cherish every single second!