Haiti Changed Me

Thoughts, Travel, Uncategorized

Last week, a group of 63 people (me included) travelled to Cap Haitian, Haiti on a mission trip to partner with the Haitian people through sustainable development. Sustainable development promotes sharing knowledge and things that will last rather than giving them handouts. I participated in youth leadership development classes/presentations, and activities with everyone. Health education and Bible study were also offered.  I didn’t think that this experience would touch me as much as it did. Haiti changed me, and here’s 5 reasons why:

  1. They know what is best for them
IMG_6553

Photo captured by yours truly during Youth Leadership Presentation

In the past, I would often talk about people who come to Haiti and bring Haitians their worn out clothes or stuffs, and I would talk about how that is not helping. In my head though, I would think that the people take it because they do not know what is best for themselves. I was wrong. Hearing a 10-year-old tell me how handouts don’t really do much for the country because they are just temporary blew my mind. He proceeded to talk about the importance of education in Haiti and how he is willing to learn more so he can become a doctor down the road. Haitians do not want handouts. They want to be educated to be able to help themselves. I have heard these statements over and over from children and from adults all throughout the trip and it really changed my perspective of thinking that they don’t know best. They do.

2. They are not poor

IMG_6597

Photo captured by yours truly featuring Brittany, Matthew, Brandi and the kids

Our theme verse was Joshua 1:9 ” Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.”

Haitians embody this verse so well. I have heard women tell me of their daily lives while always adding at the end that God is good. When I think of all the time I got discouraged by little things, I felt ashamed. Haitians have so much faith. So much Love for the Lord, and more importantly so much joy in His promises. They were always ready to learn, sing, to be happy, and to have a good time which kept me going no matter how tired I could have been. They live the Gospel out loud and showed me a representation of who God truly is every single day I spent with them. I have met 10-year-old children who knew so much about what the country needs and about life in general. They are so intelligent. So Strong. So resilient. So loving. So joyous. And So Faithful to God. I have learned way more from them than they probably learned from me and I am grateful.

3. I have gained a family 

17211789_1425950547456883_5778888257428883907_o

Photo Captured by Jordan Walker

 

IMG_6673

Photo captured by Rachel featuring me, Heather, Erica, Nara and her sister, Losandy and her friend.

Being able to share this experience with my Haitian people and with a team who is so fueled by an incredible love for God made all the difference. I have learned something from each and every one of my team member. I admire their passion for service and their love for the Haitian people. You would think that 63 people on a team would be total chaos, but not at all. I admire each and every single one of their hearts for the Lord and this would not have been the same without them.

4. My Country is Beautiful. 

17203067_10155815230273906_4929665623502301365_n

Photo Captured by Tour guide on iPhone

I had the chance to visit the “Citadelle” while I was there and was it an experience! A masterpiece of engineering built by ex-slaves still standing to this day. Can I reiterate how intelligent and strong Haitians are? It was so empowering walking up there. For all the time that I have felt that I wasn’t enough, that I wasn’t strong enough or smart enough or capable enough. I was reminded of where I come from, of whom my ancestors are and of what they were capable of. I was reminded that I am their great (x100) daughter and I am not doing this for myself.

5. God confirmed my Role in all of this

IMG_6626

Photo captured by yours truly featuring Kate Fletcher

We walked to a prayer mountain to pray. The view was beautiful and while I stared at it, I could not stop crying. All I could hear and see was God’s love for the Haitians and God’s love for this very place. While sitting up there, all I could say in my head was: thank you for showing me. Thank you for showing me. I saw that analogy of a group of people stuck somewhere, unable to free themselves or to move forward. Then God blesses one of them, then two, then three etc. so that they are able to go out in the world to come back and help their brothers and sisters, but most of them don’t come back. Yet God keeps trying over and over. I felt that I was one of these people who God blessed in order to do something positive for the country that birthed me. I don’t remember what I prayed for, must have been all the tears, but I did feel lighter and more hopeful when I walked down that mountain.

 

I hope this motivates you into visiting Haiti or partnering with the people of Haiti. For more information about sustainable development please visit projectsforhaiti.org

Love,

Lori

 

All photos are mine unless stated otherwise. 

 

Advertisements

Not Having it Together Yet in Your Early 20s is Totally Okay

Thoughts, Uncategorized

I recently had a conversation with a friend who was desperately looking for something to do to show out for herself. Everyone around her seemed to have talent and to be up to something except for her she said; so she was trying to learn as many things as possible or trying to come up with things like creating a blog, or writing or anything she thought she could get her hands on. I thought of encouraging her  if she was doing this for the right reasons until I found myself in her.

Today’s world puts so much pressure on young people nowadays! It’d have you feel that in your early 20’s you need to have graduated, be a home owner, have traveled the world, be successful, be married or in a relationship, own your own business, and be popular on Facebook/Instagram/Twitter/YouTube and whatever else there is.

When I think about it, social media and comparison seem to have a lot to with it. Let’s go back to my friend. She felt that everyone around her was up to something. When I asked who was everyone, she told me social media friends or people she knew in real life posting about their new job, travels, graduation, blogs, YouTube channels etc.

Hmm.. I thought. Haven’t we all been there! Social media are not what they are cut up to be. People are more likely to post about successes than failures. You will not see how many rejection letters they received or how they struggled for anything they post about. While I do not necessarily blame it, I do not condone comparing your life to others’. What you only see or hear others talk about is what they choose to share with you, so comparing your full life story to bits and pieces of another’s life is just not fair to you.

I am here to tell you that in your early 20’s, not having it together yet is totally okay. You are probably a student, working towards certain goals that you would like to accomplish, or maybe you are not a student but you have dreams and you look at other people’s successes and think to yourself that you should have been doing more or doing better. Well, I am totally here for having other people inspire you, but if being inspired by what someone is doing is borderline making you feel bad about yourself, you need to rethink this.

Each person is on their own timeline according to God’s plan for their life. Comparing your journey to someone else’s is trying to fit someone else’s timeline to your own. That won’t quite work now will it? I recently read the book of John and one thing I remember writing is how Jesus would mention that his “time had not yet come”. It reminded me that there are specific times for certain things. The fact that someone graduated today and you are working towards graduating but you are not there yet does not mean that you have failed. It maybe   means that you are moving according to God’s timing for your life! and if there is one thing I learned, it is that it’s the best timing there is!

My friend also wanted to find things to do that she’d seen others’ been successful at. Hmm.. while this can be a good thing, it has its flaws.  I am all here for finding yourself, finding your purpose, your path, and God’s plan for your life, but if the reason you choose to go into something is because you see others do it, I think you should rethink this yet again. God gave us gifts and talents according to His will for us. Maybe someone else’s ministry is singing, maybe another’s is creativity, or leading, writing, or whatever else, but that does not mean that it is your own. Appropriating another’s path won’t make you as happy as they are if it’s not your gift.

Find your purpose, find what you are good at and do that. The rest will follow according to God’s will. Move at your own pace and try to enjoy the ride along the way. And the next time you find yourself being discouraged by comparing your life to others’, remember God created you unique in His image, with gifts that maybe you have no idea you have and that He is going through this journey with you. Pray and ask Him for guidance with your life. Trust in Him and in His timing.

Love,

Lori

5 Steps to Gratitude

Thoughts, Uncategorized

A couple of years ago, God told me to appreciate little things. He really did! He sent me books, people, and when I still wasn’t paying attention, He told me. Once I realized what direction God wanted me to take, I started to take it to heart and putting gratitude into practice. God is so good and so merciful! I ran out of words to thank Him a long time ago, but I still make sure I do. Here are five things I did and still do today. I hope these will help you have a more grateful heart.

1. Write 10 things that you are grateful to God for
I was always into journaling as I love to write so this came naturally to me. I kept a journal in which I wrote down my prayers and things I was grateful for every day. I wrote about ten things to begin with so you can start with that. Later on, I couldn’t stop. I stopped counting how many things I was writing and it was amazing the things I was grateful for! I wrote things like:” Thank You so much, Lord for this beautiful day.” or ” Thank You so much, Lord, for Your love and mercy.” ” thank You God that I have eyes to see the beauty of Your creation.” etc.  At first, I planned on doing it for 21 days, but I did not stop ever since. It truly changed my life and put things into perspective.

2. Say Thank you to/for others and mean it

I also started thanking others. Thanking them for little things each and every time. Thanking them for their friendship and thanking God for them.I would say in my heart when I see them:” Thank You God for putting this person in my life.” or even tell them in person that I am grateful for them. Surprisingly enough, my relationships bloomed without me doing anything. God was blessing each and every single one of my relationships and people seemed happier in my company. People who didn’t have my best interest at heart either completely changed their attitude or stayed away from me for my own good. I was also happier.

3. Be Grateful in Difficult Situations

I admit that this is not an easy one, but practice makes perfect! So much, that now, even if I say I am hungry or this is not going well etc. I am just saying it, but in my heart, whatever is not going well does not bother me one bit. Let me explain. In each situation, I believe there is a hidden blessing. There are always lessons to be learned and God knows I love to learn. I love to become a better person and to grow personally. As a result, every time something goes South, I always remind myself that there is a blessing in this situation even if I don’t realize it right away. I often say:“Thank God for lessons learned.”

I used to tutor at the Math Lab in the community college I went to. Some days were so busy that our supervisor would come in to help out. I had to walk around and help students while sometimes having one to one appointments and it was just so hectic. My coworkers would complain a lot about it and I would too at some point until I decided to view things from a different angle. Every day before work, I would pray and thank God for having a job and most importantly I would thank God for being able to help so many people who have exams and homework to go through. Next thing I knew, I was always so happy and cheery to go to work and help people. So much, that the students started to specifically ask for me to tutor them which made me even more grateful. At the end of my work days, I would be tired but I would always be smiling and looking forward to tomorrow. The same thing is happening at my current job. I love it so much and love the people even though it’s tiring work. I always look forward to the next work day so I can help people. As a result, my supervisor pulled me once to tell me how she loves how much of a positive attitude she noticed I have, how she appreciates my kindness, and how I always have such a genuine smile all the time making students feel welcomed. I thought to myself:” Thank you, Jesus. It was all You.”

4. Give Thanks in Your Prayers

Okay, I know this is a no brainer because we are supposed to give thanks while praying, but have you ever tried to not ask for anything and to just say thank you? I practiced that for over a month. I would wake up and start with praise then I would  thank God for each and every little thing in my life for an hour. I would do the same at night. As a result, I started to pray for others and not for myself and kept on giving thanks. What happened was that I got the job I wanted out of the blue,I got the courage to walk away from someone who wasn’t good for my life, and I passed classes I thought I’d fail. I did not expect any of this, and sure did not pray about them, but giving thanks to God for the things I do have without asking anything else was trusting God to take care of my needs and that’s exactly what He did!

5. Don’t worry and Be Happy!

Easier said than done, but When you are genuinely grateful to God, you don’t have the time to doubt Him. You don’t have the time to question whether or not He will provide this or that because you are too busy being grateful for what He has provided. One thing I’ve learned is that worrying is one of the most ungrateful acts. To me, worrying is basically not believing God’s promises and dismissing what He has already done for you. So Be happy! Smile to strangers, love out loud and share the joy that you found in the Lord! He’ll take care of you like He always has!

Love,

Lori

A Childlike Heart

Thoughts, Uncategorized

This post is a bit more personal as it is about my walk with God. I am an imperfect person who sins just like everyone else and I wanted to share my journey with God ( where I have been and where I am trying to be at when it comes to Him) and His mercy to me. I am humbled and forever grateful!

When I was little, the book of Samuel was my favorite book in the Bible. I had set myself to read the whole Bible, but I am not quite sure I had or if I did, I surely don’t remember. However, I remember that I wanted God to call me like He did Samuel. I would pray about it every night and beg and beg to be called. Being a child, I literally wanted to hear God’s voice call “Lori”. But being a child, I didn’t think about what I’d do if He had or what being called meant.Regardless, I really wanted God to physically say my name. I would even cry about it while praying! Until one night, I dreamed of God visiting me and it was the happiest dream I’ve had! After that, I felt that my prayer was answered although not the way I wanted. That’s exactly how and when I knew God was very real. I was completely convinced.

I always tried my best to always pray at night. My mother would pray with us and My prayers consisted of me asking forgiveness for my sins, blessings for my parents, family, and friends whether or not I knew what they were going through or not. Then I’d ask God to give me health, wisdom, intelligence, and obedience. I’d also ask for these for my family and friends and that God protects them. We would also pray “Our Father which are in heaven…”. At the end of each prayer, my mom would have me say:” Mon ame bénit l’Eternel, Que tout ce qui est en moi bénit Son Saint nom; Mon ame bénit l’Eternel. Amen” ( for non-French speakers, it’s the French version of Psalm 103:1 “Bless the LORD, O my soul, And all that is within me, bless His holy name.” At the end of every prayer, I would also ask God to keep me from dreaming because I’d have very vivid dreams that would scare me. Overall, my prayer life as a child had a routine to it, but I meant every word.

Then growing up, I still prayed but it was different. I am grateful for family drama and teenage crisis that kept me close to God. Still, I only went to church one a month when the Catholic School I went to had mandatory mass. I grew up with a Catholic father and an Adventist mother who traveled when I was very young. When my mother was around, we went to church every Saturday, but after she left, my dad never really took us to church. Sometimes even if I asked so I made it a habit of not going and thought nothing of it. At the time, to me praying  and trying hard to be good and doing good was enough. I had a relationship with God then, but certainly not as personal as when I was a child or not as personal as I believe I do today. Let me explain.

As a child, although I had the fear of God, I craved His presence. As a child, God calling me or talking to me was what would make me special, happy, and grateful. Instead of daydreaming about other things, I daydreamed of being that child that God has a personal relationship with. I wanted to know Him, to be His friend, His daughter. As a teenager, family drama, and teenage years crisis made me see God mostly as my savior. The thing is I don’t know if I would have been a praying teenager had it not been for these situations I was facing. However, as a child, I prayed because I genuinely wanted to talk to God although I still had a bit of fear in me when it comes to Him. What was it as a child that made me want God to be close to me so badly that I didn’t have as a teenager? I asked myself so many times. Somewhere in between heartbreak, insecurities, and non-genuine friendships, I started to see God as someone I could go to with my problems, but without ever asking Him how He is doing or how WE are doing. When I say that I mean like this one person who only comes to you when they need you so you can solve their problems, but they probably know nothing about you because they never bother to ask. well, I was that person with God.

I then realized that as a child, my innocence didn’t allow room for doubts or concerns with problems. As a child, I was content with the little things. Like I would be wondering if I would dream of God on that particular night, and I couldn’t wait to go read the Bible or pray so that it can happen. Also, as a child, I took everything I read in the Bible to heart. I would feel so horrible if I lied and would beg for forgiveness right away. As a child, I trusted God fully. After that experience, I did not worry about whether or not God would do this or that for me. I would tell my mother that I talked to “Little Jesus” about this or that and that He will make things happen. Children are humble, they are not yet polluted by the ideas of the world. No wonder Matthew 18:3 says:“And He said: “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.” Maybe when it comes to God, if we acted as the children that we are to Him, things would be much better.

Later on, after God had showed me that I needed to remove yet another person from my life, I realized what I needed to get back to. I needed my child like faith back. I needed my grateful heart, and my ability to see the beauty and magic in the little things and that’s how it all began again. I started to truly seek God just because I love Him. I usually prayed for more than an hour per day. I prayed for people more than I prayed for myself and made it my duty to say thank you and to never ask for a thing for a long period of time. I would worship and pray God and beg Him to help me be close to Him. I read passages of the Bible and kept praying. And you know what? HE ANSWERED!! He sent me so many signs through people or books, or readings, to tell me to keep going and that He’s always been here despite my shortcomings.

He even showed me how some things I went through were never about me. They were to help another person that I would meet along the way going through that same thing at the moment. Some of the things were about Him. About bringing Glory to Him. Everything started to make sense and I was so amazed by it. I met the right people, the right group on the campus I go to.  Then He told me He wanted me to get baptized again. I was so scared at first then I remembered whose child I was and that the Most High talked to little nothing me and I had to obey (More about that later on). I even started to realize the purpose of so many things! I get a bit emotional every time I think of it. My life had suddenly changed and I was a brand new person with a grateful heart always as God is a dear friend/confident/Father of mine. Even today I get asked how is it that I am always the one to point out positive things out of awful situations and every time someone asks me that, I thank God in my heart for reminding me of how to have a child-like heart again despite my downfalls.  After all I am His child! And it keeps on getting better. I am striving for a better relationship with God and He sure helps me through the journey. Trust Him, He can do the same for YOU! Yes, YOU!

Love,

Lori