Hi DW's! As many of you already know, last week I was in Haiti on a missions trip with friends. I was part of a small group of four people who independently traveled there to help out friends at The Apparent Project. The trip proved to be overwhelming on so many levels considering the large amount of poverty and the mass rubble still present from last year's earthquake in Port au Prince. Anyway, my bunk-mate and fellow DW friend, Jennifer, wrote a daily synopsis of the experience (from her viewpoint) in order to update family and friends while we were there. I was so impressed with her writings, I asked for her permission to post them here on Fresh Flowers for the coming week. We hope and pray that these daily entries paint a real-life picture for you and bless your hearts to further help the poor, the widowed, and the orphaned as mandated in James 1:27.
Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world. (James 1:27)
Ladies, each one of us is able to make a difference in the lives of others! We must only be willing to follow God's call! May you be richly blessed by His love as you enjoy Jennifer's writings this upcoming week. Blessings! ~Victoria
(Pictured above: DW Jennifer and DW Victoria)
My Heart in Haiti (Day 1)
By Jennifer Theodorou
The view from the plane on this early morning flight is an incomparable reminder of the foremost purpose for this journey; the Glory of God. The God who created the earth below, the God who created the sun in the sky, is who I desire to serve, exemplify and glorify in the week ahead. He put this path before me, one I never thought, until about six months ago, my feet would ever walk upon. Several years ago I joined my brothers and sisters in Christ to pray over a couple from our small group as they were preparing to depart for a mission trip to Mexico. At that time the only thought I had about missions was how beautiful it was that THEY were called to serve in this way. No personal thoughts of action ever crossed my mind.
Forward to January 2010. Haiti had just been devastated by a massive earthquake. I've never been one to follow world news, but I found myself glued to the coverage of this unimaginable disaster. And not in a train-wreck kind of way either. My heart was broken for these people in a way I had never experienced before. I would watch CNN, cry and pray, watch, cry and pray. I had no connections to Haiti, but the pain I felt in my heart for this nation, these people, was personal.
Four days after the quake our Pastor announced that he would be going to Haiti. I turned to my husband quietly and said, "I swear, if he said there was an extra seat on that plane, I'd be in it." I didn't really know what I had to offer these people in the midst of such grief, but if it were just to hold the hand of someone in despair, I would go. I followed our pastors journey and grieved right along side him and those he encountered.
Over the next few months, as the media coverage quieted down, so did my heart. Around May, my friend Sara began her involvement with The Apparent Project in Haiti. She was introduced to the organization as a possibility for employing Haitians in the production of a simple product to be sold in the Fair Trade market. We began supporting Apparent by selling the beautiful jewelry their artisans make in our salon suites. (Jennifer is a hairdresser by trade.)
I began to follow the blogs of Shelley Clay, founder of Apparent, and quickly found my heart consumed once again, with grief for Haiti and it's people. Shelley writes in a way that allows you to see what she writes about, to feel what she feels in her daily walk with this nation. After reading a particularly painful blog, I found myself overwhelmed with a desire to help these people.
Again in tears, I cried out to God, asking, "How can I possibly help? I'm one person. This is a NATION in need of so much!" Over the next few months God showed me what one person, led by the Holy Spirit, could do. I found myself blessed with several opportunities at my church, to have large jewelry sales for Apparent. And I felt led to encourage friends and clients in a holiday drive to build homes in Haiti for the new year.
Through the generosity of these loved ones, and by the grace of God, three homes were built for families by March 2011. In prayer, I walked beside my friend Sara on her first trip to Haiti. I told her, while she was there, to be thinking of how I could be of help if I joined her on her next trip. And here we are, in mid air, 6 hours away from touchdown in Port Au Prince, Haiti. I never thought I would be here. But God had a plan for me, long before I knew of it.
I am excited for what I will experience, anxious for what I will learn, and overjoyed for the opportunity. I pray that the Lord will use us this week to be His hands and feet. That we will be able to serve Him, by serving others, EXUDING the love of Jesus Christ.