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Monday, March 7th, 2011

Part of the inner world of everyone is this sense of emptiness, unease, incompleteness, and I believe that this in itself is a word from God, that this is the sound that God’s voice makes in a world that has explained him away. In such a world, I suspect that maybe God speaks to us most clearly through his silence, his absence, so that we know him best through our missing him.
-Frederick Buechner

I know people who have active, vivid dialogue with God – they speak to him, and they hear his voice respond.  I am not one of those people.

When I talk to God, I am usually answered with silence.

Most of the time, it’s not that I think that God is not there – but, like Buechner says, perhaps his silence is meant to create a longing that I wouldn’t otherwise have.

And for me, these days, does that longing ever exist.

On Friday, I sat at the edge of the Caribbean, listening to the water hit the sand.  It made me think of a line in Alli Rogers‘ song “Closer to the Moon,” when she sings of listening for God’s voice:

“It’s in the aching that you know there’s something more.
I have never heard even a single spoken word,
Except the rhythm of a wave upon the shore.”

The steady pulse of ocean waves reminds me of the voice of God – it’s one of the biggest reasons I miss living in Seattle.  There is a comfort to the sound and the pattern, wordless as it is.  When I feel frustrated and anxious and doubtful that he even exists, the ocean somehow, inexplicably, brings me back around to truth, calming my heart and soothing my fears.

I’m back in a very landlocked Denver now, after 7 days in Haiti.  A mere week was not enough time to even scratch the surface of the culture, the language, the people – but sitting by the ocean on my last day was the best way to wrap up the first of what I hope will be more trips.  Listening to the waves reminded me that God is still there in Haiti, in the midst of the poverty, the devastation, and the crumbling homes – and he is still here in Colorado, in the midst of my sadness, my uncertainty, and my crumbling home.


Thursday, March 3rd, 2011

Can – Clinic in a, peeing in a

Wednesday, March 2nd, 2011

Mission of Hope recently acquired 55 acres of land from the government in Bercy, which is about 30 minutes north of their main campus.  On this land, they are planning to build a school, a medical clinic, a church, an orphanage, and a conference center – a planned community.  Just like Florida!

In the meantime, Mission of Hope is occasionally sending teams to the property to run mobile medical clinics.  People in the community hear that there will be a chance to see a doctor for free, and they flock to what is currently the only building on the property – a cinder block hut – to line up and wait.

Once their paperwork is completed and their vital signs have been taken, they’re sent across the rock lot to have their private appointment in this:

This is a Clinic in a Can – an air-conditioned, single-wide trailer with two consultation rooms and a pharmacy.  After they have been seen by the doctor, they head to the pharmacy to pick up any meds they may have been prescribed, as well as a goody bag filled with soap, a toothbrush and toothpaste, and – if you’re between the ages of 15 and 60 – 6 condoms.  Along with very explicit “how-to” instructions.

I mean, doesn’t it ever cross your mind?  Sometimes don’t you wonder who the lucky illustrator of contraceptive clip-art is?

As for me, I snuggled with this chunker for awhile.

I tested for Bieber Fever by singing “Baby” – and ALL THE KIDS SANG ALONG.

And finally, I peed in a bucket.

I did it just so I could say “I peed in a bucket” on my blog.  Feel free to congratulate me on my moxie.

Waterfalls and bloody rat murder

Monday, February 28th, 2011

I’m in Haiti, and have so many things to say, I don’t know what to tell you first.

At the Miami airport, I witnessed a woman in a full-length denim jumpsuit with a zipper from the crotch to the throat.

I suppose that’s a good place to start.

– – – – – – – –

My sister Sarah speaks Haitian Creole.  I knew that she had learned the language since she moved here, but it’s a different thing to actually hear her interact with Haitians.  She is so capable, at one point, she explained in Creole to a man named Altime what I do for a living – which I can barely explain to people in English.

Then, in English, she asked Altime, “How are you?”

And he proudly answered, “I am 36-years old.”

– – – – – – – –

We heard about a group of people going to a waterfall, so we decided to join them.  We rode in a “canter,” which is basically a small U-Haul with benches in the back, and about 30 of us crowded into the closed box.  The 90-minute drive up the mountain on the pot-holed road was among the most uncomfortable things I have ever survived.  At one point, sweaty and clammy and jostled and car-sick, desperate for a perspective-shift, I thought, “At least it’s not the Holocaust.”

Yeah, Annie.  At least.

But we arrived at the waterfall, and climbed to the top, and then waded back down, one slick rock at a time.  It was beautiful and lush, and the cold water felt good on our dirty feet.

– – – – – – – –

I met Pierre, Sarah’s precious little friend.  His eyes tick-tock back and forth like a Kewpie doll, and he makes sounds like E.T., and then he looks at Sarah and smiles like this:

He is around 2 1/2, they think, and was abandoned by his mother back in September.  Sarah and her roommate Diana took him in until they were able to place him at the Hope House, an orphanage operated by Mission of Hope.  He has something similar to muscular dystrophy, so his limbs are contracted, and the cyst on his brain means that his cognition will never be much beyond what it is right now.

But that smile…

It is impossible to not fall in love with him.

– – – – – – – –

On Saturday night, as I slept peacefully, Sarah and Diana killed a rat in the bedroom.  It involved a PVC pipe and splattering blood.  I never heard a thing.  What champions.

– – – – – – – –

I left a personal storm behind in the States, and while it feels strange to be away during this time, I am thankful for the distance and perspective.  I am also thankful for you, your kind words, and your sweet friendship.


Friday, February 25th, 2011

I am leaving for Haiti tonight – on the heels of the saddest week of my life.

The situation involves more people than just myself, so I won’t say much.  But this is something that began all the way back here – and now, over 8 months later, my heart is torn down the middle like a paper valentine.

I will be boarding the plane tonight a hollow shell.  I could not have planned that the timing of this trip would coincide with the events of the past few days.  I am raw and fragile and physically shaking, and easy as blowing on a dandelion, I come apart.

But I have been shown such kindness in the last few days – from friends and co-workers and even a few strangers.  Thank you for purchasing my songs, and as of today, fully funding my trip to Haiti.  Thank you for your emails and phone calls to tell me that I’m cared about.  Thank you for taking responsibilities off of my plate so I could focus on the crisis at hand.

And as inconsequential as it may seem, thank you for reading these words today.  It would have felt dishonest to not share the state of my heart as I leave – and it’s a really big deal to be able to share a little sliver of one’s struggles, even if just through writing.

Despite all I have lost this week, I am blessed.  I really am.  Next time you hear from me, I’ll be at Mission of Hope, blogging with a Haitian accent.

The final countdown

Monday, February 21st, 2011

The week is here!

I leave for Haiti on Friday night (taking the red-eye, which surely sounds more romantic than it actually is), and will be in Port au Prince by 9am on Saturday morning.

I can’t wait to hug my sister, and probably some other people, too.  Who knows, I might be a hugging machine, extemporaneously throwing my arms around strangers.  Hey, I’ve heard that Haitians are joyful – I might as well drag myself out of my usual sour funk and join in.

This is the last week that my three latest recordings will be available for download, so if you want to help support my trip, now is the time.  Thanks to those of you who have been so generous with your support – I am so encouraged by you.

One month from tomorrow

Monday, January 24th, 2011

I don’t know which is more exciting.

I have new songs.

And I’m going to Haiti.

Seriously: explosion of confetti and excitement and exclamation points right →here←.

Ever since my sister Sarah moved to Haiti last June, I have dreamed of an opportunity to see her life there.  One month from tomorrow, I’m getting my chance – seven days and seven nights at Mission of Hope.

What happens at Mission of Hope, you ask?

Well, they have a school, and a home for orphans, and a medical clinic, and a nutrition program.  They also have a new small business initiative called 3 Cords, which employs amputee women, empowering them to make hand-crafts, cards, and jewelry.  I’ll probably get to experience a little bit of each of these things.  I’ll also probably experience tarantulas and dirty feet and mangoes and a little boy named Tee Kervins.  I can’t wait to meet Tee Kervins, just so I can say his name.

Try it.  Tee Kervins.


Of course, I’m a bit nervous about being taken out of my comfort zone, even for a short time.  I’m someone who likes control and safety and rat-free apartments.  And when I’m honest, sometimes it feels easier to just go about my daily business, blind to the pain and sadness and poverty that might be found elsewhere.

But I believe that it’s important – important, and even necessary – to be inconvenienced.

And I also believe that when I am in Haiti, I will find more joy than sadness, more strength than fear, and more hope than despair.  It just might change my life.

So, back to these new songs of mine.

I recorded three new demos with some co-workers when I was in Nashville in December, and even from just a little home studio, I’d say they turned out gems.  I would love for you to hear them – and if you feel so inclined, they’re available for a minimum $10 donation.  The money will help offset the cost of this trip to Haiti – because go figure, it costs a lot to get to the poorest country in the Western hemisphere.

Thanks, as always, for reading, and listening, and following along with this little life of mine.  I can’t wait to tell you stories from my trip.

Prayers in the dark

Thursday, January 14th, 2010

I was awake from 2-5am for no real reason at all.  I just woke up out of a dead sleep, and my eyes stayed open for three hours.

I tried all sorts of things – reading, watching a movie, thinking about boring things, tossing and turning, changing the temperature, changing my blanket situation, moving out to the living room for awhile – but nothing worked.  Thoughts were racing through my head – stress, mostly, I think.

I had a lot of heavy things on my mind last night – Haiti being the biggest.  I’m a bit slow on the uptake, not having a TV; I knew that Haiti had been hit by an earthquake, but I had no idea the actual extent of the tragedy until I started reading articles and watching CNN.com videos last night.

If it hadn’t been for chemotherapy, my parents and my sister Sarah would have been in Haiti right now.

Sarah spent last summer working with Mission of Hope in Haiti, and fell in love with the people.  The plan had been to take my parents back with her in January – right now.  It’s a sweet mercy and a complete mystery why things happen the way they do.

These were the kids whose prayers were mine last night.  It’s important for me to see their faces.