Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Return on Investment

As I spend time processing, adjusting and reflecting on the past 9 months, I wanted to share a post I was asked to write.

Monday, June 24, 2013


On June 10,  we welcomed a wonderful organization called “Gerye Jwa” or Joy Warriors to our campus. Gerye Jwa, based in Port-au-Prince, is an organization committed to, “helping kids cope with the impact of trauma, violence, poverty and disease through the power of play.” An extension of the Life is good Playmakers in the United States, Gerye Jwa introduced us to the universal ways to, “inspire love, joy and creativity,” to our kids.

Studies have shown the positive and transforming impact of play in the lives of children. Our teachers, caregivers and community leaders attended the orientation where they learned more about exuding joyfulness and harnessing the power of play. Our team had challenging and insightful questions about discipline, family disparities and cultural dynamics. We were able to have some fun and play games of our own as we learned to loosen up! Here we are being team "players".

To learn more about Life is Good and Gerye Jwa click here!



Friday, May 31, 2013


Each morning starts off about the same. I wake up listening for the sound of the water pump or looking for the illuminated light on my extension cord. Both of these things indicate one thing, power. Most days I hear the pump and see the light. I know I can start my day and go on, business as usual, usually.

Last Thursday night, during a strong storm, the power went off in flashy dramatic fashion. And stayed off. And didn’t turn on for one week. Something about the power being off makes me feel, well, powerless. I can’t do work on my laptop, correspond via email, talk to my loved ones, exercise with music, turn on a light, or pump up my air mattress. The lack of these small, seemingly mundane things undoes me.

I woke up that Friday to dark silence. No hum from the pump, no light from the power strip. Somehow my computer battery was also completely dead. I tried to start my day off ignoring this small inconvenience. But then Saturday came. I needed power and was losing patience. I huffed, I puffed, and I rolled my eyes. I mentally willed the power to come on. The rain that caused the short circuited power supply did the same to my patience. I had none. I asked everyone, from a six year old to a 65 year old, when they thought the power would return. When they replied, “I don’t know,” I reverted to being a 5 year old and retorted, “I know you don’t know but what do you think?” The answers varied from a few days to a month. Clearly they weren’t trying to tell me what I wanted to hear.

Monday slowly rolled around and I surrendered. The 24 hour day seemed to double. I simultaneously felt like time was dragging but going by too fast. I organized my room, itemized my receipts and realized that my attitude was reflecting a complete lack of creativity. There was, after all, a whole “outside” that did have plenty of light for 14 hours. There was a garden project to work on, math assessments to conduct and translation questionnaires to be copied. Did I really need electricity to guide my day? Not only that but surely, with 36 kids running around, it wouldn’t be too hard to fill my time.

 Later, I returned to my room and sat quietly. Suddenly there was nothing to distract me… from me. There they were; my thoughts, my fears, my failures, my future and my faith. It didn’t matter if I wanted to watch how animals eat for a mental break, look on pinterest for inspiration or email my family. I had to be still. I was forced to connect with the mess swirling in my mind, confront my lack of trust in Him and address my fears face on. Maybe it was only in this complete disconnection that I could connect with the One that really matters. I realized that I lacked so much discipline in making quiet time with God. Maybe this was His gentle reminder. Maybe it’s only in admitting that we are powerless that we can make room for our God who is all Powerful.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Build Change

I’m happy to announce that as of April 30, 2013 “Reformed Blocs” is now certified through Build Change. The blocks tested prior to training could only handle 2.68 Mpa. After completion of the Build Change training our blocks tested at 10.21 Mpa. This high rating means that our blocks can withstand more pressure and meet standards put forth by Haiti's Ministry of Public Works Transport and Communication.

We are thankful to our friends Marie and Tae who made the initial connection, our hard working employees, the amazing Build Change team and supporters who made it possible. We are praying that this is just the start of a responsible and prosperous business!

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Back to the "Real World"

“Welcome back to the real world” is a term I hear often when traveling back stateside. It admittedly always irks me. I have just returned from an amazing trip to England to visit Greg.

As I clean up my flooded room and bend down to see mosquito larvae cavorting, things seem pretty real. I think about this as I try to mentally will the power to come on so I can inflate my air mattress.

Whether in Port-au-Prince, New York or London here’s the thing…


I live in the real world, and so do you. And it’s big and it’s broken and it’s beautiful and it’s definitely real. And is this not the whole problem? That as connected as we are we still can feel so many “worlds away” from people down the hall, down the street or around the globe?

Right now in this real world there are countless people starving, 132 million orphans and people dying from preventable diseases. Closer to home, in our real world, there are broken families,  prisoners to various addictions, there is disease and heartache. That’s all real. That’s all happening. Right now. Really.

And I get it. We have our families, our careers, our 401(k)’s, our own plans and our own problems. We can’t all get up and move. But we don’t have to.  We can help in this real world. Right where we are. Right now. Really.

You have time or money, talents or passions. Whether it is politics, ponies, puppies or people, you can help. There is something that you’re passionate about. There are things I know you really care about in this real world. So let’s all get involved. Just serve.

 I also realize you’re one person. I am one person. I feel my human, one person limits daily. How much change, how much good can come from one person?

Well, maybe you just help one other person, or animal or piece of legislation. But isn’t one worth it? I know we want more. I want more. I want to help all the kids. The whole community. I am not stopping at one but I’m learning that one is enough. One is better than none.

God has got the whole world in His hands. And it’s a big one but it’s starting to feel smaller. We are called to love and serve.  Take a look at a globe. It is round. So whether it’s around the corner, around the country or around a continent, we are all neighbors.
I know people can be mean and cause hurt and heartache. I’ve been on both sides of that coin. But what if I, If we, could all just “suck it up” and let love out? I fail at this constantly. My sinful self wants the sweet satisfaction of a well-timed slam or snide remark.  But when I humble myself and love, just love, those around me are happier and I am too. Maybe if I, if we, could just be kinder, more loving and pick our passion then the unreal things that are happening around our world; the genocides, corruption and famines wouldn’t be so real.

Here are some great resources to find your match. Choose one cause, pick one day, find one hour and start there!
Isn't though?

Monday, April 22, 2013


I am guilty as charged. I have tried to lighten, brighten, darker and tighten. I have pulled, poked and prodded. I have been convinced that I was too short and that I should have, and still might, grow an additional 3 inches. I have tried to,"define my style” which on any given day could be described as ‘what’s on Target clearance’, casual or sweatpants/t-shirt. I have, at least twice, tried to drink some awful mixture of celery, lemon juice and pepper spice to detox and cleanse. Such is the pursuit of “beauty.”

It is ironic then that those things and my focus on them can look very ugly.

Working around kids and in a community where $80 facials aren’t an option makes vanity, well, less vain. When you’re worried about your livelihood, stray hairs don’t matter. When nutritious meals can be hard to come by, the numbers on a scale are obsolete. When you tell the girls here they are beautiful you better be careful how hard you are on yourself. And these girls are beautiful. Each and every one of them. Before you roll your eyes and imagine me singing kumbaya around a camp fire, let me explain. Their smiles. Megawatt smiles light up powerless days and their laughs spread across dark nights. Their hair, especially when undone is so fantastically curly you can’t help but smile. Their souls. I know they are young but already, they have such beautiful souls.

I tell them often that they are beautiful and many times, they shake their head and say, “no, I’m not.” I am flabbergasted. They obviously don't see what I see. And don't we do that too? I can deflect a well timed compliment through silence, objection or denial, like a pro. When did our definition of beauty become so basic and unimaginative? When did I turn my focus to avoiding “fine lines and wrinkles” instead of striving to have a good heart and soul? It just seems so important sometimes, this whole beauty thing.

Really though, if we were all, “fearfully and wonderfully made (Psalm 139:14) , “in the image of God (Genesis 1:27),” who am I to say He got it wrong? While this dashes my dreams of being 5"8 like the rest of the lovely women in my family, it also means that I can work on accepting my appearance; strengths and weaknesses. It means I can focus on taking care of the body I have instead of trying to create a new one. And maybe, most importantly, I can model a healthy body image to the young and growing girls here. To get to the heart of the matter, beauty is more than skin deep.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013


Please join me in offering your prayers and support for the Gray's and their loved ones!