Saturday, November 2, 2013

Where did October go?

Here is a quick update on how things are progressing since October has come and passed.

On November 1st I purchased my plane tickets from Erie to Ft. Lauderdale, Ft. Lauderdale to Haiti.

I will fly out of Erie on January 7th in the evening, then I will fly into Cap Haitian the following morning. On January 20th I will fly out of Cap Haitian, and on January 21st I will fly into Erie by 3:30 PM. If all goes well I will be going to youth that evening weeeeeee.

Since I will have a day in between flying back to the states and flying back home I am currently debating whether or not to book a hotel room for that evening. I am currently leaning in that direction, but that can still be up in the air due to cost. Staying in a hotel would be ideal however, since I will be arriving in the states around noon on the 20th and leaving Ft. Lauderdale around 10 AM on the 21st. I have planned my flights this way to hopefully plan ahead in case there are any delays in flights from Haiti.

I have been able to make appointments with my primary doctor for a flu shot, and my travel doctor for an updated Typhoid vaccination, prescriptions for anti-malarial and antibiotics. This has been a blessing, however I know that the travel doctor appointment is going to be expensive. If I remember correctly, this appointment will cost around $100.

Financially, I am still behind. I have raised $850, but still have a remaining balance of $750. I have been making and selling items as fast as I possibly can, which has been a blessing, but there is just over two months until I leave for Haiti and must be fully funded.

If you wish to donate you can follow this link to my donation page:

I am so thankful and blessed by your prayers and support. It is definitely appreciated as this term has been a lot more strenuous than I had originally anticipated.

"And my God will liberally supply (fill to the full) your every need according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus." Philippians 4:19

Thursday, September 26, 2013


Vini - Come

Come on a journey with me, it involves raising money. But even more so, it involves faces. It involves names. It involves people who God loves.

Come on a journey with me, I'll post pictures and stories of my adventures. There will be smiling faces of my old students. They will be missing teeth, sassier, and two years older. There will be sad pictures of sick babies if there needs to be, but hopefully more happy pictures of mommas who hear good news, or get the right medicine, or have healthy babies, or a healthy baby growing inside of them. There will be pictures of old friends that some of you know in person, and some of you know through stories and pictures.

Come on a journey with me, I'll give you names of families and children that need prayer. I'll put my hand on them and pray for them right then and there, and send you the details and pictures.

Here is how to help...

I need to raise roughly $1500.

$1000 for flights there and back.
$200 for living there
$300 for emergency money

Because I am not going with a church group, just myself, you will notice that the cost breakdown is a lot less specified. That is because the flights take up most of the cost, and there will be unexpected things. The emergency money will first and foremost be used to fill needs.

When I am assisting at Bethesda, the medical clinic, if I meet a someone who needs to go to the hospital, I will be able to give them money to go there. If there is some sort of extra expense on the compound, money will go to help with that repair. If there is a need at the school, I will be able to help fill it. Any extra money that I do not use during my 13 days in Haiti will be given to Kate Zlotnicki, the missionary I will be staying with, to use as she sees fit.

If you want to help through fulfilling my monetary needs, you can do so by sending me money through check or through PayPal (sent as a gift). Because of the nature of this trip, I am unable to send a tax deductible form, since I am not a nonprofit organization. I hope that you still would prayerfully consider supporting me regardless.

You can also help support me and my trip by purchasing items through my Etsy shop. For each item purchased, $5 goes directly towards supporting me financially for my trip.

If you do not have the financial stability to be able to support me financially, I understand, and I am glad that you recognize that you need to be wise with your finances. I need you to pray.

Prayer requests:

  • For the money for the plane tickets ($1000). It is crucial that I obtain this sum of money by the middle of November. That is so I can order my plane tickets for the desired dates and still have seats.
  • For the missionaries in the field. Pray that I will be able to be of assistance and not hinderance to them
  • For appointments. I will need to be seen again by my travel Doctor to receive my Typhoid vaccination. I will also need to obtain antimalarials and antibiotics to keep me healthy while in Haiti.
  • For school. This semester thing is stressful. Pray that I don't lose sight of what I am working for. I am working for God and His glory. I am thankful that He has blessed me with the opportunity to return to Cap Haitian to serve alongside such faithful hearts once again.

I am planning to leave Erie January 7th and arrive in Haiti January 8th. I will leave Haiti January 20th, and return to Erie January 21st. For overnights I plan to do the un-fun thing of staying in the airport. I have done it once, I will survive doing it twice.

Thank you all for your continued support. It means so much to me.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

"Do you realize that you are worth dying for?"

I want to make something clear: being a single girl who is surrendering her life to God is difficult.

It is difficult because everywhere she goes she are reminded of something, her singleness.

Every magazine geared towards her demographic contains articles about how to get the guy, how to tell if he is into you, or how to look to attract a guy. Her friends are in relationships, the movies are grand love stories about girls her age, and to top it all off her family is always asking if she is seeing someone.

Obviously, there is something wrong with her.

Older friends say she will meet someone at church, or that they are always looking for guys to introduce her to. As she listens to these outside influences, she lets her guard down. She begins talking to a guy that she meets at a church function. Since he was there he is obviously a believer, so check the top box on her list.

2 Corinthians 6:14 says "Do not be yoked with unbelievers." Based on what his Religious Beliefs on his Facebook say, he's a good choice.

On the surface, this whole scenario is perfectly normal and quite acceptable.

Recently, this has been something God keeps bringing up to me. How does a modern Christian girl approach dating? It obviously can't be the way the rest of the world approaches differently because we are called to be holy like God is holy (1 Peter 1:16).

I was listening to a Pastor Steven Furtick sermon where he addressed this issue. To answer the question about God's will and singleness, he said many things that were good, but two specifically that I will address. The first being that singleness is not a condition, or an ailment, or an issue that needs solved. It is a season, one that doesn't have a definite ending, but one that should be looked at in the present tense. By this he means that if you are looking for the fastest way out of the season of singleness, you will miss whatever lesson God is trying to teach you, this can apply to any life "season." The second thing he said is that you can only focus on fixing yourself during this time. More or less become the type of person you want to date.

During this sermon, he also addressed the idea of dating someone who is not actively walking in their faith with God in the most articulate way I have ever heard. He started by addressing that instead of categorizing people into "Christian" or "Non Christian" it is more beneficial to recognize that everyone is on a different area of their path of a relationship with God. He then coupled this with Amos 3:3 which says "Can two people walk together without agreeing on the direction?" (NLT) He used the visual of two people holding hands and attempting to walk in opposite directions.

Now this combined with my life experiences, and conversations with friends, and books I have read made it hit me: "unequally yoked" doesn't mean a "Christian" and "Non Christian" it means two people trying to follow different things.

It could mean a Christian and a Non Christian, it could mean two Christians. But the defining factor is what direction they are walking in.

Let's go back to the beginning, the girl meets a guy at a church function. They are both on the path towards God, she is walking, but he is standing still. Are they still unequally yoked?

I would argue yes.

I would argue that the only way to determine if you are walking in the same direction is by fruits (Galatians 5:22).

Rob Bell in his book "Sex God" poses these questions:

Does he demonstrate that he is the kind of man who would die for you? What is his posture toward the world? Does he serve, or is he waiting to be served? Does he believe that he's owed something, that he's been shortchanged, that he's gotten the short end of the stick, that life owes him something? Or is he out to see what he can give? Does he see himself as being here to make the world a better place?

In the illustration of marriage in Ephesians 5, women are called to submit, or hupotasso, to their husbands. Meaning "to tend to the needs of the other." Men are called to love their wife as Christ loves the Church.

Christ died for the church.

Does he treat you like you are worth dying for? Do you realize that you are worth dying for?

This realization changes everything for me. It grants me patience. Why should I settle for the first checked box when there is a man who is prepared to die for me?

Sunday, June 30, 2013

Annual Affair

I supposed I have started something that is going to be annual.

It first happened in 2012. Then again in 2013.

So, without further adieu, I am pleased to announce my 2014 trip to Haiti!

I have already asked the field leaders and school principal and been approved.

And I already asked my missionary host, Kate, who was THRILLED!

So, I will be going back for the month of January (that's right suckers) to teach at the school. Kate will be teaching 2nd and 3rd grade, so the class will consist of most of the students I had the first time I went in 2012.

I'm not sure what my role at the school will be this time, since I won't be going as a student from Mercyhurst, but as my own person. So my role could be anything from librarian, substitute teacher, tutor, paper grader, referee, high school boy hug deflector, supply fetcher... ANYTHING. I am totally up for it.

After talking with Kate, I will potentially fly out January 2nd or 3rd with her. Then flying back at the end of the month before the Spring Semester starts.

Financially, I will be again looking for some assistance. I have yet to determine how much this trip will cost, but I am estimating it to be in the $1,000 to $1,500 range. I will be selling scarves again to raise money, so if you have any requests please let me know.

Keep this trip in your prayers, even though it is so far in advance, because we all know how quickly God's plans can change. Also keep the financial aspect in your prayers because I have enough money saved for my last year of school and that's it.

I appreciate all of you for your continued support over these past years that has made yet another trip possible!

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Portions and Prizes

This past Sunday we sang "How He Loves"

This song talks about the radical, incredible, inexplicable ways that God loves us.

As we were singing we got to this line "we are His portion, and He is our prize" and I started to chew on this line. And I am still working on it.

But it struck me as interesting because when I think of myself, I don't think of anything special. Paul says in Romans that there "is nothing good in me." So I am what God gets. Broken, incomplete, sinful, self absorbed, impatient, too sarcastic for my own good, insecure, and untrusting.

I almost think of myself as being a wormy apple. There is nothing good inside of me, just holes and pits and tunnels where good things should go.

But here I am. I get the Creator of the universe as my prize. He is all knowing, all powerful, capable of destroying the world, or raising people from the dead. Words can't describe how good, great, wonderful, and loving He is. God is my prize.

Seems a little bit off balance.

But then I realize that God doesn't look at me the way that I see me. He doesn't see me for my shortcomings and faults, He sees me as whole and complete. He sees the potential that I hold for doing His bidding.

Like when he used a doubter like Sarah in her old age to give birth to a nation, the Sarah who laughed when she was spoken to by the angels. Or Noah, who was seen as the only Godly man of his time, got drunk and passed out after getting out of the Ark. Or King David, who slept with another man's wife, then sent him to the front lines to die, but was said to be a man after God's own heart. Or Peter, who denied Jesus right after saying he never would, became the rock that the Church was built on. Or Paul, who as a Jew killed many Christians, became the author of most of the letters of the New Testament.

God uses screw ups. God sees us differently. God sees me differently.

He sees what I will become and says "it is very good" and He is satisfied with me. I am His portion.

I should start seeing me the way God sees me.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Bad Giving?

There is something that has been heavy on my heart for the past few months. It was placed there shortly after arriving in Haiti for the second time.

It weighed on me as we drove through Port au Prince, past tent cities and faces.

It's not an easy something to feel.

While I was there, God opened my eyes to a problem. Maybe, the biggest problem that Haiti faces. The problem was me and the 21 suit cases full of things. The problem is the color of my skin and what that means to the people.

The problem was the color of my skin plus things.

In Haiti, white people stand out. After the 2010 earth quake, white people flooded to Port au Prince for a relief effort. It was blatantly obvious in the USAID tarps that were used as people's homes or roofs that stated that the tarps were "from the American peoples" and UNICEF tarps. Most disturbingly, it was present when people had no reservations about sticking their hand out in front of us to obtain something.

It opened my eyes to the problem that many Haitian people expect Americans, or white people in general, to give them things. This does not mean all Haitian people, but many. And they believe this because we do it.

I recently watched a documentary by Frontline called "Battle for Haiti." This documentary was about the broken prison system in Haiti, but it gave me information that was very disturbing to me. During this documentary they are discussing the tent cities in Port au Prince, and the man being interviewed says that many people in Port au Prince left their homes and moved into tent cities because the people in tent cities were getting things.

Mark Aubry, a missionary working at the Seminary in Saccenville describes this plight as this:

"You see, there is a “learned helplessness” in Haiti. That is, the actions of the people here (and the kids learn it as well) are such that it seems that many are saying, “we’ll just wait for people from America to come here and give us stuff.” However, most community, school and church leaders want to change this attitude and stop the dependency. Haiti needs to develop its own “Haitian Heroes” instead of the kids thinking that the Americans (or other outsiders) are the heroes, bringing in items to save the day."

I think that his description is eerily accurate. There is a certain degree of complacency within the people's mindset with this.

I strongly believe that there is good and bad giving. In both situations, the intentions are incredibly pure and good, but the execution is what determines whether it is good, or bad.

Here are some examples, I feel, that can be bad giving:

  • Giving to people you do not have somewhat of a relationship with. This relationship doesn't have to occur over a long period of time. It can be as simple as getting to know someone's name and their story. When a foreigner goes into a country, they do not understand the language and the culture. This means that they could give to someone who, in reality, doesn't really need it. THE SOLUTION: Provide the items that you would like to give to someone who understands the culture and knows the people better than you. I can't help but wonder what the earthquake relief would have looked like if the aid workers went through and assessed every situation before giving a box of supplies. More than likely, less people would have left their homes to live in tent cities.
  • Giving publicly. When in a classroom, often when you give a student something that is desired, you will quickly have a mob of hands in front of you outstretched for their own. It is basic human instinct, but, when you give to those outstretched hands, it is easy to give to the same child twice, or miss a hand and a child won't give any. This same thing applies when you are a foreigner giving away items. You show that you have one thing, then everyone wants one. THE SOLUTION: Give privately. Pull the person aside into a separate room to give them an item. I think back to Jesus when he would heal someone and he would say "don't tell anyone." Ultimately the person always told others, but I almost wonder if it was to avoid a scene. This concept of giving privately is also referenced in Matthew 6:2 "So when you give to the needy, do not announce it with trumpets..." 
  • Giving items to meet needs that have already been met. I think that one of the most common misconceptions about Haiti is that they have nothing. But when you drive through the streets everyone is clothed, and not only clothed, but clean. You may see children who are unclothed, but, who dresses their children in their best to go play outside? There are places to purchase clothes, there are places to purchase shoes, there are places to purchase food. Often, these items can be given to people who already have them which means that someone who does not have them will ultimately not get something that they need. Otherwise, if people who do have them already want something different, then they can work and buy new. When they purchase something, instead of it being given to them, they are putting money into the hands of someone who is working to support their family to purchase the same sorts of things. The cycle continues, and the economy grows. THE SOLUTION: Get to know the people before you give. This will get the goods into the right people's hands and force those who do not need to purchase and support the local economy.
  • Giving things. I believe that the best way for Haiti to become stabilized is if they had a functional government, people were educated and jobs were created. Educating people to do a marketable skill is the first step, second would be having entrepreneur create a job for this person, third would be having a functioning government that would allow the Haitian people to easily export their goods. The craftsmanship in Haiti is outstanding, but they often have no way of selling their goods outside of the country. I know nothing about how that system works, so I won't try to cover how it should happen, but I do know that if we educate the people so that they can find their own job, or be a skilled workman, it would go a long way.

It's time that we begin enabling these community, school and church leaders to change this mindset. I believe that it is time to stop giving, and start enabling change.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Haiti 2013: Part 3

On Wednesday we were scheduled to go up to Bel Air and assist them in rebuilding their church. First we drove to the school, and waited, and waited. Then got to "work" playing with kiddos, before finding out that they weren't ready for us in Bel Air yet, so we would just stay at the school and finish up some projects. So that is exactly what we did. Our day at the school ended with an awesome game of football (soccer) between the students and the team. It was so fun watching everyone play together at the end of a busy day, and a great way to end our time at the school in Gressier. Afterwards we got to go to the beach again. Which is always awesome.

Thursday we finally made the drive up to Bel Air. It was about 30 minutes up into the mountains on a winding (but PAVED!) road. From the mountaintop we were able to see the southern side of Haiti. It was truly the first time I bore witness to the complete deforestation of the country. From what I had seen in Cap Haitien, there were still trees and forests and green areas. Up on the mountain you saw a lot of dirt. Dirt mountains, dirt fields, dirt paths. Not much green. Going up to Bel Air was my favorite day. When we got there, they were hard at work and the 20 students were in school. There were women crossing from the bottom of the hill where the church is being rebuilt to the other side of the street, filling buckets with limestone to carry up to the men.

The men were finishing up the demo of what was left of the old church building to use as filler in holes. We visited with the children. The children there were so sweet. They don't get to see blancs very often, so at first they were completely mesmerized by our presence. We made bracelets with the children before their teacher called them back for the rest of their school day.

So Medi, the pastor's son, took Stacey, Andrew, Rhona, Kirk, Bob, and I around to pray for church members at their homes. This is where Jesus was tangible. He was the words on our lips. We were His feet and hands as we walked. It was amazing being able to show up at their homes, have nothing to offer them except worshipping the same God. So we prayed. We prayed for things like health, and money, and food, and relief from pain. And, if I'm honest... my favorite was for this young lady, in the middle in the pink, who wanted a husband.

When we got back to the school, Rick had toys to pass out to the children. Oh the joy! Rick's churches children ministry collected money so Rick could purchase toys for the children. He gave them pictures of the children from Illinois with the toys, and we took pictures with the children from Bel Air with them.

And this princess stole my heart. Her hair was short, but her heart was huge. Six years of pure joy. She let all the kids play with the dinosaur she got, until the big kids ripped it's head off. Then she almost cried, which almost made me cry. Luckily, Lee was able to repair the dinosaur with his superglue. And then her smile returned again, and the dinosaur was only seen in her hands from that moment on.

One of the most humbling things about the experience was lunch. In the mountains, people have little money and few resources. But they cooked us lunch. The children sat and watched as we ate our graciously prepared meal. We ate little and prayed that the left overs would be given to the workers and the students.

We left after hugs and "thank you"s and bright white smiles on chocolate colored faces.

Back at the house we prepared for our goodbye dinner. As per my request, Blonde brought us coconuts. And we ate a feast.
Can you look at that fantastic plate??? Rice and beans, chicken, and banan pezi. YUM

We ended the night with many laughs, hugs, cuddles with some adorable kiddos. Esther, KiKi, and Yolande's ADORABLE little cousin were there. Her cousin, four years of complete adorable. Andrew and I were so close to packing him away to the states with us. TOO CUTE.

The next morning was bittersweet. We sat around waiting for the cars to pick us up to go to the airport. While we waited, we sang worship songs with Mary Lou, and I can't imagine a better way to end a week in Haiti.

Getting back was another adventure, but after what I endured last year coming back, it was nothing. Our bags made it safely, nothing exploded enough to cause damage, and we were all healthy by the time we got home.

God was with us. God is with us.

Monday, March 4, 2013

Haiti 2013: Part 2

While I was in Haiti, I was reading through the gospels. On a daily basis the themes of the days readings were "the children are important" and "the last shall be first" and "humble yourself."

What happened each day cannot be summed up in any better ways.

Monday we returned to the school for another day of teaching, scrubbing, and painting. As soon as we arrived there was a man carrying a small child, Jaye sighed and said that he was here expecting money to buy a prothesis for his son. We all piled out of the van and our two Physical Therapists and one doctor began to take a look at him. His name is Winley, he is three years old, and had his leg amputated after the 2010 earthquake. Upon investigation it was found that he was strong and healthy, and his stump was clean and healed well. His leg was also amputated below the knee cap. Colin and Rhona swiftly got to work making a crutch for him out of a stick. They spent the better part of the day measuring, hacking, measuring, stick finding, and hacking. Until finally they finished a beautiful masterpiece that was adorned with blue and purple duct tape.

First Steps

Being myself, I wandered into the medical clinic and I visited with the patients who were waiting to see the doctor. As soon as I walked in they caught my eye. This little brown baby boy with huge eyes and a curly mess of hair grinning at me from ear to ear in his grandmother's arms. Immediately the grandmother handed him over to me, while I held him and asked questions to the grandmother. I found out he was three months old, and his mother died unexpectedly a month earlier. The grandmother was raising him. I laid him down on a table and checked him out briefly. He was strong, clear eyes, attentive. I told the grandmother that he was strong. She was thrilled.

Then I heard crying from the lab room. A girl was getting blood drawn, screaming. It's amazing how quickly a blanc can quiet a child. I took her hand and told her that it was okay, and to look at me and not at her arm. She stared into my eyes, squeezed my hand, and eventually calmed down. When she was finished I took her out into the yard, gave her a balloon, and blew her some bubbles. Bubbles fix all problems.

The rest of the day was a whirlwind. Blonde brought me a cake, some children from the school sang me "Happy Birthday" in Creole, and Rhona and Dr. Ricardo fished two sea urchin spines out of my foot.

That evening I spent time with KiKi and Esther. I showed them pictures of snow. You would have thought that my phone was magical by the way it kept KiKi still. They were amazed at all the white that they had maybe heard about from a book or in a movie.

Tuesday we were back at the school. Painting and scrubbing and holding babies and playing clapping games and taking pictures and showing them off right away.

In the classrooms Gae had the students decorate quilt squares to make a school quilt. They had so much fun decorating and being creative. I helped out with the First and Second grade while they worked which was a blast because KiKi and Esther were both there that day.

After we got back we went to the beach again. I did not swim this time, I was a bit traumatized from the first beach experience. But it was awesome lounging on the beach.

"Jesus said 'Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.'" Matthew 19:14

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Haiti 2013: Part 1

Since I was unable to post while I was in Haiti, I have decided to do a series of blog updates to recap what happened.

I'll start with packing.

Through donations, I was able to contribute...

58 boxes of crayons
6 boxes of markers
8 toy cars
72 balloons
44 notebooks
19 folders
8 packs of lined paper
3 boxes of chalk
564 pencils
4 bottles of glue
60 pens
1 pack of colored pencils
9 packs of erasers
3 rules
7 boxes of band-aids
1 pack of high lighters
2 pairs of scissors
8 pencil sharpeners
4 packages of gauze
3 bottles of antacids
6 bottles of pain relievers
2 bottles of children's vitamins
21 boxes of hair clips
silly bands
and other various school supplies

I was completely over whelmed with the amount of supplies that I was able to purchase and were donated to me.

We packed all of these and many many other supplies into 24 suitcases. Which looks like this when you are piled into a 12 passenger van...

We got to the airport much later than we had wanted to which almost resulted in us missing our first flight. By God's grace we made it by 2 minutes of the gate closing. Totally crazy!!

We got into Haiti and made it through customs with only a few questions and a couple of bags looked through. We waited an hour and a half in the airport for our ride, they had gotten a flat tire on their way to pick us up.

Then on our way back we got another flat tire and had to pull over at a gas station to change it.

Port au Prince was not much different than Cap Haitien except for the fact that it is much much bigger.

And the fact that there are still flattened buildings from the earthquake in 2010. And the tent cities which looked something like this:

It was so surreal actually seeing the tent cities and the displaced people. But to me it represented the resilience of the Haitian people to never give up. Even though they no longer lived in a concrete home, their lives continued.

It took about an hour and a half to get from the airport to Pastor Desarmes home where we were staying. The ride was a typical ride through Haiti: a street that would usually be designated as two lanes was four lanes. The biggest exception: PAVED ROADS! I thought I was in heaven.

The following day was our first day at the school working. The school and church had been completely destroyed in the earthquake, so the school consisted of a long building that contained five classrooms and an office with a removable wall that was taken out for church, and 5 storage containers donated by Digicel. 

On Saturday, we spent time scrubbing the walls in the medical clinic so they could be repainted, and started scrubbing walls in the classrooms to be painted later. We also unpacked and organized the medical supplies into the pharmacy. The pharmacy here was much, much smaller than Bethesda, which made me sad because of the lack prescription medications that they had available to give out. 

Reprieve came when children from the neighborhood realized that we were there and came over to play! We blew bubbles with them and danced and sang and let them hug us and took pictures with them. It was so fun to take a break just to laugh. 

Back at the house we got to play with KiKi and Esther, a boy and a girl who were the children of two different women who cooked for us. They are both 8 years old and have such spunky personalities. KiKi can only be described as high energy, short attention span. Esther is quiet and reserved. They loved to play with bubbles and balloons with us and they were the source of much laughter in the evenings.

Sunday, we split into two groups to attend three different church services. Rick, Doug, and I went to Thomazeau with Blonde, Marceles, and Tertu. We got special seats on stage, which, if I'm honest is not my favorite at all. But the people were thrilled to have us attending their service and waited to begin until we arrived. The service was very enjoyable and of course in true Haitian style, we had to introduce ourselves. Blonde made me introduce myself in Kreyol which made the entire congregation laugh. 

Thomazeau was on the other side of Port au Prince which meant that we got to drive through the city to get there. I really enjoyed getting to see the city, we even drove past the White House which was pretty impressive, but also didn't seem to fit in with all of the poverty around it.

After church, most of us loaded up to go to the beach, which was more like a drop off into ocean water, But it was the ocean none the less. 

Sunday, February 17, 2013

"How can I help?"

Over the past few weeks I have gotten many variations of this question. At first the response was to help support me financially towards paying for my trip. God was incredibly faithful and filled that need in a two week span.

Next was to donate to purchase supplies. But now, at this point, our packing party is Tuesday and I have already filled one large suitcase with supplies to take because of donations.

Now with 4 days until I leave, the main way that you can help is to pray.

There are 15 of us going, a few who have never been to Haiti before, and a few of us who have.

Please pray for our flights:
We will be driving down to Pittsburgh Thursday evening and staying the night.
The next morning we will be flying out at 6:00 AM to JFK in New York City. We will leave JFK around 9:00 AM on our flight into Port au Prince. We will arrive in PAP in the afternoon, and then drive to Gressier. I am estimating that we will be at the mission between 3 and 4 PM Friday.

When we return, we will fly out of PAP at 2:00 PM and arrive at JFK at 6:00 PM on Friday March 1st.
We will then fly from JFK at 8:00 PM and arrive back in Pittsburgh at 10:00 PM.
We will drive back to Erie and arrive at Church of the Cross at around 1:00 AM Saturday March 2nd. I will be back in my house, in my bed, God willing, by 2:30 AM.

Please pray for our travels within Haiti. While I was never afraid of in country travels when I was there last year (with the exception of my first drive to the beach where to look of the edge of a mountain from a dirt road), driving can be frightful. When roads are poorly (or not) paved, it means pot holes. I don't even complain about Erie pot holes anymore because I drove through some in Cap that would probably get their own zip code if they were in the states. When these pot holes filled with water, had they been in Africa, they would cause territory disputes between wild life. HUGE. Just a couple of months ago there was a team who was in a very tragic bus accident. I won't go into specifics, but it brought to reality the potential danger that is present on the roads.

Please pray for our health. In Haiti there is the ever present risk of Travelers Diarrhea which is caused by the different bacterias that are present in the environment that our delicate American stomachs are not used to. One can contract TD by eating something cooked with water that has not been purified or eating fruits or vegetables that have not been properly cleaned in safe water. There is also the risk of Malaria, which is transmitted through mosquito bites. There are other possible diseases as well, but they are contracted through doing things like drinking unclean water, mostly. Also there is the possibility of catching any number of illnesses through the flights and airports. I prefer just not to think about these things.

For the Mercyhurst students and Professors, we have finals Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday. So, obviously, there is any number of stressors there in general, let alone planning to leave the country for the entirety of your school break (classes for the Spring Term start March 4th).

I have been completely overwhelmed by God's provision for this trip. The brief amount of time that I was funded within and the amount of donations of supplies and money I received blew me away. So far God has definitely done things that I would not have believed even if He had told me three months ago. Thank you all so much for your support!

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

"Let the wild rumpus begin!"

It is with much joy and thankfulness that I announce that I am fully funded for my upcoming trip to Haiti.

I am completely speechless that it happened in such a short span of time.

However, if you were planning on sending support and haven't gotten to it yet, there is still need.

All extra support from my trip will be spent towards purchasing school supplies for the mission.

You may also donate supplies for us to pack to take down.

Items to be collected:

Lined Paper
Lined Spiral Bound Notebooks
Gauze Bandages
Adhesive Tape
Iodine Ointment
Vitamins (Children, Pre-Natal, Adult)
Hair Clips
Small toys (cars, cards, small balls)

We also have a great need for old suitcases.

Please feel free to contact me for any details about donating items.

Monday, January 28, 2013

Mustard Seeds

I am currently taking a class at church on Spiritual Gifts. I figured that sarcasm is only just starting to be recognized as one so I should probably learn what mine really is.

Based on the test mine is Faith.

I am still struggling with this revelation.

In my mind, my faith is small. Like when God told me to go to Haiti for 6 weeks. And I thought "uh yeah... right."

And when God is telling me to go to Port au Prince with a church that I don't know anyone at for a week.

And when I am a junior in college and it's a month before the trip and my car bites the dust and I don't have much money raised.

I am looking up at God going.. really??

Then God reminds me not to put Him in a box. He reminds me that He gives me grace when my mind takes over my thoughts and I begin to think rationally about things.

Because... let's be honest... not sending out letters asking for support and posting a couple times about it. And then getting desperate and being completely honest about it all... I wasn't REALLY trusting God by doing all of that. I was thinking "okay, say something to make people understand that you need money to go. like this is not a drill. we are talking you are committed and you owe this money no matter what and and and"

But then God tells me to be quiet. He tells me not to worry because His yoke is easy and His burden is light. He gives me grace. He gives me emails from people who have committed money. He surrounds me with people who pray for me continually for the needs that I have. He gives me what I don't deserve. Especially because I think rationally and do too much math.

God leaves me today with a total of $175 that I have left to raise. $175 until I am fully completely totally funded.

So maybe I need to start relying on my spiritual gift of faith some more.. because if we are told to have the faith of a mustard seed (Matt 17:20), then I guess I should have the faith of peppercorn.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Money: the Break Down.

As a Christian, I whole heartedly believe that the money that I have is not mine. It was "loaned" to me by God for me to be able to live and follow His callings.

Because of this, I believe that when I give money to someone or an organization I like to be informed about how that money is going to be used. (This applies to donations to people, charitable organizations, and companies that promise to use money charitably: TOMS, Warby Parker, BeadforLife, etc)

So, with that belief in mind, I have decided to carefully explain how all the money that has been donated to me, and will be donated to me, will be used.

The total cost of the trip is $1,150. The payment dates are 50% by January 29th and 50% by February 19th.
This amount is broken down into the following components...

Airfare: $625
Room, board, and transportation in Haiti: $210, or $30 per day
Overnight lodging in Pittsburgh: $40
Traveler's Insurance: $25
Miscellaneous costs: $250

In addition to these travel costs, I will also need to pay for my Chloroquin prescription and a round of Cipro to take in case of Haitian Happiness (my favorite!). I am ESTIMATING these to cost between $50 and $100.

Additionally I wish to take down $100 worth of school supplies.

So far a total of $550 has been raised towards my trip.

This money has been set aside as follows:

$100 Deposit
$250 towards Airfare
$100 towards prescriptions
$100 towards school supplies.

This still leaves me about $800 left to be raised. 

This number does cause me anxiety at times, but as I was driving to the gym this morning and talking with God about my anxiety He reminded me of the time when Joshua was told to walk around Jericho and Joshua had no clue how things were going to turn out. Or when Jesus tells us not to worry about what we will eat or drink or wear because God takes care of the sparrows and we are worth more than many sparrows.

If you would like to contribute to my trip, please use the ChipIn box to left (or click the link) to donate securely through your credit card or PayPal account. Or you can send a check to

Church of the Cross
5901 Millfair Road
Erie, PA 16415

If you decide to send a check, you must include my name on the Memo line (Katie Jobczynski) and a note that indicates that it is for my Haiti trip. By sending a check you will receive a tax deductible for giving to a Non-Profit Organization.

I am going to end this with of my recently favorite verses from Habakkuk. This verse is taken from the context of the prophet Habakkuk crying out to the Lord for deliverance from the miseries of injustice all around in the land of Israel, the Lord replies to Habakkuk's cries...

"Look at the nations and watch --
and be utterly amazed.
For I am going to do something in your days
that you would not believe
even if you were told."
 -- Habakkuk 1:5

Monday, January 14, 2013

Lost, Found, and Generalities.

So today I sent in my final confirmation that I will be going to Haiti.

But with me nothing is that easy.

In order to send in my final confirmation, I had to send in my name as it appears on my passport and birthday. I'm brilliant and was 100% positive that under name it would say "Katie Lynn Jobczynski" and under birthday "February 25, 1992" but being myself I wanted to make absolutely sure of that. So I went to obtain my passport from the proper spot and it... wasn't... there. At first I laughed about it. Mostly because of the ridiculousness of getting my Passport in 2011.. when I lost my social security card. But then I started to panic.

I went through the appropriate 7 Stages of Grief. With far less expletives than our giraffe friend above did.

And prayed the whole time for God to open my eyes as to where my Passport was. So while I was going through the third storage container under my bed, I stumbled across my old camera bag. This reminded me of how I put my Passport in my new camera bag.

And wouldn't you know. There was my Passport.

So, it's all official. Port au Prince, here I come.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Gressier, Haiti

Today is the third anniversary of the 2010 earthquake that destroyed most of the southeastern part of Haiti. 357, 785 people still live in tent cities in Port au Prince. There are still homes to be built and lives to be restored.

 I thought traveling to Cap Haitien would be a dream come true. To live life with some of the poorest people in the Western Hemisphere. And, don't get me wrong, it definitely was. But God has called me to go farther. God has graciously provided me with the opportunity to travel to a village not far from Port au Prince called Gressier. I will be working at a mission called Christianville. And my heart is overjoyed.
This experience will be much different from my prior experience as I will be going with a mission team. Our task will be to paint the school located in the mission and possibly travel to a mountain church in Bel Air. Bel Air is part of Port au Prince's slum and it was one of the most heavily damaged areas after the earthquake. Rebuilding a church in this area is significant, even more significant is rebuilding one up in the mountains of this area. Culturally, construction is looked down upon in terms of position. And supplies are costly to be able to rebuild. When you take into account that this is also in a mountain where people are poor and isolated, it means that much more to see a "blanc" helping. I am praying that I will be of use in some way in the clinic because I do have some prior experience filling prescriptions and reading French scripts. I also pray that we will be able to talk with the people in the villages, especially children.

 During this experience I will NOT be at a school everyday, I will NOT be teaching, and I will only be there for seven incredibly short days. I will be serving through my hands and feet. I am an unsure of how specifically Christ will use me, but I am filled with certainty that He will. Through this experience I will be able to live next to people who's homes were destroyed, who know people who were injured or killed, and to spread God's pure hope and light to the darkest corners of souls. I will be able to tell children that "Bondye renmen ou" as I sing and play and brush dirt off of their faces.

 I know this will all happen, because I am confident that God will provide the means for me to travel to Haiti. I am about $1,000 short for my trip, but God knows where the money will come from. I am confident even that He will provide more money than I actually need. So I am planning on once again taking a suit case filled with school supplies down. Christianville runs a school sponsorship program for students. Through this sponsorship program students are able to receive school supplies and their tuition is paid for. But there is still always a great need. What if for one month, instead of the students getting new pencils and paper and erasers.. they were able to receive a vaccination against a preventable disease like Hepatitis? Or they were able to receive the means to drink clean water preventing water born diseases like Typhoid or Cholera or gastrointestinal parasites that can be cured with one simple Albendazole? Imagine what that will look like?

 In America flu season this year is very serious. Children are getting very sick with fevers. But we have prescriptions that are cheap and vaccinations to prevent it entirely. Imagine living in a place where every single day there is a risk of Malaria from the bugs around you, Cholera from the water you drink, Hepatitis from the streets you walk. None of these things exist in America, we can't comprehend it. But we do understand what children who are sick with influenza looks like. Imagine what it would look like if money was spent instead on preventing these 100% preventable diseases rather than school supplies because they have already been donated.

 I'm dreaming big for 168 hours.