There is not a lot of words that I have for my time in Burkina Faso. Only that I became very aware of God’s Kingdom during my time with God’s people. That not a heart goes unseen by Him and that His love is always enough. I am so thankful for every human I came into contact with. For every hug + handshake, for every laugh and every tear. I am so thankful and so excited to go back soon!
// When your family lives 10 hours away, it becomes necessary to find people who become your family. This trip with my beautiful friends only happened a few months ago, but within these few, short months; they have become my family. The people I would drop everything for. The ones I would feel comfortable waking up in the middle of the night if I needed them. I am so thankful for friends who become family. For experiences & adventures & hard times that bring us closer together. I am so thankful.
// Oh man. There are no ways to describe how incredible this trip was. How meaningful it was to my journey as a human & how much the people & this place forever shaped my heart. I traveled with my grade 2 bff/ college roommate Kaileen & we met our two friends who are living out in NZ. Our time together was short, but intentional. Since we only had two weeks there, we tackled the North Island & oh my gosh was it ever breathtaking. My highlight was definitely Cathedral Cove. There was just something about that place that allowed freedom to reign. It was so so good. New Zealand, you are lovely & I will be back to see all of you someday soon.
// Adventures with my a few of my favourite people has got to be one of the best things that this life has to offer. We hike together, we camp together, we laugh together, we encourage one & another & are there for each other in the good & bad. //
// Haiti has my heart. I spent two months there in the spring of 2016 & oh how I loved every second of it. I formed relationships & bonds that can never be broken because they were built with an everlasting love. Most of the photos that I took in Haiti, were inside the 4 walls of the Orphanage I was working at, so you won’t get an accurate picture of what Haiti looks like beyond The Orphanage. I didn’t want to disrespect the people living there by taking their photo, when I hadn’t built a relationship with them – so the photos you see below are (mostly) in the Orphanage.
Here are a few of my journal entries while I was in Haiti:
A huge thing I’ve leant from the first week of being in Haiti, is that no matter where you are, no matter what your situation – there is always, ALWAYS hope. You are never “too far gone”, there is never a situation that God can’t touch. There is always hope.There is never a situation that God can not reach. There is never a circumstance that is hopeless. He is the hope. He is the light. We don’t need to “bring hope to Haiti.” There is already hope here. He is already here. We are not their saviour, we are not their saving grace – He is. //
He chose you.
He is protecting you.
He saved you.
He is kind.
You are His.
You are precious to Him.
He watches over you.
He listens to you.
He will never fail you.
He cares for you.
He will restore you.
He will support you.
He will strengthen you.
He will place you.
I was reading through 1st Peter & found SO much truth within this little book. It clung to my heart & I began to write down every attribute of God, thinking of each child here while I wrote. & so after each truth I said their name & started speaking truth over their lives. like, “He is protecting you, Manuela, You are precious to Him, Manuela.” & I began to cry. Not tears of anger or frustration of unjust situations, instead tears of love. Tears of hope. His love is so deep, so personal & fierce for each & EVERY human. So if you are drowning in lies, above is some truth. Hold onto it. Read over it. Say your name at the end of it. He is talking to you, He is loving you, He is seeking after your heart //
Chelande, like most of the kids here – have gone through unimaginable situations before coming to Children’s Hope. While a lot of these beautiful children have learnt to play & have fun, for Chelande it hasn’t come so easy. If ever anyone would try to make her smile or laugh she would do this cute little half smile thing, realize she was having fun, then quickly cut herself off and have the most serious expression on her face. So it was the same for me on the first day I arrived here in Haiti. But this week, I spent my time playing with her, tickling her, getting to know her & FINALLY I got a full smile & a real gut laugh. Her laugh pierced the silence & stole my heart. Later that day, she grabbed my hand & we walked together (which doesn’t seem like a big deal, but it was). She is the most precious thing & I am so thankful that @childrenshope exists so that they can provide shelter, food & amazing nannies to care for these beautiful humans. I know that Chelande doesn’t need me & that there are people here to take care of her & love her but wow, I am so thankful for the way she has impacted my heart. This post isn’t about me – no, these kids here at the orphanage are already loved & cared for, they don’t need me to come & “love on them.” I am not a crucial part of their story – but I want them to know that they are a crucial part of mine. //
Haiti, I miss you & I love you. I will be back so soon <3
for about a year & a half, I had been planning a trip to Africa with my good friend who takes a team of nurses there twice a year. she wanted me to come & photograph their time going from village to village, helping kids along the way. I was so stoked because Africa has always been close to my heart & photography!? heck yeah!
then about two weeks ago, she messaged me & told me it was no longer safe to take a team out there. my heart dropped. I had felt so strongly for so long that this is what I was suppose to be doing. didn’t God want me to serve? didn’t He want me to help? all of these doubts & questions started rushing through me but as I was about to lose my cool, He stopped me & whispered to me softly, “Trust me.” But God, how am I suppose to trust You when I have been planning this for so – “Trust me.” As much as I wanted to freak out, I knew what he was telling me. I knew there was something else he wanted me to do or somewhere we wanted me to go. so I said, okay. I trust you.
so for the next week I started messaging & emailing & registering for all of these different organizations & missions trips. & get this, NOT ONE emailed me back. Hmm, okay God- you told me to trust you, but no doors are opening for me, what does this mean? He whispered again, “just trust me.” at that moment, it dawned on me that my cousin had spent a good chunk of her year traveling the world & I knew she had helped in an orphanage in Haiti along the way! I quickly messaged her and asked for the orphanages information. Not expecting anything, I emailed the lady who runs the orphanage to see if they needed any help at all. she messaged me back saying “We have been praying diligently for you. We have been seeking & praying for a school teacher for some time now- is that something you would be interested in? Since we can not pay you, we would want to pay for your flight & make sure you have a place to stay while you’re here. Let me know what you think.” my emotions were floored. it went from “wow- what?! amazing!” to, “wait. what? a school teacher?? I can’t do that.” I wrestled with this idea for a few days. I’m not a school teacher, I’m a wedding photographer – how am I, going to be able to help these kids? I explained to her that I am NOT a teacher & that I’m simply a wedding photographer. she replied beautifully and said, “I don’t care about your degree, I care about your heart. if you have a heart to help kids & to make the lessons fun for them, then you will be perfect.” even though she was saying all of these beautiful things, I still was back and forth about it. “this is just way too far outside of my comfort zone.” I cried to my parents. they responded gracefully and said “Teresa, you don’t have to be perfect to help these kids. God will work through your imperfections.” I was blown away. They were so right! So I took a step of faith & I emailed the lady at the orphanage right away & said yes – I would love to serve!
Sometimes, God likes to push us wayyyy out of our comfort zone so we can truly rely on Him for the strength, the energy & the wisdom that we need. So from March 11th – April 19th I will be serving at an orphanage in Haiti. My heart is honestly so excited to see how God will continue to teach & guide me as I serve in Haiti.