Tara's 2 Month Internship in Haiti
Start: Feb 16, 2019 - End: Apr 30, 2019
About a year ago, after my first trip to Haiti, I knew that God was calling me back. I was devastated when I left, but not only because of the extreme poverty and oppression (although that was very devastating) but because I felt like I was supposed to be there and not here, in America. I felt like God needed me to serve him there in some way greater than the trip I had just left, and longer than just a week. I felt like he was telling me I was meant for more and he was going to open doors, but I had to trust and wait. And let me just say, I’m not good at waiting.
That trip changed me. It was my first international mission trip, my first trip to Haiti, and my first time witnessing first hand one of the poorest, darkest, and devastating countries in the world. It made me appreciate things that I have more. It made me not worry about finances as much because regardless of what I didn’t have that I thought I needed, they didn’t even have the chance to have it. It made me love deeper, care abundantly more, and pour into others more than I ever have. It changed my outlook on my career, my life, my faith, and my hope for the future. It gave me a desire to lean into God more, trust more, and pray more because I knew that he was working on something bigger.
With every prayer, with every scripture, with every sermon, I kept hearing, “GO”! I didn’t know where, I didn’t know how to even look, but I was ready and willing to go, right then and there. I began researching programs in Haiti which had programs for children with special needs. Surprisingly to me, since I work with children with special needs daily, that search result was very slim. I began praying over every one of the programs which were faith based because I knew I wanted to be involved in a ministry for the Lord. I began asking God to open doors where he wanted me, to lead me to the place he wanted me to go. “Lord, I’m willing and ready, please take me there” was my battle cry every day. Through a friend of a friend, one of the places I had been intently researching and praying over started becoming a reality. He talked about all of the wonderful programs that this one organization helped with. From clean water to feeding the children and women in the community. From farming to construction and maternal health to medical care. From a newly formed school to a special needs program, which was what caught my attention about a month prior. He praised the Lord for the efforts in Haiti, he told stories, shared great events which he witnessed for the kingdom of the Lord, but most of all he told me of the brutal truth of what living in Haiti with special needs entails and how this group is working to change that perspective in the community. This group called LiveBeyond, which has a mission statement of, “We are a Christian organization that choses to Live Beyond…ourselves, our culture, our borders, and this life so that the poor may live the abundant life of Jesus Christ.” And I wanted to be a part of that!
In the Haitian culture, many people are afraid of disabilities and are uncomfortable around those who have a disability. Many look to those who are disabled as being contagious and a curse and because of this belief, many children who have any form of disability, whether physical or mental, are hidden away from the public view and not properly cared for. They often don’t get the food and nutrition they need, the education they deserve, and the medical and therapy care that they would benefit from to help them grow and survive. Children are sacrificed, abandoned, and shamed by their families, the community, and the country and let me just tell you, these are the most loving, precious, caring, kind children you’ll ever meet. They love like no other, they work hard to become better, and they love to be loved on. This is where I was called.
I first applied for a LiveBeyond trip in October of 2018. Due to unrest in Haiti that trip was cancelled and I had to reschedule. During the period of waiting I leaned in closer to God to ask for protection and provision for the LiveBeyond organization and in Thomazeau, Haiti. My heart was already there, I just had to wait on God’s perfect timing to get me there, and again…waiting is not my strong suit. In January 2019 I was finally able to make it to Thomazeau, Haiti where LiveBeyond is located. As I began my flight journey that day, I asked God to continue to give me wisdom and direction in what he wanted me to do during this trip. I praised him and thanked him for the opportunity, for the purpose, and for the new friends that I would make while there. I knew that this was his plan, and I knew that I was all in to follow him, and he opened doors for me the entire trip that I couldn’t have opened myself.
The entire week was filled with spreading the gospel and prayer with everything we did. The night after the Eclipse, in daily morning church, the Pastor was talking about how he woke up in the night and felt like God was telling him to go outside. When he did, he saw the blood red moon and was spooked. He had no idea that the eclipse was coming, he had no idea it was an occurrence which happened on a scheduled time due to rotations in the solar system. What he did know is that in the bible it says when the coming of the Lord is near, the moon will be like blood, and he prayed and asked forgiveness of his sins in preparation for the Lord’s arrival. Hearing his story reminded us how different our cultures are. We were looking up what time it was going to happen the night before, not thinking that some people have never seen it, never heard of it, or had no idea what it was and how it would affect them.
We went to the schools in the community to do assessments on the children to measure height, weight, and BMI to make sure the food they were being provided by LiveBeyond was helping them grow. While there we assessed their skin for scabies, wounds, burns, and any other medical problem we saw. It was heartbreaking, it was sad, it was real. We loved on those kids, we put medication on them (head to toe sometimes), and we prayed over them, because God called us to be like him, and he loves all the children of the world, so we do too. Some of them would give a blank stare, some would say a few words, and every now and then one would smile, and when they did, your heart would melt. These sweet precious children have so much to live for, and don’t even know it most of the time.
We took rice and beans into the communities surrounding Thomazeau, loaded up in a pickup truck, to spread the Gospel in the villages and to feed the children and women. We were able to feed over 200 people in the villages and taught the gospel and prayed over them all, even directly in front of Voodoo Peristyles. Seeing the peristyles made us angry, sad, and heartbroken that so many in Haiti lean toward that vs Christianity, so we prayed harder and harder against Voodoo. We got to hear stories of people who left Voodoo and got baptized after hearing about the Lord and we praised God for his grace and mercy over all.
We got to see the LiveBeyond School and learn about the visions that they have going forward for the school and for the kids who attend. We got to see the joy and love in their eyes compared to other schools we visited and we got to see hope for a future within them. Each classroom has a normalian Hatian teacher, an English speaking Aid, and access to a room full of resources. All of which are uncommon in Haiti schools, typically.
And then there is Johnny’s Kids, where my heart lies. Johnny’s kids is a program that was founded by LiveBeyond to help give the children with special needs a voice, a hope, and a future with medical care, education, food, and therapy services. I’m not sure I’ve ever felt so much love with everyone involved in running it, as well as the kids. I love the amount of inclusion in their school. To the children at LiveBeyond, inclusion is the norm, exclusion is the variable. And that is how we all should be! I was able to do therapy with some kids, talk to Taylor, the American who runs Johnny’s Kids, about some treatment ideas, and just love on them and receive love from them. The smiles, the laughter, all of it…I was home.
And then, I got my big “why” and my purpose for coming on this trip. A sweet baby boy, of unknown age, but probably close to 2, named Danielson. A sweet baby that was abandoned by his mother at birth. A sweet baby that was born with Microcephaly, and multiple effects from it and was left to suffer and die because he was not the “norm”. When I got him in my arms, he was swarmed by gnats, smelled of feces and yeast, covered in scabies, and was so tiny that I could see every bone in his body. He cried with no tears, he didn’t smile, and he was uncomfortable with human touch. His hands and legs were contracted, his neck was fixed to the left, and he was filthy. I asked to give him a bath and clean him before working with him to assess wounds, clean him for preparation of medication application, and most of all because it’s what Jesus tells us to do. As I gave him a bath I prayed over him and tears fell down my face. ‘How could someone let a child be like this? And how can I help, Lord?” I got him cleaned up, fingernails trimmed and cleaned, medication applied for scabies and wounds, and a clean diaper. And then we just snuggled for a bit, because he needed to know he’s loved, and I needed it myself. After a couple hours of therapy and modifications to everyday items to make splints for his hands, baby Danielson was clean, had increased range of motion in both hands, both legs, and I could easily move his head past midline from it’s fixated position, but it took work. I selfishly didn’t want to give him back to his Aunt, I wanted to care for him, love him, and help him because it broke my heart. It broke my heart seeing his fragility, hearing he was worse now than he was last fall, and that he may not ever get the care he needed unless his Aunt stepped away from the norm in Haiti. Taylor and I gave them medications to take home for him, made splints for his hands out of crayons and tape, discussed stretching methods to reduce his contractures, and discussed the importance of coming back to LiveBeyond. Unfortunately, the urgency and follow through isn’t a concern to most Haitians, when it comes to care for the disabled. In the time I had with him, I knew he was the reason I was there at this point in time and not in October when my original trip got cancelled. I knew what I had to do and I knew where I needed to be. And, he will forever be in my prayers and in my heart.
After this trip in January, I was offered an internship to work with Johnny’s Kids for 2 months. I will be moving to Haiti June 1-July 26, to spread the Gospel, to work with Johnny’s kids providing therapy, and to help in the medical clinic and other aspects of LiveBeyond’s organization. I humbly ask for prayer and financial support so that I may be the hands and feet of the Lord in Thomazeau.
I expect that this opportunity will have difficult moments, difficult days, and many difficult things to witness, but I know that God is sending me to this place, at this time, for a specific purpose that only He knows right now. I trust He will protect me, guide me, and provide for me through the entire process, and I have faith that He will provide comfort in the times of darkness. I ask first and foremost that you pray for LiveBeyond and the safety of those who live and work there, year round. I ask that you pray for the work they’re doing for the Lord, that they continue to be able to provide clean water and food to the communities surrounding them, and continue to be able to teach the Gospel so to bring others to Christ, through their love and good works. I ask that you pray for my safety as I travel, and live there for 2 months, and for God’s wisdom and discernment to be provided to me as I care for others, with limited resources available. I ask for prayers for God to continue providing supporters for the funding so that I may be able to go and serve without the financial burden of not working for 2 months. I ask for prayers for Haiti as a whole, especially in this moment, as the darkness seems to be overpowering the light, as riots and protests are happening, people are starving, children are suffering, and the government is destroying everything. I ask for prayers for peace and love of the Christians to infiltrate the hate and anger and to show others that the only way of living in peace is through the Lord.
The entire cost of my trip will be $5200 which will include airfare, Visa, living expenses, food, medications/ immunizations, and transportation while serving for 2 months in Haiti, without any personal income during that time period. I must have the trip paid in full by May 1, 2019, and the American Airlines plane tickets purchased by April 1, 2019. I ask that you prayerfully consider supporting me financially for this opportunity that I have to be the hands and feet of the Lord in Haiti, so that I may walk along-side other Christians in spreading love and the word of the Lord to those so desperately in need. Please prayerfully consider how you would be willing to support me during this trip-either through prayer, financial support, or both. Thank you for partnering with me and supporting me as I prepare for this mission of the Lord! Without the support of you this wouldn’t be possible.
Through One Mission, 40% of ALL product purchases under my name will be donated to my trip, and any monetary donations will be sent directly to me as well.
Fund Leader: Tara Henson
Fund Type: Mission Groups & Missionaries