January 23, 2012
Hope has arrived…please don’t let it go!
I have been so anxious to write this blog however our lack of consistent internet hasn't let me post this until now, but that is ok. Better late than never, right?
As of yesterday, the CHCH now officially has three college students! Although we have had a lot of successes and rewarding moments this past year, besides taking Dalencia in as our daughter, sending Claude, Dulta, and Liberus off to University surpasses them all.
Let me back up a little.
Shortly after Hunter and I moved to Haiti last January we realized that our kids were all but hopeless. They weren't trying their best in school, they didn't want to learn new skills, and they lacked motivation in almost every aspect of their life. Their faith in God's provision for their lives was doubtful in their minds and many of them expressed a sense of worthlessness. They were orphans living in Haiti. Yes, they had a roof over their head, food to eat every day, and a free education for at least a little while, but their reality was stark – they would one day be too old to live here and they would be put right back where they came from- on the streets with no family and no future. Sure, they would have a little education under their belt and a year of very minimal financial support, but what good would that do them? Ok, they could eat for one more year and have at least a house to live in- not necessarily with any furniture or running water, but for sure a roof. Probably a leaky roof, but a roof none of the less.
And this reality did not sit well with me and Hunter as it should no one.
For many nights we sat in our house praying, thinking, and talking about the purpose of this orphanage. What was our goal? What did we want for these kids? Was our only purpose to provide a temporary home for them until they were "adults" or was our purpose to provide them with a Christian family to love, support, and raise them the way God sees fit? Needless to say the later was our conclusion.
The deeper our relationships formed with our kids at the CHCH the more we realized that God entrusted these children to us. He was holding us accountable to raise them the same way any other parent is responsible to raise their own children. Black or white, Creole or English, Haiti or America, biological or not, these were our kids, we were their parents, and God was making us a family. And would a family, at least one governed by the Spirit of God, raise children with the bare minimum until adulthood and then place them within a population of people who have an 80% unemployment rate with an unfinished high school degree and wish them luck? Absolutely not. And therefore, neither would we.
We had to come up with a plan. We had to take our God-giving responsibility seriously. And we had to make sure to give these kids nothing less than what we would one day give our own children. We quickly decided that if we weren't willing to do that, no matter how hard it would be, we wouldn't be worthy of this calling. If we were disobedient, if we refused to give these kids all that they deserve, if we denied the responsibility to help these kids have a bright future, and if we neglected their needs in anyway, then we would not be serving God, we would simply be hurting these kids.
When it all came down to it, we knew that God wanted us to raise them with His love- a love that is unconditional and sacrificial. And so we made a commitment to each other, to God, and to our kids: We would love them as our own, protect them as our own, give to them as our own, and support them as our own. We committed to be a family. Not an organization, not a mission, and not even an orphanage, but a family.
And the more we truly did become a family, the more Hunter and I started to focus on the future of our kids. They all had dreams, but that is simply what they were. They were dreams without any chance of become a reality. Some dreamed of being doctors, nurses, and dentists. Others wanted to be engineers, politicians, architects, and teachers. Some wanted to travel the world while others preferred to always remain in Haiti. Some wanted to get married and raise a family while others got nauseous even at the thought of a boyfriend or girlfriend. J Their dreams, all so beautiful, we decided should be taken seriously.
Without hesitation we, along with Tommy Paul, started the Scholarship Program. Although many doubted it possibilities, we decided that each kid who was capable and deserving should have a chance of obtaining a university education. This higher education would allow them to not only pursue an occupation of choice, but also give them a chance at an independent life. No longer would our kids need to resort to begging each American team that entered our gates. No longer would they need to write sponsors with frantic concerns for their future. No longer would our kids be forced to live day by day simply trying to survive. No longer would our kids become criminals, thieves, and squatters.
In the past, low expectations and minimal oversight forced way too many CHCH kids to be subject to such futures. In result, way too many of the previous CHCH children have lost their faith and have no desire in the church. Hunter and I frequently come in contact with many of these kids, now adults, and it breaks our heart to know that we failed them and that we were at fault for their present state in life. And although we can't fix the mistakes of the past, we can commit to preventing such failures to happen in the future.
We know that the Scholarship Program is not the cure-all answer. We know that only a percentage of our kids will even qualify to go to university, but for that percentage, this program is the best shot they have in life. For those kids who won't be able to attend college, additional programs need to be established. They need to be taught trades, placed strategically among a community of believers, and relationship must be maintained. We can't just raise them and then send them out unto this world empty handed. We refuse to let our work here be in vain.
The Scholarship Program was presented to countless CHCH sponsors across the United States. Although many people have expressed interest in this program and have commended it for its foundation, our financial response has been minimal. We haven't even raised enough money to send one kid to University let alone the four we originally asked for. Not to mention, we have two more graduates on the way this summer. But regardless, our faith that God will provide remains strong. And so last week we officially sent off three of our kids to the Dominican Republic and as of today all three have begun classes. I'll admit, we have no idea how we will receive the money to see them through. All we know is that we have enough for this semester. We pray, daily, that God, through you all, will provide for the next.
The joy, hope, and excitement that Liberus, Dulta, and Claude contain for their lives now have been contagious. Watching them pack up, attempt to prepare themselves for the unknown, and even get a little giddy once the reality that their dreams were actually coming true has been priceless.
Liberus had already left for the Dominican before we arrived back in Haiti last Tuesday, but we were able to physically be there for the big farewell of Dulta and Claude. But all three of these kids, well I really should say young-adults, are some of the most genuine, faithful, and intelligent people I know. And as the days led up to Dulta and Claude leaving Haiti, it was evident that the rest of the kids here were morning the loss of a brother and sister. But beyond their tears, watching Dulta and Claude head off to University yesterday sent a wave of hope through our kids. Yesterday they witnessed two of their own doing someone they once could only dream about. Now, for many of them, they have the hope that their dreams may be able to travel past their pillows and may actually have a shot of coming true.
As we drove Dulta and Claude to the bus station yesterday Hunter asked them a question. "A year ago, could you have even imagined that today this is what you would be doing with your life- going to the Dominican Republic to go to university?" Dulta, full of tears couldn't answer but Claude responded with an answer I don't think I will ever forget. "A year ago we weren't able to dream about things like this," he said. "But then you came to the orphanage and told us it was possible".
And that is the thing, their dreams are possible. I hate that it took 25 years to make that a possibility but hope has arrived and I refuse to let it go. And we ask you…ok no…we BEG you to refuse to let it go either. We desperately need financial assistance for the Scholarship Program. Hunter and I can encourage them, tutor them, and help them with all they need to go to University, but we can't single handedly support them all to go. We need you help more than words can express.
Please allow our kids to dream big for themselves. I can't even imagine now, after building up their dreams so much, having to tell anyone of them that they aren't possible simply because I can't raise the money. I can't image having to tell Rodly that he could never be a language professor, Marnelle that she could never be a nurse, Jenny that she could never be a Dermatologist, Manno that he could never be an architect, Djooly that he could never be an engineer, Merly that she could never be a doctor, and the list goes on and on.
My request from you is now two-fold. First, please pray daily for Liberus, Dulta, and Claude. I can't even imagine what their transition is like into the Dominican after growing up in Haiti all of their lives. Please pray that they will learn Spanish quickly and that they will retain all that they learn in their classes. Pray that they will find a church to worship with and to have community with. And finally, pray that their successes may be used to testify to all the current and future kids of the CHCH. In the words of Dulta, "Prayer is the most important gift you can give me."
And lastly, please support the Scholarship Program. I am honestly at a loss of words now for asking. For those who have supported it, I can't thank you enough. For those of you thinking about, please, the time is now. And for those who are able and are considering it for the first time, please devote it to prayer and see if this is something God is calling you to do.
For those of you who know our kids personally, you know exactly what each one wants for their lives. None of them dream of bumming off of people for the rest of their lives, dropping their future children off at an orphanage because they can't financially care for them, or even ending up in jail. None of them want it, but for many, this is what has happened. Now of course, there have been a few success stories here and there, but we are no longer satisfied with "a few". We did not come down to Haiti to serve "a few". We came to serve them all. And we intend on following that through. We have to because to because God expects nothing less of us.
Ten dollars, ten thousand dollars- we need it all. And if you can't give financially, pray for those that can and spread the word. Our kids…well…they are the best. And they need us. All of us.
If you want more information on the Scholarship Program and how to donate, please contact me, Jillian, at HunterandJillian@hotmail.com