What a ride

It's a tough task to compose a post that depicts the progression of Second Mile Haiti in our first five months this side of the Atlantic. But what the heck, why start only there when we could take it all the way back to the beginning.

Hold on tight. This'll be a quick recap of what's happened since our inception. Inception...wow, that's an intense word. But really, if you haven't been following along then you've stumbled across a gem today. This post will bring you up to speed.

Jenn and I had each been serving in Haiti for 9 months (+ a previous 2 month trip) and 18 months respectively. We were both volunteering at a creche at the time, taking care of babies that had been given up by their families due to illness or poverty, some for just a short time and some permanently. As we worked side by side to rehabilitate these infants we became great friends and coincidently discovered that we were passionate about the same thing: keeping families together. While we loved the babies, we couldn't stop thinking about that people that had given them up in hopes of a better life.

We couldn't get their parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles out of our heads and off of our hearts. What about them? Surely there must be a way to empower them instead of taking from them. It became the sole focus of our attention as we began to constantly brainstorm ideas for what 'keeping families together' might look like in the area where we lived.

We quickly came to the conclusion that there's no better time than the present to pursue the calling that God had placed on both of our hearts. So, in October 2011, we headed back to the good old US of A to start a non-profit. We gave it the name Second Mile Ministries. We planned to go the extra mile to make sure that families were equipped with not just medicine and not simply money, but the knowledge, the skills, the tools, and the courage to do it on their own.

We knew we were going to focus on mothers with severely ill and malnourished children. We knew we wanted to offer a haven of hope for these families during their time of crisis. We also knew that we weren't going to be content with just offering food and medical care alone. We needed the caregivers, mother or otherwise, to understand concepts of infection, disease prevention, water purification, nutrition, and first aid. We couldn't wait to give parents of children with special needs like Down's syndrome, cerebral palsy, HIV, and heart defects a chance to understand how to adapt to these conditions and help their children reach their full potential.

Our excitement grew as we made plans to offer mothers not only the opportunity to gain health-related knowledge but also a chance to flourish in the realms of agriculture and business. We knew that the only real way to prevent malnutrition from recurring would be to equip families with a way to earn money. Thereby allowing them to put food in their children's bellies, pay for them to be seen at the hospital when ill, and maybe just maybe put them through school.

So...we created a vision that matched these ideas and away we went. Our first month in the States was spent visiting friends and getting them caught up. Conversations started something like this: "you might think we are crazy but...." Usually we were able to convince people that they should feel privileged to be among the first to hear about God's great plan for our futures in Haiti. Even if they did think we were a little bit nuts they at least all acted supportive.

Between October and the end of December we visited 8 different states, spoke in a couple of churches, and managed to fundraise a little bit of money doing desperate things like hold garage sales...daily. We even tried to make and sell burritos. Considering that a.) neither of us had any cooking experience and b.) we only managed to rack up about 15 orders, I'd say the Great Burrito Sale was a bit of a flop.

In fact, I'd like to take this time to thank those who ordered burritos and apologize to those who actually ate them. I am getting better at cooking though and would love the opportunity to try again, free of charge. :)

In those three months and with the help of angels, a.k.a new friends that came out the wood works just when we needed them, we were able to submit an application to become a 501c3 non-profit and create a website.

Racing to the post office just before closing to send off the finished application
December 2011

Then, although many voiced their doubts that we would actually make it back to Haiti after the holidays, we pushed ahead. We found ourselves sitting in the Cap Haitien airport (with no place to go) on January 7th, 2012. If you want to read those details then please dig back in the archives. The general gist of it is: God's been GOOD, faithful, present, and so gracious to let us be a part of his divine plan to change the lives of women, specifically moms, in Haiti.

We don't even know these women yet, but we pray for them daily.

Between then and now, with your help (and because God's resources are limitless), we've been able to get a few things done.

  • we bought a truck
  • found land
  • i got a job, which gave us a place to stay and extra money for the project
  • we became permanent residents of Haiti
  • got Haitian driver's licenses
  • celebrated our 24th and 25th birthdays
  • hired two full-time employees
  • Jenn became project manager and dug a well
  • built a clinic 
  • built a wall, with a gate 
  • and started to forge some sweet relationships with people in the community. 
the land before the wall

Thank you for your donations! 

Today we put up the gate. 

It's a bit of a statement really.. A good place to step back and thank God for how He has directed and provided and put up with our antics up until this point. It's a good place to stop and thank him for what he is going to do, for how he will continue to heal and restore and transform. It's a good place to pause and regroup. What perfect timing really. We both had friends getting married in America this month (in the same weekend actually) and we had planned to be there for their big days. 

Jenn just arrived in the States a few hours ago and I'm due to head there on Friday. We will be away from Haiti for two weeks, enjoying the company of our friends, family, and Second Mile Haiti supporters. 

Please join us in thanking God for all that He's done. And please pray for this time. Much good can come from these trips "stateside." And much good can happen on the other side of that gate when we come back. 

Guess what else! We get to come back to an official guard puppy. ;)