LiveBeyond Spotlight | Haley Ogburn

Haley1

As a pediatric occupational therapist, I spend every day working with children with disabilities. My whole career is based on helping children find their independence and confidence with in their disability. During my time in Haiti, I was able to spend time with Johnny’s Kids. The joy, love, hope, passion, and drive that these kids had was tangible. You could see it in their eyes, the potential, and they knew it. Getting to know Lancey, Lerisa, Daphne, Badi, Nadia, Pierre Richard, and Chinyelo was a breath of fresh air. I have been wrestling with the idea that in Haiti disabilities are seen as a cursed in Voodoo culture and how I, a young and new-to-the-field occupational therapist, can make a difference. How can I help these beautiful, smart, playful children know that they are loved not only by God but everyone who meets them?

A form of an answer presented itself in an unexpected (typical of God) way. The 5th and 6th-grade Bible class I help teach is spending the summer studying characters in the Bible chosen by God to fulfill his promises. On this Wednesday, they were reviewing previous characters and started telling the story of Moses. Moses had quite a story and relationship with God. The aspect of the story I want to focus on is when God chose Moses to save his people, “and now the cry of the Israelites has reached me, and I have seen the way the Egyptians are oppressing them. So now, go. I am sending you to Pharaoh to bring my people the Israelites out of Egypt” (Exodus 3:9-10). The detail that caught my attention was when Moses questioned the Lord because he was uncomfortable with his speaking ability. “Pardon your servant, Lord. I have never been eloquent, neither in the past nor since I have spoken to your servant. I am slow of speech and tongue” (Exodus 4:10).  The Lord, of course, responds that he will help Moses speak and teach him what to say. Moses, still unsure, (typical of any patient) questions the Lord again, and the Lord provides Moses with the very first communication device for speech, his brother Aaron. God is the ultimate therapist; he was doing it long before anyone else, and he is the best that is for sure.

Moses, the first man in recorded history chosen by God to free his oppressed people, had a DISABILITY! How cool is that? How great is this message for Lancey, Lerisa, Daphne, Badi, Nadia, Pierre Richard, and Chinyelo that not only are they loved by God, but they are CHOSEN to do something great? It is an inspiring story for those of us that have the ability to teach them this, and it could help them discover their confidence and independence within their disability to fulfill God’s promises.

God is good, all the time. All the time, God is good.

Haley 2

LiveBeyond Farm Facts

By: Devin Vanderpool, Director of Communications

“Two-fifths of all Haitians depend on the agricultural sector, mainly small-scale subsistence farming, which remains vulnerable to damage from frequent natural disasters. Poverty, corruption, vulnerability to natural disasters, and low levels of education for much of the population represent some of the most serious impediments to Haiti’s economic growth. Remittances are the primary source of foreign exchange, equivalent to more than one quarter of GDP, and nearly double the combined value of Haitian exports and foreign direct investment. [Haiti is] currently the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere, with close to 60% of the population living under the national poverty line...” – CIA World Factbook on Haiti

bananas

Agriculture is not the flashy, exciting part of development, but it just might be the most important, particularly when we consider that at least 40% of Haitians depend on subsistence farming for their food. My husband saw this when he was doing mission work with his parents in Africa and Honduras. His response was to go into International Agriculture Development and to serve as LiveBeyond’s Director of Agriculture.

Many Americans love the concept of farmer’s markets. And it’s a lot of fun to spend a weekend picking fruit and vegetables from a nearby vegetable stand, but most Americans still purchase the majority of their food from supermarkets. Gardening is a hobby, an enjoyable pastime. For most of us, it hasn’t been a serious source of family food security since World War II era victory gardens. We, as a civilization, are disconnected from agriculture because we can afford to be, myself included.

That’s why I love listening to David talk with his farm workers about the LiveBeyond farm during their weekly Skype conferences. It thrills me when team members start to share the vision after they have heard David give his speeches on how he developed the farm and how it will impact the community. So, for those of you who are interested in agriculture, this is what’s happening on the LiveBeyond farm.

papaya

·      Hundreds of “trees” of bananas and plantains are planted on the farm to provide food for our teams, the Maternal Health program, Kè Pou Timoun, and staff lunches. We also have about one hundred papaya trees currently producing fruit.
·      About 80 chickens are pumping out an average of 6 eggs per week per chicken to supply the women in the Maternal Health program with protein. If you know anything about chickens, you know this is far above average production rates. I like to joke that this is a miracle, but we all know who causes miracles to happen.
·      We have about 12 goats and 9 sheep roaming one section of the farm. Our herd was unfortunately hit by a terrible disease earlier in the year, but many of the does are pregnant, so we are working on rebuilding what we lost.
·      You would not believe the production we have had this year! We have gathered onions, cassava, melons, pigeon peas, eggplants, cabbage, okra, peppers, black beans, tomatoes, corn, and even peanuts from our vegetable garden. Our next plan is to intercrop beans with some of our others plants to restore nitrogen to the soil and provide a good source of protein.

onions


·      David and I were astounded by the growth of the moringa trees that we planted throughout the base while we lived there. Moringa leaves are highly nutritious, and the trees are fast growing, meaning they will be an excellent plant to use for reforesting our desert-like region. If we continue to plant these trees through Thomazeau as planned, we could prevent soil erosion, and eventually even change weather patterns! Learn more about that here.
·      Plans are in the works to create a small production factory to dehydrate mangos for export. This would create even more jobs for locals and would improve the sustainability of LiveBeyond’s services.
·      The crew is putting the finishing touches on a sprinkler irrigation system that supplies water to the banana/plantain grove and the garden. This will improve the efficiency of irrigation and significantly advance the methodologies used to water these areas.

peanuts

Maizie's Story - A Road to Recovery and Redemption

By: Devin Vanderpool, Director of Communications

I still remember the first day Maizie (Marie Therese) came into the clinic. I was a team leader for an ACU spring break group of pre-med students in 2011. The LiveBeyond base wasn’t even a dream at this point. We were operating a mobile clinic out of the orphanage that LiveBeyond supports. I was working on organizing supplies when I heard the rumor that was spreading like wildfire through clinic: a voodoo priestess had just come in for treatment. 

What does a voodoo priestess look like? Act like? My mind raced with questions. Curiosity took over, and I dropped what I was doing to make my way over to Mama Laurie’s station where I knew the woman was. I passed several other volunteers who had already gotten the message that she was here. An electric buzz of excitement charged through all of us. I wasn’t sure what to expect exactly, but I was concerned that this interaction could be far from pleasant. I expected to see a woman clothed in red, boisterously cursing those around her. 

What I saw was a quiet woman thankfully accepting treatment for her severely burned legs. A thin red cloth wrapped around her head was all that proclaimed her background. Her legs were horrific. Years of walking on fire during voodoo ceremonies had taken their toll. Fourth-degree burns ran from her feet to her knees, bones and charred muscle completely exposed. The bottoms of her feet were so thick with callouses that we couldn’t find any shoes to fit her. Mama Laurie, a woman who has treated many horrific injuries in clinics all over the world, was visibly perturbed at how extensive the burns were. After consulting with Dr. Vanderpool, she was using anything and everything she could to debride the wounds and set them on the path to healing. 

Maizie's feet

Maizie came back a few times that week to be treated. After that, she became a regular in LiveBeyond clinics throughout Thomazeau. Each month Mama Laurie spent several hours treating Maizie’s legs. Dr. Vanderpool made sure the supplies used to treat her were stocked each trip. 
We are still always on the lookout for Maizie slowly and quietly making her way into the clinic. When she was pregnant with her seventh child, Angelou, she became part of our Maternal Health program. 

Maizie and Angelou

Mama Laurie has spearheaded the effort in evangelizing to Maizie. Since that very first meeting, Maizie has heard so much about the healing power of Jesus. She has been prayed over and loved on by hundreds of people. Her house has been visited by everyone who felt they were able to make the treacherous climb. The incredible view and Maizie’s welcoming nature makes it a favorite At Risk visit among team members. 

A few years ago, when Maizie decided to give up voodoo in pursuit of Jesus, many did not realize how difficult a decision this was for her. The CIA estimates that 50% of Haitians practice voodoo, but most believe this rating is very low. So not only was she ostracized by practicing Christians because of her previous status as a priestess, but she was also shunned by her fellow voodoo worshippers. Giving up voodoo left her with almost no community support or interaction. I can’t even imagine what it felt like for her to be so immediately isolated from everyone around her. It is another testament to the strength of her character that she was able to take that step. 

Maizie

On July 9, 2017, Maizie accepted Jesus Christ as her Lord and Savior through baptism. When David and I got the text from his parents celebrating the news (during a sermon about turning off technology to pursue a relationship with God, I might add - guilty), tears shot from my eyes and a smile spread across my face. I can’t imagine how it must have looked to those around me, but I didn’t care. I was rejoicing the fact that I will see my sister Maizie in the Kingdom of God. 

Her injuries are still extensive. It was about five years of consistent, monthly treatment before the wounds on her legs ever closed, and it is a battle to keep them that way. I still wonder how she will be treated by those in her community? Will the Christians welcome her? Will she and her family be the target of attacks from voodoo priests? I don’t know. But I do know that people across the world rejoiced when she entered the Kingdom, and we will continue to rejoice as we share the story of her redemption. 

Maizie Baptism

"Greater Works Than These..."

Jacklyn Blog Photo.jpeg

By: Jacklyn Vanderpool, LiveBeyond Evangelism & Discipleship Training Director

Originally published June 29, 2017

 

One of my favorite stories in the Bible is from John 5:2-15.

By the Sheep Gate in Jerusalem there is a pool, called Bethesda in Hebrew, which has five colonnades. Within these lay a large number of the sick—blind, lame, and paralyzed [—waiting for the moving of the water, because an angel would go down into the pool from time to time and stir up the water. Then the first one who got in after the water was stirred up recovered from whatever ailment he had. One man was there who had been sick for 38 years.  When Jesus saw him lying there and knew he had already been there a long time, He said to him, “Do you want to get well?” “Sir,” the sick man answered, “I don’t have a man to put me into the pool when the water is stirred up, but while I’m coming, someone goes down ahead of me.” “Get up,” Jesus told him, “pick up your mat and walk!”  Instantly the man got well, picked up his mat, and started to walk. Now that day was the Sabbath,  so the Jews said to the man who had been healed, “This is the Sabbath! It’s illegal for you to pick up your mat.” He replied, “The man who made me well told me, ‘Pick up your mat and walk.'” “Who is this man who told you, ‘Pick up your mat and walk’?” they asked.  But the man who was cured did not know who it was because Jesus had slipped away into the crowd that was there. After this, Jesus found him in the temple complex and said to him, “See, you are well. Do not sin anymore, so that something worse doesn’t happen to you.” The man went and reported to the Jews that it was Jesus who had made him well.

Jesus said seven words and the man was set free from his sickness. “Get up, take your bed, and walk.” Several weeks ago, I was gathering my fifty spoons and plates, filling my big Orange Gatorade cooler with water, and thinking about the places we could go that day. Typically pastor Sargesse and Mackendy chose where we go, but we like to have several options. When I had everything loaded in the back of the truck and a truckload of Americans sandwiched tightly in the back seat, we started bouncing down the road.

Pastor Sargesse mentioned that we should go to the village of Fodosh. I’m always hesitant to go to this village because frankly, it’s not much of a village, it’s more of a long road. It makes it difficult for us to set up and gather people around us. When we have tried it in the past, few people walked by and even fewer came to get food and listen to the gospel. As we were driving Pastor Sargesse had an idea to keep driving down the road and to go to Tet Sus. Tet Sus in Creole means the “head of the spring” and this area is a natural oasis with lots of trees, shade, and cooler air. They have built up a low wall to keep the water in to make a little pool. It is busy filled with animals drinking, people bathing, and a good place to hang out. It was the perfect spot to evangelize.

As we drove up, people began to gather, coming to get hot, nutritious food, and cold crisp water, all while having their spirits watered with the Gospel. Halfway through, Pastor Sargesse grabbed me and said there was a sick man. We walked up and this man in his 30s was sitting on a little mat under a tree watching everything around him. He said his name was Franceau and he had been paralyzed his entire life. Immediately the story of paralyzed man from John 5 came into my mind. A paralyzed man, sitting on a mat, next to a natural pool. It was uncanny, and I now I know the Lord was weaving together a lesson for me. We talked, shared the gospel, ate some food, and prayed for his healing. We prayed that he would get up, pick up his mat, and walk. That day I was struck at the purpose that we all have as Christians. We are all called to look like Jesus. We are called to step out in faith and proclaim healing. It is not that we are called to merely be associated with Jesus by wearing a cross around our necks or going to church. We are called to look like Jesus in word and deed. Just as Jesus healed, we too are called to heal. We have the same Spirit as Jesus. It is not in our own power, skill, or ability but rather we are proclaiming the healing power found in the name of Jesus Christ.

That day Franceau did not stand up and pick up his mat, but I refuse to be discouraged. Instead, I’m inviting each one of you to join me in praying for the healing of Franceau. Join me in praying that the Holy Spirit will rain down on Thomazeau. That people will be filled with the Spirit. That many signs and wonders will be performed. Pray with me that the glory of God will be on display and that none can deny the power of Jesus Christ. I want to step into the person that the Lord created me to be and the Spirit enables me to become. No longer will I sit on the sidelines and read about the power of Jesus Christ. I want to stand in awe of the might of God and see it with my own eyes.

“I assure you: The one who believes in Me will also do the works that I do. And he will do even greater works than these, because I am going to the Father.” John 14:12

Plunder hell and populate Heaven,

Jacklyn

LiveBeyond Spotlight | Philip Bailey

Philip and Caleb

1.      How many LiveBeyond mission weeks have you served on?  Three

2.      Share how you got involved with LiveBeyond.  I got involved through my son, Caleb Bailey (LiveBeyond's Development Officer)

3.      What's your favorite part(s) of the mission week?  My favorite parts are village visits, medical, and the morning devotionals by David and Laurie.

4.      Share one of your most memorable experiences or encounters in Haiti.  Treating Marie Therese's wounds and the weddings

5.      What keeps you coming back to Haiti with LiveBeyond?  Being part of bringing people out of darkness into light

6.      If applicable, tell us how the people of Thomazeau have changed your life.  Experiencing their humility and surrender to Christ…and their faith

7.      How have you seen LiveBeyond expand/improve our work and impact in Haiti over the course of your time supporting the organization?  The Kè Pe Timoun children have improved significantly. The number of baptisms and weddings continues to increase. The expansion of medical care and education for the Haitians is making a real difference, and you can see the literal changing of Haitian culture from darkness to light…of bringing liberty to the oppressed.

Philip Bailey lives in Katy, TX with his wife, Gaye. They have three godly children (Kimber, Caleb, and Kenzie), three godly "children-in-law," and five grandchildren. He is a graduate of Abilene Christian University and currently works as an Executive Consultant. He is an active member of the Houston Memorial Church of Christ.

Handicapped in Haiti

By: Devin Vanderpool, Director of Communications

Being handicapped in the United States has a host of challenges. I know this is true, not because I have handicaps myself but because I have helped care for disabled family members. Getting into buildings can be difficult without proper ramp or railings; uneven sidewalks cause balance issues; narrow passages prevent wheelchair access; people steal accessible parking spaces because they are “just running into the store for a minute.”

But being handicapped in Haiti is practically a death sentence. Humans and other animals survive by adapting, right? But what if your disability prevents that possibility? In the aftermath of the 2010 earthquake, thousands were left with life-altering disabilities. Many lost limbs, crushed beneath the fallen rubble. Can you imagine having to face the possibility of future earthquakes with no support system and the odds already stacked against you?

In countries like Haiti, classrooms for children or adults with disabilities are few and far between. The handicapped are seen as cursed in voodoo culture, and therefore deserving of ridicule, shame, and persecution. In fact, it is considered lucky to rape someone with a handicap before buying a lottery ticket or starting a business venture. (To read more about how abstinence isn’t always an option, read Dr. Vanderpool’s post in Christianity Today: http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2016/march-web-only/missionary-doctor-abstinence-isnt-always-option.html. The woman described in the article was recently the recipient of an IUD.)

That’s why LiveBeyond’s Johnny’s Kids program (and the future Johnny’s House) is so important. It provides tangible ways for our beloved children to adapt. Nadia couldn’t walk when we first met her. With hours of meaningful therapy under the direction of dedicated physical and occupational therapists, she can now stand by herself and walk. 

Pierre Richard and Chinyelo are getting mental and physical stimulation that they were not previously getting in their villages. We are finding out just how capable their minds are, even though their bodies are limited. Lancy “Belle,” Lerisa, and Daphne become more independent and mobile every day. I fully expect to see them running around the clinic within the next few years.

Pierre Richard

Pierre Richard

And now, Badi, a child that has long been in our At Risk program is the newest member of the day program. When I first met Badi, he reminded me of the woman in Luke 13:11-13. 

And behold, there was a woman who for eighteen years had had a sickness caused by a spirit; and she was bent double, and could not straighten up at all. And when Jesus saw her, He called her over and said to her, “Woman, you are freed from your sickness.” And He laid His hands upon her, and immediately she was made erect again and began glorifying God.

A few weeks ago my eyes teared up as I watched a video that June team member, occupational therapist Haley Ogburn took of Badi sorting stamps. I have always loved snuggling and kissing him when we visit Penigo, but I’ve never been sure just how much he is capable of. Now I know that with therapy he will someday raise his head by himself and perform functions that could be a lifeline for him as an adult. 

Even this week, caring team members are creatively changing the lives of Johnny’s Kids. Volunteer Jim Russell made a special toilet with handrails for them to use. Another brought in a walker that lit up Daphne’s face. We have a Facebook group specifically for the physical and occupational therapists that come down so that they can coordinate efforts and provide a continuity of care for our children. 

Lancy "Belle"

Lancy "Belle"

Daphne

Daphne

I am so thankful that Johnny’s House is under construction in conjunction with the primary school. I cannot wait to see what God has in store for the future of the mentally and physically disabled in Thomazeau. The handicapped are not meant for neglect. They are valued sons and daughters of the King of Kings, and they deserve to be treated with dignity and respect.

If you would like to continue to support our work with Johnny’s Kids, donate here: https://livebeyond.kindful.com/?campaign=255805 

Lerisa

Lerisa

Baby Sacks - Reintroducing the Culture of Baby-Wearing in Haiti

Women all over the world wear their babies in wraps or slings, making it easier for them to carry their babies long distances and freeing their arms/hands to hold something else.

Haiti is one of the only countries in the world where baby-wearing is not practiced.

The women in our maternal health program stay in the program for one year postpartum.  They are supposed to bring their babies with them to all of their visits (so we can weigh, measure, and keep track of their health/nutrition status.)

Can you imagine walking 2-4 hours carrying a newborn? An infant? A toddler???

Neither can they, which is why most of them don’t bring their babies. This prolonged separation of mom and baby isn’t good for several reasons.  We can’t keep track of the baby and intervene if there is a problem.  However, the biggest problem is that she is unable to nurse during this time apart.

When I asked the women in our program why Haitians don’t practice baby-wearing like their African ancestors, they said “because we don’t have baby sacks!”  They are very excited to try it out, so I am bringing baby-wearing to Haiti!

BW5

This isn’t just giving a few women an item of convenience so they can be compliant with our instructions.  I really want to change the culture to re-introduce the custom of baby-wearing.  These women walk long distances on a daily basis- fetching water or going to market.  If they do get a ride, it’s on the back of a donkey or a moto.  It terrifies me every time I see a motorcycle zoom by with a woman holding an infant.  At least if she has a wrap, the baby is attached to her body and isn’t going to go flying off (. . . unless she does.)

BWMoto

This is where you come in. . . Instead of presenting them with a specific wrap that may not work for them for one reason or another, I want to present them with every different type of wrap and have them tell me what would work for their needs and lifestyle.

BW6
BW12

   I have done a lot of research on inexpensive, low-skill, DIY wraps and I am in need of. . .

  • Fabric— standard width, minimum of 2 yards in length, material doesn’t matter (I will need a variety)
  • T-shirts— any size, any color, any condition, can even be kids
  • Long scarves/shawls/sarongs— the kind that are very wide
  • Sling Rings— preferably 3″ to 3.5″

If you are able to donate any of these items, please mail them to:

Tayler Johnston

c/o LiveBeyond

P.O. Box 128137

Nashville, TN 37212

If you do not already have these items on hand and you would like to donate to go towards their purchase or if you have any other questions, please e-mail me at Tayler@LiveBeyond.org or send me a message on Facebook!

Again, thanks so much for your generosity, your support, and your prayers!

BW13

ACU Alumni June Trip - Serving Together After 36 Years

1st June Group

By: Devin Vanderpool, Director of Communications for LiveBeyond

    The most recent medical mission group to come with LiveBeyond to Haiti was a unique one: it was a reunion trip for many of the friends of Dr. and Mrs. Vanderpool from their college days at Abilene Christian University. It was composed primarily of ACU students from the classes of '80-82, along with their spouses, children, and a few other team members. This group had the unique ability to experience Haiti, not just as individuals, but as a community of believers that had fortified their bonds in college.

    At one point, Mama Laurie (as she is referred to by thousands of Haitian children, and her loving daughter-in-law) mentioned that each person from her class had some impact on where she is today, seeking the Kingdom of God by serving the oppressed in Thomazeau, Haiti. And I could see throughout the week just how much she and Dr. Vanderpool and the rest of LiveBeyond's outreach impacted the spiritual growth of the team members as they studied scripture together each morning, sang in church, served in the clinic, helped with Johnny’s Kids and Kè Pou Timoun and evangelism, went on At Risk and Maternal Health visits, and discussed the entire experience over supper. The longevity of the friendships held by so many of the team members gave the group more intimacy, allowing the spiritual growth of each person to compound upon one another. “As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another.” (Proverbs 27:17) I was able to witness each team member put on the Armor of God, ready to advance the Kingdom of Heaven, standing shoulder-to-shoulder, shield-to-shield with their classmates. 

    For me, an ACU class of 2011 graduate, it was a chance to peer into the future and imagine what life might be like with my closest ACU friends in 30-40 years. Will my class be serving together in a mission field? Will we be warriors searching for ways to advance the Kingdom, aligning our shields and joining the battle? Isn't that so much better than meeting for a beach weekend or a ski trip? 

    On the final night, the group gathered around for one last round of prayers and, of course, “The Lord Bless You and Keep You.” We actually couldn’t contain ourselves, and we ended up singing several of the other familiar hymns, as ACU graduates are wont to do. I’m so thankful for the heritage of faith that ACU blessed me with. I’m grateful for the community of believers and spiritual mentors that I am inherently a part of, simply because I attended a particular college. During my week at the LiveBeyond base, I once again got to witness the ACU difference. Thank you, ACU, for preparing us to LiveBeyond.

(Side note: The class of ’92 also has a reunion trip to LiveBeyond in January of each year.)

ACU Class of '81

ACU Class of '81

Catching My First Haitian Baby...With One Glove On

By: Tayler Johnston, LiveBeyond Director of Maternal Health, Certified Nurse-Midwife and Women's Health Nurse Practitioner; reposted from her blog

1st Haitian Baby

Wow. . .  I have been wanting to write a blog post about my first baby born here in Haiti.  Four days later I am still having trouble putting words together, but here goes. . .

This past Friday, I had just finished my routine post-partum visits and was tending to a large gash on one of the Kè Pou Timoun children’s leg when I heard Gertrude (my Maternal Health coworker) yelling my name in a manner that I had not heard before.

Gertrude and Me

Gertrude and Me

I go out to the clinic pavilion to see a very pregnant woman struggling to walk towards the clinic assisted by a man and a woman who are yelling that she is in labor. [I later learn this is a cousin and sister.]  I usher her into our labor suite but wasn’t yet convinced that she was in labor (we have had a couple of false alarms), so I palpate her fundus.  A strong contraction started and lasted for about a minute, so I think this is probably the real deal.

I Doppler heart tones and they are 90s-110s.  [For readers who are not familiar with obstetrics, NOT reassuring.]  I immediately check her cervix to try to determine if transfer will be needed and she is 10cm/100%/-2 with a big bulging bag of fluid.  (Praise the Lord!!!)  She got a contraction and tried to push but there wasn’t really any movement.  Since FHTs were low, I broke her water to try to help the baby descend.  There was moderate meconium [aka baby poop, which can be a sign of distress, also not reassuring.  I later learned that this distress could have been from the hour and a half motorcycle ride she took to get to the clinic.]

She is now sitting in a puddle of amniotic fluid and meconium so I take off my gloves to get new underpads when she asks if she can push.  I tell her yes and the baby immediately crowns.  I frantically grab clean gloves and after I get one glove on, the baby’s head is out.  I couldn’t get the other glove on and ended up catching my first baby Haitian baby with one glove on.

Haitian Baby
  • June 8, 2017
  • 3:20pm
  • Baby boy.
  • Apgars 9/9.
  • 6lb 10oz
  • 19.5″ long

All of this happened within FIVE MINUTES of her walking into the clinic.  I didn’t have time to call for any assistance except for Gertrude, my wonderful MH coworker, with no medical background whatsoever.  I literally couldn’t have done it without her extra set of hands handing me chux, cord clamps, scissors, a clean baby blanket, diaper, etc.  It made it even harder for me to understand how most Haitian women give birth at home alone.

Mom and baby were both happy and healthy.  He nursed beautifully (after some convincing.)  Exactly 2 hours after birth, she got up, got dressed, went to the restroom and then informed me that she was going home.

*Story and photos published with Mom’s permission.

From "Worthless" to "Beloved"

By: Jacklyn Vanderpool, LiveBeyond Evangelism & Discipleship Training Director

Originally published June 9, 2017

Last week I celebrated living in Thomazeau, Haiti for one year. A lot has happened in one year, strongholds have been broken, hundreds have come to know the name of Jesus Christ, new programs have been started, heartache has been felt, but most importantly, the kingdom of God has been expanded. I have always dreamed of spending my life doing missions but I could have never fathomed all the ways in which the Lord would move. I am so humbled to be a part of this work and it has truly been a great adventure.

Last week I was dealt some heartache of my own. While leading the team to Penigo, I was telling everyone about Badi and Gorgi. These sweet brothers both have a disease similar to Cerebral Palsy. For the last several years we have been praying for the healing of Badi, that he would run up and down the village jumping and singing. Our prayer is that all who lay eyes on Badi cannot deny the power of Jesus Christ. Two years ago, Gorgi was born and within six months we realized that Gorgi too had the same disease as Badi. Over the last several months we have been trying to incorporate them into our Johnny’s Kids program hoping that physical therapy could help improve their standard of living. We have had our hurdles to get over in order to get these kiddos in our program but here at LiveBeyond, we have been determined to do whatever necessary to help. The first time I laid eyes on Gorgi was just days after he was born, he was severally jaundiced. But quickly within a day or two, his coloring returned to normal. Since then I would visit frequently to see SenSen and the two brothers. We quickly realized that something was not quite right and we determined that he too had the same disease as his brother, Badi. Several months ago, Gorgi became very sick and when we brought him into the clinic we became fond of the idea of incorporating him into Johnny’s Kids as a possible treatment option. We knew that we didn’t have the staff available to immediately make that idea a reality but we were willing to fight for it. But, as we walked up to the brothers’ house last week, I immediately saw Badi but Gorgi was nowhere to be seen. As I approached their mother asking about Gorgi, she told me that Gorgi had passed away on Saturday. I know for me that so much of my grief is selfish, I adored sweet Gorgi and fought so hard for a hope of making his life better. But while my heart is absolutely broken about his death, I cannot help but rejoice that sweet Gorgi is no longer confined to a body that cannot move or speak. Instead, I am confident that Gorgi is enjoying the rush of what if feels to run and jump and dance. And most of all, Gorgi is resting in the embrace of our loving Father, whole and utterly complete.

In celebration of the power and might of our Lord, I want to share the incredible ways in which the Lord has blessed and healed our Johnny’s Kids. Every time I look at Nadia, I can’t help but see the healing power that is found in the blood of Jesus Christ. When Nadia was young, she was hit in the head by a rock and paralyzed. She came to our program unable to walk or stand at all. Her life was now centered around sitting in a chair and unable to go to school. Every day I would watch Nadia and see her determination. We would say, “let's try this exercise 10 times,” and she would push to do 15. She wanted to get better, stronger, and ultimately be able to walk. Within two months she was walking with assistance. Within 6 months she was walking on her own. She can go from standing to sitting and vice versa without having to hold on to anything and last month we were practicing jumping and balance drills. I was driving through Delman one day and saw Nadia just strolling down the road with a friend with the biggest smile on her face. This 14-year-old girl who is shy, sweet, and quiet, is one of the strongest, most determined, and fiercest girls I’ve ever had the pleasure of knowing. When I see Nadia, I see the power of Jesus Christ.

Daphne is a little ball of fire. The first year of Daphne being a part of our program I thought she was unable to speak.  Now, after several years, she is quite the chatter box. She is making great strides in her physical therapy and though she is the smallest of our Johnny’s Kids, she still sneaks spoonfuls of food from the other kids’ plates.

I guarantee you have never seen a more infectious smile than Larissa’s. Though she cannot walk or talk, she certainly knows how to steal hearts. It is so abundantly clear to me that when we give water to Larissa or kisses and hugs that we are doing that for Jesus. Larissa has been transformed into a happy and playful girl.

And sweet Lancy Belle, who when we first started bringing her to our program was convinced that her mother was giving her to us. The whole way to the base she would cry out for her mother and the whole way back home she would cry because she had so much fun. Thanks to the incredible PTs that have come to LiveBeyond, Lancy is learning to walk. She sings Hallelujah all day, laughs, and has formed a beautiful relationship with Daphne.

And then there are Pierre Richard and Chenyello, these two boys who have very similar physical handicaps have become best friends through this program, even though they live only a quarter of a mile from each other. Our very first day of starting this program my mom and I were coming up with goals for each kid. Our goal for Chenyello was that at the end of the week, he would smile. He was such a stoic and seemingly unhappy child when we first started bringing him to LiveBeyond. Now his giggles fill the entire clinic as he races Pierre Richard around in the wheelchairs. When Pierre Richard first started coming I completely underestimated how far he is in school. For months I had him counting to twenty in Creole, I walked in one day and saw him dividing triple digits. I was humbled, to say the least.

I am so proud of each one of our kids and every day I am reminded of the legacy of my Uncle Johnny. But my absolute favorite part of this program is that every day our kids come to our base they are told how treasured, loved, and adored they are. In Haiti, they are called Cocobai which means worthless. Our desire at LiveBeyond is to show them just how valued they are. We have seen a physical transformation in each one of our kids and look forward to expanding our program to include more kids but we have also seen a transformation with the ways in which the community views children born with special needs. No longer are they viewed as worthless but rather as sons and daughters of the King of Kings!

 

Plunder hell and populate Heaven,

Jacklyn