Tuesday, December 14, 2010

the move

In 2008, I spent my summer in California. During this time, the Three Angels board was discussing plans for finding a new House Manager for the orphanage, because the woman currently there was moving back to the states on August 30th, and they didn't yet have a replacement. It was now the beginning of August. The board really wanted a husband and wife couple that would move there to run the orphanage together, but at this point, there wasn't anyone that was interested and ready to move. So the idea came up and I agreed that I would fill in as the temporary House Manager. I drove from California back to my home-base in Indiana on August 20th... and flew out for Haiti on the 27th. It all happened pretty fast!! I was a little nervous about it all, but it was definitely what I wanted to do.

The plan was that I would arrive in Haiti and have a few days with the current House Manager, Sandy,  to learn from her and figure out... well, figure out what I was suppose to do! However, hurricanes got in the way of that plan. I had made it to Miami when I found out my flight to Haiti had been canceled and there wasn't another one for 5 days. I rented a car and drove to Palm Coast to stay with Gretchen, at the time, the President of Three Angels. I rebooked a flight for 6 days later... only for that one to be canceled as well. I finally made it to Haiti on September 5th. But Sandy was long gone at this point.

(just walked in the door of Three Angels)

So here I was. I had been to Haiti on three different week-long trips. But I was just a member of a team on those trips. I didn't really know the staff. I didn't know what things look like from day to day at the orphanage. And I certainly didn't know anything about running it.

The first few days felt extremely long. I had to kinda just play things by ear and figure out a system as I went. All the little things-- like what time the kids get up, how to do breakfast and dinner on the weekends, when to do snack, what to feed them (yes, a lot to do w/ food!), figuring out who the employees were and what they each did, figure out what it was they needed from me when they came up and stared at me, when to turn on the generator...etc.  Oh yes, and do all this without speaking Creole. There were a handful of people in my daily life there that spoke decent English.  The first few days were rough! I often questioned whether or not I really should've come. There had to be other people better qualified for this than I was!! But slowly, the day to day life fell into place. I figured out a system. We had somewhat of a routine.

I would usually wake up in the mornings to a kid walking in my room around 5 or 5:30. Most of the kids knew some English, the older kids spoke it very well. However, some words, they would just always use the Creole word.  So when they would come in at 5 am, they would say what sounded to me like "sleep". They clearly were needing something, I just had no idea what. Then one of the kids would go through my room to the porch, pull underwear off the clothes line, and then leave (of course, usually forgetting close the door on their way out). Come to find out-- the Creole word "slip" (pronounced "sleep") means underwear. I would also get woke up for things like diapers and toothpaste. I didn't take long to figure out how to plan better so that no one would need anything at 5 am!!

processing Haiti....

It's one of those nights. I want to be asleep... I'm trying to sleep.... but I can't seem to turn off my brain. It keeps going back to Haiti.

And as I was laying awake, unable to sleep, I realized how little I've ever shared about my experiences in Haiti. I never really blogged much. I journaled every now and then. I tell people about Haiti. But rarely do I let the conversation get to my feelings, thoughts, or personal experiences. It's not that I've built a wall around myself and just don't want to let anyone get close... it's honestly just that I don't really dwell on things. It's almost like I don't even ever fully process things.  But as I was thinking about things tonight, it was almost as if I was viewing it all from a different angle, I suppose.

So, I want to tell my story. It's just as much for me as it is for anyone else. Maybe it's even more-so for me. It's filled with joys, blessings, struggles, hardships, adventure, stumbling, learning, growing, breaking, more learning, love, anger, frustration, happiness... and, probably much more. I'll start with when I first decided to move to Haiti. But not now. Now, I think I can sleep. I think processing Haiti can wait another day....

Friday, December 10, 2010

i don't like this time of year.

I know, I know... how could I say that??  Yes, it's Christmas. Everybody loves Christmas, right? And isn't it kinda anti-Christian to say you don't like Christmas??

Well, let me clarify.

I love the birth of Christ. I am thankful He came as a baby, lived a sinless life and died on a cross. A death I should have died. I am humbled by it. I am in awe of it. The story of Mary, a young virgin, and her to-be husband Joseph, their journey to Bethlehem, the stable, the wise men... it's a beautiful story. One that I think we often become too familiar with and let it lose it's beauty.

But, what I don't like about this time of year... everything else. The cold, dry weather. The snow. The traffic. The frustrated shoppers. Shopping. I really dislike shopping.

I went to Target today with 4 or 5 things on my list. I parked in the back of the parking lot. Some people park in the back because they don't mind walking and it's too hard to find a close spot. That's part of it. But more than that, it's because it's crazy up close. Cars backing up and pulling in and driving in circles and pedestrians walking all over the place. I just don't like it. There's too much going on. And then, I go inside. So many people. Crowds. I don't like crowds. I mean, where do all these people come from?? Are they holed up in their houses for the rest of the year and just come out at Christmas?

And then back to the story of Christ. Shouldn't we be thankful for His birth & death all year long? There is nothing wrong with setting aside a day as a "memorial" to a certain event. We do that for a lot of things. So I'm not hatin' on it. I'm not saying we shouldn't have a special day or season set aside to reflect on the birth of Christ. But, we shouldn't limit it to that day. And.... is that even what Christmas is really about? I don't mean what it should be about... I mean, for the general, vast majority of people... is Christmas even about Christ?  Should I feel bad about not particularly liking this time of year when overall, it's not even about what it should be about?  We have these cutesy little sayings... people use them as yard signs and bumper stickers. "Jesus is the reason for the season" and "Keep Christ in Christmas" and such.  Isn't Jesus the reason for.... EVERYTHING?? Shouldn't we keep Christ in .... EVERYTHING??

No matter how many signs or bumper stickers we put up, do you think Americans will, as a whole, just drop their shopping list and say "Ohhhh!!! Now I get it!". (also, as a side note, I'm NOT saying don't fight what you believe in simply because things seem impossible to change. fight for justice and truth regardless if you ever see a change from it).  I'm simply making the point that even those of us who do celebrate the birth of Christ this time of year, we're still out shopping too, aren't we??? We're still baking and cooking and figuring out who's house Christmas will be at this year and worrying about if there will be enough table space and calculating how much money we have left over to spend on the crazy relative and getting the kids cute outfits to wear for the Christmas play they're doing at church...etc.

Like me, for example. I posted a video for the Advent Conspiracy on my facebook wall. Right along with buying Christmas presents for my family and giving them a wish list for myself.

I'm not trying to convince you to not like this time of year. I simply, overall, don't. And I think, when I first realized that I just don't like it, I felt bad. But I don't now. I love that Christ came to earth. He is THE reason. He is everything. But I dislike shopping and crowds of people.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Change for a change!!

Here is a simple way to collect and give money to those in need-- set up a change jar in your house. Instead of throwing all your change in your purse, just drop it in the jar and watch how quickly it adds up! Your pennies, nickels, dimes and quarters will make a huge difference in someone's life. You can collect the change just through the Christmas season, or keep it up for months and see how much you get!

Simply print off this image ( larger image available by clicking here: http://bit.ly/iiaVio )

and tape it on any type of jar or container. I started w/ a peanut butter jar, but it would take some mad skills to cut a slit in the lid... I later found a coffee can and that works great!

Collect and donate your change to make a difference in someone's life. I'm not asking you to plan a massive fundraising event (but go for it, if you want to!), sell your kidney, or go door to door soliciting. Simply drop change in a jar. And, then yes, you will have to go to the bank, write a check, and then drop it in the mail. But is that too much in exchange for giving families like his a chance at a better life?? 

Leve Project is a 501(c)3 (meaning your gift can be tax exempt) non-profit ministry. We are committed to walking along side Haitian families on their journey out of poverty. I'm asking for your support of Leve Project. However, if you don't want to give and support Leve Project... please, collect your change and give to whatever ministry you are involved in. 

Checks can be mailed to: 

Leve Project
2956 N. 425 E.
Danville, IN   46122

Friday, November 5, 2010

Vagabond. Texas. And Livesay kid stories.

I left Evansville Tuesday morning to take off for Texas. For the first half of the year, I traveled quite a bit. I got back to Haiti on Jan 11th, the day before the earthquake. I escorted some adopted kids home, and went straight back to Haiti. I flew out of Haiti on Feb. 11th. Did some traveling. My home-base was sorta Florida. That is, if staying in one place for 3 1/2 months qualifies it as being my "home-base". Then, my quick trip to Evansville turned out to be a long stay. 4 1/2 months and counting. The longest I've been in one place for over a year now. Staying in one place in the states for 4 1/2 months with a regular full-time job might not seem like much, but it's against the norm compared to my newly acquired vagabond style.

So now I'm in Texas visiting the Livesay tribe. Just for a week. Then back to Evansville for me. But I must say, even just for a week, it's kinda nice to get out and travel again. Even though it involved cold airports and cold airplanes. (I hate all things pertaining to cold.)

Tara and Troy headed to Minnesota early this morning. Paige and I tried to squeeze in all of our wild and crazy partying Wed. and Thursday night since we now have a tribe of 5 to be responsible for. Our wild and crazy nights included watching a late movie and getting tired before it was over and driving around Waco trying to think of what to do and how to get there (we threw in the towel pretty quickly and headed home with some chick-fil-a). Don't get me wrong though- it was still a party. Paige and I can turn anything into a party.

This morning we loaded up the truck (at least I'm pretty sure all 6 kids were in there, I didn't do a head count though) and dropped Isaac, Noah and Hope off at their school and Paige to hers. Phoebe and Lydia did great and no one has even cried today (yes, I know, the day is not over).

I would just like to say that Tara is not exaggerating at all when she tells Phoebe and Lydia stories. If one kids says something, the other must repeat it. It's usually Lydia repeating Phoebe, but it can go either way. And kid 2 does not repeat in a tone as if they are simply copying kid 1, they say it as if it was their own original thought that we hadn't just heard 2 seconds ago.

If one kid does or says something, the other must do or say it, too. When possible, they must do or say it "bigger and better". For example:

kid 1: I have to pee.
kid 2: I have to pee... no, i have to poop!
kid 1: I have to poop, too.

One last story and Phoebe and Lydia for the moment, but I'm sure I'll have more coming.

I hand them my iPad (or my "phone" as they call it) to play games on. They already know which games do what and how to get from one to the other. As I give it to them, the conversation goes like this:

me: No fighting, or I'll take it away.
kid 1: okay
kids 2: okay
me: What did I say? Repeat it back to me.
kid 1: I don't know.
kid 2: I don't know.
me: No fighting, or I'll take it away. What did I say?
kid 1: ummmm... Stop!
kid 2: Stop!

Meh, close enough...

Sunday, September 26, 2010

living in limbo

September 26, 2010. That's today. I cannot believe this year is so close to it's end. I'm not sure really where time went. I guess where it always goes- just gone.

In some ways, I feel like I've been wasting the past several months. I mean- they haven't been a waste, but I'm not sure I've lived them to the fullest. I know I haven't. Because I've been living in limbo. Limbo- an uncertain period of awaiting a decision or resolution; an intermediate state or condition.

I came back to the states on February 12. And ever since that day, I've been waiting for the day I'll return to Haiti. Originally, I thought I would only be in the states for a few weeks. I had a few trips planned, California, Grand Cayman, Indiana, swing by Florida and head back to Haiti sometime in March. That was my plan. I stayed in Florida through mid-June. After a visit to Michigan, I planned a quick trip to Evansville end of June. That's where I've been ever since. My plans to be somewhere for a few weeks always turns into months. And yet, I have not been in one place for more than 4 months for almost a year now (since November of last year when I returned to the states to work the holidays and return to Haiti on Jan. 11).

I am a pretty flexible person. I've had to be. Living in Haiti, I've learned about patience. I've learned about surrendering control. I've learned about trusting God. And I've learned about those things even more-so since the earthquake. A few nights after the quake, I remember talking about that with a few of my friends. How we have absolutely no control over things. We can make all the plans we want-- but ultimately we have no control of making sure they actually happen. There comes a point though, after you've made plans, scratched those plans and made new plans, and have to scratch those and revise yet again, when you just want to put your foot down and yell, "ENOUGH!". I've wanted to yell that a few times. I've wanted to yell, so the whole world could hear and witness my bold statement, "I am making these plans, and this IS how it's going to happen. THIS is when I will return to Haiti, and I will NOT change that date. THIS is where I'm going to live and THIS is how it's going to happen.".  Sometimes, I want to yell that. For the world to hear... but I guess really, for God to hear. I want Him to know that I feel I've been patient long enough. I've been flexible long enough. I've given Him control long enough.  I know how foolish that is.  Why would I want to trade in the plans of One who is all-sufficient, all-knowing and all-powerful for my own fallible ways and plans? I wouldn't. I don't. I just miss Haiti so much. I miss my life there. I don't just miss it, I ache for it. But I will continue to trust Him.

Monday, September 6, 2010

thinking back to that day...

Sometimes as I lay in bed, trying to sleep, thoughts of the earthquake rush back to me. The night of the quake. The 40 seconds the earth shook. The long, sleepless nights following. The crazy weeks after that. The things I saw and experienced. I try to clear my head. I try to stop thinking about it. I try to force myself to sleep. But it doesn't work. Sometimes, I can't stop the memories and thoughts unfolding in my mind.

A few weeks ago, I was thinking about how the earthquake made us all equal. Although we tell ourselves that "everyone is equal"... that's not really the case. Sure, maybe we were created to be equal and we should be equals... but life's not fair. There are rich people in Haiti who have never even looked to see the poverty. Even besides class and social status, there are things that make the people living there different. But not on that night. The earthquake didn't care who you were. Sure, the wealthy might have had an advantage of nicer homes. But even that didn't matter all that much. The Carribean Market collapsed. Hotel Montana fell. The Palace crumbled. That experience made us all the same. At least for a little while. A boujwa (Creole word for the French- bourgeois, to describe the wealthy) was no longer a boujwa. A blan (white person) was no longer a blan. Black people died. White people died. Rich people died. And poor people died. No one was above being affected by the earthquake. We were all the same that night.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Journey in Haiti

Pictures from my journey in Haiti. The people, places and things that have touched & changed my life.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

the poor will be glad

I'm currently reading the book, The Poor Will Be Glad.  I just want to share bits and pieces from Peter Greer in the first chapter:

"The reality is that the scale of poverty in the developing world dwarfs nearly everything we label as "poor" in the United States... How naive I was– and many of us still are– to equate slightly less luxury with the dehumanizing struggle to survive that confronts the nearly three billion people who try to survive on less than $2 a day."

"Let us reiterate: it is not our intention to suggest that the poor in America suffer no pain in our own cities. Rather, we wish to emphasize the extreme and immediate needs of the poor in developing countries. These are people who literally struggle to survive every day of their lives."

"Something is wrong. But in the haze of desperation and despair, hope is breaking through... The hope of the gospel is integrated through tangible acts of compassion that have long-term reach, rather than simply providing handouts that keep the poor in a position of dependency...."

"This is the beginning of a new movement led by microfinance ministries, where small loans and local relationships are used to bring lasting change to poor communities."

Monday, July 12, 2010

can haiti really be saved?

Today, July 12th, 6 months after the devastating earthquake in Haiti, take the time to read this article in Relevant Magazine.

READ IT HERE.  page 48. "Is there any hope for Haiti now?"

This article takes you through the history of Haiti-- how did it even get this bad in the first place? After 300 years of slavery & 10 years of war, Haiti got their independence. But they had to pay for it. 90 million dollars. Haiti was crippled from the beginning.

Today marks 6 months after the quake and people want to know where all the money is going. Why isn't Haiti fixed yet? Imogen Wall says, "This is not reconstruction- it's construction.".

More from Imogen Wall, "We would like to get as many people out of tents as possible before the hurricane season, no questions asked... But even getting people out of tents is not that simple. Building permanent homes is, in most cases, not feasible yet."

He goes on to explain that the Haitian government is responsible for approving a building code, which they haven't done yet. And until they do, no permanent structures can be legally erected. Another challenge is land rights. Very few records exist of land ownership in Haiti, so it's difficult to prove ownership. Which that's for people that owned land in the first place- which was rare. Most people rented. So what do they do? 

It's a very well written and well researched article. 

It also touches on the local church, voodoo, removing the rubble, why build transitional shelters, humanitarian diplomacy, education & planning for the future.

Please, take the time to read it.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

it's all pretty much the same

Since I've been back to the States, I've been traveling a lot. 8 states to be exact. And I've realized, it's all pretty much the same. Okay, so each place does have it's own "identity"... LA is Hollywood. You think of glamor and fashion. Florida- the beach. Vacation. Where I was at in Michigan... it was all country and farming.  When I drove into Evansville Saturday evening, I looked around-- what makes up Evansville?  A lot of people associate corn fields with Indiana. There are a few in Evansville, but it's really more city. I looked around at the buildings to see what we had.... and that's when I realized it's all pretty much the same. Sure, each place looks a little different, but underneath it all, it's the same. Grocery store, clothing, jewelry, restaurant, car lot and repeat. These places all sell things to us, giving us what we need (and more) to live. People work at these stores, so they can make money so that they too can buy what they need to live. No matter where you live- whether you work on a farm or you make movies in hollywood- you or a family member has a job, so you can make money, so you can buy food and clothes and car insurance and pay for your house.  While those are not bad things, necessities mostly....is that it?? Is that all there is?  Are we left on this earth to simply live and get by?  No, of course not. And I think we all know that. But how often do we actually live like there is a greater purpose?? 

Sunday, June 20, 2010

i just love that place.

The June trip for Leve Project was my first time back to Haiti for the first time since leaving on February 11th.  It was a short and busy trip... but I loved it.

When you first visit Haiti, there will be things that shock you. Things that disgust, burden, and overwhelm you. And it's those same things that you will later fall in love with.

The smell of garbage and pollution. Even after many trips there, some people still can't stand the smell. I love it.

The heat & humidity. You've already soaked your clothes in sweat by 10am.

The mosquitos. Okay, so these guys... you don't really ever fall in love with. But you get used to them. Somewhat.

The masses of people. The streets are always crowded. You wonder how there could possibly be so many people in one place.

I love the people. I love the smells. I love the heat. I just love that place.

Friday, May 28, 2010

the kitty monster

As I was looking back at pictures of my haitian cat, I remember how stinking funny it was that the orphanage kids were so scared of my cat. She was just a kitten. And even as she got older, she was just a tiny little thing. But the kids were terrified. They use to just rush into my room, swinging up the door. Oh, but not after the kitty monster came. They would slowly open the door to peek in to see if they saw her first.

They simply would not go near her. But they still wanted to hang out in my room. Apparently, they thought they were safer and out of her reach on the table. 

Walking on the floor was simply too unsafe. notice: cat- left side of pic on desk & and Justin- right side, just a little startled at this point

and from startled to scared and in stacey's arms.

I kid you not. These faces:

were all brought to you by the vicious,  


                                                                                                     absolutely horrific


Friday, May 14, 2010

Launching Leve

This is my blog. This is where I share things from my point of view. So that's what I'm going to do. If you want just the facts of "launching leve" minus my opinion- check out the Leve Project blog: www.leveproject.blogspot.com

Passion without praying and thinking things through leads to mistakes. I use the group from Idaho (that got arrested trying to take Haitian kids to the DR) as an example for this. I am not bashing them. I believe they had passion and a desire to "fix" things. But they jumped into action without knowing what they were doing. 

I wanted to be sure that wasn't what we were doing. I was excited about idea of starting a new ministry in Haiti, but also a little hesitant. What if it fails? What if I spend time and effort on this, and it never even makes it off the ground?

But I've realized the "success" of this is not up to me. It wouldn't matter how much time or effort we put into it; if God wasn't in it, it would still fail.  It's up to me to be obedient and up to God to do the rest. He uses us for His work-- but it's still His work, not ours. He is the only one that can determine the results. I believe God is in Leve Project and this is what He has called me to do.

It's not always easy. It's not always fun. It takes a lot of time, planning, paperwork, praying, seeking outside help, phone calls, travel, fundraising, and A LOT of time behind the computer. Sometimes I wonder why I'm even doing this. Why not just give up on all of this, stay in the states and get a regular job?  There is nothing wrong with living in the states and having a "regular" job. But it's wrong if I do it  when God has called me to something else.

I am excited to see what God will do with Leve Project. I'm anxious, actually. I want to get back to Haiti and really get this going. But, we're not at that point yet. It's part of that whole planning and thinking ahead thing. There is still work to be done here.

Our main focus right now is building a support system. We are looking for churches, organizations, and others to get involved who will be a regular part of Leve Project. But, we also needs some funds to jump start this whole thing. And that is why you see the chip-in meter on the side of my blog and on the Leve Project blog. Read projects blog for more information on "Launching Leve" and please consider what you can give and help us spread the word!!

Thursday, April 29, 2010

quick recap

Monday, the 19th, I took off from Florida. 

First stop- visiting the Livesays in Waco, Texas. It was SO good to see them all... but the trip was too short. On the flight there, I was hit with a mix of feelings and emotions. Seeing the Livesays (and I also got to hook up w/ Vivien for a little bit) brought back all of Haiti. It brought all the times and memories from Haiti and the earthquake rushing back. It's easy to put something aside when you can just avoid thinking about it. ANYWAY, I had an awesome time there. Paige and I hit the streets of Waco.. and... well... just hung out like the 'old days'. 

Then, on Friday I said good-bye to Texas, cowboy boots and all, and headed for Surprise, Arizona.  Here, the board members of Leve Project meet up for our first official, in-person board meeting. We got TONS of work done and meet with a couple of churches. It was a really productive trip. 

As of last night, I'm back in Florida for the time being. I met up with the people doing our website today... things are looking good and our website should be up and running by the beginning of next week. 

And that's all for now. If this gets longer, I could no longer title it "quick recap". 

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Marie Rose lost her home, her possessions and, most devastatingly, 3 of her 4 children in the Jan. 12 Earthquake. Read her story here. 

Saturday, April 17, 2010


SNL sketch of Penelope. Funny stuff.

Friday, April 9, 2010

moving forward

Because we are so excited about what we are doing, we've all been working hard to get things done and move forward with Leve Project. And moving forward we are!! 

Our business bank account is set up and active. Eric is still vigorously working on the 501c3 paperwork. It seems more keeps popping up for this! However, he was able to speak to an IRS agent who was very helpful and provided useful information. We are wanting to be as thorough and complete with the paperwork the first time so it doesn't hold us up later. The agent did give us some good news-- we are able to go ahead and accept donations while our 501c3 status is pending. One church as already committed to being a monthly supporter for us. I will be going to Arizona late April for a board meeting; while there, we have a couple other churches lined up to speak with about Leve Project. However, it's going to take many people and churches joining together as one body, like the church did in Acts 2:42-47, for Leve Project to be successful. We will need PRAYER, DONATIONS, ENCOURAGEMENT & ACCOUNTABILITY, AND FINANCIAL SUPPORT.

Please consider how you can be involved with Leve Project as we strive to impact and completely change the lives of Haitian families and street kids. If you would like more information or have questions, please contact me at:  megan@leveproject.com.   If you would be interested in getting your church or a small group involved, we would love to provide you with a powerpoint you could present. In the next few weeks, we will have information & business cards ready to go. 

Along those lines, we have also have a website in the works. We are very excited to be working with a company here locally in Florida, where the CEO attends church with Gretchen. TurtleApps is a professional iphone apps design and developer. We've been working together the past several days to get all the info together and get ideas on the table. Our website, which will be leveproject.org, will be up and running in 2-3 weeks. 

Leve Project will also have it's own blog to help keep you in the loop. I will be keeping my blog and it will often be about Leve Project... but here on my blog... it will be more of my own personal thoughts and whatever else I feel like saying!! Leve Projects blog is HERE. (Right now it is all the info you are seeing on my blog... but keep it on your radar & keep checking it, soon I won't be doing these type of posts here!)

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

leve project


the Leve Project
  lā ・ vā (v) creole word meaning to raise/to lift up/grow

Empowering Haitian families to break the cycle of poverty through opportunity and education. 

    The core of our project is a LifeCenter...
           ...it’s all about partnership and working together to improve Haitian lives. It 
                       starts with five families coming together and forming a Life Group.      
  In a Life Group, these families will provide each other with 
accountability, community, and support. We will share meals together,   
     provide educational classes, study the bible together, 
offer childcare,  healthcare, and grant micro-loans.  The heart of The Leve Project 
    is believers coming together as one,  serving and supporting one another as the church did in   Acts 2: 42-47.   In doing so, we believe we will be a part of   
               bringing about drastic change and improvement within that community. 

The idea of Leve Project developed after working in Haiti with different ministries for many years. The founding partners of Leve Project have both spent much time in Haiti, giving them not only a passion, but also the first-hand experience of how to do it efficiently. The need is great. But with what we have seen and what we have learned, we feel a mission like the Leve Project is the best and most productive way to break the cycle of poverty in Haiti. 

The founding partners are Eric Schweig and Megan Haug. Eric and his wife Michele serve on the Board of Directors. Eric has a background in business and experience with many other projects in Haiti. Megan has been involved with Haiti for several years and has been living there since September 2008. She served as the operating House Manager at an orphanage and also partnered in other ministry roles. Also, on the Board of Directors are Kevin and Amy Jones. Kevin has started and runs his own company. 

We have an EIN number and are in the process of completing our 501c3 status. We have a projected budget in place and are working employee contracts and a code of conduct.  We hope to have the web-site up soon! 

If you would like to be involved or find out more about Leve Project, please leave your email address, or contact Megan at megrachelle345@gmail.com or Eric at eric.leveproject@gmail.com

Saturday, March 27, 2010

that feeling

it's 2am and i can't sleep. yes, it's largely thanks to the red bull i just drank. but it's what's running through my head that got me out of bed (sorry for the rhyme). Tara has been detail blogging about the first days of and after the earthquake. you can read the first night here, with the rest following. she talks about when Troy and I left late the night of the earthquake to go check on Three Angels. and that's what's running through my head. that feeling that i had.  currently, i can only remember one other time when that feeling was so strong. 

it was May 5, 2000. my sister answered the phone and i immediately knew something was wrong. she hangs up. "uh mom, Seth (our younger brother, then 12) was hit by a car by J.D.'s house." my mom took the van and drove the couple of blocks there. my sister and i stayed to call our dad and we tried to call a few church friends and family. after that, we decided to walk there. that's when i had that feeling. 

the same one i had walking to Three Angels that night. you've probably had it, too. you know what i'm talking about, yet i don't even know how to describe it. 

you are panicked, unsure of what you will find. your heart is beating fast. your legs feel like jello. you don't even realize that you are walking. and then it's like your brain finally discovers that you are walking, that your legs are moving, but it quickly forgets again. you are thinking 1,000 different things at once... yet your mind feels blank. you feel numb. simply because you don't know how to process what is happening. you have to remind yourself to breathe. you realize there are probably people around you, but you don't notice them.  you are shaking. if someone asks you a question, you might respond, but you're not even paying attention to what you're saying. you feel disconnected from your body.

before Troy and I left, we had not yet stepped outside of our gated neighborhood. we knew it had to be bad out there. but nothing can prepare you for seeing it. and the closer we got to Three Angels, the more the fear swelled up in me. buildings were down all over the place. people crowded in the streets. we soon realized we had passed the street for TAs and we turned around. there was a dead little girl on the side walk. her arms were spread out to her sides and people were pausing to look at her, then walking on by. then we saw why we had passed Delmas 91, it was unrecognizable. a huge building on the corner had collapsed, blocking the road. so we parked farther down and walked down the next street that connects over. and the whole time we walked, i had that feeling.

many days after the earthquake, like after any tragedy, you have that disconnected feeling. it's still all impossible to process. but it's different. it's a different feeling. it's just not quite the same as when you are walking (or on your way) there.  you keep telling yourself "they're okay. they're okay. they have to be okay." but you know you can't will them to be okay.  it's the not knowing. but you know you are on your way to find out. it's that feeling. 

Monday, March 22, 2010

megan goes to church.

Before I moved to Haiti, I remember seeing this book come out at the Christian bookstores- "Jim and Casper Go to Church: Frank Conversation about Faith, Churches, and Well-meaning Christians."

Jim and Casper are friends. Jim is a Christian. Casper is an atheist. The book is pretty much the two of them traveling around to different churches, and Casper gives a "review" on the church.

I never read the book.  Nonetheless, I decided I didn't like it.  I won't get into the details... because that is not the point. But today, I realized why church has been weird for me. I feel like a visitor in the American church. I'm seeing it from different eyes than I use to. I see everything from different eyes than I use to. 

And it's because of Haiti. Haiti changes you. Living in Haiti really changes you. My worldview has changed. My view of Christianity has changed. I see God differently, I have a different idea of what love is, and I would even say my theology has been altered. I just feel like I stand in a different place than the typical American Christian/church. I am not saying I am above or below... I'm just saying it feels different. 

I've been in the states for just over a month since after the earthquake. I've been to several different churches. Some of them have been great experiences... others not so much. But in both cases, I still feel very much like a visitor. And yes, I am a visitor... but it's more than feeling like a visitor to that church, it's feeling like a visitor to church. I've grown up in church, but the church no longer feels as familiar to me. And maybe that is good. Sometimes we let things grow too familiar that they lose their beauty to us. Or, we are so familiar with it that we overlook it's flaws.  I found myself thinking back to the book of Jim and Casper Go to Church. Casper the atheist, going to christian churches and deciding what he thinks they are doing wrong and right. Casper, to whom the church has not become a familiar thing, viewing it from different eyes. Now, of course, my worldview (and therefore view of everything) differs hugely from Casper's. But in a very small way, I felt like I could relate to him. Being a visitor in the american christian church. 

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

a must read....

CBS News article...

Haiti Still Suffers When Cameras are Gone
Posted by Bill Whitaker (click title link for original post and more photos)

The cameras are gone; Haiti is off the front pages. Now two months later, it's possible for those who experienced the magnitude 7.0 earthquake through the media to think of the devastation and the
humanitarian crisis that followed in the past tense. Chile and health care and
unemployment demand our attention. For the people of Haiti, however, the crisis continues — a constant, inescapable, overwhelming reality.

I was in Haiti for a month, arriving one week after the quake. The first week I spent in shock. I had lived through the Northridge quake that rocked Los Angeles in 1984. That was horrible. But nothing prepared me for the horror I encountered in Port-au-Prince.

Block after block after block was leveled. So many people in that impoverished Caribbean country had little to begin with. The earthquake left hundreds of thousands with nothing but their faith and their spirit.

I saw that faith and spirit in abundance. My CBS News crew and I met a middle-class woman, Madame Yolene Bartroni, whose house was the only one in her poor neighborhood still standing — cracked and unlivable, but standing. She opened the gates of her property to neighbors. More than 100 children, women and men joined Madame Bartroni and her family sleeping under makeshift tents in the yard.

Two weeks after the quake, no aid agencies had made it to her part of Port-au-Prince. So, with her salary as a hotel receptionist (she was one of the lucky Haitians still to have a job), she bought water and food and medicine and diapers. When she ran out of money, she tapped her family in the U.S., which used social networks to gather donations. Grateful neighbors say were it not for Madame Bartroni they'd be homeless and hungry in the streets. Holding back tears, Madame Bartroni told us they struggle to live day to day.

We saw that kind of giving every single day. People who had little sharing with those who had nothing.

It would have been understandable if Haitians had cursed their fate, but we witnessed just the opposite. Haitians are people of deep faith.

They marked the one month anniversary of the quake with prayer services all over the city. You could barely drive a block without seeing worshipers spilling out of the churches that were still standing or a congregation gathered where churches once stood.

Hymns filled the air. Hundreds of thousands of people gathered on the boulevards that surrounded the collapsed presidential palace, an ornate white structure that now resembles a melted wedding cake — hundreds of thousands solemnly praying for those who had died and joyously thankful for having survived.

When the minister called for five minutes of silence, the only sounds heard were quiet, heart-wrenching sobs here and there in the crowd. It was a powerful moment.

With the rainy season approaching and one million homeless people living in squalid tent cities, Haitians need all the faith and spirit they can muster. Proud and resilient as they are, they cannot get back up on their feet by themselves. They desperately need the helping hand the world extended immediately after the quake. Haitians wish they had the luxury of referring to this tragedy in the past tense. They need the world to remember it is their present and their future.

Friday, March 12, 2010

all the little things.

the earthquake changed things. that's obvious. it can be overwhelming to think about. but try to break it down and think of it on a smaller scale. all the individual lives that were changed. and all the little things that changed for just that one person. maybe no one even died in their family. but they wake up in a tent instead of their house. the child doesn't go to school like he use to because it collapsed. the mother doesn't cook on a stove anymore... but instead just piles up some charcoal and makes do. the little girl doesn't go play outside with her friends, like when they use to pretend to do each others nails and give make-overs, because she hasn't seen those friends since the earthquake. they might be alive. maybe they just set up a tent in another area. but she doesn't know. they never had a father. the boyfriend of the mother stopped coming around because he can't handle taking care of them. he has nothing to offer. the mother used to buy fruit from a lady up the mountain, and she would then sell it on the streets in the city. but she hasn't seen that lady since the quake. she tries to buy fruit from someone else, but it's more expensive and she can't seem to make ends meet.

that is just a story. but i'm sure it's the "nice" version of the reality for many people now.

i had just arrived back in Haiti on January 11. i unpacked and got resettled. paige and i had plans to start running. vivien and i both brought soccer balls back, because all the "young" people in our neighborhood liked to get together to play sports at least once a week. we made plans. we talked about things we wanted to do. and we talked about when our other friends would arrive back in haiti.

but none of that matters anymore. who knows where the soccer ball is at. the field we use to play in quickly became a tent city. the games and movies we brought for our "hang out" nights have been long forgotten. i have a suitcase of things with me. everything else i have has been shoved in a room at the guest house, along with vivien's things and all of the furniture.

everything changed. what use to matter, no longer does. and it's not just the big things-- it's all the little things.

Sunday, February 28, 2010

where i've been, what i'm doing, and what's next

I left Haiti Feb. 11 to come to the states for a little while to recharge and figure out what's next. I spent the first week in California with some friends. Then, because my friends are so amazing, I got to spend a week in Grand Cayman, taking a vacation and just good ol' relaxing on the beach. Over a year ago, some of the Three Angel board members/volunteers planned a ladies trip to Grand Cayman, because one of the ladies offered up a free place to stay at the time share her family owns. I had decided not to go because of financial reasons and because I had just started working with Heartline in September. But after the quake my very awesome friends covered my flights and we all enjoyed a week in the sun- snorkeling, laying out, and swimming with sting rays.

My days on the beach are over for now-- I just got to Evansville, where I'll be visiting with family and friends for the next week.

On March 7 I'll be heading to Florida. I'll be staying with Gretchen, director of Three Angels, to do some work and planning. And that leads me to what's next. Nothing is official. Nothing is set in stone. I am going back to Haiti. Where I'll live- I don't know. Who I'll be working with- not positive. What exactly I'll be doing- still in the works. I've been interested in micro-financing for quite some time (link will provide definition), so I am working on some ideas with that right now. The earthquake changed things. Everything. So this time of change seems like it might be a good time to put some of these ideas into action. I will give more details when things are more certain. For now- not much is certain. But I'm at peace with that. I'm not really sure what I'm going to be doing several weeks from now, but I'm trusting in the sovereign Lord because He does know. (Just because I am at peace about the "unknown" at the moment doesn't mean I usually am. And it probably won't be long until I find myself getting anxious and worrying about tomorrow.) I rarely remember things that I read. But I will always remember (and need to remind myself of) the August 14th evening devotion from "Morning and Evening" by Charles Spurgeon. I was going to pick a quote from it to give to you, but I'll just leave you with the whole thing:

The child is cheered as he sings, “This my father knows;” and shall not we be comforted as we discern that our dear Friend and tender soul-husband knows all about us?

1. He is the Physician, and if he knows all, there is no need that the patient should know. Hush, thou silly, fluttering heart, prying, peeping, and suspecting! What thou knowest not now, thou shalt know hereafter, and meanwhile Jesus, the beloved Physician, knows thy soul in adversities. Why need the patient analyze all the medicine, or estimate all the symptoms? This is the Physician’s work, not mine; it is my business to trust, and his to prescribe. If he shall write his prescription in uncouth characters which I cannot read, I will not be uneasy on that account, but rely upon his unfailing skill to make all plain in the result, however mysterious in the working.

2. He is the Master, and his knowledge is to serve us instead of our own; we are to obey, not to judge: “The servant knoweth not what his lord doeth.” Shall the architect explain his plans to every hodman on the works? If he knows his own intent, is it not enough? The vessel on the wheel cannot guess to what pattern it shall be conformed, but if the potter understands his art, what matters the ignorance of the clay? My Lord must not be cross-questioned any more by one so ignorant as I am.

3. He is the Head. All understanding centres there. What judgment has the arm? What comprehension has the foot? All the power to know lies in the head. Why should the member have a brain of its own when the head fulfils for it every intellectual office? Here, then, must the believer rest his comfort in sickness, not that he himself can see the end, but that Jesus knows all. Sweet Lord, be thou forever eye, and soul, and head for us, and let us be content to know only what thou choosest to reveal.