I grew up in California and attended Valley Christian High School in San Jose. In 2009, I graduated from Azusa Pacific University with a Bachelor’s degree in Nursing, believing that my dream of serving overseas was years away and that experience was somehow a prerequisite.
While job searching, I received a message from a college acquaintance expressing the immediate need for a nurse at a certain infant care center in Haiti. Somehow, I knew this was where I needed to be. Suddenly, the fact that I was still unemployed eight months after graduation made perfect sense. God assured me that even though I had very little experience, the time to go was now.
Six weeks later, I was spending my first night in Haiti.
I grew up in Texas, graduated from Richland High School and went on to attend the University of North Texas. I studied math and business before majoring in kinesiology. In 2010, the summer before my final year of college, my best friend and I planned to take a trip overseas. I chose Haiti as our destination and we agreed to spend a month as volunteers at Children of the Promise, an infant care center in Northern Haiti.
Prior to my arrival in Haiti, I had dreamed of playing basketball and soccer with schoolkids. Needless to say, I was slightly alarmed to discover that Children of the Promise was home to infants and toddlers all under the age of two. There wasn’t a child old enough to dribble a basketball anywhere in sight! The babies tugged at my heartstrings, and before I was even scheduled to leave Haiti, I changed her plane ticket. I stayed an extra month before returning to Texas to finish school. The following December 2010, I returned to Haiti to serve as a long-term volunteer.
We Met in Haiti
One fateful walk through a village outside of Cap Haitien in June of 2010 led to the start of a friendship. We’ve been through a lot together. Amy had the privilege of being present while Jenn passed a kidney stone behind a local soccer field in a nearby village. The bush she chose as a toilet was coincidentally shared by goats. It was a bonding experience.
This was just the start to a series of health issues that eventually put us on a three-seater airplane headed to Florida in search of “emergency medical care” for Jenn. This too had a way of bringing two people closer, quite literally. But after just three days in the States we somehow managed to get ourselves back to Haiti. The last-minute ticket purchase nearly cost us our entire life’s savings, but we made it back. We can’t stay away. God called us to Haiti and our hearts are here.
For the past 18 months, we’ve been living, loving, and learning at Children of the Promise. As two of only four long-term staff members for the majority of our stay, we had a lot of different responsibilities. But in short, as a nurse, Amy took care of sick people and tried to keep our babies as healthy as possible. Jenn made it her personal responsibility to encourage the nannies in such a way that daily operations ran smoothly, supplies were abundant, and the babies had everything they needed; bellies full, clothes clean. We were blessed beyond measure by the babies that passed through our loving arms and stuck their sticky hands in our hair. We’re kind of passionate about kids. Scratch that. We’re just plain passionate about people.
The reality in Haiti is that poverty and illness have the potential to break families apart and drive many desperate mothers and fathers to orphanage doors. There is a percentage of young Haitien children whose lives have been rescued and redeemed through orphan care and adoption. Then there’s that other percentage.
God placed a huge burden on our hearts for that other percentage. We’ve thought for many months about how we might combat this vicious cycle where poverty, illness, lack of education, and scarcity of jobs leads moms and dads alike to surrender their children to aid organizations and orphanages. Sometimes there is no other alternative. But we are bound and determined to create one.