Sunday, September 26, 2010

Beahm Weekend!

Last weekend we got to spend with ALL of Michael's family!  Jenny, Alex and the girls are home from China for a few months, so ALL 16 of us met at Pawley's Island for a reunion weekend.  I can't believe there are that many of us, including 6 little ones!  We finally got to meet little Geneva, and the Swems got to meet little Lucy!

We loved every second of being aunt and uncle to these little bundles of joy.  And not to mention the quality time we got with all of the adults, too.  Here are a few shots from our weekend together!

Lucy was helping Michael and Melissa play corn hole!
The newest ones, Lucy and Geneva!

Sweet Geneva was a little unhappy!

We also got to celebrate Rachel's 3rd birthday! What a big girl!

(thanks Chris for letting me use your photos!!)

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Big Sis Gets Married!

First of all, I must apologize for the lack of blogging. I have a few excuses and no excuses at all. But, here they are anyway!

*The Haiti posts were hard to follow up on. That trip meant so much to us and we wanted our trip to be read about, especially to those who supported us. It was hard to write another post that would go on top of that one!

*We've been pretty busy this summer. We moved the week we got back from Haiti and are finally feeling settled after a few trips to see family and friends.

*I've had writer's block. I really just haven't felt like blogging, or maybe there wasn't much going on that I felt I could blog about...until now!

My big sister got married last weekend! She married the love of her life, Josh, who is an incredible guy and a perfect match for her. Besides my own wedding, I've never felt so involved and invested in a wedding weekend as I did for hers. Jenny is my heart, and to see her so happy meant everything. It was almost surreal being able to stand up beside her and publicly declare that I will support her and their marriage. I truly felt honored to be her matron of honor. It was obvious the whole weekend how their lives had brought them to this moment- to become one and be united partners for life.

We had a lot of fun blessing her at the bridal luncheon and being with girls all day...

The whole weekend was a complete blast- being with family always is! You could feel the joy from everyone at the rehearsal dinner, sharing stories and laughter about Jenny and Josh. Not only do they deeply love each other, but it's obvious that lots of people deeply love them.

Unfortunately, I don't have a lot of pictures from the ceremony and reception, but I did manage to get one of the newleyweds.  They were so sweet!

Congrats Jenny and Josh! I love you both!!

~And a shoutout to my friends Becky and Mike that got married on the same day.  I hear it was wonderful guys! So sorry we missed it!

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Haiti Part III: Thoughts and Videos

CNN has been running multiple specials this week on Haiti: 6 Months Later.  I've been captivated at the TV listening to Anderson Cooper, Larry King, Sean Penn and others tell America about the state of Haiti now.  The scenes that scroll across the screen are exactly what we saw, and floods of emotions have risen.  My heart breaks yet again, being reminded of the desolation the Haitians feel right now.  I appreciated the honesty reporting that AC did, showing Americans just what the government isn't doing over there.  I learned a whole lot more: that their main hospital, General Hospital, is on its way to closing.  And that relief supplies are still being blocked and taxed at the port.  And that there are warehouses full of food going nowhere, and orphanages with starving children needing food. 
It's hard to believe it's already been 6 months; and yet it feels and looks like there it happened only a month ago.   Keep praying for our brothers and sisters in Christ who are in need of Hope.

One of our teammates on the trip, Laura Grady, took a few videos that we wanted to share.

Haitian school children playing with bubbles
I can listen to their laughter over, and over, and over again! I hope this brings joy to you. Remember the small things in life are the most precious.

Our Haitian friends learning "Mighty to Save"
Some of the lyrics go like this:\

Savior, He can move the mountains
Our God is mighty to save,

He is mighty to save.

Forever, author of salvation,
He rose and conquered the grave,
Jesus conquered the grave.

Michael took this video; it's of our Haitian friends teaching us a new song: "Alpha, Omega" (disclaimer: don't mind me taking cement out of my ear during the video!)

This sweet, simple song goes like this:

You are Alpha, and Omega
We worship you our Lord.
You are worthy to be praised.

We give you all the glory
We worship you our Lord.
You are worthy to be praised.

 And lastly, we just wanted to share some pictures of the people who impacted us:

This is Jeff Burkhart.  Jeff was the leader Seacoast sent down to Haiti to live for 3 months and act as our contact "on the ground."  God (and Seacoast) could not have chosen a better person.  Jeff lives for God and God alone, and is one of the most spirit-led, prayerful people we have ever met.  Jeff's spirit is contagious and he has this all-consuming love of Christ inside of him.  He radiates love and compassion.  We were blessed to have been led by Jeff all week.

Sitting down against the wall is Mrs. Louis.  This woman is the strongest, most determined woman of God we have ever met.  What this woman has endured is unimaginable. Among many things, her husband was murdered on March 12, exactly 2 months after the earthquake. She and her family (left by her husband) run the churches, schools, and orphanage we worked at.  Her strength and unwaivering faith in God is truly inspiring.  Never did she waste a minute in her Bible or praying quitely with God throughout the day.  But she was at every site and even seen with a shovel in hand.  She is a remarkable woman.

This is "Uncle Leo." He is Mrs. Louis's brother, and was essentially our interpreter and driver for the week. He was also the pastor on Sunday and the welder/cement stirrer during the week.  Uncle Leo has a spirit so contagious you can't help but laugh and smile while around him.  His English continued to get better, and his heart for people is unconditional.   I loved just sitting and talking to Leo; Leo is an incredible soldier for Christ.

This is Wesley , Mrs. Louis' oldest son.  Wes had been living in the US on and off for 20 years and swore he would never return to Haiti (where he was born and raised) unless God stripped everything away from him.  When he got the call that his father was murdered, he had recently lost his job and KNEW the Lord was sending him to his home, Haiti.  Wes is now helping his mother run the orphanage-school-church organizations and is a true testimony of redemption and healing.  Wes is also a great story teller and we learned much about what Haiti was life before the earthquake from him!


We met this mean while we were at the beach.  He makes bracelets with words on them and made one with HOPE for Michael's mom.  His story is amazing-  he lost both of his parents in the quake and lives under a tin roof in Port-au-Prince with his 3 children.  He knows 5 languages and comes to the beach to sell bracelets and share the gospel.  We had a great time talking with him.

These are the neighborhood boys who came up to the school/work site everyday.  They were in their 20's and either out of school or had no school to go to.  We had a blast with these guys.  They were self-taught English and loved learning from the Bible.  They were willing to help us with cement, too, even though they didn't get paid.  I think they just wanted sit with us and talk.  They were so hungry for enouragement and knowledge.  The funny thing is that in trying to teach them about Truth and Christ, they were teaching us!  It's so humbling how little they had but how big their faith us.  We taught them a few songs and they taught us one too.  The day we left them was hard for me. I don't think they understood that we wouldn't be back the next day, which brought tears to my eyes- they were going to walk up the hill- like the days before- and we would be gone.

Our time in Haiti was truly unforgettable.  It was life-changing without realizing it was life-changing.  There's many things we don't know, but Michael and I know we'll be back.

And remember, don't stop praying for our Haitian brothers and sisters.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Pardon the Interruption

We pardon this interruption of Haiti recaps to share with you some pictures from our successful surprise party for my parents' 60th birthdays. We've been scheming for a few months, and about 30 of my parents friends could make it. The ploy was that they were meeting Joe's in-laws (Kerry's parents) for brunch, and Joe did a great job throwing them off. They were absolutely floored! Here's the video:

We all helped with the planning, but Jenny really took on most of it. She did an awesome job and I think Mom and Dad are still shocked from it all! It was a great afternoon celebrating them.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Part II: Break my heart for what breaks Yours

“Break my heart for what breaks Yours; Open up my eyes to the things unseen. Show me how to love like You have loved me.” ~Hosanna, Hillsong United

These words were in my prayer as we flew into Haiti’s airport. I knew I wasn’t ready for what I would experience, but I wanted God to show me His people through His eyes. I desired to really see the pain but also the joy; the sorrow but also the hope. As I mentioned in the last post, the way people lived was hard to see; they were living to survive. It was difficult to witness and discouraging for the state of the city. But, once we got to interact with the kids, everything changed.

The first place we worked at was a school; Mrs. Louis wanted us to finish building the security wall (almost every building is behind security walls in a “compound”)for the school and put up a water cistern. She also wanted us to remove a heavy addition that she was afraid would crush the church in the event of another earthquake. When we got to the school on Monday morning, we could see the children in the open-air classrooms; they were reciting French words. It was like music to me! At about 10:00, they got their break. First the little kids poured out, and then the older ones. {I think this school only went to 6th grade.} Of course the kids ran to these new white people who they were peering at during class. I’ve really never seen so much excitement!

The younger kids were in precious yellow uniforms, while the order ones were in white and green uniforms. The uniforms made them that much cuter! Once we got to interact with the kids, we started pulling out the things we brought: bubbles, chalk, soccer balls. The kids absolutely loved the chalk. It’s incredible how naturally artistic many of the Haitians are! One of my favorite moments was sitting on the ground with the kids dangling over me, watching me draw simple pictures of a star, flower, smiley face and heart. They would then replicate the image until they perfected it. You could see the beam of pride pour out of them once the pictures were finished. Their smiles will never fade in my mind.

The kids also loved to play hand-clapping games. They knew some and they loved learning ours. What a simple thing! And bubbles, they would scream and run around trying to catch a bubble…this never got old.

And one of my favorite things I got to do is something Michael and I often do with our nieces and nephew: play chase. This was by far the best thing I did with the little kids. They loved to hide and play chase. I don’t think I had smiled and laughed so hard! They would run and laugh and it warmed every part of my heart. I wish I had that sound on a recorder!

Michael and I both also got to play soccer with the younger and older kids, as well as the neighborhood boys (more on those neighborhood boys in the next post). Michael didn’t get to play with the kids as much since he was on the roof most of the time, but he did take a break to play soccer which he loved. So many of the kids have exceptional talent…and they play on concrete- not grass!

A few more shots of the cutest kids!

Hopefully you got to see the joy that these children brought to us. Their innocence and happiness were sighs in my soul for the Haitian people. These kids, even though they’ve seen more in their short lives than most of us have, have the heart of God. These sweet little kids are what give me hope for Haiti. More updates later!


Sunday, June 13, 2010

Haiti Part I: The State of it All

It’s the first 24 hours since we’ve arrived home, and I’ve had a sad day. I’ve been surprised with how emotional I’ve been. I think it’s because 1) I’m coming down from a high from the team unity; 2) the trip we’ve anticipated for 3 months is now over; and 3) I feel like the people of Haiti have been abandoned and although I was able to leave, they had to stay. This trip has forever changed me (and Michael too), and because of its impact we wanted to share our trip in a few separate blogs. Here is the first of a few different posts.

When thinking of how I can describe our trip, I have many words and no words at the same time. How do I put into words what we saw, felt and experienced? As soon as we got out of the airport and into the streets, I just couldn’t believe what I was seeing…people living in some sort of chaos. Survival- not living. Tents are everywhere. For a city built for 300,000 and the size of Charleston, there are now 2.5 million people in Port-au-Prince, most of them living in tents. Even if their houses made it, they live in fear of a future earthquake and won’t sleep in their homes. Rape, kidnapping, robbing, sexual promiscuity, etc have become rampant. People from the country have moved into the city so they could have a tent and receive free food and aid from relief organizations. From what we’ve been told, the tent cities are communities within themselves- they have a leader and oftentimes it’s better than the way they were living. This astonishes me. I was so choked up driving around with the way people live, that it’s so hard for me to imagine that they like living this way. The city is filthy with rubble everywere. One building would be a crushed 4-story pancake, and the one right beside it wouldn’t have been touched. The smell in the city I will never forget- it’s the smell of human waste, trash, and sadly, even decaying bodies under buildings that haven’t been dealt with yet.

I think what bothers me most about the state of the city is the way the government has handled this crisis. Haitians that we were with has described it as the rich in Haiti getting richer, and the poor getting poorer. The government officials are making money off of this tragic earthquake and have done nothing to help their people. There’s no military, a non-effective police force, and because of the cycle of handouts, a lot of people aren’t working. We drove past the country’s government palace (similar to our White House) and it was severely destroyed (below). And it looks like the building hasn’t been touched. Just across of it is a tent city of 60,000. 60,000!! That blows my mind. Apparently the president didn’t speak to his people for a month after the quake!

Organizations like Samaritan’s Purse, World Vision, US AID, American Red Cross, Shelter Box, Water Missions International, and others are making a difference. And it’s group like ours that are going to be the rebuilding factor for this city/country, not the government, sadly.

I’m worried it might get worse before it gets better. But I’m hoping that what has happened will make this country stronger and better. What we saw was really hard to watch, and although you might say it would be difficult to see hope there, I could see it. I could see it in the boys who shared their faith with us and who were sincerely interested in what we were doing. I could see it in the smiles of the people we talked to. I could see it in the church where people still praised and worshiped amongst tragedy. I could see it in the innocence of the children at the schools. I could see it in the Haitians we worked with. And I could truly feel God’s presence there. The Haitians are His people, and Haiti is His country.
Port-au-Price is a tough, increasingly dangerous capital of a country; but it’s also a beautiful city filled with hope.

Many more photos and stories to come later. Thanks for following!

This is our group at the airport with some of the Haitians we were with...what an awesome team!!

This is called a tap-tap. It is their "transportation system". They fill these cars up to the rim and then when someone is ready to get off, they "tap" the side of the car. I've never seen cars filled so tightly that it nearly drags on the ground while driving!

I have a lot more pictures of the kids...this is just one of many! They were so fun and adorable.

These are pictures of the palace.