Anne Marie Stern
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Over 7 years Anne Marie has witnessed the change with her own eyes.
“The change in the way that the community regards people with special needs is probably to most significant, mostly because it’s shift in culture and mentality. Where people once believed that children with special needs are worthless and unable to learn or contribute anything, we now see people not just accepting those children but actually loving, valuing, and celebrating them.”
She says the most rewarding part about her job has been seeing the House children thrive in their families.
“The alternatives for these children would have been growing up in an orphanage without the love and belonging of a family or, for some of our kids, certain death. It’s not a stretch at all to believe that if they had not found a home with myLIFEspeaks, they would not have survived.”
But because of myLIFEspeaks, these same children are thriving today and loved beyond measure by their adopted families & have been given a second chance at life.
Recently, God has made it clear to Anne Marie that He is calling her in another direction and although she doesn’t know exactly what that is, she is trusting in His Lead.
What is certain, is her love for Neply and the bittersweet “until next time” that are ahead for her. She says she will miss the children and parents of the House families the most.
"I have a unique and special bond with each of them. Even though I’ve practiced some pretty solid boundaries in my role, I’ve grown pretty attached to each of them being a part of their lives for so many years. I’m praying that God will provide me with opportunities to continue to work in advocacy and reform of Orphan Care globally but I honestly have no idea what is next. Just as I followed a path that led me to live in Haiti, I’m following a path that is leading me to live elsewhere. I do know that when I follow the path that God places in front of me, there is always more than I could have ever imagined for myself.”
However there are a few things that Anne Marie won’t miss…
“I won’t miss being sweat soaked everyday by 9am. Showering with geckos. Half hour errands turning into half day excursions.”
But she says there is much more gained by her time in Haiti; to the point where she has a hard time when asked to recount a few stories because of the sheer amount of incredible miracles and lives changed she has witnessed. She says that she doesn’t even know where to begin. And as abundant as the stories, are the lessons on life and what truly matters.
“I have learned that comfort doesn’t equal contentment. Our lives in America are extremely comfortable and I see very few people that are content. I have learned from my Haitian friends and neighbors that waking up each day is considered a miracle. Tomorrow is not a certainty and if you begin to live like it is, you miss out on so much. I have learned that giving someone hope and encouragement goes further that a bag of rice. I have learned that love heals. For real.”
“myLIFEspeaks has impacted my life by showing me that what you do and how you live speaks much louder than anything else. The idea that sharing the love of Christ is done best by living it out everyday with those around you.”
“One of my favorite things about mLs is the fact that so much of what happens there has come about organically, not by our hand or plan but by God’s. We mostly have just tried to keep up with Him all this time! Many of our ideas went out the window long ago and things we said we’d never do, we are actually doing now because it’s just what God has orchestrated. I want people to know that God is doing amazing things in a little village called Neply and the work He is doing through myLIFEspeaks will change and is changing the entire country of Haiti.”
Although her time with myLIFEspeaks is coming to a bittersweet end, she knows the Lord has great plans ahead.
“I feel that this is not an ending but really just the beginning of taking what I’ve learned about Orphan Care and the global orphanage crisis and advocating for change for children around the world. I am forever humbled to have played a part in Gods work in Haiti.”
Thank you Anne Marie for all you have done to advance myLIFEspeaks mission in Haiti. We will certainly miss you but know the Lord has great plans for your next step!
Contributing Writer: Sydney Miller