Updated: Feb 24
When people couldn't visit Haiti, God showed us what He was preparing us for.
When myLIFEspeaks launched in 2012, we had a business plan. That might surprise quite a few people-especially those who know me personally, but we did, and it was a very good one. Our business plan intricately detailed what our vision was and how we would tirelessly work to influence the culture around us with Hope and how we would provide family-based care to children who were orphaned and/or abandoned. We call that Family Empowerment. We knew it would be a process but we also knew it would be very much worth the effort.
Before we knew it, we had grown beyond our original 5 year plan. That was the most exciting 5 months any of us had ever experienced. That's right, our 5 year plan was obsolete within the first 5 months. During that short time we began placing children in families and we began working on the future by laying the groundwork for Educational Excellence & Public Health Impact in Haiti. We were also bringing people to Haiti to experience what we believed God had called us to through short-term Mission Trips. We grew quickly and got to know some truly amazing people who came to visit Haiti (if that's you, say hello).
In 2012 we brought almost 450 people to Haiti on a short-term mission trip, and we were good at those short-term trips, very good. We continued to think of creative ways to immerse people into the culture of Haiti. Those numbers increased each year. We brought over 500 in 2013, 550 in 2014, 600 in 2015, 600 in 2016, and 650 in 2017.
At the end of 2017 we changed the focus on our trips from "mission trip" -which unfortunately has the "go and do for them" philosophy to "Immersion trips" -which allows us to introduce people to Haiti and immerse them in the culture where we live. We were able to bring over 550 people to Haiti in 2018 with an increased focus on immersion into the culture. The best way to say it was, we were on a roll! We began building a Guest House that is both secure and comfortable that allows us to house guests as we begin ministry with 3x more people than we currently have in our sphere of influence.
«All of our US Staff working in Haiti are there because they came on a short-term mission trip. We love introducing people to Haiti.
We hit a few speed bumps in July when protests first rocked the country, but they quickly subsided and we were back to bringing in Immersion Teams once it was safe to do so. In November 2018 Haiti experienced more protests and we were thankful things could "calm down" while many of our American Staff were traveling during the month of December when we had no teams coming in. We were ready to go again in January 2019.
Then...2019 came and we brought 48 people to Haiti in 2019. That's it.
We brought 48 people to Haiti in 2019. That's it.
2019 is a year we will forever remember here at myLIFEspeaks. It is the year when protests rocked the country. It was common to hear about roads closed, protests in the streets, tires on fire, and 100,000 people marching to show their frustration. We, like many others, thought the frustration and anger of the streets would quickly pass like it always did...but it didn't.
In March 2019 we were forced to ask our remaining American Staff in Haiti to evacuate. They left to comply with the request of the ministry but one by one they returned within a few weeks, determined to be where God had called them to be. (On a personal note, we could not be any more proud of the team that God has built in Haiti).
In 2019, we saw our Haitian leadership grow by leaps and bounds with no American Immersion Teams coming in. Teenagers led children and their peers in our summer camps. Our Haitian Directors volunteered to postpone their pay during times when we simply couldn't get things we needed to get. In short, the ministry we had prayed for was being lived out right in front of us. Our Haitian family was beginning to show how they could lead in ways we had not yet imagined because we were depending on so many people coming from "outside" of Haiti. It was a truly humbling and exciting moment for us.
The best part of 2019? We were able to keep all 158 of our Haitian employees without laying anyone off and without having to reduce anyone's much needed pay. That means they still receive a paycheck which enables them to continue to care for their family and invest in their local community!
We were able to keep all 158 of our Haitian employees without laying anyone off and without having to reduce anyone's much needed pay.
As we rejoiced with our Haitian family we grew nervous in the US asking one simple question, "how in the world are we going to recover the lost revenue of teams?" How would we survive losing almost 1/2 of our budget? With every refund we issued, our stomachs got more and more knotted. We did what nonprofits have to do, we increased our focus on fundraising and slashed anything that wasn't of vital importance to our existence-but that proved difficult as we weighed programs like feeding children vs feeding the elderly vs keeping the doors to LIFE Academy open.
Our US Staff did an amazing job of creatively getting people involved through campaigns and fundraising events. We had a Brett Young concert in Austin, TX and Tim Tebow spoke at an event in Houston, TX. That however, took its toll on our people, donors, our community, and the ministry as a whole.
We finished 2019 exhausted and on edge. We had crossed the finish line but had a feeling that things would never be the same but couldn't stop moving forward. We saw some great friends and staff members in both Haiti and the US transition out. One thing remains constant, God is in control even when things seem absolutely impossible on our end.
We still have all of our 158 Haitian employees and they see first hand how God continues to move throughout Haiti. We don't know what the future looks like in regards to bringing teams back to Haiti. We do however know we can't bring any teams in while the country is in so much uncertainty and potential chaos.
We need partners to join us as we continue to focus on providing jobs in our local community. Jobs give people a sense of purpose, dignity, and the ability to take care of their family.
Will You Join Us?
We value and covet your prayers during this time.
We are asking you to consider partnering with us to keep things moving forward:
Our donors are part of the myLIFEspeaks FAMILY that help keep things moving forward. Our Monthly Donors are part of The Table, a commUNITY of myLIFEspeaks most generous supporters who are committed to bringing family, nutrition, education, public health and all LIFE has to offer to Haiti by giving each month to help keep things moving forward. Your investment in myLIFEspeaks helps us continue to change the future of Haiti.