Sunday, October 27, 2013

Li Bél >> She is Beautiful.

I stare down into the deep brown inviting eyes of a girl no older than 4, that gaze up at me with wonder. Her smile holds the suns power with all of it's light. LI BEL. (She is Beautiful) She is lovely. She is worthy, and a precious pearl of GREAT price.

I keep looking into her eyes, gazing far in - passed the surface story, and I see a girl without a trace of poverty to her name. Without a trace of homelessness and abandonment. She has strength. She has riches far passed anyone can imagine, stored for her in Heaven. Her only background and History is God's story of redeeming grace. Her love for others is marked on her radiant face. The Lord's love gives heat and light to her day. Hope falls down on her like rain, washing away the dirt of hunger and the pain. She is a child full of wonder. She is beauty.

She reaches skyward with open arms asking me to pick her up and hold her. I reach down, and hold her close. I carry this gem around the compound in Haiti as she continues to reflect light in every direction with her joy! I hold her, as if she was the most precious stone in the world, because she is. 'Ou Bél' she says to me while I'm holding her, to remind me that I too am beautiful. My heart bends, knowing that those words are pure and perfect coming from her sweet little voice.The girls here in Haiti, they remind me, Kyle and Kristie of our beauty almost every day. It's one of the most humbling gifts to be told this. Sometimes we, at least I know I do, fight the words but I know I need to receive it and value my worth because this little barefoot haitian girl in my arms, believes it.

A pearl of great price

I can learn so much from this 4 year old princess JouJou. She laughs at days to come. - Proverbs 31. She throws her head back in laughter over and over again and reminds me of the child I want to retain in myself. We laugh so much it brings me tears of joy. She makes this short time in Haiti feel like 100 days of laughter and belonging. She has some wild in her, but we all do, and that little bit of crazy makes for some colorful days. 

I am learning to be colorful and learning how to color outside the lines when it comes to being "adult". It is making life way more exciting and fun! And allowing me to appreciate the beauty in it. I came to serve in Haiti, but as always I am the one who is served with love.

Everybody can be great, because everybody can serve. You don't have to have a college degree to serve. You don't have to make your subject and your verb agree to serve. You don't have to know about Plato and Aristotle to serve. You don't have to know Einstein's theory of relativity to serve. You don't have to know the second theory of thermodynamics in physics to serve. You only need a heart full of grace, a soul generated by love. And you can be that servant." 
 Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Creating a Culture of Creativity

Chalk +  a trash dump + a child with wonder = !!!
I met this dream-filled one in Puerto Barrios, Guatemala 

Creating a Culture of Creativity in HAITI

Two things I am passionate about is the arts and identity. I believe through art - of any form - that we as humans can be uniquely individual and be empowered to speak from our true and authentic voices. A paintbrush in the hand of Rembrandt or Renoir to me is just as powerful as a paintbrush in a young child's hand, because it is a tool of empowerment; a voice that can be used by the artist to give sound and color to the mind's thoughts. Once a person allows themselves the freedom to express their mind and heart using various forms of art, I believe and I have seen a joy that appears from being able to create. This joy is PALPABLE and unstoppable. We are empowered when we can mold shapes, photograph the world and share our visions. We are reminded who we are through our voice and by viewing our art; the visual imprint of our thoughts we can start to see more of us. We are fearfully and wonderfully made, and we can create beauty out of broken selves. 

I have an opportunity to go to Haiti, thanks to my sweet dedicated friend and teacher Kyle Almgren who serves at Greater Works Home and School in Haiti. Together we're going to use art, creativity, and our passion to help create new programs that will benefit the school and the children. Our hope is to start or re-ignite a CULTURE OF CREATIVITY at this treasured place in Haiti. 

What is a culture of creativity? That's a good question. Not sure I can define it -- but I know that just saying those words ignites my spirit. Creating or cultivating a culture of creativity.  A place where humans dream big, think and see and pray from the lens of the Creator of the world. The bigger picture. The hopeful picture. Where a person who is in poverty, can see beyond their current circumstance and motivate themselves to creatively solve their problems to get to their desired solutions. The future belongs to those who are innovative, creative and collaborative. Let's start by pouring that into children and treating them as equals, after all I am no more creative than a 5 year old in Port-au-Prince Haiti, probably less so. It's going to take a lot of faith and perseverance, but I am impassioned about fostering a culture of creativity throughout the nations, specifically in poorest places throughout the world. 

I want to provide fuel, inspiration and a whole lot of LOVE to help these sweet Haitian kids use their imaginations and put it to action! This could be in the form of art, drama, music, dance, sewing, building, dreaming, praying, writing, exploring, etc. -- I am ready for all of it. Immersing myself in verbs of action and truth. 


1) Set aside the time to be imaginative, creative and dream. It's probably not going to happen at your desk, so get outside, adopt someone else's perspective for the day and challenge yourself to come up with new ideas. 

2) Yes and... By saying yes, instead of 'no' when it comes to ideas, it helps open up a possibility for curiosity and imagination. Any sort of criticism can lead to shutting down people. Adults or Children, we should be better about staying mindful and considerate to others ideas, no matter how far fetched they are. For children it is so important to praise them and encourage them to keep dreaming, keep living in wonderment where there are endless possibilities. 

I think when it comes to the developing world, we could learn a lot by listening to the children's ideas how they think poverty can be lessened. This will definitely be taken note of in Haiti.

3) Provide tools. to enhance individual creativity. A paint brush, a pen, a microphone made out of a hairbrush, a red cape, a plastic blue hammer, a camera, etc. There are countless objects and tools that can help enhance our creative spirits! Find out which ones bring you joy, and employ them and enhance your personal creativity... and inspire others in the process!  

4) BE BOLD! Be courageous and daring when in the creative process. Um they are just ideas, nothing is going to go wrong by dreaming or thinking too big. Is that even possible? Can we think too big? dream too big? I don't know, all I know there are footprints on the moon and new discoveries every day. I want to have courage against all odds. A creative courage that is inexplicable and a little crazy, but full of passion and color! 

5) HAVE FUN!!! Foot-loose and fancy free. Is it fun for me to drop everything I'm doing fly to another nation to help plan and put together art programs for kids in Haiti? You bet it is! It's fun, adventurous and kind of feels like a dream, except it's real life. I so encourage you to feel the FUN that happens when you use creativity, step outside of comfort circles, and explore. In order to create a culture of creativity, we need to allow ourselves FREEDOM. Freedom of the mind, the heart, and soul, the feet, and the hands. 

6) more steps to come. I am always in the process of learning. 

HOPEFUL hope filled HANDS
Our hands of compassion should be ones that freely give, hands of selflessness, hands of grace, hands of gratitude and generosity. These hands can do much and can love in action and provide a lot that multiplies, and is ever increasing by the day. Haiti is our neighbor, haiti deserves to be loved and cared for. Haiti the country - is a culture of creativity. But I think that some Haitians fear creativity. However, I know the Enemy of Poverty CAN'T stop creativity from flowing through the streets, but it can stricken the mind to believing that creativity can help break bonds of poverty and pain. The truth is that when that creative part of us is stirred, our hearts beat faster and we come alive in a new way that allows us to pursue the thoughts we usually discard. We pursue what seems impossible and in doing so motivate us to do the impossible. My hope for the Haitians I meet with, believe in themselves to create beautiful things.

I have a responsibility, to use my hands to create, to cultivate, to construct creative constellations that light up the sky and point people to the direction of their dreams. I know this, I feel it in my heart every time someone shares with me their passion or idea. It's a calling and vocation and I cannot wait to see how the Lord uses these hands in Haiti during the next couple weeks. 

VOCATION.  [voh-key-shuhn]
a particular occupation, business, or profession; calling.
a strong impulse or inclination to follow a particular activity or career.
a divine call to God's service or to the Christian life.


- Malala Yousafzai

Haiti October 2012 - A year ago visiting Respiré school.