Recently Aaron went to Haiti to visit our friends the Livesay’s, and while he was there he was able to see the Harbor House that Heartline Ministries has recently started. Harbor House is a mission of Heartline Ministries and is doing amazing things in young women’s lives in Haiti. This is from their webpage:
The young women living at Harbor House are all in need of a support system due to loss and trauma in their lives. Culturally they face many uphill battles just to be supported to raise their own children. Most of the young women have no contact or support from the father of their baby. The house is currently at capacity with eight moms and eight babies. We hope to one day accommodate ten women but we will need to do some renovations in order to accommodate ten well.
My friend Paige recently went on a short term trip to Haiti with our church, The Austin Stone Community Church. After she got home I received a text from her that stated “I can’t stop crying for the people of Haiti.” I felt her pain, as I remembered my first trip there where God grabbed a hold of my heart. Short term trips have their ups and downs for sure, but I can tell you that through a short term trip in my life it lead me to adopt 2 children from there, support 2 ministries there and I led a short term trip that led to 3 other families adopting from there (all those kids came home after the earthquake on humanitarian parole).
I asked Paige to tell me her thoughts on her trip and on the Harbor House. I would encourage you that if you know of Heartline, the Harbor House or the Livesay’s to go and vote for their organization to receive a huge grant from GIVING OF LIFE. If you read this story and your heart is moved, please go vote as well!
Here’s Paige’s story:
If I were to convey one thing about my trip to Haiti, it would be that the people working for Heartline Ministries changed my life and changed my view of missionaries.
Absolutely squashed all the cynicism I once had for missionaries and organizations who just try to aid countries, but don’t care about long term change. Before I went to Haiti I really didn’t understand long term missions. I didn’t understand what they do or why really; I thought they all just wanted to feel like they were changing the world and couldn’t possible be doing anything beneficial in the long run.
I don’t think I can put into words what all the missionaries are doing or how they are changing that country, but it’s incredible; They changed my life. Everyone at Heartline made us feel not only welcome, but a part of their mission while we were there. They showed me that missions is a way of life and it came out in everything they did.
Our group went down to Port Au Prince for the shortest trip in the world, one week. I really thought that the Lord was crazy sending me down there. I wrestled and cried the week before I left because it was worthless, it had to be. I felt like the Lord could not actually want to send me somewhere for that short of a time; what could He possibly do in Haiti that wasn’t for me, but for the country. I always thought short term mission trips were just for people desiring to feel better about themselves and to only aid the immediate but do nothing permanent. I cried and battled against the Lord, but I went. Boy did He have a different purpose than I could ever foresee, He wanted to show me what real mission is. These people at Heartline are so strong in their faith and love of Jesus that I just shake my head now in awe. It is beautiful. They have allowed the Lord to take their hearts and completely break them for Haiti to the point that they love the people there so much that they can’t help but come along side them and make long term changes.
I would lose myself in confusion trying to tell you all that they do, but I want to share about one part of their ministry that struck my heart: Harbor House. Basically it is a simple beginning to something that i strongly believe could change and empower Haitian women. I just love it! Because of random circumstances I began researching and studying Haiti, I was immediately broken for specifically the women and children. The women don’t have a choice when it comes to sleeping with guys. Basically if you want to keep your boyfriend, you sleep with him whenever he wants. Or maybe you need money and you are forced out on the street to sell that part of you. Or maybe you just flat get taken advantage of. Whatever the case, you don’t have another option. If that doesn’t break your heart as a woman, then get this – those circumstances lead to the orphan crisis in Haiti. Children are given up because they’re parents cannot provide for them and the mother’s believe that the better life is in a new home. LIterally shatters my soul. I hate that, I don’t understand it and i hate it for those women and children. In comes Harbor House!
Heartline has created this teen mom home called Harbor House to start teaching young pregnant girls that there is another way. They have taken 8 girls and their babies into the 2 year residential program and are teaching them not only school, chores and bible studies, but mostly life skills. They learn how to bond with their baby, how to breast feed, how to discipline them, love them, and so much more. It seems simple, yet it is something so foreign to them. We got to hangout with the teen moms a couple of different times and they are such beautiful women! They love love love their babies! We first met them when we picked them up on the way to church, they all hopped up in the crazy truck and sat next to us smiling and laughing, and then laughing some more when we tried to talk to them and made fools of ourselves. Apparently my name sounds like a bad word or something in creole…who knows but whatever it is they loved it and repeated it a thousand times. They let us hold their sweet babies and were all around joyful women. Each has her own heart breaking story of where she came from, why she is pregnant, what her parents think etc, but you would never guess the way they hold themselves. Those eight girls inspired me.
I wish you could have sat there with us and shared in the moments with us. I was excited to see the teen moms again at the maternity center where they go every Tuesday to learn more about being a loving, gentle mother. I sat there watching them eat lunch with everyone else and silently thanking Jesus that they were hand picked to be in this program at Harbor House. It literally is nothing short of amazing that the people of Heartline are able to do this work that will change that community. They are actively stopping the orphan crisis in the future by showing these girls how important a family is. That inspires me more than anything else on the planet.
Jesus honestly sent me to Haiti to tell me that there is no such thing as a short term mission trip. He sent me there to break my heart for those girls so that everyday my mission would be to pray specifically for them and that their stories would send more girls to Harbor House until that entire community believes in Him and empowers every woman to be a loving mother. God is so much smarter than I am.
PS for all you Austin sustainable foodies, Harbor House has their own tilapia tank that currently houses 254 tilapia (yes we counted) if that isn’t sustainable food, i don’t know what is!
*All photos used with permission from Jennifer Crane Photography