Friday, September 1, 2017

Six years!

 Six years ago today I boarded a plane to live and serve in Haiti for what I thought was going to be one year.  Little did I know that this place would become my home.  The people my family.  And the community a place that has captured my heart.  I feel extra thankful and blessed to have been given the opportunity to live this life and to watch as the Lord works in the lives of those around me.  Each year has been filled with lots of laughter, tears, and hard/sweet moments and yet looking back I wouldn't change it for anything.

Sunday, May 7, 2017

little women

I don't know exactly when it happened. And I don't know if my heart was or would have ever been ready for the sweet moment of realizing one of my littles is not so little anymore. Saturday mornings are always some of my favorites with my kiddos. On this particular day I remember forcing myself to get out of bed. It was one of those mornings that I really wanted to hide under the covers and shut out the world, butI had promised the kids that I would be in the village that morning and keeping my word is something that is so important to them. So on this morning I forced myself to walk to the village all the while telling myself that I would just make it a quick visit. Run down and say some "good mornings" and then head back home.
When I arrived in the village I was greeted (or practically barreled over..) by the kiddos who were pretty excited for a morning that was free to play and explore. Rose quickly informed me that she wouldn't be ready to leave right away (there went my quick visit plans) because she was going to cook some rice. I had to hold in the laughter because the idea of Rose (7yrs old) cooking rice was just too much. I don't remember if the kids pushed me down to a spot on the ground to sit or if I just gave in to the reality of "this will be awhile", but sitting down was one of the best decisions I made. As I sat there I watched as my "baby" girl moved in and out of the kitchen space. The other girls jumped in to help and before long one was off gathering water, another sticks and charcoal for the fire (because why wouldn't they use real fire to play with!), and one was sent to get oil and salt from one of the older women. I laughed because I knew there was NO way these little girls were going to get a portion of the oil and salt and yet they did. I was in constant shock as I watched the girls cooking. They fanned the coals just like the older women do and they mashed the garlic and onions like every other woman I know does. When I squinted my eyes really tightly it was like the Lord was giving me a glimpse into these sweet girls lives ten or fifteen years from now. My little girls were no longer little and instead I saw little women sitting in front of me. 
The amount of rice made was no more than two cooked cups but you would have thought it was an entire pot full. Spoon fulls of rice got dished out to every one who helped and even the littler kids got a portion.  I even got my fair portion of the rice and was super surprised at just how good it was:) I secretly wished I had paid more attention to everything they were putting in that pot because it was that good.
This sweet morning in the village reminded me just how much my kiddos are really watching everything around them. They are growing up and these moments I have with them are going much too quickly. I'm so thankful that they pulled me into staying longer than I had planned and that in watching them play I felt the Lord really impressing on my heart just how special and unique each of them are. And how these moments I have with them are so much more than what they sometimes seem like in the day to day.  

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

April newsletter!

  The April newsletter has finally been mailed!  Click on the link below for the web version of the newsletter.  Let me know (brookes_00@yahoo.com) if you would like to feel extra special and receive a copy in the mail!

 http://www.ministryupdates.org/smalley

To donate financially- click on the link below!
www.nvm.org/get-involved/invest/financial/staff-support/
*Select under staff support Brooke Smalley*

Instagram (this is updated much more frequently!): smalleybrooke

And just in case you want to see more photos- click on the links below!  

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Happy Easter!

In the middle of a season that just feels extra hard I'm thankful that there is the hope that comes with Easter morning.  As I read through my devotions during this season of lent I was consistently reminded of how God used (to me) seemingly impossible situations to bring about redemption.  He took things that were beyond broken and put them back together.  Yes, it's easy for me to get overwhelmed at the injustice in front of me and at how I hate watching the hearts of my kiddos get pulled in different directions.  And yet, this day reminds me to hold on tightly to the Hope that only He can bring.  It reminds me that in Him all things are made new.  I'm thankful that this Easter Sunday was one spent with my kiddos and the other missionary families on campus.  I'm also thankful that I was able to talk to my family back home and that I got to see lots of pictures of my nieces and nephew looking all cute as they hunted eggs too.  Sweet new traditions were started this year and so many fun memories were made!  
Rose and Davidson LOVED searching for the eggs!
Rose found a money egg and couldn't stop giggling!
She has BIG plans as to what treats she wants to buy!
Discovering that the eggs were filled with candy led to LOTS of squealing!  
Douvens looking chubby and adorable!
The kids table at our Easter lunch!  

Saturday, December 31, 2016

the best of 2016!

And just like that it's time to wish in another year!  I hope you enjoy looking back at some of my favorite pictures and memories from 2016.  Thank you for joining with me on this journey.  So many of you support me financially, in prayer, and follow my blog/facebook/instagram etc.  I feel blessed to have been given the opportunity to live this life in Haiti and I can't thank you enough for helping make it all possible.  Wishing you a wonderful New Year!  

My lap seemed to get a lot smaller this year- WOW the kids are growing!  I'm constantly amazed at how the Lord gives me the ability to love just one more even when I feel like my plate is already full.  And I'm also thankful that life is never dull with this crew=)


This picture isn't one that is fancy or extra pretty.  It's what it symbolizes to me that really matters.  There were so many moments where I spent time counting containers of formula and calculating just how many cans per kid I would need based on what I had.  There were moments when I knew that the amount on the shelf wasn't enough and yet there wasn't one single day that there wasn't a can of formula on that shelf.  There wasn't a baby that had to be turned away from the program because I didn't have the supplies needed.  And for that I am 100% thankful and amazed at just how much the Lord uses His people to join together and really make things happen.  Teams would come to campus with a suitcase of formula not knowing that I was stressing over running low- this year I watched as the Lord provided absolutely everything we needed in the malnutrition program.  
This year we made SO many new friends.  I won't even try to list everyone by name because it would be impossible but I can't thank each of you enough for loving and pouring into my kiddos.  Moments that might have seemed silly or just little are still talked about in my home.  My kids ask about you by name and they talk about how you played games with them and how some of you carried them absolutely everywhere we went.  They laugh at the funny things you told them in Creole and tease about who was dating who (because why wouldn't 5year olds be the biggest match makers?!).  My kiddos and my home were blessed with so many people that intentionally loved us and spoiled us.  My kids now know what grapes are and they love them!  And board games are a new favorite too.  Feeling extra loved and blessed because you chose to join with us in this crazy walk through life=)


You know you are the fifth child in your family when you clutch your mango tightly even while napping.  Oh this sweet girl has my heart and I love nothing more than spoiling her rotten=)
If you asked my kids to pick a 2016 highlight I'm pretty sure it would be that we got invited to swim in a friend's pool and then we got our own pool!  My kids learned to "swim" and do so many amazing tricks in this little pool.  We are pretty blessed to have an amazing community of friends that loves us and spoils us too=)
This sweet girl lost TWO teeth this year and I feel like we have been waiting yearrrrsss (literally..) for her to lose these teeth so naturally it is a favorite memory of 2016=)
This year I was reminded at just how important it is to have traditions in my home.  To create a space where memories can be made and where the kids have something fun to look forward to.  Yes, the moments never really turn out like I see others post on Instagram and yet I feel like our chaotic/messy/overwhelming and yet totally perfect way of doing things really is all the better.  
This picture is one that I don't know if I'll have have all the right words for.  This was taken the morning hurricane Mathieu was set to cross right over Haiti.  I can't tell you just how many Facebook messages, emails, and texts I received from SO many of you.  To know that there was an army of people praying for Haiti and for all my little friends was beyond comforting.  Watching as the Lord worked a complete miracle in redirecting the storm and leaving us with just rain was a complete answer to prayer.  It was also a neat experience watching as the NVM community in the States joined with our NVM Haitian staff and community in providing relief to areas that were completely devastated.  Even the children in the school joined in with helping to prepare relief kits.      
This picture represents just how loved I felt the moment I watched the children in the malnutrition program run and play with toys that were gathered and sent to us for the new nutrition space.  Collecting money for formula and plump nut is a lot of work and SO appreciated- and yet there is a community of people that took the idea of blessing the children in our program to an entirely different level.  I got to watch as the children in the program played, walked, and laughed.  This sweet day is one I won't forget.  


This photo in a lot of ways shows just how faithful the Lord truly is and the beauty of redemption.  This year I struggled with knowing one of the momma's was pregnant.  I struggled with the fact that she was going to have another baby and yet didn't parent her first.  I hurt for her first child because I saw the love she wanted and needed.  And yet, despite all the ways I mentally had this event playing out- the Lord chose this sweet baby girl to in a lot of ways redeem this momma.  He used this baby girl to prove just how much a person can change and how we serve a God that heals.  This momma has been so attentive and precious with her baby girl.  She dotes on this sweet baby and I can't imagine what life would have been like if it would have went "my way" and this little one wouldn't be a part of the story.  

Saturday, December 24, 2016

Christmas Party!!

The Christmas party is the day that the students look forward to ALL year long. It's this day that the children dream about because they know it's one filled with a fun program (skits, dancing, singing, etc), a BIG lunch (rice and beans, chicken, salad, plantains, and a bottle of juice), and we can't forget the best part- each student receives a gift. My kiddos spent the last few weeks planning out what outfits they would wear. And Davidson was concerned about if I had batteries--because somehow he just assumed his gift would need batteries:) It was ALL the talk of the school when the presents started to arrive the week of the party. I heard that one of the boxes had cars in it and another had toys for girls!  These events always leave me an emotional mess because it makes my heart just burst at watching my kiddos get loved on in such an extravagant and fun way. At the end of the day my kiddos and I were playing with their new toys in my house when one of my sweet girls told me how her sponsor was the best because she picked out and sent her the best present ever. My other kiddos joined in too telling me just how much they loved their toys and food too. This years Christmas party will be one my little ones talk about for a long long time!

Thursday, December 22, 2016

my parent's came to Haiti!

My kiddos (and me too!) were counting down for weeks until my parents arrived and oh were they excited to finally meet them!  In a lot of ways I have two very separate lives. One with my family and friends in Indiana and then another in Haiti. It's not very often that these two lives cross paths so when they do it's extra special. I was so excited for my parents to actually meet and get to know some of the people who are so dear to me. I was also excited for my Haitian family and friends to meet my parents. The days went much too quickly but I am so thankful that I was able to show my parents off a little and also show them a glimpse of what my life is like in Haiti.  My kiddos all voted that they should come back SOON and are still talking about everything that they did with them=) 

Saturday, December 10, 2016

malnutrition program space!


The new space for the malnutrition program was officially dedicated over the summer but it took a few more months for the container to arrive with all the tables, chairs, toys, and other materials. It was SO fun setting this space up- dreaming of different ways to have the flow work for mommas and kiddos to come into the room. I wanted to create a room that has a specific medical purpose but is also comfortable for the children so they aren't nearly as afraid to explore and play. As I went through tub after tub of toys I realized just how many people have loved and given towards the program. 
Last Mondays appointment was held in the clinic portion of the health center and Wednesday's appointment was in the new malnutrition space. The difference in the environment between those two appointments was something I can barely put into words. On Wednesday I watched as kiddos climbed climbed off their momma's laps to play with the toys placed around the room. Some of the children were even a little selfish and didn't want the other kids to touch the toys they were playing with. The laughter from the momma's as they watched their children play was priceless. One little one even started to cry when her momma tried to pick her up to leave!  I was able to assess the developmental status of the children in an entirely new and different way and wow was I impressed. 
Watching the children play and explore in the new space has me so excited to see just what all is in store for the program in 2017. Thank you for joining with us in prayer and financial support throughout 2016--so many little ones are no longer "little" anymore and it has been such an honor to walk this road with some amazing parents!

Friday, December 9, 2016

Christmas!


So I won't lie--we decorated for Christmas way back in November and honestly it was the best decision ever. I decided that since Thanksgiving isn't a Haitian holiday there really was no reason to wait any longer!  Oh if you could have heard the squeals that came from my kiddos when I surprised them by pulling out the Christmas decorations. We spent the entire morning making my house look so "bel" (literally translated beautiful but in reality the look is more tacky 😂).  The kids took great pride in each job they were given and if you were to visit our house they would not only give you a tour and show you every single decoration but they would also tell you who put it there. Daniella's first thing she does everytime she walks through the door is run around and turn on all the lights. She told me she just knew that I would sleep SO sweetly with all the beautiful lights on. Last year was the first year for decorating the house and I felt leery about trying to start little traditions in my home. I'm so thankful that I stepped out and embraced the chola and crazy though and that we did it because this year they were literally just waiting until we got to do it all again.