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


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. 

Thursday, November 24, 2016

give thanks

"I will praise the Lord at all times, I will constantly speak His praises" Psalm 34:1.  There is something extra special about the month of November. I love reading posts and blogs on what everyone is thankful for. In so many ways this season is one that truly causes me to reflect and look back on what the Lord is doing in my life and in the lives of those around me.
As I sat in the village this week my emotions were all over the place. While holding the chubbiest and sweetest little one I realized just how much of a blessing and answer to prayer her little life has been.  I'm so thankful I have been given a spot to watch as her momma has learned to be an amazing mother and truly embrace this role in her life. I watched as my kiddos proudly sang a long list of songs that they have learned in school and I couldn't help but be thankful that even against a long list of obstacles these kids are learning so much. They are going to change this community and they give me so much hope. And over the last few weeks I have been challenged by the heart of my little man. When he prays he goes through a long list of things he is thankful for. That list includes everything from food and school to the names of every single person he knows. I'm so thankful that the Lord has used this little five year old to show me how to pray because while I have been caught up trying to figure out the heavy and just mess of these relationships- He is showing me that really I need to just pray and turn so much of that back over to Him.  This season of "thanks" has shown me so much of His heart and for that I am try thankful.

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

I know it has been forever (months really) since I've  blogged.  Life has been busy and in many ways hard to actually put down in words.  I think this picture sort of sums up the last few weeks though.

It was taken one afternoon when I knew I needed to slip away and talk with one of my kiddos.  And yet, in true form the other kids didn't quite feel it was the best idea for me to kick them out of the house and to not be with them for five minutes.

In a lot of ways I'm emotionally tired so I have wanted to just hide away and avoid so many conversations and questions.  And yet, instead I'm trying to force myself to have the hard conversations and to keep moving forward even when it feels really heavy and broken.  I'm also trying to find the joy that is right there in the middle of what to me only seems hard.

Learning to step aside from the chaos of the littles to listen and connect with the heart of one of my bigs is worth fighting for.  Learning to step back and simply listen isn't something that comes natural to me.  And yet, in this season I feel that He is showing me so much about what it truly means to extend grace and what it look likes to really join people on this walk through life.  I have to keep reminding myself that this life is a walk and to take it just one sweet day at a time.  Ok, maybe just one sweet moment at a time because wow somedays it really is just moment by moment.

As frustrating as it can be trying to get away from the littles for a few minutes, I'm thankful for the distractions of hands squeezing under the door and little eyes peeping through the cracks in the wall.  My kiddos have a way of bringing so much laughter to even the hardest of moments and for that I'm thankful.  The month of November (wow..where did 2016 go?!) always causes me to reflect back and look for things that I'm thankful for.  Even though things don't always happen the way I feel like they should I am so thankful that He is still just as present and that He has given me so many glimpses of His heart in this season of life.

Thursday, September 1, 2016

five years!

Dashline, Genelda, Rose, and Kris 
Today marks five years of living life in Haiti.  In so many ways my first instincts are to think back to all the "hard" that first year of transitions held.  To think back on how difficult it was to leave my family, friends, church, and just life in the States.  During the first year I felt a lot of "losses" and yet now in this season of looking back I feel so blessed and thankful for all that I have gained.  When I look at all my little kiddos running around like crazy and just being silly, I can't help but be thankful that I get to live this life with them.  I don't take it for granted that I have been given a spot in their little lives.  I also love that I get to partner with lots of different mommas who are working SO hard to care for their children.  I love getting to cheer a mom on as she fights to help her child not only gain weight but reach developmental milestones in the malnutrition program.  So many of these women have become dear friends to me and watching them live out their faith has impacted my own.  I've also gained a community of people from the States that have chosen to rally around me in prayer and financial support.  So many people have sacrificed in order to make this life possible for me and for that I will be forever thankful.  Thank you for following along as I continue to live and serve in Haiti.  I'm excited to see what the Lord has in store for this next year--I know that with my kiddos it for sure won't be dull or boring=)
Look at all those sweet baby cheeks!  How is it possible they are all 5 and 6yrs old now?!
Some things haven't changed--like fighting over who gets to sit where=) 
Natamara and Davidson- one of my favorite pictures of these two!
Can't believe just how much my "babies" have grown! 

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

august newsletter!

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

To donate financially- click on the link below!
*Select under staff support Brooke Smalley*

Instagram: smalleybrooke

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

Monday, August 8, 2016

summer interns!

Our busy and more chaotic summer months are starting to quiet down and life is starting to fall back into what feels more normal.  This summer was once again filled with lots of teams and interns.  I'm always excited to see what the Lord does through team members when they come to serve with NVM. I know that the team has an impact in Haiti but I also know that so much of the greater impact typically happens once the team returns home.  This summer a majority of our interns that came to serve with us had all been on teams before.  The week long trips they had here impacted them enough to give up a summer of getting paid to work to volunteer with us in lots of different areas.  I was blessed to have an amazing group of nursing interns serve with me in the clinic.  These young women are not only going to be great nurses but I truly believe that each of them are going to radically change the world.  They have hearts for the Lord and they served and loved absolutely every person and patient they met.  Getting to serve with these young women is one of the highlights of my year.  I love nothing more than watching them jump into a new culture and language.  I also love watching them wrestle with their faith and process as they live life here in Haiti.  They also have a special way of bringing a lot of energy and fun to the summer months.  Watching these young women serve and work in the clinic this summer has given me so much hope in the next generation of nurses.  So thankful that I was once again given the opportunity to simply live life with each of the interns and for the love and patience they showed with all of my kiddos!  Life is for sure much quieter and not nearly as exciting without them all here!

Sunday, May 29, 2016

bon fet manman!

Today is a holiday that has so many different "feels" for me.  Today is the day that Haiti celebrates mother's day.  It's no secret that life here is hard and that the level of injustice is overwhelming at times.  At the mention of "Haiti" one quickly can come up with a list of things that this beautiful country struggles with or is in lack of.  And yet, what most don't realize or give credit to is this band of women who literally have stood together for years upon years doing absolutely everything within their power to raise up the future generations of Haitian's.  At first glance many of these women don't look like my own mother or in some ways raise their children the way I was raised.  And yet, the longer I live here and sit in the homes of my dear friends the more I realize that there really is no difference.  My mother did absolutely everything she could to make sure my siblings and I were cared for and loved.  It looks different here but at the core these momma's are fighting against everything else to prepare meals for their children, to send their children to school, and to physically carry bucket after bucket of water to hand wash laundry and bathe children all day long.  All of my kiddos have different stories but at the core they each have or had a mother.  My relationship with each of these mothers is unique and different.  
One of my sweet friends has this relationship with the Lord that is so present and real that it literally overflows into the way she loves and parents her children.  Her life story is anything but easy and yet she is quick to hug her children and has a laugh that is contagious.  Some of my kiddos are raised by their grandmother and I am constantly in awe at how well she loves them.  This grandma raised a handful of her own children and is now raising several of her grandchildren.  She isn't quick to get angry with her grandchildren and always gives them the bigger portions of whatever food is being prepared.  Daily this grandma makes sacrifices in order to provide for her grandchildren.  I am constantly in awe of another dear friend who I rarely see sit down unless she is washing clothes or breastfeeding the baby.  This momma works day in and out in order to send all of her children to school.  Just days before this momma delivered her last child she was still walking several miles with her donkey loaded with charcoal to sell in order to provide for her children.  This mother isn't a mom that is all "hugs and kisses" and yet watching her do everything she can to make sure her children are cared for is humbling.  This mother has given me a special spot in their lives and that is something that I will never take for granted.  We have laughed and cried together and she has shown me that there is so much more to the story than what is seen at first glance.  
I am so thankful that I have been surrounded by women who have not only taken the time to teach me about language and culture but that have also "parented" me by teaching me to hand wash my clothes and how much to pay for everything from fruits and vegetables to material for school uniforms.  These women have given me a spot in their homes and in their children's lives and that is something I will be forever grateful for.  I am so thankful to have been given the opportunity to learn from this generation of momma's that love in so many different ways.  

Saturday, May 7, 2016

oh life!

I have no clue where the last few months have gone!  And in reality I'm not quite sure how it's even 2016 let alone May!  Oh how time flies!  In this season of busy and long days I'm trying to remind myself to stay present.  It's so easy for me to get wrapped up in my to-do list which really is never ending.  All of my little friends are at such a fun stage right now.  And so instead of doing all the things that I "should" be doing I'm trying to focus on soaking up these sweet moments we have right now.  I'm trying to (or at least working at learning..) to embrace the hectic and crazy.  I am so blessed to have been given this special spot in my little friends lives and I know in just a blink of an eye they are going to be much too cool for me=)