February Update- John Robert Veillard

Below is a monthly update about my dear friend, John Robert. If you would like to learn more about him, you can visit our Fundly page. Also, for more details about him on the blog, check this out.

 

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(He’s the cutie in the red striped shirt).

Friends,

I hope this update finds you warm despite the bitter cold. I keep telling myself Spring is just around the corner… It’s been a while since I’ve updated you on John Robert and there’s a lot to share.
He’s doing exceptionally well at school and is taking a heavy load this semester (18 credit hours). When he’s not in the classroom, he has been working out (trying to keep off the freshman 15) and training with his soccer team. He will turn 21 on February 25th and we are looking forward to celebrating the big day with him!
In regards to fundraising for John Robert’s education, we continue to be blessed beyond measure. The generosity of family, friends, and complete strangers blows me away on a regular basis. I love seeing God move through each of you to bless John Robert. We are still $1,152 short for fully funding his first year in the United States. Additionally, we will start fundraising for year 2 in a few short months. To be honest, this gives us a bit of anxiety, but we are trusting in God’s timing and faithfulness in this endeavor.
To try and offset some of the expenses for year two, John Robert has been applying for small scholarships online and applied to two different colleges for the 2015-2016 school year. The first being Transylvania University. They’ve accepted him for admission and offered him a generous scholarship. However, if you know much about Transy, you know they provide superior education at a premium price. This scholarship, while incredible is $8,000 more per year than Kentucky Christian University. We are still prayerfully trying to work through these logistics to see if Transy would even be an option financially. He has also applied to Berea College (for the third time) as their educational offerings and financial package is optimal for young people in John Robert’s situation. We have yet to hear their response, but are praying fervently for this to be an option for next year. Both Transylvania and Berea would grant John Robert an opportunity to work and this would also be a positive step for offsetting expenses (KCU does not allow their internationals to work at this time).
In the Spring, we hope to have a few small fundraisers to help kick-off year two.  A couple of gals from work are planning a yard sale to raise money for JR, and I hope to host another fundraiser as well. More details on this will be made available soon.
In the meantime, will you continue to pray for God’s guidance and for John Robert to continue to be a dream chaser? It is my sincere prayer that we never grow weary of chasing after the dreams He has set before us…
Thank you for standing beside us on this journey! You are a blessing!
In Him,
Heather

{When Haiti and America Collide} Grafted In.

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Three years ago, when I met John Robert, I did not expect him to become anything more to me than a friend. I was impressed by his intelligence, analytical skills, and most importantly his heart. The heart he has for his country and for those serving to walk alongside his people is extraordinary. I think I assumed he’d be someone I’d see in Haiti during my visits, and someone I would stay in contact with through Facebook.

However, God had other plans for our relationship. The details are unique and completely God orchestrated. They may even seem bizarre to most, but today, three years later, I view him as a son. No, he’s not been adopted, but he has been grafted into our family. He attends family functions, checks-in daily, uses me as a sounding board when life is tough because his mom isn’t easily accessible since she’s still in Haiti. He always makes sure I’m ok, urges me to slow down and take time for myself, and shows genuine appreciation for our friendship daily!

I am grateful for his friendship and honored to be Mama H to him here in the States. I know his mom misses him, but am hopeful that she knows he’s well-loved while here in the US.

John Robert is a gift; one I didn’t expect or deserve.

 

For more details about JR, visit fundly!

Tell me: Do you have a son like JR?

{When Haiti and America Collide} Fall Favorites.

This weekend was awesome because JR was home for Fall break. I’m grateful to be able to experience Fall with him. It is my favorite season and I love sharing it with others.

We went to Halloween Express, decorated pumpkins, and bet on the ponies at Keeneland. We had a blast!


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Halloween Express reminded JR a bit of  Haiti’s Carnaval (think Mardi Gras) because of the masks. He was impressed by the selection and taken back by the price tag of these seasonal items.

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Every year in our home, my friends from High School come over and decorate pumpkins! JR decorated his pumpkin in honor of his country.

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One of the things I treasure most about JR being in KY is the new friends I’ve been able to make. We spent the afternoon with Megan and Fiona (a classmate of JR’s) at Keeneland. Fiona and JR took in all the things… the good and the bad!

We had a wonderful weekend! I can’t wait until he’s home for his next visit!

For more details about JR, visit fundly!

{When American and Haiti Collide} College Bound

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Several months ago, my husband and I made the decision to help a young man from Haiti pursue a college degree in the US. John Robert, served as our interpreter for a couple of years and as a result morphed into one of our closest friends, strongest protectors, and a son.

He had the opportunity to attend a private English Immersion school and receive a well-rounded education. This empowered him to learn English and even take the SAT. He excelled in school and always was in the top of his class. When he graduated two years ago, he knew he wanted to continue his education, but wasn’t sure how. He applied to a college and was denied. A year later, after healing from rejection, he applied again and was denied. However, in his darkest hour, in the moments where success seemed like a fleeting dream, God nudged me.

He worked on my heart, my mind, and wrestled with me in my sleep, until I moved. I took a risk and sold out to this young man’s cause. I made phone calls, raised money, organized trips, made best friends with people through email, and was able to logistically figure out a way for him to attend a University in the States. This was not done by me, but by God’s ability to work through a network of people, all interested in the same cause. This was arranged because God’s provision for this young man’s life did not stop at high school. This was arranged because John Robert and other amazing people (Jason, Jonny, Lizz, Lori, my life group, my family, my church, my work, and many others) stood next to me in partnership. This worked out because God did not call the capable, but because he calls the willing.

On July 17th around 12:30 in the afternoon, John Robert landed in KY for the first time. We spent nearly a month together before I packed him up to attend Kentucky Christian University. He started classes on Tuesday and will be pursuing a business degree. This triumph does not belong to me, my support network, or to John Robert, but it belongs to the Lord. Because the declaration of the Lord is true when it says in Jeremiah 29:11, “For I know the plans I have for you- plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future”.

If you’d like to know more about the journey, please visit John Robert’s campaign via Fundly

How was Haiti?

I just returned from my fourth trip to Haiti. After trips, I’m always met with the same question, “How was Haiti?” This question is always incredibly hard for me to answer because it’s difficult to describe the way I feel. Haiti, to me, is like going home for Christmas. It’s the place where my heart is full and broken at the very same time. It’s the place where my passion resides and smile never fades. Haiti is home to me.

I want to reenact the moments of pure bliss, describe the faces of the kids I get to see, the way Pastor pours into my marriage or the way the whole community sacrificially loves. But instead, I get hung up with the question every time and look to the ground and say, “It was great!” I hope this response  doesn’t make the experience seem flat, unimportant, and mediocre. Friends, Haiti is not any of those things. Haiti is where my friends live and where my heart stays.

Haiti reminds me of the magnet on my fridge that says:

“The best and most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or even touched – they must be felt with the heart.”- Helen Keller

Haiti cannot be described by words, it’s an experience that must be felt with the heart. It’s a calling. I will do my best to highlight moments; but in truth I will always fail to find words because matters of the heart are hard to describe.

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{Gone to Haiti} 5 Prayers Requests.

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In a couple of hours, we will be in the air headed towards these precious kids. While we are in Haiti, we covet your prayers, warm wishes, and love.  We are going to Haiti to bring joy and hope to a corrupt nation. It is our sincere desire to make a lasting difference in the lives of these sweet people.

Life is hard in Haiti. Your prayers and love make a difference to us while we are there. Things are always easier with support.

Here’s a list of our top 5 prayer requests (deemed priority by me!):

1. Protection from illness. We have been vaccinated for Hepatitis A, Typhoid, and taking anti-malarial medication but that doesn’t always protect your body from other potential dangers. Please pray that our bodies are renewed each day and remain strong.

2. Joy in all circumstances. We travel with the intention of bringing joy and hope to the people of Haiti. In harsh conditions, it can be difficult to remain positive. Please pray that our attitudes are joyful not just to the Haitians but to each other as well.

3. The hearts of our Haitian friends. Historically, Haitians have been bulldozed by corrupt people. They have been beaten down and robbed of many opportunities as a result. Naturally, this type of treatment has built a wall around the hearts of many of the people we will meet. They are reluctant to love and receive because of their past hurts. Please pray for their hearts to be softened.

4. Our jobs. Please pray for the people at our places of employment and that things go smoothly while we are gone.

5. Our marriage. Traveling has always brought Jason and I closer. We’ve learned more about each other and grown in such beautiful ways while traveling together. Please pray that God continues to use travel as a way to strength our marital bond.

Thank you for your continued prayers and the moments you’ll think about us while we are away. It means the world to us!

See ya soon!

 

{Gratitude Journal} 30 Moments from Haiti.

{Christmas Gifts} A New Approach.

We leave for Haiti in 10 days. This will be my third trip. I spent some time this morning reflecting on Haiti and asked the Lord to prepare my heart to travel again.  One of the ways I prepare is by flipping through my gratitude journal. This helps me remember the “little” things and maintain a spirit of “thanksgiving” (it is easy to complain in 100 degree weather!).

Here’s a snapshot of my journal from last year:

1. My family having the courage to come to Haiti. (My sister and husband traveled).

2. The smiles of the kids and cheers as we traveled into St. Louis Du Nord.

3. Ken placing a $5 bill into a woman’s Bible.

4. My husband’s hardworking spirit.

5. The teamwork of the group.

6. The stars and breeze on our rooftop home.

7. The Central KY area and their heart for Haiti.

8. A cold shower.

9. Watching my sister step out of her comfort zone.

10. The juice at lunch.

11. Our interpreter.

12. Music time with the kiddos at the Miriam Center.

13. Jason saving my sister from falling out of the back of the truck.

14. Washing Dishes.

15. Jason working hard on a bench project.

16. The  Haitian women that cook and clean-up after us.

17. Our interpreter protecting us during an argument at the market.

24. Popcorn.

25. Going hut to hut distributing food to families in need.

26. Playing with the kids on the mountain.

27. Helping Din Din walk down the stairs.

28. Jason being so laid back.

29. Breeze after the rain.

30. Sprite and Coke.

I am looking forward to reliving some of these experiences and making new memories. 10 days, friends.

{Haiti} The Call.

Ten years ago, the Lord put a great burden on my heart for the Country of Haiti. He told me to go. I didn’t know why. I ignored his instruction for 5 years. Those were the 5 darkest years of my life. The tug at my heart was constant. The voice of the Lord was so clear it was nearly audible. Yet, I decided to turn from it. I even tried to trade the call for another country and took a trip to Northern Ireland. It was a fun trip but wasn’t where I was called. It didn’t end the darkness. It kept getting worse and slowly but surely I felt the intimacy with my savior slip away.

Finally, after five years of complete turmoil and feeling like I had been wandering through the dessert for 40 years, I realized-

“God’s gifts and calling never change”.- Romans 11:29

So I surrendered to the idea of going to Haiti. It’s not like I ever said I didn’t want to go. It was more like I never made time to go. Things got in the way. It cost too much. It was too much time. I couldn’t get off of work. Blah. Blah. Blah. I knew finally I had to stop running from God and run towards him. I didn’t have a clue where to go or how to get involved but thought I would start by visiting my church website. While browsing online one night, I found this post in a forum that said something like, “Going to Haiti. Who wants to go?”. I e-mailed a response quickly before I could chicken out.

It wasn’t long before I received an e-mail response and was invited to the home of a now dear friend for an informational meeting. During the meeting, the facilitator told us all about Haiti. The poverty. The voodoo. The risk of illness. The sadness. The joy. The hardships. After the presentation, she asked if anyone wanted to go. While sitting in a room full of strangers, I said, “I’m down.”

Since surrendering  to the call, my life has radically changed. I feel closer to the Lord. I no longer ask the big question, “what is God’s will for my life?” I don’t ask because I know. I am intimate with him, walking in his presence daily. My life is “fruit filled” and full of promise. I now know without a shadow of the doubt that the Lord chooses our path so that we may abundantly live.

“You have not chosen me, but I have chosen you. I have appointed you to go and produce fruit that will last, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name, he will give it to you.”- John 15:16

Tell Me- Have you ever felt called to do something (big or small) and actually responded with action? If so, what was the outcome?

June Wallpaper + Looking Forward.

June is here! It’s always a fun month because the days are filled with sunshine and the nights are filled with the yummy scent of BBQ’s and bonfires. I love June.

I also love my new June desktop wallpaper. It’s from Nicole Classes Blog and is really colorful.

June 2013 Desktop Wallpaper by Alma Loveland for NicolesClasses.com

via 

June is more than pretty desktop wallpaper. It’s going to be loads of fun. Here’s a preview:

1. We celebrate our 3rd wedding anniversary on the 15th.

2. We are going to Haiti for a week.

3. I am going to Pittsburgh to see 98 degrees, New Kids on the Block, and Boys II Men!

4. I start volunteering at the Refuge clinic this month.

5. I get two weeks off of school. Grad school kicks my butt!

The more I think about these things the more excited I get. Yay for June!

Tell me: What do you have to look forward to this month?