let me see with your eyes | Haiti

My whole life, well since I can remember my love for kids has been there. I am drawn to them, usually they feel the same way. I am enamored by their honestly, their innocence, their amazing ability to look straight at you and just see you. I was a nanny my whole teen life and soon after a young mother. When I started my photography journey I learned very quickly that weddings would not be for me, my true passion was children & the people that love them. I wanted to try and capture children the way I loved them, to show all of those tiny lil perfect imperfections that made them special and mostly to allow their parents and themselves to remember.  As I got older my love for those in need became stronger and I remember aching as a young girl when we would drive by a homeless person, I don’t think I even understood why I ached but I did.  Once my love for God took over my life the need to help others and also be able to use my photography to give to others has been a deep ache inside me. Always feeling the need to do more, give more and just be a better person. Asking myself a lot, how can I make a difference, how can I use photography to make a difference?

A few years ago my client and close friend Tracie Hamilton became involved with a local organization LIVEBEYOND, I remember riding in her car from a bible study and she was just overflowing with joy and love for this group. She lit up when she talked about the amazing things they were doing, how she didn’t know how yet but that she had to be involved and how she knew God was changing her because of these people and what they were doing. I remember thinking WOW and also thinking.. I want that! I want to be moved and touched like that! Shortly after that she made her first trip with LIVEBEYOND to Haiti, when she returned we talked about how amazing it was, how sad but also joyful it was. Since then I have watched her help in so many ways, the organization has grown so much, The Vanderpool’s (who started it) now actually live in Haiti, yep they sold everything and moved! Read this amazing story about them. The first time I met them I was floored, I was totally moved just in a few minutes of being around them. I knew I had to get involved as well. I have raised some money, gave donations for the maternal health program but I knew I needed to be there.  For health reasons I wasn’t allowed to go for a while, then last month the opportunity came. Tracie & Scott offered for me to go with them and a small group…. IM SO THERE! I was so excited and knew this was it. Life was going to change. Finally I could go and see and feel what others had been talking about. I could show Gods love to people that needed it, I could use my camera as a little box to bring some of Haiti home with me, to share with others. To maybe just maybe help someone or save someones life. Who knows? Well of course God knows! There was a lot of special events going on during the few days we were there, some you will see here in these images but many many moments I can’t share with you. For privacy and safety of the orphans and others I can’t. Im heartbroken because these faces need to be shared. They need to be loved and they need to prayed for, but as always my ideas are not His and I will trust in Him on this. All I can say is Haiti is a beautiful country, the landscape is breathtaking. Every view from the LIVEBEYOND campus is amazing, truly spectacular. This country is the poorest in the world, there is no running water (anywhere) there is no electricity ( the campus has generators) there is no sanitation and no trash service. They survive on very very little. It is so hard to witness the conditions and the sadness. The crazy part, in the middle of the utter sadness there is amazing joy and peace. The Vanderpool’s have done that for these people, they have shown them true true love, they are teaching them to grow food, to care for themselves and their neighbors, they are teaching them the love of the Lord. They are spreading hope among ones that have none. I have never felt so much in my life. Every emotion possible streamed through my soul in a very short time. I felt sadness, joy, heartache and laughter, doubt and pure peace. Its heavy, its very heavy. They said that many can’t handle Haiti, I can understand that, its hard. My love for children… well there it can overwhelm you. There are thousands of kids that need food, water and basic needs. Those that live in the orphanage, all they want is a family. The saving grace, the amazing people that run the orphanage are so loving, they care for each and every child and give them as much as they truly can. They make you want to be much better people. Trust me, if I could of brought home a handful of those babies I would of! Everyone that knows me called me after I returned and said.. well Did you bring a baby home? How would I choose? Those sweet beautiful faces, how do you choose? Everyone that has adopted tells me, you don’t … they chose you.. you just know.    How awesome is that!

I really could go on and on but I think Im just blubbering now…. I will share more later. I just want to say this. One of the most profound things Dr. Vanderpool shared with us…. these people don’t need your money (they kinda do but you know…) they need YOU! The biggest action you can do to show Gods love… GO! JUST GO. JUST BE THERE.

JUST GO.

JUST GO.

 

Its so true. If your being called to GO, just GO. I promise you. Part of my heart is still in Haiti, I can’t wait to go back and do more. I don’t know what that looks like but I know if I go it will show itself.

If you are looking for a group that is 100% true, 100% walking the walk and talking the talk, you have found it. Supporting LIVEBEYOND means you are literally 100% saving lives.

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April 16, 2014 - 9:27 pm

Michelle Thornbury - Oh, Mandy! This is beyond perfection! Thank you for sharing! Thank you for your beautiful, God loving, life-giving heart!

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