The tree began invading her dreams. It didn't stir up a nightmare but she always woke up startled, with her heart pounding. She always felt a bit panicked over why she felt so drawn by it, as if it were calling to her.
It wasn't just any tree. She'd seen it once before, even rested in the shade under it's canopy. It was a lone tamarind tree, on top of Bellevue Mountain (Voodoo Mountain). She'd hiked to it once, while on a business trip only months before.
It was a tamarind tree and from beneath its leaves she could see the beautiful, blue water of the Caribbean below. She could also see the tops of tents, dotting the distance in the valleys and hillsides of other mountains.
There, thousands and thousands of Haitians lived, survivors of the massive earthquake in 2010 that killed well over 200K people and left more than 300K injured. Of the homes that weren't destroyed, and turned into heaps of rubble, others either were left unsafe to be lived in, or were feared by the Haitians, so they moved into tents, made of whatever materials they could find to make them with.
While resting there, in the shade of the tamarind tree, she considered the pain of heartbreak, illness and hunger of the thousands of Haitians trying to survive below.
Her thought was, "Someone needs to come here ... "
Her name was Megan Boudreaux. She was single, in her mid-20s, living a happy life and had the perfect job. At Our Lady of the Lake hospital in Baton Rouge, Louisiana she enjoyed challenging yet rewarding responsibilities in marketing. She had kind and like-minded co-workers and a gracious and supportive boss, Mr. John Paul Funes. Life was good and she was loving it, yet she couldn't shake off the incessant tamarind tree's tugging at her heart.
After a short while, she half-jokingly, confided in her boss about the dream tree and the feeling of it calling to her. His advice surprised her. He encouraged her to trust God's leading and return to Haiti to see what He might have for her there.
And so, she did ...
Megan sold everything that wouldn't fit in a couple of suitcases and bags then flew back wot Haiti with what little she still owned to Haiti. She wasn't sponsored. Wasn't affiliated with any mission or charity organization. She only had one friend there waiting for her, a Haitian named Bernard. He was a translator she'd met on an earlier business trip to the area.
It was Bernard who had done the hunting to find her a place to live in Gressier. Her small quarters consisted of a bathroom and sleeping area on one floor of a Haitian family's home. It had no electricity and no running water.
She would be on her own, in a foreign land where she didn't even speak the language.
Voodoo mountain's slave child
It was a woman's top, but on her malnourished, adolescent body, it fit like a huge, over-sized dress. She was tiny, hungry and dirty and the first time Megan saw her, she appeared from out of the bushes on voodoo mountain. Her age was between six and seven-years-old.
Her name was Michaëlle (pronounced Mick-kay-ell), and while other children in her owner's tent went to school, she scavenged for food on the mountain top near the tamarind tree, where the voodoo drums beat late into the night.
In the know
Pastor Charles and Madame Charles have a small Christian church at the foot of Mount Bellevue. They're both Haitian natives, and both familiar with poverty, dark magic and slavery. They and their small congregation have been praying for someone, and believing for a miracle, under the tamarind tree for twelve long years.
Pastor Charles knows personally how God can bring miracles and great blessings to many people through even an unloved, poverty stricken slave child. Once upon a time, and for many years, Pastor Charles was a slave-child too.
Prepare to be broken and blessed
For years I've had a fascination and soft spot in my heart for Haiti. When I've brought it up in conversation, I've never heard much good about the place either. Negative comments have been numerous and from multiple sources, all in the same stream of surmising. They deemed Haiti as a lost cause.
Banks, businesses and charity organizations have tried and tried to help Haiti, and have failed. It's been reported that regardless of how much money is poured into Haiti, it won't make a difference. The little Caribbean nation can't be helped because the people often can't, and won't, help themselves. It's even reported that many Haitians have been granted good jobs, with quality pay and yet chose to not show up for work, preferring to be listless and poor.
Reliable sources like Rev. Christopher Hartley, a "stubborn" Spanish Priest whose work is featured in the moving documentary, The Price of Sugar (you can read the fascinating and compelling information about it via the linked edition of Life Talks - I Write), many Haitians have tried to do better and gain ground financially by agreeing to work across the border, in the sugar cane plantations of the Dominican Republic. Sadly, once there, there is no escape. They spend the rest of their lives existing as slaves to the Dominican Republic's sugar barons, living and dying on the plantation, as do their children born there.
And yet, for all the negative things I've heard about Haiti, still my heart clung to the knowledge that surely, there must be hope for her people. There had to be a way, even if it started with a small group, to help Haitians learn how to survive and thrive in their beautiful homeland.
I believe I've just seen a portion of my desire and prayers for Haiti's revival come to life through this recently published, true story by Megan Boudreaux.
12 For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.
The stuff movies are made of
This story ... oh, my goodness! It so excited me, at many points I felt nearly overwhelmed with emotion and had to stop reading so I could take a few moments to catch my breath and spend some time in prayer. Sometimes, I realized I was even praying and reading at the same time. I couldn't help it. It simply erupted from my heart and there was no stopping it.
Every challenge and defeat in this book is met and topped with a victory. Going through the story was like moving along a frightening, ugly and dirty path and suddenly seeing beautiful flowers, trees and plants emerging to cover the barren landscape and overtake it, filling it with life and beauty.
If I could buy this book for everyone I know, I would. Since I can't, I urge you to get a copy yourself. I also urge you to tell your friends about and maybe consider gifting copies to the special folks in your life, especially the ones who love learning of wonderful and miraculous things happening in places deemed hopeless.
Once you start this book, you're not likely to be able to stop reading it other than for essentials like food, bathroom breaks and coffee refills. Once read your heart will continue to light up in recalling names, faces and places that will have become dear to among the pages and paragraphs.
Megan's story will touch your soul and change your life, just like it changed her own and is continuing to change the lives of hundreds of others.
Read it and be blessed, over and over again. Past that, considering friending and following the progress of the people involved via their info pages on the social network sites.
I've done that already and you're welcome to leave me a note in comments or email me if you'd like me to provide you links to them. I've totally enjoyed browsing their comments and wonderful photo galleries of how life is consistently gaining new ground and improving in their part of the world.
That's it for this one...
God bless you, thanks for the read and see you again on Thursday at femme's Desk!
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