Five Years Ago In Haiti: 5 Lessons I’ve learned since the earthquake

Five Years Ago In Haiti: 5 Lessons I’ve learned since the earthquake

Five years ago

Five years ago, my five kids and I spent our last day in Haiti.

After almost eight years of ministry, after nine years of attempting (unsucessfully) to adopt our three Haitian children, we faced the devastation of the Port-au-Prince earthquake, and we faced our own figurative parting of the Red Sea.

A sleepless night preceded this day — seven hours in a bus, traversing the mountains between Cap and Port. Another sleepless night awaited us — eight hours in Miami’s Immigration office.

This was the day we sat alongside Port-au-Prince’s runway, avoiding the structural damage inside the airport. The day Jarod shipped relief supplies from the Dominican Republic, praying we’d make the flight out. The day we conserved precious bottled water, ate hotdogs straight out of plastic packaging, waiting, waiting, waiting for our plane to the U.S. It was the one-way chartered flight that would take Justin, Jaden, and Daphne out of Haiti for the first time in their lives. The flight we almost missed despite all our waiting.

Honestly, it was one of the most grueling days of my life.

But God was faithful that day.

As He is today. To me… and to you.

This day, or this season, might be your hardest ever. If it is, I pray you find strength and encouragement from the lessons I’ve learned since that day five years ago.

Lesson 1:

Despite my cynicism, God is still able to do “immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine”

(Ephesians 3:20).

Though we pleaded for adoption approval for nine years, our efforts were thwarted in every way imaginable… Until an earthquake cut through the 500 remaining steps.

He is able. If the answer you’re receiving today is a “no,” it’s not because God doesn’t care or can’t help.

When the time is right, He will work miraculously. He’ll out-do your wildest imaginations.

immeasurably more

Lesson 2:

Safety isn’t about location… it’s about being in God’s hands.

Robberies, coups, a special needs child, and cross-cultural stresses… it wasn’t “safe.” Furthermore, it led to adrenal fatigue. Panic. Anxiety.

But tempting as it was to believe the U.S. was my safe house, that flight out of Haiti didn’t erase my fear.

The truth is, God was and will always be my rock and my fortress… He protected me in Haiti in the face of overt physical danger, as well as in the U.S. where the fear came from within.

His mercies have been new every morning, regardless of my location. It’s not about where. It’s about Who.

Lesson 3:

My identity isn’t my occupation… it’s found in Christ.

Once my husband and I realized we would not be able to take our children back to Haiti, our titles changed. We’d assumed we’d been called to a lifetime of missions, but everything had changed. And in the deep corners of my heart, that hurt. My lifelong dream of missionary was no more. Now I was (forgive me) ordinary.

Jesus knew I needed to find myself and all that defined me in Him instead of some role of “honor.”

It was humbling. And it was for my good.

Lesson 4:

Being unknown is difficult… but increases my dependency on Christ.

We made a cross-country move after shifting around for a year and one-half. The familiarity of Kansas gave way to Florida shores where we were completely unknown. New jobs, new schools, a new church, a new calling.

Again I found myself low. No one here even knew that I used to be a missionary. No one knew our gifts, our passions, our history.

So I had to leave all of that with Jesus. He knew. And that was enough. Because it’s not about me anyway. It’s all about Him.

Lesson 5:

I might not understand God’s ways… but they are higher and better (Isaiah 55:9).

I still don’t know why God didn’t allow our kids to be adopted earlier. Why did we have to leave them in Haiti during the political coup… when we traveled to the U.S. for medical tests… when their little sister got to be a flower girl at a family wedding?

Why nine years? Why after the earthquake?

I don’t have all the answers.

I can speculate… maybe we’d have jumped ship too early if the adoptions had been done. Maybe we wouldn’t have stayed to minister. Maybe Jarod wouldn’t have been there to deliver relief supplies. Maybe something we did had an impact we still don’t know about.

Or maybe it was about God changing us, testing us, making us.

higher ways

I don’t know why. I don’t understand His ways.

But I can truthfully say I am grateful.

I’m grateful for the “hard.”

I’m grateful for the challenge… for the storms… for the pain.

Because I got to see Him.

He shines in the darkness. He protects when there’s danger. He heals when there is hurt. And He works miracles when all hope is gone.

My prayer for you today? That you would give thanks in all things. That you would trust Him. That your faith would grow right now on the most grueling day. That you would continue to stand on Christ, The Solid Rock.

Blessings,

Jennifer

 

 

A place to lose my life; A place to find it

A place to lose my life; A place to find it

For the woman who’s facing a decision, asking herself if surrender to God’s will is too risky…

For the woman who wonders what will happen if she lets go of her own dreams…

For the woman who hears the call to die to self, pick up her cross daily and follow Him…

A glimpse of my own story over at EmilyWierenga.com.

A Place Where Dreams Die

You don’t want to be stuck behind me at Aldi

You don’t want to be stuck behind me at Aldi

It’s true.

I can’t tell you how many questions about my family I’ve answered while in line to buy ridiculous amounts of food.

If you’d like the nutshell version of who eats all those groceries at my house and how God put us all together, click over to The Better Mom, where I share my story today.

If you’d like to help PAY for all those groceries, message me immediately… 😉

Blessings,

Jennifer

TheStoryYou'llGet

A Taste of Chapter 2 (and a prayer request)

A Taste of Chapter 2 (and a prayer request)

Hi friend! I’ve been editing my memoir lately instead of blogging — thus the silence over here! Want a tiny excerpt?

Jen Writing

From In A Sun-Scorched Land by Jennifer Ebenhack

Chicago 2000

There we’d snuggled, happy newlyweds, on our hand-me-down couch several months into the new millennium, until I’d bolted straight up and looked at Jarod like I’d never seen him before.

“Wait, what did you just say?”

For the split second my question hung in the air, I heard the typical men’s dorm noises all around us — freshman bravado and senior dominance playing out in some version of football that no college kid’s mother would have allowed in her home. But apparently the guys who’d sat in Moody Bible Institute’s Greek and World Religious Systems classes all day were in need of a study break.

“I’d like to adopt.” Jarod repeated, still lounging under the afghan with our names and wedding date embroidered in a heart. “I’ve always wanted to adopt.”

“Always?” I wracked my brain for a memory of any past reference to said life-changing subject. Mission field? Check. Papua New Guinea? Definitely. A love for kids? Yep. Adoption? Nothing.

“Uhhh, I don’t think so, Hon. That definitely would have stood out to me!”

He shrugged, pulling off an understated response that would characterize our conversations for years to come. “Sorry. I thought I had.”

The third floor football game rocked the crystal candle holders on my be-doilyed coffee table, while visions of a completely unexpected future stampeded my brain.

“Are you gonna need to do something about that, Mr. Resident Director?” I asked distractedly, waving at the bedlam above us.

“I’ll give their R.A. a few minutes. He’ll put a stop to it soon.”

I pulled my feet off our apartment’s industrial grade carpet, and perched myself on the couch’s arm. “You do realize this is kind of a big thing not to mention in the whole four years we’ve known each other, right?” I hoped he saw the twinkle alongside the shock in my eyes. But still… Seriously, Jarod? “What if I hated the idea?”

“Well, do you hate it?”

I just squinted at him. “Tell me more. How did this start?”

“I guess with Dr. Badgero. So maybe that’s not quite “always.” Jarod conceded.

“Ah.” Of course it had to do with the prof that everyone raved about. The prof I’d just missed. He’d left his position as the missions department chair the year I came in. “Okay… keep going.”

“He and his wife adopted from a few continents. You knew that, right?”

I nodded.

“It was a calling to them, not just a last resort. Why not parent some of the millions of kids already out there? It’s a mission field. An unreached people group.”

I leaned my elbows onto my knees, letting these thoughts lead mine in a hundred directions. The football game upstairs had been dispersed, but the stillness of the dorm was overtaken by the wail of a fire engine. Chicago streets were never silent.

“So you agree with him?” I finally asked, “You think adoption should be viewed as a mission? A calling?”

But his answer was already clear. And as I dug down deep in my own heart, I found a surprising answer, ready-made somehow, all wrapped up in a bow waiting to be discovered.

I may not have sat under Dr. Badgero’s teaching, but it seemed he’d turn out to have a lifelong influence on me anyway.

Well, there’s lots more where that came from! In a Sun-Scorched Land is all about our years in Haiti living out that call to adopt. We had no idea where that conversation on the couch would lead us, let me tell you!

While we’re talking about this book, can I ask a big favor of you? Would you pray for me to finish writing and editing it this summer? After that, my agent will help me seek publication (which can be a lengthy process).

This is a story of crazy drama, heartbreak, terror, and miracles. I sometimes marvel that I lived it all out. 🙂

But the bottom line is that it was all about God. He is AMAZING. I am dying to put this story of His sovereignty, grace, protection, and love into your hands. So would you pray that He would make it all possible?

Thank you SO much!

Love,

Jennifer

My new ebook (free PDF this week!) — Take Courage: Choosing faith on my journey of fear

My new ebook (free PDF this week!) — Take Courage: Choosing faith on my journey of fear

Take-CourageLR

Take Courage: Choosing faith on my journey of fear is a concise, two-part ebook offering hope to those, who like me, have found themselves in the grip of anxiety, adrenal fatigue, and trauma-related issues.

In the first section I share glimpses of eight drama-filled years in Haiti preceding my own personal crisis and in the second I offer insights for making spiritual, mental, and physical choices of courage.

If you are a jenniferebenhack.com blog subscriber, you’ve heard bits and pieces of my story. Download the ebook for the bigger picture!

Find Take Courage: Choosing faith on my journey of fear for your Kindle at amazon.com for $2.99

Or

Sign up for my newsletter and receive the PDF version of Take Courage for free this week!

Send an email to subscribetojenniferebenhack@gmail.com and you will receive the link to download your PDF copy of the ebook!

*If you have not yet subscribed to receive regular blog updates via email, remember to click the “Subscribe” link to the right to do so!

(…But, remember to send me an email at subscribetojenniferebenhack@gmail.com to receive your free PDF!)

My new ebook (free PDF this week!) — Take Courage: Choosing faith on my journey of fear

My new ebook (free PDF this week!) — Take Courage: Choosing faith on my journey of fear

Take-CourageLR

Take Courage: Choosing faith on my journey of fear is a concise, two-part ebook offering hope to those, who like me, have found themselves in the grip of anxiety, adrenal fatigue, and trauma-related issues.

In the first section I share glimpses of eight drama-filled years in Haiti preceding my own personal crisis and in the second I offer insights for making spiritual, mental, and physical choices of courage.

If you are a jenniferebenhack.com blog subscriber, you’ve heard bits and pieces of my story. Download the ebook for the bigger picture!

Find Take Courage: Choosing faith on my journey of fear for your Kindle at amazon.com for $2.99

Or

Sign up for my newsletter and receive the PDF version of Take Courage for free this week!

Send an email to subscribetojenniferebenhack@gmail.com and you will receive the link to download your PDF copy of the ebook!

*If you have not yet subscribed to receive regular blog updates via email, remember to click the “Subscribe” link to the right to do so!

(…But, remember to send me an email at subscribetojenniferebenhack@gmail.com to receive your free PDF!)

Choosing my special child

Choosing my special child

choosingmyspecialchild

I’ve blogged about my son Jaden before. Actually, I could probably write a pretty interesting story about him every day.

Oh yes… when we chose our dear boy, we had no idea how many scares we would have, nor how many scars he would someday have.

Thanks to his special needs and fearless nature, this child would eventually fall off a roof, drink gasoline, and endure a hundred (provoked) wasp stings. He would do his best to ensure I never received a “mother-of-the-year” award. (What kind of mom lets her child do those things?) Having him would mean trouble finding a babysitter, seizures in the middle of church, lots of stares in public, and far too many doctor visits.

Join me at Gillian Marchenko’s blog today for the rest of this article:

Choosing My Special Child

Interested in International Adoption?

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

I recently wrote an article for an international adoption website. Whether you are just a little curious about adoption, seriously considering it, or already into the heart of the process, this website may be helpful to you.

My article offers encouragement for those in the waiting stage:

International Adoption and Waiting: The Hardest Part of Adopting