In July, we embarked on our annual trip to Haiti with a spin. Instead of only focusing on our usual, women, we had men, lots of men on campus throughout the week. A couple of years ago, the women we had been training started sharing of their desires to have their husbands undergo the same trainings they'd been receiving. We had no idea how that would be possible. And at the same time, we started running out of training ideas for the women. We had taught on almost every topic dealing with trauma; shame, guilt, child abuse, domestic violence, self-care, spiritual growth and more. We were fresh out of ideas. With the women’s prompting, we decided this year, not only will we address the women through our usual conference; we will also address the men through a marriage conference.
Here’s what our Director of Curriculum had to say about our time in Haiti:
“This year’s Women’s Trauma Conference theme was “The Whole Woman”. For two days, we gathered with 200+ women in morning and afternoon sessions, to explore the whole woman. We were also able to host their children in a Kids Camp thanks to the help of Fresnel, Devin & Justin Previlon, and the entire LakePointe Church team, from Texas. We started off the conference by asking the women to call-out their idea of "the whole woman". We heard “Yon Fanm Brode” (All Put Together Woman), “Yon Fanm Spirityel” (A Spiritual Woman),” Yon Fanm Vanyan” (A Strong Woman), “Yon Fanm ki gen Kouray” (A Courageous Woman), and the best “Yon Fanm Total Kapital!!!!” (The Total & Ultimate Woman). When we asked how many of them identified with either of those ideals, sadly not many of the women present raised their hands. Needless to say, we had work to do!!!! During the next 2 days, Dieula, Anide and I set out to explore who was the Whole Woman based on scripture. We explored The Samaritan Woman, The Woman with the Issue of Blood, The Meaning of Wholeness, How to Make Decisions and more. On the last day, we hosted a panel discussion, where Dieula Previlon, Anide J. Eustache, Jennifer Blevins and I each got the chance to share with the women about a personal/family struggle when we didn’t feel whole and how we made it through. The women are so used to seeing us ministering as teacher, but have never really heard the fullness of our individual stories. For me, it was a humbling opportunity to share woman to woman, believer to believer, about the times that I felt most vulnerable and afraid, even as a spiritual leader and professional. Our stories are what make us human. They connect us one to another. Our stories have the power to bring hope to others. Our testimonies can speak life to those who are in the darkest of places. I feel more whole today because I got to share a piece of myself with my sisters in Haiti”. The whole woman is not about having it all together or having it all figured out but it’s about living a life of faith. It is a life that is defined by making Christ the center of our lives.
“After the Women’s Conference portion of our Trauma Conference had concluded, we launched our first Marriage Conference. We registered close to 100 couples and 30 single women from the Gressier community and we had a great time!
Our speakers came from far and near, Pastor Caleb Lucien with Hosean International Ministries, mostly lives in Haiti, Anne Garcon & Irventz Garcon from Brooklyn, NY and Pastor Kenslio & Marriele from NJ New Jerusalem Baptist Church; sharing their hearts and challenging couples to do marriage God’s way. For many of the couples and singles, this was their first exposure to marriage and relationship teaching. We all learned together!! It seems that struggles in relationships are universal. I heard many of the same challenges in relationships that also exist in more wealthy nations. ElevateHer International's goal is to empower and equip local leaders to strengthen and equip those in their respective communities and churches to do life and relationships God’s way. So together we looked at “God’s Purpose for Marriage”, “Godly Roles in Marriage” “The Single Life of Purpose”, “The 5 Love Languages” “Marriage Mission Statements” and “Communication 101”. Because of our faithful financial contributors, we were able to provide a complete teaching manual and a hardy lunch for all who came! We ended our time together with the couples recommitting their lives one to another. We also had a special time of prayer and impartation for those who were single.
And yes, we had loads of fun and laughs too!!!!!”
My favorite part of the conference: the renewal of vows and rededicating the marriage ceremony.