Avery loved Haiti. She poured over details of the country and the people who lived there. She was forever giving me status updates and data concerning the overwhelming number of children who were trying to do anything they could to simply survive.
Survive without food.Survive without safe drinking water. Survive without basic sanitation. Survive without family.
On more than one occasion, Avery would describe her future plans: she was going to go to Haiti and work in an orphanage. She would love for, care for and tell the children about Jesus. She would have one hundred children. That was her future plan.
But she wasn’t okay simply waiting for the future to arrive. There was work to be done! She sent her own money to programs supporting projects in Haiti. She insisted – quite passionately – that we adopt Haitian orphans. By converting the dining room into a bedroom, she explained, we could fit 4 bunk beds. That meant room for 8 girls. She offered to sleep on the floor. That way her older sister and her younger brother could each keep their own bedroom.
When I tried to explain that we didn’t have that kind of money to go out and adopt a bunch of children, not to mention we lived in a very simple (and incredibly dated) ranch house – who would want to live here? Avery would answer, “but, Mom, we have safe water for them to drink. And they would have a safe house to live in. And I would love them and I know you would, too! Trust me. That’s what they want.”
She was so right. I just couldn’t see it then.
It took her sudden and traumatic death when she was 11-years old (on October 24, 2012) to show me exactly what a relationship with Christ was like, and it took me having courage to answer God’s call to understand just how desperate the living situation is for so many of Haiti’s amazing people.
After Avery died I came across a spiral notebook. Page after page she had begun a draft letter to her school’s Student Council imploring them to take on a project that would benefit Haiti. Multiple versions were written, but three powerful words were included in every single draft:
“WE CANNOT FORGET”
We began AVERYday Ministries as a way to continue to be Avery’s voice in our world. She was filled with so much love, kindness and compassion, and her plans were filled with so much hope.
I began to pray. “Lord, what do you want me to do? I am just one person. One small person who doesn’t know what she’s doing except grieving for my baby girl. What do you want me to do?”
In March, 2014, God sent me to an orphanage operating just outside of Mirebalais, Haiti. That visit wrecked me. It took everything I thought I knew about myself and tossed it out the window. It tore my heart to shreds before God started putting it back together again. I loved hard in Haiti. And I was loved hard in Haiti.
I returned in July, 2014. This time more focused than before. I knew God was calling me to do something, but I wanted to be certain. I wanted to make sure I was hearing Him correctly. I wanted to be certain that this was nothing I wanted, but everything He did.
The Lord answered my prayers of what do you want me to do with a very clear answer: “Don’t forget the children that you have fallen in love with.” To do that, God has called us to work toward building transitional housing that will provide a safe place for orphans who have “aged out” of the orphanage to receive safe water to drink, a safe house to live in, and a chance to continue their education. And love. There will be lots of love.
We call this project The Avery House.
The Avery House, located in Port de Paix, Haiti, officially opened in March, 2018.