Updated: Oct 26, 2022
“Mesi Jezi, Mesi Jezi”
“Thank you Jesus, Thank you Jesus”
These are the words my husband, Joey, heard as he stood underneath a tiny hut looking up at a worn out battered roof held together by portions of broken walls and dried out corn stalks. The team gathered around the widow living in this tiny hut, asked her about her faith, shared the gospel with her, and prayed over her.
“How does someone live in these conditions and repeatedly thank Jesus? Would my faith be the same if I were in her shoes?”
This question continuously ran through my husband’s mind after returning from a week long trip to the remote area the Haitian people often refer to as “Deye Mon” – “Beyond the Mountain.” It is beyond this mountain that Dr. John has been visiting for over 30 years; and it is here that my husband met Lerosa for the very first time in November of 2014.
“She is a beautiful woman,” he told me. “Her heart and faith in the Lord has changed me forever.”
One year ago Dr. John shared with us, as board members, that Mercy International purchased the land in the remote area of Deye Mon with the hope of duplicating Village Merci De Dieu. We would rely on God to provide the donations to build the 20 homes in the village, filling them with the widows living in the surrounding area. It wasn’t long after this announcement that Joey and I began to feel a tugging in our heart to give more. And after much prayer, we knew that we were called to donate a house to a widow.
I remember the day Joey shared with me about Lerosa… her heart for the Lord, her courage, and her faith. How her face wore a beautiful peace-filled smile even though she had nothing and struggled through each day just to see another tomorrow. It was during this time that it became clear to us that we would donate the house to Lerosa and dedicate it in memory of my mom, Victoria Axtell.
In the dedication, I knew I wanted to incorporate my mom’s favorite verse…
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will direct your path.” Proverbs 3:5-6
A well-known verse that is loved, memorized and often recited. Many of us could claim it as a life verse. Some may have even had a time in their life where this verse gave them the strength to get through hard days.
This verse is on my mom’s headstone above her grave. It is the verse that led her through life…when making difficult decisions, when walking through the challenging days of motherhood, and into the daunting days of living with terminal brain cancer. But more than that, it was a verse she lived out- always leaning on the Lord for guidance, strength, and understanding. Watching my mom during her time of struggle no matter when it was, she taught me to rely on God for comfort, peace, joy, and so much more. She taught me that when the world brings you discomfort, pain, heartbreak, and loss, it’s in those times that God reaches for our hand and proceeds to grow our perseverance and our desire for Him even more.
In the same way, the people of Haiti have also taught us…
How to love deeper despite the heartache.
How to be grateful when you have nothing.
How to give all to Christ because the burden is just too heavy.
How to depend on Him for all things because the world’s promises are empty.
And just as Proverbs 3:5-6 was etched into the stone above my mom’s grave, it was etched once more into a rock plaque that hangs beside the doorway of a house that now belongs to a beloved widow. When the keys were given, I wasn’t there. I have never met this woman who has made a lasting impression on my husband. But, I have watched the video – a video that show the moment she realized who this house was dedicated in memory of and why. When I saw her face, her hand on my husband’s shoulder- I felt her love and I saw her heart.
I saw that she understood the pain and grief that comes from loss. In that moment I could see that she too could claim Proverbs 3:5-6 as her own…knowing that trusting in the Lord also means trusting in His perfect plan, will, and timing.
It wasn’t just in this moment of receiving a house that she claimed God as good.
He was Good before she had a solid roof over her head.
He was Faithful before she stepped foot into her new home and laid her head on a soft bed for the very first time.
And it wasn’t men she praised or gave glory to. She may have thanked my husband for the keys but she praised God for His provision.
“The widow who is really in need and left all alone puts her hope in God and continues night and day to pray and to ask God for help.” 1 Timothy 5:5