Today July 10th, 2019 marks our two year anniversary since we moved to Haiti. Let me tell you a story:
Once upon a time in a land far, far away...
Let's go back two and half years to when we visited Haiti and fell in love with an orphanage. Many of you know our story, many of you are still walking it out with us.
If for some reason you have not been following- WE NO LONGER WORK WITH THE ORPHANAGE. (A lot of people ask us when they see us so here is our current story).
We moved here in love with the idea of having twelve kids become our family and in many ways they have. These kids changed our hearts and the entire rest of our lives in ways they may never know. We have cried with/for, prayed over them in ways only a parent can, we have been broken for them and that will never change.
We were rounding out our first year of ministry at the orphanage and had been learning so many things about the reality of orphanages. I will get into those details some other blog post so stay tuned. Our biggest revelation was that Jesus says in John 14:18, "I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you." We began realizing that the set up of this situation was keeping the kids as orphans. The orphan mindset was used to oppress them and steal their worth as somebody's children. They were not given unconditional love from parents even though many of them had real parents and all of them had families who loved them. They were treated as less than in many ways and it wrecked us as we began realizing our presence made no difference in how they felt about themselves. Orphans are often portrayed in American culture and media as heroes and overcomers; however, the sad reality is that we in America have romanticized our ideas of orphans and orphan care. Orphan care means not leaving them as orphans. It means placing the lonely in families.
We moved to Haiti to become parents but learned our kids were not true orphans at all. We became all too familiar with bonding and attachment issues, self worth issues, pain and suffering beyond words, and all sorts of heartache that we only funded by putting our money and time into our idea of "orphan care". This began in us the dream of orphan prevention and a heart full of dreams for families here in Haiti.
We realized the need for job creation, safe places for families to visit and spend quality family time, bible studies, literacy classes, basic first aid, and training centers. A way for Haitians to encourage Haitians, families to rise up, and leaders to be empowered. So we proceeded to start a community center last August. We fundraised and rented the space but two days before moving in they received a higher offer and told us our deal was off. We did receive our money back but then we had nowhere to live or do ministry.
We began our crazy hunt for a house which took about a month and a half. Through that process we were able to realize we needed a ministry partner and a year to just learn Haiti. That brought us to work with Upstream International. We have spent the last year well- we have built beautiful relationships with our neighbors, we have met many amazing people through the work Upstream does, we have improved our language skills tremendously from the first year, and we have been able to help a handful of families start up business or increase the ones they already had.
THE BEST IS YET TO COME
We are excited going into this new year of ministry to announce God has revived the community center dream in our hearts. He continues to give us visions and hopes for programs to come. He instills in us a heartbeat that families are our first ministry and a peace that surpasses all understanding when we are DREAMING SO BIG. He is not done with us here yet and has been reminding us the best is yet to come for the Bradshaw's.
Please continue to cover us in prayer! Catch up on our blog posts, stay tuned for more updates to come on social media, and prayerfully consider partnering with us financially! We are in awe of what God has done in and through us already and confidently expectant in what He has to come!
We are also hoping for some visitors this year (a shameless plug to let our friends and family know your presence in our home would mean the world to us <3 )!
Thank you for continuing to support us as we humbly learn to Abide in Love!
Kristen & Alex Bradshaw