The story of Loaves and Fishes is one of multiplication and abundance; it’s a story of miraculous outcomes that can happen in places where we might least expect them to occur. Over the past few years, we have continuously seen God's movement as we stepped out in faith and followed where the Lord called. He has always been faithful and turned what little we have into something so much more than we could ever imagine.
We hope that you will join us on this journey!
Brandon and I have been working in Healthcare (Radiology, Cardiovascular, Nuclear Medicine) since 1999. To work in a third-world country and help in areas so less fortunate than the US has been a passion of mine for many years. We had adopted children through organizations where we could communicate with them, but actually being able to perform "hands on" help and love was still a void I was feeling. I was asked to work healthcare in Haiti after the devastating 2010 earthquake, but we had two young babies at home then. I was so torn, afraid I had missed my chance to fulfill this dream of mine.
I was so humbled to be given another chance to go to Haiti! Sadly, Landon and River were not old enough to attend so Brandon stayed home with them. After that mission trip, I returned feeling broken. This was a shock to me because I have felt so called to mission. How could I not return for a year? I know I can do more, but how? Is this some sort of post mission depression? I couldn't even talk much about it to Brandon because I simply did not have the words other than, "We need to get back there and help these wonderful people." Brandon and I continued local mission work with our children, but my heart kept returning to the Bouk Vincent neighborhood in Gonaïves, Haiti. Kenzi and I returned with our church, summer 2016, and we came home with much of the same feeling as the year before. I knew this time there was no way I could stay gone another year.
Knowing the Lewis family's history with international missions, I decided to contact my dear friend, Autumn to discuss this desire I had to return to Gonaïves. I felt she could talk me through this feeling of helplessness being so far away for so long. Autumn said that she and her husband, Stuart had been discussing ideas on helping Gonaïves with sustainability programs, business education/leadership, more children getting to school, and more. With Brandon and I feeling this same calling to help, Stuart and Autumn invited us to join forces. Here we are, Loaves and Fishes!
Brandon joined us for our Loaves and Fishes kick-off weekend in Gonaives and immediately saw why I was so passionate to help this community. The love, gratefulness, and desire to truly work hard for their family needs is evident in Paul and his wife, Mylanda. Paul had been the translator for our church mission trips for several years, and we knew him very well. Without a doubt, we knew Paul was the perfect liaison for direct communications with our Loaves and Fishes members. Each and every new member, whether it's a business leader or a student returning to school with a scholarship from Loaves and Fishes, Paul meets the family, interviews the individual(s) and thoroughly gets to know them. We are able to get communications from them so it becomes personal. Getting to know these members and their family history including the reasons why they want to work or return to work keeps Loaves and Fishes a FAMILY!
Helping family is very important to us. Brandon and I can honestly feel for each of our Haitian brothers and sisters in different ways. We, too, have fallen on hard times where we have gone from counting change to buy baby formula or losing one job to start from the bottom at another, relying on family, to now being in a little better place where we can be the ones helping family. We know at any given time something can happen that will change everything! God will NEVER leave you. Sometimes, He is all you have going right for you and your family, but thankfully, He is ALL we need!
Our prayer is to have our Loaves and Fishes FAMILY see every donation and scholarship as a gift from above rather than from man. The opportunity to provide jobs and schooling in an area such as Gonaïves, Haiti with a small, initial offering from you is truly a Loaves and Fishes miracle at work. Brandon and I are excited for the future of Loaves and Fishes. We are excited and humbled to join our family with the Lewis family on this journey God has handed us.
During the spring of 2013, our family attended a church service at a new church worshiping near where we had recently moved. This was probably one of the first ten Sundays we ever attended and there was a guest speaker who talked about Haiti. This was a seminal moment for me and my transition from faith to fate and began a path for an undeniable mission opportunity for me and ultimately our family. This moment was one of clarity from the power of the Holy Spirit. I absolutely had to go to Haiti. I shared this with Autumn and she was pleasantly shocked! At that moment, a large part our destiny was set in motion. Indeed our GOD works in larger spaces than we might ever comprehend.
Autumn and I left for Haiti the day after I was laid off from my job after thirteen years; we viewed this as the Holy Spirit at work again and have since come to marvel at God's impeccable timing of events in our lives. We laughed and we cried and we began writing a new chapter for us and for our family. The timing of my layoff and this trip was not coincidental. Our GOD is truly the ONE who can give us what we need and what HE wants.
When we arrived in Haiti for the first time, we journeyed into the Bouk Vincent neighborhood of Gonaïves, a neighborhood considered by most to be one of the poorest in what is one of the most impoverished nations in the world. Autumn and I were overwhelmed by the stark contrasts presented: magnificent beauty of the terrain and ocean coupled with indescribable poverty; a community with massive needs that possessed massive faith. In many ways, this is the inverse of our lives in the United States. Oftentimes, our faith shrinks even though our needs are met. This is not the case in Bouk Vincent; in the midst of the massive struggles that frame their daily existence we consistently have been met with people who possess unbreakable faith in Jesus Christ and in the hope that there is a better tomorrow.
Since our first trip, we have been back to this community many times and have introduced our children Grace and Graham to this incredible mission field. These experiences have allowed us to experience first hand that God's power is undeniable and it is present right NOW. Sometimes it just starts with a step from us. Our mission team at the time has moved the needle considerably since our first visit in 2013. We have improved the church building and infrastructure, provided a bakery for the community and built an orphanage that houses close to 100 precious children. These trips have always been incredible but Autumn and I have always returned home believing that we needed to do something more. Something that might change the daily existence for a community where we now have many friends. Something that might empower the community in some small measure have control over their destiny.
During our trip to Haiti in the summer of 2016, we had an incredible encounter with a seamstress who did beautiful work. She could have made bespoke suits for Tom Ford or Ermenegildo Zegna; she was that talented. We asked our good friend Paul, who has translated for us on all of our trips, to help us have a conversation with her about what it would take for her to use her talents to earn a living for her family. We were shocked to learn how little it would take. What did she need? Simply an opportunity. And so a new idea was born.
Our Haitian friends are resourceful, entrepreneurial, loyal and honest people who simply need a chance. They simply need someone to believe in them. This seemingly random encounter was years in the making and led our family and the Leslie family to join together to create Loaves and Fishes. We hope that you will join us in this mission field so that the Loaves and Fishes miracle can continue to be witnessed and lived thru our friends in Gonaïves for many years to come.