I thought a good place for the group to start would be to take a quick minute to introduce ourselves and how we came to work with Angel Missions Haiti (AMH).
I am Fran Johnson, a short Irish 40-something gal who loves to travel, make baskets, meet new friends, rock babies to sleep, engage in deep discussions on politics and world religions & my faith, read all types of books, play basketball & other games with my kids and spend time with my incredible husband of 22 years, Jay. Together, Jay and I have 6 wonderful children who make us smile each and every day. We have chosen to raise our family in rural Virginia. This motley crew keeps us running to youth groups, soccer games, art exhibits, basketball practice, the mall, various friends' houses and across the mountain to the University of Virginia. Our children range in age from 20 years old to 5 years old. They are a mix of personalities, dreams, temperments and talents. Of course, if you add the little ten month old boy from Haiti that we are currently hosting that makes 7 children and lowers that range a bit further. Our birth daughters are teenagers and have grown into independent, determined and intelligent young women. They make us so very proud with their generous hearts and their willingness to open their lives to help others.
Our journey to AMH began as we ventured into the field of adoption. Jay and I had known since we first married that adoption was something we wanted to do. Over the years and in the midst of having three girls, God nudged us a number of times to let us know that he hadn't forgotten and to make sure we hadn't forgotten! So, with the desire to have another child in our family and the belief that we could try and make a difference in some small way, we began searching for a little boy with Down syndrome. Why we were being so specific is a story for another post maybe. Anway, twelve years ago, with the enthusiastic support of our young daughters, we adopted a little baby boy from Venezuela. Gabe came to us at 9 months of age and brought with him a grab bag of labels, assumptions and challenges. But, he also brought love, laughter, hugs and silly grins. Today he is a funny, headstrong and mischevious pre-teen. Our second son, Ethan joined us as a small infant and is proud to say that he was born in Tennessee. Ethan is easily the most athletic child I have ever seen and it is now easy to understand why his first word was "ball". He is a shy, cautious fellow who is sensitive and all boy at the same time. A few years later, I saw an adoption listing of children from Haiti. After a mission trip down to work at an orphanage, we decided to adopt a little boy named Pierre who at that time was only 3 months old. Ten months and 4 trips later, Pierre joined the Johnson clan and quickly made himself known. Now at five years old, he is curious, forthright, and fearless. His smile is incredible and he can't seem to help but smile most of the time. Although, he was only in Haiti for the first 13 months of his life, it is easy to see that he has absorbed the culture and influence of the nannies who loved him. We are thankful that they cared so much for him and helped to shape the unique boy that he is today.
When we adopted Pierre, we met a woman by the name of Vanessa Carpenter. Vanessa was currently running an orphanage, medical visa & school program called 3 Angels Children's Relief based in Port-au-Prince. We kept in touch over the next few years and Vanessa called twice to ask if we would host a child from her medical visa program. Although we weren't able to say yes to the first request, we were able to help raise some money for the little guys' plane ticket. Last year, we were definitely happy to say yes to hosting a 20 month old who was here for her cleft palate surgery. Little Anna Noah stayed with us for almost 2 months and we really enjoyed her energy and love of life. My children had so much fun and still miss her and talk about her now that she is back in Haiti with her family. This year, we are hosting little Ched who is here for surgery as well, though he came through a partner organization, Children's Medical Missions, who we often collaborate with to find medical care for our Haitian Children. CMM is a wonderful program that works to help children from all over the world. Ched is a beautiful baby with a sweet disposition. He has grown and changed so much in the last two months and I am trying to remember to take pictures that I can give to his family so they can see what he did during his time with us. We will definitely miss him when he leaves us later this spring.
Early last fall, Vanessa called and said that she wanted to concentrate on medical missions and to do this she decided to start another non-profit organization, Angel Missions Haiti. She had asked a group of friends to help her and wanted to me to join them. I had been praying for God to show me a way to be actively involved in missions in Haiti and this was exactly what I had envisioned. So, here I am. The group is excited to expand on the program that Vanessa has successfully built and we know that if we are committed to seeking and following God's Will, we cannot fail. That's about it for my story at this point.
I'll ask one of the others to go next and she can tell you more about how the Lord has used her to help the children in Haiti.