Shersty Stanton
Shersty Stanton
Haiti 2017 - 2019
Byenveni! Welcome! Join me on a journey to the rural villages of Haiti to use microfinance and business leader training to foster economic growth and community development. As a graduate of Belmont University’s social entrepreneurship program, I look forward to furthering my knowledge of implementing sustainable change in an intercultural setting.
IMG-2872

Voices

“Every moment crowded with choices; Speak to me and drown out the voices.”

This past week I was recounting to a dear friend a few conversations I had participated in earlier in the day regarding suggestions for my future. The variety of options expressed stand in stark juxtaposition, and I was trying to convey my confusion and appreciation for the loving consideration behind those who know me and care enough to provide their input when my friend said,

“Those options are all great, but what is your inner voice telling you to do?”

Oh my. That question made me see that I have allowed a plethora of voices to clutter my mental space as of late. I’m grateful for friends who call me out of my head when things start spinning. Some voices have been invited and welcomed to stay while others were unsolicited and lingered for far too long. Among the many voices lie great encouragements and observations that cut deep. Indeed, often I have let the voices of others take the place of my own and that of the Spirit. While having many wise advisors is often a blessing in life, sometimes I can let it become a curse when I take their suggestions as truth and act upon it.

Throughout November I had ample time to intake many voices but I did not do a good job of sorting and processing them all. I spent 27 ½ of the eleventh month’s 30 days in the United States attempting to rest, exploring and thinking out next steps in Haiti, looking ahead and timidly planning what’s after Lumos, spending time with loved ones, meeting with many people who have influenced my life to some significant degree in the past five years, and overall returning to Haiti exhausted and confused with more outside sources’ opinions regarding me, my work, and my life than I know what to do with. Not once did I take the time to sit down and quiet my mind and soul to listen to where the voice within is telling me to go.

However, in the few days I’ve been back in Haiti, I’ve taken some time to quiet down with good coffee, my thoughts, and God’s Word and process what I’ve been learning and what’s going on both in and outside of myself. This morning after listening to Switchfoot’s new “Voices”, something clicked with the title and the lyric quoted above. My mind began racing with ideas on how to process the many voices in my head and the global importance of listening and championing the voices of the oppressed all over the world. Beginning with the voices of my beloved Haitians and co-laborers in life and extending to many around the world whose voices are not heard and do not have the resources, energy, or platform to fight for the right to have their opinions considered.

>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

Most of November was spent out of the country largely because the Haitian population’s voices are often not listened to by their government or the international community, and again and again the only way their voices are heard is through manifestations ranging from peaceful marches in the street to all out chaos and violence with burning tires barricading the national highways—and only way home from the airport—and fear seizing the population. Large manifestations have been planned sporadically over the last few month, with the ones for November rumored to be especially violent.

These specific manifestations are regarding the population’s anger over the former administration’s squandering of PetroCaribe money—in short, Venezuela’s agreement with several local developing countries to gift or subsidize oil with the profits intended to go towards the building of necessary infrastructure and educational facilities in Haiti. The money is gone and there are no promised schools or roads or hospitals in sight. Other manifestations are not uncommon, and it appears to be Haiti’s more brutal form of lobbying.

Rumors of these manifestations bring about great unrest among the population, and it appears the local gangs are taking advantage of this fear and inciting more terror and violence, demanding large sums of money from local businesses and schools and families and threatening to destroy stores and kidnap school children if the money is not paid. In the past few weeks they have started burning down the houses of some rural people who did not comply. The worst part about this madness is that it’s not isolated to Haiti—this is likely a common occurrence happening all over the under-developed world.

While these events are startling and unnerving, I have such peace knowing that our God’s sovereign hand is holding me and our Haitian staff is continuing to go above and beyond to keep me informed and safe. These manifestations are raising up a voice in my spirit that I did not know I held within, one that wants to shout from the rooftops until justice is enacted and peace covers the nation. Lives are being lost, families are too fearful to send their kiddos to school, and businesses are closing their doors—all counterintuitive to the growth and development of a nation. The current predicament of Haiti’s HOT HOT HOT social, political, and financial climates continues to keep me moving forward into a career path of bridging the gap between those deciding on and enacting policy and regulations and those who it is effecting on the ground.

>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

When thinking about my potential future roles in government or business or ministry, I think of using the positions I will hold by the grace of God to allow the formerly voiceless to be heard and have a lasting say in the discussions about policy and regulations regarding their country. I dream of standing with someone as they use their voice instead of using their opinions and feelings shared in secret to speak for them, and of providing platforms for ideas and dreams to be shared and problems to be solved, not saying you are weak and I am strong— therefore let me speak for you.

I want to fight for the equality of opportunity over the impossibility of equality of outcome—recognizing that we all possess beautifully unique gifts, talents, skills, and capacities each needed by the world. We were not all made to fit into the same mold or to hold ourselves to the same standards of achievement. Each of us are to pursue our callings with excellence, and with different callings come different thresholds for success. I want to work towards collaboration over compromise, and to create a world where each person’s voice is heard as we take the lessons from our past experiences to pivot towards total human flourishing.

While I read back and see the idealism, I also do not want to lose hope in God who has proven himself to be faithful time and time again through the largest downfalls of the human race. Apart from an extreme heart change towards love, hope, kindness, justice, and regard for the sanctity of human life, I don’t see the corruption of the world going away anytime soon. But what I do see are the bright-eyed kiddos and future leaders right in front of me, and a generation willing to do what it takes to take their nation back.

>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

“Every moment crowded with choices; Speak to me and drown out the voices.”

I want to spend this next month and year working to continue to find my voice and to make a way for others to be heard. While I am young and naïve and seemingly powerless in the face of the corruption that surrounds us, each day I get to observe and speak with Haiti’s future and I could not be more excited or expectant for what is to come.

 

I want the world to know that I climbed that mountain off the top right of the engine thing

I want the world to know that I climbed that mountain off the top right of the engine thing

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *