I feel so honored to tell you about a friend of mine. I met Rhyan years ago. We had a mutual friend, Sarah, who started a drama group called “Redeemer’s Song.” I had just dropped out of Bible school, was missing my sophomore year of college, was feeling lost, and my friend Sarah asked if I would help her out with this idea for a drama group she had dreamed up for junior and senior high kids. I was a horrible leader that year. I rarely showed up, and mostly just supported Sarah by meeting her at Perkins restaurant at 3am when she was brainstorming and we were both bored. Oh to be college age again…
I’m getting off topic. Rhyan was one of the kids in that drama group. We didn’t really hang out a ton, but I knew her. I didn’t really get to know her until the last few years when I friended her on Facebook and saw what she was doing.
Rhyan went on a short term mission trip to Haiti because she has a heart for orphans. Then the massive earthquake happened and she witnessed first hand what happens when disaster strikes people living in poverty. She ended up staying, and she still lives there.
She started orphan work, but the more she got involved in orphan work down there, she realized that most of the orphans weren’t orphans at all. They came from families who loved them fiercely, but were too poor to care for them. She started to meet the mothers who felt they had no other choice. She started to see Americans wanting so badly to help by spending tens of thousands of dollars on an adoption to bring them stateside, when a small fraction of that could keep them with their own families for quite some time.
Instead of finding these mothers disinterested and uncaring, she found the resourceful and desperate.
It broke her heart.
She started a ministry enabling mothers to keep their babies. She started helping them get prenatal care, as disabilities almost always meant they would be left at the orphanage as the needs were too great. She started doing foster care for mothers who just needed to get some money/jobs figured out. She started taking malnourished children into her home, on the brink of death, because their mothers didn’t know what else to do. She’s been sharing online about these children and parents she’s been meeting. She has permanently adopted 2 kids of her own, and with their mouths to feed as well and hearts to love, she often has to cry out for help and tell people things like this:
“How do I even begin to talk about today? Today I met my hero, the strongest person I have ever known wrapped up in a 35 lb, 11 year old body. I don’t know how she is standing, I have no idea how she is able to walk, I can’t even imagine how on earth she is smiling. The pain that she has known is unimaginable.
Her name is Sandra and she is starving.
Skin, bones and swollen feet are about all that is left of her, that and a personality so huge it seems it’s the only thing that has kept her alive this long.
Next week I turn 30. My mom asked me for a wish list a few days ago and I told her “beef jerky and a moto proof travel mug” because that’s my life and then I laughed because, that’s my life.
Today you could offer me all the shiny things in the world and I would gladly trade them for the chance to see Sandra live. I so, so badly want her to live, more than I think I’ve ever wanted anything I want Sandra to live. Today my birthday wish looks a lot different than it ever has. Today this is real life but I’m not laughing anymore.”
Then all of us who know her on Facebook see the picture of the child help as much as we can. You can’t un-see an 35 lb 11 year old. This little girl is my oldest daughter’s age.
She helps those kids that everyone else leaves for dead. She believes every one of them is worth it.
She sponsors kids to go to school. She finds ways for high risk pregnancies to get to a hospital. She’s trying to study some midwifery in her “free time” as women just show up at her house in labor. She educates parents eager for answers. She sees the humanity in little ones who are left by the world as a lost cause. Some of them die in her arms. When they do, and her heart breaks, she she feels humbled that God sent her to hold and love them in their last moments. Some of them go back to their families.
Once you see this kind of poverty, you can’t un-see it.
I asked Rhyan if there was anything I could do through this blog for her work in Haiti, holding families together as best as she can. She said that one thing that mothers in Haiti love is layette sets. It can be such a luxury, and yet such a necessity for the health of the baby to have clothing. Another thing that is in short supply for these families is cloth diapers. She has some teams going down to Haiti often now, and they bring supplies to her that way, as it’s cheaper than shipping.
In her wish list for each box for each baby it would include:
1 diaper bag ($9)
10 disposable diapers ($2)
10 cloth wipes ($7.50)
10 cloth diaper inserts ($12.50)
4 cloth diaper covers (2 size small, 2 size large) ($50.00)
3 pairs of socks ($5)
2 onesies ($4)
1 Crochet Outfit $16)
1 sleeper ($5)
1 hat ($2)
2 receiving blankets ($4)
1 soap ($7)
1 lotion ($4)
1 powder ($5)
1 baby toy ($4)
Total $137 per baby.
She has set up an Amazon wish list for my readers to do some Christmas shopping for some fellow moms. You don’t have to purchase a whole box. But I would be honored if you joined us and do what you can.
If we do anything together, let it be this!! The numbers on her wish list would provide 50 boxes, which is the number of babies she anticipates she will be helping in 2016. Whatever we can contribute will help.
She would be honored to distribute them for us. If you love to knit or sew, she said handmade ones would be most welcome as well. She says while they can always put to use gently used clothing, these boxes will have new items as the message that she is intending for these boxes to send to these new mama’s is: “You can do this. Your baby is valuable, and we want to celebrate with you.” Just email me and I’ll forward onto you an address to send any homemade items you have made with love and those will be included.
These are our sisters. Let’s send them some gifts. Let’s give them some hope. Let’s remember this season, Jesus’ mother Mary, who was so poor…she set her newborn in a manger.
The link to the Amazon page for us to go shopping is HERE. Just click to send it to the receiver’s address, and it will go to the location of her next team that’s headed out. Time to shop!
If you prefer, I’m also going to share Rhyan’s ministry’s PayPal account (rhyanbuettner @ yahoo . com), which is too often too low. I know Rhyan hasn’t made budget for her ministry consistently, and will often feed the poor, stretching food from her own children’s table. She sometimes finds herself between a rock and a hard place because while she loves to come back to the states and be with her family and raise money, her 2 children can’t get visas to come back to the States with their mom, and she has to find childcare for them for when she’s gone. I’d love to give her some great encouragement this Christmas season that she is not alone down there in Haiti, but we are all standing behind her, and praying for her.
If you’d like to take a look at her ministry website, and see any tax information or back history, or just get to know Rhyan, you can visit it HERE.