Becoming a Mom

Last week I was asked what the hardest & best thing about becoming a mom has been.

That question caught me by surprise and I really struggled to come up with answers. I’ve been thinking about it a lot lately and think I’ve finally realized what my answers truly are.

The hardest thing about becoming a mother is how many other layers of my heart have been exposed. Sure, the extra layers of of love, worry, care, etc. But I’m talking deeper than that. I’m talking about the level of connection I feel with other mothers. When I hear of the suffering of a mother or her child, my heart feels their pain. When I think of the many mothers that are in drastically different circumstances than I am, I ache. I remember the pain and loss of sleep during the hurricane here in Haiti the most. Middle of the night, listening to the wind howl as I held my baby and rocked him. My heart broke over the mothers I knew who were huddled around their little ones as their roofs were about to fly off and as rain poured into their homes. I felt broken for them. Utterly broken. When I hear of mothers who lose their babies, my heart aches. When I think of mama’s who would do absolutely anything to keep their little ones safe & for them to have a bright future, my heart resonates with them.

My heart also breaks more than it did before over the injustice children face. Tears quickly fill my eyes when I see and hear stories of littles who are fighting to stay alive because of malnutrition. I see their faces differently. When I see any news story that involves a child, my heart breaks to new levels.

That is by far the hardest thing about becoming a mother. Your heart feels so much more on so many levels.

And yet, it is also by far the best part of becoming a mom. Although I feel like my heart aches deeper, I am thankful. I am thankful that I can connect with those hurting on a different level. I am thankful I can identify with them. That I can, in the smallest way, imagine what it would be like if I was in their shoes. The connection to other mothers. The compassion my heart has. It’s all grown immensely.

And with the depth of emotion & the depth of my heart, the depth of joy is even greater.

There is something so beautiful about becoming a mom. Thankful I get to share this experience with beautiful women like the ones below.

I’ve been blessed with the opportunity to be out and taking a ton of photos for MOH lately (blog post about that coming soon), but here are some of the lovely mama’s I’ve been able to photograph the past couple weeks.

Mama’s waiting with their babies at the clinic:

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Mama’s finding out that they’re getting a new, solid, block home instead of the tent they live in: mamas-4-of-9mamas-6-of-9

Mama’s & their children moving into their new homes (all the happy tears!):mamas-8-of-9mamas-9-of-9

Last but not least, this little boy (one month younger than Josiah) snuggling up to his mama’s chest while I talked with her about our babies crawling, walking, growing teeth, etc. mamas-7-of-9

 

|| TWO months ||

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Josiah Robert, you are changing every single day and we’re treasuring every moment with you.

You are rockin’ out the charts in the 90th percentile  – you LOVE to eat & are apparently really good at it. You’re so strong. We’ve known that since you were born and you lifted your head the second they laid you on me – but we see it more and more every day. From day one I prayed that you’d grow up to be strong & courageous. You’re proving that you are headed in that direction every day.

You make us smile & laugh & we love life so much more with you in it.

all smiles in the morning.

all smiles in the morning.

Every single morning you wake up happy. You lay there with your eyes open and talk or grunt until I get up to get you. The second you see my face and I say “good morning handsome!” you LIGHT UP. So many smiles and happy eyes & my heart melts every time. Daddy usually rolls over and joins in the morning smiles. We start every day with full hearts because of you.

finally earned our first wings!

finally earned our first wings!

You flew for the first time and did so well. You love flying while wrapped up close to mama & sleep so well on planes. You even smiled & were happy while we were changing your big ole’ blowout on the plane. You’re lucky you’re so cute!

We celebrated two months adventuring in Austin, TX. You got to meet your MOH Family (stateside) and in just a couple weeks you get to meet your MOH Family (IN HAITI!)

My little adventurer, we love simply doing life with you. From the normal days of loving you to the adventurous ones and days filled with “firsts” – we love them all.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it forever.
You are such a joy.

Happy two months, J.

|| The Countdown Begins – One Month ||


We’ve been in the states now for almost four months. 

What?

That is by far the longest we’ve been away from Haiti in almost three years. THREE YEARS. 

What?

I remember sitting in the car driving down the hill leaving campus in January knowing it would be 4+ months until I would be back and feeling all sorts of sentimental and honestly just sad. 

I’m so thankful that as much as I’ve missed our Haiti home tremendously over the past few months, it hasn’t been as hard to be away as I thought it would be (thank you, sweet baby boy of ours). And although it hasn’t been as hard to be away, we CANNOT wait to get back! 

I’ve written before that I feel like we’re constantly living in a state of tension. Living in between two places. Yet fully present at the same time. 

This is true, yet again. 

I’m so thankful we’ve been able to be in the states the last few months for many many reasons. It’s been a blessing. BUT, I’m ready to be home in Haiti. 

So many people have asked me, especially since Josiah has been born, “Are you still going back?” or more like, “You’re STILL going back?” (I’m pretty confident that at least half of the people who know us think we are out of our minds for living in Haiti with a baby. Maybe we are, but to us it’s worth it). 

And that’s just it. It’s worth it. That’s why I’m so excited to be back. It has nothing to do with comfort or safety. (Sometimes I feel more comfortable and safe in Haiti to be honest). It has everything to do with the Gospel. 

Matt and I are confident that the Lord has called us to Haiti in this season of life to be a part of bringing life transformation to every man, woman, and child. Having Josiah has not changed this. It’s made it so much sweeter. 

Is this always easy? No. 

Is it worth it? Yes. 

If I’m honest? It terrifies me sometimes. But if I’m fully honest, nothing sounds more sweet than having my boy experience living life for the sake of the Gospel from such a young age. The Lord may open doors for us to come back to the States one day. Right now? Haiti is where we feel He has us and we will be faithful in that until He makes it clear that we need to be somewhere else.

Haiti is our home. And in ONE MONTH we move back with Josiah! It feels like years away and also like it’s just around the corner. 

So many of you have been praying for us since we moved to Haiti almost three years ago and faithfully ask us how you can be praying for us. Here’s a few specific prayer requests for this next season:

– Transition. As if the transition to parenthood isn’t a big enough transition, lets throw in the transition to parenthood (and back to work) in a different country. Yeah, maybe we’re a little crazy. But again, it’s worth it. 

    – For Matt – that jumping back in to the busy season of work wouldn’t be overwhelming and that priorities remain in place. That God, family, work remains the order. 

    – For Amanda – that transitioning back into work but also being a mama flows naturally and smoothly. I’m fully expecting it to be a shock to my system but that the Lord will meet me right where I am. Full honesty – I’m nervous about this transition and balancing it all. But I’m trying to trust the Lord that He’s got me. 

    – Josiah – these feel a little silly to ask for, but they’re not. For a smooth transition into the heat (it’s hot in Florida but not like Haiti). For health/protection – he’s certainly a healthy boy and we’d love for that to remain the same in Haiti.

– Continued support. So many of you have been faithful in not only praying for us but supporting us financially as well. We’re so thankful. We are still in need of support. This year has been a hard one on the support front – and with Josiah it’s still so very needed. We are behind in our support raising and have a few extra needs (example: air for Josiah’s room, health insurance for all three of us now, etc). Will you join us in praying that support continues to come & that the Lord would continue to provide through his people? He’s been faithful thus far & we trust Him.

– The Gospel to be shared. This is our biggest prayer as we re-enter life in Haiti. That the Gospel would be shared through our family. That the Lord would use Matt, myself, and even Josiah to be a part of bringing life transformation. The prayer I’ve prayed over and over since even before Josiah was born is that the Lord would use his little life to bring others closer to Him. 

I’m sure there’s plenty of other things we need prayer for, but those are a few of the specific ones I can think of (enter new mama brain – that’s a prayer request – I feel dumb now and the thought of having to be a fully functioning working mom again makes me all wide eyed – so pray for my brain and my coworkers – they’re gonna need lots of patience with the new me).

That was a whole lot of rambling. 

In short : Yes, we are STILL going back to Haiti and we’re so excited about doing life in Haiti with our little one. And yes, it’s a little terrifying and we’d love your prayers. 🙂

We love you guys and are so thankful for all your love and support for our little family. 

|| Hello World ||

I figured it’s about time I should open my computer & introduce our sweet boy to our blog family!!

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JOSIAH ROBERT JOHNSON

March 13, 2016 at 12:59am.

7 pounds, 15 ounces.

20 inches.

We are so in love & so thankful.

(More blogs to come!)

|| Josiah Robert ||

I had this brilliant idea that I was going to continue blogging all through this pregnancy. About life in Haiti. Being pregnant in Haiti. And about our sweet boy.

Well, clearly that hasn’t happened. Woops. I’m hoping I’m much better at blogging keeping you guys updated on life in Haiti with our sweet boy once he’s born. Hoping being the key word haha.

As a lot of you have seen, we’re naming our sweet boy Josiah Robert Johnson.

Honestly, this is a name that I’ve longed to use since I was in high school. If you had asked me about baby names in high school, college, even up through the day before we found out he was a boy, I would have told you I can’t wait to have a son and name him Josiah Robert.

JOSIAH- My love for Haiti first sparked when I was a freshman in high school. My youth pastor and his wife were adopting a baby from Haiti and for some strange reason I felt so very connected to not only this baby boy but also to Haiti. (I’ve always thought it was strange – and i’m sure other people thought I was strange – for how much I loved Haiti all those years before I even made my first trip. But it’s pretty clear now and I don’t think strange is the right word anymore.) I remember praying for their adoption and for their sweet baby boy who was named Steeve, but they chose to call him Josiah. I still very clearly remember the day that I got the word that this sweet boy had passed away. There were no answers. My heart was crushed. For them, but also for all the babies around the world (particularly Haiti) who leave the world all too soon. (The Lord was faithful and brought them another sweet, sweet baby boy named Isaac. Who, if any of you know me personally, know that I have such a special place in my heart for that boy.) Through this sweet boy, my heart was bound to Haiti. They’ve always honored his life so well and I remember not long after he passed away thinking I wanted to name a little boy Josiah one day. With our sweet boy on the way and us living in Haiti, we just knew. His name was going to be Josiah in honor of the sweet baby who made a lasting impact in my life & sparked my love for Haiti.

Side note: I also deeply love the story of Josiah in the Bible. His character is one that I hope and pray for our son as well.

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ROBERT – As many of you know, my dad passed away when I was thirteen. I’ve also always wanted to honor his name. Robert was his middle name and it just fit so perfectly with Josiah we knew it was the perfect way to honor him & was the perfect fit for our son.

 

So, Josiah Robert Johnson it is.

And we love it.

And him.

So very, very much.

 

 

||Support Team = Family||

This is probably not my favorite blog post to write. Mostly because we are SO thankful for each and everyone of you who support us faithfully or have supported us in the past. Partly because it’s uncomfortable. And partly because it means we have to admit that we’re in need.

Matt & I are in need of some people to join our Support Team (aka family) for 2016.

Here’s what we’re in need of:

5 people to commit to supporting us with $10/month. 

5 people to commit to supporting us with $25/month.

5 people to commit to supporting us with $50/month.

5 people to commit to supporting us with $100/month.

If there is another amount that fits your budget better or that you would like to give monthly, please feel free to sign up with that amount.

To join our team, follow the link at the end of this post and type in the amount you are wanting to partner with us & check the “yes, automatically repeat this gift every month” box.

One time gifts are great & definitely are helpful, but we’re specifically in need for people to partner alongside us each month with a monthly donation. These are the people who sustain us month after month after month. All donations are tax-deductible, so if you are looking to make an end of year gift (with the perk of an extra tax write off), we’d ask that you consider partnering with us.

Like I said before, we’re SO thankful for everyone who already supports us/has supported us in the past.

As we look forward to year three of living in Haiti, welcoming a new baby into our family, and so many other things coming up this year, we’re wanting to finish 2015 off strong and start 2016 even stronger.

We truly could not be here & serve the people of Haiti if it wasn’t for your love and support.

We would love it if you would pray for us in this season and prayerfully consider coming alongside of us as a partner in ministry by supporting us monthly.

Thank you for being gracious with us. We are so thankful for each and every one of you.

JOIN OUR TEAM HERE: SUPPORT MATT & AMANDA JOHNSON

|| Family ||

For any of you who have been following our blog or our instagrams over the past two years, you’ve probably heard us mention a few names of our Haitian friends (who are more like family) more than once.

There are two men that are some of Matt’s best friends and have really become brothers to us. We love them dearly, for many reasons, but there’s something special about these two.

Francky & Junior.

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(Matt, Junior, Francky)

I know Matt could write a long blog post about what they mean to him. He has worked with them all day every day for the last two years. Personally it’s been such a blessing to me to see how much Matt loves them and how much they love Matt.

They love deeply & love well.

Like I said earlier, there’s something special about these two men that make me extra thankful for them. More than the fact that they love Matt & I and we love them.

They love & lead their families.

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The family unit in Haiti is not always pretty. Very rarely is the dad there. If he is even married to the mom, he typically spends long days away from the home. Sometimes multiple days away at a time for work. This is not the case for all, but it’s rare I see a strong family unit here in Haiti. Especially strong fathers.

But these two. They have the most beautiful families. They love their wives. They love their children. I love listening to them talk about their kids. I literally CAN’T WAIT to bring our baby boy back to Haiti and get our families together. I’ve already seen how this sweet baby of ours has united me with their wives in a different way than before. But now they’ll get to teach Matt about being a father. Our babies will get to play together. I can hardly contain the joy that thinking about those days brings me.

Both Francky & Junior have had their fair share of struggles when it comes to their families. But as they’ve pursued the Lord, they’ve seen how He calls them to be strong & loving husbands and fathers.

For that, I’m so thankful.

Matt and I have the honor of sponsoring Francky’s daughter. My heart is SO full every time I see her sweet face. His son, Jorshky, holds a ridiculously special place in my heart. I just can’t. I love them both more than words can say. Francky’s wife is just lovely. I vividly remember a day we visited their house & she came running out SO excited to see me. Prior to this moment we were friends, but I wouldn’t say we had a relationship. We just love this family.

 

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Junior and his family live farther away and we don’t get the opportunity to visit quite as often, but I love his children. His oldest daughter came last year to VBS for one day. She has the sweetest disposition. It was a joy to watch her laugh all through VBS the day she came. His youngest daughter is just a couple month’s old. We got to visit his house for the first time when my mom was visiting and got to meet his newest daughter & his wife. I’ve never found it so easy to talk to a Haitian woman in Creole until I spoke with his wife. It was like we were friends almost instantly. Talking about our babies & pregnancy & family.

 

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Isn’t this beautiful?

I could go on and on and tell story after story about these two men. About their families. On and on.

I’m thankful. I’m thankful that there are two beautiful women who have husbands who love & protect them. I’m thankful for the four children who have moms who love them but also dads. Dads who would do anything for their children. Dads who love the Lord. Dads who are engaged in their lives.

There truly are no words for how much we love these men. For how much we love these families.

They are not just our co-workers. They are not just our friends. They are our family. And they will be forever.

|| Our Little Haiti Baby ||

I probably should have written this blog when we announced that we were pregnant, not a month later, but here we are and I’m writing it now.

In case you missed the news….

The Lord has made it so very clear that He wants us to continue our ministry in Haiti for
year 3. 

The adventure continues, but is getting so much sweeter.

The Lord has blessed us with a little adventurer who will be joining us in March 2016.

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We are so excited for this new journey of becoming parents and including our child in our ministry here. We couldn’t have done the last two years without your support and truly have no words for how thankful we are. We would love it if you would continue praying for us & supporting us.

Since we are adding another life to our family, we’ve been given the opportunity to raise more support to help with the transition of having a baby & to support our family. We feel so blessed to work for an organization who truly cares about us. We are still in need of partners who want to join our support team. If you are not already a part of our team and would like to be, please email us. We’d love to give you more information.

Will you pray about joining our support team this year?

To make a donation or join our monthly support team, click HERE.

Once the webpage opens, select our names “Matt & Amanda Johnson” from the dropdown menu on the left. After that, fill in your information. It’s a safe & secure website used for all of our support.

If you have any questions or want to hear more about what’s going on in our lives, please feel free to email us at:
amanda@mohhaiti.org 
or
matt@mohhaiti.org

Thank you for all the love you’ve poured out on us.

We’re so very thankful!

___________________________________________________________________

Now onto answers to the many many questions we’ve been asked so far about this sweet baby of ours & our plans for the future.

– I’m currently 16 weeks & feeling great (had some morning sickness during the first trimester, but didn’t actually get sick often at all – SO thankful).

– We just spent a month in the states & got to see our baby, meet our doctor, and make sure everything looks good so far. Praising the Lord for a very healthy mama & baby. My doctor is great and is not in the least bit concerned about us being in Haiti & having a little different of a regular prenatal care schedule.

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– We’re back in Haiti for the next few months! We’ll return to the states for Christmas with our families & I’ll be able to see my doctor for all the major prenatal care needs to end the second trimester (ultrasound, glucose test, etc).

– We’ll have the baby in the states & will head back around 35 weeks (early/mid February).

– We’ll stay in the states til the beginning of June when the baby is about 2.5 months old. Then we’ll head back to our home in Haiti to start our life here as a family of 3!

– As much as we are not looking forward to being away from Haiti for an extended amount of time, we know it’s worth it and are more than excited to meet our little one & become parents.

– We got the opportunity to see our baby twice over the past month & I’m SO thankful. Nothing like it. We’ve got a very active, wiggly one & I’m trying to patiently wait for the day I can feel the baby! Should be any week now.

– We have a team of ultrasound technicians coming at the end of October, right around the 20 week mark so they will be able to do a full anatomy scan so I can send the information back to my doctor in the states. Talk about good timing!

Okay, I think that’s about it for now. I could probably write a bajillion more things because honestly I’ve loved being pregnant so far. (Minus being super tired & hungry 24/7.)

Again, thank you so much for all the love and support you’ve poured out over us the past two years, but especially the past few months. We’re beyond thankful.

 

As mentioned above, we are still looking to grow our support team. If you’re interested or want to make a donation or join our monthly support team, click HERE.

VBS 2015

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Yet another year where the summer flies by and I haven’t sent out any updates or blogged at all.

SO very sorry.

Now I’m here again & writing a blog recapping VBS. If you follow me on Facebook or Instagram, you’ve likely seen lots of pictures of precious children with crazy numbers of how many we had attend VBS & how many accepted Christ. It’s amazing how much can happen in six weeks of serving children.

Here are the stats for VBS 2015:

ATTENDANCE
Central Campus – 2,732 kids
North Campus – 1,903 kids
Off Campus – 1,520 kids
TOTAL: 6,155
SALVATIONS
Central Campus – 230 kids
North Campus – 118 kids
Off Campus -146 kids
TOTAL: 494
I’m so humbled and amazed at all the Lord did this summer. VBS was incredible. There was so much joy every day. I’m so very thankful.
Here are some pictures from VBS 🙂 Enjoy!
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