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Stranger in a Strange Land: Amy Peterson


The Missionary Myth

This is a guest column by Amy Peterson, an ESL instructor at Taylor University. Her blog, Making All Things New, is at amypeterson.net.

It began with a dream. Not a Martin Luther King, Jr., kind of dream, but a literal one: Megan Boudreaux was dreaming about a tree. She'd wake, heart pounding, and wonder why a tree she'd seen once on a business trip to Haiti kept appearing to her as she slept. Eventually, she took it as a sign that she was called to return. Twenty-four years old, Boudreaux quit her marketing job in Louisiana, sold most of her possessions, and used her savings to move—alone, and without any clear agenda—to Gressier, a suburb of Port au Prince, Haiti. Miracle on Voodoo Mountain is the tale of the next three years.

With well-paced (if mostly unmemorable) prose, Boudreaux skims over her Catholic childhood and a re-dedication to faith during her studies at Tulane. On her third day in Haiti, she takes a walk up Bellevue Mountain. There she sees the tree from her dreams—and under it, a child.

That child, Michaelle, will become her first adopted child as well as her introduction to the world of restaveks. The Creole word restavek roughly means "stay with" and refers to the 200,000 children in Haiti who have been sent from their poor rural families to live with urban relatives as household help. Instead of receiving care and education, restaveks are often malnourished and abused, and increasingly, recruited by paid traffickers. Boudreaux becomes determined to help local restaveks attend school, and to help families find ways to change the restavek culture.[1]

While working to establish Respire Haiti, her nonprofit organization, Boudreaux also makes regular visits to the Son of God Orphanage. In the most thrilling story in the book, Boudreaux realizes that the orphanage, run by "Pastor Joe," is a scam to collect money from multiple American churches without ever providing food, clothing, or basic medical ...

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