Confession # 103: Invest in a Girl

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Before moving to Haiti Hunter and I co-led a team of college students to Cap Haitien every summer. Phil Kinzer, our friend/minister/college professor/Nashville father accompanied us. And every year as we prepared for our trip he would repeat one piece of wisdom with us eager-to-change-the-world young people:

Do short-term work that will have a long-term impact.

At first, I will admit, I didn’t want to believe the truth behind his words. Short-term work with short-term results was honestly more rewarding to me in my early 20’s. I wanted the satisfaction of seeing the fruits of my labor in one week’s time. I wanted to witness the smiles on the people’s faces when I gave them a hand out. I wanted to measure my success in numbers: I taught 100 women in churches, I distributed 300 bags of rice, I dewormed 500 children.

I understood the value of making a long-term impact. But let me honest, it didn’t sound near as appealing. Investing long-term in a person, project, or ministry meant that I may not witness the results with my own eyes. Rather, it meant that I needed to have faith that God would supply the change whether I was present or not. And so going to do short-term work that would produce a long-term impact was difficult for me. Until I moved here that is, until I saw the daily need for long-term investment in this country, until my faith grew. 

Now, with God’s grace, I try to focus my every day on the long-term. How will my decision affect another person’s future? Will I only be supplying daily bread, and if so, is there a way to help them provide their own bread for a long time? How will this impact the kingdom of God? What are the possible positive or negative ripple affects of my giving?

All these questions and more now constantly run through my head, especially at Emmaus House. 

We have chosen to devote ourselves to 17 teenagers. We don’t do this in order to help them with their short-term needs of shelter and food (although we do that) but to invest in their futures so that they can, in return, invest in Haiti.

We are investing in their education so that they can rise above the poverty statistics in their country.

We are investing in their spiritual lives so they can be the light in their communities.

We are investing in their relationships so we can empower, encourage, and instruct them as friends.

Investment. Long-term. That is what I am learning can make a difference. Helping to change the life of one so they can change the lives of many. It can take a long time and a lot of work, but the end result can be bigger than any short-term assist could ever provide.

I have particularly been drawn to investing in our girls at Emmaus House. Call it my inner love for “girl power” if you want, but I have seen the value of strong, educated, women leaders in the world. Books and documentaries like Half the Sky are validating my perspective.

Over and over I tell my girls at Emmaus House how blessed they are: Blessed to live in a country that allows them to go to school even though they are girls. Blessed because, although child slavery is a tragic issue in Haiti, they do not have to fear being sold into the sex-slave industry as they walk up and down the streets. Blessed because they have people in their lives who love them and who want to assist them with opportunities. Blessed because they live in a country where they can use their gifts if they desire.

Lawrence Summers, the previous chief economist for the World Bank once said, “Investment in girls’ education may well be the highest- return investment available in the developing world.”

I completely agree with Summers. 

I see hope for a better future in our girls. I see strong leaders, brave mamas, hard workers, and compassionate servants. I see beyond the short-term and can envision the long-term with them. I can already see the returns in our investments. Our girls- they are the future of Haiti!

But our girls can’t do it alone. They need our support, our guidance, and our prayers. Currently, we have seven girls at Emmaus House and four of them still need monthly support to aid them in their education. A few of them will be able to graduate from secondary school in the next few years and, Lord willing, advance onto university. And some of them will choose careers that require 1-2 year professional school training. Either way, they all need to continue their education in order to expand their future opportunities.

Can you invest in one of our girls? Can you assist in sending one of them to school this year? I know that is a long-term commitment and the results may take a while to see, but it will be worth it. I promise.

*     *     *    *    *

Here are the four girls who are still in need of education support. For more information, or to begin sponsoring the education for one of these girls, please email me at









Confession #102: Tennessee/Family/Comfort

It’s 5:15 am and I am currently sitting in an airport.

Let me go ahead and repeat that for you: 5:15 am.

After 12 hours of travel we should make it back to our home in Cap Haitien with our kids by 5:00 pm.

In other words…it is about to be a loooooong day.

I can’t decide how I feel about heading back to Haiti this time around. It’s weird. Normally, I get homesick for Haiti and count down the days until returning. Especially because of my kiddos. But this time around has been different. Perhaps it because I was simply home the whole time (something I have never done). Maybe it was because I was around so many good friends and family. Or it is possible we can, like most things, blame the weirdness I am feeling on pregnancy.

I took a shower last night- as in a HOT shower. I was in there for 30+ minutes just watching my fingers turn into prunes. It was late and I knew I needed to get into bed, but I just couldn’t move. I just couldn’t make myself turn the HOT water off.

I drank three glasses of cold milk before going to bed and a 32oz sweet tea (with real ice). And it wasn’t that I was thirty, I just don’t know when I will taste those things again.

And let’s not even talk about the air conditioning.


That is what it all comes down to.

You’d think after three a half years I would have become accustomed to the lack of. And for the most part I have, that is until I get a taste of it that is…

Our trip home was wonderful. It was the first time we have ever come home and stayed home. We didn’t have to travel. Didn’t have to work. We just spent time with family and friends, which was so refreshing.

Here is a glimpse of what we have been up to for the past few weeks in the beautiful state of Tennessee. Now, back to Haiti!

Hunter and I spent July 4th on his parent's house boat. it was a beautiful day!

Hunter and I spent July 4th on his parent’s house boat. it was a beautiful day!

Our family relaxing around the lake.

Our family relaxing around the lake.

Hunter's grandparents came up from middle TN to visit us for lunch one afternoon. Here we are with them and Hunter's sister and husband who we miss dearly!

Hunter’s grandparents came up from middle TN to visit us for lunch one afternoon. Here we are with them and Hunter’s sister and husband who we miss dearly!

The ladies from Central church of Christ loved shopping Emmaus Works and supporting our girls.

The ladies from Central church of Christ loved shopping Emmaus Works and supporting our girls.

Kassie (my sister-in-law) and I posing at my baby shower which was lovely and so helpful!

Kassie (my sister-in-law) and I posing at my baby shower which was lovely and so helpful!

We went to see the doctor and found out we are having a BOY! Baby Benjamin "Jake" Kittrell is due November 25th.

We went to see the doctor and found out we are having a BOY! Baby Benjamin “Jake” Kittrell is due November 25th.

My brother got married on the 12th. Here he is about to kiss his beautiful bride.

My brother got married on the 12th. Here he is about to kiss his beautiful bride.

My with my new sister-in-law Kirsten.

My with my new sister-in-law Kirsten.

Alright…time to plan my “last meal”. I’m semi-considering stuffing McDonalds in my bag to treat the kids for dinner. I mean, Micky D’s in Haiti…how awesome would that be? Think I should?

~ Jillian

Confession #101: Will You Pray With Us?

Hunter and Jillian Kittrell

Tomorrow morning we’re off. Off to Tennessee. Off to family. Off to the land of southern casseroles and sweet tea. As super exciting as that may be, leaving to go to America for short periods of time is always bittersweet. Bittersweet because we can’t yet travel with our kids which means we are always incomplete […]

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Confession #100: It has been 15 days…thanks Chikungunya


This, my friends, is my 100th Confession! I honestly planned on making this one great- inspiring, raw, and beautiful. But alas…this is not going to be one of those blogs. Maybe Confession 101 will be more awesome… 15 days. That is how long it has been since I have last blogged. And I apologize. Hopefully […]

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Confession #99: It Shapes You: The Privilege of Family, Education, Opportunity & Hope (and the lack thereof)


For the past 3 ½ years, I have lived in Haiti working with my teenagers. I know their stories. I’ve laughed with them. Cried with them. Fought through difficult times with them. Won battles with them. Listened to their dreams. I thought I understood them- their outlook on life, their deficits, and their needs. I […]

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Confession #98: America vs. Haiti: Foster Care, Aging Out Youth & The Church

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Have you seen the humorous commercials advocating adoption from foster care? After a less than perfect couple botches up a barbecue picnic, you hear, “You don’t have to be perfect to be a perfect parent.” Commercials like these are a recent development within the last 10 years. I suppose the “powers at be” have decided […]

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Confession #97: We Are Trying Out Normal


Living the way we do… Where work, home, and family time kind of intertwine. Where daily schedules are only a dream Where there are no Saturday zoo outing options And where you live differently, speak differently, and have different life experiences than 99.9% of the population around you. Well, life can sometimes feel not so […]

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Confession #96: “Learning what it looks like to be a part of a family”

  Living at the orphanage among 50+ kids, Andy was never one that I had the chance to know. Quiet, reserved, and ears typically plugged with his earphones, he was never one that stood out. I saw him mostly when he needed me to sign him out to play soccer, a sport he thrives at […]

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Confession #95: OH BABY! It’s a baby!


If you saw my POST on Facebook yesterday you know by now that I am pregnant… As in “with child”. As in I have something foreign growing inside of me that is okay, unlike the multiple parasites that have temporarily called my body home since moving to Haiti. As in soon my family will be […]

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Confession #94: I Wrote About Modesty (The Dreaded Subject From my Teen Years)


I work with teenage girls for a living.  I have a 5-year-old daughter who is going on 16.  I live in a culture where conservative women don’t wear pants.  It’s the time of year to buy new bathing suits. And I am currently binge watching 19 Kids and Counting on Netflix.  All of these factors […]

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