Monday, February 24, 2014

Homeward bound

Yesterday was our last full day in Haiti.  My word of the day?  Sad.  I'm not ready to go home.  Because I think there's more to do and I must be the one to do it?  No ... that's not what it's about.  One of the many beauties of this organization is that there are two more teams coming in today after we leave, and so it goes throughout the year.  Amazing!  No ... I'm not ready because I just want to do more.  I settled in a bit as we moved through the week - looking forward to more water truck days, getting more acquainted with Grace Village, getting to know the guys a little better (p.s. Brunet, Emmanuel, Nixon?  Incredible guys!  More on them in just a bit), getting used to the rhythm and sounds of Creole and picking up a teeny bit of it here and there.  I feel as thought I've found a purpose here.  I'm not ready to go home.  But I know that I will be back.  How soon and for how long?  That's up to God, and I know He already knows :) 
We went to Grace Village for church yesterday.  Awesome experience!!  On the way, we picked up Marie - she is one of the local elders and is such a beautiful and vibrant spirit!  Marie is 104 or 105 years old, still lives independently, and usually walks to church.  Today she rode with us and attended service with our group.  She was SO excited about the large travel mug of coffee that Jess prepared - said she'd been waiting for it for days, and finished the mug in a matter of minutes.  Love, love, love.  Her joy is infectious.  What a treasure!
After church we drove up the mountain to shop a bit.  This was a fun and at times overwhelming experience.  The vendors expect to be bartered with, and if you're not careful (or you don't have one of our guys with you!) they'll get more of your money than you intended ... Yes - I paid too much for a small canvas painting ;)  Oh well - it was fun :)
On the drive back to the Guest House, Brunet taught us a bit of Creole - the first part of "10,000 Reasons" - so much fun.  Today I'll ask him to write it out so I can work on not losing it :) 
More about our guys -
Brunet, Nixon, Emmanuel - LOVE.  These were our guides, protectors, translators throughout the week.  I highly recommend spending some time with each of them.  So much patience, always a watchful eye, and lots of fun.  I look forward to seeing them again - hopefully sooner rather than later :)

Today we'll deliver Feed My Starving Children packets and supplies to Tent City.  What a cool opportunity - to see this mission come full circle.  The packets we're delivering came from Chanhassen and were packed just after Thanksgiving.  So.  Cool. 

I don't have adequate words for this experience.  I am so grateful for all that is going on here, all that God is doing in and through the beautiful people of Haiti, Grace Village, Healing Haiti, and so many more who are involved.  I am so thankful for the team that I had an opportunity to go with and get to know.  What an awesome group!  So much spirit and strength, individuality and community. 

Happy.  Thankful.  Anticipating.

Sunday, February 23, 2014


What a beautiful, vibrant, colorful day.  Yesterday we returned to Grace Village to share a lesson and play with the kids.  I love how it feels at Grace Village - even when it's quiet, there is so much activity and spirit everywhere.  We gathered for a lesson about God's love and how we are called to love and serve all.  We brought supplies for the kids to make shakers with toilet paper rolls, rice, beans, and duct tape.  Nikki brought some of the wilder colors and styles of duct tape - rainbow, sports, stripes, penguins, and more - and these were a big hit!  The shakers were then used during song, which was awesome to hear.  So uplifting to hear these kids shouting to God with beautiful voices!  So much spirit and joy!  God. Is. Awesome.
Afterward, we had the opportunity to visit Wahoo Bay for some downtime as a group.  Gorgeous! Bright and beautiful colors.  Amazing blues and greens, and bright, warm sand.  Cool and refreshing water.  Glorious.  We snorkeled, swam, bathed in the sun, and recharged.  What a blessing. 


Saturday, February 22, 2014


First time in a long time that I haven't been looking forward to a weekend.  It means I'm that much closer to leaving.  And I'm not ready.  There was a time when I thought I'd never be ready to go on a mission trip, or that I wasn't the type who could (or should).  My how things change and God works His plan. 
Yesterday we made more water deliveries.  Two stops in areas we hadn't yet visited.  I stepped off the TapTap and was immediately embraced by a boy named Mackinson.  He's about 8 years old and was very excited to introduce me to his cousin and brother.  Mackinson was also quite possessive and even pouted when I put him down to pick up another little one.  Protected is my Word of the Day and I felt this while Mackinson was with me.  There was a UN truck coming up a side street behind me and I didn't realize it.  He pulled me far out of the way and stood in front of me while the truck passed.  I had a similar experience at the next stop, where another little boy moved us out of the way of a motorcycle zooming by.  I'm struck by how these kids look out for each other and all of us.  So much love.  Chicago Jen showed off her innovative skills today as she was helping a little boy with cooler full of water.  The spout/drain on the cooler was missing its plug, so water was just running out as they walked to his home.  So what did Chicago Jen do?  She thought "Hey, I have a feminine hygiene prodct in my pocket..." and the rest is history.  :)  That little boy was SO excited!!  Awesome.  Just.  Awesome.  :)  We finished our second stop and returned to Stop 17 (the first water truck stop on Tuesday) where Healing Haiti will soon be building a church.  We gathered at the proposed site to pray for the success of this mission and continuation of God's plans. 
After water truck and a break at the Guest House, we visited General Hospital to deliver some supplies to parents.  We visited three areas of the hospital where children of varying ages were being treated and many parents were waiting nearby or holding their babies.  Eric described the conditions as primitive, but there really isn't a word to capture it.  Such a blatant reminder of how blessed we really are back home.  These doctors and nurses are trying to do as much as they can with so little.  And there is hope.  Hope and perseverance.  
On the way back to the Guest House, we got stuck in a traffic jam of epic proportions.  You think your rush hour commute is rough?  Not even close.  After about 45 minutes sitting in one spot, we decided to walk.  It was a good 20 minute walk and was a great alternative to riding in the TapTap.  So much more to see and hear.  And another good dose of perspective.  Be thankful for our stoplights and traffic laws :)

Friday, February 21, 2014


Yesterday was full of mixed emotions, most prominent of which being JOY. Other feelings on the day .. awe, amazed, HUMBLED, inspired ...
We visited Grace Village in Titanye, where I was awestruck by so much vision and purpose.  So much has been accomplished here in such a short period of time.  Happy kids attending school,  a medical clinic up and running, a new and larger church for all to attend.  A huge and very impressive system of fish and plants sustaining each other (tilapia farm and veggies).  Bright, beautiful colors and facilities, and so many ideas in the works!  Pray that God continues to bless all that is underway and still to come. 
After Grace Village we visited a few of the local elders who are being sponsored through Healing Haiti.  With each visit we brought peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, applesauce, and water.  We also brought lotion and massaged arms and legs, hands and feet.  Marisia was our first visit.  What a peaceful woman, so full of love and laughter.  I was humbled by how little she has, yet she is so full and giving of love and joy.  We visited Charit and her family next.  This was an especially difficult visit, as Charit is very frail and had just learned of the passing of one of her daughters, so was very sad.  We sang with Charit and her daughter, and prayed for strength and blessings through their grieving.  Charitable was our next visit.  She came outside immediately upon hearing us arrive.  She is a very quiet woman who lights up when asked about her children and grandchildren. :)  Elie was next and is such a sweet and frail man. He sat and visited with us with his children and grandchildren nearby, and when asked how he was he replied, "By the grace of God I am good".  Elie's home is where I left a piece of my heart - with a little boy named Nov.  When we arrived, Nov ran up the hill past 4 or 5 of my teammates and straight into my arms.  He might be 7 or 8 and is a big love.  We played, tossed him in the air, hugged, and just loved on each other.  We were attached to each other for much of the visit and it was tough to ay goodbye to that little man.  Our last visit was to be with Maretorres, however she was away attending her sister's funeral.  Her daughter was home, so we sang and prayed with her for a while.  What a sweet and strong young lady.
Our last stop of the day was Juno's Orphanage, where we were greeted by several smiling faces.  We brought homemade tambourines and colored them with the kids, then used them to dance and sing and be silly.  SO much fun!  It was heartwarming to see and feel so much love and joy amidst so little. 
God is really doing amazing and wonderful things in and through so many!



Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Second Chances

Today we visited Haiti Teen Challenge, The Apparent Project, and Gertrude's Orphanage.  All very different but having somewhat similar themes.  One that resonated with me - second chances: 
Haiti Teen Challenge was first on the day - we had an opportunity to visit and worship with the young men who have found a second chance through this great program.  Some in our group have worked with MN Teen Challenge, so it was cool to see these groups blend and share their experiences. After worship and witness to several brave testimonies, we had time to visit, play basketball, or help with lunch preparations. I chose to watch the masters at work in the kitchen and even dive in a little bit (I peeled onions ;) ... ).  Yum. I could get used to Haitian cooking :)  It was nice to visit with Jeanette and Jenae, and learn a bit about how to make a flavorful and not-so-spicy stew :)

Then on to The Apparent Project, where many Haitian men and women find a second chance at working to provide for themselves and their families.  We were given a tour of the store and various work areas where pieces of art were in the works.  The attention to detail and intricate work is amazing.  Beaded bracelets and necklaces, pottery, clutches and purses sewn on-site.  Everything is made on-site. The beads are clay or rolled paper.  Clay is rolled, fired, hand-painted and handed off for beading.  Paper?  Cut from cereal boxes and rolled tightly around a pin to create a bead.  So.  Cool.  Check out some pictures here --
Some downtime at the Guest House, then on to Gertrude's Orphanage, where 52 beautiful children of varying ages and abilities reside.  These kids are given a second chance at life and love in this home.  We spent some time just loving on them...hugs, playing ball, holding babies.  Love.  Lots of Love.  

I've had a different song playing in my head each day ... Today's is Beautiful Things by Gungor. 
"You make beautiful things, You make beautiful things out of the dust. 
You make beautiful things, You make beautiful things out of us"


There are very few times in my life that I've felt truly at peace. In fact, I can probably count them on one hand. Most days are pretty good, but there is always that niggling feeling in the back of my mind that something is going to go terribly wrong. However, from the moment I woke up today I was filled with a sense of overwhelming peace. As we traveled to Haiti Teen Challenge I was still unsure how long the feeling would last, but as soon as we got there and began to worship the peace only grew and  yet set itself aside to allow me to feel the joy that filled the rooms. As we traveled through our day, first to Apparent Project and then to Gertrude's Orphanage The feeling of calm that I started out with only grew and transformed into other feelings of joy and tranquility and love. Never giving way to the sense of looming doom I've come to expect from my day to day life. I am so looking forward to what tomorrow and the rest of this trip brings.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Chop! Chop! On the TapTap!

Word(s) of The Day
- brought to you by ... Team Healing Haiti 2.18.14 :)

Surreal - There is a big difference between seeing commercials about sponsoring children on TV and actually being here. There is really no way to explain properly what or how big this difference is. Unless you are here with these kids, looking into their malnourished yellow tinted eyes and yet the huge smiles spread across their faces when you give them a hug or pick them up or even just a simple fist bump or letting them hold your hand and walk with you, you will never know exactly how alive they are and how big the presence of God is here.
Overwhelming - Water truck day. For those who've been here .. 'nuff said? It's difficult to put into words the things we experienced today. Massive amounts of pure love and joy in the eyes of babies and children clinging to us. Organized chaos in the lines that were formed and buckets collected. Smiles all over.
Grateful - I held a little boy whose feet were severely calloused from living barefoot in the gravel. He couldn't have been more than 7 or 8 years old. He had a big impact on me today as did all of the kids I held.  I kept comparing them to my son and realizing how much we have in our lives. I'm grateful for being able to bring God's love to these kids.   
Wow - Stepped off the TapTap and immediately picked up a little boy wearing only a ratty shirt and seeming a little sick.  He rested his head on my shoulder and we walked among piles of garbage, and it struck me that this is likely where this little boy will grow up.  And in the midst of this extreme poverty,  I realize that God knows this little boy.  He knows every hair on his head, every breath he has taken.  And it's amazing. 
Precious - From the littlest of children to the sweet little old lady, I could just feel Jesus looking down and calling them His precious children. 
I - Today there was a little girl that, though wanting to be held and given love, wouldn't speak. We were informed by her mother that she doesn't really talk, but then she began singing what sounded like 'I, I, I'. It is amazing how something as simple as that can remind us that what we're doing here isn't about us at all.
Love - As we saw today love is a universal language. It's amazing how human touch, a feeling of love can forever change a life. The children that surrounded us today wanted nothing more than to be held and played with. Even just the opportunity to cling to a couple spare fingers seemed to make them happy.
Responsibility - Seeing everything today reminded me of the responsibility we each have to serve the least of these. After this trip, no one who came can claim ignorance to the needs that are out there.  We have a responsibility to set our needs aside and serve others wherever we are.  The outcome isn't in our hands, but it is our responsibility to take action and start with sharing the message.
Hope - In the midst of this desolation and despair, I saw hope for the people of Haiti.  Hope for what God is doing here and will continue to do in the future. 
Eye-Opening - You think you know what 'poor' is when you go into the inner city, or you get down on yourself because you had a bad day at work, and then you see what people here live with/without everyday and always with such joy and love and smiles on their faces.
Blessed - We've come so far and are blessed to serve those who once were enslaved (check out the movie Amazing Grace).
Fun & Love - It was fun to see everyone experiencing today in their own ways.
Puzzle - One thing I noticed about today was how easily the team found its place. Sure, we were brought where we were needed and told what needed to be accomplished, but the seamless way we seemed to slip together was like putting together a jigsaw puzzle. Whether it was giving love to the kids that surrounded us or helping to dispense the water the people were lining up for, we all had our place. We had every piece of our puzzle.
Unbelievable - When people ask me how my trip to Haiti was, I'm going to say it was unbelievable. Famine, depression, poverty, destruction, garbage.  You can't use words or pictures to come close to describing it.  Yet among all of that, it's unbelievable the love, joy, and pure excitement that they have for such a simple act of kindness as delivering water. 
Enlightened - To survive one day and make it to the next what do you need. No, not your car or your cell phone. Not your heated home or hair-dryer. I mean, what do you NEED? How about clean water, something to put in your stomach, some form of shelter? The people here are lucky to meet their needs and make it to the next day.
Amazed - I'm always amazed at how the people of Haiti worship with pure joy. They have so little and rely on God for so much. Perhaps it is that reliance that produces such joy.
Perspective - I will probably never look at another line that I have to stand in the same way after today.  They waited so long to get water.  I used to get frustrated standing in line for a Black Friday deal.