Friday, December 23, 2011

Glwa Pou Bondye! ( Glory to God!)

We got an early start Thursday morning and headed to Guillaume’s orphanage near Cite Soley (Soleil) As we approached the orphanage gate we could see the children were wide eyed at the gate waiting for us!! Their embrace melts you. We walked through their rooms and were reminded of the run down indescribable conditions the kids lived in.  It was incredibly humbling and sad for me. The kids loaded onto the bus some holding their bibles that were being held together with layers of tape nothing else other than clothes.

 As the bus entered the gates to their new home you could hear singing voices.
Forty beautiful lives moved into Grace Village on Thursday! It was an amazing and emotional experience. The sweetest innocence, the sense of contentment and joy filled the rooms today as the children settled in. The new playground set the stage for the day’s events. They swung for hours!! When it was time for them to get ready for bed they grabbed their baskets and towels and marched off to take their first shower. They enjoyed the shower SO much that they took two. As the day was drawing to a close, they sat in their beds with such satisfaction on their faces! I went to say bonwuit (goodnight) and saw a sweet boy reading his new beautiful Kreyol (Creole) bible out loud. I thanked and praised the Lord for all the incredible moments we got to witness as His plan unfolded. How faithful He is to these sweet kids and they are so thankful!

Today Gary drove the Kubota from the guest house to Grace Village with FanFan. He was in his glory.  When we arrived many of the boys gave Jeff sweet letters.. I wish I could better understand their thoughts and experience. One child said it was like paradise. They loved to be held and touched. I spent time with the oldest girl today and as I rubbed her back she slowly moved closer and closer with the sweetest smile. They are truly amazing kids. Allie and Lindsay don’t want to leave, we love these kids so much mom, they say! We are so blessed and humbled to spend Christmas at Grace Village.

Glwa Pou Bondye!

Becky Nelson

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Sounds of Glory by Julie Sexson

Sounds of Glory

Voices squealing.

laughing, clapping.

Voices praising God in worship.

Cheers echoing from heaven.

Feet crunching.

Children racing.

Swings squeaking.

Legs reaching to touch the sky.

Voices praising God in worship.

Garlic crackling.

Oil splattering

Plates shuffling along the table.

Popcorn popping.

Toilets flushing,

Showers dripping.

Bare feet slapping as they walk by.

PJs rustling.

Kisses smacking.

Pages turning.

Voices praising God in worship.

Hearts breaking to say “goodbye”.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

The power of an embrace: Jessica Burmester

The power of an embrace: Jessica Burmester
MY PLAN FOR YOUR LIFE….this was the title of my daily devotion this morning and how fitting it was especially for today.
Today I was blessed to be able to be apart of the most amazing experience; moving the orphan’s into Grace Village-their BRAND NEW HOME. It was the most incredible site to witness these children seeing their new home for the first time. The anticipation of where it would be and what it would look like was so evident on their faces. I had the opportunity to ride on the bus with all 40 of them up to Grace Village and I can’t even put into words the joy and excitement that filled the bus. Through their singing songs of praises, smiles and laughter, and pointing at all the big buildings/villages as we drove by them wondering if that was their new home, I could not stop smiling and my heart was overflowing with joy for what they were about to experience and see.
As we drove up to the gate the kids were yelling and cheering and practically jumping out of their seats to get a glimpse of their new home. As I sat back and watched each child try to get out as fast as they could I was filled with so much joy and excitement for each one of them.

As we showed the children their rooms it was beyond a doubt that they were so thankful and happy. Seeing their faces as they each found their own bed along with a bible, and little beanie baby on it was better than any words could describe. Watching them lie on their beds, hug their beanie babies and open up their bibles melted my heart.
With as much joy and excitement that filled the rooms there was also those few children who weren’t quite sure what to think. Wislene was one of these little girls who was feeling extremely happy but yet a bit overwhelmed-we could see it in her face. Fanfan asked her if she was ok and she said yes, but I knew she wasn’t. As the others cleared out of the room I climbed up the bunk embraced that little girl in my arms and told her, Mwen renmen ou, which means I love you. I just held her and kissed her and told her I loved her and as I started pulling away she wrapped her little arms around me and held me tight. As we continued embracing each other and rocking back and forth I couldn’t imagine what she was going through nor did I have the communication to talk to her but I knew that all this little girl needed was a loving embrace. As I started to pull away again she pulled me in closer, my heart just broke for her. As others came back into the room, we released each other, I told her I loved her, kissed her on the forehead and showed her that her name was written in the front of her bible and she gave the biggest smile ever. Later on the playground as she was swinging, I walked by her and smiled and she told me, Mwen renmen ou. They were the best words I had heard all day.
As I sit back and reflect on the moment I had with Wislene and the power of a simple loving embrace, I think I needed that moment and embrace just as much, if not more, than she did.
An excerpt of my devotional, Jesus Calling by Sarah Young, for the day reads: “Do not fear your weakness, for it is the stage on which My Power and Glory perform most brilliantly. As you persevere along the path I have prepared for you, depending on My Strength to sustain you, expect to see miracles—and you will. Miracles are not always visible to the naked eye, but those who live by faith can see them clearly. Living by faith, rather than sight enables you to see My Glory.” Today was an absolute miracle for these children and everyone involved. This is the beginning of something amazing for each one of these children—GOD’S PLAN FOR THEIR LIFE.

Grace Village

There are no words to describe to beauty of Grace Village and the beauty of the children's faces as they saw it for the first time. The children arrived in a bus today to see their new home for the very first time. As we were driving in the bus the children were practically crawling out the windows trying to catch a glimpse. They had no idea what had been prepared for them. As we drove the children kept thinking that each building we passed must be their new home. After twenty minutes of bumps and dust we started the ascent up the hill and the children started to grasp their new reality.

Grace Village sits at the base of beautiful mountains and overlooks the gorgeous ocean in the distant. The children's screams of pure unbridled joy as they saw it were so loud they were heard in the vehicle that followed the bus. It was indescribable.

The children excitedly got off the bus and ran for the playground! They climbed, swung, slide, and giggled for about an hour. Then we showed the children their new rooms. Each child had a beautiful bed with their artwork hung on it, a bible labeled with their names and a handmade quilt atop it. They had cozy pillows into which many of the children immediately buried their faces.

I was overwhelmed with gratitude to be a witness to this amazing moment. I can’t even wrap my head around the opportunity these children now have to live with comforts and opportunities they have never experienced.

Tomorrow the children will slowly begin to learn about their new home. They will be able to use toilets for the first time and end the day with a shower for the very first time. They will go to bed under beautiful quilts that were made with so much love and pillows to comfort their beautiful heads. I pray that they can feel all the love that so many people have for them. There is so much love that has enabled Grace Village to become a reality. God’s love for these children is immeasurable. The love God has put in countless hearts of Healing Haiti supporters is such a blessing for these children.

I hope that all the people who have shared their hearts with the people in Haiti can feel the joy that is happening at Grace Village. Tonight the children went to their current home to pack their things and spend one last night there. We are picking them up early tomorrow morning and taking them to Grace Village to stay. They will unpack and make themselves at home. Home Sweet Home. God is so good!

Krista Carroll

Amazing Day!

an amazing started with What breakfast and a lot of excitement...the group this week is a mix of last minute..yet..perfectly in His plan people here to do the final preparations at Grace Village and move in the children...We all feel so blessed and grateful to be here..what a priveledge. We drove the 45minutes thru common scenes of Haitian life...tents and huts along the road..with people cooking, walking with baskets on there heads, setting up tables of random items they have for sale. Cars and motorbikes weaving thru heavy traffic with honking and stopping continually on the rutted, beat up road. We made the last turn thru Titanyen up the gravel road. Little kids started running after us..with big smiles..and then we arrived to the beautiful gate that had Alyn's heart all over it..a purple door and the beautiful sign...Grace Village. The gate opened and we were took your breath away..the serine beauty of the mountains and ocean surrounded the haven built for the the least of the these. The buildings are full of color, warmth and comfort. In front is the from the village come to is filled with laughter. The breeze and view reminds us all day of His presence. We spend the day cleaning, unpacking, making up beds...they are so covered with love..handmade quilts, stuffed animals, art from the children, a bible for each child with their name in it...all the Glory to was an amazing day!

Written by Kim Bell

Monday, December 19, 2011


December 19, 2011

Destination: Port-au-Prince, Haiti
Status: Arrived :)

We made it! All here and accounted for, including our twenty-four pieces of luggage. Customs was completely chaotic but we got everything through....PTL

Looking forward to what God has in store this week! Please keep the Haitian children in your prayers. Going up to Grace Village tomorrow to prepare for the big day!



Monday, May 2, 2011

Senses Attacked

Pulling back from the gate is an odd feeling right now. I am not sure I can describe what I am feeling. Over the past week all my senses were attacked, challenged and forever changed.

As I close my eyes as we are lifting off, I am overtaken by a flash of all the many things I encountered. Children screaming with joy and laughter, babies crying, horns honking, trucks gears grinding and all the warm greetings of the many faces I came across.

These faces have been forever burned into my eyes, along with the homes they live in. Crowded tap taps and buses, garbage and sewage packed streets. Buildings reduced to ruble and more than tens of thousand of tents ever where you look. Pigs, chickens, roosters and dogs roaming the streets. The smell of diesel, miscellaneous things burning and the strong odor of rotting trash.

Of all the senses affected, touch has impacted me the most. in City Soleil, we delivered buckets of water deep into the streets where most people do not go, especially without some sort of escort. Along the way children would want to hold your hand or anything they could get a hold of. All they wanted was to feel that touch, even if it was for 30-90 seconds as you walked back to the truck to grab another bucket. There was no other motive. They did not want your money, your possessions, your food or water. They simply wanted to be touched, loved and noticed. It breaks my heart into so many pieces I can hardly contain it as we have lifted off and are headed for home. I am no longer crying behind my sunglasses. I am just crying with an emptiness I cannot fill or fix. I thought I would leave Haiti with a feeling of satisfaction and a sense of being full of God's love, instead I am broken and feel so much guilt and sadness for leaving them all behind. I never thought I would be this impacted. I never imagined I would get so emotional. How is it possible for me tp find it so difficult to go home? I wish everyone could feel this.

So where do we go from here? Where do I lead my family? Do my wife and I pack up our four children and move to Haiti to be the hands and feet of Christ on the ground? Do we change the way we live? Do we continue to teach our children about the many sufferings around the world? Do we get our church even more involved on global missions by leading trips. I wish I knew the answer, but the fact is I have no idea which way God will lead us. A lot of praying is needed.

Lord, thank you for changing my heart and putting these blessings in our path. I pray for you to help illuminate a path whichever it may be.

Brian - Healing Haiti Team Member

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Where is God?

That was our first question as we started our first full day in Haiti.

As we end the week, it turns out that God is here in Haiti.

He is in the children whose eyes sparkle with love and joy even though they are not clothed, have no shoes and live in the poorest, filthiest conditions imaginable. Many are sick and dying; many are orphaned; many are abandoned by their parents and forced to live on the streets fending for themselves.

He is in the volunteers who care for the sick and dying babies and children at Mother Teresa’s and the special needs children at Gertrude’s Home.

He is in the Healing Haiti team members who deliver water to the poorest of the poor in Cite Soleil.

He is in the elderly woman who patiently waited in line for water, but yet when it was her turn to fill her bucket, the water had run out; yet she still said “Merci”.

He is in Grace Village; that one day will be home to orphans and the elderly.

He is in Jude Jean Paul. A young man who suffered from so many seizures it caused permanent brain damage. He is a quadrapalegic. Who if he lived in the US would have been treated and suffered minimal affects.

He is in the people of Haiti who celebrate His love each day through devout worship and praise.

He is in all of us.

How are you going to show that He is in you?

Healing Haiti Team Members

Jeannette, Barb, Jan

Saturday, April 30, 2011


How does God transform people. Does he he simply make a motion with his hand and we are changed? Does he wait until we are sleeping, change us and when we wake up we are something different, into something he wants us to be. I believe he gives us free will for a reason, to have the ability to transform ourselves and to make choices that directly reflect how Jesus lived and served. Many people have asked how can God make people suffer the way they do, or why are the poor people poor? If God is almighty, why can't he just fix this all?

The answer to me is God is with the poor people, he is with the sick and needy children in Haiti and the rest of the world. He always has been. He talks about poor people in the Bible over any other group. He has blessed people like us to spread these blessings around to poor and needy. We are the ones that should step up.

I have had an amazing trip to Haiti, one in which that has blessed me when I was supposed to be the one serving. I have had God move farther in my heart than I have in a long time. I believed I had a strong faith before, and after seeing Haiti first hand my faith is even stronger. I have a new found hope and understanding for the life that God wants us to live. We are given an opportunity to do life our way, we can either ignore the world around us or we can step up and serve the way Jesus served. We can meet the poor where they are, whether they are in the United States or another country. We as Christians can help our neighbors wherever they may be.

God, thank you for bringing me to Haiti to witness lives transformed, faith renewed, to have my heart broken and to instill a new passion inside of me. Please help me to determine what steps are next for me and my family and how we can use this experience to further your glory.

I pray for our team and the teams before and after us to keep the passion you have given us by witnessing the people of Haiti.

Brian - Healing Haiti Team Member

Friday, April 29, 2011


T.G.I.F. Thank God it's Friday has taken on a whole new meaning. Thank God for this Friday. The H.H. crew started the morning like it has already become routine. Jeff did not need to yell "Make it happen!" We were already on it. Gabe and Fan Fan had already returned from the morning church service. Breakfast was another feast and we all ate hearty anticipating the day. It was the sound of a new horn today. We prayed together giving thanks for all that we have seen and shared this week so far and continued to ask for His protection and blessing as we ventured out on our stylish new white bus.

First stop was Titayen. There is a special child there named Jude Jean Paul that we were introduced to. Although he is not well enough to interact with us, he knew we were there. We broke out in song and you could feel the Holy Spirit fill not only the small room, but each one of our hearts. It was a solemn, tearful parting. The local children guided us hand in hand on our short walk from Ju Paul's to Yvons Orphange. It was there we met 40 more very special children who greeted us with hugs and song.

Next stop Arcahaie beach. We were taking the kids swimming. We "kenneled up" toting 40 children and 12 adults gently packed in the 24 passenger H.H. bus. A fairly long ride through the streets of Haiti with laps drooping full of children and yet, not one complaint. Eyes were wide and smiles and song were constant. It didn't seem to matter much to them that when we arrived at the beach gate, they were asked to wait an additional Haitian 10-15 minutes. Once we were cleared to go we parked the bus and walked to the beach in surprisingly orderly fashion. A quick change and toes hit the shoreline. After the initial splash there was a beautiful chaos of flayling arms, legs, giggles, an shreaks of pure joy. Adults and children alike. Water logged to the point of wrinkled fingers, we rinsed and gathered together in prayer for a buffet lunch of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, snack chips, a chocolate cookie, and tampico for drink. There was a rare photo opp to catch shivering cold, wet Haitian kids. The bus ride home was a bit more uneventful and much quieter. We drove back to Titanyen satisfied with a truly magnificent day. The hugs and kisses line was bitter sweet. The bus ride back to the guest house felt too empty.

A glorious sunset closes the day. Our hearts our left raw and open.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Greetings from Haiti (again)

This morning we got up at 5:30 and attended a church service. The faith of the Haitian people was inspirational and they were on their feet most of the service. People were singing and praying and giving praise to God. It was an amazing experience.

Our first stop was Gertrude's orphanage for special needs children. The kids were full of joy. Brian fixed the swing set so we could push the kids. We played ball and the kids enjoyed being outside and the special attention. We had as much fun as the kids.

On our way to Guillaume's orphanage, we stopped at St. Christophe. This is a mass burial ground for over 100,000 people who perished in the earthquake. It was a beautiful location for so many who died.

Then we headed to Grace Village. Grace Village will be the new home for Healing Haiti. When all phases are completed, it will house an orphanage, clinic, church, school, tilapia farm, feeding center and guest house. It is a beautiful site overlooking the ocean. We all felt Alyn's presence as we spent time there. She continues to be a great inspiration to us all. We miss her dearly.

Finally we headed to Guillaume's. It was big fat fun! They greeted us with a welcome song. We handed out specially made cards from the girl scouts. They cherished the cards and collected them to give them out again tomorrow.

It was a great way to end the day, playing wiffle ball, face painting, jump roping and loving up the kids.

Jan, Jeannette, Barb
Healing Haiti Team Members

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Greetings from Haiti!

Greetings from Haiti!

We just finished day two of our experience here in Haiti.

Yesterday was really intense. It was very physical, hot, dirty and rewarding. We delivered water to three of the poorest shanty areas of Cite Soleil. As the truck pulled in, we honked the horn, people ran for their buckets and a line quickly formed. Imagine standing in line for water!

It was chaotic as people jockeyed for position to get water before we ran out. Many tried to sneak their buckets under the hose unseen skipping to the front of the line. As we saw this happen we had to send them to the back of the long line. Many were kids and seniors. It was disturbing to have to say no. But, we needed to create some sort of order.

Unsupervised kids were everywhere, clothed, no clothes, in sleeper pajamas that were three sizes too small and many without shoes; all wanting to be loved. Where were the parents?

At one of the locations we walked through garbage and sewage filled alleys to see the ocean. What we found was an ocean front unlike anything we have ever seen. This area was filled with human waste amidst the garbage. We had to be careful where we stepped. Pigs and goats were wandering everywhere eating whatever they could find.

It was heartbreaking.

Today we visited Mother Teresa’s home for sick and dying children. It was amazing to see the love and compassion shown to the kids by everyone.

The sickest kids were on the lower level. Many of them were babies. Most of them were crying and it was difficult to choose just one to pick up and love.

We fed them, changed their diapers, played with them, but most importantly, we loved them and they loved us back.

What a rewarding day!

Barb, Jan, Jeannette

Healing Haiti Team Members

On the first night I had one of the most profound experiences of my life. Jeff asked "who wants to go for a walk?" I thought we were going for a walk on the streets around the neighborhood...WRONG! Our "walk", which was after dark, was far from what I expected. We walked about 150 yards down the street from the house and walked through a large steel gate, which is a rather common thing here. On the other side was a tent city. The tents were constructed of tarps and scraps of wood and tin. I wasn't really scared, but I was certainly far outside my comfort zone. Jeff saw someone he knew right away and introduced us. All of the sudden small children surrounded me. They took me by the hand, embraced me, and wanted me to hold them. We ended up walking through the narrow corridors between the tents, stepping over the "mud" which was actually sewage. All the people were very friendly despite the fact that they were living in conditions that were hot, dirty, crowded and unsanitary for longer than a year. I couldn't believe the way the children flocked to us. I would never take two toddlers that I just met in minneapolis and take them by the hand and start walking around... I would get arrested! Where were their parents!?! Over the following 2 days I have come to learn that parents really don't seem to mind if some strange guy like me takes their children by the hand and walks off...

Gabriel Tschida
Healing Haiti Team Member

Jumping and Screaming

Driving a firetruck up to a school of excited and screaming kids is an amazing and wonderful feeling I have felt in my heart. I would hit the siren and honk the horn to see all the kids running and jumping with laughter on their faces. What an awesome sight.

I never thought there would be something that would impact me as it had on the first day in Haiti. Yesterday our team drove a water truck into the worst areas of Cite Soleil, "City of the Sun." As we drove hanging on the side of the truck I was awe struck at what I was seeing, the devastation, the garbage, the naked kids, the sick, the hungry, the ......everything you can think of. I just kept thinking how much more could I see that would affect me, how much more is there , until we slowed down and Maxime our driver honked the big air horn. At first I thought a car was in our way as I had heard hundreds of horns already. Then I heard a longer sustaining horn and noticed what was going on.

Kids from all sides started emerging from their tattered tents and rusted shacks, jumping and screaming in the same fashion as I had witnessed driving a fire truck. What came over my heart next shook me to my core. This was all happening because of water, it was then when I cried behind my sunglasses. This was such a basic need, something so simple yet these children of God had little to none. They continued running, screaming and smiling right at us and I kept trying to hide my eyes and smile back. From that moment on it went in a blur of mismatched emotions.

We filled hundreds of buckets of water, delivering them deep into row after row of crowded shacks, averaging in size by 8 feet by 8 feet filled with families. We would deliver water to shacks that had ocean front property completely overtaken by garbage, human waste and many other things that are simply unidentifiable. We walked by a woman in labor, children so crippled they could not move and countless mothers offering their children up for a better life with us in America.

As I said before, the day went by in a blur of mismatched of emotions. We all should be sad and full of despair, but that was not the case for them. Everyone we met smiled and greeted us with Bon Jou or "Good morning." Their lives are full of daily struggles for simple things I take for granted. Children sick and malnourished, but they are full of life and smiles. On a walk we took through the city we would sing Hallelujah and the children would sing it back with a smile and a laugh followed by Bondye, Creole for God.. Hallelujah to God. I am amazed these people we encountered have had everything taken away from them, yet all I hear is "Glory to God" and "Honor to God in the Highest."

We went to three separate places in Cite Soleil and left each one with children hanging on us, still smiling and all of us with breaking hearts.

Lord I am so thankful for my experiences here, your willingness to use me in any way you see how and for transforming me into something a new.

Brian McNeill - Healing Haiti Member

Cite Soleil

What an incredible day we had in Cite Soleil. We made three runs with the water truck and each stop was a little different. Seeing people run to get in line for water makes you realize how incredibly blessed we are in the U.S.

It is hard to describe the feeling of having to leave a child behind that says, "I want to come with you".

Andy Archer
Healing Haiti Team Member

Eight Words

Our first full day in Haiti resulted in the team coming up with separate power words that described the day. Simply put along with these words, the photos speak for themselves.