Friday, September 20, 2013

VBS in Creole

Greetings in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. We had the opportunity to run VBS for 54 orphans at Grace Village today. The children don't start school until October 1st and eagerly engaged in our activities. We shared the story of creation and it was translated in Creole. The children became even more alert when we did a few art activities including magic modeling clay, creating a banner for the orphanage and made gospel bracelets. We were all sweating in the 95 degree/100% humid room with no air conditioning. I plan to never complain about weather conditions or a hot office again. Next stop was at Isaiah's Orphanage, then Olson's and the Shalom House where we brought more food from Feed Our Starving Children. How good it is to serve the Lord. Thank you for your prayers. Teri

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Not Enough Arms!

Greetings from Haiti where we finished our first day bringing clean water, hugs, eye contact and love to the poorest neighborhood in Citie Soleil. Children ran to the truck when we arrived and asked us to pick them up. At times I was holding two children in my arms with a couple hanging on my legs. There were children no older than my granddaughter Abigail (2 1/2) unattended and walking in the street barefoot, some with grey mucous in their nose.  There were little children carrying babies but not many parents around.  I felt a moment of satisfaction when I put the two children down and played patty cake with all of them. Then we started singing Jesus Loves the Little children and many more came over and tried to learn some of the words. The most heartbreaking experience of the day is when a young woman asked us to take her baby.It was difficult saying good-bye when we ran out of water but rewarding to refill our truck and service 2 more villages. Thank you for your prayers, Teri

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Our Last Full Day in God's Beautiful Country of Haiti

God is so good!

Today we had an amazing opportunity to worship and recieve a short message with Fanfan for church this morning. I would say that it was so powerful. We definately got the Holy Spirit moving! Fanfan shared with us that we don't need to be anxious, afraid, worried, scared, or any negative emotion or have any negative feelings because God is with us. God promised that he is preparing a place for us and he will come for us when he is ready. We should live every day as if it was our last day on Earth and keep preparing to spend eternity with God, our Father.

After worship and a message with Fanfan, we went to Wahoo Bay and saw the gorgeous beaches of Haiti. After walking through the streets where we served all week, the white sands and clear blue waters seemed almost unreal. It was so calming and relaxing to all of us. We got to ride wave runners, snorkel, and have a blast swimming around! The vendors at the beach were so enjoyable to talk to and buy from! We got cute little gifts for others back home.

A few thoughts about this week from me (Maddie)
God created Haiti with an amazing purpose. We all had such an amazing time serving our Father this week. I am pretty positive we all cried at one point or another. We took a crazy fun emotional roller coaster this week and even when we were crying and sad, I know that we could still feel loved and love on other people. I loved ministering to such a variety of people, from people on the streets of Cite Soleil and Titanyen, the kids at Juno's, Issiah's, and Gertrude's, the Home for Sick and Dying Babies, to the people we would see everywhere we traveled. This week I have been constantly been told by God through my prayers and through signs that he is calling me to do mission work. I am so excited to say that my first experience was with Healing Haiti, and I can say with certainty that unless God calls me home soon, this will most certainly not be the last time I am here with Healing Haiti.

I would like to thank everyone who has supported our team both financially and prayerfully for this week and want you all to know that we love you from the bottom of our hearts for all the support you have given and will continue to give. As much as we don't want to go home, I know weA are all so excited to share the THOUSANDS of pictures with you all as well as our stories about this trip.

Today's blog has been bittersweet to write. I hope that sometime, very soon, I will be writing a blog sitting in this exact place discussing my second mission trip with Healing Haiti! I would like to quick give a shout out to all the Healing Haiti staff and everyone who made this trip possible!

Thank you God for making this trip so amazing!
Much Love,
Madeline Grace Kosch

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Life's Little Miracles

Bonswa Prayer Warriors!
We had such an awesome day today!! This morning we rendezvoused with our water truck drivers and headed into Cite Soleil. There was so much love and laughter and Jesus going on between each and every member of this team and the Haitian people. It is so amazing how comfortable everyone is here and how truly they love and care for the kids and people here in Haiti, as well as how much love is being received by this team! :) Everyone has a different and inspiring story to tell about their experiences and interactions with the people in Cite Soleil, and each in unquestionably Spirit led.

After our good-byes with the water truck – and some AWESOME worship and dancing out on a pier with the kiddos – we got to stop at Gertrude's orphanage for the mentally and physically handicapped children, so David could work on one of the children's wheelchair. God put it on David's heart during our first visit to Gertrude's yesterday to get this wheelchair fixed so it was more comfortable for the young boy who is physically bound to it to sit in. He was obedient and persistent in getting back to the orphanage and getting the chair fixed for this boy, and for a huge reward! The boy started giggling as soon as the chair was tilted back in a more comfortable position and didn't stop all throughout the rest of the fixing process!!

After this blessing, we packed up and headed to Healing Haiti’s orphanage, Grace Village, in Titanyen for the afternoon. Our faith lesson with the kids today was “God is Good!” (Which we have seen be nothing but SO true over and over again!!) We talked about the creation story, worshiped our awesome and gracious God with the kiddos, and Kelly and Alyssa put on an entertaining puppet show as PePe and Bob with the help of narrator/lion Maddie! After making some puppets and fun animal masks and lots of playing and cuddling, we loaded up and started back down the mountain.

We’ve passed this cool-looking walk out into the ocean a few times on our way to and from Titanyen this week and decided to stop there and have a step in the ocean to cool off on our way back to the Guesthouse. It turned out to be such a blessing!! While we were there exploring the shore, splashing around, and enjoying the company of some local Haitian kiddos, a big ol’ rain cloud came over the mountains and sparked up a sun shower for us. Wilson, one of our awesome interpreters shouted excitedly “God loves that you’re at His water, so He’s bringing the rain!!!” We were all nice and cooled off after that!

This is just one of the many miracles on this trip with this team!! I absolutely LOVE how God has worked through each and every one of us so far… breaking hearts one at a time through one ministry or another… or all of them; guiding, strengthening, growing, and directing lives all the way.  This team – filled mostly with adolescents and young adults – has been nothing but amazing and impressive day after day, and I feel so, so blessed to be here experiencing Haiti with each and every one of the people here this week. God just knows exactly what He’s doing when He calls us, and it’s so awesome to see them, as young as most of them are, taking such a huge step out in faith and obedience by coming on this trip. My word of the day tonight was Proud – because I am so proud of how awesome and willing these guys are to just dive right in everywhere we go with no hesitation! It has truly been nothing short of miraculous. Oh, and A LOT of fun!!! :D We even had half the team dance around outside and shower in the rain tonight as a storm passed by! Tears are already being shed at the thought of having to leave in a couple days. We’re headed to the beach tomorrow to experience some more of God’s amazing beauty in Haiti! Thank you all SO MUCH for your prayers!!!

Bon nwit (Good night) and lots of love from all of us here in Haiti!! :)

Inspiring Week!

This has truly been an amazing week!! I have been here several times yet every day I experience many firsts with these youth. I am inspired by each and every one of them. I am writing this too for the parents of these kids who I said we'd keep informed by a daily blog however we packed their schedule so tight that's been difficult, sorry about that!! This group dives into everything we've done head on - absolutely no hesitation whatsoever! They jump off that Tap-tap so ready and eager to go and watching them look into the eyes of babies, adults, and elderly with such love and so caring, is a beautiful sight that will be etched in my memory forever. Yesterday we did the elderly visits. This is a difficult day for many, it's hard to see the conditions people who have worked hard their entire life have to live in. At their age they deserve a break, running water and electricity. They don't need our "stuff", just the ease of having to struggle to walk a few feet to get water in their own home vs having to slowly make it blocks away to a well. It is heartbreaking. We sat this morning after breakfast as a team and talked about the elderly visits and what to express. A few shared their reservations about being near them and when we talked about possibly washing their feet most I'm sure were a bit "freaked out" by that. However, once there you would never know there was any hesitation. Because there isn't a ton of room in the elders homes I would stand outside trying to get a glimpse of what was going on when I could. To peek in and see 4 teens from this group happily washing the feet of one of the ladies and rubbing lotion on her wash such a beautiful site to see! Parents, you should all be very proud of your son/daughters. They've been very respectful, hard working, so caring, and they have spent a good amount of time thinking about and talking about how this trip has changed them and what they'll do from here. I am SO incredibly blessed that God picked myself and Sam to lead this amazing group - I have learned so much from them, I look up to them and admire them, wish I had the faith and vision they do when I was their age! I am really excited to see what they end up doing in life and hope I can remain in contact and possible come back to Haiti next year with them! I need to listen and hear so I can continue doing the work he wants me to do. Now, we're off to make one water truck stop, then up to Grace Village to do a Faith Lesson and Crafts, then taking neighborhood kids to play soccer again. We did that on Wednesday too - SO much fun - I even played for quite a while. These Haitian kids are amazing soccer players - something without shoes even but you'd never know it! Thanks for reading our blogs - we are all excited to get back and share this experience with you all - it's been so awesome!!

Friday, August 23, 2013

Jesus Is A Fisher Of Men

Today we all  kenneled up in our tap tap!!  Sometimes called our play pen!!  We spend a lot of time in there worshiping & bonding with each other and our wonderful guides that take us and watch over us at all times!!  They are such awesome uniquely, wonderful people!  Serving us, being the hands and feet of Jesus in Haiti!!    We rode  to Gertrude's, a home for handicap children, where we spent some time loving, ministering and playing with some children who stole our hearts and as much as we went there to spread joy to them.  There was joy in each of our hearts as we rode away thinking of the joy that was on their faces, as we played with them.
From there we drove down to the Caribbean to play  in the water a little to  cool off, a break on the way.   What a breathe taking beautiful site!!  The water is a bright blue with mountains in the background!  Wow!   While we were there a boat with fisher men put out their net.  And we got to help them  pull it in!!  An experience we will remember forever!!   It was a net just like the nets that the disciples used when Jesus walked by and called out to them to "come and, follow me!"
We then went on our way up the mountain a ways to an outside market to get some food to take to visit the elders!  Some elderly people who Healing Haiti has reached out to help them care for themselves.  We went to  some very simple dwellings. Where we were able to visit and pray and worship with them!!   How truly we are blessed to meet them!!  We have been touched by God as we reach out to touch them!  It was a long hot ride back to the guest house!  But we didn't get stuck in traffic this time!!   The pool was refreshing after the awesome supper served by the Haitian women who take care of us at the house.  They cook us awesome meals and wash our clothes when we need them to, the Haiti hand.   God bless them!!
The sights we see on our journey are etched in our minds and hearts as we ponder on our short time left here!!   We would love to stay longer!!  Stay tuned for lives changed!!  And God's future purpose and vision being fine tuned in all of those who are here on this trip!!  Be patient as we come back into the states with the culture shock of how we just saw life and how we live life in our homes in America!!!   See you all soon!!   We love you!   We love Haiti! 

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Second day, with loving children.

We are here in Haiti, So beautiful.
We started early went to church at 530. We rode the TapTap there. We were all in instant amazement of the beauty of the peoples reckless abandonment for Jesus. They walked up and down the isles singing and praying. One precious old lady, "The Happy Huger", came to us and gave each and everyone of us hugs. It was so sweet how she welcomed us all so warmly and she didn't even know us! We then walked back to the guest house all together. It was a beautiful walk, you could see the mountains in front of you, and beautiful pink flowers on either side growing on the sidewalk walls.
After we got back to the house, We got ready and went to  the home for sick and dying children.

  We got there, we all went to the many rows of cribs, fed our baby we went to and loved on them. It was hard to set down the first baby you went to, to grab a different baby. They love you no matter what. The children here are so excited to see you even just for a moment. The babies were beautiful.
 We went to an orphanage called "Juno's"when we got there we didn't even get out  of the TapTap  and they were grabbing our hands and looking in our eyes to pick a person they were the happiest to see us. we all felt that no one has ever been so excited to see us in our life. the whole time they held on to the person they picked from the start. they are so faithful.  we did  crafts with them and it was so touching they sung songs to us it was beautiful the love they have for people.

"Bumps galore, forever more.
Movement and pacing and friendly faces.
Slow stops to fast stops
To traffic jams and more
Making memories are what TapTaps are for." By Amanda Mickle

True love
From crying babies to sad faces,
We walk in the room and light up there faces,
White or black they don't care all they want is love from somewhere,
Children so innocent caught in the world not knowing whats out there,
Makes me want to help them and find more care. By  Amanda Mickle

Some of us also learned how to salsa dance when we got home. It was amazing. Thank you all for praying, we have been so blessed to come and enjoy this trip.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

First Full Day- Water Truck

Hello Friends!

Our first full day in the beautiful country of Haiti was absolutely amazing!

We got off to a late start because some team members thought we have the same time as back at home. Nope, we are in the Eastern Time Zone. We ate and got ready as quickly as possibly as we anxiously awaited our first day.

We loaded up into the Tap-Tap and were off to the Port-au-Prince Airport with hopes to find Sam's bag. After moving to an offsite storage facility we had her bag in hand within 30 minutes--such a relief. Honestly I see it as such a blessing that we all made it to Haiti with every piece of our luggage and everyone safe and sound!

Leaving the airport, we headed into Cite Soleil where we would be stopping to deliver water. We got stuck in a huge traffic jam--yes much bigger and badder than any Minnesota traffic jam you could probably imagine considering they don't have/follow many traffic laws. An ambulance was also stuck in this traffic. Let that be a lesson not to get hurt unless you would like to sit completely still for over a half hour and then move 50 feet the next.

Driving into Cite Soleil would take your breath away. When you think you've seen the worst, there is still way more to come. As the children saw the Healing Haiti Tap-Tap they would shout "Hey You!" that being the only English they know and would bound after the Tap-Tap. As soon as the Tap-Tap was parked next to the water truck there were children surrounding it. Everyone inside basically jumped down the stairs and children were literally clinging to you. I'm pretty positive everyone on our team had a Haitian child in their arms-- and two or more clinging to them-- within a minute. It was so amazing.

We played with the kids and spoke to them in the horrible, broken Creole and said hello and asked their names. We would throw them in the air and catch them or spin them in circles. Megan and I (Maddie) decided to get a game of Ring-Around-The-Rosie going because we both had too many children to hold on to. The game expanded to include 15+ Haitian children and half of our team. It was great to see the children laugh and even greater to see the team members that I love and care about so much smile so big! I honestly loved every second of it! We then walked with one of our Healing Haiti guides that actually grew up there give us a walk past all the huts and such and out to the ocean. Let me tell you, the walk was very hard emotionally. We were walking over garbage and other things that smelt of something we had never experienced before. We walked by people who looked cautiously at us and saw how they lived. It was hard for me to even know that we come home to a beautiful guest house and they have to stay here. After the long walk filled with songs in both Creole and English and picking up more and more children as we went we had to get back in the Tap-Tap and go. It was absolutely amazing. As Ralph Moy said, it was so frustrating to go away knowing you were going home to something so perfect and had an abundance of food right with you, but knowing we couldn't be sure they even had a roof to sleep under.

The second water truck stop was just as fun and we got to meet the Haitian Initiative soccer teams! They just placed second at a huge World Cup Type tournament in Blaine. Minnesota! It was so cool to be able to talk, in broken English, to these kids and hear what they had to say and to hear about their hopes, dreams, and goals for soccer.

Coming home we were fortunate enough to be able to cool off in a local hotel's pool. That felt so great! We were all covered in dirt and sweat and the pool was the most perfect feeling I could've imagined. But, sitting in that pool I couldn't help but think back to all the kids I held today, and wonder if they are feeling as happy and relaxed as I was at that moment.

Dinner was amazing alfredo! We sat down and had our group meeting and our Word of the Day discussion and it was so cool to hear how God was working in everyone. Mine was Called. I firmly believe God has called me to do Mission work and I am so pumped to see how he shows me for the rest of the week! 

All team members will post more pictures when we go home, but here is one of the team and some kids by the ocean, and one of what our water truck stop looks like!

Tomorrow we are going to the home for Sick and Dying children, Juno's Orphanage in the morning and then in the afternoon Sam, Megan, Kelly, and I have the opportunity to go the wound clinic and hope to help out there and the other half of the group will be playing soccer with the local kids!
Someone will be sure to check in tomorrow!

For now, Ke Bondye Beni'ou (May God Bless You)

Maddie Kosch

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Sports Camp comes to an end!

Sports camp concluded with the Haitian students learning Skateboarding, One Base, Frisbee Golf, Ultimate Frisbee, Four Square, American Eagle, Parachute Extravaganza, Dance, Balloon Juggling, Dress up, Cup Game to music, Soccer, and Wrestling. 

The kids on our team are doing a great job and there is no doubt they are seeing and being challenged each days in ways that are growing and strengthening their faith.  It is very refreshing to see. Therefore, they are determining to be good stewards of the opportunities that present themselves and they pray for when back in the states.

My favorite time of each day has been our evening small group time.  To hear how each one was impacted by the sights, sounds, and experiences has truly been a joy for me.  I have found my heart full and challenged as well each night.

Sports camp has ended and I have found it sort of a relief.  Things worked pretty well, but they definitely didn't go with the kind of interest I thought the students would have in things.  It was very difficult to engage the kids.  Yesterday's game of American Eagle 1,2,3, was probably one of the most unexpected thrills of camp.  The kids all got into the game and it made for a lot of exercise and laughter.
Today we delivered water and saw how the trucks are loaded with water. The Cost to fill the entire truck canister is $5 that's all!

The water truck today was quite an excursion.  I felt like a human jungle gym as I and other worked to entertain the kids as they swarmed the truck and wanted the attention. 

We tried to come up with numerous ways to entertain, and what seemed to work for me was the throwing and lifting of kids.
the kids that are in the streets near our guest house.  We plan to take them on in a quick game of soccer.

God provides yet another wonderful morning of adventure and challenge!

Friday, August 2, 2013

A picture is worth a thousand words, and sometimes more...

When we entered Gertrude's home for the disabled, I have to admit I was afraid.  Afraid of what I might see, afraid of how I might react, and afraid that I would have nothing to offer them.  We spent some time with these kids in a large room where we sang songs, rubbed backs, and held kids large and small.  The kids ranged greatly in the degree of their disability - some with physical challenges and some with mental - some able to move around and some unable to lift their head.  At one point we decided to take some of the kids out to the play area.  That is when I met Gus.  Gus must have been about the age of 13.  He could not speak, and his body was a bit contorted which made it difficult for him to walk.  I motioned to Gus to see if I could take his picture and he smiled.  I quickly showed him his image in the display so he could see what he looked like, and his smile grew even bigger.  That's when Gus decided it was his turn.  I helped him put the camera strap over his head and he was off!  I had prepared to give him a quick tutorial, not really expecting him to catch on, but before I got a chance, he turned the camera on (something most people can't seem to figure out), found the shutter button and started taking pictures.  Gus and I worked as a team as he moved from person to person as quickly as he could, motioning for them to stand still and smile.  After each shot he took, he paused, looked at the camera display, smiled and then showed me.  I imagine he took at least 50 pictures during the time that we had together.

As I watched Gus with the camera around his neck, I saw him stand just a little bit taller.  He stood like a person with authority, power and confidence, perhaps for the first time.  He had found his voice through images - images that he had created himself.
Blessings and love to you all at home,

Chris LaRue

My View From Here

Day 5 in Haiti.   So many experiences and stories to share.   Haiti is like the places you see in a Jason Bourne movie.  Crazy traffic, congestion, kids and people everywhere.  There are dusty, dirty streets and poverty like I've never seen.  There are people standing on every corner.  Kids waiving and saying "Hey You", which is the universal "hi, how you doing" and the hidden hope of, "come and spend some time with me."   I wish we could spend time with each passing boy or girl.  I wonder where they go, and what they do.   The people of Haiti are so proud and love their freedom, even when this freedom caused many of the issues seen today for their city.   Most children are not able to attend school or anything organized which promotes their growth.   It's hard to see.  

My first stare into the lives of the Haitian people was from outside the home I'm staying.   Most homes in the neighborhood have no windows.  Just having a door and a steel roof is a privilege.   There is no green grass or sidewalks, just concrete, rocks and the smells of burning garbage.   I looked more, this time with more intention on the people and their interactions with one another.  Even with the little the Haitian people have, life goes on, and in fact, I saw laughs and smiles.   The neighbor kids love soccer.  They will play it anywhere, and on any surface.   The kids I saw have a small open gravel lot with stumps,  rocks and some garbage mixed in, but it's "game on"!   I watched and marveled at how resourceful these kids are.   No shoes, no goalposts, no grass, just a ball and a willingness to improvise.   In many ways these kids are thinking and using their God given gifts more than our American children.   They are forced to think, move, and react.   There are no electronic devises or other man made thing things pulling them into submission.  It's amazing to see.   

As I observed, I wondered what we would be doing and how we could serve this community.    I wondered how our team could make a difference.  Let me ask you to stop for a minute, and think about how you would answer these questions.   Where you live today, where do the sickest kids go?  How about the mentally and physically disabled?   How about the elderly?  Chances are you have a good answer.   As you can imagine, here in Haiti, there is a tremendous gap for serving these groups.  

Serving the sickest young people in Haiti is where my mission began and is last thought I'd like to share with you tonight.   Early in the week we visited the home for the sick and dying.   There I spent a morning holding and feeding the young kids.   I even changed a dirty diaper, something I hadn't done in a few years.   It was simple, but incredibly important work.   Two important thoughts crossed my mind while at the home of the sick and dying.  First, the place was remarkable.  24hr care for these young people in the poorest country in the world.   Without it there would be infinitely more sadness and despair.  With this place there was hope.  Yes, the four letter word that many people scoff at - HOPE.    I saw it, felt it, and know it exists.   There is great hope for Haiti and her people with places like this and the work of missionaries.  The part we play as Christ Followers is to jump in, love, and serve.   Loving these people has been our mission all week.   

Thank you for supporting us!
Scott Brophy 

Unified by the Power of God's Spirit

"Haiti is hard," said FanFan, one of our beloved Haitian hosts at the guest house of Grace Village, as he saw me alone on the patio partially praying and partially crying.  .....Hard isn't even close to what it has been like to see mile after mile of cobbled together huts of any material their inhabitants can find....even cardboard.  ......Hard can't describe the filth and utter lack of sanitation everywhere.  Hard can't possibly describe the masses of people of all ages sitting idly by with apparently nothing to do.  Hard doesn't describe the incredible absence of any kind of reasonable infrastructure.   And hard DEFINITELY cannot describe the pain of seeing how Isma, an elderly woman, who's "home" needed some new tarps, was living:
             As we approached Isma's "home" we quickly saw the extremely inhumane conditions under which she was living.  There was a square (maybe 6x6) make-shift shack with a patchwork of various old tarps and canvas as walls--most of which were worn to threads from the weather.  Then as we walked up to the shack from the truck, a young boy (maybe 6 years old) walked up and greeted us with a smile which surprised us given that we had been asked to go help an elderly woman. We thought maybe he was from a neighboring shack.  Then, as we came to the front of the shack, we saw Isma- the worn, elderly woman, barefoot and hunched over her fire in a nearby shanty.  She came out to greet us but when she did, her back only slightly straightened from her 90 degree angled stance.  She wore a worn out dress and carried a filthy rag in her hand which she used alternatively to wipe the sweat from her face and to pat her mouth from the drool which inevitably fell from her wrinkled mouth as she was so hunched over.  She clearly didn't understand why we were there at first, but when our young interpreter told her we were there to replace her tarps she groaned a barely audible "merci- merci." 
               No, "hard" does not describe this painful experience.  My eyes immediately welled up with tears of frustration and anger that an elderly woman would be allowed to live this way.  But the worst was when we peered inside to figure out how we would secure the tarps to the dilapidated structure.  What we saw inside made us shudder:  a dirt floor, a pile of junk in a corner, a purse strung from the "roof" full of who knows what, a covered 5 gallon bucket of water with a single cup on top, and worst of all a small 2' x 4' metal frame with rags on it as a bed.  And on top of that "bed" an approximately 4 year old child sound asleep; bare naked on the bottom with a tattered shirt on the top.  So these kids are under the care of this woman!  "How can it be?" we wondered.  Asking the 6 year old where his mama is, he points to the elderly woman.  How about Dad?  "He's gone."  Nowhere did we see any food in this shack.
              No, "hard" does not describe the depth of pain. So where is the hope?  Where is the beauty?  Where is the goodness?  God, who is not deaf or blind to these awful conditions feels her pain and has sent the Healing Haiti organization to help her (which is why we are there to replace the tarps).  In His mercy, he demonstrated to those of us who were there to help, that he can connect us through His spirit to matter how different they are from us or how different their circumstances are from ours.  We are bound together through the spirit of Christ.   As I embraced Isma, I could sense the Holy Spirit connecting us.  Then we all placed our hands on her shoulders and Trent prayed for her, while Sue (our team leader) held her hands.  At the end she didn't want to let go of Sue's hand and she bowed low with tears flowing.  Sue began to sing a simple song in Creole speaking of the love of Christ and Isma repeated the words herself.   That is beauty.  That is goodness.  And that brings hope.

Isma is only one in a sea of Haitians living under these circumstances.  The Healing Haiti organization is performing Herculean efforts to help and is making significant progress in correcting the injustice for those who suffer: both young and old.  A well-run orphanage with dormitories, a new school where 350 children attend (only approximately 55% of Haitian children go to school), a feeding program for the elderly, and a new clinic that will open in the fall. 
By bringing all these teams to Haiti, the Healing Haiti organization is awakening the sleeping giant of the church (in the collective use C.S. Lewis' terms) to be the hands and feet of Jesus.

Thank you God for unifying us with these people through the Holy Spirit.
Rebekah Hagstrom

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Broken to see the Broken (*shout out to Chris LaRue)

First of all we would all like to say sorry for the delay, things have been a little crazy around here! Chris, Rachel and I learned many lessons on our little side-track route, emphasizing the fact that the mission doesn't start at the destination. The mission begins from the moment you make the decision to follow where God has called you, hopefully touching and inspiring others in your path. The detour in Miami wasn't in the plan, but who are we to think we would be able to comprehend and have any control over God's ultimate plan? As frustrating as it may be, we just have to have faith and closure in the unknowing, which is kind of exciting! We definitely made the best of it!

Turning the control of your life over to God can be hard. We can feel tempted to control our own situation, the way we think it should be or what we're used to, even though we know we have no real say anyway. It's something I try to turn over to God on a daily basis, but when you actually feel no sense of control for yourself or your situation, it's called blind-faith. That's what we chose to name our experience in the Port-Au-Prince Airport yesterday. Through hundreds of people we were pushed and grabbed at, being told at times to follow and at others to stay. Keep in mind the language barrier, and how very different Creole is from English. We had no idea where we were going, who we were supposed to be looking for, or what anybody was saying. I can't fully describe the feeling, but how we managed to meet someone from Healing Haiti, after an hour of being mislead and uncertain, was all due to blind-faith. After getting in the pick-up truck, we were given what seemed like a hundred mile-per-hour tour of the city, as cars, trucks and motorcycles weaved in and out of each other as I can only describe as organized chaos. We laughed hysterically as we snapped as many pictures as we could (soon to come). There seem to be absolutely no laws pertaining to driving, as people are stuffed in the back of pick-up trucks, hanging off the back, and stacked on top of motorcycles. We passed dozens of men and women carrying a variety of objects casually on their head, from blocks of ice to baskets of fruit. The "roads" are completely destroyed and better described as large boulders, holes and gravel thrown together in an unfathomable transportation arrangement. We saw people of all ages along every street, next to stands where they sold whatever they had to offer. After what seemed like days, we were reunited with our beautiful group who had spent the day offering their services through "water therapy" for children with special needs, and basic care for children at the Home for Sick and Dying. We re-grouped with an extended dinner, devotional, and preparation for the next few days of Sports Camp at Grace Village. 

Today was the first day of camp, and we all shared feelings of excitement and apprehension. Driving through the country, seeing people living their daily life in suffering was heart-breaking, and overwhelming. It's difficult to see so many people in such great need, but know that there's only so much a single individual can do at one time. That feeling of helplessness quickly adjusted to inspiration as we pulled up to Grace Village Orphanage. You could hardly get out of the "tap-tap" (our super cool transportation device) without having a child cling to your arm or hold your hand. They weren't looking at our differences, they already loved us without even knowing us. The sports camp begun immediately with dancing and worship. The village Pastor Wesley lead in praise as both American and Haitian voices followed together, in both languages - it was beautiful. After that we distributed shirts to represent age groups, and the activities began! Skateboarding was a major hit, since these children had never seen anything like it. They were in utter amazement, and it was so great to see their desire to learn. Dancing was a success with girls of all ages, who dressed up in tutu's and sparkles, learning some of our dance moves, and teaching some of their own. We had stations for pre-schoolers and kindergardeners, who were fascinated by chalk and bubbles. As well as other sport demos like baseball and kite-flying! Children of all ages (ranging from a couple months to 19 years) were so happy to meet us, learn our name, and hug us - even though we never got to carry out a full conversation. The pure joy and love these children have completely engulfs you,  and I only wish I could bring as much positive perspective into their life as they're bringing into mine.
It was time to go, and we all said our hard good-byes to the kids, promising we'd see them tomorrow, when we looked down to see our Tap-Tap had a flat tire (not very shocking considering the road situation). The point we chose to focus on was that this flat tire could have happened anywhere, but it happened here at the Grave Village Orphanage and of course we didn't hesitate to take the opportunity to spend more time with the kids! So we went back to hair-braiding, soccer playing, and ukulele worship singing. A little while later, a group of us was asked to assist Healing Haiti in repairing a local hut and help distribute food to sick and dying elders in the area. Driving up through the huts made of tarp and sticks was a hard sight, but we knew as a team that we'd have to hold it together, show respect, and help with whatever needed to be done. The home was roughly 4'x6', dirt floor, a wooden crate for a single bed, and literally falling apart at the seams. The "family" included an extremely elderly woman, and two young boys. The boys were probably 4 and 6 years old, wearing dirty, holy clothes, and swarmed by flies. Although, that didn't effect their naturally gorgeous skin and eyes. You could see that this elderly woman, who should be taken care of due to her age and physical condition, was solely responsible for these two young boys. It was incredibly painful to see, but she looked so peaceful and grateful as she wept. We held her hands and prayed over her, wishing we didn't have to leave her in these seemingly unfair conditions.

It was a quite ride back from the village in the Tap-tap as we took time to reflect, we were all exhausted mentally and physically. I can't say how grateful I am to be here, and for this amazing team I'm lucky enough to be a part of. Devotionals at the end of the day have been one of my favorite parts, as we all get a chance to vulnerably speak about what meant the most to us individually throughout the day. I'm inspired and encouraged for the days to come! Thank you all again for your support!

Love, Lauren

Sports Camp: Day 1 & 2

We are failing miserably as bloggers - that's your opinion as well, I suspect!.  Everyone on the team was originally intending to tell parts of their days Tuesday, but folks got to tired all to my surprise come this morning.  Therefore, you were all left with no word for the day.  As a result,today's message will be filled the teams contributions you have our word.
I will start with the children from Gertrude Orphanage.  Tuesday morning we (Jackson, Trey, Anders, Ryan, Ben, Gary, and I) met 7 children that were transported from the truck they came into to a pool to do physical therapy in a pool. The young lady I was assigned to was named Willyssia. She drooled on me in the mouth right from the start and her breath nearly knocked me off my feet. I asked God for tolerance for the breath and to help me love her beyond that barrier and he quickly enabled me to become blind and without scent. I moved right along to finding the ability to help her exercise her muscles by working on standing erect, and walking in the water.  This carried on for over an hour and a half and before you knew it we had become close friends and included some new found games in the water that enabled all of our exercise to disguise itself in jumping off ledges, making motor, sounds and finding ways to make her squeal in joy. Thanks God for your ideas and power in the water.

by Trent
    Later that day, we made our way over to Grace Village Orphanage. Upon arrival we were swarmed with kids, greeting and grabbing our hands looking for a new friend to interact with. After a short time with the kids our team was ushered into one of the classrooms, where we had a meet and greet with the teachers from Grace Village. These teachers will be assisting us, as we begin the sports camp session of the trip. The teachers were amazing and their passion for sports and Christ was obvious! We really have ASSEMBLED (word of the day) a great group of loving and passionate Christ followers as our camp staff. However we were still unsure as to how well the first day of sports camp would go over on

by Trey

Wednesday: Day 1 of Camp
    As we arrived at Grace Village for our first day of sports camp, the kids were overflowing with excitement and energy.  We started off by gathering as a large group and worshipping God.  Skits were also performed by our team to help share the gospel in a fun way!  Pastor Wesley was a very exuberant singer and the songs we sang with him gave me the chills.  Just worshipping with all those kids, a lot of whom were making an effort to sing in English, in a place like Haiti as one team for Christ was just amazing.  We all were worshipping the same God and had the same love for Him.  After large group, we attempted to split the kids up by age so we could begin the activities we had planned.  I say "attempted" because, well, it was pretty chaotic at first!!  Eventually we got things figured out and the kids were skateboarding, learning and playing baseball, doing arts and crafts, and dancing (the Macarena).  After all the activities and sports were done, our team got ready to leave in the top-top, only to find out it had a flat tire!  This only gave us more time to hang out with the kids.  I enjoyed playing soccer, basketball, football, and just talking with and holding all the kids.  Also, there was lots of laughing.  Every time I was with a kid who laughed or smiled, I couldn't help but smile and laugh with them because of there overflowing joy.  A great day in all.

By: Jackson