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

Monday, July 29, 2013

Hello my fellow listeners - tonight we have no photos to go along with our wonderful narrative - read on to find out why.
We are grateful for the landing of our plane, once extremely smooth at the Miami Airport, and a bit rougher in Haiti.  In the Miami airport we enjoyed a team meal at a sit down restaurant and did some final prep work for pushing through customs.  Of course those of you familiar with the normal routine of things here in Titanyan it was rather normal and uneventful, we got to our guest house and things went wonderfully well in the travel process.  We filled our Tap Tap, caged in truck, with 17 people and 39 luggage bags.  Which made for some fun positions and close quarters.  Nevertheless, we made it to the house in about 20 minutes, traveling at about 5 to 18 miles per hour over some incredibly rocky and undulating pseudo roads.
The unexpected troubles all came about in the airports we were in.  First in the Miami Airport, Rachel and Lauren Larue were stopped at the gate as we were boarding the plane 38 minutes prior to take off with a problem. While the rest of the passengers were waiting for take off the two young ladies were being told they we unable to make the next leg of the trip because the plane had been over booked and their tickets were the ones that were chosen ass the sacrificial lambs.  After about 20 minutes of holding up the take off American Airlines determined that they would not be able to take the next flight out and they would have to join the team the next evening.  That caused a third member of the team, Chris Larue, to join them for some older wiser counsel as they determined the next best course of action, securing the earliest flight for Tuesday morning (which has now been determined as a noon).
Trial number two: When getting through customs and awaiting our luggage we were unable to locate four of our luggage bags and waited another hour  and a half just to try all our best detective work, all to no avail.  In addition, one of our key players Dobee Narloch, had earlier, in Mpls, checked one of her carry on bags to make room for folks that wouldn't have enough space for their carry on (very kind gesture). Nevertheless, this act of kindness was soon taken advantage of as she received her piece of luggage back in Haiti, the one carrying our teams camera (her own camera), just to find out IT and a few other things were stolen.  Therefore, no camera... except a few phones.
Needless to say, there was some unexpected discouragement that floated around the group due to our circumstances at the airport. However, we ended the night with some wonderful worship thanks to Scott Brophy and his incredible selection of praise songs all with words typed up and packets for each of us, not to mention a wonderful mini speaker that enabled us to sing along to the real worship tune at a robust volume. God was definitely honored tonight as we lifted his name to the heights.
Lord willing the Larues will reach us tomorrow, and our excitement will continue as God guides our way.  Our plan it to willingly lay down our own will and pick up His again tomorrow.  Sleep well - I finally need to get to sleep as everyone else is in bed, I just felt like someone should fill the group that is keeping tabs on us and steadily in prayer up to date on our day.

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Packed Skateboards today

Took time this afternoon to pack up skateboards, helmets, trucks, etc.  The 3rd Lair Skatepark and The House have been very supportive in helping get our skate supplies in order.

The Haiti Sports Camp team (17 of us) heads to the airport at 3AM tonight (Monday morning).. yikes!

Attached a couple of pics from today's packing time. (Pete, Roger and Annie helped ... they will not be in Haiti)  Thanks for your prayers this week


Saturday, July 27, 2013

Healing Haiti Sports Camp Team Nears Departure

The (inaugural) Healing Haiti Sports Camp Team is just one day from departure! We are finishing up our last bits of packing and our imaginations run wild as to what it will really be like and what adventures God has for us in Haiti. As we have shared our hearts with each other during our times of preparation, I have heard over and over how grateful we are. Grateful to have the privilege of going, grateful for the financial/equipment support and encouragement of others, grateful for the spouses and kids in our homes who are praying and sacrificing to make this all work.

We will meet at the airport at 3:45am Monday morning (July 29) and return on Monday night (Aug 5). We have gathered lots of sports equipment and have many ideas and plans for engaging the children
of Grace Village to a variety of sports and activities. We hear rumors that it is really hot there in July, so please continue to pray for us each day!

Be sure to follow this blog for daily updates. Each evening one or two of us on the team will post thoughts from our day. It will be a way to fuel your prayers and stay in touch with the team.

Blessings, Dobee

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Thoughts from the VBS Camp Team :)

Hello supporters and readers alike!  Today we will be commenting on our day as a complete team, unifying our thoughts just as we have unified together over these past few days.

Things that have suprised us...
-A new snack called kaskav bread.  A harder, large 'flatbread' with delicious nutrients, seeds
-A new fruit kenip.  It's so good and fun to eat.  The children loved it for a snack!!
-That we can survive in the Haitian heat.

Moments of inspiration and awe...
-A baby girl from The Home Sick and Dying Babies matching pitch to songs being sung to her.  She would sweetly watch the person singing
-The pure joy that the Haitians have despite having nothing.
-The Haitian children singing praises to God.  It's a glimpse of angels singing in heaven.
-Worship at the 6:00 Haitian church.
-Pastor Wesley's connection with the children and God.
-Children being so excited to be OUR teachers.  I know many new words!

Humorous tales...
-Watching our interpreters dance a jig with the kids during the game time at VBS.
-A child laughing so hard when swinging that she snorted.
-Maxim's ability to get us everywhere alive :) ...and Wilson's ability to cope with sceaming women :)

Typical in Haiti...
-Honking while driving is simply a courtesy to other drivers that you are coming. (A constant sound on the roads)
-Getting a hug from anyone you meet
-Uninhibited love of Jesus
-Beautiful children yelling HEY YOU! to get our attention

Friday, July 12, 2013

Day 3 of Grace Village VBS

Hello friends and family! 

         We had another great and busy day in Haiti. Our theme at VBS was about Lazarus being raised from the dead and God being all that we need in life. We were again amazed to hear the children singing their hearts out to God and reciting verses by memory. It is so rewarding to spend time with such joyous and appreciative kids! 

          After wrapping up VBS and getting a taste of Haitian culture at the local market, we all had a challenging yet rewarding afternoon. Half of the group went to The Home for Sick and Dying babies, while the other half went to Gertrude's, an orphanage for children with special needs. At The Home for Sick and Dying Babies, we found joy in helping feed and change the babies while at Gertrurdes, the children enjoyed tastes of suckers and wheel chair races.  
       We ended our great day with Haitian tacos and some great conversation ( With 11 ladies, you know it was a good hour or two of chatting).  We are excited to see what tomorrow holds for us.

Kelli and Nikki

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Sowing Good Seeds

We started our day bright and early to attend the local tent worship service.  What an awesome experience as we joined the Haitians worshiping our great God!  We sure could feel the Holy Spirit's Presence!  Watching the Haitians worship really helped us see worship in a whole new light.  This  made us think about how conservative we are in our worship as they worship so freely.  It was a beautiful experience. They praise God with the most valuable item they own - their VOICES!

After another great breakfast, we headed to Grace Village for Day 2 of VBS!  Those sweet little children were waiting for us all decked out in their colorful VBS shirts ready for school. Every day begins with powerful worship with Pastor Wesley- and boy can those kids sing! The theme of our lesson was about planting good seed in good soil (Matthew 13:1-9, 18-23).  After the large group lesson, the children rotated to dancing games, small group bible study and a craft project.  The children were so excited as they planted a flower seed in the pots they decorated.  We ended with amazing worship and prayer.

The afternoon was spent at Isaiah's Orphanage blowing bubbles, jumping rope and drawing with sidewalk chalk.  Such simplicity left an overwelming impact on everyone.  God was present in every smile.  On the way back to the guest house, we honored the remembrance of those lost in the 2010 earthquake at the Mass Grave Site. It was a humbling reminder of the brevity of life and the grace of God to carry on.  We sure can learn a lot from our Haitian friends - in hardship they press into God!

Mary, Kristy and Carol

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Serving Day 1

Alo (Hello) from Chelsea and Caitlin :)

Today was our first full day of serving at Grace Village, what an amazing place!  We started our day with an amazing breakfast from our fabulous Haitian cooks- scrambled eggs, pancakes and oatmeal all in the same meal- yum :)

Every time we travel from place to place, we take a 'tap tap' which is an adventure ride in real life!  Outside our window we see women carrying heavy loads on their heads, sweet baby faces yelling "Hey you!" and smiling brightly, honking horns to announce when they would like to pass, and street vendors selling coal, gasoline and fresh fruit.  

Once we made it to Grace Village, we were greeted by happy children, ready to hear about Jesus!  We have an amazing team at Healing Haiti who works together beautifully.  Together, we taught 50 Haitian orphans about King Solomon and his lesson of wisdom verses knowledge.  We decorated little treasure chests as the craft and had fun with water games- woohoo!

After a quick lunch in the tap-tap we were headed to the elders homes.  These 4 people we visited are left vulnerable by their age and lack of resources, but blessed by sponsors.  We were able to wash their feet and hands, and rub lotion on them, offering warmth and prayers to people who have little human contact in their days.

Both of us have been in complete awe of the peace the people of Haiti have even though they face more immediate dangers each day than we can comprehend.  They have joy in their faces and in their hearts, loving Christ when they have nothing and are living in a tent.  Each night we have come home completely exhausted, but so filled with the spirit.  

Tomorrow we are leading the VBS lesson, woohoo!  

Bon nwit (good night) from the Sisters, Chelsea and Caitlin :)

Our 'tap tap'!!

Our Ride on the 'tap tap'

Where we have our large group and worship every day at Grace Village!

Olfane was one of the elders that we had the pleasure to visit with today!

Our treasure chest boxes were so beautiful!  The children are such artists!

Wilson and Chelsea on the 'tap tap'!  We were so lucky to have him show us around!

One of the many sweet faces we are able to see everyday!

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Arriving in Haiti

Hello Family and Friends,
        We have arrived in Haiti!  We got to the guest house at about 5pm.  After enjoying our first bumpy ride in the Tap Tap.  The driving here is a bit different than in Minnesota:) We made it just in time to eat a great dinner made by our Haitian staff.  We spent the evening preparing for our week of vacation bible school and settling in.  We are so excited to see what God has in store for us in the days ahead.  Tomorrow will be a busy first full day in Haiti.  We will start the day out with meeting the children from Grace Village and teaching them their first day of vacation bible school.  In the afternoon, we will be visiting 6 elders, bringing them lunch and lots of company.  Please keep us in your thoughts and prayers as we journey ahead.

Kelli and Nikki