Saturday, December 20, 2014

Hello after our Saturday adventures in Haiti. The team expressed what a good day it was to bond with each other as we had a less frantic pace. We visited our last orphanage in the morning at one that isn't frequented by many groups. We arrived with the children all dressed in their finest for their annual Christmas party. This was the largest of the orphanages we visited outside of Grace Village, as we brought gifts for 35. We commented how it seemed as though the kids were not used to visitors as they didn't smile easily for pictures and they didn't even seem to know how to open their presents as if maybe they had never received any before. We did the story of the The Three Trees again, and the kids seemed to enjoy, as Patrick translated with his usual charisma. They opened their presents and we did the Salvation bracelets again and gave them Christmas cookies home-made from Minnesota, and the kids colored and did bubbles and the tried blowing bubble gum. They made us feel so loved as they absorbed all the love we could show them and were always reaching for us and loving us all the more. Precious memories...for us...and we hope a very special Joyeux Noelle party for them.       Next we headed by Tap-tap up the mountain to try and buy some souvenirs along the roadside to bring back reminders of our precious time here. We found many items that we will cherish and share. We continued up to the top of the mountain to a perfect stop for lunch, eating outdoors with a view overlooking the valley below and Port au Prince  and, far in the distance, the hills of Titanyen and Grace Village. We had 3 guides, Patrick, Emanuel, and Valerie{a great young man}, and our leader Gates, whom we all got to talk with and learn more about, while eating goat, some chicken and even some French fries. After the emotional first 5 days this felt like a transition day to us, as tomorrow is our last day here. We then enjoyed a night of pizza and fellowship, compliments of Latitudes, a philanthropic organization we were please to become acquainted with and impressed by. Some definite damp eyes and breaking hearts as we reviewed our week so far...and everyone is sad to leave and everyone promises to return.

Friday, December 19, 2014

Wednesday December 17, 2014
On Wednesday we got the opportunity to spend a few hours at Mother Teresa's Home for Sick and Dying. Our team split up into two different groups of service. Half of the team got to hold and pray for the babies who were sick. It was a very emotional experience for a lot of our team members watching these babies lying in their beds struggling to breathe of even to smile. The rest of the team got to clean out the rooms where the babies lived. This spot was definitely an opportunity for huge amounts of service.
Later that day we got the go to the Apparent Project. This place was started by an American woman looking to help Haitian families stay together through more job opportunities. This program provides jobs to 300 Haitians and also provides childcare for the parents to leave their children at while they work. Some of the jobs include painting, making beads, steel work, ect. Some of the items they made were available in a boutique that we got to buy from.

Thursday December 18, 2014
On Thursday we got the opportunity to go to the Mass Graves located in Titanyen. On January 12, 2010, Haiti experienced an earthquake that took thousands of lives. This Mass Grave is where the Haitians decided to bury the bodies because there were so many. There is a memorial being built on top of the grave to honor the lives lost and serve as an opportunity for the families of the lost to come celebrate lives. We got to pray over the grave for the country of Haiti and for families still mourning.
We then got to go feed the elders who are sponsored by Healing Haiti. We visited Marie, Meme, Pierre, and Marcia. We brought them hot Haitian food, washed their feet, painted the ladies toe nails, sang for them, and prayed over them for their families, community, and health. It felt so very humbling to be able to do that.
We then went up to Grace Village where we brought medical supplies for the clinic, took a tour of the place, played with kiddos, and loved on the four little new boys. We also got the opportunity to help feed the Grace kids lunch through the lunch program.
Our last stop was Shalom's orphanage in Titanyen. We got to deliver to the kids a Christmas gift. We read them the story of "The Three Trees". They were very attentive and seemed to learn a lesson from it. We made salvation bracelets and then we said our goodbyes for the day.

Friday December 19, 2014
Sadly, today was our very last water truck day. We went to sites 17 and 26. Again, like every water truck day, we were broken by what we saw. Whether it be holding kids, playing games, holding the water hose, or carrying buckets, everyone on the team was touched.
We then went to La Farre orphanage to deliver Christmas presents, bring Christmas cookies, read "The Three Trees", and make salvation bracelets. This orphanage was especially fun because we got to sing with the kids. That orphanage sure does have some fun people:)
Our last stop today was Gertrude's special needs orphanage. This place is full of a variety of kiddos. What a blessing these kids were to so many of us. They all have huge smiles and their own personality about them. We feel especially thankful for this place because it brought these children new hope which they otherwise would not have had.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Haiti-Day 1 of Outreach (Dec. 15-22)

Tuesday December 16, 2014

Today was our first day of outreach in Haiti. This was the first of two water truck days. We made three stops, all in Cite Soleil. The children we got to encounter blessed us with so much love. We were able to learn more about the culture by seeing the Haitians live there everyday life, including the way they love. When we got off the truck at each stop all the children stormed us chanting "hey you". What a beautiful sound it was to be able to hear Gods children open to receive our love. Please pray for our team to have strength and courage to step out of our comfort zones. Pray for hearts to continue to be bold with love.

                                            Love from Haiti,

Checking in from Haiti

We made it!!

Our day started at 4:30 yesterday morning. The first flight of the day left at 6:00 am. We caught three flights total today. Just like last year, we ended up having to leave one of our behind in Wichita Falls. She'll be joining us today though. 

We joined with two others in our team (from Kentucky and Minnesota) and boarded to head to Haiti. There are nine of us total (not counting the long-term missionaries.) There is also a girl from Pennsylvania. 

Once we landed in Haiti, we met up with our peeps outside of the airport and loaded up in the top-top to head to the guesthouse. We're the only team this week so we get all the translators!! Two long-term missionaries with Healing Haiti will also be journeying with us this week. 

Today we were supposed to Cite Soleil but it was too dangerous today so we'll do it later. Instead we'll be going to the Apparent Project, Home for Sick and Dying, and Getrude's. 

Monday, December 15, 2014

Dear Child ...

This week I blessed you with my most precious children. You may look at them with sadness, but in heaven, they are princes and princesses - couldn't you see it in their eyes? Each day as they endure the fallen world in Haiti, I walk with them. Many times, I scoop them up and carry them on my shoulders, I gently kiss their dirty faces, and hold them tightly. As I let go and send them back to their mission field, I smile, pat their heads and I hold back tears of pride. Their perseverance and strength blesses me. They are called to do my work unlike my other children, they have hearts to break for me!

I am writing to thank you for enriching their spirit for me - my hand through yours, my smile through yours, my voice through yours. I ache for the day when you will all be in my arms together…however, you may need to help them carry their crowns as their jewels will be so heavy.

Press on my child,


Do small things with GREAT love!

Simply About People

Yesterday was our "last" day of service work in Haiti, and today is the day we travel back home. We just got done with a devotion, and it wrapped the week up so well. Yesterday we went to service at Grace Church. It was just beautiful the way the Haitian people worship. They sing at the top of their voices; the kids were their singing just as loud (they had been their since early in the morning as well). During service the kids dispersed to who ever would hold them; I got to hold my little buddy Eddy the entire time. After worship we headed to what turned out to be one of the most eye opening experiences of this trip, General Hospital. It took a long while to get into the hospital, but as soon as we did we were immersed into a dimly lit room that was home to all sorts of people that were suffering or dying from a wide range of different ailments. We moved through the hospital praying and handing out gift bags. The hospital seemed to be the epitome of hopelessness. There were people there that couldn't afford the care they needed, as well as people who were so sick their skin took on a whitish tint. One of the best things though, not a single person denied our prayers. Each and every person accepted our prayers, even though most of the prayers were in English and they couldn't understand them. The hospital opened our eyes to see that even in one of the worst parts of these peoples lives, they still accepted God in the form of a prayer (Amen).

Today is our day of travel, we just wrapped up a devotion that held a lot of good insight. All week long people have been saying they feel like we have not been "doing" anything. After this last devotion I think we all left with a full understanding that these trips are not about the projects or the things we build. They are simply about the people. If we did not come here to do these trips these kids would never get held they would not get to experience the love God gives them through us. These kids deserve to be loved, and see and learn about Jesus. These trips are people focused, and they definitely make a difference in the lives of the Haitian people. I believe that through these trips and Healing Haiti the Kingdom of God is growing. I thank the Lord for allowing me to be able to be apart of this trip, and I look forward to my next one.

Friday, December 12, 2014

Saturday ... a day of Blessings

Saturday in Haiti. What another wonderful day here in Haiti. We spent the day with so many blessings. The first stop of the day was to Grace village were we split up our team one team in the feeding center where we set up and did Christmas ornaments with the children.  The other half of the team went to work on the Library building and putting up shelving and books. What a blessing this will be to the area. Imagine what a gift something as simple as a book can be to someone with no opportunity around them.  Getting to work side by side with the Haitians  and friends was a true blessing.  We picked up three beautiful young women from the transition house.  This is their own house where three older teens live.  A place to prepare them for living on their own, learning life skills like cooking cleaning and decision making.  We taught them the game of charades en route, and had a great time.  They were being paid to cook dinner for our team at the guest house as we went up to the lookout to see the view of Port-au-Prince. Awesome views.

The highlight of the day was not in the views or service, but in something as simple as talking with the young ladies whom prepared a wonderful dinner. Throughout the trip and the evening meal the girls were extremely shy not saying much or responding to questions. They would be spending the night in some empty rooms.  We had a few hrs to talk.  My daughter  was the person of the group they were hanging out with because she was the closest in age.  I was acting as interpreter between them. It was   a challenging time at first because my daughter was as quite as they were.  I decided to ask them how their life is.  I learned how they lived while not at school and what their dreams where.  Slowly they were opening up. We were able to bond and build a relationship as I told them how to forgive others, what a blessing it is to be able to smile at someone and receive a smile in return, personal stories and examples of  how forgiveness and helping others is what God asks us to do.  He will bless us with friendship and love from others. These beautiful ladies have gone through so much more than you or I can ever imagine.  I was so privileged and blessed to have spent this time with them.  Thank you God for Three new friends.  May you bless them throughout their lives.

~ John

Grace Library Takes Shape

Library at Grace School was a seed planted in my heart back in March 2013……so awesome to see this God size dream come true for the staff and students at Grace School in December 2014!
The last 4 days our Haitian friends and our team members have worked hard putting shelves together.
So exciting to see the books being placed on the shelves.  Next step to get the books into the hands of the students……I say to my students back home…"Books can take you anywhere you want to go!"

The pictures below:  5200 French Books being shipped to Minnesota from "Books for Haiti" in CA (Oct 2013)
6000 French Books processed and ready to be shipped to Haiti from Minnesota (June 2014)
Grace Library, Everybody Section completed and Fiction Section almost completed (December 2014)

Want to thank Jesus for this amazing journey…..who would of every thought that a girl from Minnesota, who doesn't know how to speak French could set up a complete library in Haiti…..only God could do that……!!

God Bless,
Ann Spinner

Staff Appreciation

Every day has been an endless blessing. Throughout the week the staff have prepared our meals, driven the cars and cleaned the house. This morning we had an opportunity to repay them with a staff appreciation breakfast. While we were preparing the food one of the ladies who worked in the house came over early and started doing the laundry. My dad explained to her what we were doing and invited her to help me learn French instead. For over two hours she smiled and tried to teach me phrases. It truly showed me her value of relations, not just between us, but also between her and God. The first thing she did was teach me how to say Jesus loves me. As the day went on it was easy to observe the strong faith and light that shined in each of them as they sang after breakfast, but what I was most taken back by was how they included us in it and made us see the light in ourselves. I was easy to see why the lady I had talked to earlier valued relationships the way she did. With these bonds she was able to bring people into a family, letting us all know God better.

~ Jacqueline

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Cite Soleil ... Words Cannot Describe

Yesterday we delivered water in Cite Soleil, a place that even to write the words brings tears to my eyes, it is truly indescribable. A smelly city of garbage, filth, and depravity that is home to tens of thousands of Gods children. People who did not ask to be born there and have no hope of escape. While we delivered water, the children ran to us and jumped into our arms, hungry for a hug and a smile. Their dark eyes sparkled with joy at our visit. But as our time came to go, we gave one last hug, and peeled them out of our arms, we had to watch helplessly as they ran off down the road, back to their prison of hopelessness. Last evening, when I returned to the Guest House, I wished I had never experienced Cite Soleil - the situation is so dire. Healing Haiti, I wondered, how can this place ever be healed? it is impossible!

However, today I learned what will change this place, LOVE. God has infused special people with a vision of hope and His love to change Haiti.
Some of the examples of Gods stewards we were blessed to visit today:
The Home for the Sick and Dying Babies is a beautiful place that cares for babies when they are ill. It may seem as though we were the ones giving when we held, fed and played with the babies, but truly, we were far more blessed after meeting them. 
In Haiti, many of the mothers can not care for their children and in desperation, give them up for adoption. The Parent Project is an amazing ministry that employs over 200 mothers so that they do not have to give their babies away. The mothers make jewelry and other artwork while their babies stay at the onsite daycare. During their workday, the moms take computer classes to learn Microsoft Word, Excel, and typing. They even use Rosetta Stone to learn to speak english, giving them a hopeful future!
We were also blessed to visit Gertrude's, a home for special needs children, while others on our team helped assemble shelving for a library. 

There is hope for Haiti through Gods amazing Love!

~ Tracy

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Service with Haiti Teen Challenge

This morning we took a visit to the Haiti Teen Challenge and I (Kyle) gave my testimony to the guys there, it was hard to try to edit the testimony so that it would be easier for the translator. I also had to pause so that he could repeat what I said and I had to change some of the words I used. I feel like I didn't get to express what I wanted to say but God will use it. We got a tour of the building and it's good to know that Haiti has a place for these guys who are struggling with addictions. A few of the men there came with us to work with the water trucks in Cite Soleil. On the way there, I saw there was a guy in the back of a trailer tied by his neck. One of the Teen Challenge guys told me that the man was arrested and that's why he was tied up. We went to three different stops in Cite Soleil. I already had a pretty good idea of what to expect so I was pretty well mentally prepared for anything but it still had a much more profound affect on me by experiencing it first-hand. As soon as we got out of the truck, the kids would flock to us and want to be held. About half of the kids were entirely naked and there was garbage everywhere. One of the child's mom motioned for me to take her child. I'm assuming it was because she wanted a better future for her child. This probably is what had the biggest impact on me. At the first stop we got to see the site prepared for a church/school plant. We sang and prayed over the area. On the third stop there was a little boy probably 5 years old who had a soccer ball and we kicked it around for a while. The ball was completely covered in dirt and not fully inflated but he really enjoyed playing anyways. Online you can buy these soccer balls with scriptures written in creole on them and I wanted to bring one but they were sold out. Maybe another time we can make that happen. Everybody came back really tired and ready for dinner. The Teen Challenge guys that helped us stopped over to the guest house to have dinner with us. We had this really good stir fry with noodles, peppers, onions, chicken and rice. I was very pleased to see Sriracha hot sauce on the table. My word of the day would have to be "need". There's just such a huge need for everything from food, water, education, clothing, and shelter that you feel hopeless to make a big enough difference. I guess all we can do is our part, spread awareness, then pray that the Lord will provide.

~ Kyle

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Last night I asked God to “Break my heart for what breaks yours” and today He did exactly that.
Today was filled with emotions for our team.  Our first stop was Home for Sick and Dying Children.  We brought with us diapers/wipes donations to give.  When we arrived, the children were filled with joy and smiles and reached their arms out to be held.  Being my first trip to Haiti, it was really hard to see in person the conditions these children are in.  All I wanted to do was take away their pain, hold them forever, and tell them that they are loved, unconditionally.  Every person on our team had a moment with one or several babies that they’ll never forget.  I had a hard time holding back the tears, but I also had a hard time not smiling! What an experience.
Next stop was General Hospital.  This, too, was an experience I will never forget.  Walking in, my heart sank.  This was not your typical hospital.  Families come to the hospital with their own supplies for their sick children and wait around for a doctor’s assistance.  Here, we passed out care passages (snacks, goodies, and essential needs) for the sick patients and loved up the kiddos.  One of our translators brought his guitar along to play and sing worship songs.  It was amazing to see some of the people clapping and singing along!  There were also a few children here who were abandoned by their parents.  God touched my heart (and I’m sure everyone else’s on the team) when I met a little boy who was left at the hospital by his parents.  When I met him, he was all smiles and full of positive energy, such a reality check.
Four members of our team went to the Wound Clinic to help clean and bandage sores for people in need of aid.  Almost all the wounds were severe.  What a blessing to have those members volunteer to help!  The rest of the team went to Port-Au-Prince and the top of the mountain to shop around and get some goodies.  The view from the top was absolutely beautiful!  It was great to take a moment to see God’s beautiful creation, and thank Him for an amazing, eye opening day.
We are excited for the day tomorrow, water truck and Gertrude’s.  Every day is a new experience and a blessing to be a part of!

Sarah colberg

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Today was our teams first day serving in Haiti. We started the day with a stop at a school called Elder school. It was so fun to watch the kids in the classrooms they liked waving to us and having their pictures taken. Even though the school is nothing like we have at home the kids were so excited to be there and made us realize how much of a privilege education is to these kids.

Next we did our first of three water delivery stops in City Solei. As soon as we arrived people came with their buckets to get their water. The best part for most of us was having the little ones to hold. They would just run up to us, throw their hands up and knew that someone would pick them up. It seems so sad that they just need to be held and despite the fact that they don't have anything they seem so happy.

Our last stop for the day was at the Haitian Initiative/Tony Sanneh Foundation. Here members of our team played soccer with the kids in the program while others watched and cheered everyone on. After the soccer playing we got to serve kids food which was the manna packs from Feed My Starving Children. It was a pretty awesom experience see these kids being so excited and greatful for what they were given.

Today was such a great day for our team. Together we showed love to those who need it most in our world and became the hands and feet of Christ. And we will do it again tomorrow!

Ashley Jensen

Monday, November 10, 2014

The day finally came and then the snow began right about the time we were suppose to arrive at the airport! With feelings of anxiousness we knew  we needed to get out  of the airport  as  soon as  possible! Through the grace I of God , we made it to Haiti as planned  and  on  time!  God is gooood!

We are ready and willing to be obiedient to whatever direction God leads us this week.   More to come  to  tomorrow after water truck!

Jessica  Hoberg

Saturday, October 11, 2014

La Boulangerie

Saturday, Oct 11, 2014

Our day started at Grace Village where we spent the morning with just the boys, baking cookies and bread, playing soccer, drawing with sidewalk chalk, and singing.  Even though the baking activity looked chaotic, with flour flying everywhere, and butter sliding on the tables, all the boys participated.  The highlight for me was watching the woman who operated the wood oven.  She filled the oven with wood and let it burn until the internal temperature was 900 degrees.  Then, she removed the wood and put in the bread and cookies.  The boys gathered around the oven waiting for the cookies and bread to come out of the oven.  When they were cool enough to eat, they dove in.  Most had a couple, but some where seen to have taken at least 6.  Well, so much for lunch.

After Grace Village, we stopped at the mass grave site where there are an estimated 300,000 people buried. We were touched by the personal stories of our interpreters who shared their stories of what happened that horrible day on Jan 12, 2010.  

We then stopped at Juno’s, an orphanage, and played checkers and put together puzzles. I love the word for puzzles in French “Jeu de patience” (Game of patience) and isn’t that the truth. Steve brought out the guitar and sang French songs with the kids and everyone, including the staff, were clapping and singing along.  The team is doing a great job learning French songs. Just ask one of us how to say “branch” in French.  

Just when we thought we didn’t have any energy left, we rallied and took the neighborhood boys to the soccer field for a game.  Thank goodness we divided us up into two teams.  It was a close game, 1-0.

After our full day, we thought we were ready for a bit of relaxation, when Jean came over and showed us how to salsa. It was a beautiful night to dance on the rooftop.


Friday, October 10, 2014

A Day To Be Grateful

Ever since we arrived in Haiti, we have heard that you never know what might happen, so you should be flexible about your expectations.  Well, today we officially got to experience it!

Our schedule called for a second water truck day, but last night we had a downpour of rain.  When it rains, the residents of Cite Soleil bring their water buckets outside, so we were told that they wouldn’t need water today as their buckets would already be full.  Our team leaders met with Jean and quickly came up with a new schedule with several stops.

Our first visit was to Elder’s School in Cite Soleil.  When we got there, a few classes were having a lunch break and we were able to go up to their top floor terrace to hang out with them.  The kids were very excited to see us and quickly found someone to attach to.  Many of the boys chose to talk with the men in the group, while the girls stayed close to the women.  There was lots of joking and smiles, and it was impressive to see how many children are able to go to school at their location.

Next, we dropped off some supplies at an orphanage that is newly connected with Healing Haiti.  None of the teams have visited before, so we were given a tour.   One of the women that runs the orphanage talked with us and seemed very excited about future teams coming to do activities with the kids.  We found that there are 35 children that currently live there with ages ranging from 4 to 14.

After a short siesta at the house, we went to LaPhere, an orphanage and school.  They pulled out some wooden bleachers and Steve taught us all a few kids songs in French.  The kids here were really responsive and there were lots of smiles and laughter.  One older boy enjoyed surprising us with tickles from behind, and several of us experienced being prayed for by the youngest little girl, probably under 2 years old, complete with her hand on our heads.  

Our last visit was to Gertrude’s Orphanage.  She originally began her orphanage because she kept seeing children with special needs that had been abandoned when she visited the hospitals in Port au Prince.  Two thirds of the children at the orphanage have some sort of special need.  The kids were especially interested in putting on lotion, and we formed a circular track of sorts where we had wheelchair races.

For me, the highlight of the day was watching our team work together.  There were both easy, natural moments and uncomfortable moments, but in both cases we each found our niche and were able to serve together, drawing strength from the others if need be.  It is pretty incredible to be at this stage of our trip and see the fruit of our team having gelled.

It was a day of many new memories, snapshots that will be remembered forever.


Thursday, October 9, 2014

Thursday in Haiti

A passage pulled from our morning devotional states: “Truly, truly, I say to you, a servant is not greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him.  If you know these things, blessed are you if you do them.”  The course of the day seemed to be summed up in that short passage. Today provided a day of much needed hope for the group as we explored the progressive steps Healing Haiti has taken to expand and enhance Grace Village.  The day also provided some humbling experiences, as all days seem to do, with our elderly visits around Titanyan.  Following that, we visited a school filled with inspirational children at the Shalom school.  

Our visit to Grace Village restored in all of our hearts that in a dark world, a powerful light can shine through when done so with compassion and love.  Funded by donations and prayers, the Grace Village has continued its expansion to create a beautiful, and breathtaking, learning environment for hundreds of children in Haiti.  Sturdy concrete buildings contrast the desolate mountainside with brilliant colors.  Classrooms range from kindergarten to 12th grade and brief moments of passing them provide you with bright, ebullient smiles of eager children.  Casting waves and smiles at the passing missionaries may not have been in the teachers initial teaching plans, but they seem to send a few smiles our way as well.  The village continues to impress with a lively playground, resourceful plant and fish system, as well as a medical clinic overlooking the mountainside.  I never imagined in a world so overwhelmed with poverty I would  experience such a beautiful view.  

Departing the mountainside the team was filled with a sense of hope and pride in the opportunities Healing Haiti has provided, and continued to provide in a world with so much need.  Something the teams intend to do during the week is visit the elderly of the Healing Haiti program.  Blessed with the opportunity to do so today, the group showed as much love as we could through song, prayer, and heartfelt interaction.  The response from the elders was deeply moving.  They were very receptive and appreciative, often swaying with the music, smiling, and affectionately reaching out to team members.  An elder woman greeted us at the gate and welcomed us in.  While I was still busy, trying to figure out who the elder was, the lively woman greeted everyone with a lively spirit.  When it dawned on me the elderly woman was also the “greeter” I was stunned.  Fighting through muscle pain seemed to be irrelevant for this woman as she danced and sang along to the music.  It never ceases to impress me the resilience these elder show with the lives they have been given.  To think the life expectancy in Haiti is 52, the elders ranging from 22-103 prove over and over again that God is good.  Another memorable visit came from the 22 year old boy who was graced into the elderly program because of his epilepsy.  As the group sang Amazing Grace in the background, my heart broke for this boy and his loving mother.  The tears seemed inevitable.  There I was, facing a boy equivalent in age to me that lay almost motionless, body distorted with only his eyes shifting from one group member to another.  I like to believe that was his way of giving us thanks, but he will never realize the thanks should have been blessed upon him.  In those few short minutes with him, he was able to teach us an appreciation for life that can never be repaid.  In all we were blessed to visit six elders, all teaching us in invaluable ways.

The last stop at the Shalom house was a perfect way to complete another enlightening day.  The children and team enjoyed the creation of sock puppets accompanied with some french singing.  All in all it was another amazing day in Haiti with more to come.  The initial devotion came full circle this evening as we had time to reflect on our day in Haiti.  The day was a great reminder that our great moments lead to great learning opportunities.  However, the lessons learned in our trials and hardships teach us a great deal more.  Whether it be babies or elders, healthy or ill, rich or poor, in our hometown or across the world, we are all equal and we all deserve a life that feels that way.  And if, even for a brief moment, we can provide that feeling to others, I truly believe that is God’s highest wishes of us.


Wednesday In Haiti

Today was hard. I know we all expected it to be this way, yet I think the helplessness we all felt at times surprised even the strongest of us. Here we were present and strong with willing hands and open heart ready to serve. But yet we felt unprepared for knowing the best way to serve at times well as what kind of impact we could all make surrounded by just a fraction of the broken and sick babies that we visited today. 

"Not all of us can do great things. But we can do small things with great love.” - Mother Teresa

Our day started with time at the Home For Sick and Dying Babies. We arrived to a line outside the gate filled with mother’s and sick babies in their arms. The sun was so hot at only 9am while these mother’s held their babies with no protection from the heat as they waited. We were ushered inside and the courtyards and rooms were filled with families. It was visiting hours, so many parents and grandparents were there to visit, hold, and comfort their children. It felt good to see so many children attended to. But yet there were still many alone in their cribs - some on IV drips, some crying and needing to be changed, and all wanting some love. 


This was our job here. To love on these children. We rocked, and sang, and fed, and changed, and  talked to and comforted these sweet babies. As a mother, and remembering my children as babies - the natural instincts of the most basic needs kicked in..and the first of these is to love. And I've never held babies before who were so willing to receive anything we could give them. There are no strangers in their short, tiny, meaningful, beautiful lives. This gave comfort to all. 

And their tears and cries were for us when we had to leave. Those babies imprinted on my soul forever. 

Based upon the name of where we were visiting - I expected to see so much sadness. Instead I saw hope. I saw a full staff of beautiful people, a facility that was clean and welcoming, a playground and a place for parents to visit, food, clean diapers, warm water, milk, ...and love. So much hope surrounded us and the babies here. There are so many good things and beautiful children here. 

Yet we still rode to our next stop mainly in silence - as we prayed and thought about the little ones we left behind. Will they go home soon? Will their parents visit tomorrow? Will they at least sleep well for tonight in this safe and loving place for them. And will the mother's at the gate tomorrow also get the help they need for their babies?

At this point most of us were still unaware of the juxtaposition of circumstance in front of us.

I'm not sure I can even fully talk about our visit to General Hospital at this point. Maybe not ever. It was hard. So many of us felt hopeless. Confused. Useless. Taking up space. Not praying for the right things. So many children in the emergency room. Sick. Dying. Gone already too soon. Beds everywhere with very little space between and mother's changing diapers on their laps, cribs surrounded by family, grandmother's singing to tiny, feverish babies. We did what we felt moved to - a broken conversation, a song, holding a hand, smiling at a baby. We handed out care packages to everyone - soap, a washcloth, brush, toothbrush and paste, applesauce, and diapers. And we watched so many children enjoying the snack and getting a 'bath' with the cloth. A simple gesture. But they need so much more. So much that none of us can give. Expensive medicines, money, food, more diapers, a cure, some hope, a better place, a way to heal. I felt broken leaving there. Wishing for so much more. 

I think we all have to come to the point that we don't have all of the answers to the 'whys' in the world. But we do things through simple steps that can become big strides when many come together on a mission to serve, learn, spread the word, and teach. That even comforting one child today who needed our love. One child that snuggled into our chests, closed their eyes, and took a nap in our arms. We have to know that is a touch that counts and will last for more than just an afternoon. 

We have to know that. 

We ended our day by getting schooled in soccer by the boys in the neighborhood. They were kind and let me actually kick the ball twice or so before stealing it from us each time. What amazing and talented young men. I think we've challenged them to a rematch on Saturday. We better practice a bit before then. 

"We ourselves feel that what we are doing is just a drop in the ocean. But the ocean would be less because of that missing drop." - Mother Teresa

With Blessings,

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Cite Soleil.

Friends, family, supporters, & our prayer teams back home in the US-

Leann here tonight, thanks for following our trip through what is sure to be an incredible week down here in Haiti.

Today we went ahead and jumped right off into the deep end and headed out to Cite Soleil. If you’re unfamiliar, Cite Soleil is an extremely impoverished and densely populated area in Port au Prince, estimated potentially greater than 400,000 people.   The area is generally regarded as the poorest and most dangerous slum in the Western Hemisphere. The area virtually has no sewer system, leaving those who live here no access to clean or safe drinking water. Its difficult to take in the surroundings of such a devastating place, witnessing the way thousands live, including so many children, orphans and restavec (slave) children.

The desperation for clean water in Cite Soleil is one of the most apparent things stepping out of the tap-tap on water truck day. Something so many of us don’t even think about on a daily basis. Over 800 million people in the world currently lack access to clean and safe water and an estimated 3.5 million people die each year due to water related disease. Almost 2 in 3 people who need safe drinking water survive on less than $2 each day. In Cite Soleil, girls and women will line the street with hundreds of five gallon buckets for us to fill and (impressively) carry them on their heads for blocks. In developing countries, it is estimated women and girls walk an average of 3.5 miles each day to fetch water and spend more than 20 hours per week walking to get water.  Seeing these little kids dump a small bucket of water over their head, most using as a way to bathe, makes me wish I could take every bucket of water from the ice bucket challenge and bring it to these sweet kids (as a side note- the ALS ice bucket challenge was amazing and raised so much money for a great organization, but after seeing something like Cite Soleil its just hard to get the images out of your head)
We were able to take out 3 trucks of water to 4 water stops in Cite Soleil, get thousands of gallons of clean water to the people who live there, and love on a whole lot of kids. Before leaving, we were able to stop by Haitian Initiative. HI is an amazing organization, that helps send kids to school through sponsorship, allows them to come to the field and play soccer between one and four, and then serves them a hot meal (Feed My Starving Children manna packs) every day mon-sat. The goal of HI is to help keep kids in school, focus on their education, stay out of violence in Cite Soleil, and develop their skills on the soccer field as well. We met some incredible staff at HI, who are doing amazing things for the kids of Cite Soleil. It was inspiring to see such a positive light in a place that feels so broken. It is truly the presence of God at work in Cite Soleil. We were also able to see the site for the church and school being built in CS by Healing Haiti. Ground breaks next week, lift this place up in prayer in the coming months.

Thankful for this day and to God for lifting up this team in strength and hope.
Glory to God.
Glwa pou Bondye.

Monday, October 6, 2014

We've Arrived Safely in Haiti!

Hello back home to our families and friends who have supported our team and raised us up in prayer as we traveled today. There was some concern over our connection time in Miami, but all went smoothly and our last two teammates, Pat from Atlanta and Mike from Green Bay, joined up with us and we were all able to land in Port-au-Prince together. After the wrestle over luggage and only some minor mishaps we loaded the tap-tap and headed to the guesthouse. There is nothing quite like arriving at your home for the week to the smell of dinner ready, and the welcome arms of our Hatian family passing out huge hugs of greeting!
We are so thankful for God's protection on our day of travel and so excited to rest up tonight so we're ready be His hands and feet tomorrow in Cite Soleil!
Ke Bondye Beni'ou

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Beach Day

Today was beach day! After another delicious breakfast, we stopped at an orphanage in Titanyen
to pick up 13 children to take to the beach.  As we walked inside the orphanage, the team and I were all pleased to see what an inviting, organized space the children live in. They came running to greet us, jumped in our arms, and were beyond excited to get on the Tap-tap.They all looked well-fed, well taken care of, and it was obvious right away that "Mama", as the children called her, took very good care of them.

It was about a 45 minute drive to the beach, called Wahoo Bay Beach Club. This is my first trip to Haiti, and it was amazing to see a completely different side of Haiti. A Haiti that is green and beautiful with a gorgeous white sand beach and crystal clear blue waters.

We swam with the kids, played in the water, and jumped on a really fun water trampoline. My heart swelled upon seeing the huge ear-to-ear grins and hearing joyful giggles from all the children. Even "Mama" was smiling, laughing and enjoying the water!  What a blessing it was to be able to take these children to the beach -- they have only been to the beach a few times in their lives.

The day passed quickly and soon it was time to pack up and leave. We had about a 45 minute drive back to the orphanage, and several of the children fell asleep on our laps in the Tap-tap. It was a bittersweet goodbye when we dropped them off. The kids were tired, full of sandwiches and snacks, and happy. As we waved goodbye, I was already thinking about the next time I will be able to see them.

On our way home, we took a few minutes to stop and see the mass grave site where 350,000 to 400,000 people were buried after the earthquake. As we drove up, the local children ran to greet us and open the gate for us. We stepped inside and took a moment to reflect and pray for these souls and their families. Several of the Healing Haiti staff have friends and family who are buried there. We were able to see the plans for the site when it is fully finished; right now there is a a simple memorial with the date of the earthquake.

It was a long, refreshing day for the team. We thoroughly enjoyed the opportunity to relax and enjoy the children.  I'm off to bed now; tomorrow is a fun day of church and shopping!

In God's Love,

Bridgett F.

Friday, October 3, 2014

Water Truck Day 2 & Orphanage Visitis

Some of our teammates started their morning at 6 a.m and went to the local Haitian church. It was an amazing experience to witness how the Haitians pray to God. It is an experience that makes you appreciate their faith.

After breakfast, we were blessed to begin our day with another water truck day. We originally only had one water truck day scheduled but I was delighted when our team voted to do another day. The first water truck day is always a very hectic day and hard to be able to see what is really happening because you are trying to just figure out what you are suppose to be doing. There are so many people waiting in line with buckets that are very desperate for water, so it was an honor to be able to deliver clean water to other areas in Cite Soliel. We were able to make two more water truck stops which was a total of 5,000 gallons of water. It is true blessing to know that our team was part of such a great cause today. It was great to see the children in Haiti bathing in the clean water with smiles on their faces and laughter in the air. It is also very heart breaking to see so many people in line with their 5 gallon buckets waiting and hoping the water does not run out before their buckets are filled. As one of our team members said it, it was a very "conflicting" day. You have so many emotions that hit you all in a very short period of time. It is difficult to process that these beautiful people do not have an option of having clean water every day. But we had to remind ourselves that it is amazing to be a part of an organization that makes it
possible to deliver clean water.

We also visited a few different orphanages today. First, we went to visit Lapherre's where there are about 22 kids. The conditions were not what you would expect but I was so happy to see the great changes that have been made since my last trip which was in December 2013. Their school house/church was rebuilt with new concrete walls and a new roof. It was wonderful to see they now had a well lit and safe place to teach their children and have an area to worship. We played parachute and soccer with the kids which they just loved. The kids sang several songs for us and there was a little girl who was about 3 years old that came up and put her hands on me and said a prayer for me. It was an honor to have this sweet child hold my hand and say a prayer for ME! I am always in awe when I come to Haiti and they are saying prayers for us. I also said several prayers for this sweet child, asking God keep her healthy, provide good schooling and to always have someone in her life that will show her love.

After Lapherre's we visited Gertrude's orphanage which is for children with special needs. It is a tough place to visit because of the special needs of the children but also because of the conditions. So, for some of our team members it was difficult to get past the conditions and for other's that have been there before it was easier to focus on the needs of the children and not just the condition. Amber said that even though the conditions were tough to witness, it was nice to know that someone was caring for them. She said she felt that if they were not there they may not be alive or being treated fairly.

After our long day, we took about a 30 minute drive to a pizza parlor. It was the perfect way to end the day. We are all very tired and looking forward to an amazing day we have planned tomorrow. We will be taking an orphanage to the beach tomorrow. We are all very excited for a nice fun in the sun kind of day. This team has worked so hard this week,  not only physically but emotionally and they deserve to just soak in the beauty of Haiti tomorrow.




Thursday, October 2, 2014

Grace Village & Elderly Visits

What an amazing day we had today!  Our first stop was at Grace Village in Titanyen, Haiti.  Grace Village is located at the top of a mountain with a beautiful view and great ocean breeze (which saved us from the heat today). Hearing from others who have visited last year, a lot has been accomplished in just a small amount of time.  Grace Village is home to many wonderful things. A newer development is incorporating family style living for the orphaned children. What an amazing thing for children who would otherwise know no different! The medical clinic is another newer development.  The clinic is able to provide care to the people of Titanyen at a much lower cost than other clinics in the area.  To see the doctor it costs about the same as $1 in the U.S. which is the equivalent of about a $100 co-pay in the U.S. It was incredible to see how much Healing Haiti has been able to provide since their inception and how much more of a vision they have for the future. This visit definitely pulled on a lot of our heart strings and you could feel God's presence everywhere.

Another great thing that Healing Haiti does is provide care for the elderly. We spent all afternoon visiting elderly in Titanyen.  That was personally the most joyous thing I've have done on the trip yet. We were able to provide hot meals and a cold drink from a local restaurant. This is a big step up as peanut butter and jelly sandwiches were on the menu previously. It turns out the Healing Haiti workers who accompany us on our daily trips are very talented and they brought along a guitar and keyboard to sing songs for the elderly as well.

The first visit was to a woman named Merolen. She is 70 years old.  I felt drawn to her instantly. She was so serene and beautiful sitting on her front porch. I held her hand as the songs were being sang and it made me weep to think about how much loss and suffering she has seen in her lifetime.  At the same time it made me feel so joyous that God gave her the strength she needed to survive this long in the conditions she was living in.  That was the case with all of the 8 elderly we visited today - they had so much joy and love to spread despite what they were up against on a daily basis. Vertilla was a particularly spunky 73 year old who greeted us all with hugs and kept pulling us into the shade to avoid the sun.  She was dancing around with a huge smile on her face the whole time. All of them were just so grateful that we came to visit and spread the love God gave us. Edmond was another who was just so incredible. He is 69 and blind. He loves prayer, singing, touch and also when people visit him. He is a kind and gentle soul.

Seeing all of my team members today was such a blessing. Everyone did such a wonderful job with the elderly as well as the children who came over to see us at the stops.  To share a quick story, at one of the stops I was pleasantly surprised when a young girl barreled down the road at me and gave me a huge hug. It turns out she was the same girl I met at Grace Village and held while I was there.  She remembered me and was so happy to see me.  It brought a huge smile to my face!  I witnessed each of my team members having special moments themselves today also. We all touched the hearts of at least someone we encountered today.  After yesterday, I think we all needed a loving and joyous day.

God Bless,

P.S. Pictures to come when our wifi starts working.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Small Things

Today was a long and emotional day.  We started our day at Apparent Project.  What an absolutely amazing organization.  I was completely in awe and inspired by this visit.  The woman who started this had a vision that she wanted to help women by providing them with a job so they could care for their children.  The staff makes rolled paper beads, jewelry, metal art and other crafts. She began this  this journey with 4 employees six years ago and is now up to 300!  She not only provides them with a job but pays them several times the minimum wage so that they can adequately provide for their children.  She also offers free onsite daycare where the kids are given love and nutritious meals while their parents work.  One of the best things about the way she runs her business is the way she holds her employees accountable.  The items the artisans make are held to a high standard which provides them with responsibility for their work. Below is statement from Apparent Project's website.

"Our name reflects our passion: We want to see Haitian families stay together. Skill development and employment addresses the needs of families before they are at the point of desperation, driven to give their children to an orphanage because of extreme poverty. After all, the vast majority of Haiti's "orphans" have not been orphaned by parental deaths, earthquakes, hurricanes, or floods, but are children of living parents who gave them up simply because they knew that an orphanage could feed their child. Lagging adoptions, overcrowding, and lack of accountability has made many orphanages less than adequate homes for children, who often develop severe emotional problems such as reactive attachment disorder. This is why we think of our artisans' guild as an "un-orphanage." We are finding creative ways for Haitians to be self-employed so that they can take care of their own children with dignity and joy. To read more about our mission click here, or explore our artisan program here."

General Hospital wasn't at all what I expected.  It was a tent-type building, which housed two rooms. There were around a dozen small babies in the first room we visited.  Their cribs were crowded into the room with just enough room in between the cribs for the mothers to sit.  Some of them were extremely thin and small for their age.  One little girl who was eight months old felt no heavier than a newborn.  We held some of those babies for a while and then moved onto the next room where there were small babies and also older children.  I asked an interpreter to help me share the gospel with one  14 year-old girl with the sweetest smile you ever saw.  As it turned out, she already knows Jesus.  We gave gift bags and water to most of the kids and parents in the room.  Please pray for all of them, but mostly for a two-day old infant we saw with an extremely large head and a very severe cleft palate, who is in a hospital that probably won't be able to treat either of her abnormalities. 

We visited the Home for the Sick and Dying, where there were 60+ babies with only one young lady taking care of them.  We immediately began changing diapers.  Then, when their food was ready, we fed the hungry little ones. Since many hands make light work, it didn't take long.  Then we had the joy of holding some of them.  They loved being clutched tightly to the chest when being held.  They loved it so much that they hardly moved at all; they just soaked up the love.  Some of the men in our group played with the toddlers, who were stationed in a different room. It seemed as though what we did at the home was just a drop in the bucket compared to the need, but because it was done in Jesus's name and because the children were prayed for, great things may be accomplished. 

If there was one thing we have learned so far, it is that God can accomplish great things that start small.  

Do small things with great love,
Colleen and Bridget

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Water Truck

Water Truck Day

Today was water truck day and our first day to be able to experience Haiti.  The team was very excited to experience Haiti and what water truck day actually meant since they have been hearing so much about it.

 The day started with unexpected event when the water truck broke down and we were not sure if we would actually be able to deliver water. We realized after a few hours, water truck day would not be happening.  As sad as this was, we decided to proceed to another journey BUT God had another plan for us.  As we were driving toward the new location and singing “Glory to God”, the water truck started to drive toward us.  It was pretty amazing to see that God had another plan for our day. 
We were able to experience 3 water stops today and all of them had a very different needs than the others.  It was amazing to see the team work so hard in 95 degree heat while filling 5 gallon buckets of water and helping walking these buckets back to Haitians homes. It was also wonderful to stand back and experience how each one of them showed so much love and affection to the children. Anyone who has been to Haiti before can understand how difficult water truck days can be.  This is a day when people learn how to step out of their comfort zone to help these beautiful people that live in the poorest areas of Haiti. We experienced a wide range of emotions throughout the day. Many team members are experiencing joy while another is feeling great sadness and sometimes anger. These emotions are sometimes difficult to process and work through.

 Each night we sit down and replay the day.  Part of this includes sharing a “word” of the day.  This helps us process the day. This time each night allows teams to connect and build friendships.  I would like to share a few of these words to give you an idea of how our day went because one word can be very powerful.  Bridgett from our team said she was confused by her word “joy” because she was not sure if this was something you should be feeling in circumstances like we experienced today but she said she had joy in her heart being able to deliver clean water and also being able to give these children love and affection.  Amber’s word was “humbling” because it was amazing to see what a simple touch can do for someone.  Bridget said that her word was “hope” and it gave her hope to see that change is still happening after her 5th trip.  Jess’s word was “small” because it meant so much to her to see what a small gesture from someone could do to help change someone’s day.  She said “small things can be a blessing.”  I could not have put that any better. 


Monday, September 29, 2014

We've arrived!

After a long day of travel we are all grateful to be resting safely in the Healing Haiti guesthouse...our new home away from home. Most of us are going on little to no sleep so this blog will be brief.  We are filled with anticipation for the upcoming week to see what God has in store for us.    

We spent the evening getting to know our teammates as we have just met some of them today.  Half of our team are "first timers" and are excited to explore Haiti and the other half is just as excited to see the changes that have happened since the last trip they took.  Tomorrow we will be going to Cite Soliel to deliver clean water and then to Haitian Initiative to play soccer with the kids.  

We are looking forward to getting a good night's rest!

Glwa Pou Bondye!

Monday, July 28, 2014

Day 8: Headed Home

The Journey of Faith (JOF) team is at the Haitian airport, soon to catch the flight to Miami and then California. As I sit in the empty guest house I am reflecting on the uplifting week. What started out as 15 strangers from California has evolved into my extended family. I was blessed to watch each Cali team members shine, and struggle, during a week full of new experiences. There was heartbreak, sadness, sometimes anger, laughter, and getting to the point of exhaustion that leaves us punchy and just cray cray (crazy)...last night as Evan went to bed, he made the mistake of charging his phone in the hallway and a few of the girls stayed up and filled his phone with random Haitian photos. :-) This has been a fun team and the laughter helps offset the sadness.

Haiti is not easy, it can be a difficult week that pushes us beyond our comfort and forces us to look at ourself and ask "What is God trying to teach me in this moment"? To watch some team mates break down with sadness is hard, but God is breaking our heart so we can help those in need. 

I will always remember each person on the JOF team for their unique personalities. I am already sad to have them gone, but I know I will see them again soon! 

Glwa Pou Bondye!! Bridget

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Day 7: Last Day Reflection

Tonight is our last night at the Healing Haiti house and the thought of leaving tomorrow has brought about many mixed feelings. The trip as a whole has been an eye opening experience that I will not soon forget. From delivering water to the slums of Site Soleil to relaxing on the sandy shores of Wahoo Beach, it has been an emotional rollercoaster. I would need more than a few pages to fully illustrate my experience with the team but what has burned in my mind the most was the first day at the Home for the Sick and Dying Babies. The rooms were filled with cribs of Hatian babies starved for attention. I had never held a baby before this day. With the help of my exceptional teammates I quickly got over my hesitation and was able to make several of them smile and laugh. It was extremely gratifying to see which made it incredibly difficult to leave at the end of the visit.  Unlike the other group members, I was blessed with sharing my experiences with my Dad and Brother. I was impressed at how they handled each situation since it isn't every day we are presented with such tasks. Overall I am sad to leave but it was a humbling adventure that will stay with me for the rest of my life.
- Simon Schermerhorn

Healing Haiti has opened my eyes in so many ways.  I have seen the worst kinds of living conditions here in Haiti.  While I head back to Califorina I realize the privileged life I've lived.  Although there are orphanages that treat kids a lot better then some of the conditions in the Cite Soleil.  I was lucky enough to meet and live with a new young friend for a couple of days.  He was such a funny kid and made the trip such a blast not only for me but for the whole team.  We connected the first moment we met and started making nicknames for him "Christmas" and myself "Bacon" by the end of our stay everyone had a nickname on our team.  He would be the reason I would come back to Haiti to catch up with him and make sure he is having the life that God wants for him.  
- Evan "Bacon" Schermerhorn

It took so much for me to be sitting where I am right now.  To be honest walking into the first meeting with a bunch of adults I didn't know was terrifying.  I am so so glad I did.  This trip has brought me so much joy, heartbreak, and memories.  Honestly, I don't want to go home. 

One of the most memorable experiences of mine was at the water truck stops.  As we arrived on the first day, I saw this little girl that was about two years old standing by a pole all alone.  Because she was absolutely adorable, of course I decided to pick her up.  At the previous water truck stops I did my best to make every child that I came in contact with smile.  It wasn't the same with this little girl. She wouldn't talk, or even look me in the eye.  As I talked to one of the older Haitian girls who could speak English, she told me that she didn't have any parents.  I was sad at this, but I knew that's how it was for many of the kids there.  I just brushed it off.  We went to the same water stop a day later, and there she was again, same spot.  As I held her again it sunk in that this was her life, waiting at a pole for someone to come and love her.  Among the chaos surrounding us, she fell asleep in my arms.  Before I knew it there was this lady who took her from me so quickly.  She didn't even wake up to say goodbye.  As I still don't know her name, someone suggested that I should call her Grace.  To me Hope is a better fit.  During church this Sunday morning it hurt my heart to think of her being all alone, and that there was no guarantee that her life was going to be okay.  With the help of some friends, they reminded me that although she may not have much, she still has hope.  A hope for a better life.  A hope for a family.  A hope for an eternity spent with God.  Although I know that she has hope, she will forever hold a special place in my heart.  It gives me peace to know that God is watching down on her. 

Okay okay enough of the sad stuff. Overall, I am so glad that I took that leap of faith that one meeting to go on this trip.  All of the ladies on the team especially have all taken me under their wing in one way or another, and I am so thankful for them.  I am honored to have these Godly women as role models in my life. (Also the guys were all just super funny) Haiti, thanks for the memories, I look forward to the day I get to come back.
-Rebekah Ruther

The Jonas Brothers

Street Kids by the Guest House

On the mountain top