Thursday, October 22, 2015

Days 2 and 3 - Touch

My mom took leave from her job to spend the last weeks with her father before he died. She's told many stories of this time she spent with him, but the one the stands out the most is the story of rubbing his feet. At the time, I'm sure I thought this was a strange thing that my mother did - how she spent time washing and using lotion on his feet...cutting his toenails and while doing this, I'm sure having conversations while he was awake. Maybe they told stories of her childhood, maybe of his own, or maybe they just spent that time in silence together just knowing that this would be it in this lifetime together.

I cry as I type this because even six years ago I didn't understand the gift and honor my mother gave to her father before he died. The gift of touch.

For our team, this word - touch. This action - touch. This everything - what our days have been this week. It's the connection that we can all give to one another so freely - to put a hand on a shoulder to tell someone we are here, to give a hug, to kiss a forehead, to give a fist-bump - it's a universal and beautiful human experience. There is no language barrier to touch, and no special skills needed to make that easy connection.

Yesterday we traveled west to the Home for the Sick and Dying adults. I think we all wanted to believe that this home would be filled with the elderly - dying after fulfilling a long and beautiful life just like my own grandfather. But it wasn't. There were also teens, and young mothers and fathers who came to this place to be loved and cared for before they go to meet God or even for their own miracle of health to happen.  As a non-medical team, I think many wondered what our calling was to serve at here - but it became clear quickly - it was to spend time with them - rubbing their feet, their arms, their backs - holding their hands and just touching them with our love, our hearts, and our hands.

My mother taught me well with how she honored her father. How we can all learn to honor those who need us most in such simple yet profound ways.

This happened again today as we visited the elderly that Healing Haiti supports in the greater Titanyen community. They didn't ask for anything except our time, our love, our prayers, and our touch. We washed their feet, rubbed their hands, and lifted them in songs and love.

We visited an orphanage after leaving the elders. It was a place some of us visited last year - and it was a favorite because of the joy of the children. I told a story tonight about how I spoke to my mother last year after leaving these children that day - and she reminded me that someone else was right behind me giving them love and hugs. I held that close during this year apart - and she was right - they did have love all year, but yet - they remembered our group and the songs we sang! It was a wonder indeed and I know I will see and hug the beautiful children again someday.

I think we all need to remember that we don't need big gifts to make an impact - we just need to give a touch or a hug or some extra time with someone to let them know they are not alone ever in this big world. We need to let them know that for that moment, that minute, that hour - you are everything to them - and are in full service to them through our simple gift of just being human.


Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Mission to Haiti - Day 1: Devastation and Hope

This year, God touched my heart to take this trip with Healing Haiti, through a friend of mine with who I have attended weekend retreats. We will be here until next Monday, but I'll just chronicle a little bit of what I saw today on day 1, our first trip into Cite Soleil - one of the poorest cities in the Western Hemisphere.

It was heartbreaking.

In the morning, we left our compound to help deliver water into the city. Once we arrived, and the back of the bus opened, we were met with dozens of little kids, mostly aged between 1 year old and 10 years old. Just about all of them were malnourished - read: underfed. They came with buckets to fill with water for the entire week. I'd say that around 30% of them were half naked from the waist down. And the babies and toddlers typically walked around entirely naked. They also walked though mud, dirty water and sometimes piles of trash to get to us.

(If we take a step back and think about this for a minute, the amount of water that we individually take a shower with each morning is enough to fill several buckets. These kids had on average about 2 buckets to fill. For their entire family. For the entire week.)

We stayed there for about 2 hours, holding kids, helping to bring water to some of the faraway huts, talking with some of the locals on the ground, and visiting a Church that is being built in the midst of this devastating part of Haiti. More on that later.

Thereafter, we took a short break to recollect ourselves at a rest stop. Next up, we visited another site that was more urban than the first location. While the initial site was somewhat rural and highly impoverished, site #2 held both extreme poverty and very tight quarters.

When we got off of the truck at this site, we found that the kids (out of necessity) were quite organized. In contrast to site #1, the buckets were lined up nearly in advance of our arrival. I soon found out why.

On the long city road upon which our small team delivered countless buckets, we found that just about every hut in which 5-7 people lived was just that - a dirt floor, rusty aluminum walls pieced together from garbage, heat over 90 degrees within...and flies. I don't mean to shock you, but it's the only way to give you the clearest picture of what is going on here. Remember that there were still these toddlers and young children running around with little to no clothing on, and living every day in these huts.

At this site we stayed for about another hour. Many individuals had much larger buckets this time, and there was much competition and jockeying for position, to collect the water for their families that they would need for the rest of the week - to drink, to bathe, to clean, to survive.

The closest thing that I can use to relate you to the experience thus far is parts of the movie Slumdog Millionaire. But even that movie can't do justice to it, because you have to be there to smell the garbage, to see and hold the people, and to serve as best as you can when the opportunity exists.

You probably have a better, and likely very depressing image of what the poorest of the poor in Haiti deal with on a daily basis. But despite all that they endure, there are some signs of hope; seeds that may take a very long time to bloom, but they are there.

The most beautiful part of this experience is that even though these kids were there to receive water from Healing Haiti, the first thing that many, many of these kids did was ask to be picked up, held and hugged. I can't tell you how many kids we picked up at each site and held in our arms. They were so starving for love and attention. It was so much more important to them than the water.

I remember one small child at site 2 that I held for a few minutes. I'd like to think that for the time we spent together, we were comforted by getting to take a moment and forget about the difficulties of life. And so many of these children greet us with a warm smile that can only be described as joy.

Something else to note is that although a large amount of the population lives in extreme poverty, there are some that stand out and look to excel themselves. One teenage kid, a little more well groomed, came up to me and started telling me that he is learning English in school. I was very impressed with his ability to communicate with me. Then he proceeded to ask me if he could take my shoes.

I say the above slightly in jest, but for a minute I considered it. And even though I didn't give this young man my shoes, perhaps some day his education will provide him the ability to convince others to conduct their actions in a manner that will benefit those around him.

In a more formal sense, there are pockets of education near Cite Soleil. On occasion we would see children walking to or from school, in very clean, pastel color uniforms. A member of our team visited another school in the area yesterday to configure many Google Chromebooks - which were donated to the facility by a benefactor.

We also visited a soccer field, where many children were playing in uniforms which were donated by a local power company. The field was made out of dirt and gravel, but these kids played their hearts out, dove for soccer balls coming their way, and were looking to improve their skills.

There will be other facilities we visit this week, such as orphanages, hospitals and even local people with startup businesses (think kiosks at your local mall, but with painted wooden structures - it works!), and there are many organizations that are pitching in to help. Recall that in 2010 there was a terrible earthquake which claimed the lives of several hundred thousand people. Thereafter, a greater focus on recovery was established by international organizations, and Charitable organizations such as Healing Haiti.

On the bus between sites 1 and 2, I noticed a car with the words "Never Give Up" on it. It reminded me of the same slogan in my colleague's office of a moving company that has been in business for 50 years. In my opinion, everything is relative, and if a company can struggle for many years to achieve ongoing success, why cannot the poorest of the poor, over the course of time, pull themselves out of poverty?

Aside from the emotional time we spent with the kids, I think the most amazing part of the experience is the Church that we saw. Despite the impoverished conditions, existence of gangs and violence, and the temptation to steal valuable equipment, it is reported at the moment that not one item has been taken from the construction site of the Church.

It would seem that the people are here, collectively waiting for something. Maybe in a way, we all are. But in these people we see a hope that - in my opinion - can only come from God. Just the mere fact that most have endured or negotiated through their day to day reality is testimonial to a Spiritual Shield that may be there to protect the population from further devastation. Or, in another sense, one can say "how much worse can it get?"

Either way, after being on the ground for just one day, I do now very clearly understand the responsibility that we in the more developed parts of the world have to help those in need. I hope you do as well. As I write this blog it weighs heavily on my heart that every one of those kids we picked up, held, hugged and helped today, are still living in a small hut, waiting for something.

If you have made it to the end of this article and find it in your heart to help out Healing Haiti in their efforts to help this area of the world, please click here.

Thank you and God Bless you.

Tom Ossa is the guest blogger for this article. He is a web developer, residing in Rockland County, NY.

Monday, October 19, 2015

Travel Day

We made it! Our first day in Haiti. Our team met in Miami from Minnesota, Georgia, and New York. We shared a meal and settled in to our new home for the next week. We are ready to do whatever God has in store for us.

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Day 4 An education

Today we got an early start. We attended an early morning prayer service at the Tent Church.
Many locals attend this service before going off to work for the day. In many ways, the experience was uniquely Haitian. There was a great deal of movement in the congregation as the preachers inspired the congregation with prayer and music accompanied by a drummer, keyboard and an electric guitar. Afterwards we enjoyed a magnificent sunrise while perched on a ledge overlooking the city below.
Next stop was the Apparent Project. The artisans utilize discarded materials to create jewelry, metalwork, pottery and clothing.  Purchases empower the artisans to support their families while their children are cared for on site.
Next came a visit to the National Museum of Haiti in Port-au-Prince. Originally constructed as a memorial resting place for the four founders of modern Haiti, it was converted to a museum in 1983. Highlights include a permanent exhibit detailing some key points in Haitian history as well as artifacts and artwork.
Lastly, a visit to Notre Dame des Victoires Orphanage. We played, did arts and crafts,jumped rope and did yoga with the children. Outside, a game of soccer was a highlight. The children had a great time!
Home to the guesthouse, where a Haitian feast awaited us. Rice and beans, chicken, root vegetables and plantains. Delicious!
Tom and Melinda

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Water Truck Day

There are rides at amusement parks that post on certain water attractions, "You will get wet. You may get soaked!" In so many ways both are true for water truck day in Cite Soleil, but not simply for the reason you might think. We got off the tap tap geared up for holding a four inch hose that dispenses the water to the empty buckets, basins, and drums the residents of the poorest of the poor bring to get water. This is their only source of water for days and for the most part it is the children - some in the dirtiest of clothing, some in none at all - and the girls and women who come to fill their vessels with water to cook, drink, and clean with until the next water truck day. If you're holding the hose, you absolutely get wet. Water splashes everywhere, and all around you children are catching water from a leak in the hose to drink or simply washing off the dust that they are coated with all the time. Each 5 gallon bucket is 40 pounds and it is amazing to watch elementary school age girls carry them on their heads. Our job is simply to get it there. Others carry small 3 foot basins back to their metal shanty homes with our assistance as well. And still others just need a hand carrying their bucket if they can't balance it on their head. The truck pumps until there is no more buckets to fill or no more water in the truck, and there seems to always be more buckets to fill.
If that's all water truck day was it would be moving enough to have your heart break. But as you get off the tap tap the children are already lined up. Not with buckets raised for water but with hands outstretched with one request on their lips - "Hey you!" Translation: "Pick me up and hold me to let me know that I am loved." You learn how to hold a child in one arm and a water bucket in the other. And it isn't long until you are soaked in not just the water from the truck, but also the joy and comfort that comes exudes from their faces and eyes. And with each water stop I became soaked in the love of God that poured not only from our team to the people of Cite Soleil but God's love toward me from them. Sometimes it's not easy. Hard life creates hard faces. Yet, like the water that erodes even the mightiest of mountains maybe the water that comes in the name of Christ through Healing Haiti will soften the hardest of faces and allow for the light of Christ to shine through from their eyes and smiling faces.
We also were blessed with the opportunity to witness the soccer initiative supported by Healing Haiti among others. We watched the boys practice and were invited to play a scrimmage against them. What fun! And they were the best of sports when the game ended in a 2-2 tie. It was then off to dinner where we fed the boys a Feed My Starving Children meal and watch their faces light up again.
I am blessed to have been a part of this experience and don't think I'll water my lawn ever again knowing how precious it truly is in this world and just because I can doesn't mean I need to water my lawn or continue living according to the status quo of the U.S. society. I got wet and soaked today in Cite Soleil while delivering water. I pray I never dry off.

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Day 2

Day 2 - Tuesday, October 6
Our first stop this morning was Grace Village, a school and orphanage about a 45 minute drive north into the mountains. We were surprised with the beauty of not only the view of Titanyen, but the school and supporting structures as well. Titanyen translates to “less than nothing”, which we found to be far from accurate. The village is void of businesses at the moment, but progress is being made thanks to the expansion of Grace Village. They have a community church and a bakery that will be open soon and employ 50 families. The school has over 400 students and 39 resident children. We were impressed with the organization, leadership and care put into every aspect of the children’s schooling and socialization. They also focus on sustainability, and have a hydroponic garden. With 15 acres of land, it will be exciting to see what the future holds for the community.
From there, we headed to the Haitian Mass Grave, a memorial that marks where hundreds of thousands were buried following the earthquake. We listened to our Haitian guides’ personal stories about the earthquake and prayed over the victims. While there, we distributed FMSC Manna Packs to the local children and adults. One of the little boys looked up at us and asked, “Do you believe in Jesus?”. And one of us replied back, “yes, we do”. He lit up when we asked him the same question in return and he replied “yes!”. For us, his smile and response represent the resilience of the Haitian people - despite extreme poverty, they are joyful and take pride in their country.
Our final stop was Shalom Orphanage. Compared to Grace Village, Shalom was small and simple with only 10 live-in children, but the children were just as happy. We had the opportunity to play with the children - we blew up balloons, colored, and played soccer. The children really seemed to enjoy the interaction, the hugs, and taking the hats off of the guys’ heads!

-  Darcy and Elyse

Day 1

Day 1 - Monday, October 5
Although the sun wasn’t up (and it wouldn’t be up for another few hours), 15 members of the Haddonfield Healing Haiti Team met at 3 a.m. to begin a day-long journey.  Our travels would take us to Philadelphia’s airport, through Miami where we would meet our Minnesota team leader, Nick Wellen, and on to Port-au-Prince and a fascinating drive from the airport to the guest house that will be the team’s home base.
Referring to our words of the day, discussed following this evening’s dinner, each one of us are “delighted” to be undertaking this journey, although not without significant “trepidation.”  We are “nervous”  about what we will experience but, at the same time, “open” to personal and collective growth and “grateful” for the opportunity.  Today and the days ahead will bring us face to face with the “disparity” we quickly found ourselves in as we drove through the streets of Port-au-Prince.  All of us look forward to tomorrow and our first real day - meeting the children we’ve come to serve, distributing FMSC food and our donations, and giving all of us the opportunity to learn how to Iive a more mission-centric life.

  • Gerry, Linda, and Paul

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Day 6--2nd Water Truck Day "Hey You!"

Today was the second and final water truck day in Cite Soleil. We went to three different areas to deliver water. At each stop we scooted buckets, aimed hoses, carried buckets, and held children. You can probably guess which one was our favorite! If you've always wondered what it feels like to be a celebrity, come to Haiti and serve on water truck day. As our tap tap rolls into the neighborhood, all the children chant, "Hey you! Hey you!" (because of the UN presence after the earthquake...the U stuck...) As soon as our wonderful and gracious translators/drivers unlock and open the tap tap door, little hands are reaching out to you to be picked up. You are greeted with smiles everywhere you turn. The women and children are so grateful for the help. Their hearts are so open and welcome. It's really surprising to me and makes me think... What if I greeted everyone with an open heart, a warm smile, and an open hand? What would that look like and how would that change the world? What if we cherished each other's gifts for what they are? What if we were excited and genuine in receiving everyday gifts from one another? I don't have those answers, but I know the One who does. Tonight is my last night in Haiti (the rest of the team leaves on Monday). God has taught me so much about myself, His creation, and His people. My prayer for us all: God, open our hearts to you. Give us the courage to walk in obedience. Love, Leanne

Day 5--A piece of my heart in Haiti

Today is the day I left a piece of my heart in Haiti. Began the day before dawn praising God at "tent" church. As the sun cam up blood my heart to God, "The sun comes up, it's a new day dawning. Time to sing Your song again. Whatever May and pass whatever lies before me ... .Let me be singing When the evening comes. "Little did I Know That Would this be truly my prayer today. Little did I know today That Would Be That I left the day a piece of my heart in Haiti. General Hospital was our stop today. My first act of service was to deliver toys stuffed with three others to a room with four orphans. The first babe I saw stopped me in my tracks. Was this one why I was here. This little tiny skeleton with skin stretched over. Sores front and back, Some nurses Could not cover the goal with a piece of cloth As They HAD no bandages. I tucked a small stuffed kitten under her hand, though She Could not hold it. I gazed into her eyes, though she Could not focus on me. Abandoned and Brought to the hospital by social workers, She Had been here five months. I Could not imagine what she must have Looked like Then. I did not want to. So I blood. Jesus loves me. And I Told her Jezi Reme Or. Jesus loves you. Over and over and over. Only When forced to leave and visit the rest of the hospital did I leave her side. So, hugs and encouragement from my fellow team members and off to the next ward. Passing out gift bags filled with diapers and personal hygiene items. Cuddling babies, smiling and praying for mamas. Then Reviews another baby captured my heart. She Was the third baby for me to hold in this ward. The "mama" our translator Told That Was abandoned this child and She Had Volunteered to care for her while she was here with her own child. Praise God For That mama's heart! But, I found, HOWEVER, That I Could not give her up That Easily When Time to go. I handed her off to our team leader and Walked Away Because I Could not bear to let her go. So, what is the purpose of this? Why witness thesis babies Suffering When I can do nothing? Why About did God bring me all the way to Haiti to break my heart over and dying abandoned babies? Goal I have done something. I have come here, and has-been little tiny hand of God's big picture. I have touched lives in ways I will never know this side of heaven. I have left a smile, a touch, a cuddle, a prayer, a song and a seed planted for the love of Jesus. That what Jesus says we do to "the least of These" we do to Him. That is my prayer I will continue to be the hands and feet of Jesus, Wherever He calls me and That You Will join me so That We May journey together Becoming a share of God's big picture.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Day 3--It is better to give, than to receive

Today we visited the Home for the Sick and Dying and an orphanage with approximately 35 children. Two very different places yet both spoke the same thing to me. First, I’ll give you some details. At the Home for the Sick and Dying, women served women and men served men. Each room had approximately 15 beds and the woman’s ward was about 75% full. We came with baby lotion and fingernail polish. It doesn’t sound like much - but God doesn’t require much (you’ll learn that when you come down here!) We donned gloves and lotioned bodies and painted nails of women looking for rest and comfort. Our translator played the guitar, we sang and prayed (silently) over the women and each other. Tears were shared, hands were held, and laughter heard – all for the Glory of God. The second part of the day was spent with beautiful loving children. Lots of laughter and smiles were shared by all. We played soccer, jumped rope, gave piggy back rides and made sidewalk art. Two very different places with very different atmospheres –yet both spoke new meaning to a truth I’ve believed my whole life. It is better to give than to receive. I thought I had a pretty good understanding of this concept prior to coming to Haiti. It’s always been pretty easy for me to give from my pockets, from my hands, from my home, from my lips. Not so easy from the heart. This is what God has taught me in Haiti. It is better to give your heart than to receive - period. I’m not talking about giving with your heart or from your heart and not because of your heart. To give is better than to receive if you actually give away pieces of your heart. I think when we give a piece of our heart away, God’s limitless love fills it up again and it grows and yearns to be broken to pieces over and over. My prayer for us all – God, show us what it means to give our hearts away - to you and each other. With Love, Leanne

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Word of the Day Summary

-- Mike captured the WotD

Monday, July 20th
- persistence (Alex)
- the nautical mile (Will)
- oasis (Dobee)
- water (Abby)
- muffled (Ben)
- generosity (Shannon M)
- calm (Shannon W)
- crazy airline lady (Dean)
- beginning (Nicole)
- excited (Natalie)
- goal (Jenny)
- relationship (Mike)
- vision (Reuben)
- epic (Scott)
- patience (Ellie)
- enough (Sue)
- group (Sarah)
Wednesday, July 22nd
- listen (Sarah)
- memory (Natalie)
- relationship (Nicole)
- friendship (Will)
- change (Dobee)
- befuddled (Dean)
- understanding (Reuben)
- heartwarming (Shannon M or W?)
- what (Ben)
- sport (Abby)
- colors (Scott)
- contrast (Jenny)
- team (Shannon M or W?)
- emotion (Mike)
- acceptance (Alex)
- happen (Sue)
- love (Ellie)
Thursday, July 23rd
- recovery (Abby)
- sunshine (Ellie)
- laughter (Shannon W)
- beautiful (Will)
- song (Jenny)
- love (Natalie)
- sacrifice (Dobee)
- jump (Ben)
- relative (Dean)
- hurt (Sarah)
- Amen (Mike)
- soccer (Nicole)
- awesome (Scott)
- remember (Alex)
- holy (Sue)
- learn (Shannon M)
- contagious (Reuben)
Saturday, July 25th
- funny/ironic (Natalie)
- burned (Ben)
- rain (Nicole)
- God (Will)
- privilege (Alex)
- reaffirm (Sarah)
- refresh (Jenny)
- enthusiastic (Shannon W)
- Dougie (Dean)
- overwhelmed (Scott)
- affection (Mike)
- amazed/sad (Abby)
- snorkeling (Ellie)
- tenacity (Sue)
- eyes (Shannon M)
- rest (Gates)
Sunday, July 26th
- see (Scott)
- improvement (Natalie)
- pou toujour (Ben)
- inspiring (Shannon W)
- revealing (Dean)
- hope (Alex)
- stolen (Will)
- Amen (Mike)
- love (Dobee)
- still (Sarah)
- open (Ellie)
- open (Shannon M)
- comfort (Jenny)
- comfort (Abby)
- wonder (Sue)

Monday, July 27, 2015

Huge Success with One Glitch

-- From Abby

The morning starts out at 5:30am when Shannon Maixner, storms into Shannon W, Abby, Natalie, Nicole, and Sarah’s room, asking for a hair dryer. Our alarm then goes off five minutes later for church.  Church was as usual amazing and it was great to experience how other cultures worship. Now our mission this week was sports camp. The past three days we would get up bright and early and make our way to Grace Village and teach the kids different sports and of course the word of God. My group had the basketball/dance station. I played basketball in high school so I was right in my element and loved teaching these kids the sport I enjoy the most. We also would preform skits to spread the Lords word and my skit was about a triathlon. It was so funny and even more fun to act out. So overall the camp was a hit with the kids and a huge success! The most unfortunate part of today was after camp and the museum, we went to the pool and little did we know that the water had copper overload and turned Natalie’s hair BRIGHT GREEN. It was amazing but really unfortunate for her….. that’s one memory no one will forget. MOM- I have been using sunscreen and drinking water!!!! Now I am going to pee because I wasn’t allowed to until I finished my blog according to Shannon Maixner.

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Reflections from the Playfield at Grace Village

-- From Mike

Reflections from the Playfield at Grace Village

The playfield is a compacted gravel space with some loose rock which is surrounded by a combination of metal supply containers and concrete walls, with a wide opening for the driveway off of one corner.   The Haitian sun has full command of the entire field, and the wind is fleeting. In a word: HOT!  Takes about one breath to start sweating.  

The view is breathtaking: we are looking over the land as it descends to the water below.  The ocean is ever-present, a swath of amazing blue and green beyond the brown landscape.  To the left, Cite Soliel is smoking.  Always smoking.  

Our team (Dean, Shannon, Sarah, Alex and I) has prepared well - appropriately flexible with plenty of ideas and an understanding that the execution will likely be very different from the plans going in.  

Our group on Wednesday is ~12 kids, ages 7-15 years, a mix of boys and girls.   The first activity is sharks and ships (or sharks and minnows) requires the kids to start at one side of the field and run to the other without being eaten by the shark (tagged).  It is so fun to see the kids transition from observing, questioning, waiting, to engaging, laughing, smiling.   Fast forward to late in the session and a football keep-away game...turns out our group of kids are world-champion keep-away players!   They enjoyed our hopeless attempts to intercept as they went from person to person and worked together.  

Play, like love, is universal and essential.  I am so blessed to be able to spend time with these kids.  

Friday, July 24, 2015

Going Where God Asks Us to Go

-- From Dean

On Monday, our team traveled through four airports over twelve hours to arrive at the Healing Haiti guest house.

First impressions of Haiti: Hot!

First impressions of guest house: Very pleasant.

After some team bonding and devotion, we all went to bed. I didn't say anything at the time, but as a first timer in Haiti, I had a fair amount of anxiety about what we planned to do the next day.

On Tuesday, we were up early, had a terrific breakfast, boarded the "TapTap" (seventeen people packed in the back of a truck), and were off to Cite Soleil. It was my first chance to really see Haiti. 'Shocking' isn't the right word. I've seen images on television, so I knew what to expect. Actually being here to see this extreme poverty in person made it real. 'Revelation' is the best word to describe it.

When we arrived to Cite Soleil with the water truck we'd met along the way.... Well, that's when I'd use the word 'Shocking.' I was way out of my comfort zone. Kids came running to the TapTap like American kids might rush a famous singer arriving to their concert in a limo. But, we aren't famous. We have little talent. The kids only wanted water and to be held.

I was apprehensive at first. The kids were dirty, desperate, and many weren't wearing clothes. Yet, it was one of those moments where you forget about your comfort zone. All seventeen of us were holding at least one child before we were two steps out of the TapTap. Two and three kids at a time would hold onto our necks so tightly while others begged to be picked up too. It was heart breaking and heart warming at the same time.

When the water truck was ready to go, the moment turned into mayhem. Buckets emerged from everywhere. Water poured from the hose so fast it could fill a five gallon pail in 1-2 seconds. It was like a fireman's brigade with buckets coming in and being taken away so fast, it was impossible to keep track. We never turned the water off.... We just moved from bucket to bucket until the water was all gone.

The strength of the Haitian women is amazing -- but of course they carry the buckets more efficiently that we do. When we weren't holding a child or helping fill buckets, women and children asked us to help put these huge buckets on top of their heads... and they would walk away without spilling a drop. It was exhausting, humbling, and motivating.

My greatest heartache came after an hour of so of intense working and holding many children. I was extremely hot and feeling the faint effects of dehydration. I desperately needed some water myself. And my heart cracked. All I had to do was walk to the TapTap for my water bottle. I thought to myself, 'what do these people do when they feel this way?' I didn't like the answer.

By the time we left Cite Soleil, my apprehension was gone. I felt a genuine love for these kids and wanted to hold them and play as long as I could. It's amazing how God can transform the human heart in a matter of minutes. We just have to go where he asks us to go. This week, God has asked me & this entire team to be here in Haiti.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Word of the Day: Memory

----- From Natalie

Every night we have our "Word Of The Day." We go around and share the first word we can think of and its significance. Last night, my word was "memory". 

When I returned to Grace Village (the orphanage) for my first time since last year, it seemed like no time went by at all. All the memories from last year returned. And I recognized almost every child's face. There was one boy in particular named Edwins that is now 14 years old and was my best friend last year. I spotted him across the room and we made eye contact. He looked away and then did a double take realizing it was me. Then he got a huge smile on his face and gave me the biggest hug. It was such an amazing moment to see him (and all the other kids) and how much they've grown and even how much better their English has gotten.

Another special thing that triggered the word "memory" for me was when we decided to go through the gates of our guest house and walk to the hotel pool down the street to cool down. As we walked we were joined by four neighborhood boys that held our hands and talked with us. I looked at one boy and asked his name. He said John. That's when I had a flashback to last year. He was the high school soccer player who made me a bracelet to remember him by. I promised him last year I would come back and bring my sister (Nicole) who was his age and also played soccer. I predicted they'd be best friends. 

As it turns out, this year's chance meeting was special because it was John's birthday. So we decided to take all four boys with us to the hotel for a soda and a swim. John said it was his best birthday ever. I kept my promise and introduced him to Nicole. He remembered me telling him about her and they spent the rest of the day together inseparable and are the best of friends already.  

God is doing amazing things here in Haiti; like creating relationships within our team, but also with the kids of Grace Village and the neighborhood boys -- opening up more and more opportunities to share His Word.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Day 1 of Haiti Sports Camp at Grace Village

Hey Haiti Sports Camp Fans

Limited tech connections continue for the Haiti team this week ...

I can give a couple of updates regarding schedule...

  • Today is the first day of Sports Camp at Grace Village.  Pray for an effective day. The team will be doing Sport Camps at Grace for three days.
  • Some of the sports activities today include: Basketball, Kickboxing, Skateboarding, Soccer, Kickball ..
  • Each day begins with large group worship time, skits and a message
  • Attached a photo op from the airport
  • Also included a copy of Skits used each day at Sports Camp.  Pray that they might be a fun communication vehicle for the kids to learn of God's love.  


Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Wifi Challenges

Quick update from the Sports Camp Team.  

They are all in Haiti now and are heading out to help with the Water Truck today.  Tomorrow Sports Camp starts in Grace Village.

Given the condition of Haiti I guess it is truly amazing to even have intermittent Wifi service.  They will try to connect again this evening to perhaps give us an update on their adventure.

Stay tuned ... and praying.


Monday, July 20, 2015

Haiti Sports Camp Team Departs from Minneapolis

Hey Sports Camp Fans

The Haiti Sports Camp team was at the airport at 3AM this morning to set out on US Airways.  The flight check in attendants were a bit overwhelmed by 17 travelers all heading to Haiti but after a few adjustment gave boarding passes to everyone on the team.  Luggage was another topic... the attendants waived a $200 charge for golf bag size piece of luggage which was filled with skateboards and another piece of luggage came in at the exact 50lb limit on the scale (amazing).  God's hand was on this trip early this morning.

Last I heard the team had made it to their second layover stop somewhere in Florida.  Hopefully they will get connected and give us an update from Haiti.  The Wifi is a bit unstable so it might take a day to get things connected.

In the meantime here are some names to be praying for this week:  Sue Shannon Scott Ellie  Jenny  Dean  Natalie  Nicole  Shannon  Abby  Sarah  Dobee  Ben  Mike  Alex  Will

I've included a picture from last Friday's packing party were supplies and equipment were packed up.  See if you can match up names with people.

-Pete (part of Haiti cheering team in USA)

Sunday, July 5, 2015

Proud, But Not Finished

To Be Continued...

I hate when that comes across the screen. I am all about instant gratification. I want to get to the end of the story and see how it ends. I want to see all loose ends tied up...but this time.

Today was our last full day in Haiti. The end always come so fast. But this isn't the end.

We spent the morning at Leveque Deaf Church. We attended Sunday School first.  We were all amazed at how well the teacher taught the Bible. I was in a room with older kids and adults.  I know very little ASL (no comments, Bob :)), but I was able to easily follow along as he spoke about Creation and the temptation of Jesus. He did a masterful job.

Church began with worship and some of the children lead the group in worship. The pastor then called our team up to the front of the church and asked us to introduce ourselves. There were about 40 kids from Haiti Deaf Academy, all of whom we'd met on Friday and visited with yesterday at length, sitting in the front two rows. Before our team could sign our names the kids remembered them and were signing the name of each adult...when it go to me I was scared to death to sign my name (I don't fear public speaking at all, but signing my name is a whole new thing). Before I even got through "J" the kids let out some screams and were signing my name.  It was by far the most touching thing I have ever experienced in Haiti. I'm blessed beyond measure to have been part of this team...

So back to the be continued:

This week was the start of a story and only He knows how it will end. "HE" is God. Two and a half years ago God began to build this team. When Bob came to me the night we returned from Haiti on my first trip, I thought the idea of a Deaf team was a pipe dream. But Bob believed and he pressed forward with God leading the way to build this team.

Each member played an important part this week and I'd like to share about each of them:

Nick - A man who has a heart of gold. I can't even imagine Nick would ever say a mean word to anyone. Nick stepped so far out of his comfort zone to go on this trip, but he never swayed. He kept his eyes focused on the finish line and amazed us all with his steadfast love for the people of Haiti.

Tracy - I have been on four trips and I assure you, no one has ever trusted God more or called on Him as much as Tracy did. She will be the first to say that God carried her through most of this trip. She didn't let steep hills, hot days, or motion sickness stop her from the work God put in front of her. Tracy, I was so inspired by your willingness to keep going no matter the cost.

Karen - Caring as anyone on our team. She made sure that any team member that was struggling was cared for. At the Home for the Sick and Dying Children, she made sure I was drinking water. When Meredith got some heartbreaking news, Karen was the first in line to comfort her. She was the glue of our team and we thank her for that.

Brenda - Before this trip, I served with Brenda at Eagle Brook Church. Just like at EBC she went out of her way to include, encourage and support. As a first time leader this was invaluable to me. Each day Brenda thanked me or encouraged me.  I could not have imagined this trip without her support. 

Beth - In all my life I have never met sweeter soul. She never once stopped smiling on this trip.  She maintained a servant's heart throughout the whole week. Her laugh was infectious and her tears genuine. Beth flew under the radar until she surprised you with her love for all those who came in contact with.

Alan - He was on my first trip and will always hold a special place in my heart.  He is loving, caring, and strong all at the same time. The way he loves his wife is a model for all men. The way he cares for the least of these is a model for all Christians. His strength lies with in his massive heart for those who are overwhelmed by his hugs.

Jo Ann - This poor woman put up with more grief from me than any individual should. But she never stopped smiling or saying thank you to me. She too was on my first trip and helped to dream up and make this trip happen. I still can't believe she picked me to help lead this team. Jo Ann, I can't thank you enough for bringing me into this community. I in debt to you forever. I love you!

Kelsey - From the first time I met her until tonight when I said goodnight, I knew Kelsey was all in. There is no middle ground for her.  She holds nothing back. Whether it's holding three kids at once or filling water buckets she is there to complete the task perfectly.  She was also one of our interpreters who put in endless hours helping me learn what little ASL I could grasp.

Johanna - No one, and I mean no one, lights up a room like this one.  She brings joy wherever she goes.  You don't need to be able to hear to understand her personality. Ask any of the deaf children that left a room glowing from her interaction.  We also were so blessed to watch her love and support her mother who was on this trip. 

Julie - I am laughing as I type this. I can't tell you how much fun Julie is. It needs to be experienced to full understand.  On the tap tap, at breakfast, or in the field if I started to wear down I immediately looked for Julie to get me back on track. Her passion and understanding of her own faith was so refreshing.

Meredith - I have no words. Seven days of interpreting everywhere we went, yet still touching every person she came in contact with. This trip would not have been possible with out her. It also would not have been the same. She's the mother of Johanna too, which is not just a title to her - it's a mission.  What a wonderful role model for all the women on our team. Meredith, thank you for all the hard work and exhausting days.

Bob - Thank you. Thank you for allowing God to lead you to a place no one else was going. Thank you for your passion for the Deaf community. Thank you for including me. Thank you for your undying love for the people of Haiti. I am tearing up as I write this. Thank you for not allowing this story to end.

...To be Continued

P.S. - Jeremy has been an incredible co-leader for our team. We're all so grateful for his larger than life personality, love for people, heart for service, and his knowledge of all things Haiti. He led with confidence and joy, a healthy measure of crazy and fun, and allowed God to have His way in and through our team. Thank you, Jeremy! We all love you.

Saturday, July 4, 2015

The adventure at Haiti Deaf Academy and Salsa!

As we rose this morning, we all were feeling enthusiastic about meeting Deaf Haitian students at Haiti Deaf Academy.  This experience proved to be an amazing journey.  We had a rare opportunity to see through Haiti deaf students' lens to their culture.  We all had a piece of each student's life story.  It was a beautiful  learning experience for us.  We truly admire and love watching Deaf Haitian students sign.  We even tried to learn their sign language and the students were incredibly patience with us in the process of acquiring their language.    We saw their patience in their laughter and the love in their eyes toward us.  This is something we should all learn: to laugh when we make mistakes and to love when we encounter a new person.  These are valuable lessons.  We clearly saw that God was working through them to reach out to us.  All of us felt signless (at a loss for words) and  it was powerful for us to witness God's work.

Later on this evening, we learned Haiti's way of dance.  The Salsa!! Out on a balcony with a strong breeze blowing we laughed our way through step after step, ending with a twirl and a dip. Hopefully we will have photos to prove our new skills. Now to find a Salsa studio back in the Twin Cities so we can practice and improve!

We praise God for His goodness to us today and all this week.
JoAnn and Alan were surprised to see Mackenson who they have met him 1 1/2 years ago at the Wahoo Beach. So was I (Bob) knew him 3 years ago...  So good to see them exciting to see each other.
It show that Haitian DO remember someone care/love  them from their heart that help them grow their heart with GOD.  It's was an amazing week for the teams and Deaf Haitians.  It's amazing HOW GOD guide us to touch Haitian's heart but its really Haitian touched our heart with lots of LOVE...  That's AMAZING!!!! 
Tomorrow we will be going to the Deaf Church in Leveque and then after that will add more rocks to the Cross on the hill nearby church..


We want to add an interesting note about the cooking staff at Haiti Deaf Academy. We were awestruck by their faith in God as they stated about God in their conversation.  She told us the story about her family and herself about being saved.  It was incredible inspiring sight to watch their signing about God as they were not afraid to express their love of God.
Jo Ann and Julie

Friday, July 3, 2015

Visit Deaf school in Cabaret and Leveque...

Today was a big day for our team.  We started with a scenery drive to Grace Village for a stop to pick up someone to join our team as we visited the deaf school in Levesque.  As we arrived by the deaf community, Bob(our deaf leader) were so thrilled to see William (Haitian Deaf Pastor) as they have met 3 years ago. We all were watching him hugging and chatting for quite a while. It was so good to see them re-connect together. We had a tour of the school; many of us split up into groups and visited classes of different grades. These students were in awe and surprised that there are many of us (deaf people) in a group.  They were awestruck that we were deaf and that all of us could sign.  It was fun to see how they interacted with us by asking what our names were, our name signs, and what were our ages.  The facial expressions on their faces when we answered their questions were fun to watch.  Their eyes went wide and their jaws dropped.  They went around asking everyone their names and ages.  They couldn't believe that we came from USA to see them.  After school, we catch up with them at the Haiti Deaf Academy in Cabaret where some of the students had their meals and stayed during the week.  We had a tour of the Academy and met some of the staff there.  We learned their history and their language.
   Some of our favorite moments there were that we are the same (you deaf, me deaf too), when some kids asked how old our parents was/were, one of our team members told the kids his mother was 89 and that his aunt was 102, (Haitian's life expectancy is 55)  they were just dumbfounded and speechless, how the kids were leading some of us to their bedrooms (they were proud to show us where their beds were), how kids were touching us, coming up to us, asking questions, watching the kids pray after classes were done.  As they prayed, it appeared their hearts were seeking God.  It was a beautiful moment to watch and pray with them. 
  We ended the day with an outing to a local pizzeria "Pizza Amour" with Healing Haiti staff, Kesnel and her children and Brunet and his wife and son, but not without experiencing the real Haiti "rush hour".

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Day Four visit Deaf School

Karen - I was so excited to see Deaf Haitian People at Deaf School. Deaf Haitian people just automatically communicated with us and they were so happy to see us. I felt so connected with them and happy to see Haitian sign language - there were so many similar signs with ASL.  They showed us their property that has a school, dorm, shop, cafeteria and farms.  So they asked us many questions and told us about their culture. It was hard to leave them behind and we showed each other the "I Love You" sign.  It was a blessed day.    

Julie and Jo Ann - We were excited to be going to the Deaf Community.   Our excitement was how would our language communication would be like?  We have never met Haitian children and we have no idea what it would be like: would they be shy?  Would they be all smiles?  Would they be nervous?  Will we understand them?   How will the campus be like?  Big or small?  The name of the school was "Institut Montfort pour Enfants Sourds". Due to our amazement, we met the Nun and they were very friendly and grateful that we came to visit them.  Slowly one by one the deaf children came to meet us and they were very Beautiful and Joyful. 

 Beautiful, because it was so beautiful of how they came to us with the smile on their face, one by one.   Beautiful, because they were excited to talk to us.    The little girl came up to Julie and wanted to be held.   At first she was very shy and would be just smiling, looking at me, playing with my hair.  Eventually she finally started to point around and I had taught her some sign language, she is just starting to learn sign language.  When signed ILY to her she did the same and held my hand in the ILY sign for a while.    

Joyful -  because the children  were very joyful to see us and we felt connected instantly.  It was fun to see how they were in a joyful mood and find that we were the same.     There was this one girl wanted to know each teammate's name and namesign.  She would repeat them a few times from time to time.  She wore a pink shirt which pink is my favorite color.  When we were ready to leave, she was sad for us to leave but we told her hopefully some day we will be back to visit again. 

Johanna - As a hearing person, it was truly a delight to watch the faces of my deaf teammates as they met the deaf children at the school today. I was so blessed by the way they were ALL able to communicate with each other in a language they all understood. It was incredible to be present as Creole, French, English, ASL, and HSL (Haitian Sign Language) were all used in the same conversation.

The facility was being updated and it will be so great when the kids have a new building for
dormitories and their cafeteria. The school is wonderful and the whole property is self-sustaining with a garden, chickens, cows for milk and beef, rabbits, and goats.

Deaf kids in Haiti are another of "the least of these" - many times they are rejected by their families or ignored. The school we saw today is a place where deaf children will find community, receive an education, learn about God and His Word, and hopefully prepare them for life as a successful deaf adult in a hard world.

Kelsey- What an amazing day! Watching the connection made by the team to these sweet Deaf children was so fun! As we were leaving my heart was deeply touched by one of the Haitian Deaf boys. Through the window of our tap tap, he signed to me " You are hearing, do you love Deaf people?" I nodded, " Yes, of course I LOVE Deaf people!" I pointed to my amazing team and to the deaf children there. He looked surprised. "You love Deaf children?"  I affirmed again that yes I very much do. He gazed out the fence to the school and over into the local neighborhood. Breaking my heart he said,  "Wow. Because here (Haiti) out there, hearing people do not love us." Wow. What a powerful statement. I am so happy they have a school and Deaf family that loves them there. We were so blessed to connect with them and show them that yes, we love them- Deaf and hearing both. It saddened us to hear those words come from his hands. We think the school is a wonderful place of hope and pray we can potentially continue to partner with them and go back to visit and show that yes, we love the children deeply and God does as well.

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Day Three for our Team

Today our team had the privilege of visiting a Home for Sick and Dying Children. Privilege may not be the first word that comes to mind when you think of going to a place where you are sure to encounter suffering and pain, but it absolutely was, for all of us.

When we entered the infant room, my eyes were met by a tiny cherub in a crib by the window. A gentle breeze blew through the room and with it, a sense of peace.  Some laid quietly, others made their desire to be held and cuddled quite clear! I picked up the sweet girl that caught my gaze when I first walked in and my teammate Kelsey held another girl. The girls must be friends across the crib aisles - they were SO happy to see each other and enjoyed grabbing each others fists. But the crowning moment was when each girl laughed out loud.

The home is almost like a children's hospital for children recovering from severe dehydration or malnutrition. Babies all the way up to children of six or seven stay here until they are healthy enough to return to their homes. It was wonderful to see parents there visiting their kids all morning. And while it was heart-breaking to hear the cries of their babies when the visiting hours were over, it really was a beautiful sound because it shows how well attached those children are and they have family that loves them and wants them to get better.

Some of my teammates remembered Jesus' words from Matthew 25 as they held these little people - "I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me."

Each precious child there truly was the least of these. They needed care. They needed to be fed because they could not feed themselves. They needed their wet diapers changed. They needed to be held. They needed love. We had only a little time to give, but it was blessed by God.

Today we also toured Papillion Enterprises and Apparent Project, which is an amazing business here in Haiti providing jobs for men and women. That enables them to provide for their families and keep their family intact - no need to relinquish their child to an orphanage! We shopped for gifts made in Haiti - beautiful necklaces, Christmas ornaments, metal art and more. Its a neat place doing great things in the community.

More thoughts from yesterday

Julie - Each day we choose a word of the day. Yesterday, I chose "judgeless". The kids in Cite Soleil didn't judge me - I'm deaf and an American, but that didn't matter to them. They wanted love and to be held and it didn't matter whether I could communicate in their language. I enjoyed teaching a child my sign name, "J for Julie". When she learned it, she passed it on to other kids and they kept passing it on.

Nick - Speechless today. When we arrived in Cite Soleil with the water truck, the kids just jumped up on me and overwhelmed me with love. We were walking around, holding the water hose, so many kids wanted help bringing their buckets home, even though they didn't know me. It was really hard work. To see how people live that way, I couldn't understand it. See the kids - huge smiles, they had joy and they were happy - it didn't matter they were poor. They are blessed.

Team Funny Stuff

This morning, Jo Ann woke up and opened the shades in the room she is sharing. When she did, a baby gecko had been sleeping in the shade and ran down the wall and under her bed. There was lots of screaming and lots of laughter as the women tried to apprehend the little lizard. Ahh, it's just life in Haiti!

Tonight we enjoyed playing a hilarious game of Telephone Pictionary. Laughter was shared, stories were told, and another wonderful day in Haiti was brought to a close. We're grateful for such a united team and terrific leaders who are doing a great job.

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Nick - Speechless today. When we arrived in Cite Soleil with the water truck, the kids just jumped up on me and overwhelmed me with love. We were walking around, holding the water hose, so many kids wanted help bringing their buckets home, even though they didn't know me. It was really hard work. To see how people live that way, I couldn't understand it. See the kids - huge smiles, they had joy and they were happy - it didn't matter they were poor. They are blessed.

Stories from Water Truck Day

Today was an amazing day. Healing Haiti delivers water at no cost, to the poorest part of Port au Prince, the area called Cite Soleil, six days a week. We got to join them today, and our hearts were touched beyond belief.

Many of us were overwhelmed by the poverty and the living conditions, but even more blown away by the love and joy of the people we met. Children clamored for our attention and affection at each stop we made; women and men and children of all ages hurried to collect water from the gushing hose off the truck and carried the heavy loads back to their homes.

At one stop, we took some extra time to walk through the village and to the coastline. Kids trailed along with us, asking to be held as we crunched over the broken shells and garbage. Free range pigs and goats enjoyed bathing in the water as we stood and looked over the coast of this beautiful country. The depth of texture, the sparkly eyes of children, the cheerful greetings of "bonswa" as we was so much to take in.

Each of us had deeply personal experiences today, and God was working in our hearts. A few of us would like to share our stories from today.

Karen - Today I was impressed by LOVE. So many children at each stop! They all wanted love and wanted to be held, AND held tight to me. I've worked with kids in school in America all my life, but this culture was so different. It broke my heart to see kids living in the conditions in Cite Soleil. I was also very impressed with the children who were so strong and carried heavy water buckets on their heads back to their homes. I think it is God's gift to them, that they can work so hard cheerfully. What I saw in the children's eyes here, I wanted to take them home. Often I thought, "what would God do here"? The answer: share love.

Beth - Overwhelmed. That's how I felt today. At each stop, so many kids came to me, wanting to be held and begging to be picked up. As we walked together, and played together while their mothers filled their water buckets, we connected - they did not want to let go. When it was time to get back on the tap-tap, the kids didn't want us to leave. They'd say, "No-no, I don't want you to leave." They didn't let go - that was hard for me. I loved the kids! And I knew they loved me - I could see it in their eyes.

Tracy - In Cite Soleil, I realized that I have so much, and I have no business complaining. Thanks to a little girl who had nothing, but was FULL of joy, my eyes are open. opening up my eyes. I want to follow her example, all my life.

Alan - Today, I was devastated. This is my second trip here but really my first time in Cite Soleil. We didn't see the worst part of the Cite when I was here before. Michael, the Healing Haiti photographer, accompanied us today and I was so thankful to have him take us through the village to the coast. This morning, Jeremy shared from Francis Chan's book, "Crazy Love". I was so struck by the fact he shared that 53% of the world lives on less than $2 a day. I realized that I am SO RICH economically. But in Cite Soleil? They have nothing. It was really hard to see such horrible conditions.

But the Lord made me look at my heart. The people of the village there were so happy, even with nothing, but I have so much and struggle to have a happy heart, a joyful spirit. My experiences today - the baby I held for a pregnant woman who needed water, the kids who wanted to see my belly and laughed at my navel - my heart melted. For many years, my sweet wife has been asking me and encouraging me, "You need to change your heart - please be more gentle, be more loving." I want to do this. I want a gentle, joyful heart, with God's help. I want to be a good and faithful servant. There is economic poverty, but far worse is poverty of spirit. I want to be rich in love and gentleness.

Jo Ann - Today I met a boy named Lucas. He realized I was deaf, and he took care of me. He shooed me out of the way when motorcycles passed, he pulled my hand and pulled me out of the way to protect me. I taught him to fingerspell his name - L-U-C-A-S. He caught on so quickly! He spelled it back to me right at the end before we left. It touched my heart how he cared for me and communicated with me.

At the last stop, a girl took my hand as we walked through the village. She snuggled close and began to sing a song. I asked another teammate "What is she singing?". Johanna told me she sang, "I'm making melody in my heart, making melody in my heart." When I began to sing with her, her eyes lit up with joy and we shared a special moment together. I thought, "How can this girl be so happy even in the midst of this poverty?"

Brenda - Full of emotions today: nervousness, anticipation, excitement, heartbreaking, joyful, hope, overwhelming. I held one little girl for the whole time, and when I set her down she grabbed my little finger and demand to be picked back up. She was two, maybe two and half, with beautiful eyelashes and deep brown eyes, with a cross necklace around her neck. Every time I looked at her, she had a look on her face that appeared to me to be contentment and calm. Noticed her and I knew, "everything is going to be okay, she is going to be okay, and I am going to okay." We couldn't speak each other's language, but there was no need for words. We looked at each other and knew. Beautiful

Monday, June 29, 2015

Day 1 of Deaf team trip

We made it! After a long day of travel, which started for some in our group at 1am this morning, we arrived. The day was made longer by mechanical issues on our plane from Miami to Port au Prince, but we survived. An adventurous, but quick trip in the "tap tap" (bus) brought us safely to the lovely and welcoming guest house of Healing Haiti. :grateful sigh:

As we discussed our feelings and thoughts from the day, we each shared a word that described how we felt this evening. Words like: happy, excited, overwhelmed, nervous, ready, and shocked were used. Each person feels something different, but we all are glad to be here and are ready to serve.

Tomorrow the plan is to deliver water in Cite Soleil, which is the poorest and most impoverished community in Port au Prince. We will accompany a water tanker truck and help fill up Haitian's water jugs which they take back to their homes in Cite Soleil. It's supposed to be a hot day tomorrow, so pray that we all stay well hydrated and take good care of ourselves in the heat.

Thank you for your prayers and love and support for our team. We truly couldn't be here and do well without your help. Please pray for our team to communicate well with each other as we work and share God's love. Pray for us to trust in God's grace and love for us as we pour ourselves out for others.

Until tomorrow!

Sunday, June 14, 2015

Day 5

Today is day five, the last day of our trip.  We began our day with a wonderful church service of worship and thanksgiving.  We headed to Lalou Orphanage where the kids played soccer, skipped rope, and played ring around the rosy and just loved on the beautiful little children.  One of the little boys wanted to play with my hair, it was so sweet.  We did a little shopping at a bazaar type, out-door market.  When we arrived, there were many men that greeted us at the door of the tap-tap wanting us to purchase their merchandise and proceeded to follow us as we shopped.  One man happened to have a Wisconsin Badgers t-shirt on and wanted to help me shop, he said that he really likes Americans and how we really help the country of Haiti and how he really appreciates us. We ended our hot day with a few hours of fun and games at the nearby pool!  The kids did a fantastic job serving on this trip.  We are very proud parents.  


Saturday, June 13, 2015

Day 4: Beach Day

 yon bel jou nan Ayiti
We traveled what has become a very familiar route today, first stop Shalom Orphanage, destination the public beach.. We took the children and care giver to a play in the ocean. Shalom was awaiting anxiously for our arrival.   Both sets of children grabbed hands, big kids helped little kids in the Tap Tap and off we went, for another relatively long ride. Sleepy little ones all snuggled into stranger’s arms, trusting that they would be helped and kept safe on the ride.
We arrived at a very busy gate, but as always, The Healing Haiti tap tap was let in and Max drove us close to a covered area where we could set all our stuff….water toys, clothes, snacks and a place for tired kiddos to take break.  It wasn’t long before the water toys were blown up, life jackets fastened and everyone in the water. There were Mission goers that had never been in the ocean and the little kiddos had been there but very cautious and looked for a hand to hold and keep them safe.  Laughter, splashing water, tired kiddos and adults, makes for a very successful day. We are truly blessed so to let a group of strangers into your home, to play with your children and keep them safe. I am so blessed that a reputation of care, serving and God filled hearts go ahead of us and we can enter into the lives of others comfortably. Max and Valery played with everyone in the water, always a great time for the kids to see our guys take time to play, they are always smiling and gracious, but taking time to play is so important to us all.
We ended our day at Pizza Amore, A wonderful place for homemade pizza and beverages. We don’t know if it was the sugar, over stimulation or trampoline on the premise but we could hear our kids laughing and thoroughly enjoying themselves.  Laughter unguarded without inhibitions and  a chance to be just kids. Somewhere when growing up we forget that a little childlike enjoyment, laughter and silliness can be good for you.
It truly was a great day, tomorrow is Sunday and if you know me at all, I cannot wait to go to church….
Orevwa  ki sot Ayiti, kote skybis yo ble, dlo kle and bel timoun.


Friday, June 12, 2015

Day 3: Taste of Haiti

Home for Sick & Dying Babies was the highlight of our day.  We all enjoyed holding the babies and playing with the kids.  For some it was overwhelming at first but we got used to it.  We all helped give the kids water and quiet them.  Overall, it was amazing and it was enjoyable to see the kids.


Grace Village was an exciting part of the day. We first noticed it while we were driving through Titanyen, the bright colors of the buildings were beautiful! It was different from anything else we saw in Haiti.  When we first got off the tap-tap, the kids came running to us just like in Cite Soleil.  We spent the first hour taking a tour.  We saw the school, the bakery, aquaponics, the library, the houses for the orphans, the clinic and the church.  The kids at the school range from 5 - 18 years old.  They all wore purple and white uniforms and were very friendly.

-Izzie & Kai

When we went to do the Elder Visit it was really sad for everyone.  First we wen to see Ofhane.  He is dealing with leprosy. He is missing his right food and a few fingers.  We washed his food and put lotion on his body and prayed for him.  Well we were there, some of the girls were painting the kids finger nails.  Next we went to Jude John Paul's house. He is 22 years old but he had a seizure so he can't take care of himself.  He lives at home with his mother.  We put lotion on his mother and prayed for Jude.  Our last stop was to visit Marie.  She is  105 year old.  That is more than twice the average lifespan of a Haitian. We washed  her feet and put lotion on her and the we painted her finger nails and prayed for her.


Today near the end of the day we passed out manna packs.  They had rice, soy protein, potatoes and carrots. We drove into the village and children started running behind us knowing that we had for them.  It got some what chaotic because they were desperate for food.


Today after we came back and ate dinner, We played soccer with the neighborhood boys.  It was really fun!  We played some but not that much.  We played in the dirt as that was the field.  At one point, we were kicked out of the game because they didn't want us to to get hurt.  overall, it was a fun day.