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 walked...it 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.


Thursday, June 11, 2015

Water Truck Day

   Today was our first day of serving. We traveled to the poorest slums of Cite Soleil to deliver water. Many parents had done this before, but for 2 of us and all of the children it was a new experience. We've seen pictures, heard stories, and even seen videos of how this whole process works. However, seeing it firsthand and being in the moment, is a completely singular process- all while being part of a whole, and for the most part a well-oiled machine.

   We made three stops with the water truck. First was stop 17. 17 was calm compared to the other two, so it was a good place to start. The other two stops were fine, we are well protected, just a little more chaotic, be it from desperation or whatnot. There were children calling out while we were arriving, "Hey You!" Dozens of children flock to the back of truck ready for us to jump out. As one parent observed, the children lock eyes with you, with who they want to pick them up. You jump off the tap-tap, you scoop up one child or more, and you move on to see where you are needed. There was a singular line of people with buckets to fill, both adults and children alike. They seem to know where their buckets were at all times, even when the line turned into just piles of buckets being pushed at us all at once. Every now and then I would get a tug on my shirt where a woman or child would gesture to me to help them place the buckets on their heads to deliver back to their homes. There were other children playing in the mere drops of water from where the trucks connect to the green hose. The sounds of the children laughing, playing with such simple joy from a few drops of water, it's really amazing to then think of how much we take for granted, everything we toss aside. The conditions these people live in, but are still able to smile, to laugh, it's humbling to say the least. Water is so precious here, many people going without for weeks. One parent witnessed one child- who has no parents, no family- scooping dirty gutter water with the lid of a bucket and was drinking it. From the gutter. It's not just water, and it didn't look like water at all.

   Filling buckets is filling buckets.. What you truly see, HOW you feel with that many people around you is something I have a hard time finding words to describe. With many visible tattoos, I expected questions and looks. But so many children wanted to know what they were, and wanted me to know that they knew the word for each- flower, bird, tree. My favorite was their pronunciation of "tattoo"! It's unheard of for them to see so many, and on me, so colorful. They would ask questions without hesitation, I enjoyed the bluntness, which surprised me. I couldn't tell you how many tried to rub them off! The children seemed to really enjoy trying to make the connections between child and parent- who belonged to who. Having a biracial child, I had many hard stares (not unfriendly), and some would just grin and pull their friend to show them to. Then to make the connection between MY Mom, me and Macyn, they just thought that was so interesting. Our kids held so many children, many their own size! I expected more hesitation with the nudity they're not used to, and the forwardness of the children at these sites. Our kids warmed up quickly! They were holding the children, they were playing hand games, they were attempting conversations. There didn't seem to be a barrier to the children's experience, but the also recognized when they needed a little break from it all.

   As we reflected later this evening, it was interesting to hear their perspective. They observed a lot more than I would've thought they would. They shared fairly freely what they observed, and how they felt. Some of the parents who have made this trip before experienced a different feeling than they had previously. There was a level of protection for their child and the children in our group as a whole. As a first-timer, I don't know anything different than being in the moment as well as watching out to make sure Macyn was safe and ok, mentally and physically. I can't say how impressed I am at the maturity they showed, and at the reflection they actually put into the whole experience. And the kids don't seem like strangers to each other, they get along so well and each add a little something different to the team.

   When we got back from doing water, we walked up to the local hotel to swim and cool off a little. The kids had a lot of fun, and I think they enjoyed the break! Dinner was quiet, as we were all hungry! Tonight we had a Haitian diner, so that was a new experience for many of us. I think we all enjoyed the prepared meal, and are very thankful for the women who work so hard here at the guesthouse. We aren't living in rough conditions at all! Some issues with getting our air conditioner started in our bedroom, but hot food, freshly squeezed juice, clean linen, they're even willing to wash our clothes for us- by hand mind you, no machine wash here! It's hot here. I think I was properly warned, but it's still a shock! I have quickly figured out that wearing a headband helps.

 Tomorrow is a full day. We are visiting Grace village for a tour, going to Mother Theresa's orphanage, and we are also visiting 3 of the elders. We will be gone for most the day, and we have been warned that we haven't seen heat like we will experience in Titanyen. I feel like every night we are here will be a solid night of sleep, especially for the children!


Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Day 1: Travel Day

Busy Day!!

        We arrived after hours in the plane. For some people it was hectic, and for others it was relaxed.
        It was a long ride from Minneapolis to Haiti, or Chicago to Haiti ( Approximately 5 hours of flying time).
        We enjoyed getting to meet the dogs and seeing where we will be staying for the next 5 days. Also, we got to know the people on our team better and met the staff.
         The tacos were a highlight of our day. The dogs also helped us clean our plates. Also, Lois embarrassed her daughter, Lilliana, by having the entire (!!!!) restaurant sing happy birthday to her at lunch and having the team sing happy birthday again after discussion time. In the end it worked out because we got cake!!!!!!!
          Overall we had a great day and enjoyed seeing the beginning of our journey in Haiti.