Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Day 6: His Plan

As I sit quietly and reflect upon the day, a word that comes to mind is “plan.” There is no doubt in my mind that God wanted each and every one of us to be on this trip to see what we have seen, to meet who we have met, and to feel what each of us have felt. He intended for us to be here and He intends to use us in how He sees fit.
This morning we started out our day with our last water truck run of the trip. We delivered to two separate neighborhoods in Cite Soleil. While at our first stop, I saw one of the young boys I had met earlier in the week. We happily greeted each other, and with a smile and through our eyes we were able to communicate that we had remembered each other. I sat down to play with the children and before I knew it I had two little girls taking care of me by braiding my hair. After water was flowing from every bucket (and then some), a water fight broke out. All it took was one small bucket of water to be dumped one child’s head to erupt a chain reaction amongst the children and adults alike. The little boy I had befriended only days earlier climbed atop a nearby cement structure and sneakily poured water on me and every person that crossed his path. The moment was divine – cold water to soothe us from the intense Haitian heat and smiles across every face in sight.
The second stop we made was, dare I say, even poorer, filthier, and seemingly more in need than any of the previous stops we had visited. It is hard to capture in words just what we saw, as all five senses were fully engaged at all times. Despite the conditions, we all greeted the children with warm smiles, hugs, and laughter. At one point, our group (and the swarm of children that latched onto us) left the water-truck workers to man the station and went on a walk-through of this particular area. I had seen extreme poverty everywhere on our trip but somehow this trumped everything thus far. Small, tin shanties that families called “home” lined the garbage dump just feet away. Pigs scampered around looking for leftover scraps to call their own. The sight and smell of it all nearly made me sick.
I saw the glass lined path we were walking down and could not help to think of all of the poor little feet following behind us. How could walking on a “sidewalk” made of garbage be seemingly so normal to these little ones that trailed behind? How could this possibly be real living conditions for our brothers and sisters of Haiti? How could our hearts not be torn and how could we dare just sit on the sidelines?
As I ponder these questions, I cannot help but wonder what God might prompt us to do once we return home. I am certain though that He will reveal to each of us in due time just how he intends to make a difference in our own way.
Molly Mozdzyn McKeen Healing Haiti Team Member

Friday, May 20, 2011

Day 5 - Walking With GOD

How do I start to describe such a perfect day.  Well, I guess it would be by saying our team started out by a wake-up call from Tom clinging glasses for the sound of church bells at 5:00 am sharp with worship music playing in the background.  I can’t forget the roosters crowing!  We all quickly dressed and loaded up in our TapTap truck for another wild and crazy drive!  We drove to a church on the top of a hill with a beautiful view of mountains and the sun shining down on us.  What an incredible place to be!  There were so many people there praying, singing and thanking God.  It is a service I wish everyone could see and be a part of.  There is nothing better than feeling the magnificent power of Our AWSOME GOD!  As we left, we felt so energized for our day.  Our next little journey for the day was going to a market in Titanyen to buy 3 goats.  Once the goats were purchased, we followed our guide walking with the goats and delivered them one by one to 3 different elderly people in such deep need.  It reminded me of walking through the desert with Jesus as we walked to each place to deliver each of them their goat.  The joy on their faces was indescribable!  It gave us all such joy.  There is nothing like giving.  We decided we needed to take a break and drove up to Grace Village Orphanage still in the process of being built.  All the little kids there came to see us.  We had so much fun giving them candy, a soccer ball to play with, painting the little girls fingernails and give them a cute scarf.  I have to say it was one of the best breaks in my life!  We then drove to Yvons Orphanage.  What a wonderful welcome we received from these cute darling little kids!  We all sat down and then they sang in worship for us!  The faith here in Haiti is quite amazing.  We were able to make tambourines with the kids and sing a few more songs.  We wanted to make name bracelets with them but were told we better leave as there was a demonstration on the horizon.  We quickly showed one of the older girls, Carole, how to make the bracelets so they could still make them.  Before we left, the kids all lined up and gave us all the tightest hugs.  There is nothing like bringing joy to a child and receiving it back.  We drove off and headed back to our temporary home.  Our night ended with us all singing in worship together.  This whole day was like Walking With God.

Nancy Kvam
Healing Haiti Team Member

Thursday, May 19, 2011

My word for the day spent in Haiti is "teach." It's amazing how common daily thoughts, words, and activities take on completely different meanings when confronted with how education is seen by the director of a free school, Jean Garry. School was not being held today in the small village of Titanyen, due to some riots in the area, so our plans to visit the children in the classrooms was changed. God had a better plan in mind however, a lesson for the visitors instead of the students.
Jean shared with us his hopes and dreams for the school which is being held in a rented structure, consisting of a typical concrete block structure with dirt floors, openings only for doors and windows, and corregated metal lean-tos for additional classrooms. He stressed the importance of the education for the children of his country to give them not only a chance to survive but to be like the little boy David in the Bible who became King. They may be poor in material possessions, but incredibly rich in faith. Jean currently has 417 children attending his school. Because of space limitations, he frequently turns away parents wanting to send their children to the school. He relies totally on God's provision of sponsors, namely Healing Haiti, for the supplies, teachers, and daily needs of the school's operation.
As he so humbly talked of his situation, I was constantly reminded of my own former teaching days and our frequent complaints of lack of materials, low pay and benefits, and unappreciative students and parents. Yet here in Haiti, a 26 year old man of God, has taken the call to faithfully lead teachers and children, despite the conditions, to learn the basics of education so they may eventually be the leaders of their society.
When asked what the needs of the school were, he hesitantly replied- just a laptop computer to write the exams for the students. Then, it wouldn't be necessary for him to leave school for a few days to travel to Port Au Prince and process the exams for all the classes. His dedication, committment, and sacrifice for his staff and students can only be given by God.
Today all on our team were taught invaluable lessons in faithfulness, dedication, committment, and the true love of God for his children especially when we are willing for the one and only "teacher" to instruct us, His humble servants.
Written by Sue
Team Member Healing Haiti

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Day Three--Home for Sick & Dying Children

Let the little children come to me…Having been in Haiti once before, I knew what to expect when we entered the gate into the Home for Sick and Dying children, but knowing what to expect does not lessen the impact seeing the children has on one's spirit and soul. Their big brown eyes looking up at you, handing reaching out for a touch, to be held for a moment or forever. Their bellies distended, legs and arms skeletal without the strength to hold their own head up. A one year old looks like a 6 month old due to malnutrition and dehydration. But despite their physical limitations, their spirit is strong and their needs are just like yours and mine, basic. Their bodies need the food, but their soul needs love and affection. For a few hours we hold them, rock them, feed them, sing to them and even play with those that are able, and we hope that they feel the love we give, that their spirit is renewed.
Today, I thoroughly enjoyed watching my teammates impacted by this experience for the first time. Most were brought to tears as their hearts were being broken by God through the children. Each and every one on the team "jumped in" despite their own fears and insecurities. Connections were made without words, through smiles, touch, laughter, kisses and hugs. Mothers curiously watched as we cuddled their children, finding a few brief moments of respite and comfort in knowing their babies were safe. They are a product of their circumstances, unable to provide for their own children because they can't even meet their individual needs. In a few short hours, each of us bonded forever to a child that is a now a face to the many prayers of those less fortunate.
After our morning visit to the Home for Sick and Dying Children, we took a brief rest before our visit to Gertrude's, an orphanage for children with special needs. God directed me right away to a child strapped to a wheelchair. She could walk, but the nuns strapped her in because she LOVED to swing and would always be outside if she wasn't contained. Of course she convinced me to let her out and away we went to the swing set. To have the innocence of a child, the free spirit to live each moment to the fullest has been lost for most of us. I took advantage of the opportunity and held her in my lap and we swung until we could swing no more. That is why I love Haiti so much, because when I'm here nothing matters except God and my relationships. As Matthew 22:36-40 says, the first and greatest commandment is to love the Lord your God with all your heart, mind and soul and the second is to love your neighbor as yourself. That neighbor is next door, down the street or a short distance from Miami in the poorest country in the western hemisphere.
The final stop on our journey today took Mary and I to San Fil with some of the nuns who also work at the home for the sick and dying, to a clinic to do some wound care. The rest of the group stayed back to help with more of the care of the babies as we did in the morning. San Fil was unlike any other part of Haiti either of us had experienced before. The wound clinic was in the middle of a marketplace of sorts packed with merchants selling various wares. The land cruiser barely fit in between the vendors and the people. Once inside, we helped the nuns prepare, gathering gauze, gloves, tape, antibiotic ointment and saline to cleanse the wounds. Already a line of people had formed outside the clinic. Prior to starting, one of the nuns prayed with and sang with the patients asking for God's healing hand to bless them. Without getting too graphic, the wounds were significant, as I can only imagine very painful, smelly and some were deforming. But as we cleaned and disinfected the wounds, they sat there for the most part in silence, helping us find our way, telling us how to clean and dress the wounds. As Mary expressed so aptly that night at dinner, washing their wounds and feet reminded us of what it would have been like when Jesus washed the feet of the disciples.
Day three in Haiti was a transformative day for all of us and we thank God for his constant provision this day and for the rest of our journey.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Day 2 in Haiti

Today was an incredible day delivering over 7500 gallons of clean,safe water on three different water runs to area's of City Soleil. The experience of pulling the huge truck onto a street filled with people, goats, chickens and rubbish piles and then seeing the excitement and chaos that soon followed was a bit overwhelming. We were greeted with children, adults and elders, some who were clothed and some who were not. The smiles on the faces melted my heart and we worked fast and furious to fill the large buckets that came before us. The line got longer and longer and you could see the desperation from the people as the water to them were like buckets of gold. As the water ran dry from the 3 loads we delivered, it shattered my soul to load up our team and drive away as so many were still standing in the street waiting ever so patiently in the line for drops of gold. Even though there was disappointment that we were leaving, the people waved and smiled as we left them on the disheveled, dusty roads of City Soleil.

My heart felt overwhelmed with joy and also pain in leaving these loving people. While water was being dispersed, many of us held, played and jump roped with the kids. They loved to have their pictures taken and then seen on the camera right away. We captured so many beautiful children who have lived through so much. It is amazing to me to see such joy in these children of the tent cities. It bothers me that our children in the United States have SOOO much and still seem to want more and more. They could all learn so much from seeing where happiness truly comes from. It is not from the material goods that we Americans gather!

It also made me realize, how much we waste: the precious water that others desperately depend on for life. I personally will let my water run while I brush my teeth. I shower once or twice a day. I water my lawn to have nice green grass. It made me feel so selfish and wasteful today after serving water to those who have no water, home, electricity or plumbing. Hard to believe I live approx 1000 miles from a place so foreign to me and my loved ones. As we sang songs of praise tonight after dinner, the rain began to pour down and has lasted a long time. It makes me wonder how all those thousands of people we saw today are managing in the wet, muddy streets and tents. If only those drops of gold coming from the sky tonight could be bottled and used to help these faithful people of Haiti.

Each day we share a word with the team that best describes what we felt on this day. Tom's word tonight was MOMENT. Each minute and hour of this day will forever be moments that we will never forget. These moments are forever engraved on our hearts and we will carry them with us for the rest of our lives. These moments will change who we are and how we view things at home in Minnesota. I have always heard that taking a risk and making a change is always a good thing. Like the chameleon who changes color to adapt to new surroundings….I truly believe this journey of risk out of our comfort zone, will turn out some really amazing chameleons!! There are sure a lot of those little creatures running around here!

I feel blessed to be sharing this experience with an amazing group of people. Our team has melded together as one to serve our Lord and the people of Haiti. The spiritual journey continues tomorrow when we go to the orphanages. Please continue to pray for our team as we reach out and stretch our arms to Haiti with love and joy.

Ask God to Bless and use your gifts of time, talent and treasures to bring hope and justice to a world in need!

Ke Bondye Beni'ou
God Bless you,

Jane Bacchus-Ray
Healing Haiti Team Member

Monday, May 16, 2011

Give Gratitude to Everything in this Lifetime

"Give gratitude to everything in this lifetime."

As we taxied the runway, the words from the Haitian girl we met a few moments earlier echoed in my mind. Waiting for our flight out of MSP, she told us of how her mom had repeated this to her all of her life. Although she talked about the horror that the earthquake brought to her and her family and how she had lost three of her cousins, there was an unexplainable joy in her eyes and a joy in her smile that captured me.
Excitement and joy came over me as our plane began picking up speed to take off. Tears welled up in my eyes mere moments later, realizing that the feelings God had placed on my heart more than a year ago now were finally coming to be. I was excited! I was filled with joy! I was grateful, grateful to God that I was right there in that moment, grateful that He helped me to overcome my fears of going, and grateful for how He might work in and through our group!

Thankful to God for this opportunity to serve Him and looking forward to the days ahead!

-Molly Mozdzyn McKeen
Healing Haiti Team Member

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Preparing our Hearts and our Luggage:)

Our journey hasn't yet began, but as we pack tonight and ready our minds and our hearts, let us not forget God has been planning this moment and this time from the beginning. It is not an accident that each and every one of us is going to Haiti tomorrow!! Even if this is not our first time...God know the plans He has for us and He will be with us wherever we go. I think the following poem by Roy Lessin says it best...

"Always Remember...when God made you
He did so with a purpose and a plan.
He saw all your days
before you lived one of them
and placed over you
the covering of His protective love.
He has allowed nothing to come into your life
that has not first been screened
through that love.
He calls you by name.
You are His beloved child...
the apple of His eye...
the delight of His heart.
He hand has remained
upon you to THIS very day.
He will be with you as He has always been---
in goodness, in kindness, in faithfullness, and in love.!"

Can't wait to see you all bright and early tomorrow AM!!

-Betsy Smith
Healing Haiti Team Member