Monday, December 19, 2011

Through the lens, a glimpse of Haiti

It has been exactly one week since our team has been in beautiful Haiti. I am filled with so many emotions today, Happiness is a big one, as I look through all the pictures we took while there. Tom, one of our leaders said to us that this may just be the best week of our lives...he was so right. How do you top this?
Our week was filled with lots of love, reaching out to many in need. Bringing clean drinking water to the people of Citi Solei, loving up the babies & praying with the young adults at the Home for the Sick & Dying, playing with the special needs children, and teaching some orphans how to paint for the very first time. It goes on & on...
Another big emotion is sadness. I'm thinking about the woman who was notified pretty much right in front of us that her baby died the day before.... and the young 20 yr old man who has lymphedema, which may end his life sooner then it should ( if he was here in America, he would be treated in 2 days), and the children who were so excited to show us where they sleep, in a very tiny cardboard box, decorated with stickers and a yoga mat for a mattress ( not all had one), or the many children we encountered with old mismatched donated clothing hanging on their tiny bodies. I cannot help but wonder how the the Mom I prayed with is doing today, her baby was so sick and fighting for her little life in the Home of The Sick & Dying Children. We couldn't speak to each other with words..but I gave her my cross necklace and she hugged me tightly. I knew what she was trying to say just by her eyes...
A beautiful moment, as our hearts were all broken from the many things we witnessed, we got to see the tent church, and see how the Haitians worship... It was so beautiful. They are not afraid to lift their hands to the sky and sing beautifully to the Lord. We couldn't understand all the words spoken in Creole but we could all feel Gods presence... it was truly amazing.
During our free time, we did a lot of reflecting on our day, and lots of silly dancing. Fan Fan, one of our interpreters, brought out the box of instruments and song books and up we all went, singing and dancing in a circle. Nobody cared how silly we was just us being joyful.
We were only there for seven days...but hopefully the love and help we brought to all we encountered made a difference to them, even if it was small moment in their lives.
One verse comes to mind,
‘For I was hungry, and you gave Me something to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave Me something to drink; I was a stranger, and you invited Me in; naked, and you clothed Me; I was sick, and you visited Me; I was in prison, and you came to Me.’ “Then the righteous will answer Him, ‘Lord, when did we see YOU hungry, and feed You, or thirsty, and give YOU something to drink? ‘And when did we see YOU a stranger, and invite YOU in, or naked, and clothe YOU? ‘When did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?’ “The King will answer and say to them,........ ‘Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did it to one of these brothers of Mine, even the least of them, YOU did it to Me.’

Healing Haiti team member

Sunday, December 11, 2011

A letter to Alyn...

Do the heavens open for you to see all that's happening at Grace Village, Alyn? Surely they must, for when I stand on that hill, I am certain it is the place that heaven touches the earth.

Your creative, God-given imaginative fingerprints are everywhere there. How it must bless the Savior's heart to see those gifts living on through the many who continue to come to carry on the work He started here through you and Jeff.

I imagine you... when the heavens part... beaming from ear-to-ear as you catch a glimpse of Grace village... for I could feel you smiling down on us all day long!

I can't tell you how much I miss you dear friend, but, you are with me today! :o)

Written by Julie Miller

Friday, December 9, 2011

Day Four

I had another beautiful day in Haiti today. We visited six elderly orphans this morning. Healing Haiti keeps up with these people closely and provides them with things they need like medicine, flashlights, etc...we delivered a hot meal, water, juice, sandwiches, and yogurt.

We got to visit the market on our way out and that was quite the experience... Let's just say I don't think I will be eating anymore meat while I'm here. Haha

We had a great day at the orphanage. We were able to do crafts, sing, and dance. They loved the chicken dance and the bunny hop. They were so stinkin' cute! Tom took me to see their "beds" and it was pretty shocking. These kids are living on stacked wood with cardboard walls and blue tarps for ceilings ... But they were so proud to show off which one was theirs. It was enough to break my heart for sure!

The director lined them up to let them sing and pray for us. Those kids worship so sincerely. Eyes closed and hands lifted.... It's the most precious thing I have ever seen in my life. It is the best feeling in the world to be able to spend time with and love on these kids. They are all so independent just running around freely...some chased us out to our "tap-tap" (our bus) and even ran beside us for quite a while. The neighborhood kids chase us too yelling in Creole asking for things like shoes and water. Definitely not something you see in America. I would be calling the police if I saw a kid chasing a car down the road...much less fifteen or twenty of them!

Today was incredibly hot...we all felt dehydrated and light headed. We drink constantly but don't go to the bathroom once all day. That's how much we are sweating!! Everything we drink is turning to sweat.

I just had my usual cold shower and sat down to relax. Fan Fan (one of Healing Haiti's workers/translators) is sitting in our living room and we are helping him with some English words he isn't sure about. I can say I'm getting used to life here though. I manage the heat, I don't scream every time it looks like we are about to have a head on collision in this crazy traffic....I'm used to everyone calling me "miss Texas" and "baby bear" (I'm the baby of the group)...I'm used to cold showers, early mornings, and long draining days...I think I'm going to surprisingly miss these things when I'm gone. I will definitely miss Tom's goofy jokes and him saying "watch where I'm going!" and "eat our dust!!" while we are in the tap tap. He's hilarious. So michevious, but he has a HUGE heart... And that's why the kids love him so much. He's not afraid to look silly to get them to smile! I'm so blessed with this amazing team. I really do love them already!

Love you all!

Thursday, December 8, 2011

HOPE...learning to paint for the very First Time...

Today our team went to visit Guilliam's Orphanage, to play with the children, sing with them...and something the kids have NEVER done before in their whole lives, paint a canvas. We asked them for a show of hands on how many have ever painted before? Only TWO hands went up...only two. Not once have they held a paint brush, or made their own art.
Being an artist, I work with paint everyday. It brings me to my "safe place", brings me serenity, and allows me to express myself through the many bright colors & most importantly, It is a gift from God, and God gives me the words to paint..... I can't imagine not being able to paint.
So, our team, along with the great interpeters began to teach them... I asked them to relay to them to not be afraid to use color, and they are all going to be artists today. It went exactly as it was susposed to. It was a bit chaotic and they had no idea what to do. We told them to paint whatever they wanted. Each & every canvas was so different.... one of my favorites was one that simply said"Jesus" in beautiful colors. At one point, we happened to look over at the water well, and saw about 8 of the kids trying to wash off their paint, they thought they made a mistake, and wanted to start over... that made me sad. Art is never a mistake, just like us. We are all perfectly made with Gods hands, all His beautiful children. He makes NO mistakes.
The art the children created today will be a part of something big & beautiful to come with Healing Haiti this Christmas. It's going to be Amazing... Lynn

Heart Pains in Haiti

There are certain situations and circumstances in life that defy descriptions or words, and this day in Haiti was one of them for me. We woke just before sunrise to feel the warmth of a Haitian morning, and made our way to the sunrise service under a big tent. From the time we entered the tent I could tell this was going to be a very moving day emotionally. I was amazed to see the passion with which these Haitian people expressed every emotion they were experiencing as they poured out their hearts to God. They smiled and danced and you knew that this was the place they needed to be each day to gain their strength and peace. It was truly an amazing scene!
Next I was further humbled as we rumbled down the pothole strewn streets to the home for sick and dying children. I was so cut to the heart as I saw parents sitting in a waiting room to drop off their children not knowing if they would ever see them again, wondering what it would feel like if that was me and my two boys, and I couldn't afford to care for them, how can it not crush a parents heart! We watched a desperate mother bring her infant son and they began to give him an transfusion and she began to get hysterical. A few of us went to console her and prayed over her with our translator FanFan and she then seemed to calm down. It was such a blessing received to just be able to hold and play and cuddle with each of the orphans, and to see the way they longed to be held and loved! I have to say that time and again in the last two days I have seen God prove his strength and power to hold us tightly when we need him most.
Our final stop of the day pushed me farther out of my comfort zone than I have ever wandered before. We went to a orphanage for sick and dying adults and I felt as we walked in God saying "are you willing to love the least of these"? Are you willing to reach out and touch with my love those who are lonely, those who have no one to call family, no one to care for their needs? As we walked into the tiny cot filled rooms full of people lying there hardly moving we thought one of the things that might soothe them would be a massage and they responded immediately. Within minutes I had men motioning me to come over to them, and we massaged there legs, feet and backs and it was awesome to see how appreciative they were. As we ended with them each we would pray over them as we held their hands, which for me was a truly moving experience. I am so grateful to God that he never gives up on us, he constantly pursues trying to show us the things in life that really matter, the things that will last forever. I realize in all this I have not done justice to this day in any way, but I hope you will realize in some small way the depth of the impact on my life this day has made.

Healing Haiti ST Day 2: December 7, 2011

I ask too many questions...

To start the day with worship is always a blessing. To start the day with worship in Haiti was life-breathing. After our first day--delivering water in City Soleil--our team gathered bright and early to give praise to the One we came to serve. And God, being God, blessed us immeasurably through the unbridled passion for Christ of our Haitian brothers and sisters!

I did not know at the beginning to this day was how I would feel when it ended. (One never does, right?) Yet, knowing the schedule for today, I knew this day held events I couldn't begin to imagine. So I gave it to God as best I could. Then I had to do that time and time again:

In the morning, we visited a home for sick and dying children. We entered the first room where 12 -15 babies lay in lined - up cribs with just enough room to walk down an aisle in between. Most were visibly sick, a few were crying, all wanted to be held. I didn't realize there was another room--and another--and another--and another.

Maternal instinct is a beautiful thing. I couldn't tie my apron strings fast enough to pick up Gina. Her painfully thin arms reached to me and immediately she buried herself into my shoulder. She cannot say "hold me," but her body said all. She is well cared-for by loving nurses, but they simply do not have enough of them nor enough time to give much exclusive attention to each one. Gina has "failure to thrive," a term I am quite familiar with from my education. She is likely to recover (she loved her lunch!!), but will she be taken home by her parents? If she is, will she once again face the same circumstances that brought her there in the first place? I have so many unanswerable questions.

I spent a long while holding Gina while Pam held a little girl who, while connected to oxygen (she has a tumor on her chest), knew how to get attention! She had the most beautiful smile and would shake her hand in time to the Haitian Christian music playng in the room! But there were so many others who did not feel like smiling much less dancing. A whole room full. And another, and another, and another.

The morning was heartbreaking, yet precious as I watched the ministry of love given by both our team and the Sisters who have given their entire lives to serve the sick and poor. When I was told we had to leave, I was startled to hear myself say, "I can't."

Later in the day, we visited an orphange run by a woman who takes the abandoned children from hospitals. Children in the most dire of need abandoned?! Others perfectly healthy left at the gate. Memose, beautiful Memose, who could ever leave her? Parents who cannot give her any hope of a better life than what they endure. I imagined the pain and sacrifice of the countless mothers in Haiti who must make that choice.

Our last stop was the home for sick and dying adults. So many sick, so few resources. I had assumed that the patients here would have incurable ailments. But some were in their 20's with very curable ailments. Why can't' they get the help they need? In our medical system, the anwers are easy. Here, the answers are difficult and few. But not impossible. Nothing is impossible with God. We were able to offer a hand or foot rub, a prayer, a song. Prayerfully, more than that where we can.

I think I'm becoming known among my teammates as the pesky lady who asks too many questions. Sorry about that. But we all, those who believe, know that our God has the answer. His name is Jesus. And one day, every tear will be wiped away. And we will live with all our Haitian brother and sisers eternally as we began Day 2: Praising the One we came to serve.

In His Love,
Mary Jo

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Day One

Today was our first day out in Haiti. We woke up for another amazing meal and then got ready to head out to the water trucks. I wasn't feeling well when I woke up this morning, but after a few prayers from my amazing family and friends I felt great.

Saying today was an amazing day would be an understatement. It was absolutely life changing. My heart is completely broken, but at the same time I'm glowing. These people have nothing...but they have a love for God like no other. The children are all absolutely beautiful. Dirty dark brown faces with bright white gorgeous smiles. They LOVED all of us. Most of the day we had a toddler on each hip and others holding on each of our belt loops. They just wanted to be close and to be loved on. It's such an overwhelming feeling to feel so important and admired by someone you just met.

They want to hug you. They want to know your name. They want you to "photo me" ( take their picture). They dont know english but they say "HEY YOU!!" and then tackle you with hugs and kisses. I gave a little girl a bobby pin from my hair and she thought it was the greatest gift in the world. We jump roped, taught the hokey pokey and just spent time and played with them. I personally wasn't able to help out much with the labor of the water truck because of my hurt hand, but it was an incredible feeling to watch my team mates. Just like Lynn said at the dinner table, we all just work perfectly together!

The driving here is crazy! A few of us got to hang off the side of the big water truck and it was quite the experience. No one acknowledges stop signs or oncoming traffic here. They just honk and fight for their needless to say hanging off the side was pretty exciting.

I can't really even put into words how these people live. They are surrounded by trash and sewer. Little boys that are probably around 7 or 8 wear too small of t-shirts and are naked from there down. Little girls have tattered dresses and none of them have shoes. Their clothes are either way too big or way too small.

I followed Steve while he carried buckets of water and we got to see inside one of the homes. Families are basically living in dirt closets. They have trash and sewer surrounding them. Pigs and chickens just grazing around freely.

I personally had two life changing which broke my heart and the other that put it back together. The first, I was spending time with the children and a grandmother approached me with an infant. She handed her too me and started telling me something in Creole. Then she started to try to leave... She wanted me to keep her. If my team members wouldn't have taken her from me and took hold of the situation I would have no doubt came home with that baby. That's when the tears really hit...I had to walk away. Not long after a little girl in a ripped up Cinderella costume came up to me. She loved on me and held my hand and wanted me to meet her friends. Then she wanted to get on my back... So I let her. We started walking around in circles and that precious girl did the most amazing thing.... She started singing in my ear.. Still on my back..."glory to God, glory to God, glory to God, Forever!" the sweetest voice I've ever heard. So we sang all the way back to the water truck.

I think everyone in the world needs to step back and think about what I just said... This little girl in a ripped up halloween costume, with no shoes and no running water loves God that much. She was so happy and loving every minute of my attention.

.... I mean we sit in the drive thru of fast food restaurants and gripe if our food isn't served immediately, while these people may not have food for days and they are still SO happy and in love with God. Wow....that's my word of the Wow to how they live. Wow to how beautiful they are. Wow to God answering my prayers and making me feel better so quickly. Wow I'm so lucky...I don't deserve what I have.... And wow God is great.

Love you all!

Day 1- Gratitude

Word of the day... Gratitude! So so many things to be grateful for in this beautiful day. Today, we delivered clean water throughout the day, our first place was stop #17. Before this trip, I tried to prepare my heart for all God is showing me on this journey, and I was fine....... until we stopped and opened the door. There were the most beautiful children...all full of smiles, laughter, and so much joy. One little girl locked eyes with mine, and gave me the biggest smile...and I smiled back, as my eyes started to swell with tears. We were surrounded by so much devastation, poverty, trash & dirt,rundown shacks & tents for homes, and yet, she was so happy to see us. She was excited and she knew we would be bringing clean water. It hit me when I wasn't expecting it. I couldn't help thinking about how something so small...yet something we don't even think twice about could make her day, help her to live, to quench her thirst for a little awhile.
We went to three different stops to deliver water and each stop was filled with laughter and smiles. We all worked together to fill their buckets, play with the children, and laugh with them, but most of all, share our love with them. So grateful for this day.... I will never be the same, Thank You Lord. Lynn