Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Beautiful Blue Eyes

Early yesterday morning, when I awoke after returning home from Haiti, I knew I was broken.  You see, an image of a young girl I met in Cite Soleil kept appearing in my mind.  Curious about me, she approached me with no expression on her face, but great sadness in her eyes.  Right away, the children in the area pointed out to me that her eyes were different than everyone else's ... they were blue.  Additionally, the whites of her eyes were not white, but instead bright yellow...indicating sickness or malnourishment.  As I tried to communicate with her, the children stated that she could not talk ... and to make matters worse, they seemed to enjoy teasing her.  She held a toy phone in her hand that they kept trying to take away.  Knowing that my time with her was limited, I did all I could to make her feel special and loved.  I have read that it only takes a moment to make someone's day and sometimes those moments can even change lives.  Praying that her life was brightened by our encounter.  

Saturday, October 6, 2012


Dear God –

I thought I knew what the definition of mercy meant in Your eyes. I have been blessed to walk with the brokenhearted for several years in a care ministry program at church. However, I was taken to a new level of understanding the action of mercy on a mission trip to Haiti. You had our team visit an elderly neighborhood in Haiti. During this visit, I met Edmond; an elderly Haitian man living in a one man tent in the hills of Titanyen. By your grace, I was given the privilege to sit with Edmond. Walking into his tent, I thought that I would be given a chance to show mercy to Edmond. I was allowed to put my arms around him, hold him, feed him, and pray with him. Then, I experienced a moment of a lifetime. Edmond put his arm on my thigh. At that moment, it was not me that provided Edmond mercy. In that moment, God, you were showing me mercy through Edmond’s touch. What’s more, Edmond, could be an angry and outraged elderly man. Yet, I witnessed a man filled with the joy of the Holy Spirit. Edmond is a man who is grateful for visitors, food, water, and a hug – the simple things in life.

I will be forever thankful, Lord, that you used Edmond to inspire and humble me. Thank you, Lord, that you have positioned Edmond in a place which defines mercy at its deepest core. Thank you Lord for, once again, unveiling my eyes to humanity's basic needs in order to survive which includes mercy.        

Written by Russ Scott

Friday, October 5, 2012

Seagulls & Smiles

Today, on our second water truck run, we went to a stop with a ton of kids. At first I was saying to myself "Oh my gosh," but then I was thinking "This is great!!" When I got out of the taptap, I felt hands pulling at my feet and heard people screaming "Hey you!!"  There was one boy running around chasing birds.  At the time, I didn't really think much about it. A couple of minutes later, I was playing with some children when I felt a little tap on my back. I turned around to find the same boy that was chasing the birds holding a seagull buy the wings. I screamed so loud, my friends in Minnesota probably heard me!! I ran away, still screaming, running for my mom. The boy followed me, holding the seagull towards me. My mother was standing there laughing at me, same as everybody else who was around. The boy's smile was priceless! I loved it!!

Written by Megan

Healing in Haiti

I have learned that in life, there are some things that I have no control over.  When an unexpected event happens that could cause concern or worry, I just give it to God.  I faced one such event just prior to coming to Haiti.

At the end of August, I discovered that I had melanoma skin cancer on my lower right leg.  My doctor recommended emergency surgery and the cancer was successfully removed on September 4.  Knowing the proximity of my departure date for Haiti, I asked the doctor if I would be healed in time.  The doctor was confident that my 3" long incision would be much better and that I would be able to continue with my travel plans.  However, a week before I was about to leave, my wound became infected threatening my trip.

So many questions came to mind ... Do I continue packing in faith?  Do I postpone my trip?  Am I taking a chance with my life by going with an infection?  Will I be a burden to the team if I go?  Am I going to disappoint my daughter who was planning on traveling with me if I postpone?  Well, I met with a wound care specialist and continued to pack in faith believing that if God wanted me in Haiti, I would be able to go.  I was completely filled with peace.  My new doctor gave me the go ahead after changing my treatment plan.  In all reality, this approval came right down to the wire as I was given the final okay to leave for Haiti the Friday before our Monday departure date.

Aside from some swelling in my foot, my leg has been fine all week and is looking much better.  I told my team leader Tom Gacek that I was "Healing in Haiti."  I have had such great team members that have shown much concern for me on this trip.  God even placed a few people on our team with medical backgrounds to assist.  And ... the most amazing part of this story is the selfless Haitian people who prayed over my leg at a sunrise church service I attended.  All of my team members watched in amazement during the service as a young man approached me with outstretched hands towards my leg silently praying.  He didn't know me nor I him. A few moments later, an elderly woman joined in praying and actually was massaging my leg, wiggling my toes, and rotating my ankle!!  "Ouch" I was thinking just before she started, but it didn't hurt a bit. God must have wanted me here in Haiti and I'm ready to complete my week of service.   

Philippians 4:6 ~ "Don't worry about anything.  Instead ask God for what you need and thank Him for all He's done."

Thursday, October 4, 2012

A Boy without a Smile

Yesterday was the day that we went to the Home of the Sick & Dying Babies.  I loved how many of the children were full of joy when we came to visit.  Most of the children were playing when, out of the corner of my eye, I saw a sad little boy sitting on the ground holding an orange balloon.  I ran over to include him with the group of other little boys when he gave me this face that said, "I'm sad and in need of love." I hugged him, held him, tickled him, and silly-faced him, but received nothing in return ... not even a smile.  I started crying and I wondered where he had been, what had happened to him, where his family was, and why wasn't he smiling??

~ Written by Megan  (12 years old & her first trip to Haiti)

(Note:  No pictures are allowed at the Home for Sick & Dying Children.)

pictures say a thousand words....

Real Strength is by force of the soul

For many today was like any other. The sun rose and the people of Haiti awoke, they struggled through the day, and as the sun set they returned to their homes. For others, the day was filled with emotion, those others were us; the people of Healing Haiti that chose to come to one of the poorest places in the world. We came for different reasons, but once we arrived each and every one of us has been changed. Today I saw things that touched me, but I was perhaps the weakest in our group, I only let the people we met today take a glimpse into my heart. Others opened their hearts and souls fully to the world. The heartbreak and emotion I saw plainly on the faces of the fully grown men, was more powerful than nearly anything I have seen in my life. The young girls with us, excuse me, young ladies, were so fully engaged I cannot think of a place where they could learn to be more thankful for what they have in this life. The world that surrounds us when we are at home in America is calm, at times complex, but ultimately comfortable. These new friends of mine are leaving the comfort of their lives at home, to bring some comfort the the strangers they meet in Haiti.
I would like to say that I was strong, but I cannot. Real strength was shown not by force of muscle, but by force of soul. I know that I cannot do justice in describing how the people here impressed me. So instead I will say that if I can learn to open my heart to total strangers fully as I have seen everyone here do I will have learned the most important lesson on this trip and will be forever thankful to the people who have embraced me, also a stranger, as not only a friend but as part of their Haitian family.


Wednesday, October 3, 2012


After spending 2 days in Haiti one word keeps coming into my mind. Expectation! 
What am I expecting to accomplish here! 
What do I expect from myself? 
What do my kids expect from me as a father?
What does my wife expect from me as a husband? 
But most importantly I think is the question what does GOD expect from me? 
I need to be surrounded by strong Christians like the people on our team!
The definition of a Christian is to be a disciple of Christ! Our time here is short but we are determined to be difference makers and set the bar high for our team to be effective in showing the Haitians that someone cares, even though they may be abandoned,feeling hopeless, and are extremely poverty stricken.  We do!  Christians who are the body of Christ. That is what the Healing Haiti mission is about!  
James 2:17 says that if we have faith with out action that our faith is dead! We are taking action and are going to fill empty water buckets, visit sick and handicapped children, hug and love on the kids we meet on the streets and join the local Christians here in worship every day!  I think that is what God expects and more! We want to worship,honor, and serve the Lord by serving others!  I know we fall short of reaching Gods full expectations because we aren't perfect!  We are sinners living in a broken world but we can be beautifully broken because of Gods Love, Grace and compassion for us all, we can be grateful for that and God's blessing of Healing Haiti!    


Tuesday, October 2, 2012

A Young Girl's Dream

Last spring, when I was discussing possible locations for a vacation with my husband (one of them being Disney), my 12-year-old daughter Megan abruptly interrupted the conversation by firmly stating, "I would rather go to Haiti than Disney!"   This response from such a young girl may have surprised others, but it didn't shock me.  Since November of 2010, I had been to Haiti three times on mission trips and right from the start, Megan and her friend Abby decided to do what they could to help.  They began creating duct tape purses, bracelets, and bows to raise money to buy fingerpaints for a school principal in Titanyen.  Later, they were able to purchase a laptop computer for him.  They have also made general donations to Haiti with the funds earned, and most recently used the money to help pay for Megan's trip to Haiti.  Yes ... her dream did become a reality as we are in Haiti together this week.

Watching my daughter realize her dream by serving in Haiti is simply amazing and heart-warming.  Yesterday when we arrived, a young group of boys were waiting for us outside the guesthouse where we are staying.  Their smiles and excitement brought such joy to Megan that she immediately told me that she didn't want to leave Haiti.  Her "Word of the Day" that night (a word to describe the day that each team member shares with the group) was "smiles."  Then, today I watched as she showed God's love to people she had never met in Cite Soleil (the poorest slum in the western hemisphere).  She was a bit timid at first, but quickly began holding children's hands, hugging them, and showing them she cared.  I even witnessed her jump out of the taptap (our ride) to give a Haitian woman a snack as she gently touched her on the shoulder.  Fearing the woman had seen us passing out snacks to children visiting our taptap, Megan didn't want her to feel left out.

Our week has just started and I cannot wait to see how God continues to transform Megan's life and the lives of those she meets.  Those of us who have served in Haiti understand how we get so much more out of this experience than we give. By the way, Megan and Abby have now added jean bag creations to their sales, and Megan will be meeting the school principal she has helped in a few days.   

Friday, March 16, 2012

Haiti is home to the largest slum in the Western hemisphere, Cite Soliel. This poverty stricken country can be reached by a short 90 minute flight from Miami; however, while Americans lay out on the sandy beaches in Miami, beaches located on the same body of water are avoided by Haitians due to the excessive pollution. These are two separate worlds entirely, and yet they are separated by a mere 90 minutes. I wonder how is there a country in such proximity to the United States with unimaginable unemployment rates, an extremely low life expectancy, an unstable government, and undreamed of living conditions. Large amounts of the population of Haiti are without running water, something almost unheard of in most parts of the United States.

My interest in service and in others brought me to Haiti for Spring Break where I worked with a team of volunteers to assist with the delivery of fresh water, to give love and attention to children and to spread God’s word. On my second evening in Haiti on a visit to a tent city, I met a boy who had a great deal to teach me. 

Passing through the gates of the tent city, I was hit by the stench of urine and crowdedness.  I wanted to look away and yet I could not turn my eyes from the display of uneven rows of crowded homes made of tarps and sheets strung together over sticks. Timidly, I began walking, leaving the comfort of the gate, edging closer in a trance-like state. Weaving my way between rows of makeshift homes, I struggled to avoid the stream of unknown fluid cutting a path inches from my feet. Walking past the open tents, I was greeted with an astounding amount of joyfulness, never less than a smile.  I continued to walk through the tents saying hello, and then I saw him. 

A few tents from where I stood a boy sat in his wheelchair. His twisted legs dangled from the well-worn chair while he ate a tiny portion of rice. He shyly glanced up and our eyes met as an enormous smile spread across his face, and in that moment I became so dispirited. I dropped my gaze and turned my back as my face flushed and tears began to stream down my cheeks.  What, I wondered, did this crippled, poverty-stricken boy have to smile about?  His family’s home was half the size of my bedroom back home.  Where I had lush carpet he had cracked earth, where I had air conditioning he had sweltering heat, and yet where he wore his smile I wore nothing. I could not remember the last time I smiled with such a full body smile as he had just given me.  Slowly, I dried my tears and walked towards him. Once I reached him, I bent down to look him in the eye, and with an unsteady voice, I asked, “Ki jan ou rele? “ In the gentlest voice, as if sensing my uneasiness, he responded, “Ronaldo.” Though we could not communicate with words, I felt completely at ease just sitting by his side in the dirt, enjoying his company.

After nearly 15 minutes of communicating through simple gestures, and a brief introduction to his family, it was time for me to leave. As I got up, I turned to the boy and with increased confidence said, “Ke Bondye Beni’ou “(May God bless you).  His smile, which had been so painful minutes before, now filled me up.  I returned the smile from a deep place in my soul and reluctantly returned to my night’s lodgings.  

Once more I passed through the gates of the tent city and ventured onto the uneven road. As I walked home my mind was a whirlpool of thoughts. Sleep did not come easily that night.  I despaired about how incredibly materialistic our society had become, how incredibly materialistic I had become. Ronaldo, with his bright smile amid squalor, reminded me, in an intense way, that living fully has little to do with having the biggest house or the latest gadget.  Initially, I was torn apart by the boy’s smile because of how guilty it had made me feel, but over our time together, I came to see that we could share a beautiful human connection.  I was more open in all of my interactions with others after meeting Ronaldo.  I realized that I had a gift for making others feel comfortable. Furthermore, upon returning people praise me for spending time in Haiti.  This praise, which is something I would have gladly taken before my encounter with Ronaldo, embarrasses me as it is undeserved.  I have learned that each of us should be expected to do what we can to enhance the lives of others and to learn about ourselves and one another. Haiti is a place that has had an incredible inspiration to me, it is a place I have come to love, and it is a place that has shaped who I am.

Sammie Maixner

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Haiti from the eyes and hearts of Finna and Sophie (two 13 year olds)

So today we went to the house of the sick and dying babies. We also went to Gertrude's; an orphanage of the handicapped. What we saw today was nothing like we've ever pictured an orphanage being like. At the home of the sick and dying, there were children crying their hearts out beacuse they needed a diaper change or wanted to be held. Some of the home of the sick and dying buildings were taken down in the earthquake and are now being rebuilt as you read this.The cribs were lined up in rows like you would see in a movie, only this was real. 
The thing is Haiti is real and not a movie!  Its only day three and we think we've seen it all. Our favorite part of today was meeting Junior he is a disabeled boy who lives with Down Syndrome. We are pumped up for tomorrow and what we will see.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

As we drove through the streets of Port au Prince to Cite Soliel to deliver water I was taking in my surroundings not quite sure what to expect.  Many questions filled my head.  Should I be concerned for our safety?  Would the scene be chaotic?  I said a prayer for God to protect our team and put my faith in Him so I would not worry but be able to concentrate on helping others. 
We turned the corner off the main road and as soon as the children saw the water truck they began shouting "Hey you!" and came running to the truck with huge smiles. Women and kids who looked to be as young as 6 years old quickly lined up behind the truck with their water buckets.  Everything was very orderly for people in such great need.  Some kids were so thirsty they began drinking before their buckets were even filled with water.  Others sat their bucket down within yards of the water truck and began bathing. A mother began washing her clothes.  It felt amazing to be providing what they needed so much. 
I helped many kids lift water buckets onto their heads and carried water to their homes.  In the middle of the second of our four stops I began to lose my strength and my hands began to ache from carrying the water buckets with wire handles.  I told myself that I would simply play with the kids on the next two stops because I didn't have the energy.  But when I got out of the truck on the next stop I couldn't help myself.  I just had to help these people who were in such great need.  I prayed that God would give me strength to continue carrying water at the last two stops. 
I finished the day with more strength than I had as the day began, feeling fulfilled that our team was provided with the opportunity to serve those less fortunate than ourselves.