Sunday, May 12, 2013

The Latitude team is coming to a close. Our last night together. We have bonded over brokenness on all levels. What an honor to serve, lead and be part of these peoples lives. Tons of tears, laughter, sorrow, pain and hope. There are no words that can fully describe the experience one gets serving God in this country. We are the ones served, really. Our lives hopefully will be viewed through a different lens as we head back to our reality. I encourage anyone who longs for something bigger than oneself, to come to haiti. You will never be the same.

Mothers Day in Haiti

Another amazing day in Haiti for our team. We have witnessed ideas that have turned into reality, poverty turned into sustainable and joyful life, and the Lord put on a pedestal so high that kids were screaming and shaking for the love. Everyone on our team has been able to serve a very specific gift that they have been blessed with. The power of our group is defined by each of our uniqueness to serve. Holding children, blessing the elderly with songs, changing diapers, or sacrificing themselves from the rest to care for children that aren't usually given attention from us. We are what a real team truly is, and the Lord continues to take advantage of that more and more every day! Being our last day here we traveled to Grace Village to see the progress of what it has become since day one. Sharing time has brought up many words to describe what we saw including: significance, beauty, pride, life-giving, and the power of the Lord so expected we have started using the phrase 'of course'  to describe the obvious fact that the Lord has his hand on Haiti now. The Lord has a lot more than his hands to hold us with and visions of the future are in our heads already. After being able to see Grace Village we traveled down the hill to care for a few elders that Healing Haiti volunteers have sponsored. The happiness of the people we saw was agreeably the most unexpected. They seemed contempt, like they were as happy as they could possibly be, but basic needs for them were not met. The first man we saw asked us to pray for a toilet, and the ability to marry his partner who he has not had the opportunity to share the experience with; they are in their 60's. The second man we visited was burdened with leprosy. Being in consistant pain and having so much work to do and goats to tend to,  yet it did not empty the joy from his heart one bit. We laughed with him prayed and sang songs. Quite the blessing to be apart of their lives and im sure we would all agree their joy would be a blessing to experience daily in our lives back home. Coming back, we celebrated over a meal and shared around our circle. Tears continue to flow like they have all week and everyone is anxious to get back to share the joy with family and friends. Healing Haiti has given us all an opportunity to change the world and change our lives and we are thankful beyond what we can express.

Saturday, May 11, 2013

From a Mama's Heart~

God called me to come to Haiti, and I obeyed.  It wasn't an easy decision because I was called to come and lavish love and serve the poor & the orphans, but I was leaving my own children at home with dad in the meantime.  My heart is in two places at once, and it hurts.....

As I walked into the home of the sick and dying, I longed to hold and nurture each one of these sweet babies.  They looked up at me with their big, brown eyes, and held my gaze with hope and expectancy. These babies are here for healing and may or may not go home because some of them of very sick.  As I held each one of them, cooing with them, singing to them, feeding them, and changing their diapers, I realize that we are each representing Christ in each small gesture.  We truly are the hands and feet of Jesus as He places us in the lives of those He wants us to touch.

We also visited a small orphanage called Juno, which houses about 20 children.  When we pulled into the grounds of the orphanage, the children came running to greet us.  They clamored to grab a hand, jump into an adult's arms, and have someone show them the love that they have never known.... the unconditional love of a parent that nurtures, protects, and cares for them.  I had a sweet 5 year old girl named Meme that instantly claimed me as her "mom" and didn't let go.  As I held her and played with her, I realized how many times I have done that with my own children, but it's something we take for granted.  Our children always have us looking out for them, praying for them, tending to them, raising them.....that's all these children would love to have, but they only have each other.  However, the JOY in their deep, brown eyes was immeasurable!  They played and sang songs with their whole hearts, and radiated peace and love even in the situation they were being raised in.  It is a lesson that we can all learn from the heart of a find the joy and peace of Christ no matter what our situation is~

I came to Haiti to be a blessing to the children, but in the end, I was the one that was truly blessed~

I grew up in a small rural Minnesota town as the son of a charismatic preacher. One of the benefits of this experience was meeting missionaries from all over the world. They would come to the church to raise support - we would always host them at the house for a meal. I grew up hearing secondhand accounts including inspiring stories from India, Africa, China, the mountains of Mexico, all the way to Eastern Europe and its struggle with communism and faith. I've since been to many of those places.

I came to Haiti for the first time four days ago. In terms of my heart and faith, it truly may as well have been a lifetime ago. The single difference for me is simply this: the third world has been a single "problem" my whole life.  It weighed on me as something big, confusing, and impossible. Until yesterday. We were delivering three tanker-sized truck loads of water to Cite Soleil where I held the face of a two year old in my hands. I looked deep in to his beautiful, deep brown eyes and saw my own two year old son.

The single problem of poverty mushroomed in the span of one single, life-changing connection with someone whose name I don't even know. Instead of something singular, it became billions. The story of world-wide poverty became for me the names and faces of 80% of the world - but as individuals who each have a soul and a story. It landed on me like a weight I have never felt. As I hugged the water hose, watching desperate people clamor to fill dirty buckets with clean water, I wrapped both arms around it as if it held my salvation.

Poverty is not the reality. People are. hey live in poverty. And we can help.

Giving back is greater than. Period.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Love Wins.

Today was our first day out and about in the city (for the part of the team that arrived on Wednesday). There's so much that I could mention - we had the opportunity to attend a sunrise church service, visit two schools that Healing Haiti works with, we welcomed the second team to Haiti mid-afternoon, and we had the chance to walk with, hold, and spend time with many of the beautiful children of Haiti. But the experience that hit me between the eyes came when we visited Gertrude's, a home for disabled children.

As we walked into the house, we were greeted by four beautiful infants and toddlers, before being led to a large room on the backside of the house, where close to twenty disabled children were being attended to by several amazing caretakers. The children ranged in age from around 3 to 15, and each had differing levels of challenges they faced.  Some were in wheelchairs, though many were not. Many were able to communicate, though some could not.

If I'm being honest, my gut response was devastation. As it is, it can be easy to see the situation in Haiti as hopeless even for those who have a leg up in life. So to see a roomful of kids who don't have the resources available to them that we have in the States broke my heart. Initially, I didn't know how to respond. What do I say? What do I do?

I didn't have time to dwell on those questions because one little girl in a wheelchair quickly motioned for me to come to her. Once I reached her, she grabbed my hand and had me hold her close. As soon as I knelt beside her, another boy literally climbed onto my back and nestled his head into my neck. It was overwhelming, and yet it was a gift to me. Like the rest of the team, I knew our call was to show love to these kids. And yet I was struck by the fact that the children were the ones who first showed us love.

Due to multiple bottles of water and a bumpy truck ride, I found myself needing to use the bathroom shortly into our time there. When I entered the bathroom, my eyes were immediately drawn to a bucket of water that was clearly used in cleaning the bathroom. On the bucket was a big sticker that simply said, "Love Wins." I can say that I've never had God speak to me in a bathroom before, but this message could not have been clearer. The one universal language that has the power to bring redemption is love. We follow a God who is most clearly defined as love, and as people created in his image, we come most fully alive when we learn to love and to receive love.

Those two simple words served to remind me that even though I don't know a word of Creole, I can speak love back to these children. The moments that followed - pushing children in wheelchairs on a custom-made swing, being led by hand on a tour of the playground by a beautiful little girl who never said a single word, and sitting close to a boy who was struck by seizures almost every minute - were truly some of the most precious, God-breathed, love-filled moments of my life. The experience was indescribable, but it was the most tangible way God could've possibly reminded me that love wins.


Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Rain & Shine...It was a great day in Haiti

Despite the fact that I've been up for about 36 hours straight, today's travel day to Haiti has been a great one.  How could it NOT be, right? I was thrilled to make my third trip down and even more excited to experience this trip with our awesome group that includes a mixture of veterans and newbies (one of which is my super awesome boyfriend).

From our slightly chaotic experience at the airport to a crowded taptap ride to the NEW guesthouse, to a gorgeous evening thunderstorm, we have had a great time getting to know each other as we settle into  this Haitian experience.

Unfortunately, my sleep deprivation doesn't bode well for a long, well written blog post.  However, I will say that so far, my favorite part is answering questions our newbies have and just watching them take in all of the new sights and sounds that this experiences provides.

There may not be much that compares with the intense feelings of my own first trip to Haiti, but there is definitely something to be said about watching others, especially those you care deeply about, dive into an experience that you know will change their perspective, forever.

With that...I'm off to bed as we'll be up super early for the sunrise service!