Saturday, October 5, 2013

Monday, September 30th, 2013, 6:15a.m.  "34 Suitcases"  Jim Crandell
As I start out on my 1st mission trip, writing my thoughts while taxiing on a bumpy tarmac at MSP I can’t help but wonder how big the bumps are going to be the rest of the way.  Taking off now.  Wheels up.  Normal turbulence.  Already the lights of the city look like the lights on a Christmas tree.  I’m going to nap…No nap.   I look out the windows on the left side of the plane; purple, orange, pink, a hint of blue with strings of clouds make up only a portion of the beautiful sunset He has given us today.  Left my seat and came back to what looks like snow covering the ground; a fresh snow.  We are above the clouds.  I tried to nap, just rested-that’s okay.  Looking out now, ‘Oh how I wish you could see the clouds above the clouds above the clouds- it’s like looking at the bottom-side of icebergs.  There is so much to clouds than what we see from the ground.  The ‘underside’ of these clouds-the part we don’t get to see everyday  look like…hmmm, okay, bear with me; picture  springtime, the snow is melting but slush is still on the roads, cars are driving through creating small piles here and there with bare road in-between.  Then it freezes overnight, that is what it looks like right now.  Now the sky below is half cloud, half.                                                                                                                                                               blue-ish, with a darker blue above.  205 miles to MIA, captain just spoke for the first time, “out of respect for the early hour and for those passengers who wanted to sleep.”  Starting our descent.  Now I can make out what the blue-ish color is; the Gulf of Mexico.  I saw the white wake of 2 boats, which means we are getting close… “Flight Attendants, prepare for landing.” Coming through low clouds giving us a bumpy ride.  The clouds look like white, fluffy cotton candy.  Landed at 10:18a.m., and at the gate at 10:34a.m.

I am trying to remember the images of the neighborhoods around MIA, houses, cars, swimming pools, trees.  How different will all this look after seeing Haiti?  I’ve seen pictures, heard stories, just haven’t experience first-hand.  Long layover.  Had lunch at a Nathans’ Famous.  Was asked by the two employees (boy/girl at the front counter what my shirt (Healing Haiti) was all about because they see them every week.  I quickly explained as it was lunchtime, then the girl “Edia” smiled and said she was from Haiti.  She has family there and in Miami.  She hasn’t been home in 5 years but will as soon as she can afford it.  A nice little chat from only ordering lunch.  I can’t wait to see what God has in store.

Monday, September 30th, 2013  6:15 a.m.  "34 Suitcases"
MIA-PAP:  Wheels up at 2:17p.m. , 4 cruise ships docked and un/loading, 3 oil ships.  I am watching the sand give way to deeper water, and notice a sailboat that is out in the ocean quite a ways.  I see a large boat, nets (buoys and all), and a large, VERY LARGE form in the water.  I can see a big white patch on it-whale?  A little while later, I see a small island (‘C’-shaped), in the middle of nowhere with an airstrip on one end. (?!)  The water is turning green…now it’s turquoise.  WOW!  We are at 25,000 feet climbing to a cruising altitude of 32,000 feet.  Beautiful waters of the Caribbean; beautiful clouds overhead.  The flaps go down, signaling the start of our approach at 3:36 p.m. Now I see many nets in the water and countless dark forms moving in one direction- Tuna?   We came out of the clouds over Haiti- rough terrain, well-worn roads and paths.   I also notice a tiny island, just sand (think of a typical deserted island in a comic strip), and there on one side is the outline of a rowboat.  It would be fun to make up a story as to what happened.  The wheels go down at 3:50p.m.  We land and continue to the end of the runway, turn around at a small turn-around point to the side and taxi halfway down the same runway to get to the terminal.  A small airport, as it only has 4 jetways, and its Air Traffic Control is a modified mobile home.  We get to the gate at 3:57p.m.   I am now in a foreign country.  We get stuck at Customs, detaining Jeff for some reason.  I’m waiting with the rest of our team to get to our final destination.  While we wait for Jeff, we get our 34 suitcases full of supplies into the back of two pickups; a separate ‘TopTop’ is here to deliver us to our home-away-from-home.   4 of us decide to ride in the back of a pick up, “to make sure no one takes the bags.”  Jeff is here, let’s go!  It is a VERY different feel as we pull out onto the busy road.  Busy here is all the time, pedestrians DO NOT have the right-of-way; 1st are semi’s or buses, then box truck-converted-to-open-standing-only-bus, then trucks (toptops), then cars, motorcycles, bicycles, pedestrians in that order.  Think Nascar at Bristol with the game Frogger thrown in, only the frog here is the pedestrian.  What am I doing in the back of a pickup in the middle of a Nascar race in a foreign country?  Making memories, I guess.   

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Oct 1st, Water Truck Day: Lucy Gray

Water truck day. 3 stops. At the first stop I was so afraid when I was in the “tap tap” (our truck). But As soon as I stepped off the truck, I felt fine. Kids; all ages, tiny toddlers, babies, older kiddos just swarmed us. They are desperate for you to hold them and just touch them.

I've never felt the feeling of such desperation from a child. The moment was overwhelming. You can't hold enough kids I was holding two at time as much as possible. The water is flowing from the truck and the women and kids are lined up with buckets. They are so desperate for clean water. The kids carry the buckets back to their "home" which consists of a couple pieces of tin and stacked garbage. At each stop, a child would "choose" me to love them, can you believe that? They cling to you and climb you, they want love so badly. I can't imagine needing love or touch so desperately that you will cling to a complete stranger. 

Most of the kids are suffering from extreme malnourishment. Their bellies are bloated and eyes are yellow. I was told the kids with orange hair are dying. So my heart would sink when I saw a little with a head of orange hair. The tiniest toddlers, wander the streets naked or with the filthiest, tattered clothes, nobody watches them, nobody holds them, there is a sadness in their eyes I have never seen. I don't think I can ever explain how I felt. I feel like I'm in the twilight zone. 

We walked throughout the streets while we waited for the water truck to be refilled and the kids all followed us. We walked through some of the worst areas; trash, filth, pigs, goats, chickens, broken glass, feces, rotting food, you name it...we stopped in a small clearing and all got in a circle.

Wilson, one of our Healing Haiti staff translators, started singing and all the kids started singing "God is so good", they were all smiling and singing and dancing, almost like they forgot for a second what their reality is. My heart almost stopped. The memory of the kid’s faces is burned in my brain.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Healing Haiti "Crazy Eights" Day 3 - Church, Gertrude's & General Hospital

Today we went to church early in the morning, then to Gertrude’s orphanage for special needs, and finally spent the afternoon at General Hospital in downtown Port-au-Prince.

Church was amazing. The building/nice warehouse they have for church is much nicer than the tent they used to have (so I’ve heard). There was an elderly woman that saw a couple of our team members she recognized and squeezed her way through every row to hug every member of our team.

At Gertrude’s, I saw quite a few children I recognized. One child was an absolute doll on our last trip, so I went straight for her and held her close the entire time. The other highlight from Gertrude’s was seeing one girl that screams out of joy when she goes on the swing-set. Other team members remember her as their highlight. It’s amazing to see that we can bring so much excitement and happiness to their day.

Lastly, we went to General Hospital. I’d never been here before, though I’d been to the Home for Sick and Dying Children before. This was more devastating. We walked into two rooms of cribs lining the walls with skin and bones malnourished kids and exhausted mothers sleeping underneath, or sitting next to the cribs.

We had diapers, hospital gowns, and wipes to give out, which mothers gladly accepted. However, we found another room later and we only had Band-Aids left. There were kids that were in worse condition, with no family around them. Three of these kids clearly had special needs and another was an abandoned 3-4 week old that the parents didn’t want because his feet were turned in.

I broke down and wept over the special needs children that’s skin was barely clinging to their bones. All I had left was Band-Aids and they would do nothing for these children that were fighting for their life. I felt so helpless, but know that there’s more that can be done to help these kids that are abandoned or near death.

Tomorrow we’re headed to tour Grace Village, visit the elderly living in Titanyen and go to Isaiah’s orphanage. I’ve never been to Isaiah’s, so I’m excited for that new experience.

--Kaytie Z