Monday, December 3, 2012

Flight Home

While on the flight home, I have seen God use His power in miraculous ways. Rebekah has severe asthma and severe allergies. It was my biggest fear of this trip. She didn't get sick. No one mom or daughter got sick, except for minor things such as sweet little Sierra Imsland who had stomach aches, my migraines, and whatever else I didn't catch on to.  :(

On the long flight home, after using our hands and feet to serve our God, Jesus used a beautiful African American flight attendant to serve us in a powerful way.

There are outlets under each seat. Rebekah was having an asthma attack on the second leg of the flight home. The flight attendant and I tried multiple outlets, on multiple rows, with my iPhone, iPad, and Rebekah's nebulizer ...  no outlet could handle the voltage or something, even though others similar devices could.

Rather than us serving others, the flight attendant shined her Light, and sat next to Rebekah, talked to her about the healing only Jesus can provide, and followed up by praying over her to calm her lungs. Just thinking it through brings tears to my eyes. We came to serve, yet over and over, we are the ones who have been served.

The flight attendant asked many questions about Healing Haiti, and her love for our God shined brightly throughout the evening flight.

Rebekah is now sitting next to me, breathing calmly, without use of her inhaler or nebulizer.

What a glorious God we serve.  Thank you Jesus for Rebekah and her servant heart, and thank you for the flight attendant I will never forget, who sat down for 10 minutes mid-flight, to use her faith is Jesus to minister and pray over my daughter.

I love you God.  Mesi Jezi.

Now may I cry happy tears?
Sandy Anderson

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Visual snapshots

Grace Village and Gertrude's Orphanages: Grace Village is a visit that I just love. I adore each of the children that live there. Every time I go there I try to touch each one with a smile, a back rub, a hug. Each time I go God puts a different one in front of me that needs a little extra. It is so good to be used by God.
Sierra bonded with a few of the children but was struggling with some mild tummy troubles. She did however, connect with a young man who is able to draw beautifully. She told me that she enjoyed talking to him as he drew pictures.

Gertrude's was Sierra's favorite stop of the day. She found a baby (her true passion) and held her almost the entire time. She clung to Sierra as Sierra walked around showing her things and playing 'mama'. Watching her be a little girl and give love is a wonderful thing.

There is a boy named Maxo that I have been holding almost every time I come to Gertrude's. He is 4 years old and is blind. A volunteer told me today that he has cataract (which is common among Haitian babies because of malnourished moms). They have been trying to get him a surgery for a year but have not been able to get it to go through. Apparently it can be reversed if the surgery is done before 5 years old. She told me that currently they have a surgery scheduled for February, but in Haiti a lot can change in that much time. This makes me feel many emotions; sad that a boy may stay blind, angry at the unfairness , hopeful in that he still has some time, and determined to pray daily that God will be his advocate.

On these mission trips we get to some amazing things, hard but amazing. We come home exhausted and yet filled. Sometimes the mamas need to let loose, the mamas went outside and danced in the rain.

Friday, November 30, 2012

We loved...

Today we went to Home for the Sick and Dying. We served there for almost 3 hours. Our little girls held, fed, and comforted babies the entire time. Photos aren't allowed at the Home so I took some mental pictures. One is of Sierra looking at me with pleading eyes asking that we take the 18 mo old baby girl that she was loving home. Another is of the moms scrubbing the cribs with strong bleach water to help prevent a cholera outbreak. My final picture is Harry (sp) a lovely Haitian worker that I have seen many times but have never been able to develop a deeper relationship with. I was able to chat (in Creole) about a few things and begin to connect with a man that has kind eyes, a gentle spirit, and who does amazing maintenance work to keep the Home going.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Water Truck Day

The mother/ daughter team headed out for water truck day in Cite Soleil.  Clean shirts, open hearts, and lots of anticipation!  Lots of words were used to describe todays adventure, but the common theme amongst the Moms was humbled and proud of each one of these little selfless servants.  Their hearts are very big! 
Megan: "While the water truck was getting filled with water I met a little girl.  I felt very very happy playing with her.  I was so happy because she was very happy and I was having a lot of fun."

Ellie: "I handed a little boy a small cup of water, when I handed it back to him, the smile on his face filled me with joy. But it also made me sad to think about America, and how when we get something big we are happy, yet when Haitians get 1/2 a cup of water they are even happier than us."

Sierra: "When I got out of the truck the kids surrounded me.  They were holding my hands and trying to get as close to me as they could.  One was a little girl, she didn't talk.  She was always reaching her hands up to be picked up.  I held her until my arms hurt.  This made me feel happy because I was giving her love and she was giving love back to me at the same time."

Rebekah: ""When people saw us their faces lit up.  We went to the elders school and a group of girls about our age came and grabbed us and brought us back to their classroom.  They sat us down and played with our hair.  Their laugh was so joyful.  It felt so good."

Annie: "A mom tried to give her baby to me.  I felt helpless because I couldn't take her or support them in any way.  "

Kayla: "We were filling up the water truck and Haitians came running.  I was glad when one of them asked me to come too.  I felt spellbound that even though they are so poor, they are so happy.  God has blessed us more than we know."
Glwa Pou Bondye!
Glory to God!


It's hard to walk into a place as part of a group, especially a group all dressed same, and not feel all the peering eyes looking at you, gawking.  It's hard not to do the same when you walk into a place so familiar and yet so polar opposite of what you know.  I was raised by 2 teachers, I work in a school. I have 3 girls in elementary school. I spend much (most) of my time thinking about and prepping for school. I don't even refer to my own job as "going to work," I say...  "I'm going to school."  But my first experience in Haiti today was visiting a SCHOOL.  And guess what?  ...It wasn't anything close to the building, materials, the rooms, the prep, the resources- luxuries that I know as school. 
Elder's school. It's a 2-story, cement building. Simple floor plan...   a long, dark hallway with 3 classrooms off to the left, and 3 off to the right.  No doors, just classrooms. No electricity, just one chalkboard in each room.  20-30, maybe more students in uniform sitting at desk/benches.  Books and pens- that's about it.  (and I'm not talking about flashy trade books, like in our libraries...) Lunch upstairs was a plate of rice and ....gravy? The kids stand and eat. And they were well behaved, and today were excited and outgoing and wanting to talk to our girls.  Lots of trading names, ages, and grades (via interpreter) And the Haitian kids trying to put moms and daughters together.  "Mama?" and pointing to a girl.  

I felt sad while we were there.
I don't know exactly why.  
Didn't know why the tears were welling up while I was there.  The kids were cute and smiling and the teachers and Mr. Elder obviously cared about the kids. They were getting lunch.  
All good things.
I wonder if maybe I felt guilty...
I mean, the things that I worry about and the things that teachers and parents worry about at my school are a zillion miles away from the needs and worries at this school.  A zillion times a zillion.  I was frustrated when my Smartboard projector went out for repair this fall and was out for 12 days.  Even without a Smartboard my classroom and the resources I have in it and in my school are still like DisneyWorld (times a zillion) compared to the Elder's school.

I could go on with details.  But I can feel the take-away from today coming to me...
It's not about the resources.  It's not about the materials. It's about the RELATIONSHIPS. They are important, the most important wherever we are. I still need to connect and care about my students even with all the bells and whistles I have.  The kids at Elder's need the human connection during their school day just as much. And who knows...   those students might be taking away just as much as the students in any classroom in MN.  Maybe more...(see Ellie's post on receiving and being happy...)
And I/we can't FIX or make equal the divide and inequity for the kids I met today.  (not in one fell swoop) But we can RELATE while there- even if it's only a smile, a touch, a hand on the shoulder-saying I see you. I care about you. 
Karen and I talked today, and Travis and I talked after his trip about how that IS something. To show that you care.  
Isaiah 1:17- Learn to do good. Seek justice. Help the oppressed. Defend the cause of orphans. Fight for the rights of widows. 
Help the oppressed.
I think that means do what you can do.  If you can be here and smile and be the light of the Lord for a moment, do that.  If you can teach your own kids to LOVE GOD, LOVE OTHERS, do that. If you can gather and donate supplies for a friend's mission trip, do that. If you can pray for the students in little classrooms without electricity or running water, do that. If you can donate money- little or lots, do that.  I know what it means to help, we all do...

But today, I got to see firsthand what it means to be oppressed. I am thankful for the opportunity. I have been on a path leading to this for a little while now. God has been preparing my heart through those around me to be able to take in what I did today.  Travis and Karen both assured me, if you go, God will give you what you need while you are there. I really can't even put into words the oppression I saw today (and the Elder's school was an easier place for me to start, emotionally.) But look at the pictures, and listen to me when I tell you that the sweet, smiling, little Haitian kiddos we met today are oppressed.  
...and God is nudging us all, no he is commanding us all to HELP.
-Beth Sabby

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Girls were treated to jokes and encouragement from Healing Haiti's Tom Gacek!  Love you Tom!
Ready to start the day!

Cards in MIA

Taptap from airport to Guest House

Girls hanging out

The Super Six

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Here We Go!

Final packing is underway and I can't wait to get to Haiti with this great group of moms and daughters! Our focus for the week is OBEDIENCE, LOVE & LIGHT.  We look forward to seeing what God will teach us this week as we serve Him. We appreciate all your prayers for transformation, health & safety.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

October 13th 2012

Today we had the opportunity to spend some significant time at Grace Village with the children that live there full time.  We were able to listen in as the faith minister taught the children and even though he was preaching in their native tongue, it was like I could totally understand what he was saying and where he was in his story.  We sang some worship songs with the children and made some artwork.  Then they got to play, doing any of these 3 activities: making beaded bracelets, playing on the playground or futbol (soccer to us Americans).  We played, laughed, ran around, hollered, screamed, sweated…….. Just had a great time.  It’s amazing to see how a vision, that 2 people had 6 years ago, has turned out.  Thank you Jeff and Alyn for taking that leap of faith.

After that we stopped by Gertrude’s again and spent an hour or so loving the children at her orphanage.  Again, it’s amazing to see what 1 woman, who dedicated her life to the Lord 20 years ago to do his work, how it’s turned out. 

As I write this our work here is over as tomorrow is a free day for us and Monday we come home.  The last 6 days have flown by!  It truly has been a privilege to come down here to serve and I want to thank everyone who helped make this possible!
A wise man once said “I left the U.S. thinking I was going to change Haiti.  Little did I know Haiti would change me in unimaginable ways.”
-Trent Loween

Friday, October 12, 2012

Haiti Day 5

Today we had the opportunity to go on 2 water truck stops and to visit the Home for Sick and Dying Babies again.  I think we all felt like we knew what to expect since we had previously done both earlier this week. Of course – nothing is ever as we expectJ  We stopped at 2 different places in Cite Soleil – each were so different than what we had seen on Tuesday. Last night we had rain – the streets had puddles and standing water in lots of places. It was hard to find a place to stand or to sit. There seemed to be so many kids at this first stop and so much other street activity – carts, bikes, motorcycles and even another truck. It was almost overwhelming for some of us. Bucket after bucket was filled and carried until the water ran out. Once the water is out – we head back to the filling station and wait to be refilled. Kids come from the neighboring tents to hang with us by the tap-tap – it was so fun to see some of those kids again today.  In this big city to see some of the same faces again is pretty special. Once the truck is full, we head out again to the next stop. At this stop – the street was wide and there looked to be two story apartments. The line was short here. We had to stop the water a couple of times until there were enough in line to run it again. After a couple times of stopping the hose – we decided to go back to the first stop until the water was out.

We were able to have an hour and a half of ‘downtime’ before going to the hospital. A needed break after the water stops. When we walked into the Home for Sick and Dying Babies  it was so uplifting to see many of the same babies that we had seen on Wednesday. One precious little boy was off of his IV’s and was able to so easily be held. He even ate all of his food. Amazing what progress appeared to be made in just 2 days. One little boy in the corner just melted the hearts of many of us. He is 3 years old and is severely malnourished – unable to move and can not sit up on his own. His crib is in the corner and he lays twisted – but as you walk towards him his face lights up brighter than you can even imagine and he starts to sing or talk. Today I was able to watch how he touched two of the men on our team. Our time here was short – it was a hard goodbye. I think everyone we put down cried – so hard to leave. One little girl ran after us crying “manman”. A worker at the hospital had to hold onto her as we left.

Each night as we unpack our day – we each pick a ‘word of the day’ to sum up what today was for us. It really has been amazing to see the day through each other’s eyes. Today I felt that there was a mix of words – joy, wish, anger, fulfillment, smiles, challenged, innocence, loved, sadness, parenting, selfish and images.  Personally, today I struggled with anger. My heart was broken at the first stop for a few older girls. I don’t know their stories but I know enough to be angry. I found myself wrestling with the culture here and the way it appears many women and girls are treated. Seeing the sadness in the older girls versus the smiles of the young ones. What can be done to stop this, how can this problem be fixed? I kept trying to turn my anger around – consciously asking myself “what is God trying to teach me?” As we watched our nightly slideshow I felt I got a small answer to my question.  The song “Sometimes He Calms the Storm” was playing in the background. The chorus says
Sometimes He calms the storm
With a whispered peace be still
He can settle any sea
But it doesn’t mean He will
Sometimes He holds us close
And lets the wind and waves go wild
Sometimes He calms the storm
And other times He calms His child
As I listened to these words, I thought about calming the problem versus calming His child. Each child loved, each child played with, each child saved is calming the problem and ultimately Healing Haiti.
e cH


Today was a great day.  We got to see some kids from Cite Soliel attending school at Elders School.  The most amazing part was that we know for certain some of the are the same kids whom we were playing with on Tuesday while delivering water.  It brought our team so much joy to see the hope they had at this school. All dressed up in dresses/uniforms - they looked like so beautiful.  Then, the Elderly visits.  Anyone who has had the opportunity to meet these amazing people can share in the inspiration we felt from them.  Living in conditions that words can not describe, their joy and faith had  an incredible impact on every team member.  Why do thing keep getting flipped around on us?- we think we are coming to serve them, yet we leave feeling like they have given us so much more!!  Then we had the chance to get a short tour of Grace Village.  The school at Grace Village just opened  a couple weeks ago and we had chills as we walked down the hall and saw "class in session".  This may have been the most emotional day for our team as we have now seen incredible poverty/despair earlier in the week, followed by seeing so much hope.  Really a lot to process.  God is working in amazing ways here in Haiti.  Such a privilege to see and experience it first hand...

Elders School in Cite Soleil
Visiting Inza. Team rubbing lotion and sharing music
Visiting Angeline.  Amazing to see her transfomation over the past  year!

Tony found a new friend

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Hello friends and family,

Well, today was day 2 of full Haiti activities and we all seem to be tired again, but for different reasons. Yesterday was the physical stress of the water truck but today had the mental and emotional day of visiting those who are not well. This morning was a trip to the Hospital for Sick and Dying Children. We exited the busy, chaotic streets of Port-au-Prince and entered a newly remodeled, clean, orderly facility that is run by several amazing Sisters who have devoted their lives to serve God through helping sick children in Haiti! This was an opportunity for each of us to hold babies and play with toddlers all of whom suffer from a variety of illnesses. Some could only lie in their cribs due to IV’s and malnutrition, while others were able to run into our arms – but all were needy for basic touch.

In the afternoon, our team split up some to cover two separate locations. A small group of us went to a wound clinic where they had the experience of cleaning and re-bandaging severe cuts of adults. The rest of the team journeyed to Guertrude’s Orphanage for special needs children. Most of these kids are physically or mentally handicapped, which in Haiti were it is hard to survive if you are born healthy, is a death sentence for those who are not. However, this wonderful women began bringing these unwanted kids into her home and it has now grown to over 40 precious souls living in a safe, loving environment.

I mentioned in our group meeting tonight that I feel as though I witnessed a small light in the midst of darkness today. As dark as the statistics and appearance of Haiti seems to be on the outside, there is within this place pockets of light shining the hope of life. Each of the two places I visited today are in the midst of new construction and are run by amazing people. It is inspiring to see firsthand the devotion of those who truly live out the calling to love your neighbor.

-Tony Sommars

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

No words for today.

Our nightly meeting consists of sharing a word of the day, something that pops in our head to sum up our experience for the day. Tonight that task proved to be difficult as a hush fell over the room. I think most of us felt that there are no words for today. We eventually came up with our 13 words (well, 14, someone cheated and gave two)…

Wondering,awe,purpose,growth,responding,smile,guarded,image,simplicity,adaptability,dishonor,unknowing, and indescribable.

Today was water truck day. For anyone who has had the privilege of being in Haiti with Healing Haiti, to you, these words need no explanation. Today our team took a leap of faith and headed into Cite de Soleil, the poorest part of Haiti, to deliver the only clean water that these people receive. We made three stops, each a bit different and unique yet all living in the same devastation. This day meant something different to each of us; we all bonded with different children, hugged, held, played and laughed with them. We also provided them with a basic necessity, one we take completely for granted at home, water. Our words certainly sum up our experience but truly, there are no words for today.

I know I am completely humbled by the Haitians, allowing us into their world as if we are doing them a favor, teaching them something. The reality of it is that by seeing a glimpse of their lives they have taught us all so much; how to live with nearly nothing yet still have a smile on your face, how to love, how to care for one another, how to survive, how to look past the horror around you and see the good. Speechless; that is how I feel tonight as I sit here in my comfortable guesthouse listening to the sound of a storm brewing, wondering how the potential rain will impact their night tonight. God is good, can’t wait to see what tomorrow brings.


Monday, October 8, 2012

A Safe Arrival!

We're here. We've made it. Those two statements are a testament to the strength our group. I'm not sure that all 13 man entourages would survive a 2:30am wake-up call, a post-security and not so innocuous Caribou vs. Starbucks debate,and 2 jam packed flights that led to a 13 hour travel day.
We were greeted in Port-Au-Prince by the Healing Haiti shuttle - an open back bus with a space for our bags and two wooden benches for us to rest. They call this a tap-tap, I call it something I've never heard of before. Picture to follow. As the bus carried us through the city to our guest house, an unusual hush came across the group. After a long and busy travel day, our anticipation was finally met. We were finally here. Everyone in the group seemed to appreciate a simple 15 minute ride to think and process. Our house is well-equipped and cozy. After eating and settling in, we made a walk down to what's known as "tent-city". Despite what any of us had been told to expect, it was impossible to prepare for the group of kids racing up to grab our hands and be held. A few used the English phrases they had learned to ask us our names or for candy. Others just wrapped one arm around our waists as we walked. The children, most of whom were barefoot, led us through the muddy terrain that is their home. We wandered through the enclosed area full with their families in 4ft. X 4ft. tents. The sight of the families in the tens and the smell of that reality, in combination with the touch of the children around us left us all starting to understand the intensity of the week to come.
When we got back to the house, we chatted about some of the thoughts that were racing through our minds. Lots of good questions and a variety of answers and possibilities. To prepare for this trip, we talked about coming to Haiti with an open heart. Tonight I think we also realized the importance of keeping an open mind - to this experience, to each other, and to whatever else comes up within ourselves.

Saturday, September 29, 2012

We Are Getting Close!

I am not sure if there will ever come a time when you don't get "as excited" to go to Haiti.  This will be my third trip south and I am just as excited as ever.  Last night, our team made up of friends, friends of friends, neighbors, etc... joined at the Cody house for our packing party.  This trip that has kind of felt like "just an idea" really became real! The idea of joining together with this incredible group of people to serve and be served in Haiti in a week is almost overwhelming.  As all of us are experiencing varying degrees of fear, nervousness, anxiety, excitement, questioning, etc., the message last night was "no, you are not crazy".  I don't know how, but I truly believe that every single life and heart will be changed in someway through this trip.  On my first trip, I left the US thinking I was going to go change Haiti.  Little did I know that Haiti would change me and my family in unimaginable ways.  I am so grateful for everyone on this team and for the privilege to share a week in Haiti with them!
Erin, Janelle, Tony, Mandi, Alicia, Karisa, Nicklas, Sandi, Jeff, Mallory, Travis, Mike, Chad, Trent (not pictured)
Some of the kids - Pizza & Hang at the packing party
Beth & Mandi working away