Sunday, October 13, 2013

Worship is Universal

As we sit here on the eve of our departure and reflect on our week, we are struck by many things.  Listing them all would be impossible but what we can all agree on is that we have more questions than answers.  How can God allow people to suffer this way?  What impact did we have?  Did we do enough?  What else could we have done?  How do we process what we've experienced?  How can we help people understand what we've encountered?  Why is it so much easier to feel God's presence here in the midst of such devastation than in the comforts of our home?  What now?

We may never know the answers to these questions but as we sat in worship at Grace church this morning one thing became clear than ever to all of us...He does.  

Upon our arrival into Titanyen, we were struck by the vast number of people hiking up the dusty hill and orphans from Grace Village coming over in their Sunday best, (mismatched shoes, clothes that were too big or too small, wearing their new beaded jewelry from yesterday's craft project) taking such pride in their appearance, just to show their love and appreciation through worship.  They pack into the small, hot space...people sitting in "pews" and on the floor, standing in the back and pouring out the doors onto the stairs.  

Although the service was mostly in another language, we all felt what Pastor Gary and Pastor Wesley were preaching.  Their passion for Jesus was clear.  And while we didn't understand a lot of what was said, we all agreed that it was one of the most powerful worship experiences we've ever had. 


After church, we had the chance to stay and play with the children at Grace Village for awhile.  We were grateful to get the chance to spend more time with them.  The tap tap was silent for most of the ride as we reflected on the deep impact these amazing children made on our hearts in such a short period of time. 

Our day continued with a trip into the mountains to shop in the local markets.  Standing at the top looking over the city, we were amazed by how calm and beautiful everything looks from so high above.  Another reminder of how God's light shines in even the darkest places.  

Trying to sum up the week during our group discussion was difficult.  The "words of the week" from the group; love, objective, serve, stay, family, Bondje (God), called, moment, awake, impact, relaxed, privileged, community, immeasurable, worship.  

While we may have experienced this week in different ways, we experienced it together.  And though our hearts were broken time after time, we pray that as they mend, they do so in a way that more closely resembles the heart of Christ. 

Glwa pou Bondye...Glory to God.


Saturday, October 12, 2013

Trusting on Day 6

Today's devotional set the tone for our visit to Grace Village, the mass grave site, and an impoverished tent city. The devotional calls out scripture from Matthew where Jesus was preaching about the importance of having trust in God. What we have learned in Haiti is that not much is needed to serve others apart from the gospel and trust in God. 
Grace Village, the orphanage operated by Healing Haiti, is truly a diamond in the rough. This beautiful place has been uniquely constructed to bring opportunity and education to the children attending. Pastor Wesely had a unique and animated approach to introduce our Healing Haiti team to the children, and by the time he was done, the children knew all of our names. Pastor Wesely also engaged us in a friendly battle of "We love Jesus yes we do, we love Jesus how about you?!". Pastor Wesely and Jeff then led the energized group in a lesson of the day from Acts 2, in which children had the opportunity to choose from a bag of props that would help them understand the message of Pentecost. Then we split into small groups. Some of the children went outside for a spirited game of futball while others stayed inside making necklaces and painting toenails. However, no matter how beautiful the new surroundings appear, it is difficult to fix the emotional suffering that has already been endured.

After our visit to Grace Village we had the honor of visiting the mass grave site. This trip was truly unique in that we were able to hear first hand accounts of survival from our three Healing Haiti guides. The visit hit close to home listening to these moving stories. One guide was spared his life by leaving his school building for a bottle of water only to find the building turned into rubble upon his return. The mass grave site was the result of the 7.0 earthquake on January, 12th, 2010. Approximately 300,000 perished in this terrible earthquake and this mass grave site is the burial grounds for at least150,000 Haitians. We found the gravity of loss during this catastrophe incomprehensible. In an act of respect we were joined by Haitian children as we held hands in a circle and prayed for this tragic loss of life.

Next, we visited a tent city with several meal packs provided by Feed My Starving Children. The tent city was built into the side of hill and was packed with God's children looking for relief. The tent city is within walking distance of our guest house where we sleep and eat comfortably. We delivered 240 meal packs that feed 6 people each. As desperate as the conditions were, we followed important rules regarding the distribution of the care packages. Unfortunately, we did not have enough care packages for every family in this tent city. We all felt the emotional impact of leaving some of the families empty handed. Our saving grace is that there will be future teams from Healing Haiti visiting this tent city to distribute additional manna packs to these families.

Whether you are serving water, holding children, building relationships, rubbing a persons feet, feeding small children, praying for the hurting, changing a bandage or playing a a game of soccer you have the ability to be present and communicate the love of Christ to others.
          The Boyz

Friday, October 11, 2013

Equipped - Day 5

"God does not call the equipped, he equips the called."  A quote that could sum up the entire trip but was especially powerful today.  Our morning started with a stop at Elder's School in Cite Soleil that Healing Haiti partners with.  The school educates 500-600 students each day in one of the poorest locations in the world.  We were all amazed that even in the midst of such vast poverty, education is so highly valued.  Students come from homes made of tarps and rusty tin.  Many sleep on dirt floors.  Yet they arrive at school in clean uniforms, ready and eager to learn.  The students were engaging and excited to show us their schoolwork and classrooms.  
After leaving Elder's School, it was back to the streets of Cite Soleil to deliver water to two of the locations we were at on Tuesday.  We were able to reconnect with some of the children we met before, which was especially rewarding because this time we came equipped with more basic medical equipment to tend to some of the issues we encountered before.  At the water truck refill station, we often get visits from the children from the nearby tent city.  It was here that Marcia had an extra special surprise from a girl her husband and brother-in-law met and connected with a year ago on their trip to Haiti.  It was good to see that she was doing well...

The afternoon was one of our toughest experiences yet.  We went to the Port-au-Prince General Hospital to visit with sick children.  While we were all expecting less than ideal conditions and children in pain, none of us were prepared for what we walked into.  As we stood in the dark cement hallway and began to feel the gravity of the situation we were about to encounter, many of us found ourselves in prayer...asking for God to help us put our own overwhelming sadness aside and equip us with what we needed to comfort these families.  Our first room had four children who had been abandoned.  They were severely crippled and deformed.  Bones protruding.  Cheeks sunken.  And yet there was light in their eyes.  We held their hands and stroked their heads.  We prayed over them for God to bless and keep them, to make His face shine upon them, and to give them His peace.  We met a father who was there with his ill daughter who took Jeff's guitar and began playing our songs as we sang.  We held babies with fevers.  We delivered basic care packages and visited with parents.  While the situation itself was difficult, we all felt hope in the many dedicated mothers, fathers and grandparents that were there with their little loved ones.  

Our evening ended with a swim at the local hotel and a salsa lesson from our resident dance professional, Jean.  Music and laughter spilled over the balcony of the guest house and our hearts were reminded of God's goodness and the joy and encouragement we receive from being a part of the body of Christ.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Moen and Cody HH Team Day 3

Friends + Family back home...

Noel, Mariann, and Leann blogging for Moen/Cody HH Team. Today was our third day in Haiti, which started out early with tent church at 6am. Pastor Gary came to sit near us and translated during the service for the people sitting around him. It was amazing to see how many people were there at six in the morning on a thursday for this daily service, and lasts for a couple hours. It was a dynamic service and incredible to see the love for Christ these people have, especially when facing hardships most people probably couldn't imagine. 

After church, we headed up to Grace Village. We had a quick tour of all the progress that has been made with the medical/dental clinic. We also got to see them breaking ground on the church in the community and family housing units going up. The kids were in school during the tour, we got to play with them for a couple minutes on the playground. Our team is excited to head back on Saturday for a full day with all of the awesome kids up there. So more to come!

After leaving Grace Village, we were able to participate in Healing Haiti's Eldercare Program by visiting 5 elders who live in Titanyen. We visited them in their homes, brought them food and water, checked on their needs and how they've been feeling, and sang to them. This is Elie, pictured below, a 77 year old local who lives with his daughter and grandchildren. Elie lives at the bottom of a steep hill way out in Titanyen. When we arrived, Elie stood up to greet us and welcomed us into his home. When he stood up he motioned he was hungry and was glad to see that we had brought food and water for him. Meeting and praying with each of the elders was an amazing experience and showed us another side of Healing Haiti's outreach in this community.  

Our last visit of the day was to Isaiah's Orphanage, home to 17 kids orphaned by the earthquake in 2010. Healing Haiti has been involved with Isaiah's since 2010 and teams have recently began visiting this year. Healing Haiti helps with donations, supplies, and food 3 times per week for the orphanage and school. We were so impressed by their respect and honor for one another and for Isaiah. We spent the afternoon playing soccer and making bead necklaces with the girls. The boys on the soccer team are relentless and schooled us. Graiziger took MVP with a spill/bicycle kick goal for our team. 

We were blessed to meet Isaiah and "his kids" as he proudly refers to them. Isaiah is a true role model to these kids, as well as us, showing God's love in selfless ways.

We're off to bed with another day out on the water truck at Cite Soleil in the morning. Will update you all again tomorrow!

With love,
Cody/Moen Team

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Hello to all back home! 

This is Kimberly, on behalf of the group we want to thank you for the continued prayers and support while we continue this amazing journey. Today was impactful, as they all have been. We spent our day visiting sick & dying adults, as well as Gertrude Orphanage. Our  day was filled with songs, giving massages and playing with amazing children. The experiences are challenging to put into words. One of the barriers we face day to day is language. I was reminded that smiles, love, laughter and bright spirits are universal, providing more of a connection than words ever could. 

While the others went to Gertrude's,  Mike, Marcia, Faith and I (Amy) went to a wound clinic. Even with my medical background there is no real way to be prepared for this experience. In many ways, having some medical knowledge and knowing our American OSHA standards, it was in terrifying. Thankfully, we were able to use the gloves that we brought with us. It was really a blessing to not only see my donation item used, but to get to use it myself. The drive to the wound clinic through downtown Port-au-Prince was surreal. We turned down a market street, horns honking wildly to get the people to part, pulling their mats and baskets and livelihood out of the way to let us through. (Picture being on the midway at the state fair on the busiest day, only all the people were pushing wheelbarrows or were carrying giant packages on their heads, and all the food trucks are set up without a truck, just food on the ground...and driving your car through the middle of it.) When we arrived, and after a quick lesson on what to do, we dove in. We were told our job is only to clean and dress these wounds, that these are not curable for these people. They come back 3 times a week to have their wounds cleaned and dressed again. Saline, betadine, bacitracin, gauze, hemostats, gloves, and bandages made of strips of sheets were our tools. We saw men and women of all ages with the most horrific wounds I've ever seen. One man who basically had no skin on his feet and was missing toes had to have plastic bags taped over his bandages because he did not have shoes, but he was able to walk out of the open corridor we treated in. When all the wounds were cleaned and the  bandages applied,while we were waiting to leave, I was overcome by the music coming from the tent church nearby. "Hallelujah" was the only word I could understand, but it was beautiful. Knowing how little we did in the big picture did not matter, because we mattered to the people lined up there today and they all expressed their gratitude. Even in terrible pain, with wounds we can't imagine, everyone we touched gave the most genuine smile. We were there to help them, but I think I can speak for all of us in saying it was our privilege to be His hands and feet, and we were greatly blessed by the experience.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013


"Perspective".  That was my word of the day.  Within a mere 36 hours, my perspective on just about everything has changed more than I ever could have prepared myself for.  The most basic of tasks - delivering water to people who are thirsty - became a life-altering that I don't know if I'll ever really be able to wrap my head around.  Here is a glimpse of what we encountered today in Cite Soleil...

  • Children yelling "Hey You!" and clamoring for our attention as our truck pulled into each stop.
  • Kids playing and splashing in dirty gutter water.
  • Bandaging a baby with an infected wound.
  • The overwhelming smells of rotten food, sewage and sweat.  
  • Taking a dirty condom away from a child, who was using it as a balloon.
  • Helping countless barefoot women and children hoist full five-gallon buckets of water onto their heads.
  • A group of naked, dirty children clapping and dancing as they sang "God is so Good" while standing on a pile of sewage, garbage, and broken glass (which doubles as the area's mass grave area).
  • Trying to determine which of the children were slaves (in Cite Soleil it is estimated that over 40% of them are).
  • The light in the eyes of the children as we hugged, cuddled, kissed, and held them.
  • Helping a young mother bathe her one-year-old in the only clean water she had to try and help bring his fever down.
  • Carrying buckets of water to the doorways of what they call "home".
  • Putting antibiotics on a boy's broken, bloody, cracked toenail.
  • God.
Being surrounded by such vast and extreme poverty is a feeling I'll never forget.  It's overwhelming to look out and see such intense need...and have no idea where to even start.  So you just jump in.  You hug, you love, you kiss, you hold, you sing, you pray, you smile, you cry...and you just hope that you're making an impact.  

My heart was broken into a million pieces today.  And I've never felt so blessed.  
~Kari Uetz

Monday, October 7, 2013

Moen and Cody HH Team Day 1

Supporters, friends and family back home...

This is Leann on our blog tonight to give you an update on day one. Our team has arrived safe and sound in Haiti after a long day of traveling! Our entire team successfully made it to MSP airport by 3:45am and we were lucky to make it to both Miami and Port au Prince without any delays or complications. We made our way through the airport here and headed to the guesthouse. Tonight we spent time as a team talking about our first thoughts after arriving here in Haiti. We all realized very quickly that regardless of how many pictures we had seen or videos we had watched, it was an entirely different experience to see firsthand out the windows of the Healing Haiti tap tap. I don't know that anything could have truly prepared us for what it feels like to see this kind of devastation. Within five minutes of being in Port au Prince it was easy to see an incredible amount of joy in the smiles of people here. While we were driving by an area lined with tents and people living in the most indescribable living conditions, I noticed a sign that said Only Jesus. It is amazing to see the faith people have in Him when so many others would look around and wonder how it is possible to see beauty in a place so broken. 

Earlier tonight some of us were up on the roof of the second guesthouse and saw some boys playing soccer down below the fence who started talking to us and asking if we could come and play soccer with them. After a few minutes they started motioning 'water' and looking to see if we had any to give them, I don't know that any of us could have imagined what it would be like to have someone asking for something as basic as water, when we live everyday without ever thinking about where we will find clean water.

Our team's new home for the week. Some incredible photos in the living room at Healing Haiti's second guesthouse that was just built this January.

Tomorrow we have a full day ahead in Cite Soleil out on the water truck delivering clean water to more than 300,000 people in a 5 sq. mile area. The team is prepared and ready to experience our first day in Haiti. We ask for your prayers for strength tomorrow, and also for our hearts to be open. To allow God to show us what He needs to show us, and to take in every minute of the day. God has put together one incredible team down here this week and we are so excited to see what He has planned for us in Haiti. Our team is ready to go with a couple of Clif bars and electrolytes packed for day two.

Ke Bondye Beni'ou
His hands. His feet. His work. His love.

God bless,

Moen & Cody HH Team

Haiti Day 1

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Final Preparations

Family, Friends, and Supporters:
I would just like to thank everyone who has stepped up in so many different ways to make this trip possible for our team.  We just completed our final meeting (packing-party) last Sunday and now eagerly await take-off next Monday.  We are ready...
                                               Pat, Jeff, Mike, Marcia, Amy, Mark, Pat,
                                                          Kim, Leann, Mariann, Kari
                                                     Faith, Andy, (we missed you Noel)      

Can't wait to share the week with this team!

Jeff Moen