Sunday, November 24, 2013

Beach Day in Haiti

Today was a very fun day for everyone on our team. We got up this morning and we went to grace village church. It is like no church in America.  For starters, everyone is crowded into the feeding center where tables are turned into benches and people are everywhere shoulder-to-shoulder.  Many people came up from the town below to worship. The pastor sang like he has never sang before with more energy than I have ever seen!  It was wonderful and everyone was caught up in the moment. Everyone kept shouting praise to God and kept thanking him for everything.  It is amazing to hear them thank God and worship him, even when they seem to have so little to be thankful for. 

After church our team was set to meet up with twelve amazing girls from Restavek Freedom.  They all have been rescued from slavery, and now live in this wonderful home.  We got to meet them the last time I was in Haiti, and they quickly became our new friends!  Some of us girls from our team went to play with some of the kids from Titanyen while we waited for the Freedom Girls to get here. I really love playing with the kids down in Haiti.  They are so kind, and love the attention.

Once the Freedom Girls arrived, we all headed off together to go to Kaliko beach. It was so beautiful!  I have never been to the Caribbean Ocean before.  The first thing we did was go to the beach.  Many people got stung by see-through jellyfish, and some of the girls even picked them up and threw them (not me). Since the ocean had too many jellyfish we decided to spend our time swimming in the amazing pool. After swimming a while, they had us come and eat buffet style. We got to see what real Haitian food was like.  Luckily, no one got sick! 

After a great lunch, we had fun playing more games in the pool.  I think it is so great how quickly and easily we became friends with our 12 new Haitian girl friends!  They were all so kind, and easy to play with.   When it was time to go, we went down to the ocean for pictures. We ended up seeing a real live lobster! It was huge!!  We all said good byes, and we tap-tap surfed on the way back to Grace Village to drop off some people. We all had a very fun day and laughed at A LOT!  It was such a fun and happy day!  What a great way to end an amazing week in Haiti!

Blog Post by: Kayla (12 years old)

Saturday, November 23, 2013

A Full Day!

Today was our third full day in Haiti. It’s a funny thing how the crowded streets and tent cities start to look normal and familiar. Yesterday was a long, hard day visiting the general hospital and spending time with the special needs kids of Haiti. We were all ready for what Saturday would bring.

Our first stop of the day was The Apparent Project - an organization that gives Haitian parents a place to sell their work in an effort to provide a source of income and avoid having to give their kids up to an orphanage if they can not support them. After a little shopping, we took a formal tour of Grace Village. Grace is home to 52 orphans, and provides schooling for 380 students. It was a pleasure to spend a few days with Jenn and Sierra, who are living at Grace Village long term! 

One of the many things that Grace Village does outside of its walls, is sponsor a group of Elderly who have in many cases out-lived their children. Orphaned elders is a concept I had never explored before. They all live in their homes in Titanyen - a village outside of Port-au-Prince. We brought them a meal, fresh water, prayed with them with and asked how they are feeling and if they need anything else. They are checked on often to ensure they are receiving what is donated to them.

Our day thus far was busy but we all were looking forward to Esaie's orphanage. I was especially excited to meet the kids because I was in charge of the craft we did with them. Esaie is a 33 year old Haitian who has an incredible story. He and his brother were orphans themselves, he went to school to become an accountant and when he would receive his paycheck he would take everything he earned and go and give it to the poor in Cite Soleil. After the earthquake in 2010, Esaie went to see the disaster in Cite Soleil - what he saw was children in the street gathered together, crying. He went up to them and asked what was wrong. All of them had lost their parents in the earthquake just a few days prior. They had left that morning and never come back. He told the story to us of going home to his brother and not knowing what to do. The very next day he got in a cab, drove to where he had seen these kids and loaded up all 16 of them. They would become his children.

Still trying to wrap our heads around the story, those same 16 kids stood around us, proudly listening to him recall the story. We took a tour of the orphanage, a courtyard, small classroom, tiny kitchen, and 2 bed rooms. One room for the 10 boys, roughly 12x8 with 3 bunk beds, 3 rows high neatly made with mismatched sheets and not much else on them. The second bedroom was identical for the 6 girls, complete with a pink door frame! The kids ranged from 6 to 15 years old and they all introduced their name and ages to us in very good English.

We had transported chocolate covered pretzel sticks all the way from Minnesota and gave each kid one to eat and then everything they needed to recreate their own. They were so thrilled with the colored frosting and fun sprinkles! Most opted to save their second treat for later - which was a messy task when trying to explain 'press-and-seal' wrap!

Our second project for the day was to make polar-fleece tie pillow inserts - complete with IKEA pillows! I wanted to bring something that would be fun for the kids to make and use again and again that wouldn't get tossed aside when another group came to visit. I was (regretfully) happy to see that their bare beds did not have pillows, which meant we were making an even greater impact than we planned on. Each child picked their fabric and partnered with one of our team members to make their pillow. They finished their pillows - collecting the scraps as treasures.

They concluded the day with sharing a few songs with us that they had practiced. The set consisted of: If your happy and your know it clap your hands, The Hokie Pokie, and Jesus loves me. We then had a 'sing-off' which if you watch our video - we clearly did not know what was happening! Karen led the group as we taught them all Joy to the World and sang together.

Leaving Esaie's Orphanage, I was comforted that these kids were in good hands. They had a loving role model, and the support of Healing Haiti. When my head hits the pillow tonight, my thoughts will be with the 16 heads that will be hitting their pillows for the first time tonight.

Good night Haiti!

Blog written by Hanna
Yesterday was definitely the hardest day so far. We first did water therapy with 6 special needs kids from Gertrude’s. Then we went to the General Hospital in Port-Au-Prince.
We went to pick up the kids from Gertrude’s right away in the morning. The age ranged from about 4 to 13. All of the kids had been abandoned because of their special needs. Some had cerebral palsy, none could talk but all were very aware of what was going on. They were all ready to go, suited up in their swimsuits. When they got in the tap-tap, they were full of smiles and laughter. The team brought them to a hotel by our Guest House. We got to the pool and all got in… the water was freezing! Some of our buddies thought it was cold too!  Our team made lots of new friends. We splashed water on them, rubbed their tense muscles, and many more (hopefully) comforting, relaxing things. The experience was absolutely amazing. My Auntie Brenda and my partner, Christine, was a joyful bundle of love inside a broken body. She had the cutest little laugh and the biggest smile. TO DIE FOR. It was so hard to bring the kids back to Gertrude’s where they didn’t have the proper care that they needed. The crowded room, with few staff that worked so hard to care for the little kids. One little boy, who couldn’t hold his back or neck up, had a wheel chair that was straight up. Unable to meet his needs.

Next we went to the General Hospital in Port-Au-Prince. I had no clue of what to expect. I was really nervous. We pulled into the green gates of the hospital, the inside crammed with beautiful, needy, anxious Haitians. We were led by one of Healing Haiti’s staff, Wilson, into a hot, dark, desperate, sick room filled with poor, sick, and dying children from the ages of 0-15. There are so many other words that could almost describe this place but just cant. We brought in care packs (filled with 2 rags, 2 bars of soap, 1 tube of tooth paste, 4 tooth brushes, 1 comb, 2 packages of peanuts, and 1 granola bar) that were in black bags. The people were so desperate for love, joy, comfort, and essential things that we always take for granted.  We tried to hand out the packs only to the mothers/fathers of the patients, but other people there ended up getting themselves one. The 15 yd by 3 yd green hospital room was filled with kids getting IVs, malnourished kids, and just sick kids. About ¼ of the babies had a mother/father by them. One little baby, with no teeth (to give an approximate age range), had both of his legs in a cast with a little blood on it. My mom and I immediately connected with the little guy. He had the cutest little face with the curliest black hair. I cannot get his face out of my head. He was damp with the heat of the musty room. The baby had wrapped himself up in a little blanket in his metal crib in the back corner in the room was abandoned. I was glad to see that the mommas who loved the babies across from him made sure that he had supplies for his bottle, a new blanket, and a onesie in his tiny crib.
I don’t ever see that I will forget this day…

- Annie Moen (11 years old)

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Haiti- day 2: Water truck

What an amazing day. We had water trucks today. That's where we fill up a tank of clean water and distribute it to different stops in Cite Soleil. All the stops we went to were very calm. I
absolutely love being able to pick up any child that wants to be held. Its just one more way to show God’s love.

I met some incredible people today and also had the opportunity to play soccer with some of the neighborhood boys who are strong in their faith and soccer skills. I witnessed joy, love, the need for touch, and desperation. When we got to our first stop it was mainly playing with children. I didn't work the hose until the last stop. We got to pass out manna packs at Elder's School. If you've ever been to Feed My Starving Children and packed the bags of food this is what we delivered. I really felt like this made a difference because these kids can take this home and feed their family, not just them.

Playing soccer with the boys today was such a blessing and fun! Our team played against the boys. We sang the MN Rouser in our pre-game huddle. They (neighborhood boys) led us in worship songs on the tap-tap and we all had a blast! I'm so glad to be on this trip. We have an awesome, hardworking team. I can't wait for tomorrow!
                                                            (Happy Birthday, Hanna!)

                                                                                                          Blogged by Ellie

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Creating a Gap

The original title of this post was going to be, “Waiting for the Sabbys”
There were multiple little speed bumps for Ellie and I (mostly me) today. By the end of the day when I had to re-write my “green sheet” entering Haiti… Ellie said, “Mom, come on. Everyone else is done and over there waiting for us again!”

The little speed bumps felt like mountains to me all day. Totally small things, but they were piling up. And I struggled this week to feel like I wanted to go on this trip again.  In my mind I knew it would be right once I got here (I hoped) but getting ready felt hard, and the small travel-annoyances today capped it off. At one point I texted my prayer warriors back home saying, “I just want to come back home!” (that was right after a slightly turbulent take-off)

If you’ve never been on a mission or service trip, you might wonder…   Who goes on a trip like this? I did. Some people I knew who had gone talked about “always feeling called” to do something like it.  I never felt that. I don’t like to travel. Not really even for pleasure. I’m content at home. Where I have all my routines and supplies and things are predictable. So this trip (was last year) and is still this year a big act of obedience for me. I have to talk myself into it. “You can do this. God will meet you and give you the courage and the tools you need.”  It even appears easy for my 11 year old.  She’s excited and anxious to get here. Can’t wait to get started.  It’s hard for me.

Tonight at our group time, Karen referenced the idea that we need to “Create the Gap” (a message from ebc) We were talking about trusting God to supply what we need on a trip like this. And if we don’t step outside our comfort zone, or go without, we don’t create opportunity to see how God will provide. And it occurred to me…   that’s what I’m doing: creating a gap. And that’s what I’m struggling with: creating that gap.

I’m writing this for people out there who are thinking, “I could never do a trip like that…”   I want to tell you, “You could.”  Because I am not that brave. And earlier in the week I wanted to chicken out.  And today I wanted to go back to my comfortable routines (and products…)  But I am here now. And I have a wonderful sense of hope and peace for the week. And I love my team. And I love how God has met me here. And how I feel ready to go out tomorrow and serve. Creating a gap… I’m working on it.