Monday, July 14, 2014

Not Lesser but Greater


  I am writing to you from the gate at the Miami airport waiting to board the plane headed to Minneapolis.  I am ready to get home and sleep in my own bed but it feels like I left part of myself in Haiti.  It really was and is a wonderfully impactful place.  At first it felt like an alien planet but after a few days it took a new shape.  It’s weird because I imagine that when people back home think about Haiti they think about the earthquake, poverty, starvation, or third world.  What is sad to me about that is some people might equate that to lesser.   A whole nation that is lesser than the rest.

                What I saw on that island was anything but lesser.  Yes, I saw the effects of a 4-year old earthquake, yes it is a very poor nation, and yes it is the “third world.”  All of that was really hard to see too.   Like when we visited the mass grave of those who were unidentified after the quake, or when we went into Cite Soleil, the poorest slum in the western hemisphere,  or when we visited an orphanage and found out they had enough food at most a week.  However what I noticed more than that was people.  People who were doing what they could to get by. People who had hope and faith in something bigger.  People who had stories, stories that they knew were a part of a much larger epic.  What I saw was a city with a chance to rebuild.   What I saw was the joy of little kids when they saw white people in Cite Soleil there to give them love and water.  What I saw was tears of joy in the face of a director as we brought a month’s supply of food to his orphanage.

So maybe when we think about poverty we shouldn’t think “lesser” we should think about people with amazing stories.  Anyway it’s been a long week and I’m tired and I got a plane to catch.

Bon Voyage

John Koepke

Saturday Night Top 10 - Haiti 2014

Saturday Night Top 10 - Haiti 2014
1. Delivering water to the poorest slum in the Western Hemisphere - Cite Soleil
2. Taking the orphans of Grace Village to the beach
3. Holding and feeding the children at the Home of Sick and Dying Babies
4. Helping and playing with the disabled children at Gertrude's Orphanage
5. Playing soccer with the neighborhood boys
6. Being taught how to salsa dance on the roof at night by Jean
7. Going up to the mountains and seeing the mass graves from the earthquake
8. Getting to know the team and becoming friends with the Haitian people
9. Seeing how resourceful the Haitian people are and their beautiful art work
10. Watching the World Cup outside with the translators and other Haitian staff
-By Aubrey (and kind of Zack)


Sunday, July 13, 2014

Feeding our Children

 Saturday July 12, 2014

Our time spent in Haiti has consisted of visiting orphanages. One orphanage in particular touched all of us tremendously, called 'La Phare', While there, we played with the children, putting on a puppet show and jump-roping. This orphanage had very little space to play and one small room for gathering. La Phare is run by a Haitian couple along with the grandmother. During our visit the man took our leader to a closet to show her that they only had one small box of food left which would only feed the children for one day. This broke our hearts and set us into action. We were able to obtain 10 boxes packaged by Feed My Starving Children. This would be enough for one month.
For those of you who have served at 'Feed My Starving Children' , I can assure you that the food DOES get sent to those in need. GOD IS GOOD! As we were leaving the orphanage, the man who runs it hugged me and said "Mesi" to which I replied "Jezi renmen ou" (Jesus Loves YOU).

We have witnessed a lot of suffering due to hunger during our time in Haiti yet we were always greeted with a smile and a sweet "Bonjou or Bonswa."  As poor as this nation is, I have never witnessed such love for God as I have here in Haiti. Even in poor living conditions and not knowing if they are going to be able to eat, they still give all praise to God and are so thankful. I am certain that they have helped me a lot more than I have helped them. They have shown me humility, graciousness, and selflessness. For that I am truly blessed and humbled.

Dusty Willner         

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Beach Day


Today we had the option to take a group of kids to the beach and swim in the ocean. We had planned to take the kids from Isaiah's orphanage but God had different plans.  They were unable to go and instead we went to Grace Village and answered the prayer of one of the missionary workers there who had been praying to take the kids to the beach before she returned to the states but was unable to make it happen.  She was so grateful we just showed up and were able to take 24 kids to the beach. The joy and excitement we saw on their faces was amazing.  We swam, played, took a boat ride, had lunch and thoroughly enjoyed our time with them.

The picture of the girl with me (Pauline) was a very special girl.  She was rescued from a life of child slavery and I spent the entire time with her.  She enjoyed just being together and her smiles were so special to me.  She never left my side.  I will never forget the look in her eyes as I hugged her good-bye and told her I loved her.  It is so hard to not be able to do more. 

It was a beautiful day with lots of laugher, joy and smiles.  The picture of the girl with me (Jessica) was a little three year old girl filled with joy and happiness. We were sitting in the water away from everyone so she wouldn't get salt water in her eyes.  She started singing 'Glory to God. Glory to God. Glory to God forever' and I started to sing along with her.  Once she heard that I joined in she had a huge smile on her face.  I will never forget the smile of that beautiful girl. 

We wanted to show all our friends in Eden Prairie the fun we had giving pinneys and teaching the kids at Juno's orphanage how to play lacrosse.  The kids are so appreciative of new activities and having us play with them.  We have seen lots of Eden Prairie jerseys here in Haiti. 
We have been blessed beyond what we could ever imagine by the children and people in Haiti.  We have experienced so much in a week and we hope and pray that we never forget what we have experienced and that our lives will be forever changed because of the joy we have seen here. 
posted by Pauline and Jessica Lagerquist

Friday, July 11, 2014

Another Beautiful Day! Water Truck & Grace Village

Another beautiful day here in Haiti! Today we started off the day with more visits to Cite Soleil with the water truck. We were welcomed with bright smiling faces from the beautiful Haitian children. There is no feeling like it when holding these beautiful children and their love and compassion is incredible. Today I, Katie, was tired and extremely dirty from carrying children and water buckets... and as I was walking back to the Tap Tap to continue to our next water stop, one child stopped me. He pointed to my dirt stained shirt and set down his bucket of water in all of the chaos around us. He then continued to dip his hands in his bucket of water, that he was carrying home to drink, and tried his best to wipe off the dirt on my shirt. I stood there, amazed at his compassion and kindness. The Haitians we have met have opened their hearts and homes to us everywhere we go.
 It has been an amazing experience and especially to be able to be here with my mom. As we walk through the streets with children surrounding us, we are able to communicate through not only hugs but a little bit of my mom's high school French class is coming in handy as well. It is amazing how we are able to communicate with these kids and how they ask if she is my mom. My mom is able to respond in French that she is my mother and I am her baby. I love watching her show them the love that I have always had.
Later in the day, we were able to visit Grace Village, a little slice of heaven here in Haiti. It is an amazing complex that Healing Haiti has built over the years for orphaned children, which now has a medical and dental clinic that we were able to tour today. It overlooks the beautiful blue Caribbean Ocean. We have the opportunity to take children from a different orphanage to the beach tomorrow, should be a fun day!
This week has been such a blessing to all of us and our little family here in Haiti. There are not words to describe some of the experiences we have had, but we look forward to sharing our stories with you all! :-)

God bless!!!

Nancy & Katie



Thursday July 10, we visited Juno's Orphanage. We went there with the intent of providing the orphans with love, arts and crafts, games, and flavored shaved ice.  This entire week has been filled with our serving of the Haitian people. What I didn't expect was to receive so much more from them. 
While visiting Juno's we met a 10 year old little boy named Wayclef.   As soon as we stepped off of the tap-tap Wayclef chose who he wanted to play with right away. The only toy he had to play with was  5 rubber bands. We sat down and he began to show me tricks with his rubber bands,  After that we played games and ate hand made snow cones from a huge block of ice we brought with us.  All of the children were grateful to have shared the afternoon with us that before we left, Wayclef placed all of his rubber bands around my wrist and wanted me to take them with me as a token of his gratitude.
This is a 10 year old little boy who already understands the act of  being selfless.
It has been our experience this week that the majority of the Haitian people are not bitter or cynical due to all of things that they go without, food, clothes, toys, and even parents.  They are so grateful for what they DO have and give praise and revere God as GOOD!
I will forever keep Wayclef's rubber bands as a reminder to always live my life selflessly and give praise to God for all that is good in my life.         

"Unselfish and  noble actions are the most radiant pages in the biography of souls". - David Thomas   

-Christian Willner                                                          

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Three Words

Haiti is nothing like I ever imagined, it is amazingly beautiful but at the same time it is so heartbreaking. While being in Haiti these past few days there have been three words that have really hit me hard; love, joy, and faith. I have learned to love unconditionally and that a little bit of love can go a long way. Seeing the children in the streets of Cite Soleil and at the orphanages come up to me with their arms spread apart just waiting for my love and affection has showed me that no matter how little you have or how hard your life may be, you can always show love and be loved. The joy that these children show on their face, even when they have pretty much nothing and are living in shacks is unbelievable to me. Sometimes at home in America we get so caught up in materialistic things, and how well we are doing in our sports or in school, we forget to be joyful and thankful for all the things God has provided for us and how lucky we really are. The last word, faith, is probably the most important to me. Faith is knowing that God will provide for you and that everything will be okay. The people here in Haiti must have so much faith in God just to get through their day. They have to have faith that He will provide them a place to sleep, food to eat, and clean water to drink. It was so hard for me to leave the little kids in the middle of the street in Cite Soleil, and to leave the kids at the orphanages because I have no clue what is going to happen to them in the future. But, with God all things are possible and I know that he has an amazing plan for each and every one of us. Haiti has really changed me and my perspective on life. The children I've held and talked to will always have special place in my heart. I can honestly say I am so happy that I came on this trip and I've become so much closer with God. I am so excited to come back!