Friday, September 30, 2011


This morning we woke up before dawn and attended a Haitian worship service at a church down the street. It was amazing to see the sun shining over the mountains and the people purposefully walking as we approached the huge tent. As we searched for our seats and looked around to wait for church to start, we quickly realized it was already starting and people don’t simply sit and listen. This was an experience like no other. It was refreshing to feel the hope, trust and faith the Haitians have in God. His presence was truly felt as we praised and worshipped God along side the people of Haiti.

After church, we walked home through the streets filled with people, pigs, goats, dogs, mud, potholes and garbage.

Today our plan was to make some elderly visits, see Grace Village and play with the children of Yvonne’s orphanage. We had a few unexpected moments, but a very fulfilling day!

Our first stop was Grace Village. Hallelujah, it is beautiful! What a work of God! The children in the village followed our truck up the road and through the gate, running alongside us. We were greeted, and again, the kids followed us holding our hands. The view of the countryside was gorgeous! We had a tour of the future feeding center, dormitories, playground, fish farm and hydroponic gardens. Jeff also shared his visions of a home for the elderly and the restavek children (slave children), a future village for children as they “graduate”, garden area and irrigation system. The dormitories and feeding center are anticipated to be ready for the children in about 6 weeks. They have dug a well and found water, which was a more plentiful well than could ever have been imagined. God’s work was definitely evident here!

Next, we visited the elderly individuals. We went to visit Antoine, who was not home yesterday. We were concerned when he still was not home. A neighbor woman offered to lead us to the garden where he had ridden his donkey to tend to his rice. This turned out to be quite an adventure through the hillside, searching for him in the hot sun. We were delighted by the butterflies and beautiful view… not to mention the humor we were able to find in this journey within the journey! However, we still could not find him.

We visited another individual in the elderly program, Jude Jean Paul, a young teenaged parapalegic. Although not elderly in age, he is still in the program because of his disabilities and isolation. Had he been in the US, he would possibly have been treated to prevent this and most certainly would be given therapy, medication and treatment. These individuals are left aside and ignored here. He was cared for by his loving mother who appeared to attend to his needs the best she could. We brought him some supplies, food, water and medicine. We prayed for him, sang songs with him and massaged his hands and feet. This was an opportunity to truly be the hands and feet of Christ.

Then, we had a fun visit to Yvonne’s Orphanage, where we played with the children and had a busy afternoon. The children were delighted in the video of the St. Michael’s Crosswalk children and adored the cards and notes from them. They worked hard on some cards to return to St. Michael’s. We can’t wait to share them! They sang for us and invited us in to play. We brought a parachute to play with them, some jump ropes, soccer balls, bubbles, and crafts. The kids loved every minute and we all did, too! The shine in the eyes and their bright smiles reassured that we were in the right place today!

I am sure you are wondering, we finally found Antoine. He was home resting with his donkey. He was thin and frail, dressed only in shorts, lying next to his home on a tarp in the hard rocky dirt. He invited us into his home and we gave him some necessities and visited with him. His home, made of tarps, wood and tin, was so hot, it was hard to imagine how he would sleep at night. We discussed his health and gave him our blessings.

Thus far, our trip has been such an eye-opening experience. The sight of the garbage, rubble and scantily built homes, the smells of the dirt, the garbage and smoldering fires, the feeling of the hot, heavy sun, the loud sounds of trucks, cars and honking horns, and the tired, weary people in the streets have been so hard to see and accept as a reality. But, the rainbow through the hazy sky on the way home, was a vision of hope and refreshing reminder that God is present and has His hand is working to heal the wounds in Haiti.

Healing Haiti Team Member

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Today we encountered God

Tom’s Blog
Thursday in Haiti:

Today we encountered God in many ways throughout the day.

We started with some troubled stomachs within the group (discretion and TMI requires further silence on the details). However, meds kicked in so that everyone was feeling much better by the afternoon. (The God part is having the medicine available to make things work out)

Next we picked up in our little truck/bus an Israeli student named Leath who we met working as a volunteer at the Home for Sick and Dying Children yesterday. She had become so lonely being all by herself in Haiti that when we encountered her on Tuesday, it became clear to us immediately that she needed to take one of our extra beds and join our team for the duration so that she could complete her several month experience in Haiti. Leath was with us all day and was tremendously grateful for the chance to work with us even though she found it hard to leave the hospital with all the many needs of the children. (Remember, there are no coincidences – pray for her as well as us).

We then began our journey in our converted pick up truck to Titanyen to visit 3 “Elderlies” that have become part of a care group with whom Healing Haiti assists. Since the average life expectancy here is in the early 50’s and the few people who make it older then 50 have outlived their friends and even their children. This became quite overwhelming for me – the last elder we visited would have been in a full care nursing home in the states, but here, she was virtually helpless and on her own. “Aunt Jolie” needed to be dressed before we could even see her. However, she has no one to help her and is vulnerable to desperate locals taking advantage of her gifts from groups like ours. She apparently even sold her bed for food recently. While we were providing them a care package and took care of their personal needs, we also sang with them and prayed for them. “Aunt Jolie”’s wish was to soon go see Jesus. I was overwhelmed at her state and prayed fervently that her prayer would be answered or that she would be able to go to Grace Village soon and become a great grandparent to the many kids.

We then spent our afternoon with the children of Guilluome’s Orphanage (which in the next month will be moving into Grace Village under Healing Haiti’s organization.) There are a wonderful collection of babies through teenagers living together and being cared for quite well despite living in a very poor town outside of Port au Prince. They receive an education and are cared for and their lives have improved as funds have reached them through our organization. All the children received beds of their own in the last year so that they wouldn’t have to sleep on the ground. They are very eager and bright children who enjoyed playing, singing and making crafts with us all afternoon. One little 11 year old boy named Billo sat with me for some time late in the afternoon. As well as they are cared for, the one on one connections are the thing that they cannot always have. (Today, God ministered to me through the children just as He ministered to them through our entire team.)

Healing Haiti Team Member

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

God is so good…

Five jobs. That’s what our leader, Jeff, told us we would be doing today. “When we go out with the water truck, there are five different jobs you will be doing.” Filling buckets with the water hose, moving the buckets under the water hose and out of the way, keeping the line of people and buckets moving, carrying water to people’s homes, and making ourselves accessible to the kids. Five jobs – each one important, each one meaningful, each one refreshing in it’s own unique way. With God’s strength and a lot of teamwork, we were able to perform those jobs at the end of three different roads in Cite Soleil today.

Although I knew Cite Soleil is the poorest slum in the Western hemisphere and I had seen pictures of the water truck stops before, I was not prepared for what I experienced. It was unlike anything I’d ever done, seen, smelled, heard, or felt before. Our senses were overwhelmed and overstimulated. Today we have been left nearly speechless and unable to fully process all we have experienced in this culture that is so different from ours.

Having those five jobs to do gave us a purpose in this unfamiliar environment. Filling the endless line of buckets with water was fulfilling. Watching the crowds of people desperate for free water was chaotic. Taking the heavy buckets of water through the narrow path of tin shacks was eye-opening. Being the love and playmates the children yearned for was heartwarming.
After the water truck was empty at each stop, Jeff took us for a walk to and along the beach. All I can say is “wow”! The beaches in Cite Soleil are unlike any beaches I know. As Jeff explained to us, the water truck drives as far as it can on the paved road before stopping to deliver water. Beyond the water stop is where the poorest people in Haiti live. The further from the end of the road you go, the closer to the beach you get, the poorer the people are. They are farther away from access to water, food, and services. Unlike most countries where beachfront property is considered quite valuable and where wealthy people own homes, beachfront property in Haiti is the least desirable and where the poorest of the poor live.

On our walk to the waterfront each time, we were accompanied by a small cluster of children surrounding each one of us. Amidst the endless piles of garbage, the overwhelming smells, the scene of small one room homes made with tin walls and roofs, and some children’s bare feet walking on seashells and glass was the sound of children singing “God is so good, is so good, is so good, is so good” over and over. Hearing that song from the two little girls in my arms and on my back seemed like such a contrast to what one would think they would feel considering the destitute conditions surrounding us.

During our debrief at the end of the day, Jeff asked if we sensed God’s presence today. I immediately thought of the girls I carried to the beach today. They were filled with God’s love, His hope, His Spirit. Maybe this is what Jeff was talking about when he said we need to empty ourselves completely so we can let God fill us – just like the water buckets today when we dumped any small amount of old, dirty water remaining in the bucket so we could fill it with the fresh, clean water. If we dump the remainder of our old sinful selves out and let His clean Holy Spirit fill us, maybe then we too could sing with the children without questioning: “God is so good, is so good, is so good, is so good…”

Healing Haiti Team Member


Everyone seemed to have slept well and was anxious to get onto the Mission field. Our travels were in an open-air van/bus, but since the roads are so bad, we are only able to travel at 3-5mph. We took in all the surroundings very thoroughly. Our first stop was at the home for sick and dying babies from 9am-12pm. We helped care for the babies by feeding, changing, holding, and loving over them. I was able to go into the school area and play with all the older kids at recess. What a great way to see, meet and interact with 100+ kids.
Our next stop was Gertrude’s Orphanage for Abandoned and Special Needs Children. We played and interacted with the kids from 12-3pm. The children were unbridled with energy and enthusiasm, so needless to say we had a run for our money to keep up. Towards the end of our time here, I ventured into a bedroom with 3-5 very handicapped boys. They were unable to come outside where our group was. I felt very uncomfortable because I didn't know how to interact with any of them. I sat down on one of the beds and started to talk to them. All of the sudden this boy named Mickey started to speak English, so we talked for awhile and had a conversation. As we were. the other boys were moving around on the floor, but I was able to relax and feel God comforting me. Mickey's amazing ability to speak very fluent English really reminded me that if I stepped out of myself - God would be there to walk or carry me through.
We then headed back to the home for sick and dying babies from 3-5pm. Once there the group fed and held the babies, while Tom and I helped unload a semi trailer of donated biscuits with some local Haitian men. It was a bonding experience to sweat it out with them and complete a daunting physical task.

We finished and arrived back to our home away from home. Five of us went swimming next door and then we had a great meal together. Jeff had asked everyone to come up with a word to describe our day, so after dinner we shared our word and mine was “blessing” . Blessing - to be a part of a great team of people; the Haiti trip; and used by God. The other side of blessing is: What a blessing it is to be ministered by God through the joy, laughter, smiles, and spirits of these children and babies.

We ended our evening with prayer and songs.

Trusting in Him

Healing Haiti Team Member

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Palms Up

Our lives will be changed forever!  This trip started at 3:45 am Monday morning as we all met at the airport in Minneapolis to begin our adventure to Haiti.  We were all excited and ready to go.  Everything went as planned and we were on the plane in Miami ready to fly to Haiti.  We sat on the plane for an hour after boarding and were told that we just needed the mechanic to sign off and we were off.  The plane took off and stayed at 7,000 feet.  The pilot announced that they were having difficulties with a flap and were going to check all their instruments.  Little did I know we were circling Miami as the pilots decided what to do!  I am not afraid of flying, but I am not a fan of take-offs and landings.  Scared does not begin to describe the emotions I felt as we were in the air!
 I closed my eyes and began to pray.  “Be strong and courageous.  Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go” (Joshua 1:9) kept running through my mind.  As my mind started to focus on these words I begin to feel a calmness come over me.  I then was reminded of a comment Jeff (our leader) made as we were waiting to take off.  He said we need to go to God with our palms up.  We can’t cling to our plans or desires when we say we want to do God’s will.  We have to be palms up, not grasping for earthly wishes.  I don’t think I have ever felt such a peacefulness.  I knew God would take care of us.

The pilot announced that we were going to be heading back to Miami and that the emergency crews would be out just in case our brakes were a little hot, but he was trained to land a fully fueled plane and we would be boarding a new plane shortly after landing.  His landing was the softest landing I have experienced!  As we landed, we were all looking out our windows and watching these neon green fire engines following us.
I knew at that moment that Christ had used this experience to prepare my heart for what I would see and do in Haiti.

We flew out of Miami 4 hours later than scheduled and safely arrived in Port-au-Prince Haiti around 7:30 pm.

We loaded the Healing Haiti truck with our bags, all 10 of us climbed in and we were off to serve the Haitian community for the next 7 days.
I can’t wait to see what God has in store for us.  One thing I do know-I do not need to be terrified or fear anything I encounter on this trip because I am here with my palms up ready to follow HIS plan!

Jill Jopp
Healing Haiti Team Member

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Everywhere That I Go

Recently, as I've been preparing for our trip to Haiti, I was also preparing to sing in a new choir. I played the practice CD over and over again to learn the words and the notes. As I continue to play these songs over in my mind, I know these words have been given by God to prepare me for this journey.

"I belong to You, You belong to me Lord, I'm surrounded everywhere that I go. I will walk with You, You will walk with me, Lord. I'm surrounded everywhere that I go... You promise me, you'll never leave, You promise me, I'm never forsaken, I believe goodness and mercy will follow me, surrounding me where I go, everywhere that I go. "
(Everywhere That I Go - by Cindy Ratcliff and Israel Houghton)

And, as we've been told by Jeff, it's not about us, it's about what God will do in us and through us.

"Whatever it takes, whatever Your will, Lord, whatever Your purpose for me, I'll do. It's not about me, it's not about my will. It's all about living my life for you. You desire more of me, I desire You. Lord, Your love has set me free. I will live for you. Every chance I get..."
(Every Chance I Get - by Trent Corey, Keisha Corey, Aaron Lindsey)


Monday, September 19, 2011

Psalm 121

I am moved by the Spirit to do more than to simply live the life I have been given.
I have been immensely blessed, and so I ask the Lord, "What more
can I do to bless others? How can I help you, God?"
This is truly something that He has transformed in me within the last
year or so. I quickly dismissed Him and His prompting at first. I wasn't
sure what it was that kept stirring from within me. Then over time it became clear.
Now, I think I get it! He's trying to get my attention. He's breaking my heart
so that I can feel the hurt of others. He's molding it and shaping it to be a tool
for Him.

So as we're about to embark on this amazing and God given opportunity
to love and serve His people, I realize how excited, and yet, how very nervous
I am. But the Lord has been with me every step of the way. He heard my fears in my prayers to Him yesterday and in the thoughts that have consumed my mind for
the last week.

Today He clearly spoke to me, saying:

The Lord protects you;
the Lord is a shelter right by your side.
The Lord will protect you from all harm;
He will protect your life.
He will protect your coming and going
both now and forever.

Psalm 121:5, 7-8

He is my shield as I serve Him.

Blessings and His peace to you all,

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

I refuse...

Words cannot express the excitement I have to serve God and share His love with the people of Haiti. Since learning about Healing Haiti at Sunday School, the inequities in life have astonished me. Observing the children's extreme poverty, yet joyful hearts, I feel moved by the Holy Spirit to reach out and serve them in some way.
I have always felt an urging to go on a Mission Trip, and now it is for real. I have been checking off the items on my "to do" list to prepare, got my immunizations, and even took my first malaria pill today. I am reading my missions workbook and trying to ready myself as best as I can. I have the supplies I need, or what I think I need anyway, and am happy to share my excitement with others. In addition to sharing the trip with Crosswalk Sunday School, Christian Mom's Fellowship and my family and friends, I have even begun a collection at my children's public school to gather supplies for the Haitian children. God is good!
That said, it is really starting to set in that we are leaving in less than 2 weeks... 12 days to be exact. The anxious thoughts have been hitting me a little harder and I run these verses over and over in my head, "Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus." Philippians 4: 6-7 and "I can do everything through Him who gives me strength." Philippians 4: 13
Then, this morning in the car, as I am driving to my mom's group at church, this song came on the radio. It really spoke to me and what I was feeling at that very moment. I just wanted to share this song with you, if you haven't already heard it. "I Refuse" by Josh Wilson. I have attached a link to the music video.
He says,
"I don't want to live like I don't care
I don't want to say another empty prayer
Oh, I refuse to sit around and wait for someone else
To do what God has called me to do myself
I could choose not to move
But I refuse!"
I know that God is calling us to be His hands and feet and serve the least among us, we are to be His ambassadors and share His good news. Today, please feel peace, and know that I am praying for our team members, families and friends to feel both calm and excited in anticipation of our upcoming journey!
God will not call us to do something without also giving us the tools to do it!
Have a Blessed Evening,

Monday, September 12, 2011

Jesus with skin on...

I'm Tom Solberg, one of the leaders of our Crosswalk Sunday School at St Michael's. I also have a day job as well at a concrete production company in Minneapolis and plenty of extra volunteer activities that keep me running. So why on earth would I suddenly get the urge to be a short term mission team member to of all places - Haiti?

There are plenty of other service projects I could have chosen to be involved in. I'm even missing one while we're on our trip to Haiti. Plus, doesn't charity begin at home?

The reality is that I was intrigued by this organization when our Sunday School began supporting them several years ago. Never before had a mission group actually talked back to me! It was plain to me that this group was "Jesus with skin on" to the people in this destitute country. They powerfully serve these folks, even going to areas where very few outsiders will go. That gives them "street cred" and allows them to also share the Gospel as they build relationships with the people they serve.

Even then, it was one thing to be supportive of a charity group's efforts financially; it was quite another to take the plunge and actively join a mission trip to another country. It's not exactly on the list of destinations our government considers safe. It means getting shots and taking meds before, during and after to ward off disease. It means fundraising - not because I couldn't work it out within our family budget - but so that I could give several dozen more people a chance to participate in the trip in a very tangible way. And in writing to these people, I asked for their prayers of support as well - the most important element of our preparation as we will face many very emotionally draining activities and will need the Spirit's wind under our wings!

And now we are 2 weeks from that 6am flight to Haiti via Miami. We've had a chance to bond some as a team. We've done some study on what it's like to do service oriented mission work in another country. We're busy collecting supplies to take with us on the trip and use at the orphanages and clinics we'll be working at. I need to also work on studying some of the language so I can at least say a few words to people I meet.

In the end, we can say yes or no to the direction the Holy Spirit gives us. I'm sure I'm far from always doing what God would have me do - but as for serving on this mission trip - I have a sure peace from God knowing if I will trust Him, He will meet all my needs at just the right time!

Friday, September 9, 2011

"Look Up!"

I have been preparing for this trip for several months. Yet I know God has been preparing me for this trip for many, many years. I NEVER thought I would go on a mission trip of this nature....EVER! However, God brought Jeff and Alyn, and the ministry of Healing Haiti to the attention of the Children's Ministry of St. Michael's Lutheran Church three years ago....and changed my life, and the lives of many others forever!

As Director of St. Michael Children's Ministry at the time, we had always supported different ministry causes and missions. However, even though mission support had always been an intrical part of our Children's Ministry, I never felt it made a life changing impact on our kids, or even myself for that matter. That all changed the moment we met Jeff and Alyn, and they exposed us to both the beauty and devastation of Haiti.

Jeff and Alyn did an incredible job of building a relationship with us, making the people and country of Haiti tangible and real for our kids. The Holy Spirit moved among our kids and families in a powerful way, placing ministry to Haiti prominently in our hearts.

As we continued to partner with Healing Haiti from the comforts of our homes and lives, it became obvious that the next step was to actually GO to Haiti and serve on a more personal level. It became a nagging force in my life that I simply could not shake.

I made plans, along with two other dear friends, to go on my very first mission trip in January of 2011. Unfortunately, just days before our departure, my mom and dad were involved in a fatal car accident. I have to admit, it was a fear of mine prior to the trip, that Satan would possibly attack my family in order to prevent this trip from happening. As I dealt with the details of the double funeral of my parents, as shocking as this situation was, I somehow was not totally surprised.

Having eight months of time to reflect, I now see how God has used the timing of my parents' death in such an awesome way. I still get to travel to Hait on September 26, but instead of going with two other friends, God has increased our team to nine! So many more families and people have been moved and touched by this upcoming trip than previously imagined, showing just how true it is that God works EVERYTHING for good for those who love Him.

As excited as I am for this trip, I have also found my life more busy and hectic than ever before. I began a new job in July, and after 19 years at my previous church in ministry, it has been a huge learning curve that has been exhausting at times. My schedule, along with the rest of my family's, has ramped up in a way that allows for minimal margin in the day. Of course, what always seems to suffer is my private time with God. I have not had the time to prepare spiritually as I did prior to my first attempt to go.

It would be very easy for me to use the excuse of a busy life and continue to not try to find time to connect with God. Of course, God pursues us, no matter how much time we allocate for Him! I only had a few fleeting moments for prayer and study the other day, and I ended up in the book of John, chapter 4:35. Jesus is talking to His disciples, and He says, "Look up! Lift up your eyes, and look at the fields, for they are ripe for the harvest.".

God said to me that day that no matter how busy I get...I need to continue to LOOK UP! Notice the people around me. Don't get so busy that my nose is to the grindstone, and I don't see what God has placed right in front of me. Look up, look out at the harvest. God has placed it before us, whether in Haiti, or our next door neighbor. God told me to Look Up every day, no matter how busy and "important" I think I am at the moment. I should never be too busy to Look Up, be available to minister to others.

As a result of God's words to me, I hold my head a little higher, as I challenge myself to Look Up and notice the moments He gives me each and every day. I am paying attention to how He is preparing me for this incredible journey to Haiti, and I know He isn't done with me yet!

Are you Looking Up from your busy day today, and noticing the harvest around you? If not, I challenge you to Look might be surprised by what you see!

Kara Stoerzinger
Healing Haiti Team Member