Sunday, September 23, 2012


Written by Rick Jones

This team will be back in Minnesota in just a little over 24 hours.  Monday is consumed with travel from our experience here in Haiti back to the lives and families that we put on pause for a week.  In our discussion tonight I shared my wish to be able to bottle the experiences and emotions of the week and allow them to come back to Minnesota without being diluted over time. 

God presented to this team over the course of a single week the desperate need of many who need to be provided food and drink but are forgotten by so many more.  God presented homes of parentless children who are starved for health and love.  But God also presented the light and hope of the Healing Haiti organization and how it is serving God's purpose in steps that are beginning to become strides. 

My wish is to bottle what God layed on my heart this week so that I can open it up when life pulls me back into the world of mixed up priorities to remind me of what God wants us to do.  It was a privilege to serve the beautiful and gracious people of Haiti and help in small ways that I did.  I hope to remember those who I met, those who I shared this trip with and the impact that God had on me.

Matthew 25: 34-36.


Today was our last full day in Haiti and I am sure all of us are having mixed feelings.
Difficult to leave the beautiful faces and smiles of the children we have encountered and the unending needs of the people, but also missing our own families.

We went up to Grace Village for Sunday Church Service (9:30-11).  Prior to the service, we were able to sing Happy Birthday to Ben Ammerman, Pastor Rob's son, who will be 11 tomorrow.  He was happy to receive Gummy Bears.  We also gave his sister, Morgan, some chocolate cake mix (our shopping group could not find brownie mix), she was smiling widely in anticipation of chocolate.
The service was conducted in both Creole and some English and was very joyful, passionate, uplifting, and spirit-filled.  Sermon on Prayer.
Service was conducted in the feeding center, kids broke out prior to the sermon, for their own service on the veranda of the girls dorm.
Quite hot today and we all were a bit wiped out after the service, and especially after saying goodbye to those we met at Grace Village.  Some of us will return, but most may not...only God will be able to guide us on the path each of us plans to take in responding to this incredible and unforgettable week.

We then went on a tour through Port-Au-Prince.  Noted less traffic today, but still lots of street vendors.  Went by the Palace which is in the process of being torn down, the front columns were still standing however.
Stopped at a vendors stand near the palace to look at merchandise.  I walked away a short distance to look at a public area.  A Haitian man who spoke very good English talked to me about his feeling that the current President is  making positive small changes, but needs the people to work with him for a  common good, not individualistic needs.  He did wear a cross, and told me he left his home today to find food for his family.  I did tell the man I would pray for him and family for God's provision.

We then traveled up into the hills and stopped at a couple of other vending sights where team members made purchases.
We reached a spot at a fairly high elevation where we went out onto a veranda which overlooked the entire city of Port-Au-Prince.  Gorgeous view!  As we traveled up to this site, the stores and homes became nicer, and there were many very large homes.  This is where the wealthy live.
The heat also left us and the surroundings were greener and cooler.
As we returned to the heat and dust of the city, it actually felt more familiar to me than had the nicer area, and I had a certain feeling of connectedness here, even though there was less physical comfort.

As the week and trip is concluding, I do have a feeling of peace and tranquility.  There are so many needs here, but the people are beautiful and resilient.  I see so many of them relying on God to provide for them and do see His presence here.  Only through God can this place be changed.  I think of how our own country has so many resources physically, but is losing itself spiritually in abandoning God as its foundation.  I see hope that the opposite may be occurring in Haiti.
I pray for both our countries, as we are all God's children who are commanded to help each other in our temporal life and bring each other to eternal life in Christ.
I have been blessed to be able to participate in this trip.

In Christ,
Tom King

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Loaves & Fishes

This has been an amazing week being the "hands and feet" down here in Haiti.  This morning was a totally new experience for me serving downtown at the wound clinic.  After 4 of us from our team maneuvered our way into a van to total 18, we made our way downtown to an alley which were waiting over 200 people to be seen for either wound care or assessments for medicine or admission to the center for sick children.  2 of our teammates proceeded to tend to wounds while Mikell and I began dispensing medicine based on the care advisors' recommendations or prescriptions to be filled.  My background in pharmaceuticals came in handy with categorizing on the table the antibiotics, anti fungals, anti-pain,etc. that the nurses were yelling out that needed to be filled within a matter of seconds.

At first I was overwhelmed by the sheer volume of patients to be tended to.  Each had a laminated number that were brought into our room in groups of 50.  Using measuring tools to wonder if there was going to be enough medicine to cover all these patients can't apply to God's standards.  When we try to use any human scale to measure God's wisdom and strength, we immediately realize that our measuring tools don't work.  Instead of trying to wonder how in the world are we going to treat and dispense meds to all these people, God's strength is "weakness"- His provision was there!  Loaves and fishes in action! 



Row Your Boat

We are back from our last session at the Home for Sick and Dying Infants. I was worried to find that two of the children I had bonded with on Wednesday were no longer in their cribs. I feared the worst but was happy to find that they had been released to go back to their homes. I hope that they are healthy; just because they are released doesn't mean that they are well. The first child I held today was an infant who was running a fever and had a noticeable rattle to his breathing. However, after changing his diaper and putting a fresh outfit on him, a staff member put a knit wool hat on him and sent him home with some formula. Now that my first baby got sent away, I got right back on the horse and grabbed a new baby. I don't know if I chose wisely or not because I ended up grabbing one that, although was cute at first glance, ended up being covered in diahrea from an ill-fitting diaper and from not having been attended to in too long. Although I have changed many diapers in my life, I have to say that changing a diahrea diaper of a baby in a Haitian hospital got the germophobe in me's attention a bit. Wipes were scarce. There are no gloves and there is no hot water to wash your hands off afterwards. To add to the degree of difficulty, when taking the diaper off, I discovered the baby was a boy. I have a lot less experiencing changing boy diapers; he was able to get poop in places my girls never could. I got the heebie jeebies a little bit and that surprised me since earlier today I had been cutting out pieces of a guy's leg. What? Stop talking about diapers? Okay, I'll just let you know that everything got cleaned up in the end.

I spent the rest of the day in the wing where I had been on Wednesday. As I mentioned, a few members of the Jeff's Leg Gang had been sent home. I was greated by two old friends though. The older girl who loved to through stuffed balls in my face ran and greeted me with a big hug. I was also greeted by the last remaining member of the Jeff's Leg Gang. I had to ask a nurse what his name was because he would never tell me. His name was Lukelou. Lukelou is a cutey (not necessarily sweet though; he clocked another kid who wanted my attention). Lukelou would not answer any of my questions; he would only repeat what I said. Not in a way that kids repeat what you say just to drive you crazy way, it was more out of shyness and curiosity. A "je m'appelle Jeff" would get the same in return. If I asked him in French or Creole if he spoke French or Creole, he would just say the same sentence back to me. After giving up on small talk, I took Lukelou outside and knowing that he would just repeat whatever I said, I turned to singing. Remembering a favorite from Elaina and Lucy's youth, I sang "Loving You" to him and got him to sing the do-do-do-do-do ah-ah-ah-ah-ah-ah's along with me. Couldn't be sweeter. Then we sang Row, Row, Row Your Boat which worked very well and a repeat song. And after we finished it, I would ask him "encore?" and he would indicate yes so he enjoyed that as well. I held him in my arms and he hugged me and I hugged him for about an hour as we sang together. You know things are bad in Haiti when listening to me sing is a good alternative.

Leaving the hospital was hard because we won't be back. This afternoon was our last service session. Tomorrow we will go back to Grace Village for a church service and then we will be taken on a tour of some of the earthquake devastation and some Haitian landmarks. Our tanks are getting closer to empty so a light day before we return to the States will hit the spot.

- Jeff Gerst

Our Last Opportunity To Serve

A posting by Kevin Graf:

Our mission experience is starting to wind down with today being our last day to serve.  Today was a day in which we were able to decide on what area of serving we wanted to repeat.  The team decided to split for the morning into two groups. One group to the Wound Clinic, which consisted of Jeff, Margie, Mykell and Tom K.  The second group, which consisted of myself, Martin, Mike, Rick, Ryan, and Tom S. went back to Cite Soleil to deliver water.
We only had time for two water runs and both of the sites we went to were different than those we visited on Tuesday (Healing Haiti delivers water six days a week to a rotating group of over 20 neighborhoods). To no surprise these sites weren’t any different.  There was the same level of excitement as the water truck & Tap Tap pulled into position.  A line of people carrying anything that could possibly hold water began to form behind the water truck.  We all took turns holding the water hose, lining up the buckets, carrying water back to homes and playing with the children.  Much as before there was orderly chaos as everyone lined up and a few trying to squeeze ahead into the front of the line.  The younger children were eager once we stepped off the Tap Tap to grab at us to be held.  It was very obvious they were starved for love & attention.  Many of the older kids were more interested in asking our names to become our “friend” before asking us for our sandals or if we had any money.  As tempting as it might be to honor their wishes, we purposely carry no money or other valuables & we weren’t willing to give our sandals at this point.

After our first water run, we headed back to the major well head that can fill four tanker trucks at a time to get refilled.  While parked and waiting, we observed several women on the road into the station sorting through garbage that had been dumped in the middle of the road.  They were looking for recycleables that they could exchange for money in the newly enacted Haitian recycling program. Once they were finished they would spread the garbage out evenly for the trucks to crush as they left the station.  We also observed a man with a torch welding the exhaust pipe back to the side of his water truck while children were playing both inside & outside the truck.

Next we were off for our second & final trip to deliver water.  The neighborhood was the same bleak environment as all the rest; however, this time there were to key additions that I will never forget. One was brought to my attention by one of my fellow teammates - the number of funeral homes that appear every few blocks.  This really hit home given the average life expectancy for Haitians is age 51…I’m thinking this average is far less in Cite Soleil.  My own observation was a pool of water that took up nearly the entire intersection where we had turned & parked to deliver water. This cesspool of 6+ inches of water seemed to have every possible filth imaginable resulting a greenish yellow color that reminded me of radiator anti-freeze. This muck had nowhere to drain & any wasn’t going to evaporate anytime soon.

After meeting back at the Guest House, the entire team went back to the Hospital for Sick and Dying Children.  We again were able to help with the feeding of a few children but spent most of our time holding the smaller children & playing with the older kids who were on the mend. Some of these children were recently admitted & obviously didn’t feel well at all given they were running high fevers. Even though they didn’t have much energy, most were willing to be held with many of them falling asleep in our arms. The 1 ½ hours we were able to spend with these children again went all too quickly. It was very obvious by the quiet spirit that everyone had on the ride home that we were coming to the end of our week of ministry – to serve God’s children in Haiti.

What a blessing it has been for me to serve along with my nine teammates…this experience has been life changing & one I will never forgot….our God is an awesome God!

Wound Care 101

Today brings a much appreciated break. We have a little time off between activities to try to cool down and prepare for the afternoon. Our group split up into two teams this morning with one half going back to the water truck and Cite Soleil and others going back to do a second wound clinic. I was one of the four of us that elected to help at the wound clinic. The line at the wound clinic today was significantly longer than it was on Wednesday. I estimate that there were about 200 people there today. Most were there to get medication but many were there to get treated for wounds. Two people from our group helped out with medicines and two of us aided in wound care. Again, I have no formal medical training. I was told where the supplies were and about 2 minutes of other training and then let loose. My other wound team mate, Tom K., is a doctor so he was given a table where he treated more severe wounds and performed procedures. In theory, you would think the wounds that non-medical personal would be skinned knees, etc. Nope. I saw mostly leg wounds that consisted of deep tissue wounds the size of the palm of my hand. If you are ever put into a 3rd world clinic to perform medicine:
step 1 - remove existing bandages
step 2 - wash would with saline and gauze
step 3 (depending on the wound) - hydrogen peroxide followed by saline rinse and gauze scrubbing
step 4 - antibiotic
step 5 - pack with gauze
step 6 - wrap with bandage
step 7 - send the patient on his/her way
I fairly quickly got numb to cleaning out wounds that I feel would normally make me queasy and/or that I would say looked fake if I saw them on television. Luckily some patients would come in with something a little different here and there to keep me on my toes. Because of the strict HIPAA guidelines Haiti, I will refer to the patient as "this guy". This guy sat down at my station, put his leg up on the examination area and squeezed his wound until puss oozed out. That is when I raised my hand to ask how to treat that. I was told he had an infection/abscess on his leg and that he would have to have the area scrubbed hard and that a portion of his leg would need to be trimmed off. I thought that sounded pretty nasty and was glad that someone else would be stepping in to do that. I was wrong however. With training as complex as "that needs to be cut out", I was left to remove part of this guy's leg. Don't worry, there was no numbing agent, just a slightly dull pair of medical scissors, a tweezers and some betadine. This guy was a real trooper as I removed a part of his leg about an eighth of an inch deep and the size of a half dollar. I was told I did a nice job by the staff, but I know that I did not miss a calling in medicine. This afternoon, I will be back at the home for sick and dying children.

-Jeff Gerst

Friday, September 21, 2012


In our visit to Grace Village today, we saw the transforming hand of God.

At our arrival we were greeted by Pastor Rob and his family and given a tour as well as the back story to their arrival in Haiti as the new site director and going through the process of moving with his wife and two children to their new post earlier this summer.  While it has been a transforming lifestyle change for them, they have also been used by God to continue the transformation occurring throughout the site. 

The site has transformed dramatically since my last visit a year ago when no one lived there and only a few buildings were complete.  Dormitories and a lunch/gathering room are complete as is the director’s permanent home.  The playground (likely the biggest in Haiti) is complete and court space is nearly complete for basketball and other children’s games {We took on the project of painting lines for four-square and hopscotch around the edges of the half-court today}. 
You’ve also been able to read about the new aqua-ponic farming system installed this week.  Their temporary school quarters are nearly completed for their new term beginning in October.  Other exciting things are also planned – all designed by their team and inspired by God to aid in the transformative process for not only the kids in the orphanage, but the people of the local town, some of whom will be working for the site or with the new farming system.

The transformative efforts on the children are easy to see as they are beginning to recover from the difficult housing conditions they came from last Christmas and this spring.  Not just their physical and emotional needs, but most importantly, their spiritual needs.  Assisting Pastor Rob in this process is a local Haitian pastor, Wesley who will be able to mentor them in every dimension of their lives as they become a new family group together.

Wesley and I spent some time sharing our own transformations in faith stories with each other too.  While I grew up in the church and have had several renewals of my own faith over the years, he has had some especially transforming periods of time in his short 28 years.  He grew up with a father who was a voodoo priest until he died when Wesley was 14.  His grandmother finally convinced him to seek out God at her church after that and Wesley became a Jesus believer, despite his mother continuing to support the voodoo practices.  He continued to grow in faith and become so totally transformed in his life that eventually his mother and siblings became believers as well – with several miraculous events that demonstrated to his family how strongly God was working through his fully transformed life.

Wesley translated for our team as we led their Sunday School teaching time today.  I taught on Ephesians 5:1-2 which speaks of our need to imitate Christ with our lives just as dearly loved children.  We played an “imitation game” to demonstrate what that word means {imagine 60+ kids having to imitate my every move as I jump around and make various animal noises for them}, and talked about how there are sinful and bad things we wrongly imitate as well as proper ways of loving others as Christ loved us.  We ended with an extended period of crafts and activities in smaller groups of 8-10 to allow our full team time to reinforce the concepts on each child.

After lunch we continued with our project and a great deal of informal fun with the kids all afternoon.  A big hit were the kites we brought that never left the sky all afternoon and even after we left at dusk.

It was not just an amazing day, but one that demonstrated how God can and does transform people who are fully and completely dedicated and given over to Him.

Grace Village

It's my 5th full day in Haiti and I am starting to grow accustomed to the unexpected. In that regard, it was just another day in Haiti. Today, our group spent the entire day at Grace Village with the task of entertaining the children. There was no hauling of water, no sick children, no elderly. Just 63 kids ready to play. Although this was our easiest assignment, my tank is starting to run low so I was pretty beat by the end. I'm having a hard time keeping my eyes open now and I've had 3 bottles of Coke since I got back to the mission house.

Before we starting programming with the children, we got to meet the director of Grace Village. His name is Rob and he and his family are from Stillwater, MN on an assignment for at least two years. Rob gave us a tour of Grace Village (we had only gotten a nickel tour the other day). We got to see the school they are building. It will be great for the children. One of the most impressive parts of the school is that it will be free for the village children to attend. Schools in Haiti cost money and most Haitians struggle to bring in money. I have heard that Haiti has 80% unemployment and the minimum wage is $5/day. I heard that schools can cost $100 a year. I'm surprised that any of the families can afford to send multiple kids to school. This could also be one reason why many of the kids in orphanages are abandoned and not actually orphaned -- parents see that their children will get food and an education if they let they go. During the tour, we got to hear plans for all the future expansions e.g., additional rooms for children and the elderly, a church, playfield, garden, and medical/dental clinic.

Following the tour, we got to meet the children and lead them in some songs, a lesson and some activities. The lesson was basically about following Jesus' example and not other people (Ephesians 5:1-2
Follow God’s example, therefore, as dearly loved children and walk in the way of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.) After the structured time, we basically got to play with kids all day. We brought kites and flew those. It was such a windy day that at lunch, the kids were able to put rocks on the ends of the kite strings and the kites just kept flying while they went inside to eat.

After lunch, we continued to play and do a few minor projects. The crack commando squad that worked on the swing set the other day set and painted 2 four square courts and 4 hopscotch courts on the playground. If you have a future mission that requires playground repair, I know some people.

I had a few kids stand out to me today. One was named Isaac. He cracked me up. He reminded me of Jon Jon, the little boy from 70's-era Sesame Street who counted emphatically when he got into the teens e.g., fifTEEN, sixTEEN, etc. That how Isaac would talk. JE SUIS ISAAC!. Isaac was a primary factory in my fatigue today. He was relentless in getting me to toss him up in the air. He is a cute little kid.

The other kid was actually a young man. Jeano is a mature sixteen year old. He approached me and asked me if I had accepted Jesus into my life. I never expected to go on a mission trip to Haiti and get witnessed to by an orphan. Jeano and I had a great talk. He was very well versed in the Bible and particularly interested in the book of Revolations which we talked about extensively. We also talked in length about C.S. Lewis' "The Screwtape Letters." He was a very impressive young man.

What was perhaps most unusual about today was how usual it felt. It felt like we visted kids at a school, had some fun with them and then we all went home. What doesn't immediately sink in is that after we got home and had dinner, the kids were still there. They aren't going anywhere. They didn't go home from school to their parents. They don't leave and they don't have homes to go to. When I wake up tomorrow or after I go home next week, they will still be there.

Today I Saw Alyn

From the moment we approached the gate to Grace Village, I saw Alyn. It was a large purple gate, door with green vines with large leaves. it reminds me of the bracelet Alyn made for our mom. As we go through the gate you can see most of the buildings in front of you and all you see are all the colors so bright. Off to the right the footings are laid for the clinic for Doctors and Dentists to eventually come and work with the children of Grace. The Tap-Tap stops right in front of the feeding center a large building that is able to feed all the children here at Grace. To the right of the feeding center is a beautiful house for the mission family that will be here for the next few years. What a calling and a blessing for Grace to have this amazing family of four. Off to the left of the feeding center are the dormitories for the children and a huge playground. A playground that I have not seen at all in Haiti anywhere that we have been. As you stand here and look around you start to see the view, we are standing on the top of a hillside overlooking the valley, the surrounding mountains and the ocean. A piece of heaven here on earth.
 We all are invited to the dedication of the tilapia tanks. We walk around to a lower level where these large blue tanks filled with water will be able to grow the fish to feed Grace Village. From theses tanks are long beads filled with water where plants will grow fruits and vegetables. There is even a large frame to a greenhouse that will one day soon be full.Some amazing people have put a lot of planning and hard work into all of this all backed by God. I notice a roof structure that overhangs behind us here when you look over the ledge you see the classrooms of the academy where the children will go to school soon.There is so much land here and so much more has been planned for this land.
As I walk around and take all of this in I am so overwhelmed by the beauty, I see so many signs of Alyn and her talent, her love and the vision. What Jeff and Alyn have started and continue to develop is amazing - it is Gods plan. I was very lucky this summer to spend time with Alyn's friend Darcy in Alyn's jewelry studio back in White Bear Lake for an afternoon of jewelry making. During that time Darcy mentioned to me that she felt that Alyn's spirit was no longer in the studio, she was pretty sure that Alyn's spirit was at Grace Village. After today, I believe Darcy is right- Alyn is here you can feel her presence and all the love.
Thank you God for blessing me with an amazing sister.
Thank you God for continuing to knock on my door.

posted by Mikell


Every day, our mission team debriefs by sharing our thoughts of the day.  Part of that process is to summarize our thoughts into a single word for the day.  Yesterday, I used the word "Family" to express my day.  I am sure there is some violation of our team charter here but I am recycling the word and using it again for today.

Family - it was everywhere today.  The tears on this day were less about the sorrow of the poverty and need, but for the wonderful blessings of family that we experienced throughout the entire day.

Like each day this week, we started with a hearty breakfast.  This team of eight men and two women continues to grow closer at every turn.  There is laughter, support, cutting sarcasm, tears, and cutting sarcasm (did I say that there is sarcasm?).  I see less of teammates and more of a family as we continue this journey.

Today was our full day at Grace Village.  This orphanage opened just last December but is already doing so very much in this country.  We immediately met Pastor Rob, his wife Jennifer and their two children.  Pastor Rob shared his story of his own calling to be the director at Grace Village.  His wife and two children sat with us and were all smiles as he explained their journey.  I took a second to go over and talk to their eleven year old right before we took a tour of Grace Village.  I asked him how we was doing living here and what he thought.  His face lit up and said that it was "awesome".  I got the exact same impression from Pastor Rob's wife and daughter when our paths crossed throughout the day.  What an incredible family where all are so very focused and excited about serving God at an orphanage in very far and very different from their home in Minnesota. 

We toured Grace Village and saw all the changes that have developed.  Besides housing over 60 orphaned and abandoned children this place also is in the process of constructing a school for over 200 students, a church, a clinic and an aquaponic farm that will raise fish and vegetables to support the orphanage and some in the local community.  Oh, and I should mention that they are also working on a soccer field for the kids and will be soon constructing housing for the elderly. 

I could not help but stand there and take all this in and rejoice in the family environment that God had created here.  It was so real and present you could reach out and touch it.  On Tuesday as we delivered water into the slums we had crowds rushing us to get our attention and help as their need was so great.  At Grace Village, children rushed out to us but it was to welcome us to their family!  What a difference.  God is so good!  This is a place where the children, staff and workers are loved, supported, and surrounded by God and embraced into his family.

One boy I met was 13 years old.  He asked me many questions about my family back home.  He was curious about my family structure and all the details.  I turned the questions around to him and asked him about his life at Grace Village.  He smiled and told me about his friends, his relationship with Jesus and how he loved everyone there.  He said that this was his family and he really liked living there. It was so cool to see how this boy viewed everyone at Grace Village as his family and expressed his love for them all.

Family.  It was everywhere today.  My tears today were there because I was overwhelmed with joy at what I was seeing.  Every day on this mission trip brings the unexpected.  I look forward to what God has in store for tomorrow.

Written by Rick Jones 

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Things that make you say Hmm...

Every day this week has brought with it new adventures and new challenges. Today has proven to be no different. We woke up at 5:40am (that's 4:40am at home and what still feels too early) and went to the local sunrise service. It was an honest to goodness tent revival. It was 6am, the sun wasn't up yet but there were well over 100 people in attendance in a huge circus style tent with tent poles and the whole nine yards. There was a band and a preacher. The entire service was in Creole but it was alive with energy. The entire crowd paced the aisles the entire service singing along or chanting along with the pastor. Individuals paced the entire time only stopping when they felt moved to kneel and pray. The congregation would respond to the preacher with hearty "Hallelujahs". This, by the way, was about the only word I understood in the entire service. I did recognize the song "How Great Is Our God" by the melody but, again, the words were in Creole. Collectively, the energy of each member of the congregation was moving. The conviction of each member was whole hearted and entirely appropriate in the setting. The same behavior, if done by themselves on Nicollet Mall, would draw strong stares.
After returning from church and having a solid breakfast, we began today's work. We went to Grace Village, a compound being built by the Healing Haiti organization. It currently houses about 60 orphans (in Haiti orphans can be either without parents or simple abandoned by their parents). A school is being built that will open in October (when school starts in Haiti) and will be attended by over 200 kids from the orphanage and the surrounding village. They will also be building a facility for local elderly. The average lifespan for a Haitian is 51 years old. There are many people in the area who are now in their seventies, in need of care and who have outlived their children so they have no one to take care of them. Luckily, Healing Haiti sends people out each day to take food and medicine to these people until the facility is built. More on that in a minute. In the meantime, I would like to note that Grace Village is the nicest set of buildings I have seen in my time here. It is painted with bright colors,a playground with swing, slide and other play structures (although this is the "largest playground in Haiti", it is still much smaller than a typical school playground back home), and a breathtaking view of the ocean and the surrounding hills. Today, while we were there, we christened a new talapia farm with 600 fish. These fish will be grown to feed the people of the village but they are also part of an elaborate aquaponic farming system. This week, we have been sharing the mission house with a chemist and hydroponics expert who have come to help bring the project to the finish line after a year of work. The water from the talapia fish tanks is continuously fed into another tank where the fish excrement settles into layers. The heaviest waste is pumped out into a garden as fertilizer, the lighter waste proceeds to the next tank where gases from the water are allowed to escape. Eventually, the water makes its way into a aquaponic garden that will be kept by local villagers so they can grow their own food. My explanation doesn't do it justice in its sophistication or ambition.
Getting back to the elder care, that was our mission for today. We paid a visit to the homes of five different elderly villagers. The conditions of their homes would be considered inhumane at home. It was about 100 degrees here today. Most of the elderly are confined to their beds and they live in one room tents. The tent material is a thick plastic that would be very effective against the rain, but on a day like today, it was apparent that the material is also very good at collecting heat. There were no windows or vents in most of these homes. We had a hard time spending 15-20 minutes in each of these houses, but these people are trapped in these houses without an alternative (until the new housing is built for them at Grace Village). At each house we brought sandwiches, fresh water, apple sauce, sardines and a jar of Carmex(r) Healing Ointment (product placement in a blog entry, where are my scruples?). We massaged the ointment onto the hands, feet, arms and legs of each person we visited. We asked for each person's needs, health concerns and prayer requests and we prayed with them. It was very moving. One woman had suffered a stroke and was not able to move her right arm and was not able to walk. Our group guides who had been here last year said her prayer request last year (right after her stroke) had been that she would die soon. Today, her prayer request was for shoes and the ability to walk again. That's forward progress.

After our elderly visits we got to take a quick break to dip our toes into the ocean at a spot where the water was relatively clean. This was refreshing. As a Minnesotan, it always feels like a shame to be near the ocean but not to be able to dip a toe in the water. Today, I got to go up to my knees.
When our break for levity was over, we went on to visit what is known as The Mass Grave. At this site the bodies of over two hundred thousand unidentified bodies were buried following the earthquake of January 2010. This site was a former mine so there was a large whole here prior to the earthquake. After the earthquake, other government bodies, knowing that Haiti did not have the resources to refrigerate and identify the estimated over 300,000 people who perished, pushed the Haitian government to bury all of the bodies in a mass grave as quickly as possible before disease was spread from the dead bodies. The Haitian government complied. People wrapped their deceased family members in tied up cloths and set them outside of their homes while the government sent dump trucks along to pick them up and haul them to this mining hole to dump them in like waste. The hole is now covered in crushed rocks and marked with a monument and many crosses lining the adjacent hills. The shear magnitude of this mass grave is incomprehensible to me. An estimated 2,800 people died in New York on 9/11. Over 100 times that many people died in Haiti during the earthquake and were buried under the ground I walked on today. This was another part of the trip that will take a while to soak in.
- Jeff Gerst

Gehenna To Oasis In 48 Hours

Oasis: Each day, at pit time, where we process the day's events and impacts, we pick one word for the day. My first-runner-up for word of the day on Tuesday was Gehenna. Gehenna, aka the Valley of Hinnom outside Jerusalem which purportedly was a burning rubbish heap (less Biblical evidence) and where kids were sacrificed to Molech (Biblical evidence in Jeremiah 7). Kids are certainly as good as sacrificed in City Soleil and it is a rubbish heap (but without fire). Today my word is oasis. It was the first thing that popped into my head when we drove through the gates of Grace Village. It is the most beautiful thing shy of God's creation around me, since I got here. It is quite an extraordinary thing to go from Gehenna to oasis in 48 hours!!! Call it a study in contrasts :) I supposed this study in contrasts IN Haiti, is just the beginning. The study of contrasts once I'm stateside BETWEEN home and Haiti will be another. But I'm getting ahead of myself. That'll have to be another blog entry next week. One other thing: much of the design and all of the colors, etc., were designed by Jeff's wife Alyn (deceased). Alyn's sister Mikel is part of our group and this is her first trip. Mikell said she could see Alyn's flourishes from the first sight of the gate--it reminded Mikell of something in Alyn's home. At present I can't think of any oasis I've created that will outlive me. I know, I know, this brings up that gnawing subject of meaning-of-life and purpose-for-living type stuff that everyone is so good at not discussing. Just thought I'd mention it while I was in the vicinity. I know I'll be wrestling with that one big time shortly. Like at my first meeting Tuesday back at the office! What follows is largely a stream of consciousness recount of the day. Apologies in advance for no linguistic flourishes or defined conclusion ... Today we were privileged to be at Grace Village when Team Tilapia (Jeff--The Overseer, Ken--The Chemist, Jason--The Craftsman, Kathy--The Gardener, Thomas--The Electrician, and Josh--The Biologist, Unnamed--The Faithful Supporters that heard the call to support this with their time talent and treasure, and God Almighty--The Alpha and Omega) put 600 tilapia fish into two of the four tanks they will use as a fish farm, field fertilizer, and aquaponic garden. After praying over the newly activated system, the first batches of fish were set afloat in two tanks for an hour or so, to allow for gradual temperature change, and then they were unbagged and let loose. Last count I heard was 5-6 out of the 600 were floaters at day's end. After that, we went out and visited a small number of the elderly in and around Titanyen (the town in which Grace Village is situated). In many ways they were better off that I expected. Those that have been before commented on how much better several of them looked than last year. Grace Village provides meals to a number of them on a regular basis now and it shows. Grace Village isn't done growing. A clinic, church, and elder village are all in the works. And to think Grace Village wasn't even open when my wife visited last year this time! Then we visited a mass grave where many of the estimated 300,000 that died in the earthquake are buried. That's about 4x the US losses in Vietnam, but in a single day. Think about that for a minute or two. It was a very simple marker--you could drive by the place without knowing this hill was different from any other. Most of the rubble is gone, as best I can tell. Certainly Haiti today looks nothing like the pictures I'd seen in the year following the quake. Far more buildings in the process of going up than down. I've left out how our day began: in worship at a Haitian church near by. It was a very early start to the day (4:45 CDT) today. Church isn't a one-day-a-week operation here, to put it mildly. I was able to sing along (in English) to "Ancient Words" and "How Great Is Our God." Some backchannel on some Team Tilapia names above: I talked to Kathy earlier in the week and discovered she'd had a scaled down replica in her garage in MN, tilapia, aquaponics, fish waste vortex and all, where they could prototype their chemistry and biology. I bumped into Josh while walking through MIA before my flight left--turns out his employer was sponsoring his trip this time (his second). In addition, Jason and Erica are in the process of adopting a child who's mom died in childbirth--they know the family from a trade school they're supporting. It is the family's ninth child, and the father asked them to take the baby. I also met a woman who came for a week and decided to stay for a year. It is an intersting mix of God's long term leading (tilapia and aquaponics, years of donations) and very short term leading (adoption and 1 week trip becomes 52). Posted by Martin on behalf of Michael Coyle

A Pretty Full Day

Wednesday, Sept. 19

I would say there are no words to describe today however that would make my entry for today quite short. Since I am now in the habit of writing posts long enough to feel like homework to read, I will try to describe today as best I can.

It has been an exhilerating day and I have not even started to process it. Our group started out visiting the Home for Sick and Dying Children. That is quite literally what it was. Many rooms filled with children of various ages and various levels of illness. When I walked into the first room of children, my eyes locked on a little boy in a crib. I went near him and his arms went up in the air to tell me he wanted me to pick him up. He is a one and a half year old boy I'll call Charleson and he has big beautiful brown eyes. His diaper was wet as was his bedding I changed his diaper and removed his wet bedding and held him for a half hour. During that time, he didn't move his arms of legs again. He laid his head on my shoulder looking up only occassionally, his head covered in sweat. I don't know if he was running a fever or just hot from living in a tropical climate. I'm sure that being held by me didn't help to cool him down any. It was easily in the 90s inside of the hospital with a momentary breeze drifting through here and there to tease us. I did try once to put down my new friend, but when I approached his crib he began to cry with a sense of betrayal that was stronger than anything my own kids were ever able to muster. Fortunately, I was able to hand him off to another member of my group instead of having to put him down.

Some children were well enough to walk and play. This is where I could tell that children are children all over the world. The best toy in the world is the one that another child is playing with. If he won't give it to you, you'd better hit him. That's what kids do and that's what the kids today did. Sick or not, they were still kids. As one of my teammates, Ryan, and I sat on the floor with the kids, we joked that if we were sitters, we would never be called back. The children around us were running the asylum and having fun doing so. I was able to fit three children side-by-side on my lap. When one of the kids started to hog my lap a little too much. Bam. One of the kids would shove that kid. While being attacked by these three kids, a fourth kid insisted on holding up his Sesame Street phone to my ear so I could hear it's recorded messages. I heard Elmo rap in my ear too many times and way to loud. This little guy made sure that the phone was pressed up against my head hard to I could hear it. I was able to mimic Ernie's laugh to the little boy's satisfaction. While this team of four kids ganged up on me, a slightly older girl (6?) enjoyed throwing a stuffed ball at my face and at Ryan's face. Classic kid fun.

One of the members of the Jeff's lap gang, "Franz", enjoyed being tickled. He has a great giggle that he would let out when tickled or even when he was being threatened with a tickle. Franz is 4 years old but could pass for a young 3. He was not verbal other than his laugh. I don't know if he couldn't talk or simply choose not to.

Another member of the Jeff's lap gang is called Wendi. He was six years old but looked four. Wendi was also the last child I held today. Although 6 years old, Wendi is small enough to be held and insisted that I do so. He was hungry for love. He wanted to be filled with love. He has been in this room with the other children for 2 months. I don't know if he receives visitors or not anymore. He didn't during visiting time today. I couldn't bring him the relief he needed but I could comfort him for the time I was there. I felt at that moment that that was why I was in Haiti. Not to fix anything for I surely won't fix anything while I am here, but I can make them a little better while I am here.

At around noon, it was time for the next part of today's adventure: Sister Gertrudes' Orphanage. This was home to about forty children from infants to grown children -- some of whom were physically or mentally handicapped. Haitians can have a hard enough time taking care of their children under normal circumstance when special needs are added on top of that, it can be too much. We met a child today who had been left to die in the bottom of an outhouse and another left to die in a dumpster. These children were very excited to see us today. We brought along bubbles to blow, a swing to replace one that had broken a year ago (their play area consists of 3 swings so to have one out of commission for a year is a big deal), some signs and gifts that children from back home had made for these kids, and sundresses made out of pillow cases that had been made by Girl Scouts and Prairie Lutheran Church. It was very rewarding to be able to deliver the dresses in person because I actually learned of this trip through my wife, Kim's, Girl Scout connections. We are a group of 8 guys and 2 women. At least six of us guys helped to hang the swing. Not set up the swing set -- that was already set up; I'm just talking about hanging chains from bolts. It takes at least six craftsmen to do that. Hands down, the best swing ever hung.

The later part of today took me even farther out of my comfort zone: I helped out at a wound clinic. I work in marketing. I have essentially no medical training so I felt a bit over my head. When the clinic started, there were about fifty people lined up on a concrete bench in an alley. This turned out to not only be the waiting area but also where we treated the wounds as well. There was construction being done along this alleyway as well. So we treated people on this bench alongside piles of stones and gravel that was being used in the construction. These were not optimal conditions by any stretch of the imagination. Skip the rest of this paragraph if you are squeamish. After watching a staff member take care of a wound (a large ulcerated section of foot and calf with extensive, exposed muscle tissue), I was apparently trained enough to take on my first patient, a man who had lost half of his foot. This was not a recent wound; it had been both healing and festering for some time. He still had a big toe but what was left of his remaining toes had grown into a single mass and that mass has grown together with the big toe. There were large sections of what remained of his foot that had no skin on them at all. His ulcers were a quarter to a half an inch deep. I could see mostly muscle with a few other items protruding. I don't know human anatomy enough to know if I was looking at bones, tendons, or some other matter. My job was to unwrap his bandages (done by unwinding the cloth bandages and spraying the gauze padding with clean water until they were loose enough to remove from the sore) and then cleaning out the wound with water and gauze. I have never had to clean such a deep wound in my life. In the States, a wound like this would have definitely been a trip to the emergency room. Many of the wounds we saw today are too severe to ever heal on there own without more in-depth medical care. These people will have to continue to go to the wound clinic for the rest of their lives to try to keep these wounds from becoming infected and to try to prevent amputation.

At the wound clinic, I met a Haitian man who volunteers there. Today he had a "World's Largest Ball of Twine - Darwin, Minnesota" shirt on. He had never been there and we had to explain to him what his shirt said and what a large ball of twine was. He spoke French. I have not spoken so much French as I have this week since the late 80's. I think my French teachers would be both proud and appalled at my French. I have been able to communicate with very broken French. I think the people I have talked to have probably been pained to have to try to understand me, but I have been able to get through enough. I'm going to bed now. We have to get up in a few hours. 

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Day 3: Food, Glorious Food!

So....I write this blog at the same time as many people are gathering at St. Michael's for what is the start of a thought and vision that first came about last October...'we want to see St. Michael's  buzzing on a Wednesday night'. And, although I cannot be there tonight my thoughts and prayers are with the team as they are now meeting for Soul Suppers, and then on to the worship and group time.  Food....a great opportunity for fellowship as well as nourishment and it seemed to be that food was the way to go...when you are working for the day with babies and children it helps. These were such wonderful opportunities to spend time with, care for, pray for, and feed many babies and young children. ...and maybe see a few smiles. We spent the day at a centre for sick infants and young children, although some had received suitable treatment, but didn't have a home to go back to, and whilst these children had their nap time, we travelled to Gertrud's Orphanage.  We knew we had arrived at the centre when we saw a line of young mothers waiting to enter to see their babies and young children that were being cared for. Entering the new building carrying some of the items we had brought with us we were warmly greeted, and put straight to work. Babies who were not spending time with their mothers, both those who looked well and those obviously sick with fever needed to be consoled, cuddled, changed and fed.  It was a blessing to watch our team, especially the 8 men having an another opportunity with this stage of life-to bring a few moments of joy, smiles and laughter into these young lives, praying that  there will continue to know Christ. As with many homes here, a large wall and metal sliding gate surrounded Gertrud's. As we entered the courtyard, the children were excited to see us.  Despite the 90+' temperatures we spent time with these children, many of whom were orphans or disabled. They enjoyed what all children enjoy, to race around on their bicycles, chase bubbles, be pushed even higher on the swing set and of course be helped to eat their lunch of rice and stew.    Finishing off at the centre for sick infants in the afternoon, a much welcome rain storm broke the heat and gave children on the streets, as we drove passed, an opportunity to fill their buckets with water from the runoff and take a welcome shower.  These organisations and especially Healing Haiti were started as a thought, a word, a vision from the Lord.  We are now so blessed to join them as that vision has been realised in so many exciting ways. Tomorrow we go on to spend time with those at the other end of the age spectrum, as well as drop into Grace Village, where there is an air of excitement as they have a large supply of fish being delivered..... As I end this, I am sitting out in the cool night air, the afternoon rain still in the air. In the distance a tent mission for the local Haitians blasts out the closing hymn, 'Amazing Grace'. I wonder if John Newton can hear that?  

God Gets Personal

Today we visited the Home for Sick Children in the morning and were all deeply moved by visiting and holding these precious children of God.  Most of the kids we saw were under 2 years, and most had parents who visited, but some had parents who no longer came, perhaps knowing their kids were in hands that could provide more than they could.  The first crying infant I held laid her head on my shoulder and I melted.  Her Mom arrived a few minutes later and she immediately saw her and brightened.  Most of the kids were their for several months for malnutrition,  Some briefer with more acute illness.  A few had I.V.s running.

After helping feeding them their lunch, we then went to Gertrude's Orphanage.  There the kids were older and many were developmentally disabled, living with well children who smiled and joyfully interacted.  We set up a broken swing and played with the the kids.

I will never forget some of the faces of the children, especially when they just looked into my eyes.  It was like looking into the face of God and He was asking me how I would respond to Him and His children. 

Later in the afternoon most of or team returned to the Home for Sick Children. 
Four of us;  Margie, Rick, Jeff, and myself, rode with another Christian organization who held a twice weekly wound clinic in the heart of downtown Port-Au-Prince.
The drive there was amazing, seeing the congested streets, vendors, traffic, poverty, disrepair.  It was what I sort of expected upon coming here, but was still was difficult too fully take in.
The wound clinic was very eye opening for my 3 companions.
I was experienced in seeing these kind of wounds, but only on rare occasions in my medical career.
We changed dressings and cleaned the wounds.  Many appear to be chronic, most from burns or injuries.  Today was not too busy, apparently much busier on Saturdays.  Many of the people knew how their wounds were to be addressed and helped us along.  Our experienced Christian companions also guided us.  The people were appreciative and thankful, we were rewarded in being able to serve them in a small way.

The day was just as heart-rending as yesterday in Cite Soleil.  But today we interacted more directly with His children and it became much more personal.
We are continuing to be asked by God how we will respond to the needs of His people.  As we discussed today as a group, I need to follow what God plans for me in  my life, not what I plan for my life.  I pray that I will listen and follow Him.

Tom King

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Day 2: Water Works

I slept like a rock last night. I was tired from a full day of traveling. I didn't wake up until my bunkmate, Rick, started down the ladder this morning. I took a quick peek at the clock on my phone and thought it was only six o'clock and I didn't need to be up until 7 to help fix breakfast. Before I actually fell back to sleep, my head adjusted that my clock is still on Central Time and I'm in the Eastern Time Zone now. So, up for breakfast I went. We will be eating big breakfasts and dinners but only eating snacks during the day while we are here. Today we had pancakes, scrambled eggs with ham/cheese and peppers, and fruit. It was a hardy breakfast before a tough day.

We headed out at around 9 to work the water truck and what had been hyped as what will be our most strenuous day, physically. Our Tap Tap followed a truck transporting 4,000 gallons of water into Cite Soleil. It is said that Haiti is the poorest country in the Western hemisphere and Cite Soleil is one of the poorest places in Haiti. Cite Soleil is a tent/shanty city of 200,000-400,000 people. Driving into Cite Soleil brought with it a myriad of sights and smells. Sensory overload really. Each block brought with it a different set of inputs. One block may smell like a latrine. The next may bring a vague burning smell. Going over a bridge, you see a slow moving stream that must fill with water during a rain, but now is filled only with litter. There is litter every where. There isn't trash collection so there is nowhere to throw anything except the ground. Potentially almost half a million people doing this. For generations. Imagine if all of St. Paul lived in tents without fresh water, with no bathrooms and with no sanitation pickup. It's mind boggling to think of the scale of the poverty here.

We arrived at our first water stop (of three) to be greeted by a crowd of women and children. It was like being a celebrity getting off the tap tap. The children didn't know who each of us was but they were excited to see a new batch of water truck people. Each of us was attacked by groups of children trying to get our attention. I haven't been called "Hey you!" so much in my life. The children are not only malnurished but they are starved for attention. When the children here reach the age of 2 or 3, they are commonly sent away from their homes for the day to forrage for food. Their parents aren't able to pay attention to them during the day because they have to try to figure out how to earn money or keep the household running. As a result, the children are very excited to see a truck of adults arrive to spend time with them and hold them. I learned that airplane rides and uppies (picking them up) are things that kids must love everywhere. "Un, deux, trois" followed by a quick toss in the sky or just to ride on my hip for a while were both big hits.

People here speak French-Creole but are taught in French in school. It's been quite a long time since I took high school French but enough of it came back so I was able to have conversations with the kids. One girl at this first water stop called dibs on me and didn't leave my side during our whole time we were there. Her name was Jillian. She was the first child I connected with. She loved that I was able to speak with her in a language that she understood. Her eyes lit up when I said "Je m'appelle Jeff". She loved that I asked her name and that I remembered what it was when she asked me if I remembered what her name was. I think she appreciated that someone took the time to learn her name and talk to her. She didn't want to let go of my hand the entire time I was at that stop. I was able to talk with her enough to discover she had a brother named Reginald. Reginald quickly became affixed to my other hand. Jillian lead the other kids in chanting "Je m'appelle Jeff". That's about as close as I'll ever get to the scene in "When We Were Kings" when the children chant "Ali bomaye!" to Mohammed Ali.

There was quite a bit of time spent playing with the children but that's one of the main reasons we are here; some of our local helpers could deliver the water faster without us if that's all it were about. Our jobs at and around the water truck consisted of one person aiming a large hose at a bucket with a helper working to make sure that the next empty bucket was ready to go and the line of bucket continued to move up towards the hose. Others on the team helped deliver the water to the people's shelters. We worked with the women and children to carry large buckets back to their homes. Buckets of water are heavy. Carrying heavy things on a hot day can lead to me sweating profusely. That may have happened today.

Carrying the water was a bit of an adventure. As we carried 5 gallon buckets of water, we would follow 8 year old children racing through narrow alleyways while balancing buckets of water on their heads.

I did not visit any tents today, but I did visit and walk through dozens of shanties. Most of these buildings had rusty tin roofing material for siding. Doors were primarily just draped fabric. More that a few houses had walls made from the plastic walls of port-o-potties. in some of the alleyways, there would be a channel in the middle of the walkway for sewage and waste to flow.

Aside from the conditions of the houses and the lack of fresh water, to me one of the most dramatic images from today was the beach. The beach is where people go to throw their garbage. It is where they go to the bathroom. It is where they sometimes bury their dead. It is home to pigs wallowing in the sewage. It is unbelievable.

Today is a day that will take some time to process. Now it's time for bed as tomorrow is the day that may be the day that is most stenuous for us emotionally.

- Jeff Gerst


Today was like turning on the light and walking into a room that you are somewhat familiar with.  You know where the furniture is but you have never sat down on it.  You know what color the carpet is but you have never walked on it.  You can even describe the pictures on the wall.  Today God turned on a light to extreme poverty and need that we all know is out there but few have stood in the middle of and experienced.

Today our team delivered water the poorest slums in Haiti.  We could roughly describe what we thought we were going to experience.  However, today God turned on the light to this room and we entered a space that we thought we could appreciate.  Today we found out that we had very little true appreciation for the need of these very faithful and grateful people. 

All day long we filled buckets and helped carry water to the most basic shacks.  Shacks that no one in America would ever consider livable but shacks that these people call home.  They are made of scraps and pieces of other things that were never meant to be made into a home.  Some were made from disassembled plastic portable outhouses - now the walls of their very small home.  The children were thirsty for both the water we delivered and the caring smile and attention of an adult.  So many of these children are "on their own" to survive every day.  Our presence was simply a hug, a smile and a focus that they just do not get enough of.  We walked along the coastline where garbage was everywhere.  The smell of trash and disease was all around us.

God turned on the light.

Tonight we all shared what this experience meant to us.  We shared how this landed on our hearts.  Some were angry with its sheer existence (me) and some were still processing the emotions of the day.  What was clear was that God intentionally and deliberately broke each and every one of our hearts today.  He put the needs of this country squarely in front of a team that comes from many comforts and blessings that are out of reach for most in Cite Soleil.

God turned on a light.  What we each do with this new perspective is a defining thing in our family's lives.

Rick Jones

I See Alyn

Today was the water truck day, the day I was worried about not being manly and strong to do heavy lifting of water buckets. We had a wonderful breakfast together as group, gathered water bottles,  electrolyte packets, and tons of snacks. We would spend the day out in the field delivering water to the people of Cite Soleil. This is the city that when you are landing on the airport strip you see the garbage in the water, the shacks that people call home, the pigs laying in the garbage. This is where we are delivering water to the people that live here. We have taken very bumpy dirty roads to get here. When we are behind the water truck the people are already forming the line to get water. They are so excited that it is hard to get out of the tap tap to go work. Some of us help keep the line of buckets stay orderly which can be hard with everyone wanting water. Others of us are just picking up the children that want to be held, some of us are helping the water buckets go back to the shack that they call home. The smell here is something that can not be described. But they are all friendly, happy and excited that we are here. It only takes about 30 minutes and the truck is empty and we need to go fill the water truck up. But on the first stop we go on our first tour- a walk to see the oceanfront. We walk and hold children's hands and hold babies.  We walk by goats, pigs, garbage, and metal shacks to get to a strip of land that sticks out in to the water. As we stand there, a plane is approaching the runway of the airport nearby.  I realize I am standing exactly where I saw out the airplane window yesterday. I look around and I see what Alyn and Jeff have talked about all these years and all I can think about is my sister, Alyn, wow this is amazing what she has started. Pebbles do make ripples that can start change. God was calling to her and she did listen. I can only hope I can continue to listen and learn what God may be trying to teach me. I am so blessed with what I have and what I have been given. I am thankful for this opportunity to be here to help.

Mikell Nestaval