Sunday, July 21, 2013

Barter Martyrs (except we haven't died, yet.)

We've experienced our final day immersed in the Haitian culture! We had fun. :)

We began with church at Grace Village, it was a new experience we really enjoyed. The music was very upbeat, and used both Creole and English, the children were excellent leaders in singing. For a lot of us, we have all we need. But the Haitians have almost nothing, and they worship with full hearts and complete gratitude. There are plans for an even bigger church in the future, and it will be great to see how full it will be with the village orphans and the towns people from Titanyen.

Before we left, we filled the tap-tap with Feed My Starving Children boxes. We drove them to Gertrude's home for handicapped and orphaned children. They will use them for their meals in the coming weeks. Many from our group have packed FMSC bags and boxes, and it was really neat to see the circle completed.

Next, we headed up the mountain to be tourists. But first, we drove through downtown Port au Prince to see some of the remaining earthquake damage. The city has revitalized, in spite of some building being badly damaged. It was clear there is still work to do to help Haiti recover completely. One of our translators explained to us earlier the majority of the work is on educating the Haitians on how to prepare and react during an earthquake, and building safer structures.

Midway up the mountain, there was a roadside market place. Most of us had a great time seeing the local work, and trying our hands at bartering. We had another opportunity at the top of the mountain. but not until we took a group photo. We're including one of the more interesting experiences for your reading leisure this evening.

Kevin: First, I walked up to a seller and I saw a necklace I loved! :) And I told him I wanted it. And I asked, "How much?" He said, "20 dollars." I had a thought bubble: That is too much for a necklace made out of wood! Then I said, "I only have 10 dollars" But, the thing is, I only had four dollars. When I went to grab the ten, there was only four. Then, he got mad! And so, I walked away with my four dollars and he ran after me and he said, "Give me the money! NOW!" And I was debating because I didn't know if I wanted to spend all four dollars... ehweahehwah... and I said, "tree dollars!" then this other dude wanted to sell me a painting, but I'm not into that whole painting thing. But we had a nice conversation.  Then, the necklace seller came over to the paintings and he said, 'OK, what's your new price?" And I said, "Dos Dollares!" And he said, "Fine" very angrily. And he took the money, shoved it in his pocket and walked away. And I had a beautiful necklace. Then, as I was about to get on the tappy-tappy, the painting guy, who I really liked, came over and tried to sell me a painting that was black and white. And I said, "I like colors" and he brought me a colored one, and I did not want a painting, which I figured out later. And as I have previously stated, I liked the painting man. So, I pulled out my wallet and I opened it, and I gave him 2 dollars. He was very happy. We shook hands, and we said our goodbyes. And I did this all while looking over a beautiful terrace.

We are excited to see our families tomorrow, but leaving Haiti after being dramatically moved by this experience will be difficult. We ask for your prayers that we arrive safely, and that we are able to share our experiences with you in a way that will change your life too.

Thanks for following this blog, and be sure to continue to follow the Impact! group on Facebook!

Kevin Lorton, Josh Cornes and Rachel Horn

Saturday, July 20, 2013


Today had many new perspectives for us. We started the day with a long ride to Grace Village, and on the way we stopped at the mass burial grave for the 300,000 Haitians that died in the earthquake. The thought of 300,000 bodies being buried under the ground I was walking on is unbelievable to think about, I can still barely get my head around it. The mass grave was dug in a quarry by the base of some small mountains. You couldn’t even tell that anything was under that area because of how normal it looked. If that many people died in America, there would be a huge billion dollar monument that would go in, but the grave only had a rock there with the words “We will never forget.”

After visiting the grave, we headed to Grace Village. Compared to the orphanage that we saw the previous day, Grace Village was heaven on earth. Everything about it was better than what we had previously seen by 1000%. There were nice paths leading everywhere, the houses were nicely built and could hold the right amount of kids, they had aquatic farming systems that were extremely impressive, and of course, the largest playground in Haiti! The first thing we did there was get a tour of what they are working on and what they have made already. After that, Josh and Ryan got the guitars and we had worship in their cafeteria/church.  After the kids got to enjoy music and a nice acted out story, we split up.  The kids could either make crafts or go outside and play games. Again the parachute was a big hit for the kids; the kids also loved it when we brought out some kites we had with us.
After Grace Village we had the chance to go around and serve to some elders at their houses, we would pray with them and sing to them; they enjoyed the singing a lot.  The best part of those visits was to be able to go into their small houses, whereas at home that would be my room, with only a few belongings and a bed and a seat that’s all they had.  To see them live in that way amazed me how some could even be 104 and able to move like a 80 year old. I wish we could have spent full days being able to hear their stories and everything about their life, how they only sit in their rooms or how they love to do certain things.  The way they do everything is different from the US, with the money they have and the help from Healing Haiti, they love God and praise him.   

Christian and Ryan A

Friday, July 19, 2013

Confident Connections

Today was yet another exciting day in Haiti.  We woke up to a lovely breakfast of the usual pancakes, eggs, oatmeal, and lots of different fruit.  Today was a free day where we got the opportunity to  repeat one of the activities we've done previously in the week.  Our group decided that we enjoyed delivering water in Cite Soleil so much that we decided that was the service project we wanted to do again.
We set out on the tap tap at 9:00 AM and met our water truck at the filling station.  We only did two stops today, both of which were included in our day on Tuesday.  This was nice because we were already familiar with the areas, sometimes even the people that lived there.  As we approached our first stop, the welcoming of children jumping and shouting "hey you!" it still felt unbelievably motivating, yet somewhat regular and familiar.  This time around, we all knew exactly what our duties were and how to properly execute them.  Whether it be controlling the hose, managing the bucket line, or simply playing and developing relationships with the children, we felt like old pros.  We succeeded in filling all the buckets just as the water truck ran dry.  Just like Tuesday, we headed back to the fill station to wait in line before our next stop.
While we waited for our water truck to fill, we found a group of young children and some boys our age to play with.  One of them we even recognized from the first day.  As our relationships grew, we eventually were led across the street and engaged in some football (soccer) with boys we had met. Even though the boys didn't speak much English, we were able to interact and share the common love for the sport.  We could play and laugh together without exchanging any words.  We didn't need to have the same personalities, speak the same language, or have the same way of life.  All we needed was the bond of football.  We only got to play for a little while before we were all full and needed to be off to the next stop.
The second stop was a similar experience with lots of buckets needing filling.  This stop was extra crazy and called for more attention.  There were many more children that needed help carrying buckets back to their homes.  Often times when we were done carrying, we were able to peek inside the homes.  This was an amazing opportunity to see where these people lived and what their daily lives were like.  Once again, after seemingly no time at all, the water truck ran out and we said goodbye to our new friends and headed  home to have some snacks and regain energy.
After a half hour break, we hit the road again in the tap tap and headed towards an orphanage called Juno's.  There we found about eighteen young children all eager to play. 
We brought two guitars and sang a few songs in English.  To our surprise, the children all knew the words and actually outsang our group.  The amount of joy they had was incredible to see and experience.  When we were finished, they taught us a few of their own songs in Creole.  We actually had our translators work out a song that we knew from camp Omega and shared both the English and Creole versions with them as well.  This exchange of song was yet another common bond that we could have with the children.

We also prepared a Bible story and acted it out for the kids.  It was about a lame man who asked Peter for money.  Instead of giving him money, he healed the lame man so he could walk and jump around.  He got up and ran away praising the Lord.  This was to show the children that when they place their trust in God, he often will give them more than they ever imagined, no matter who they are or what condition they're in.  Our translators made sure they understood everything we said as we acted out the story and explained it's significance to them.
We ended our time at Juno's with some parachute games out in the courtyard.  We had soccer balls that we would launch up in the air and play games with.  We would also call out various attributes like "blue shirt" or "wearing sandals" to run under the parachute to the other side.  The children were absolutely in love with the games and were laughing and screaming the whole time.  Everyone around was literally jumping for joy as we shook the parachute up and down.  After we tired everyone out, we packed away the parachute and settled down in the courtyard to talk and learn more about the children.  Some played with Legos, others played more football, and others yet simply sat and held the kids.  These kids had been taking English lessons so they knew basic introductory phrases that we could use to find out more about them.  This was sometimes rare, so we were extremely thankful for the opportunity to converse in our own language.  Before we left, we were able to hand out small copies of the New Testament with Psalms in Creole to all of the children and even some of the adults.  Along with these, we gave each of them several colored paper crosses to use as bookmarks.  As we handed them out one by one, we could see the joy in their eyes as they were each given a book of their own.  Once again, saying goodbye was the hardest part as we waved from behind the bars of the tap tap.  It's always extremely tough to form these relationships and share incredible experiences with a group of kids and have to leave them a short while later.

We journeyed back home and were greeted with cold showers and tacos for dinner.  It's a beautiful night here in Haiti and we praise God for all he has given us.  We'll never forget the opportunities presented to us and the experiences we've shared.

Josh and Ryan G.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

A Mile in their Shoes

It's been said that you never really know a man until you've walked a mile in his shoes. We didn't walk a mile today, but we spent time today in the footsteps of the Hatian people. Our day started bright and early (5:45 AM!) with a trip on the tap-tap to a local Hatian church. The church met in a huge warehouse-like room that slowly filled with people. The preaching was quite energetic and passionate (and all in Creole), and the congregation was really amped up. A small worship team performed several worship songs as well. It was a lively service-quite different from a typical Sunday at St. Michael's!

The team at church

After the service, we had the opportunity to walk back to our guesthouse along the city streets. We took a shortcut through a tent city and it was humbling to see the meager dwellings where the people lived their lives. It made us appreciate our beautiful, clean guesthouse even more.

We ate a delicious breakfast, then began our next adventure. Our main activity of the day was taking a group of neighborhood boys to a beach. Some of the kids had never been to the ocean before, and it was a fascinating experience to take them. Because the boys would barely all fit in our regular tap-tap, we hired a second tap-tapt to lighten the load. The drive to the beach was an experience in and of itself. It was over an hour long and took us outside the city. We saw a lot of the city as we drove, from nicer areas to industrial facilities to tent cities. We got stuck in a massive traffic jam-our driver was definitely a pro! Beaches in Haiti are typically privately-owned, and once we got to the beach we had to pay a fee to get in. The beach was small, but the water was a beautiful blue.

The kids were a blast in the water! Even though some of them had never been to the beach before, they all got the hang of it pretty quick (with the help of some donated life jackets). The water was nice and warm but still provided relief from the heat-perfect for learning to swim. Everyone had a ball (literally) playing catch with a soccer ball too. We also brought along some inflatable water toys that many of the kids loved. In addition to the kids we brought along, there were plenty of locals at the beach too, and some of them got in on the fun as well. The beach atmosphere was ramped up by massive speakers on the shore blaring rap and techno-it made it a real "beach bash!" It really felt like we were in the community and getting a look at the true Haiti.

The team and kids playing in the water
After a sleepy tap-tap ride back to the guesthouse, we were getting ready to say goodbye to the kids. But first, we took a picture of each kid with a whiteboard that had their name and shoe size on it so that we could buy shoes for them back in the US. It's a really cool gesture of kindness to the kids.

Normally this blog would finish up now, but we had one final experience today. For dinner, our wonderful Hatian helpers cooked up an authentic Hatian meal! We tried all sorts of really unique foods, like plantains, Hatian style meatballs, vinegar-soaked cucumbers, and rice and beans covered in a delicious potato, onion, and veggie stew. This meal really capped off our wonderful day well.

When we go somewhere different, we're often separated from the local people. We follow our own plans and don't stray from the beaten path. But this mission trip is different. We don't hide from the people-we come to them, and we experience life from their perspective. We see how they really live and what life is like for them. Today was full of events like that-church, the beach, and a meal. It sounds simple when it's written out as three words, but all three of those experiences were so rich and full of life. Today we walked a mile in Hatian shoes, and I don't think any of us are going to forget any time soon.

Posted by Andrew W

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Gertrude's Kids

 Today was an amazing day.  After starting at the home of sick and dying babies, we had a break and headed to Gertrude's. Gertrude's is a place where they care for many disabled children and orphans.  The kids loved to have our attention.  They had a playground with a few swings that the kids loved to be pushed on.  They'd run around or push each other in wheelchairs.  At one point we had them all sit and gave them applesauce that we had brought.  Although it was a bit of a chaotic mess, they couldn't get enough of it.  The ages of the kids ranged from babies to older girls around 12.  It was interesting to see how the kids would interact. There was one little boy, Michael, and he knew the Minnesota Vikings! He and 2 others are getting adopted by a family in St. Paul.  I was so happy to see that although many of these kids were disabled they were being cared for and loved. We are so lucky to have been able to be a part of that for the day! Although it challenged many of us, we all had a good time and were greatly impacted.

posted by Aubrey

A Foot of Cement Away

Last night I walked with Martin around the compound, 10ftt high walls surrounded us with barbed wire layered on top. As Martin and I were wandering, we were able to find a ledge that  we could walk on along the wall. As we walked along the edge, we saw Cite Soleil, one of the most dangerous places in the world, and the beautiful mountains of Haiti. Then we looked directly down, not less then 5 feet directly below us were the tops of a tent city. The tents were all right against the wall, the same wall we sleep so close to. We were so close that we could hear the people sleeping and see people walking around. That night when I went to bed, I thought about the wall closest to my head. And I thought about how a person living in such desperation and poverty was sleeping so close to me, the only thing separating a world of no water, air conditioning, and food was 12 inches of cement. To see the desperation they live in and see what these people live with every day changes how you see the little things. Now when I go to bed, I make sure to give a prayer for the person sleeping on the opposite side of that wall, only a foot of cement away.

Help One Person at a Time

Today we started off with a hearty breakfast of pancakes, eggs, oatmeal, and an assortment of fresh fruits.  After breakfast we all hopped into the Tap-Tap and headed to two different locations, Gertrud's and the Home of Sick and Dying Babies.  The two groups were decided by our prayer groups, Martin and Margie's prayer groups went to Gertrud's while Rachel and Kevin's groups went to the Home of Sick and Dying Babies.

The Home of Sick and Dying Babies:
 This Home is run by a group of Nuns who have given a vow to live a life of poverty and help sick children in any way they can.  They give free care and medicine to the children and never ask for anything they may need.  The Nuns believe God will provide what they need.  One of our leader's will go look in the store room when we are there and take note of what they are low on, then they will let Healing Haiti know so they can tell the next groups coming down what to bring.
As we walked into the Home, we saw children and  their mother's everywhere.  The mother's that have children receiving care here are able to see them for 1 hour every morning.  We went into the two rooms and immediately were asked to hold children.  Some people were moved to hold one child the whole time we were there, while others felt they needed to give several children some attention.  The children were so happy to have us there and so was the staff.  We also had the wonderful opportunity of changing some diapers... and yes a few children had gone #2.  When the moms left there went from about 2 or 3 crying babies to 30.  There wasn't enough of us to help all the babies.  It breaks your heart to see them crying as hard as they were and know you can't do anything to help them because your hands were already full.  We had to realize we couldn't help all the children, but we could help one, which is still a huge help for the Nuns.  The food was brought out and many of the children began to stop crying and wanted to be fed.  The Nuns or their helpers would point to a child and hand us a bowl of stew to feed them.  Many of the children would eat the stew so fast, while other were so sick that they wouldn't want to eat much.  It is hard to see these beautiful children and realize how sick they are.  The cool thing is, no matter how sick a child was, we were still given strength through God to pick them up and love them.  Overall, we were able to share God's love with these little children just through our actions.

Posted By Nicole

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Contagious Excitement!


          Sitting on the veranda, with a tent city behind us, the breeze full of all sorts of smells wraps around us. Music and chatter from our Haitian neighbors fills the air as we write this. We just finished a delicious meal of spaghetti. The conversation was scarce due to our long, tiring day delivering water in Cite Soleil. Many of us experienced the overwhelming amount of kids grabbing on to you and just looking for someone to give them attention and affection. We made three stops with the water truck, each to a different part of Cite Soleil. At the first stop, we were surprised by the excitement and joy of the children just to be held by us. We held these children in the midst of garbage and shacks they call home; their smiles and giggles were inspiring. We were fortunate enough to walk through the shacks to a junkyard by the ocean. We were told that after the earthquake and sometimes still today, people were buried where we walked. They also used it as a bathroom. Kids trailed us throughout the whole thing eager to even hold on to our shirts. While we were in the junkyard, we sang a Haitian song that the kids loved and giggled at. After the first stop, we followed the water truck to the filling station packed with other trucks waiting for water. A blessing in disguise, this delay provided us with time to play with the children who lived nearby. A group of siblings gave us many laughs and smiles as they showed us how to crack the fruit to get to the almond. They were content just to sit on our laps and play hand-games. Once the truck was filled, we headed to the next stop. What the kids lacked in possessions they made up for with their enthusiasm. We played ring-a-round-the-rosy and sang songs with them much to their delight. We watched as the children played and bathed in the leftover water. Once again, the surroundings made us grateful for our home and nice guest house to go back to. When the water was gone and we had to say au revoir, we returned to the filling station. The siblings and their friends were there to meet us. Our time was filled with piggyback rides, hand-games, and swinging the kids around. At the last station, we were met with lots of kids thirsty for both attention and water. At this stop, we filled the most buckets of all three trips which gave the opportunity to help the kids and parents carry the buckets back to their homes. Helping with the water hose was a chaotic part of this trip as well, with many people crowding around the hose to get their buckets filled to the brim. These water truck trips were very exhausting physically, emotionally, and spiritually for the whole team. We really came to love and appreciate the Haitian people through these experiences. 

              However, our day was not close to being done. We drove back to the guest house to pick up the neighborhood boys for an afternoon soccer game. We squished all thirty plus of us on our Tap-Tap and bounced all the way to the field while singing and getting to meet the boys. Once we arrived, we divided into two teams, oranj (orange) and nwa (black). Brunet, one of our translators and impromptu ref, blew the whistle and the game began. We had a blast being able to interact with the boys through our common factor of soccer. After lots of sweat, dirt and fun, the oranj team came out victorious. Throughout the game, some of us trickled to the sidelines, exhausted from the long day and the hot weather. While we were there, some of the neighborhood boys sat with us and taught us some Creole, a very neat experience for all there. We had a fun surprise when a boy we met earlier at the filling station stopped over to say bonjou. When we were done, we piled back in the Tap-Tap for a sweaty ride home. We were sad to say goodbye to our new friends, but we were excited we could say "see you again," as we are going on a beach outing with them again on Thursday! 

          As we sit here, looking at the gorgeous Haitian sky with the stars and moon shining down on us, we can't help but thank God for this incredible opportunity and know in our hearts that we were placed down here for a reason. We are very excited for the experiences we will have tomorrow at both Gertrude's and Home of Sick and Dying children.  It encourages us to know we have loved ones at home praying and following our blog:)
-Posted by Cassie and Janell

Monday, July 15, 2013


Made it safely to our home for the week here in Port-au-Prince!  It was a long day starting at 3:45 in Minneapolis followed by an extremely long layover/delay in Miami with anticipation from all group members.  Finally arrived around supper time into our beautiful guesthouse for the week.  We went through our suitcases, laid out our supplies, took inventory and had our first evening meeting/devotions on the patio...AHHH, it is good to be back in Haiti!  As I am typing this blog outside, the evening breeze makes it very comfortable!  I hear music from a nearby establishment and the stars and moon are shining brightly above.  Most of our team is the senior high youth, followed by 4 adults (3 who have been to Haiti and the rest first timers).

Martin started tonight's devotion with not what we are to "do" in Haiti but who we "are" being God's children and how He is with us in everything we do always, to the very end of the age (Matthew 28:19-20).  He reminded the youth that the leaders have prepared them for this experience and now they are to be led by the Spirit to serve and see why has called each one of us to this opportunity placed in front of us.   Allowing ourselves to rely on God and His power is a pretty awesome opportunity and privilege that supersedes the feelings of inadequacy.  Getting outside of our comfort zone is exactly where God wants us to be to allow us to see His purposes and not our own.

Excited for our most physical day in serving in Cite Soleil tomorrow with the water truck.  Come back again tomorrow when our youth team members will be blogging for us.

posted by Margie

Friday, July 12, 2013

Cautionary Crusaders

Yes, as you can see by our head bands in the pictures, we are a group of 15 “cautionary crusaders” who are about to embark one week from today to serve the people of Haiti. Our group is comprised of 15 unique individuals, 11 high school youth (4 girls & 7 boys) & 4 adult leaders all from St. Michael’s Lutheran Church in Bloomington, MN. This will be a first time experience serving in Haiti for all, except 3 of our leaders, Margie, Kevin & Martin, have been blessed to serve before.


We are all extremely excited to finally being leaving on Monday after many months of preparing our minds, hearts & souls. We first began meeting all the way back in cold & snowy January to prepare for the journey God has laid before each of us both individually & collectively. None of us have a clue what the Lord has planned for us in the coming week. What will I/we see? What will I/we hear?  Who shall I/we meet? Who will I/we impact? How will they impact me/us? How will I/we be changed? All these questions & so many more will all soon become only partially answered as this experience will not have a start & end date. Our desire & prayer is this that this will be forever life changing for each of us!


We would like to ask that you please pray for us both prior to our leaving on Monday & while we are in Haiti next week. Please follow us on our daily blog & feel free to invite others to do the same. Who knows maybe by following us the Lord will lead you to serve others, whether it be in your own neighborhood or in lands far away such as Haiti!


The “Cautionary Crusaders”
posted by Kevin Graf


Sunday, February 10, 2013


 Today was a day full of rejuvenation and relaxation. We began the day by attending church at Grace Village. Pastor Weseley's sermon focused on Luke 5:1-11... Simon Peter was told by Jesus, after a long day of fishing, to go far out into the water and cast his net. Resisting at first, Peter finally did it. Only to have so many fish in the nets that the nets began to break. Now, we know that the common moral to this story is that we need to be like Peter and be fishers of men just as Jesus told him he would become. Pastor Weseley enlightened us with another takeaway from this passage... Notice how the fish listened to Jesus and went to the nets, yet Peter resisted listening? How is it that the animals respect and listen to Jesus, yet we humans resist Him so? Food for thought...

After church, which was an amazing revival for the spirit and soul, we took the kids from Grace Village outside to fly some kites we had purchased upon receiving a generous donation from a special, three year-old little boy. It was a beautiful sunny day -- vibrant blue skies with a few puffy clouds mixed in and a spectacular display of color floating throughout.

After our time at Grace Village, we spent the afternoon shopping at the markets along the way up the mountain. The further up the mountain we traveled, the cooler and more beautiful our scenery became. We stopped at the top for a soft drink and to enjoy the Port-au-Prince Overlook. Spectacular view!

As we sat together and shared our favorite moments of the week, it was clear that two in particular were shared by all. On Friday we returned to Gertrude's orphanage for the disabled children. We went with the intention of helping the staff since we knew from two days prior that they were short-staffed. We arrived and  realized they were not short-staffed. However, the children who usually go to school all day were home for the Carnival holiday. And indeed, they were handling more children than they were used to. God brought us there for a reason!

We began by just playing and interacting with the kids -- the usual. Then the two amazing teachers at Gertrude's put glittery paper crowns on all of the kids' heads in honor of Carnival and began to lead us all in some Carnival songs. That's where it all began. It ended a couple of hours later (yes, two hours straight!) ... and in that couple of hours we sang, danced and laughed with all of the staff and the kids. Music was blaring, adults were singing and literally everyone young and old alike danced together! If I could only capture the expressions on the kids' faces. There were children in wheelchairs, who are usually calm and expressionless, with huge smiles on their faces trying to move around (dancing) in their chairs in response to the excitement and joy which surrounded them. The kids came to life! And the adults came together, language differences aside, and became like one family celebrating together. THIS is why God brought us to Gertrude's that day!

The other highlight of our week was taking some of the Grace Village children on a field trip to an orphanage close by, Juno's orphanage. We conducted essentially a Sunday school lesson (Bible reading, lesson, craft and snack) for 30 children in all. The stark contrast between the children at each orphanage was apparent from the moment we arrived. And the Grace Village kids were amazing shepherds to the other kids -- mingling among them, helping them with their crafts, and becoming "big brother" to them. Before we left we presented them with the seven Bibles we had brought with us. Juno was overjoyed to receive them because they have no Bibles at his orphanage. He said that was the best gift he could ever be given. God showed us yet again where He wanted us to be and how He wanted us to serve. And not only did He have plans for us to serve that day, but also for the kids at Grace Village to serve.

Over the course of the week it was clear the momentum of our team's mission work was building. Early on in the week we served with some reservations, inhibitions and hesitations. By the end of the week we had become more bold in our serving. And now as we return to our homes, our families, our lives... We pray that God will continue to build upon the momentum that He has developed within each of us to continue to serve Him for His glory.

Thank you for following along with us on our team's journey. We are praying for you and your journey in service to Him. Please also continue to pray for us.

The St. Michael's Team

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Planting Seeds

We started the day with another extravagant breakfast then headed out to Grace Village to serve the kids and take them on a special outing.  We arrived at Grace Village to pick up the children who had earned the privilege to leave campus and serve alongside us.  Each adult was assigned a partner child and we loaded up two tap-taps.  We were off to Juno’s orphanage (Juno is the orphanage director) for a Bible lesson, craft activity and snacks.  They eagerly welcomed us with songs in Creole.  Pastor Wesley from Grace Village, prepared the hearts of young and old for our lesson with worship.  He closed with a round of the chicken dance, the universal call to peace and calmness before a Bible lesson. 

We led the lesson about God’s wisdom and turning to the Bible for discernment and determining what is right. We did a skit demonstrating the difference between God’s way and the world’s way.  We reviewed the books of the Old Testament and found that the children needed some refreshing.  The children dove into the craft, creating a bookmark with five steps to knowing God’s word.  The children enjoyed tracing their hands and selecting the ribbons.  We prepared a snack of graham crackers and peanut butter in the tap-tap.  Fortunately, we also purchased water along the way to wash down the peanut butter, a near oversight caught by one of our team members.  The children lined up dutifully behind the tap-tap to receive their snack.  Everyone enjoyed the graham cracker sandwiches under the shade of a mango tree.  We prepared to say our farewells and gathered up the Grace Village kids to say goodbye to Juno’s.  We dropped the children off at Grace Village and returned to the Guest House for an early evening and a trip to a Haitian market.
We may never see the results of our service due to the nature of short-term missions.  Our challenge is not to strive for the end product, but to do what is right for the moment and time.   We can’t wait to know the end before we start.  Paul explained this more clearly in I Corinthians 3:7: “So neither the one who plants or the one who waters is anything, but only God who makes things grow.  The one who plants and the one who waters have one purpose, and they will each be rewarded according to their own labor.  For we are coworkers in God’s service, you are God’s field, God’s building. For no one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ.”  Today we were blessed to plant a seed.  The children struggled with the names of the Bibles because they did not have Creole Bibles at the orphanage.  By providence, we had seven Creole Bibles that we had brought for our planned lesson.   Pastor Wesley gave the Creole Bibles to Juno.  Juno graciously accepted these as “The most precious gift” that they could ever receive.  We only see our small part.  We trust God is faithful and will use His Word.  This was our last service trip, so we pray that others continue this work as they respond to His calling.
We had the pleasure to witness our Grace Village kids shepherding the children of Juno’s orphanage in reading scripture, assisting with craft, and joining our praise and worship.  A number of these Grace Village kids had resided in this same neighborhood just over a year ago, and now they have returned to be an example of service and encouragement for these children.  The seed planted in them at Grace Village has now created positive momentum.
The Grace Village kids are bearing fruit.  They  have been watered by Healing Haiti and the mission teams that have come before us.  This reminds us of the John 15:5 and 8 verses: “I am the vine; you are the branches.  If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.  This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.”  It is inspiring to see the nurturing of Grace Village bearing fruit in these children, fruit that is now ripening to be harvested.  We saw the continuing of this ministry at Juno’s with the pairing of gracious actions and God’s Word.
This team is here for that purpose. “The church exists for nothing else but to draw people into Christ, to make them little Christs.  If they are not doing, that all the cathedral, clergy, missions, sermons, even the Bible itself, are simply a waste of time.  God became man for no other purpose. “ – C.S. Lewis

posted by Dan and Margie

Friday, February 8, 2013

Free to Love

Our team began our fourth day in Haiti by worshiping at the tent church.  Although most of it was in Creole we were surprised by how many songs we recognized and could sing along in English.  We were inspired, rejuvenated, and filled with His love and glory.

Today was a day where we could pick and choose how we spent our day. We decided to go to Gertrude's home for disabled children, and then to the hospital for sick and dying children. So back at the guest house, after worship, we enjoyed our delicious breakfast, and a quick change for Gertrude's.

We arrived in time to play with the children before lunch. We sang, and danced  to American and Haitian songs. One of our translators, Wilson, had a great time leading those songs and dances! The room was full of smiles, laughter, and fun!

We arrived back at the guesthouse for some extra time to rest. Some team members went to the neighboring pool, while others took the time to journal, nap, and rest. Then we got cleaned up and all ready to visit the hospital for sick and dying babies. When we arrived, we entered the room with they sickest babies. The aids were giving the babies their medicine for the day while handing us the bowls of food to feed the babies. We all had different experiences in feeding the babies. Some of them seemed very hungry and scarfed the food right down! While others felt too sick to eat. It was hard for some of us, especially the mothers and fathers, to accept that the children could not eat due to their current condition. After we had fed them and changed their diapers, we had time to hold and love them up! Some of the babies were so comfortable that they fell asleep in our arms.

Next, we went to the other room where the children were feeling better. Some changed diapers while others brought the children out to the playground to play! The children loved to have the one-on-one time with each of us, just as much as we enjoyed to play and love them to our fullest. Some of us had it easy on the benches snuggling up babies, while others were used as a human jungle-gym!

The hardest part of the day was having to say goodbye to all these children who blessed our day. Overall it was a great day of many emotions! We went into today hoping to make at least as much of a difference in their lives as they have made in ours.

We are free to run, free to dance, and free to live for YOU!

Alexa Hofstad and Michelle Weisenburger

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Posted by Scott Olson
Thoughtful Thursday-
This third day of missionary work found us experiencing a wide range of emotions and processing the thoughts that went with them.
We began with a visit to Grace Village. This is the location of the bright and colorful orphanage that my 5th graders had the opportunity to see on a video that showed the reaction of the Haitian children when they first moved into the facility. It was a treat to see the place in person. There is an amazing future envisioned for Grace Village that includes hydroponic farming, a fish hatchery, and additional space for expansion.
Today's journey also brought us into the homes of some elderly Haitians that Healing Haiti has identified to assist due to their fragile health and lack of family members to care for them.Visiting with these people in their one room, dirt floored dwellings and trying to provide a small amount of solace through sandwiches, applesauce, water, lotion filled hands, the singing of songs, and prayer was tremendously moving to say the least.
We stopped off at two other schools to tour their facilities and visit with some of their students. At one of these, we managed to do a masterful job of creating a mild frenzy among the first and second graders. Knowing how challenging it can be to re-focus students' attention on the lesson being taught, I of course had nothing to do with such distracting behavior. Ha ha ha "Ay you" (story to follow upon my return home)
Before returning to the guest house, our driver/interpreter/all-around-great guy Junior decided to bring us for a brief stop to the mass burial site of an estimated 300,000 victims of the January 2010 earthquake. Sensing the spirits of all these souls stirred a deep feeling of reverence in me. My thoughts turned to the realization that our time to make some kind of lasting impression is so limited. Though we at times might feel small and insignificant in the grand scheme of things, we must push past that and move forward with the confidence that we do in deed each possess some special gift. Your sharing of it could have a much more meaningful impact than you have any idea of really knowing.
Goodness, these deep thoughts might be rambling on. I better head to bed. We have a 5:30 a.m. wake-up tomorrow to jump start another adventuresome day.
Sorry, the lateness of the hour leaves no time for photos tonight.

Scott, Dad, Mr. Olson


Today was another busy day.  After a delicious breakfast, we began our journey.  We spent our day serving in Titanyen, a city outside of Port-au-Prince.  We visited Grace Village for a tour of the grounds.  It is so beautiful with it's amazing color and life.  The children were on a short break from their school day and were busy playing on the largest playground in Haiti, we even caught some playing hopscotch!  (I must add how lovely the hopscotch painting was!)  I'm not sure I can fully explain it's splendor - vivid colors, joyful children, smiling faces, growing gardens, swimming tilapia, lesson filled chalkboards, gracious long-term missionaries, and I could keep going on.  We delivered to them many of the supplies we collected from our generous supporters at home and continued on our day's plans.  Three women of our team, Lisa, Michelle and Karen, stayed at Grace Village to assist in alterations of school uniforms.

Next we visited a nearby school called Jean Garry's.  The children greeted us chanting "Hey You!" in their sweet sing-song voices.  We briefly visited with the youngest children, both giving and receiving huge hugs.  We were shown around the school and saw the small rooms, filled with students focused on learning despite our distractions.  Since the children know their families need to pay to go to school, the children seem geniunely happy to be at school.  We brought them some much needed supplies to share with their children, as well.

Our next stop was Edmond's home.  Edmond is one of the elders in Healing Haiti's ElderCare ministry.  We found him sitting on his bed when he welcomed us into his meager home made of stone and tarps.  We ministered to him through song, prayer, Bible verses, lotioning his arms and back, feeding him a peanut butter sandwich, applesauce and water.  Such simple things to us, but so comforting to him.  He seemed to enjoy every moment of our time with him and there was a certain peace about him when we left his home.

Then, we visited Izna, an 89 year old woman who was outside, hunched over near a small shed outside her home that she shares with her son.  Her home was made of tarps, surrounded by a cactus plant grown to serve as a fence.  She was happy to see us and enjoyed our songs and prayers, as well as, a massage of her arms, legs, back and scalp.  We brought her some water and food, as well.  She was eager to receive this, appearing both dehydrated and hungry.  We were asked to check on a few items that had been given to her, all of which she explained had been taken from her, by her son.  She also explained to us that while she was letting out her son's cow, it charged, pulling her arm and hurting her hand and shoulder.  Our Nurse Practitioner, Cara, looked at her hand and we believe it may be broken.  We were able to return with an ace bandage that Cara wrapped for her.  There is a possibility that a nearby physician will be able to visit her.  While we were honored to serve her, it was so sad to see her frail body and vulnerable state.  At home, most elderly in this condition are treated with both dignity and respect.  Additionally, they would likely be living in either a nursing home or with their family.  This is one of many disparities I have noticed throughout our trip thus far.

After leaving Izna's, we started driving back to Grace Village to pick up the rest of our team before visiting the other three elders.  Much to our surprise, we stopped on one of the main streets along the way and a sweet, yet spunky, joyful woman entered the tap-tap.  We quickly learned that it was Camisane, one of the elders on our list to visit for the day.  She is known as the "charcoal lady" because she buys bags of charcoal and sells them on the side of the street.  We had stopped across from her charcoal stand and ministered to her on the tap-tap with food, music, prayer, and lotion.  When we asked her if she had any special needs, her response through our translator was, "She needs everything.  Her money is done.  She has no more money to buy more bags of charcoal."  She was also very worried that her home may be taken away and she will have no place to live.  It was very humbling to realize that this woman who seemed so joyful when we first met her has such heavy concerns on her heart.

We returned to Grace Village for our seamstresses, who had a very productive, busy time of measuring uniforms and sewing.  Although they measured all the uniforms, they didn't sew as many as they (as Americans who like to cross items off their to-do lists) would have liked.  However, we were reminded that we are in Haiti and things move a bit slower, and everything they did was a great help and blessing to the missionaries who are responsible for completing this large project.

We then visited Angeline, a 79 year old elder, in her concrete home.  She touched many on our team in previous visits, so we were anxious to see her again.  We arrived to find her sitting on her mattress on the floor.  Her prayer request is that she is able to stand up because she doesn't want to stay on the floor all the time.  Once again, we ministered through prayer, song, food, water, and lotion.  We were overcome with emotion at this stop and felt the presence of the Holy Spirit as we sang to Angeline.

We visited Mariedeloude, who is a younger "elder" at age 43, due to her mental disabilities.  She had a tidy home and was surrounded by children and her sister.  We also served her with song, prayer, water and food.  Her home was neat and tidy, though sparce inside and built of tarps outside.  Many of the items we checked on for her had been stolen as well.  She had a smiling spirit and gentle quietness about her.

A solemn stop in our journey was at the mass burial site of the Haitians lost in the earthquake of 2010.  It is said over 300,000 individuals are buried here.  We climbed the hillside and were in awe of the beauty of the country God created here.

Our last stop was at Redempteur's School where we were given a brief tour.  This was a very small building that taught over 300 children.  It was by far smaller than even the cafeteria my children eat in at home.  He was passionate about his school, his children and serving the Haitian community through the hope of the children.  We provided some of our supplies to him, as well.  He requested our prayers and support for his needs.

Although our day was filled with emotions while serving some of the most vulnerable among us, we were served by their grateful spirits and their gentleness.  For today, we were able to be the hands and feet of our Savior.  At each visit, we sang a song, "God is so good, is so good, is so good to me..."  I couldn't help but to think how good God really is to me.

Melody Sandell & Vicki Barton

Healing Haiti Team Members (Tap-Tap Singers Extraordinaire!)

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Posted by Scott Olson
Visionary Wednesday -
Our adventure began this morning with a stop at an ecole (school) that Healing Haiti has helped provide a great deal of support. This was where some of the school supplies that many of my 5th graders donated found a useful and grateful home. It was eye opening to witness how genuinely excited these children were to have the opportunity to learn. As we were driving to our next location, I began to notice more and more schools along the way. It gave me the feeling of hope for the future of Haiti through the power of education.
It was nearly lunchtime when we arrived at an orphanage for children with special needs. By the time their lunch was ready, I had latched onto a little fellow who would spin himself around while throwing back his head in a manner often associated with blind people. I would later discover that he was born with cataracts in both eyes, would soon be having surgery, and is expected to gain his vision. Hallelujah! I sat with him in my lap, and fed him a bowl of a white rice and bean concoction. Since I was his server, he was given the opportunity to become a member of the clean plate club. He readily accepted and proceeded to enjoy bite after bite until every spoonful was gone. The experience of spending time with so many of these abandoned children opened my eyes to how often these poor unfortunates are cast off as being ones that through no fault of their own make us feel uncomfortable. I grew deeper in my admiration for those individuals with the heart to provide care for these children on a daily basis.
May we all be filled with the spirit to make attempts at pushing our comfort zones in order to stretch the limits of what acts we are truly capable of performing.

Wonderful Wednesday

Our day started in the usual fashion when we piled in the tap tap around 9:00am to the call of "kennel up."  It was another interesting traffic day as we headed back to Cite Soleil.  We visited a school of about 650 children from the ages of 3 to 20 run by a wonderful, gracious man named Elder.  It was amazing to see the students in such poor circumstances thriving and excited about learning; from the youngest who were practicing their letters on the chalk board to the oldest who were learning Spanish, Chemistry and advanced Math.

Piling back into the tap tap, we headed downtown to visit San Fil home for the elderly.  Here we were divided by gender and gave the residents a "spa day."  We applied lotion to dried skin, hair oil & pomade to dry hair, and shared smiles and singing.  It was somewhat quiet and somber when we arrived, but with the help of our interpreter turned song leader, Brunet, the mood was considerably lightened when we left.  It was incredibly moving and peaceful to hear the mix of English and Creole languages singing "How Great Thou Art."

We ate the Healing Haiti version of trail lunch - Cliff bars, jerkey, trail mix, granola bars and Propel - while traveling back toward Cite Soleil to visit Gertrude's, an orphanage for special needs children.  Here we arrived just in time for the children's lunch. We were each given a plate of rice & beans and a spoon and started to feed someone.  After that, the real fun began!  We got almost everyone outside in the playground area that even had a swing for wheel chairs - although, we took them out of their chairs to swing because we could fit six kids at a time that way.  A little later, we went back inside and tried for some quiet time on the floor mat.  Some were more successful than others.

The last stop was a home for sick and dying children.  We spent time just holding children and sharing love.  Some were well enough for games of peek-a-boo, to give high fives, or even escape from the crib and follow us out when we tried to leave.  Some were too sick to be held.  It was heart-breaking to see so many little ones and not have enough time to hold each of them - and to hear them cry when you put them down.  We plan to return there on Friday to spread a little more love.

At each location we delivered donated supplies collected by our faithful supporters.  THANK YOU!  The school was so thankful for notebooks and pencils, much needed in the poorest slum on our side of the globe.  At San Fil they also run an education and food distribution program for mothers of infants and some of their supplies were handed out before we were all off the tap tap.  At Gertrudes, we changed several diapers, using new velcro diapers that we brought along.  All in all, it was a busy wonderful day.

Hands On!

Today was all about the power of the human touch!

 We visited a home for sick and dying adults, a home for disabled children, and a home for sick and dying babies.  At each location we saw how powerful and calming our touch can be.  At the home for sick and dying adults, we rubbed lotion on the ladies bodies and rubbed oils into their hair.  We would start with their arms and legs, but usually they would want lotion on their back and chest as well.  They really enjoyed the head rub as well. We used the oil or pomade for their hair and most of the ladies wanted to keep what was left in the can.  One elderly lady even took a scoop and tucked it away for later.  Their hair is much more coarse and dry and they use these products to soften it.

At the home for the disabled children, they were short-staffed and we helped with serving lunch and playing with the children.  This location was a little harder for me as I was not as quick to interact with them.  One girl had just arrived a few days ago.  She was found alone in a pile of garbage and had been dropped off at Gertrudes by social services.  Up to today, she was not very responsive.  It was amazing the way that she responded to sitting on our laps and cuddling.  We played with a parachute and I was sitting underneath with her and another girl.  She started giggling as she watched those around her having fun and as she looked at all the pretty colors.

We were able to stay a long time at Gertrudes and had the opportunity to try to settle the kids down for a nap.  I was still holding the new girl and ended up sitting next to an older girl - she was probably around age 12.  She had the most beautiful smile.  As she noticed that I was holding the little girl, she got a little closer and I was able to hold her hand.  She grabbed on and would not let go and every once in a while she would turn to me and smile.  She wasn't able to move real well because of difficulties with moving her legs, but as soon as she saw that my lap was free, she moved closer-wanting to sit on my lap. I was able to rub her back and hold her hand and if I stopped she would shake my hand to tell me to keep going.

At the home for the sick and dying babies, it was amazing how quickly the babies settled down.  It was fun to sing "Jesus Loves Me" to them and they would quickly respond by snuggling in, almost sleeping in your arms.  As we tried to share our time with some of the other kids and put them back into their crib, they would cry for a long time.  Unfortunately, we were not at this location for very long, but we are able to go back later this week.

As I close this day, I need to remember how powerful touch is, that even something so simple as a pat on the back can be so impactful and be such a blessing.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Post from Scott Olson:

Majestic Monday!
For all concerned parties-yes, I have awakened from my slumber. Clearly I was exhausted from all the work involved with preparing a week of plans to keep my fabulous fifth graders engaged in new knowledge acquiring. Bonswa to all of you in room 209. I hope you got your week off to a splendid start.
Today found my amazing team and I delivering the essential necessity of water to those whose place in life leaves them without. We also had the opportunity to provide an equally critical element in the form of love. We nurtured an assortment of needy children seeking to be held and given attention. It was an incredibly moving experience. I can still feel the presence of one young boy as he nuzzled his head into my neck as I held his small warm body.
Tomorrow will give us new opportunities to provide joy, over comfort, and attempt to make this little corner of the world a happier place. But hey, we all do that on a daily basis wherever we happen to be. right?!
Until my next post, I send you warm feelings from Haiti.


Providing water in Cite Soleil, February 5, 2013

Today was our first day serving our Lord in Haiti.  After a long travel day yesterday, we were excited to get started.  Today we delivered water to those who do not have the luxury of running water from a tap.  We began our day at 8.00 am for breakfast and were on the road to meet the water truck at the water well heads by 9.00 am.  Each truck load carried 2500 gallons of water.

Our first stop after the truck was filled was in Cite Soleil, the poorest city in the Western Hemisphere.  For those of us who had never been to Haiti, it was overwhelming to see the number of kids that are reaching out for something as simple as affection as soon as we stepped off the Tap-Tap (our transportation in Haiti).  They were there waiting for us and jumped into our arms or grabbed our hands immediately.  Their faces showed such happiness and excitement to have us there.

While half of the group worked diligently to fill water containers and assist the Haitians with getting the water to there homes, the other half of the group was able to provide love and support to our young brothers and sisters in Christ.  It was very moving to see how the simple gift of water can make such a difference in someone's life.  Matthew 25: 35 is printed inside the Tap-Tap and what a fitting verse this was for our experience today "For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in".  After this load of water ran dry we had the opportunity to walk with the kids down by the waterside to play and sing songs with them.  They loved it....almost as much as we did!

One girl had a big impact on us. Her name is Fuse (foo-say) and she is 11 years old. She should have been in school at this time of day. Unfortunately we think she is a Restavek, which is a child whose parents cannot afford to care for them and are sold as a slave to another home. These kids do not go to school, but clean and cook and are usually physically abused.  when they are 16, they are kicked out of the home.  They have no education and no skills to make a living and are on their own.  Knowing this might be her future was heartbreaking.

Our next two loads of fresh water were also delivered to different areas of Cite Soleil.  Even though we were blocks away from previous stops it was common to see some of the same kids running to find us at our additional delivery points.  Some locations were easy to manage and individuals waited in line to get their bucket filled, while at other times there was chaos as Haitians were worried they would not get enough water.

What a humbling experience this was today.  It was very rewarding to provide physical and emotional support, as well as compassion and love to those who have been through so much and have so little.  In the book of Isaiah, as Israel was being restored, the Lord states "They will neither hunger nor thirst, nor will the desert heat or the sun beat down on them. He who has compassion on them will guide them and lead them beside springs of water."

Lord, thank you for the opportunity to serve you today by providing water for those who are thirsty.  Thank You for your provided safety over our group today and please continue to guide us on our mission to serve you.

Posted by: Mike and Cara Herrmann