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