Saturday, October 4, 2014

Get Over Yourself (Part Deux)

Today made for my fourth day of delivering water in Cite Soleil and my second visit to Gertrude's Orphanage.  My word of the day for my first trip to Cite Soleil was Gehenna (a place of extreme torment or suffering).  The point is that on my first trip, a lot of the shock was in the conditions I see Haitians living in.  My very visceral reaction to those conditions, while very useful for stirring things deep within me over the long haul, would sometimes prevent me from effectively ministering to those around me due to deer-in-the-headlights syndrome.  This was least true at places like Cite Soleil, but maybe most true at places like Gertrude's Orphanage and visiting the elders in Titanyen.

On this trip to Gertrude's, as well as with yesterday's trips to visit the elderly, I found it much easier to focus on the people around me and to be very comfortable ignoring the conditions of the stuff and focusing on the people themselves without distractions.  One of the people I was able to focus on was a girl I saw two years ago--I fed her lunch when we were at Gertrude's.  I was able to get her in the seat swing at Gertrude's and she squealed with delight and grinned ear to ear.  But I was only able to figure out that is what she wanted to do by paying lots of attention to her body language as I wheeled her around in her wheelchair--quite frankly I was amazed I actually figured out what she wanted.  I don't think I would have been able to focus that clearly last time.

Another boy at Gertrude's was just a smooch machine--the most gentle, feather weight kisses you have ever received in your life.  He just wanted to be held and walked around and he would just snuggle against your neck and then alternate between a quiet serenity and smooch machine.

Pictures of those two will have to come later--uploads aren't cooperating at present.

Thursday, October 2, 2014

The Joy in The Bread of Life!

Thursday: Today was a delightful day of visiting Grace Village’s Compound and the town of Titanyen in which it resides. (pictures will be added when wifi improves!)

 Our visit began with a tour of Grace Village – Healing Haiti’s flagship compound in which dozens of orphan children live and go to school in with even more dozens of the poor children in the town of Titanyen located about an hour up the coast from our Guesthouse in Port-au-Prince.

We saw bread being made in the wood fired bread ovens, the aquaponics gardens fertilized from the accompanying tilapia fish farm on the site, the many kids in school for the start of their year, and the medical clinic which cares for the surrounding area’s residents.  It is a bright beacon on the hill created by the Grace of God working through the Body of Christ and overlooks the town and the Caribbean!

We spent the afternoon visiting seven different elder’s homes – very vulnerable due to their ages and/or health conditions and/or their having to support grandchildren despite their circumstances.  What a joy to see their happiness at receiving visitors bearing “Manna” in the form of a hot meal and music and lotion massages and deep prayer for their specific needs in health and for the need of their grandchildren.  We hope they saw the Bread of Life in our visits just as we saw the Joy of the Lord within each of them!

We’ve completed three long days of serving many people in a variety of extremely vulnerable circumstances – and yet we look forward to even more opportunities to be His Hands and Feet during the rest of our stay in Haiti!


A Day of Healing

(Wednesday) You’ll notice no pictures today – that’s largely due to the mission focus on medical areas today – we don’t take pictures in hospitals out of respect for the patients.

Our day began with a tour of Papillion Enterprises – the commercial business arm of the Apparent Project.  These people reach out to the community by training people to make jewelry and sculpture and providing day care for their children while they work and learn skills to become employable in other capacities as well.  Only five years old, they already have product placed all over the United States and are improving the lives of hundreds of families with livable wage jobs here in Port-au-Prince.

We then proceeded to the PAP General Hospital pediatric ward – a free medical care facility for city residents.  However, “free” means the doctors will see you, but you need to buy your own medicines and get your own tests done separately – something most of the people we visited could not afford to complete.  However, healing takes place there to the degree the resources allow for.  We brought care packages of soap, washcloths, toothpaste, toothbrush and applesauce in the bags sewn by our church members plus some cold water to refresh the parents of the children in the wards.  We also spoke with many parents, held many children undergoing treatment and prayed over them for strength and healing to take place over the many weeks that they spend there.

One special little baby we named Belle, a two day old unnamed orphan baby with severe birth defects.  She was completely alone in the world as well as within the ward and it would appear that her prospects were indeed grim.  She was held and prayed for and her little heart raced in response to having someone actually touch her and love her!

We also visited the Home for Sick and Dying Children near our Guesthouse in Haiti.  The nuns and the workers there bless these children with their selfless care.  They treat many diseases as well as a great number of malnutrition cases.  We assisted the workers with diapers and feeding time, giving us a chance to help love them up and comfort them as well as easing the workload of these wonderful people.

A small portion of our group also went downtown with the nuns to the Wound Clinic (conducted right in the streets of the city) and treated many people with chronic open wounds that are in constant need of cleaning and treating.

All of these medical encounters were such a blessing to us – a chance to let God use us to help with the healing process while He guarded and protected us in very difficult circumstances.  Indeed a day of healing!  

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Living Water

Haiti – Tuesday, Day 1
Today we were “scheduled” to deliver water first thing in the morning and we were up as planned, filled with a fine breakfast prepared by our guesthouse hosts and eager to get on with things.  The water truck broke down before we got started and we spent two hours “stranded” at the water pump station.  First off, it appears our schedule for the day was not God’s schedule.  And our view of being stranded was God’s plan for us to spend time with people that we wouldn’t have otherwise met.  Some on our team helped a woman prepare items for a meal for her family.  Very cool. 

The water truck did get fixed and we were on our way.  Three stops and 5000 gallons of water (5 gallons at a time).  City Soleil has indeed changed in the two years since I have been here.  It is incremental improvements, but improvements nonetheless.  Garbage is still everywhere.  People are still living in tin sheds.  The smell is still horrible.  But fewer tents exist.  The streets felt a bit cleaner.  And the children were still excited to play and smiles reached from ear to ear.  Some of us have experienced this before and some saw it for the first time today.  As we debriefed this evening, it didn’t matter if this was new or you had seen it five times previously, the emotions were still strong.  We all simply struggle reconciling the comforts of our lives back in the US with the conditions that exist here.  As one of our teammates said tonight, “no sane person can experience this and shrug it off”…not a reconcilable situation.

Before we left City Soleil we walked out to a ridge of garbage looking out into a garbage filled field.  Behind us were the tin sheds where people lived.  This is a spot where Healing Haiti plans to build a church.  There would be a thousand easier places to build a church in Haiti, but God doesn’t always go with “easy”.  This will be a huge challenge for the organization, but one that presents an opportunity like no other.
Please pray for this church, those that will organize it and every person that will walk through its doors.
Day 1 is in the books.  We were two groups of strangers just 48 hours ago.  We are now a single group of people who are laughing and crying together and doing our best to serve the wonderful and beautiful people of Haiti.

A really really good Day 1.  Tomorrow brings a new “schedule”.  May we be open to the plans He has for us and not get ahead of that in any way shape or form.
Rick Jones


Arrival Day - His Work Has Begun

(Sorry for the delay in posting - wifi issues - it is Haiti afterall!)

We've arrived safe and sound and will have a more complete report tomorrow night!  However, God has already provided opportunities to be His witness.  Our teammate Colleen had a wonderful witness time on the plane ride into Haiti from Miami with a nice Haitian woman with whom she shared a similar personal situation - the death of a spouse.  It led her to reacquaint the women with some core faith scripture that provided her the reason for her to have hope despite her pain - her hope in a Savior who is active in this world and knows our pain and wants to be in our lives.  


You never know when opportunities to give a reason for your faith will arrive.  God gives many small opportunities each day to share His love with others.  We look forward to more chances tomorrow - We'll have a full day on Tuesday when we deliver water in Cite Soleil and visit a teen football (soccer) program.


Friday, September 26, 2014

Prepping and Praying for Departure (T-60 hours to go)

Dear Friends,

Out latest St Michael's team to Haiti is nearly ready for departure this coming Monday morning and we're excited to be leaving for a chance to serve where He leads us!

Thanks to our many supporters, we have a full set of double suitcases (12 for the six of us) filled with medical and personal care supplies for the various mission settings we minister within.  Here's a few shots from our Packing Party last Sunday where we squeezed over 500 pounds of your donations into 12 bags!

We will be wheels up early Monday morning, arriving in Haiti late afternoon for our week of serving the "least among us".  On our itinerary are a variety of places:
  • Cite Soleil slum visits delivering water
  • Several orphanages including a field trip with them to the beach!
  • General Hospital's pediatric ward
  • Hospitals for Sick and Dying - adults and children
  • Elder care home visits in Titanyen
  • Touring Grace Village in Titanyen, home of orphans, a church, a school, a clinic and an aquaponics garden!
  • Worshiping with our Haitian Brothers and Sisters.
We'll be traveling with another small team (also from MN) and will be in service together throughout the week.

Now Your Challenge:  Please pray for our team as it serves in these settings.  Pray for God to provide us with special needs that we can meet and ways in which we can show His love.  Pray for our team members to impact the people we meet and be impacted by the people and situations we face together.

We intend (wifi willing) to blog each night (after 9pm your time) with the day's activities and some pictures representing our day.  Please pass along this website to anyone interested so they can keep up with us firsthand.

To God Be The Glory!

Tom Solberg

Monday, July 14, 2014

Not Lesser but Greater


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

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

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

Bon Voyage

John Koepke

Saturday Night Top 10 - Haiti 2014

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


Sunday, July 13, 2014

Feeding our Children

 Saturday July 12, 2014

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

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

Dusty Willner         

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Beach Day


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

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

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

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

Friday, July 11, 2014

Another Beautiful Day! Water Truck & Grace Village

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

God bless!!!

Nancy & Katie



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

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

-Christian Willner                                                          

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Three Words

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



Wednesday, July 9, 2014

The Children of Haiti


When I had an opportunity to serve the people of Haiti, I had heard many stories about the children of Haiti.  I have been in awe that people can survive on so little in the aspect of food, water, medical care and the basics of life.  So if the adults struggle, how do the children survive?
Today was a chance to spend the day working with children.
We spent the morning with babies at the Home for Sick and Dying Babies which is run by a group of Nuns.  They accept and care for the sickest babies that would be left to die without their help. 
We all had a lot of apprehension, and this is the one place that made me nervous.  I love spending time with kids and babies, but how sick are the kids and how could I help.  I have worked with many children, but never with the severely ill - even the name is concerning.

When we arrived at the Children's Home there was a lot of the infants parents spending their allotted 1 hour per day visiting with their ill baby.  We were their to hold and comfort the many that didn't have a parent visiting.  When you walk into the rooms we were split between Room 1 - which is the sickest babies which were not alowed to leave the crib room and Room 2 - which has the healthier babies and you could walk around their playground. I ended up in Room 2 and picked up a little boy name Jean[French for John] - I was meant to hold him.
Jean and I did several walk-abouts and looked at the trees, fences, flowers and anything to explore and talk about.  I felt pretty comfortable with Jean and before long he was making noises and looking at me and starting to smile - I haven't lost my touch from my babies :)
Jean was about 20 lbs and around 22" long.  Janell (My daughter) came over and asked - Dad do you know how old he is, but I didn't know - she checked for me - Jean was 4 yrs old but looked like a 12 - 18 month old.  he couldn't sit up, or crawl, let alone walk.
Next I went over to Room 1 and held many babies who were much smaller and more frail - I had a chance to hold God's precious gifts - but I thought what is their future in a resource challenged country?

After lunch we stopped by an amazing place called the Apparent Project - they take local artisans and make jewelry and crafts from recycled products that are donated such as cans, bottles, and cereal boxes.  Besides making really beautiful crafts they have employed over 200 people.  One craft was heart jewelry necklaces that was being made for a sorority in the USA.  They said that their workers are paid $15/ day which is 3 times the average Haitian salary.  They found a way to support many of the locals by being creative.

We finished up our afternoon by stopping by Gertrude's, which is another special children's home.  They take in children with a variety of disabilities.  The majority of the kids are 8 - 15 years old and they have learned to live as a family. 
The high point was when we first walked in the center where the kids were and a boy ran and jumped into my son Zack's arms - he had remembered Zack from last year when they played together. It was fun playing with the children and to see another person who stepped up in God's plan to fill a great need.

My final thought is to ask -
What have I learned from today's experiences? 
What can other's do to help these precious children of Haiti?

God Bless

Jon Lorton

Dusty, Christian, and Me with our new friends

Zack with his friend with Gabby and Aubrey to the sides

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Our First Day in Haiti

Our First Day in Haiti

Today it was water truck day in Haiti. We went into Cite Soleil with our water truck and made three stops delivering water to the locals. The first thing you notice when you get off the tap-tap, besides the smiling, yelling kids, is the horrendous odor. In the words of Wally, it smells like, "Dying hogs and garbage combined." Once you get past the smell however, you are truly able to appreciate the beautiful people of Haiti. You see partially clothed, filthy children giving you the biggest grin. You see teenage boys helping an elderly man fill his bucket with water. You see mothers laughing as we play with their babies. You see older siblings pushing their little brothers and sisters in our arms so they can get held and loved for a little while.  It amazed us time and time again today how the Haitians are some of the kindest, most joyful people despite their lack of material items. You can see through their  huge smiles that they are rich in spirit!

Once we returned to the guesthouse, we played soccer with the neighborhood boys. It was great to see them again and to see how much they have grown since the time Janell was here. I let in a lot of goals and was relieved by a Haitian, but it was still a blast. The weather was nice today, but it is pretty hot. All and all our first day in Haiti is something we will never forget.

- Wally and Janell

Monday, July 7, 2014

Home Sweet Home

As I sit here on the patio/roof of the new guest house listening to the goats, I remember sitting in a very similar spot a year ago promising that I would be back. A few weeks ago, it had hit me that I was returning to Haiti, and the word that came to my mind was home. I'm going home. I would never have thought that that is what would come to my mind. Haiti is a third-world country where people suffer daily and children are sick, but still they have the joy of the Lord and constant praise on their lips. That is a far cry from my comfortable home with air-conditioning and a nice cool pool in my backyard. I sleep in a nice bed and am never hungry. Food and clean water are at my fingertips; transportation is not a worry for me. My worries consist of what I will wear or how soon school will start. So, how can Haiti be my home? Home is where family is.

 Last time I was here, the children of Haiti broke my heart with the unconditional love and trust they so freely gave me. Without me knowing it, they had become my family. Maybe they don't remember me, but I remember them. The noise and even smell of Haiti were welcome to me because of what they symbolize.

When I'm in Haiti, I feel so present in the moment or like I am exactly where I'm meant to be. I have never really felt that so strongly and powerfully anywhere else. I think of it as God's way of telling me that I'm not crazy for coming and way off course. Quite the contrary, I think God's saying that this is exactly where he means me to be. This is my home.

Don't get me wrong, Haiti comes with its own set of dangers, risks, and worries. The devil tends to make the adventure of Haiti into a huge feat that seems undefeatable and terrifying. It's true, we can't defeat it, but with God's help and strength which he freely gives us, ANYTHING is possible. I'm counting on it. God is my Savior, and HE comes with immeasurable power and unconditional love, and you can't beat that. I know he comes before me and stands behind me. Therefore, I fully expect to see miracles and experience God's presence in amazing ways.

 You can worry about what tomorrow will bring, and the danger of getting sick. You can worry about anything, and trust me, it comes as a second nature to me. However, I've really felt God saying that the more I let go and put it in HIS faithful hands, the more he will open my eyes to all HE is doing within our team and in the field.

 I've felt him saying that he provided for me and took care of me last time, so why wouldn't I trust him now? He showed me his faithfulness time and time again. If God is the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow, I can only imagine what this trip holds. I have a feeling God is just excited as I am that I find myself home, in Haiti.

By: Cassie McLain

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Here We Go! Yoked To Jesus

We've packed our bags and are ready to head out early in the morning for an opportunity to be God's hands and feet for this next week down in Haiti.  Our team is a mix of both youth and adults, parents and young adult children, first timers and returning goers.  We know that this team was not put together by accident and look forward to seeing how God will transform both our hearts and minds as we love and serve together these next 8 days.

Today I was reminded in the sermon today based off of the scripture verses Matthew 11:28-30 that it is a privilege and honor to serve our Lord and this great Kingdom of His.  In serving, we should rely on Jesus's yoke and not our own efforts.  When we are yoked in with Jesus we will learn from Him and we will find rest in Him!  This brings me such peace when preparing for trips and the unknowns that lie ahead.

We appreciate your prayers that God will use us mightily as He transforms our hearts, stretches us in our serving, and health and safety for all! 

Thank you for following our blog this week!

Margie Schroeder, Trip Leader


Sunday, February 9, 2014

Day 7

Have you ever started the day being told you were literally the answer to someone's prayers? I don't know that I had before. Today we brought ten boxes of Feed My Starving Children supplies to an orphanage. There's nothing magical about that. However, the feeling of divine intervention comes in to play when you factor in that the food had been loaded into our truck by mistake, our stop at the orphanage was unplanned and the orphanage was having a church service praying for food when we arrived. The head of the orphanage and his wife were so grateful. I have heard Matthew 25:40 (The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’) lots of times; it's rally cry for outreach. Today was the first time I have ever had the recipient of a deed quote that passage and tell me (and the team) that that is exactly what we had done.  If that happened more often, I think getting out of bed in the morning would be a lot easier.
We took a break this afternoon to visit a scenic overlook in the hills. Up in the hills is where many of the nicer homes in the Port-au-Prince area are. It really is a great view and you can see much of the surrounding area. Next to me at the overlook was an American man with a home in the hills and a couple who was visiting him. I overheard the couple tell the man how awesome Haiti is and he responded that it rocks and they should go grab a beer at the bar. Before walking away the visiting man asked if that was Cite Soleil in the distance. The man responded, "yes, see how crowded the houses are? Poor people always live close together." From where I was standing it was very easy to see and hear the distance between Haiti's have's and have not's.

The Favorite Day for Me

Well I am writing this a day late as my favorite day was yesterday.  It started with the team going to "The Home for Sick and Dying Adults."  This is my second trip however on my first trip we did not make it to this location.  As can be expected, I was very nervous to go to a location that had dying adults to rub lotion on them and to minister to them.  It is not really something I had ever experienced before but I loved it!  The people really seemed to enjoy the attention...........and after they warmed up to us they allowed us to lotion their body.  This was actually not something I found uncomfortable, it was the complete opposite.  As we made our way around the room more and more people wanted the attention and were very grateful for what we were doing.  This started the day out great!!

After that we were blessed to have the opportunity to visit two more orphanages to play with the kids!!  That was a lot of fun as well.  The kids really seemed to enjoy the attention but I think we enjoyed the fun more :-)  After the play time with kids we headed off to the dedication of the BRAND NEW CHURCH in Titanyen.  This church is called Grace Church and is now open for the entire community.  The church was packed for the energetic service of worship!!!!

I truly feel best to have had the opportunity to be a part of the blessed day!!

God Bless

Day 6

Sometimes the best way to experience life is to break through your comfort zone and just embrace what comes your way. If I feel like what I am doing is truly needed and appreciated, I can force myself to ignore my own comfort much easier and start doing things that seem almost surreal. That's how I was able to do wound clinics during my last visit and that's how I found myself at a rural hospital today applying lotion to patients.
We visited the Home for Sick and Dying adults today and my duty was to go to the men's wards to see which patients wanted to have lotions applied to their dry skin. I really wasn't sure how I felt about that but it was needed so I did it. To my surprise, the awkwardness subsided about a minute in to my first patient and instead began to feel a little bit like I was out of my own body. I was there doing it but I felt like I was watching and it was interesting. I applied lotion to the arms, legs and torsos of about a dozen patients and, although none spoke English, each one told a story on their bodies. I could see scars from years ago. I could tell that a leg had been broken in the past and had healed without being set properly. Hands were so leathery from hard work that they felt more like hide than flesh. Feet were thick with callouses from years of walking barefoot on the rocky Haitian ground. Some stories were fresher, as I could tell one patient I was putting lotion on was clearly recovering from some type of pox. If I call in sick next week with "pox," I have some idea as to where I got that.
We spent the rest of the morning and afternoon visiting orphanages where we sang songs, did crafts and distributed supplies.

In the evening, we got to attend the social event of the season in Tetonyen: the dedication ceremony of the new Grace Church building. Grace Church had been operating out of the dining area of Grace Village, but had significantly outgrown the space and a new beautiful church building was built down the hill in the village outside of the Grace Village compound.
 I don't know if the entire village was in attendance for the event, but it was probably close to it. One thing that you may surprise you is that in Haiti going to church is an event and even poor, rural villagers try to have one formal outfit for church, weddings, etc. Attending the dedication of a church counts as one of the occasions for people to dress as nicely as they could and it was on display. There were hundreds of well dressed locals in attendance. It was a who's who of Tetonyen.
I was glad to have been in attendance for this historic day for Grace Village, Grace Church and Tetonyen.

Friday, February 7, 2014

Seeing Through Jesus' Eyes

Written by:  Melody Sandell

Our team was blessed to begin our day worshiping at the nearby Haitian church along with the Haitians in the nearby community at 6am.  We were filled with amazing, uplifting worship and praise - Haiti style!  Dancing, singing, praying and shouting praises aren't words enough to explain the experience.  This is always one of my favorite things about Haiti, when we sing the same worship songs together, in both English and Creole, while they are two languages, but one song, praising the same God, together.  While we worship, we smile and hear praises and love for Jesus and the desire to live our lives for Jesus.  One cannot say that the Holy Spirit wasn't felt by all that were present.  Did you hear us praying for you?

We came home to the guesthouse for a wonderful breakfast before beginning our day at General Hospital.  None of the team members had been to General Hospital before, so we were all a little nervous for today's mission.  We went with the other Healing Haiti Worship Team and served the individuals at General Hospital together.  We got off the tap-tap and joined in a concert for the people waiting to be seen and hoping to be admitted.  There were many women and children waiting, and while they appeared weak and weary, they had bright smiles as they enjoyed the music.  We then divided into smaller groups to visit the patients and families within the hospital.  My group went to a small room with around twenty five beds with sick children and their mothers.  The children were very ill and the conditions we difficult to witness.  Some children had even been abandoned by their families, yet others had mothers attentively sitting at their sides.  We handed out small bags of donations with a few basic necessities.  We prayed for them and Lisa and I partnered together to gently massage lotion on the moms and children in the room.  When we were done, we served those waiting in the hallways with our lotion.  We then went back to the waiting area, used a few of my choppy French phrases, and rubbed hands and feet with lotion to almost all of the women and children waiting to be seen until joining the rest of our team serving in other rooms of the hospital.

I'm not sure I can accurately fully describe the hospital.  I am not sure I can even really call it a hospital in words or even in my mind.  There were several concrete block buildings with small rooms, with many people, make-shift beds, cribs that were broken and rusty, IV's taped and tied, children lying in their beds weak and hot with fever.  The floors were dirty.  We didn't see any electricity.  Imagine a hospital without electricity... Some parents looked as if they knew their children might not make it, while others had small glimmers of hope.  Ill people were even seen in their cars with IV’s hanging from the roof of the car.  Patients are seen by a few doctors and nurses, but nothing is provided for them.  This means if medication is prescribed, bandages are needed or surgical supplies are necessary, families need to go out onto the street to nearby vendors to purchase items needed for their medical care.  No meals or hygiene items are provided.  We were not allowed to have photos here.

My only personal hospital point of reference is when my children were born.  One may say that was more like a stay at a luxury hotel than a hospital in comparison to the hospital we visited today.
We then visited Gertrude’s, the orphanage for disabled and abandoned children.  While the rest of our team enjoyed a playful visit with the children along with the Worship Team, our Donations Advocate Team (Laura, Lisa and I) met with a long term missionary there to discuss how we can best help with their donations needs.

As we closed the night and discussed our feelings and words about the day, we discussed how maybe we had the opportunity to see a little bit of Haiti through Jesus’ eyes today.

Next the Gertrude experience writing by Luke Hudak:

After the whole hospital experience I was feeling a little meek but knowing that children were in the the foreseeable future my spirit and energy rose ten fold. Right away, like any opportunity to hold and play, main word being PLAY, everyone scattered to find where God would put them. Laura pointed out a girl she saw at here last visit and gave me the insight to make her laugh and smile owwwwww so big. Me and Jeff ran wheelchair races with this girl to get an awesome reaction, a reaction that melts hearts. The music just started to get going and me a Jeff traded off girls to this cute and quite girl and we held hands the whole time even when I got found out by the best snuggling boy ever. We all jam out to the great music from the worship pastor from eagle brook church, mine and Laura's church none the less. What an awesome feeling music can change, there was no more language barrier, difference of culture or any sadness for these handicap children. There was just musical worship and spiritually growth happening on both sides. Truly Heaven is in the eyes of these kids because God was all around us, showing us how to live like his son . . . Jesus.   


Thursday, February 6, 2014

Widows & Sackcloth

Written by:  Rhonda Wilson

Our day started out with a tour at Grace Village.  They showed us their new brick bread ovens that are being built. They have named the ovens Shadrach, Meshach & Abednego.  Grace Village is in the training phase for the women of Titanyen so they can have bread for their family and be able to sell it in the community.  They also have the aquaponic farm for Tilapia up and running with 4 containers, the run-off water is used to water the vegetable garden.

After our Grace Village tour it was time to visit the supported Healing Haiti Seniors and Crippled. Now we turn to James1:27 Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this:
to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.

Our 1st stop was a gifted tailor with scoliosis.  Next was a 58yr Grandmother raising her 5 grandchildren the youngest was 1yr.  The Mom had passed away 4 days after the baby was born.  Her son also lives with her, as his wife had also passed away after their 14mo old twins were born.  Next was a 21yr old boy that lived with his mom.  He had an Epileptic Seizure when he was 12 yr old, but without the proper medical treatment he ended up with cerebral palsy and is bedridden.  Our 4th stop was another Grandmother that told us she was so old she couldn't remember her age.  She was living with her Grandson and his 3 children.  Our last stop was with our oldest senior at 95yrs old, she was the sweetest little Grandma.  She lives with her son, daughter-in-law and their 4 children.  At each of these stops we made them a sandwich, gave them applesauce, water, massaged them with lotion and sang with them.
Our Oldest Senior (95yrs)          


  (Psalm30:11 You turned my wailing into dancing; you removed my sackcloth and clothed me with joy.                 

This morning we visited Grace Village, an orphanage and school run by Healing Haiti. I'm glad to report that it still continues to impress. Since my last visit, they have completed the medical and dental clinics and have nearly completed three new residences for the orphans. Above and below the clinics are apartments for the long-term and visiting medical (and other) staff to sleep. The clinics, like Grace Village itself, are brightly colored and clean. There was a team of dentists, dental assistants and hygienists from Minnesota working there today. The new orphan residences are built to be more of a residential family-style home with about a dozen kids to each residence pod; this replaces the dormitory-style housing that the kids are currently living in. The dorm style housing is common but research and experience have shown that the residential style would make for a better experience for the kids. If you ever decide to become a Haitian orphan, keep your fingers crossed you end up at Grace Village.

This afternoon we went through the countryside of Titayen to visit the sick and elderly. We were able to visit five homes during the course of the afternoon. We visited three elderly people, a bed-ridden young man (20) with cerebral palsy and a thirty year old with extreme scoliosis. A typical visit includes some food delivery, singing, and a conversation (through a translator) about how they are doing and what items they may want or need in the future. During the last couple visits, I talked with some of the children outside who were now home from school and interested in talking to a stranger. ("Stranger Danger" is not on the radar here. I guess they don't watch America's Most Wanted in Haiti.) Actually, one of of the boys recognized us from the morning's visit to Grace Village. I can't post his name online for privacy reasons, but it would be a perfect name for an international cat burglar. Someday, when I become a renowned cat burglar, I will use the name and you will hear it and say, "yes, that is a great name for a world renowned cat burglar and I knew him when he was just 'Jeff."

On our way back, we stopped by the Mass Graves from the 2010 Earthquake. In the past, this has been a nondescript field and if you didn't know what it was, you would never guess. It was remarkable for how unremarkable it was. In the U.S., there would be a large memorial to mark any spot that over 300,000 bodies were buried, but in Haiti there was nothing of note. That is going to change. Today, we found that a wall has been built around the grave area and there are plans to build a memorial garden. One could argue there may be better ways for the Haitian government to spend its money, but I am glad those people will finally be getting a more significant memorial.
On tap tomorrow: an orphanage for special needs children and the General Hospital