Monday, May 21, 2012

Day 7: Purposeful

What a week.  I love the beauty of this place- in the people, the surroundings, the things God does in each of us as we come here.

Our day started earlier yesterday with breakfast and then we drove up to Titanyen for church at Grace Village.  My word of the day initially was going to be Free.  The kids were amazing.  Their hearts for God are so good and pure.  There is nothing that is self conscious or cares about what other people think.  I love the kids programming at my church because it has led both of my children to Christ and has continued to foster their faith in a way that fits them.  That said, these kids sat through a full church service for two hours, both in worship and in listening to FanFan preach.  He spoke on Mark 9:35:  Jesus sat down and called the twelve disciples tohim.  He said, "Whoever wants to be the most important must make others moreimportant than themselves.  They must serve everone else."  Almost all of the service was in Creole so I wasn't able to pull out what he said, but know he had the attention of all the children. I've said all week to the team off and on that things make my heart happy.  Seeing FanFan lead a service... my heart is so full.  God gives us each gifts-- and my goodness, has He done such a wonderful job with developing FanFan's.  I had a couple of babies fall asleep on my lap and another doing my hair from the seat behind me.  Why not, right?  After the service, we didn't spend a lot of time, but I was able to get a photo with my Ronaldo.  I just love him.  He is my boy at Grace Village.  So sweet. 
We then took a drive up the mountain.  I love this drive.  God's creativity did not miss Haiti.  The mountain is gorgeous.  We took in shopping on our way.  I have a hard time with bartering in some ways, but also really like it in others.  The creativity of these people is amazing. 
In all of our words of the day, I was thinking of words for my team as we finish out the week...

Jake- gentle giant.  He had a way with the kids.  The babies just clung to him.
Renae- Special.  What a heart this woman has for the kids as well.  She was so special.  Just a look or touch from her made the days of the babies. 
Diane- Transparent.  This woman is so wonderful.  She says what is on her heart and mind.  She is blunt, but not to a fault or that is hurtful in any way.  What I appreciate about Diane is she is an essential activator had heart.  She sees something that she doesn't like, and moves.  There are two kids and a woman in need of a matress. Not to worry. Diane is on it.  Beautiful heart.  I loved watching the progression in her through the week. 
Amy: Godsend.  Amy was a late addition to the team and she is amazing. What a heart. What a blessing.  A bosom friend.  Confidant.  Pure in heart.  Purposeful here in Haiti.  I love her. 
Bob- There isn't just one word for Bob.  So many have excuses for why they can't come, can't do something, just can't.  Bob is amazing.  He is wonderful for how he communicates without words sometimes, and makes our lives special by being in it.
Cindy- Blessed.  As a mom, it has been interesting to watch Cindy and Lauren together- a daughter leading the trip with a mother on it.  Who Lauren is shows part of who Cindy is as well- she has done such a great job with who Lauren is.  Blessed also to see Lauren in action, see what breaks her heart, see the things down here and allowing God to speak in and through her.  She is a dear soul that made the team special.
Jeni- Smile. This woman smiles with her whole heart and is just wonderful. Her heart is so good.  She has a tender heart and has a light inside her that refuses to go out.  The kids ministry at Eagle Brook gave the kids glow bracelets to remind them to be the light in a world of darkness and Amy has been that person on this trip. 
Laura- Soft/ Gentle.  The gentle heart and spirit of Laura is beautiful.  I am thrilled to know she is going into education.  I love it.  I think it's great.  Just what God made her to do. 
Carly- Joy.  She brought laughter and fun and heart into everything she did this week.  She is beautiful inside and out.  I loved how God brought her to the wound clinic and in the work with the elderly to affirm what she should be doing for her vocation.
Jerrilynn- Surrender/Courageous.  There are many things that could have kept Jerrilynn in Minnesota that were going to be challenges for the week- heat, driving, new places, new and different food... a host of things that could have prevented her from serving, but they didn't.  She loved on babies, helped with water trucks, worked through motion sickness, and immersed herself in shining a light to the people in Haiti. 
Lauren- Called.  It almost doesn't need explanation.  Lauren is doing exactly what she is meant to do and I loved watching how God uses people, but specifically her.  She is such a phenomenal person and I pray for direction for her to see exactly where God wants to use her. 
Jenn- There aren't words for who this special lady is to me.  Having experienced twice Haiti with Jenn, she just makes my heart happy.  After our first trip, she had said that she was coming back- she was going to lead and it moves me to tears how she has been obedient.  God is doing some really great things in and through her in her obedience.  I love it.  I love her. 
As for me, I can walk away from this week purposeful.  Last trip, I was not ready to go back home because it didn't feel as though we did enough-- I didn't fix it all-- I didn't make it all better and I had no idea how I could make it better or where to go from here.  This time, I have direction.  I am leaving with purpose and direction, knowing like I said yesterday, that it isn't permanent. I didn't even know if I would be back ever again a year and a half ago and this time- absolutely.  I promised Ronaldo I would be back for him. And Wilson, Nick, Brunet, Maxim, and for the babies of my heart down here- Daphne, Danah, and my self named Max in Cite Soleil.  I immediately thought of this one song... the title escapes me, but the chorus says-- "All I know is I'm not home yet... this is not where I belong." It really speaks to being in our temporary home of this Earth, but in many ways, this rings true for being here and being in Minnesota.  Minnesota is where my family and the rest of my life is but Haiti is where I find the purest form of a connection with God. 

All I know is I'm not home yet.... soon to be where the babies of my body are.  Dreaming dreams as I go home with a purpose.  Thank you to God does not seem quite adequate, but my heart is so full.  My soul is refreshed.  My spirit renewed. Glwa pou Bondye.  (Glory to God)


Sunday, May 20, 2012

Day 6: Home

I've had the song "Dream a Little Dream of Me" stuck in my head off and on all day.  Goodness.  (see previous post for reference). 

I honestly woke up with the same migraine I had gone to bed with last night.  When/ if I get a headache I get a headache.  After writing a bit, resting and just taking things a little slowly to start the day, I went in my room and had a talk with God about how the day was going to go- with or without this going on.  I just wanted to know in case... turns out, it was to be without a headache for the day.  I can't tell you how thankful and happy it makes my heart to not have a migraine. 

Our day consisted of preparing and bringing the orphans of Grace Village to the beach.  Not a small task mind you as they out numbered us 44 to 11 team members-- I am thankful for Tory (?sp of her name- I just know she's fantastic), our three Haitian boys, Mickey, Jule, and FanFan for bringing up the number.  Once we got to Grace Village, there was the process of getting all the kids and people loaded onto the taptap and bus that had been hired to drive us.  Our first stop?  Completely full beach.  Not necessarily the safest environment for the kids with so many of them versus so few of us.  We just kept driving, stopping a few times, praying all the way, and then finding a private beach that would let us come in for what we inteded to pay.  My family used to road trip a lot, and it reminded me a little of our quest for a hotel on our Michigan trip, only add 40 more children, 20 degrees, very little breeze, and a Haitian landscape.  Also different?  Spontaneous worship of the 30 kids on the bus.  There aren't words sufficient to describe the faith and the moment of having kids break out in song singing literally Glory to God. 

Our beach time was mostly like any other- just with more kids to watch over.  It felt a bit like my summer camp days in many ways and I now understand the stress the adults had of making certain we all came out of the water.  The kids had a great time with the floaties and various water toys we had along with.  I mostly pretended to be a lifeguard of sorts- holding the line of how far out they could go and setting kids back on solid ground when they went out farther than they though for depth.  It was much more comfortable for me to supervise the play rather than engage in it, and wonderful knowing others were doing the same thing on the beach and a Bob, Tory, and I in the water.  We had lunches packed for the kids, and after eating and a little more play time, we made our way back to Grace Village. 

Haiti wouldn't be the same without a flat tire I am coming to realize.  The bus got a flat not quite half way back to Grace Village.  We pulled over to the side of the road without any water, food, or much of anything "to do" by American standards. What amazes me is the kids.  They listened and behaved and took care of each other so well.  There is very little fighting or even bickering between them and they were helping each other dress at the beach after swimming.  After about an hour and a half, we were once again on our way- having had the taptap come back for us.  I am still amazed and laugh a little at how many people the Haitians are used to having crammed into one of these things. We weren't even close to full with the kids by Haitian standards, but my goodness, by American standards?  Very crowded and not the smoothest of roads.  I felt like I was continually falling on Nick (which is probably better than the two boys sitting next to me as I stood).  I wish I could bring back the "go with the flow" of Haiti into my every day life.  Beach is too crowded? That's ok. We just keep driving.  Flat tire?  That's ok. We'll have a game of keep away.  Thirsty kids?  There's a roadside stop with water bags available to purchase.  Get somewhere late?  We're on Haiti time- when I get there I'll get there.  A small car could fit in some of the pot holes (using that loosely) here. 

Home:  I am feeling as if it's ok to leave here because I'll be back to my second home in Haiti again sooner rather than later again this time.  Home.  Haiti feels like a home here.  It's where God meets me, meets us, and does some really great things.  Home.  I am still choked up that Grace Village is home to the orphans.  They have one finally.  Home.  While I miss my Caribou, it will be a while before I am able to do some things again... and maybe that is what I give up.  The money I spend on coffee could be so much better utilized down here.  Conviction of stewardship is coming back strong this time.  Home.  I miss my kids.  I have seen Chase and Chloe in each of the kids here- each day has shown a child that reminded me of both of them and I want little else than to see them.... perfection of sorts would be to have them here with me, but not yet. 

Song of the day: Strong Enough by Matthew West

I know I'm not strong enough to be
everything that I'm supposed to be
I give up
I'm not stong enough
Hands of mercy won't you cover me
Lord right now I'm asking you to be
Strong enough
Strong enough
For the both of us
Thank You Lord for making us strong.  Making us able to do work.  Providing enough for the day.  Stretching us to do what is uncomfortable here to bring You glory and fulfill what you have created us for.  My heart is so full of thanks, praise, and glory in what you have done in us, through us, and will continue to do as we return home.  May we each keep what you have shown our hearts and minds.  I pray each of us will be moved to action, myself in need of the most help, for what breaks your heart.  I love and praise you Lord. 

Amen and Amen. 

See you at home. 


Saturday, May 19, 2012

Day 5: Dream

Many days, my blogs come through as a way to just communicate my heart and mind- a part of the process.  Today, my words come from a distict prayer for strength and courage to speak out loud (on paper) pieces that have been on my heart for a long time. 
Our day started in Cite Soleil.  We made two stops with the water truck.  The weather has been really warm down here.  While this doesn't bother me, it has been too warm for some on the team at times.  More importantly though, it is too warm for the Haitians.  Having every so often been in a period of need on an American level, I understand to some degree the panic that sets in when you have no idea when the next provision will come.  For them, it was water.  The first stop we made was more desperate than they had been on Tuesday for water.  I don't know why outside of the rain factor that would impact this for these people.  "Respekte liy lan"  (respect the line) was a common phrase we were saying today, and at times shouting a bit to be heard.  Liy Lan ended up being the shortened form of it.... but this is where I have a huge amount of grace and patience.  To not know or understand or have fear of not having enough is exceptionally difficult to wade through, especially with children. I have never been in want like they have, but I have feared how I was going to be able to take care of my children in these years of single motherhood.  I climbed onto the top of the water truck to gain additional photos of the landscape in some ways.  Our second stop was Cite 17.  This was my first stop here in Haiti in the field a year and a half ago. Cite 17 is really hard for everyone simply because you see homes built on trash.  There is a trash walk of sorts bringing you out to the coast line.  The poverty is overwhelming, but at the same time, you see and experience each child being so selfless.  They get so concerned about where we're stepping or if we get dirty that they try to clean us off.  I have noticed this now twice at this stop in particular.  It is amazing these children.  There is so much more that could be said, and perhaps should be said, but it is almost impossible to describe the people versus the surroundings adequately.

After the two water truck deliveries, we had time to go for a quick swim in the pool.  I was able to connect with Jenn for a bit today and in this connection, speak about what Haiti has meant and what I am leaving with my second time down here.  Jenn told me of this book she read- the Dream Giver by Bruce Wilkenson.  It is an essential parable of a man who has been given this dream and is told by many he cannot and should not persue this dream.  Instead, he does just that, overcoming obstacles and on his own.  (Ironically or not so much, I read the words to Oh The Places You'll Go this morning too.  For real.) I told her of some of my dreams and things I hope to bring to Haiti- making things to go in the TapTap to make it at least a little more comfortable, figuring out how to be specific in raising funds for the water truck, self-sufficiency at the guesthouse or at Grace Village or in the community of Titanyen.  Ideas.  I ws telling her of dreams that scare me for what they could mean back home.  Since high school, it has been on my heart to build an orphanage.  I don't know the need.  I don't know the legalities.  I know nothing outside of this burning to see to it that every child has a bed, a meal, clothes, and a chance for opportunity to change what may otherwise be a pre-destined outcome of living on the streets.  I have this gut feeling that while there are really great people that have done just this, that there are many more who are without these basic needs being met.  Seeing where the children live here, I can no longer sit back and be ok with children at home having nothing when we have so much and so many ways to fix that problem.  There is not a way for me to change the housing of the probably thousands of children in Cite Soleil.  I refuse to believe children in Minnesota have to live the same way. 

Our day finished out with a trip to the Home for Sick and Dying, dinner, a trip to market for a few, and word of the day.  I talked with a mother, through Wilson, at the Home for Sick and Dying and heard her story.  It is one that we would or could be quick to judge, but at the same time, I found myself telling her she was a good mother and clearly cared for her children to even be at the Home for Sick and Dying.  Little Daphne was so cute-- under weight and very small for being 18 months, but this momma made my heart happy to be doing something about it. 

I don't often share the words of other teammates, but have to share this great story.  One of the team woke up feeling really sick and essentially hurting.  She was looking to still go out- really feeling like she was supposed to- but praying for how she was going to be able to.  A group of us prayed over her- asking for God to remove where the devil may be getting in-- also for a host of angels to come down and protect and heal her- remove where she was unwell and during the prayer, her stomach no longer hurt.  She took medication with her for the rest of the day, and she was fine the rest of the day.  God can work miracles.  God can send His angels down.  God can do anything.  Anything.  Amazing what God will do.  I still recognize the answer sometimes is no, but I don't doubt the goodness of God to bring about the desires of His children if we ask and it is part of His good and perfect plan.  God is so good. 

The song yesterday was "Take my life and let it be... all for You and for Your glory.  Take my life and let it be Yours.  Glory to God.  Glory to God...." God, we give you glory and praise and honor for miracles worked, healing performed, broken hearts, teams that grow close, hugs and comfort as we walk through what you're trying to teach us here, and dreams that are given that you don't let die.  In all these things, let us constantly strive to do your will and have the courage to step out boldly knowing You qualify the called not call the qualified.  Your Word speaks to that over and over.  Please continue to move in and through us as we finish out our week here. 

Take my life and let it be all for You and Your glory. 
Amen and Amen. 

Friday, May 18, 2012

Day Four: Fulfilled

I feel like a broken record of sorts with my posts, but I love it here.  I know that sounds and seems foreign to many, but to that end.... I would say come.  See it once.  You may not love it- it may not be your passion or what God has called you for, but I haven't met someone that says a trip to Haiti was a waste.  Many say they can see why people that have gone before will speak of Haiti with love. 

My word for yesterday was Fulfilled.  Our day began like any other- I was back in the kitchen, which I think is what made the day "feel" right for me down here.  My previous trip, I spent much time in the kitchen helping with breakfast or dinner, so not doing that a lot this time was (my first word was tough) different.  We spent more time just preparing to be ready as Jenn met with others for possible connections for future teams in Haiti. 

We drove out to Titanyen yesterday.  The first leg of our journey brought us to the mass grave sites for those who died in the earthquake as well as from the cholera outbreak that followed.  It is said about 300,000 are buried there.  To be standing in the midst of a place of great loss and then look out to see nothing but beauty felt in some ways very contradictory and in others, just right that as part of a final resting place, they were given peace. 

Our next stop brought us to one of the schools Healing Haiti supports.  They were off from school when we got there- it is flag day today- but we were given a tour of the school and spoke with Jean Garrie (? Sp. I spelled it phonetically kind of).  I love the tenacity of the Haitians.  They will do everything possible to see to it their children have an education, including college, and then have an employment rate of about 10%.  They continue to press forward with dreams and goals, and how they hope it to be.  I wish we could all have and see the gift of pursuing something with your whole heart and being.  We too often, and myself the most guilty, expect for someone else to love and nourish and grow our dreams of what we would like to accomplish, forgetting that we have all we need in front of us to make this happen. We are not living in poverty.  We have grants and loans and an economy that will support a dream that has enough energy behind it.  Will that mean perfection and a smooth road?  No.  But my goodness.... we have a leg up simply by having the blessing of being American. 

Next (busy day!) we drove to the elderly Healing Haiti cares for.  The expected life expectancy down here is about 52 (which means I would be without my dad, two sets of grandparents, or have memories and know any of my great grandparents).  In having such a short life expectancy though, many of the elderly are in a place of almost being orphaned themselves- they have a medical condition or age that leave them in a position of great difficulty to care for themselves.  We brought food and water to five different people, and all of them beautiful.  I was in the tent for a couple, and rubbed lotion on the legs of a woman who has a couple of bumps that are causing her pain.  I dreamt of my doctor being down here last night to tell me what was wrong with her.  We prayed over each of them, thanking God for them, the light they bring, and joy in their hearts amidst dire circumstances. 

Our day ended with our trip to Grace Village.  This was Alyn Shannon's dream for her Haiti.  In my words, that there would be a place of beauty to care for the orphaned children and community of Titanyen.  They have a boys and girls house, a feeding center that will/is being used as a school, and are building a fish pond that will also water the greenhouse.  I have a heart for self-sufficiency as passed down from my parents, so having their own ecosystem to care for them makes my heart so full.  They also have a playground and an area to play soccer. It is my understanding they will also have a space for the elderly to be brought here that are in need of a higher level of care.  When I was here before, this was just concrete structures, no windows, doors, finishes, paint, or kids.  It is amazing to see the tangible structure of one woman's dream.  I had asked last time the question over and over what God was trying to teach me in all this because that was her question.  My heart is so full to see this built and "done".  A ministry is never really done expanding and building, but like I said, what they have is tangible evidence of one couple's heart and vision.  Alyn, your heart must be bursting to see what God has blessed your dream with. 

Fulfilled.  For many reasons.  My first is the fulfilled dream of Alyn Shannon.  How amazing.  How wonderful.  How perfect.  The tangible evidence that one person can make a difference on the world.  Grace Village is a real place.  Thank you dear Lord for your hand on this ministry to see their dreams come to life.  Beautiful.  Overwhelming.  And perfect.  Fulfilled.  We filled the needs for a day- even if it was just one day- for each of the elderly we visited.  It may just be for a day, a moment, but it is more than if we hadn't come at all.  Fulfilled.  My heart.  I have struggled since being here with not being able to fix it all.  To put America into how to make Haiti better in my eyes.  The thing is... Haiti has always been better.  They have struggles and misery, but then so do we back home.  They just don't have all the stuff to clutter seeing God for who He is.  To be able to wholeheartedly rely on Him for enough for the day.  To be ok with what God intended to be enough.  Fulfilled.  My purpose.  God has given me such peace in this trip- this journey.  To have a willing heart to know I can do something.  To have God show me so many things in how I can share this Haiti with the rest in my world and those I am to meet yet.  I don't know when. I don't know how.  I know very little outside that this is my haven where God meets me.  Or perhaps, when I meet God- completely unencumbered by the rest of what I have to do.  God just shows me where and what I am to be for the day.  My heart is so full.  I am anxious to go out again today knowing I will be back.  A peace that surpasses understanding is what I prayed for even in my blog three days ago.  Dear Lord- you are the provider of every good and perfect thing.  I love this. 

And last but not least- the song for the day-- Overcome.  It's a new one we are singing at church. 
Savior, worthy of honor and glory, worthy of all our praise, You overcame
Jesus, awesome in power forever,awesome and great is Your name, You overcame

Power in hand speaking the Father's plan
You're sending us out, light in this broken land

We will overcome by the blood of the Lamb and the word of our testimony, everyone overcome

Dear Lord.  For all that we are.  For all that we have.  For all that you are.  For everything You are able to do and overcome in and through us to do Your work.  Thank you.  My heart will never be the same with a renewed purpose.  We can overcome these things that break your heart through what You can do alone.  I love and praise You. 

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Final day in Haiti

This journey has finally come to an end and it saddens me. I never would of thought I would ever do something as amazing as this trip. I met a group of awesome ladies and you cant forget Bob!! Only staying for three whole days seems like I have been here for way longer and I wish I could stay and help more people and bring more smiles to the young little children that made this trip even 10 times better. I have always liked little kids but the way that they act and how happy they get to see you is a really good feeling. As we drove through the street they all would say "Hey you". Every single one and it felt like we were celebrities. I felt like we were in a different world everything was the complete opposite as home. I thought it was so weird that all the little kids would just rome the streets with no parents in sight but on the flipside all of them would always want to be around you and wanted you to hold them and love them. I never though I could have so much fun with them and I wasnt even able to speak to them which was the wierd part.

Day one was by far my favorite day from waking up in the morning and going right into the heart of the city. The first stop was the busiest one of the day and we stayed there for the longest. The thing I liked about every stop to that we did was there was about three of four kids that would cling onto you right when you got out of the van. Also no matter how little the kid was, if you needed to hold the hose or move the buckets out of the way they would try and help and i have never seen anything like it. They would follow;me around everywhere and I absolutly loved it. All of the kids on the first day were the ones who made the trip the best part of the whole thing and they will never leave my mind. Overall, seeing what I've seen will make me more forturnate for what we have to go back to and i will never have more fun with any other kids then the ones that I have had the pleasure of playing with and I am forever greatful for having that opportunity.



Wow.  My word for the day is complete.  Leaving here in February I felt a bit incomplete.  The elderly broke my heart and I wished I could come back and put that heart back together.  That is what happened today. 

Visiting Edmund and being able to pray with him (well, kinda pray... lots of tears fell on the muddy floor), made my visit complete.  We brought the elderly food, water and prayers.  It is amazing to see how impacted they are by one small meal and some love.  We take food and housing for granted.  Thank you Lord for putting moments in my life like today to help me realize how blessed I am. 


Day Four: Emotions (Cindy)

How can I put into words the emotions I felt after visiting a mass grave site, going to visit and bring medicine, food, water and love to the poorest of the elderly in Haiti,  and then driving through the
streets of Haiti to visit orphaned children at the beautiful Grace Village? So much in one day - we were all pretty emotionally spent at the end of the day. To say I am making a "small" difference is the truth - it is very small-in a place that needs so much help.  But that's what God calls us to do- to just step out and try to make a difference - have faith in Him and He will provide the rest.  Before I left and at the start of the week, I questioned myself - Why am I doing this?  Today, my answers came.  To see the
beautiful brown eyes looking at you with hope and the love that pours from these people because you brought them water, food and a hug is amazing to say the least.  I never understood why people did this, or why they become so passionate about it - I get it now...

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Day Three: Optimistic

Oh my.... I love this place.  I just do. 

Today started with a little something we call church.  Haiti style.  Couldn't understand a thing, but they know how to worship.  Hallelujah is universal and just as powerful sung silently, in a traditional country church, a contemporary mega-church, or through the speakers blaring in Port au Prince.  The worship is beautiful.  They pray for each other with reckless abandon- turned together holding hands almost shouting their prayers for how passionate they are.  If nothing else, the experience to worship with reckless abandon has struck a deep cord.  I had the privilege to pray for one Miss Amy who has become a bosom friend as Anne of Green Gables so eloquently put it.  She came in place of someone else, and with all that is in me knows and recognizes the hand of God in this.  She has been such a blessing to me as a relator in having been here for a second trip as well. 

After breakfast, we packed up to go to Gertrude's. It is my understanding that in Haiti, the children with special needs- be it a physical or mental handicap (among completely healthy children) often are dropped at hospitals because they cannot be cared for otherwise.  Because the hospitals do not have the means to care for these children, it can mean that they just won't.  Enter Gertrude.  She is a nun who visits the hospitals and rescues these babies (using the word loosely as my children at almost 9 and 11 are my "babies").  The thought of being or parenting a special needs child takes a certain amount of skill and capability.  In a poverty stricken country?  Near impossible to adequately care for each of these kids.  This has otherwise before been an experience I somewhat stayed shut to.  It is outside my comfort zone, so I thought I would be content just taking pictures.  Best laid plans when on a mission trip meant to stretch and break and be uncomfortable means God has a way different idea of what this would be.  I was grabbed onto and climbed up by a little boy who held on for all he was worth today.  I did get some picture taking in, but it was not how I imagined.  What I saw was an amazing team once again.  Cindy, Renae, and Carly have such sweet hearts for the babies.  It is so powerful to watch them lose themselves here and allow God to work in them.  Pretty powerful stuff. 

We had a break around lunch time which turned into swimming for the team and time to decompress before the rest of the afternoon.  The water felt wonderful and the break was a nice one.  After time swimming and together (technology free), we prepared for the Home for Sick and Dying Babies. 

The last trip here, going to this place was the toughest place for me.  I hurt so badly having misunderstood the mortality rate there. I was pleasantly corrected that it is actually quite low and they are able to restore health to many of the malnourished children who come in.  It isn't perfect, but it is much better than their circumstances otherwise might be.  I am so thankful for each of these nuns and their life of service.  They are, in their own right, amazing people. I held a little boy once we first arrived, went into the room of baby girls, and then went downstairs. The downstairs holds the babies that are in need of medical care- some are in rather serious condition, others are in fair to stable condition.  I was approached by a nun who just looked at me and said -- here- she's crying to be held.  After a time rocking the little girl while standing, Wilson, one of the Healing Haiti men, had me come outside since it was cooler out there. And there I sat.  With Daniah who is four.  And weighs about the same as my year and half old nephew, Noah.  My heart breaks at how little they are... but in all of this, my word of optimistic rings through. 

In a country known for the poverty and poor conditions, there are children who need help- the sick, the orphaned, the least of these that Christ talks about.  But from these conditions, hope springs eternal.  There is the possiblity of adoption for them.  And right now?  Their needs are being met.  They are getting medical care.  They are getting fed.  Bathed.  Diaper changes.  And held by people who come simply to hold and love on them.  Some of them have mothers that come, but that are unable to medically or physically care for them.  In their visits, they too will love on and hold their babies. What is so interesting to me is that they would give up their children if it meant the kids could in fact come to the US.  The love them enough to give them up, time and again, to not see them in sacrifice of the babies having a better future.  We hold so tightly to our children, perhaps that is the lesson God is trying to teach us all.  What am I holding so tightly that others would freely give in order that that thing could prosper? Flourish? What are each of us clinging to so hard that we are suffocating what could be as perfect and beautiful as a rose in bloom?  What needs letting go? 

Optimism springs hope eternal for this place.  For what God might do in each of us.  For what God may use the words of the others here and the stories to come back.  For the desires of each of our hearts, minds, and what He has perfectly planned and called us all to do. I am so thankful for the confirmation of the called for this week. 

PS-- the soundtrack for the day?  "Tell me.... once again... who I am to you... who I am to you.  Tell me... lest I forget...I belong to you.  To You."  Jason Gray.  Remind Me Who I Am. 

Be blessed at home.  Be blessed here.  Hope springs eternal in the promises of the Father who will never forget that you are His.  Created. Called. Loved.  Saved. His. 


Completely Covered

How does one begin to explain the love they have for a place and a people that so few get to experience?
How do you put into words the way God is moving in my life as well as these amazing servants I am here with this week?
I sometimes cant think of what to say or do but God is always right there completely covering me with His love, strength, grace, wisdom, peace and a purpose for my life.
I feel complete, whole, full, alive and many other emotions when I get to come to this beautiful country and fully surrender my life to His will. I have learned through my past experience and this one that God is always moving, always working and always delivering just what we need when we need it. If you let Him move in you and through you only amazing things will happen.
What a blessing it is to serve Him here and ALL glory, honor and praise to Him who is SO great!
Day Three (Carly) - Confirmation

Today was Gertrudes and wound clinic day for part of our team. One thing that will stick with me from Gertrudes is a little girl named Christina. We made an instant connection, and I taught her how to say my name! This little girl, and many other children at Gertrudes, touched my heart and put smiles on all of our faces. It's amazing how much these children brightened my day.

Lauren, Jake, Bob, and I were the part of the team that decided to take on the challenges of the wound clinic- cleaning and dressing wounds for many injured Haitians. I was so proud of everyone that came together to help heal these people; it was an amazing experience and felt great to be a part of something so meaningful. This is where my word of the day, confirmation, comes into play. Being a part of the wound clinic team and helping to heal wounds confirmed that I am on the right track in life. I think that one's health, and the health of the people we love is one thing that is most important in life, and often something we don't think about every day. To be a part of a team that can improve someone's health is so meaningful to me. So today was confirmation that pursuing a career in healthcare is what I am meant to do. Today, we truly helped heal Haiti.

Well, today is my third day in Haiti and there are so many things to say, and I believe I've been through the gamut of emotions, but it has been so amazing and eye opening.  Today we awoke at 5:30am for the tent church service which began at 6am.  Although we could not understand what was being said, we could just feel the energy and love for God that the Haitians have, how amazing! 

After church we headed over to Gertrude's; a home for disabled children.  There were so many children to be played with and held.   They had so much energy and it was so great to see them smile.  I was on swing duty which they seemed to love.  They did not want to stop swinging so it was hard to get them to take turns but I had a chance to push two boys on the swing.  One sang to me as I pushed him and the other did not speak, but I later found out that he enjoyed my company as I went to hold a new baby and he came and sat next to me and wanted more of my attention.  This really touched my heart as well as holding this new little baby that had nothing but smiles to give.  It was hard to know that they are orphaned children, but eases your heart knowing that the people there take good care of them.  Once we left Gertrude's we had a break and enjoyed a little time in the pool at the hotel across the street, which gave us some time to bond even more as a team.  What a great team to be apart of!

The second half of our day consisted of visiting the Home for the Sick and Dying Babies.  This was my first real bout of tears on the trip.  I walked into the home and saw all of the babies that wanted to be held and just felt like I wanted to hold them all but did not have enough arms.  I had one child on my lap and two on each side of me.  I know I keep saying this, but how amazing!  They just wanted to be hugged and loved and I had lots to give.  It was so hard to put them down as they would cry because they just wanted to be held, but I made my way downstairs to the babies that were the sickest.  As I walked into the room my heart started breaking as I saw these babies with IVs hooked up to them and so malnourished.  I saw one right away that I wanted to hold so I picked him up and brought him outside.  He felt so small in my arms and just burning up due to a fever.  I didn't want to put him back down, but again I knew he would also be well taken care of.

We ended our day with a great meal of spaghetti and garlic bread, our word of the day and a great picture slide show.  So excited to see what tomorrow brings with the elders and visiting the children at the orphanages.
What a day!!  I can't even to begin to explain what we have experienced so far on our Haiti mission.  Our pictures will tell a better story of our journey, but for now I will try my best.  Today was day 2.
Our day started at 6am worship in the large local tent.  As I didn't understand any words, I was moved by the actions of these most faithful followers.  Their dancing, shouting, singing, chanting and praising the Lord was a great witness of how hopeful and dedicated the Haitians are.  Quite an experience.
After another amazing breakfast by our wonderful cooks, we were off to our first mission of the day.  It was our pleasure to have the opportunity to play and spend quality time with handicapped children at Gertrudes Home.  Walking into this home, I wasn't really sure what to expect.  We all connected  to our own special child and got to work.  As I tried to take it all in, I noticed a little boy on the floor, unable to walk or talk, but just looked at me with his big eyes.  He was my buddy for the next hour or so.  We enjoyed walking outside, playing with a ball, and simply tickling and getting a smile out of my buddy.  My next focus was on the sweetest most angelic baby I think I have ever seen!   Baby Estella had been dropped off at the home a few day ago, being 4 months old and weighing 6 lbs.  She was the most perfect baby in every way.  My heart was filled with joy holding and loving little Estella.  She was so content and happy to just be.  Couldn't help but wonder over and over what will happen of this little being, so sweet and innocent.  Very hard to leave her.  Estella will forever be in my prayers.

We had a break for a few hours this afternoon and were able to enjoy the pool at the hotel.  Pool felt great and was a nice break after an emotional morning!

Our next mission was to hold babies at the home for the sick and dying.  What a facility this is!  Incredible sisters take such good care of these sweet babies.  I had a wonderful connection with baby Dania, she was quite the singer and didn't  like to be put down.  When I first entered the room I was taken back by all the cribs lined up with the sweetest babies.  Some crying, some sleeping, some smiling.  Surprisingly, I felt peaceful leaving these babies knowing that they are well cared for, prayed for constantly and loved.

Emotions abound and I know I will be a different person when I return home. 
Thank you Haiti!!

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Day Two- Brave (Carly) My word of the day today was brave. Most of this team has never been to Haiti, and I think I speak for most when I say that water truck day can be a little scary because you are so unsure of what to expect, and our comfort zones were definitely tested- but every one of these team members hopped out of the truck and did their job. We loved the children, we delivered fresh water, we cared for those needing our attention. It was almost as if our team put aside any fears, and showed true bravery by just jumping right in. Today was a day I will never forget. As soon as we hopped out of the truck, kids swarmed us, begging to be picked up and held. The first little boy that I picked up was unclothed, and seemed desperate for some attention. I gave him a big hug and he hugged me back, refusing to be put down. The connection with these children is almost instant. They are so lovable and so kind- and it's contagious. I felt as though I wanted to pick up every child and show them any sort of compassion that I could. As we got back on the truck to leave, a few children grabbed our faces and kissed us goodbye. The day was hard and emotional, but so rewarding for this team, and every Haitian today that we helped. I can't wait to see who else we help tomorrow. -Carly

Overjoyed, Blessed, Loved... There wasn't a word today. Day Two...

Ever have one of those days? 

Our day started like they all will- breakfast together, devotions, and debriefing of the day.  Then the day happened. 

Today was the water trucks.  I love them.  It is a little piece of tangible life that we can give to the Haitians.  I love it.  Activator is a strength-- being able to physically do something is so wonderful and makes my heart happy.  I was also excited to see the first time teammates see and experience this-- and be able to hopefully capture them with my camera. 

One of the blessings the Haitians have received recently is rain.  This made the water truck stops not nearly as critical this time around- it was not as crowded or panicked as it was before.  The first stop was one of ordered chaos- filling the buckets, lined buckets, kids.  Lots and lots of kids.  The team was surrounded by dozens of kids- with hand slapping games, hand holding, holding kids, and just generally loving on them.  Kids literally make these stops for me.  They are selfless, openly loving, and smiling at the "blanc" that we all are.  I found myself seeing the team all in the same... only them smiling at the love and heart of the Haitians.  It was beautiful.  I can't tell you how beautiful it was to see each person interact with each other and the people of Haiti.  It can draw tears.  These people are such a blessing.  

The second stop... Well.  The thing is... I have talked to a few about this little boy that I saw on our first stop the last time I was here.  I have dreamt of him. I have been longing to see him... and then we were not going to his stop.  Except...he appeared.  Wearing the same colored shirt, no pants, and grabbed my face and hands just the same as last time.  I am not really a crier in public, but my goodness... I sobbed when I realized it was him.  He knew and remembered me... and again did not leave my side through most of our time there.  In the midst of holding my Haitian boy, a group of girls started touching my hair.  Not only do I really not cry in public, I also have a physical reaction to almost anyone touching my hair.  They pulled the bun out that I had my hair wrapped in, and started combing it with their fingers.  Not satisfied with the results, this happened not once, but twice, all the time holdinng my boy.  As we went to leave, he came with me to the truck, kissed him goodbye, and hopped into the back of the truck.  His mother put him on the truck to go with me.  A mother of two children myself, my heart ripped wide open...He wasn't supposed to be at this stop. And not only was he there, but wanted to come with me. 

Stop three?  A blur of sorts... This stop felt like endless buckets.  After taking pictures, I helped with the water truck, running the hose to fill people's buckets.  It seemed like we stopped four or five times in that there were no more buckets... and then there were more that reappeared.  There was this one little girl- she couldn't have been much older than 5 or 6- that came back time and again with new buckets- filling and carrying/ sliding them herself.  It was amazing.  The strength of the people down here is amazing. 

We finished our water truck day early and spent part of our afternoon visiting together- talking through the day and what we had seen.  A couple of water trucks came to the guest house here, and then one of Healing Haiti's trucks arrived... with FANFAN!!  I had anticipated not seeing him either because he is going to school and spends much more of his time at Grace Village.  I literally screamed and hugged and etc... The world is such a better place just by having FanFan in it.  It was such a wonderful surprise...

For all the events of the day, the blessing and gifts and love just came pouring down from heaven.  Dear Lord.  Use my hands... use my feet.... to serve the least of these.  I'll follow you into the world.  Continue to break my heart wide open.  Please.  I commit my heart and this week for what more you would want to do in and through me.  All in. At the same time, please bless and protect and keep my little boy.  I love him as I do Chase and Chloe... knowing full well I can't touch how much You love him God.  Protect and keep my own babies.  Thank you for this day.  I am overwhelmed and humbled by your grace and love outpoured today. 

Much love. 


Monday, May 14, 2012

Day One - Anticipation (Carly)

Unlike Kristi, I have never been to Haiti, so my word of the day is: anticipation. I have been looking forward to this day for a while now; it seems like just yesterday our team met for the first time. It also felt like today took forever, the anticipation was killing me, but we have finally arrived. I am anticipating meeting the children, and all of the other wonderful people here in Haiti. I cannot wait to see what kind of a difference, however small, we can all make in the lives of many people here.

So far, I am amazed by what I see in Haiti, and I am so glad we are here to help make a difference. Our team is amazing, and we are already very close- I cannot wait to see what the rest of the week brings our way.

Tomorrow is a very important day, as we are delivering fresh, clean water to many people. I believe that immersing myself in the Haitian culture will be extremely eye opening. Things that I take for granted every day, such as clean water, will suddenly mean so much more. I cannot wait to experience these life-changing events with this team, and immerse myself in this culture who so badly needs our love and care. In the short while I have been here, I have experienced very little of Haiti, but tomorrow I will be totally immersed. I am going to bed tonight with an open heart and willing attitude to make a difference in the lives of the people here.


Day One: Content

Oh Haiti, how I have missed thee...

It has been a year and six months since I both first and last experienced Haiti.  In the months that have passed, we have had "the eggs" ala Jean's specialty I picked up while here, prayed for teams, supported members coming down, and been a bit broken that either my distraction or impatience at it not being God's timing for the second trip. 

Until today. 

My small world some days is like a soundtrack.  The song for today is one that goes a little something like-- "You are good, you are good, when there's nothing good in me..." I thought of the imperfect, not good weeks that have led to this day of coming back and being part of an amazing team.  I thought of my imperfections, short comings, my lack, my own brokenness, my selfishness... the totality of my sin.  In the past these things have meant that I have remained frozen.  I have not moved forward.  I have had areas where I've pulled a Joshua as Jason Anderson preached this past weekend- I've allowed myself to become too confident in what I have and has been given rather than rely on God's goodness, grace, and provision.  My distractions have prevented preparation for this day. 

And then we flew over the North side of Haiti.  Having spent much of my flying time in prayer today for clarity of heart, mind, soul, and spirit... God-- you are what is good.  You are always what is good in these trips.  You are what is good in this country.  You are what is good in these people and their faith despite their circumstances.  God- you alone are what is going to be able to do any good in me and in us in this week. 

Resting in these promises alone... Content.  With all that is in me... the timing couldn't have been better.  This is an amazing team.  These are amazing, hand picked, people.  This is an amazing country and people we are here to serve.  Thank you, God, for the peace that surpasses all understanding, and a contentment that knows no limits in doing what we are specifically called to do.

You are good... you are good, when there's nothing good in me. 

To God be the glory in this team, this trip, and what is to come.