Wednesday, March 11, 2020

Rely on Christ Day 2- Water Truck!!

It is really hard to put into words the experience of being here in Haiti. Today was water truck day.  Last time I was here I had no idea what that meant, but this year it was one of the things that I most looked forward to!  It is a day that our team  had the opportunity to be the hands and feet of Jesus and is full of experiences.  As I reflect on the day, it started by having a cup of amazing coffee and sitting on the balcony of the guest house sitting and taking in the peaceful sounds and views of an early Haiti morning.  Sounds of roosters crowing and dogs bark and  horns honking.  What a glorious cool breeze blowing over us.  We go from that to eating a wonderful home cooked breakfast.  That is such a contrast to what we experienced over the next several hours.  We started by loading up in the tap tap (which is the vehicle that we travel around in) and then making our way through Port au Prince to Cite Soleil where we followed a tanker truck of water  in to the city.  As we enter the city we hear children shouting "hey you" to get our attention.  We are there to deliver water to a city full of people living where there is no running water.  What we actually do is sooo much more than that.  It is an opportunity to love on kids that are longing for human touch.  It does not matter that we cannot speak their language, we can speak Jesus language of love through human touch.  We are able to encourage the workers, love on kids, fill buckets with water, and most importantly offering them a glimpse at the living water that Jesus has to offer to all of them.  This puts new perspective on those verses in John that talk about water where they would not thirst again.  Water is such a necessity for human life and yet the water Jesus is talking about is the importance of having a relationship with him and how that is more important that life itself.  Water truck day is a ton of work but what a delight to be able to serve Jesus in this way.  It is hard to describe how different life is here than it is in America.  Our blessings run so deep that in some ways it seems to be a distraction that keeps us from hearing and serving God in the way that he intends us to.  After delivering water  in 3 different locations and getting a tour of Hope clinic, church and school, and a walk out on the ocean pier we loaded up on the tap tap for the ride back to the guest house.  Even here there is a stark difference from where we had been.  We came back to a shower and a wonderful home cooked meal again.  What a blessing to be here serving with this amazing group.  God is good!

Jeff Rud

Rely on Christ Day 3- Puzzles

Hey everyone!

Today was a special day, one that brought with it many challenges. We started off with a short trip to an artists market a few blocks from where we were staying. We all got to see a wide variety of art and things that they offered up, and many of us were able to help the economy with purchased souvenirs.

We then came back and spent the morning at a local Community Center, called New Hope. This ministry serves about 40 to 60 young kids who were so excited to see us and do things like play soccer, or do the Cupid Shuffle. While we were there we put on a special dramatic reading of the book, The Giving Tree. While Emma read the book, and Lincoln and Kayley acted out the story. We then did a craft were each student was given a Polaroid Picture of themselves that they put on a drawing of a tree. Being able to give those kids a picture brought an overwhelming amount of joy to the kids and to our team.

Next we spent part of our day out by going to Papillon, which is the facility that works to provide jobs to locals. We got to take a tour and watch people as they were making beads out of clay, rolling the paper beads, and many more steps of the process. It was a unique glimpse into one of the opportunities we used to raise funds for Haiti and our Team. It also gave us another opportunity to support the local economy and buy more goodies.

Our last stop before heading home for the evening was at a local home for sick and dying children. God allowed us to spend time just holding, feeding, and loving on these sweet sick children, praying silently over them. Once they were all fed we were able to take them outside and spend time just playing with them.

During our evening debriefing about our day, one of the things that we talked about was how we are all a part of God's marvelous puzzle. We are all a piece of this puzzle, and when we are in a spot where our piece doesn't fit, we know something is off God lifts the puzzle piece. However, we are all able to use our pieces  and when we do, it creates amazing things. Today we all found a place where the puzzle pieces fit!

We are all excited for what tomorrow brings.


Tuesday, March 3, 2020

Hope For Haiti Missions Trip 2020

Healing Haiti Mission Trip
Day 1
Before leaving for Haiti, the team gathered from different locations. George and Luke, a father and son came from Illinois. Bob and Barb arrived from Florida. The rest of the team, Pastor Glenn, Dan, Peter and Wendy from Hope, and our leaders, Melissa and Melanie, all came down from Maine. We all met at Fort Lauderdale, Florida on Monday afternoon. We flew into Port-au-Prince that evening. The first thing we saw was the beautiful mountainous views, limestone covered mountains which left us all awestruck. Melissa brought us quickly through all of the red-tape. When we left the airport, we knew we weren't in Kansas anymore (or Maine as the case might be). We were surrounded by Haitians, all clamoring to carry our baggage for a tip. Only ONE person fell prey to the demands. For now, that person will go unnamed.
We all loaded into the tap-tap. This is a truck , equipped with benches enclosed by a cage. The ride to the compound was very exciting. Apparently, traffic laws don't exist, or at least they are not evident or obeyed. We arrived safely at the compound, with the help of our very capable driver. We were exhausted from the trip, but also excited about the adventure to come. We had a delicious meal and then a time of sharing and devotions. This included each of us coming up with a "word of the day", summing up our perception of this day. Words such as, Exciting, Relationships, Beauty, Awestruck, Real, Chaotic, Unknown, Expectations, Nervous and Home. After that, we were ready to see the end of the day.

Day 2
We knew that our first day would be with the water truck. First, we had another devotional time, with everyone sharing about the topic "Willing Hearts and Palms Up". We enjoyed a wonderful breakfast before jumping into the tap-tap. Water delivery involves a large truck filled with water. This water is delivered to Cite Soleil. This slum houses the poorest of the poor. We arrived at the first stop, to find ladies and children lined up with various containers. The truck has a large hose, similar to a fire truck. Our job was to direct the water into the buckets. The water NEVER stopped gushing, very fast paced. We had to continually slide containers in and out. People were taking their buckets away. Many of these were very heavy. Some ladies, and even children, would tap their head, indicating that they wanted us to help lift the buckets up onto their heads. Down the street they would go. Many of the team members carried water down the street into different homes. All of this took place while we were hugging and holding multitudes of children.
Between three different water stops, we visited Hope School. At recess, we got to play with the children. This mostly consisted of being buried under multiple hugs. Some people were a little concerned about their ability to love so freely. This inhibition was quickly overcome. Actually, there was no possibility of refusal. The Hope School was amazing, truly a beacon of hope among the desolation.
After the last water stop, we walked to the pier. Cite Soleil is "ocean-front property" Wendy wanted to put her feet in the water until she realized it was actually quite polluted. That didn't stop some local boys from playing in the water, all the while yelling out the now familiar "Hey, YOU!"
After this long, exhausting, fun, exciting day we arrived back at the compound. We were able to walk up to a local hotel and use their swimming pool. We played catch with the beach balls, making George and Melissa fetch all of the balls that got thrown out of the pool. After another wonderful meal, we wrote thank you cards for all of the Healing Haiti staff and sorted gift bags, filled with goodies that we brought from home. Finally, we sang some worship songs and shared our thoughts about the day. This again included our "word of the day.": Hugs, Water/Life, hey You, Tentative, Mercy/Merci, Sponges, Touch, Desperation, Privileged, Change,  and Community.

Saturday, February 22, 2020

Day #6 Alleluia Church Team - Mountains

Find out what God is calling you to do and DO it! 

If not us, then who
If not me and you
Right now, it's time for us to do something
If not now, then when

These song lyrics by Matthew West speak to me so strongly. Sometimes it feels like the world's problems, (or even in your family or in your community) seems so big - too big to do anything, or to wrap your head around. However I don't think God is calling you to FIX every problem, but rather he is calling you to DO SOMETHING. 

I first felt this calling do something back in 2012. For me, it was Haiti.  And Haiti has been in my heart ever since. Things in Haiti certainly aren't easy and aren't often comfortable, however Ezekiel 36:36 reminds us that our broken heart will be replaced with a new heart and a new spirit.  It is in the uncomfortable and heartbroken that God really begins to use us.  

There has been much heartache this week, however we have also experienced so much joy. But most of all, there has been so much beauty and and so much LOVE. The love of God, the love of our Haitian brothers and sisters, and the love of our team. Today was certainly no exception - so much love and beauty! 

We traveled an hour south of Port-au-Prince into the beautiful lush mountain communities of Kenscoff and Furcy. We served in the Kenscoff community with the local leaders and 60 kids. We had story and activity/craft time, then served them a snack. There was much joy in this church space today! Then we meet, served and prayed with 2 elders in the community.  They both told us of their love of God! There was much LOVE and JOY in this mountain town today!  

Then in the remote village of Furcy, we were invited to the home of one of community leaders for a cup of their freshly roasted coffee. What a blessing for us to sit at his house and share this time together. 

We finished off our time in the mountain with an adventurous hike to a remote waterfall!  We had a handful of local young men as guides and supporters in the steepest areas.  The hillsides and views were so beautiful. 

Because I was able to listen to this call to visit Haiti, I've been able to witness God's love in so many people and in so many places that I never thought possible. Thank you God for putting this beautiful country in my heart!


Friday, February 21, 2020

Day #5 Alleluia Church Team - Resistance

Day five started out bright and early for the group by heading to worship at Church on the 6 a.m.  The people there welcomed us with open arms, literally.  And Pastor Gary even accommodated us with some of his sermon in English so we could follow along.  His sermon this morning dealt with resistance.  Teaching all us that we need to stay strong & diligent with our resistance to evil.  That we can't let our guard down, not even for a minute!
It was a powerful way to start our day.

After another fabulous breakfast by the Healing Haiti staff, we ventured to Hope Academy to visit all the kids during school.  The energy and excitement these kids bring was so contagious that it powered us up for the entire day.  Carnival starts Sunday in Haiti, and the kids were already in a festive mood.  All of their faces were made up with glitter, which just brought more spirit to the party! We danced, we jumped rope, and we gave a month's worth of hugs to each kid.  The goal of course is to give as much love as we can to these wonderful children, but the amount of love you feel back from them is overwhelming.  I'm not sure who got more out of the visit.....I know the kids had a blast, but I left there absolutely full of love.

Next on the agenda was bringing water to Cite Soleil.  We made two stops to different areas but found the same reaction at both, unconditional gratitude.  The people here have smiles that match the brightness of the sun, and at times would take my breath away.  Which by the way, was sorely needed while I was carrying buckets and buckets of fresh water to their homes.

After a quick shower, we headed to the market to pick up some supplies to take back home to the  states.  Of course the hot items in all of our grocery bags were Haitian coffee and vanilla.  But some of our party's more seasoned market shoppers seemed to have a lot longer shopping list:)

We finished our day by soaking our feet in the pool and sitting down for a authentic Haitian supper.  We shared our table with Valery from the Healing Haiti staff, while he told us all about Carnival.  The staff here takes such good care of us!

Now at the end of my day, I find myself thinking back to Pastor Gary's topic of resistance.  And I can't help but think of all of the people of Cite Soleil and how resilient they are to the constant day to day struggles they go through.  And how they have to resist the temptation to get down or give up.  These beautiful people continue to fight all day long to survive, then get up the next day and fight again.  This word gets overused a lot, but this strength that they show is truly amazing.  Please if your reading this blog, put Haiti in your prayers.  Especially the people of Cite Soleil who so desperately need it.

God Bless,

Whoever oppresses the poor shows contempt for their Maker, but whoever is kind to the needy honors God.  Proverbs 14:31

Thursday, February 20, 2020

Day #4 Alleluia Church Team - Ripples

As we stand on the grounds of GRACE VILLAGE, over looking the community of Titanyen and the beautiful blue Carribean Sea, we are reminded of the COURAGE it took the HEALING HAITI founders to follow GODS calling 8 years ago and built a church and school on this spot. When someone needs help you give it to them because, every act of kindness has a ripple effect!

With GODS BLESSING, ripples are being seen with the INNOVATIONS and PROGRESSION of GRACE MEDICAL CLINIC and FLERI Bakery and Restaurant. Today, HEALING HAITI  employees 285 Haitians who RESPECT their job and are now able to provide for their family.
The ripple effect continues!

The JOY felt by our team during the Elderly Shut-In visits was TOUCHING! 

I believe that everyone you meet in our daily lives or travels is brought there for a reason! It's up to us to open our hearts and find the meaning. Our team is REJUVENATE and ready to created our ripple tomorrow!

What act of kindness are you going to do today to cause a ripple effect?


Wednesday, February 19, 2020

Day #3 Alleluia Church Team - New Hope Academy, Home for the Sick & Dying Babies & a bit of shopping

Blessed are the pure in heart for they will see God.  |  Matthew 5:8

Today was a full day - with sightings of God's blessings everywhere.  We started off the morning heading down the street to shop from the local artisans.  They were happy to show us the skills of their hands, and our team was happy to support the local community.  Next up was Peace Cycle - what a blessing that organization has been to Haiti!  Each employee is taught to stand on 2 legs, Peace Cycle being one...and for most - owning their own business as another.  It was inspiring to hear each Haitian employee - partially in English! :) - tell us about their job at Peace Cycle (they recycle plastic water bags, making all sort of totes, bags, purses, etc.), and then about themselves.  What dreams they have for themselves, with their job paying them dignified wages helping make that dream a reality!

Our next stop was a new one for all of us, New Hope Academy.  We shared the story of Creation with about 30 children - with each listening attentively, and one child sharing with us his favorite part was simply 'God creating everything'.  Children of all ages were eager to hear the word of God and spend the morning with us.  After a few crafts, lunch and some play time - each of us were blessed to see the hope for their futures, and see the start of an organization grow - helping those children stay off the streets.  Next up was Papillon (Butterfly in Creole) - an amazing organization employing SO MANY.  After a quick tour of the production side, we witnessed first hand the love the employees have for an organization that gives them opportunity to earn a wage to keep their families together.  It was easy for each of us to support them at their shop, bringing home items we saw them make in front of us.

We finished out our day at the Home of the Sick & Dying Babies.  Each of us experienced a full range of emotions - staring into the eyes of the children throughout the afternoon there.  For many of us, heartbreak as we walked into the one of the rooms hearing the children cry or holding them in our arms.  So many children to love and hold close can be overwhelming at times....but there is also that rewarding feeling - because each of us are here for a reason.  God called each of us here to be in this place together.  To let all the things that life throws at us to be set aside - to just be here in that moment focusing on that child in our arms, knowing we are doing enough.

Everyone that comes here leaves a part of their heart in Haiti.  And when we go back, we must process so many emotions - and one of them can be grief.  Grief because we cannot unsee what we have seen, because we are forever changed, and even in a way, we may in a way grieve for our old life.  But also such love - love for Healing Haiti and the impact they are making here.  And joy - joy that each of us is a part of that miracle of Healing Haiti created so many years ago.  So come and see.  Come and see the miracle happening in Haiti.

Glwa Pou Bondye,

inspiring | heartbreak | eyes | love | dream | rewarding | grief | enough