Thursday, December 14, 2017

Wednesday - Hendrickson/Severson - Cite Soleil and Dios

On Wednesday, our team headed to Cite Soleil for water truck day! This was an amazing and eye-opening experience. We filled buckets with water and helped them carry the buckets. My favorite part was definitely holding the babies. Hearing their laughs travel through their little bodies is truly delightful. Kids loving on us and never wanting to let go. The greatest thing I noticed was how kind everyone was. Their smiles were incredible. They were so gentle and loving to us. I often felt like they were being more loving to us than we were to them. It seemed hard to match the love inside of them. One of the most memorable things that I experienced was visiting the handicapped orphanage. The kids we met with spoke to my soul. They loved touching and leaning against us. The thing I got most out of it was the idea that everyone needs someone to lean on. They are no different than us. We are all God’s children, The Haitian people are our brothers and sisters. They need someone to lean on. Just being there and giving us the opportunity to be someone’s body to hug and hold meant everything to me. I wish I could let them know that they are not forgotten. I will never forget them. We will never forget them. God has never forgotten them. People do think about them and people do love them. While we do not know why terrible things happen, all we can do is be there, be present and let someone lean on us, if only for a few minutes. I will never forget you Haiti. MaKayla

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Harnell- Kench '17: Day 3

To start our day, we met at the breakfast table at 8 o’clock (the only time all day Brian was on time). Over pancakes and oatmeal we applauded Mike for putting up with all of our girl talk and Brian’s weird behaviors (again, love ya, dad). Shortly after breakfast we loaded up in the tap-tap to venture to Peace Cycle. And yes, venture is the right word because if you have ever experienced Haiti’s traffic you would understand. Jonas interpreted for us at Peace Cycle, which we all appreciated immensely because between the thirteen of us we can barely scramble together “hello”. We entered through thick iron gates into a courtyard filled with men and women working. Some were cleaning plastic bags while others were ironing and sewing. The manager explained to us each step that the workers complete. Peace Cycle is an organization that collects plastic drinking pouches from the streets and up-cycles them into usable products such as tote bags and wallets. Peace Cycle has been able to make a dent in the millions of water bags stranded in the streets of Haiti daily. By doing this, they have cut down on Haiti’s carbon footprint and been able to contribute back to the economy. Next stop was Papillon/ Apparent Project. Tricky (or Alex, or Brian, or Ryan, we all weren’t too sure) gave us a tour of the company. We were all amazed at how well run the operations are and just how lively the work environment was. Each worker was welcoming and proud to show off their work and accomplishments. Above Papillon was a cafĂ© we ate lunch at. They arguably made the best smoothies we had ever had. Teresa made sure we all had enough to eat and shared her cheesy bread with us, God bless her. We then loaded back up in the tap-tap and grilled Jonas with questions. He told us 74 degrees in Haiti was when everyone pulls out the coats and we just about fainted. 74 degrees in Michigan is prime boating weather, right, Terri? After a brief midday break at the guesthouse we broke up. Ten of us went to Home for Sick and Dying and four went to Gertrude’s, both of which we were not allowed to take pictures at. At Home for Sick and Dying we arrived right at dinner time. After feeding the kids we were able to hug and play with the kids. At this point of the day the tears starting flowing because it was absolutely heartbreaking to put down and walk away from a sick, crying baby. Don’t worry kids, we will all be back soon. At Home for Sick and Dying we encountered many cases of malnourishment. Michele in particular came across a young girl of the age of 8 who was so sick and malnourished that you could see and feel every bone in her body. She was down to just bones, a sight foreign to our eyes. The pure hope in all of their eyes, though, was undeniable. Although the visit was emotional, you could not say that was the end. God was still using them for His purpose. God was everywhere we turned. The same girl Michele held was sitting in her crib alone. That particular area of the room was empty except me watching the girl. She finally began to eat and loud and clear I heard, “She is eating”. She is eating. Praise God. At Gertrude’s, a home for special needs children, there was a bit of a hold up. Unfortunately, there was a lot of traffic and the four people were only able to stay for roughly ten minutes. That was enough for God to show us what He wanted, though. What stood out to Jessie was how the wheelchairs being used were not your traditional ones. They were created out of tires and plastic chairs. For most children their wheelchairs prevented them from being able to interact and play with others. Lots of eyes were opened on this short trip. Group discussion led to an amazing discussion about everyone’s experiences thus far. I think it is safe to say that none of us are the same people we were three days ago when we boarded our flights. One thing I took away from today was that God uses each and every person on this earth. He loves us all and calls us to care for each other. We serve an awesome God.

Hendrickson/Severson - Peace Cycle and LaPherre's - Tuesday, December 12th

Today has been a day of good emotions. After breakfast we took another exciting ride in a Tap Tap (Haitian version of a ministry van) to Peace Cycle a place that recycles used plastic water bags and makes wallets, hats, bags, purses, stockings, aprons etc. out of them. It was really cool getting to see the simple yet innovative process that they use. It also helps keep the streets clean and employees Haitians. We were able to buy some of the products, which was really cool being able to help the economy and go away with something that was practical and would be used back home. Then we headed to Fleri Farms ( Fleri means flourish in Creole) which is a 28 acre farm that Healing Haiti owns that produces bananas, avocados, mangos, limes, coconuts, sugar cane and other fruits that I can’t remember. The farm employees Haitians and also provides food for the area. They have a vision of enlarging the farm to produce more fruits and add chickens and cows. One job at the Farm will provide a living for 14 Haitians. Which is unbelievable and amazing! We also went to a small grocery store and it was cool to see some of the similar products that we have back home along with some unique ones to the Haitian culture. I was kind of surprised at the wide selection of meat that was available. After lunch and a little R and R we loaded up into the Tap Tap and headed off on another exciting ride to an orphanage where we were blessed by the kids as much as we were a blessing to them. When we arrived the kids came out and hand selected a member of the team. We got to spend time loving on them, singing with them, tossed the Frisbee, jump rope and painted designs on the faces and arms. At first the kids were not too sure about the face painting but after we starting painting the first brave soul then we were swarmed with kids tugging at our arms to paint them. It was a great time just being able to hang out with the kids and love on them. When we left all the kids gave each of us hugs, which was really sweet. With all the good going on you know that Satan has to try his best at disrupting the blessings of God. During our group time in the evening one of the members didn’t feel well. It was probably a combination of the long day, having a reaction to the home remedy bug spray and medication. But God had our team prepared for this attack from Satan. There were a few of us that had medical training and background that we were able to take care of the situation and the team member is now fine and doing well. It also gave us an opportunity to gather together and pray with one mind. Today was a long emotional day but a very good day! We all took something different away from the events throughout the day and it was great seeing the team work together and witnessing people coming out of their shells and opening up. Everyone was touched by the kids at the orphanage. And everyone tried stuff that they weren’t use too. All in all a very good and blessed day. Kevin

Harnell/ Kench '17- Day 1-2

Day One Travel day left all of us exhausted and culture shocked. Our travels began at midnight in freezing weather and icy roads. All of us had stressed for days prior about flight times and busy traffic. Funny enough, we were so early that we arrived to an empty airport—-a sight unknown to the Kench family as we are accustomed to using up every single second you give us. That was the first sign that we were in God’s hands; we arrived safely and with ample time to prep and rest. Second blessing? All of our flights (well, except for Haley and Mike’s) stayed true to schedule and got us to our destinations safely. On our flight to Detroit, a stewardess thanked us for offering our time to go on this trip and applauded us for following God’s call for us. During our layover in Atlanta God introduced us to such beautiful souls. One lady in particular stood out to us. She was also heading to Haiti for a missionary trip, a trip she takes twice a year. She told us that mission work is something we are called to do and reassured us all that we are exactly where God needs us——third blessing. We finally landed in Port-Au-Prince, Haiti around three in the afternoon. While waiting in line at immigrations, we all laughed at watching our luggage being dropped accidentally off of the trolly outside. Thankfully they were recovered because they were our snacks bags and we had only had five meals by that time, if that says anything about how much we eat. Once we exited the airport it was a wave of emotions. People were everywhere you turned offering to help you, offers we unfortunately had to turn down. Once we were all in the tap-tap we realized what traffic in Haiti is really like. Imagine teaching a teenager how to drive and then give them a cell phone to distract them, then blindfold them, and then take away all stop signs. Long story short, it was the most exciting car ride we have ever experienced. The guest house was far more than we ever imagined. The staff had already prepared dinner for us and dogs greeted us as soon as we set our bags down. Unfortunately, we were all so tired that we did not get much of an opportunity to truly take it all in. In fact, we were all so lame that Michelle was snoring by eight o’clock. Day Two We woke up at 7:00 to the heavenly smell of pancakes, a far cry from the airport food we had inhaled just 24 hours earlier. Around 10:00 we headed out to Cite Soleil to deliver water. At this point Jessie got a little nervous because Max had told her the drive was four hours (it was really a 20 minute ride, tops). As soon as we parked, the utter juxtaposition of the environment was breathtaking. Amongst piles of trash were the most beautiful smiles and hearts you could ever imagine. Not a single person looked at us as if we were unwanted. Actually, kids clung on to us and offered to help us before we could even step foot on the ground. That was one thing that truly stuck out to us: here we are to help these people and the minute they saw we were dirty they were pouring their own water over our hands and feet to keep us clean. At the first stop we were able to tour Hope Church. For McKennah, McKenzie, and Brian this was shocking because two years ago it was still a makeshift landfill and had the beginnings of the structure being built. The church is absolutely amazing and a breath of life and hope into the community. This church is not only a place of worship but also a school. It offers the students a comfortable place to stay during the day as well as meals to eat. At the water truck we put Brian in charge of manning the hose which proved itself to be quite the task. The kids were beyond excited to see us and loved getting hugs and doing our hair. Words can not even describe the pure joy on their faces. The kids were eager to teach us games and sing songs about Jesus. Our physical strength was truly tested today as we struggled to carry buckets while also carrying three children in our arms. We joked about doing pull-ups on the way home every time someone honked but we could barely keep our eyes open at that point. We would not have wanted it any other way though. The beauty of water truck days are that the water is completely free for the people. For 3,000 gallons of water it costs Healing Haiti $5. At the end of the day we had poured out 9,000 gallons of water into 5-gallon buckets that were carried away by young children’s heads. It was incredible to be able to be a blessing in that form today. We all saw Jesus today in those people’s eyes and that is something you just can not put to words.

Monday, December 11, 2017

Hendrickson/Severson - Day 1 Travel Day

Good Evening from Haiti! We are happy to report that we are here in Haiti and all settled in! There are 9 of us from MN, 1 from TN, 1 from SC, 1 from CO/NV and 1 from NC. Only a couple of our team of 13 know each other. God has put together a very awesome team and we are excited to begin serving tomorrow! For now, good night from Haiti! Marni and Colleen

Sunday, December 10, 2017

Meyers/Cornerstone Day 7

We started the day with anticipation of a church service full of Haitian worship and movement of the Holy Spirit. We went to Grace Church in Titanyen. We didn’t understand most of what was being sung, but it didn’t dampen the spirit of worship for us. Some parts were written side by side in Creole next to English which helped us not only in understanding what was being sung but with our continued practice with our Creole vocabulary. There were also a couple of songs that we knew the tune of the music and could sing side by side in English and Creole together mixed. Oh, the sound of the children singing was just beautiful. It does something inside you when you hear the children sing in one accord with voices raised to the one true Savior. We had taken a vote with the majority to win what our Sunday afternoon was going to consist of. It was a unanimous vote to go to Wahoo Bay and spend the day playing in the ocean. We drove for about 45 minutes to get there from Grace Church. We got to see the terrain, landscape, trees, and houses. The closer we got to the ocean the differences became very drastic. We had been used to seeing the congested traffic and loud noises. Granted, it was Sunday so it may have been different during the week but this was the impression of today. Tin shacks that now changed to 2 story brick buildings with balconies, smooth streets, and less road rubble and trash. Did I mention trees, lots of trees and GRASS, I don’t recall seeing much grass at all this week. Coming up to the resort was breath taking! To see the mountains on one side of you and the opposite end seeing ocean so clear going as far as the eye could see to meet with the skyline of blue with clouds dipping down. BEAUTIFUL. It's something about the ocean that took the heat from our mind. The day was just perfect. We got to talk with several other guests there also. Did you catch that, we spoke to several others because they were able to speak English well, instead of listening to our choppy Creole. That was another big difference from the areas where we had been serving. Beauty, trees, grass, cooler temps, AND English would have made for a memorable day alone, but that isn’t the kind of team/family that we are. We each tried new things or encouraged others in facing and overcoming fears as we went jet skiing, banana boating, kayaking, and swimming to the ocean trampoline. There are stories inside those adventures that will be told directly from the team, just not today. We went to an area grocery store to buy some coffee, plantain chips, vanilla and almond extract. It would be considered comparable to Walmart with a Haitian slant, but it puts the slogan for Hy-vee to shame with “there’s a helpful smile in every isle” because there was literally someone at each end of every isle, and throughout the store watching the shoppers, helping also if needed! It’s raining tonight which is a welcome sound and smell. This land is so dry and thirsty we can’t help but be happy for the water. The flip side of that as I’m sitting under the porch canopy typing is that I’m dry. Many that we served this week are not that fortunate. Though they may have a make shift roof over their heads, their walls aren’t secure and weather proof, their doors don’t go to the ground and if they have any windows they don’t have glass, only bars or cloth and their floors are dirt. Those also are where their beds are but many don’t have them either so the dirt floor is their bed for them and their children. So as the rain is good, my heart hurts. These Haitian people are so beautiful. They struggle so to take care of basic needs and yet when you have conversations with them and ask what specifics can we pray for them, they aren’t grumbling for what they don’t have but instead they ask for strengthened faith. They aren’t grumbly! We have so much to learn from this part of the world. Tomorrow is going to be a hard day. We all just skirt around what it will bring because we don’t want to start the swell of emotion in saying goodbye. Goodbye to the all those that have touched our hearts as we served and also to our family that we have become, both from the states and those that the Lord uses walking with and amongst us, using us, molding us, teaching us and drawing us closer to you! Our God IS an awesome God. He reigns! – Teri

Today is the “eve” of our leaving. What a wonderful Lord’s Day we have had! We went to Grace Church for the morning worship. On our way we saw people on the way to Church – man, woman, and child all on one “moto.” Haitians are so respectful of entering God’s house. I saw a man bent over wiping the dust off his shoes. The Creole language is so beautiful, and we listened to them worship in song. After Church we drove out to the ocean…lush mountains a backdrop for our fun at Wahoo Bay Resort. Our day of rest consisted of listening to the lapping of the waves, paddle board, and jet skis. To top it off, the American missionaries have now proved wrong their theory that the banana boat is un-flippable. We managed to flip it twice! God is good and no one was hurt or sunburned! It is bittersweet to think of going home. We all miss family, but know how hard it will be to say goodbye to our new friends. -Sharon

Saturday, December 9, 2017

Meyers/Cornerstone Day 6

Greetings from Haiti…Today we visited 2 orphanages, Dios and Monfort. Dios is an orphanage for special needs children and Monfort is for deaf children. As always, we think we are going to go and bless the children, which hopefully we do. But in reality, it is both them and US who are blessed! Whenever we are obedient to Christ and follow the Holy Spirit’s leading, we can rest-assured that the blessings WILL flow…I especially liked communicating with the deaf children using the dry-erase boards. I played tic-tac-toe and complete-the-square with several of the children. A lot of the children wrote their names on the boards and knew English. They absolutely LOVED having their pictures taken, and of course, we HAD to show each one of them their picture! The special needs children did not seem to let their disabilities hinder them in any way…They enjoyed kicking the soccer ball around, wheel-chairs and all!!! One little boy really went to town on the maracas. Huge smiles and hugs prevailed in both orphanages. Before visiting the orphanages, we went to Kwadebouke Metal Mart. Here local artists specializing in metal created beautiful art. We were able to support them by buying our families and friends Christmas gifts. The verses that came to my mind today were Matthew 25:44-45 which says “Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you? He will reply, I tell you the truth, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.” That tells me I need to be deliberate in my obedience. I guess my challenge tonight for both myself and anyone reading this is the following: who is “the least of these?” and what can we do to be obedient? -Ramona

Today was absolutely AMAZING! We got to visit the metal mart, a deaf orphanage, and a special needs orphanage! The artists that sold the metal were extremely talented and so excited to see us. The orphans at the deaf orphanage were so smart and spoke very good English. We took white boards to write on, and I had multiple conversations with different orphans in English! I was very excited to see God answer my prayer about language barriers. At the special needs orphanage, everyone was so excited to see us and interact with us, it was amazing! Today was a phenomenal day and I am so blessed to be here this week doing what God has called me to do! Thank you for all your prayers and support! -Sidney

It never ceases to amaze me the relationships that can be built in such a short time! Ramona and Sidney did a fabulous job of summarizing our day. We did have a wonderful time at the metal market and at the deaf orphanage. When we arrived at the special needs orphanage, I immediately remembered my previous experience and really wanted to duplicate that. The previous experience included singing and playing guitar and experiencing worship. It was beautiful and wonderful. This time we did not bring a guitar or a keyboard. We brought many other activities so I knew my experience would be different. For the first ½ to ¾ I truly wondered what I was doing. I was not drawn to a child and didn’t have one latched on to me. I wandered and spent short amounts of time with several. The next thing I knew, there were 2 children coming down the wheelchair ramp. One was pushing another in a wheelchair. The moment my eyes saw her, they were drawn to her. I wandered over and started interacting with her. I would tickle her and her face would light up. I decided to pick her up out of her wheelchair and sit down on the ground with her. When I did that, little did I know that she could walk! I lifted her to her feet to do a little weight bearing and she started turning circles. When her legs became fatigued, she would sit on my leg. She would stand and lean into me and we would rub cheeks. It was a beautiful thing. Another team member, the only guy on our trip, came over and sat down. The precious little girl stood up and began walking (truly almost running) to him. Her face lit up with a huge smile and their cheeks would rub. She would turn back around and walk back to me with the same routine and excitement as before. At one point and time, we locked foreheads and the beautiful moment of true connection happened. She stole my heart right then and there! She did several more “laps” back and forth and at the end had the hugest smile. The male team member wandered off and I picked up this precious gift from the Lord. We danced and sang and played together. The time came to put her back in her wheelchair and she became stiff as a board. The connection that we had in such a short time was absolutely beautiful and so strong. I called our driver over and he helped me to put her back into her wheelchair. I made sure to tell her I loved her and that Jesus loved her. My time was done with her for this trip. I am so grateful for the blessing of getting to know this precious child of God’s. The impact that she has made on my heart is one I will never forget. Her beautiful smile and signs of affection have impacted my life in so many ways. The Lord is good and faithful, and I am so blessed by this beautiful girl. Keep your eyes open as you never know what God has in store for you and who you are to bless! Don’t underestimate the power of a shared smile or laughter. You may just change the life of a person for eternity! -Stephanie