Wednesday, November 14, 2018

Haiti Women's Retreat Day 2

A Place in the 'Son'

Taken By: Daneen Maretski

1 Samuel 2:8 "He puts poor people on their feet again; he rekindles burned-out lives with fresh hope, Restoring dignity and respect to their lives—a place in the sun!"

According to researchers, Cite Soleil is the poorest area in the Western Hemisphere. It is said to be dirty, dangerous, and helpless. However this city is not helpless, it is a beckon of hope. In the center of all the poverty is Hope Church. Not only does it provide the city with the a place of worship, but it also have decreased the amount of crime and violence. Jesus is the only solution to the problems of this world.

Cite Soleil means "A city in the sun". However, I believe that it is the embodiment of a city in the "son". The son of God, Jesus, resides in this place and is in the hearts of these people. Even when there is so much need in there lives, they only search for God's love. 

Mother Theresa once said, “I say to myself, this is hungry Jesus, I must feed him." We can take a look around and see Jesus in every person, every child, and every building we see. Jesus is the extra hand needed to hold Haiti. 

After visiting Cite Soleil, the team took a trip to an orphanage. Here they were greeted by the smiling faces and bubbly personalities of the children and staff. The team took the time to sing songs, play games, and reflect the love of God to each children. It was touching to have the mission of showing God's blessings and them the children bless you instead. As we left, a small girl came up to a few of the members and sincerely said, "God bless you!" It is astounding to see the work of Healing Haiti and God in these children's lives. 

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Haiti Women's Retreat Day 1

God's Destination

Day 1:

Taken By: Daneen Maretski

     We all have a destiny. God has a plan for the places we will go and things that we will see. This week, 10 women had the opportunity to further God's destiny for Haiti. These women woke up as early as 2:00 a.m. and took a break from their daily lives in order to 'Heal Haiti'. This was a small sacrifice in order to fulfill God's destiny.

     The media often depicts only the negative aspects of third world countries. They regretfully forget the heart of the countries inhabitants. Upon arrival, the team was shocked to see the beauty of Haiti that is hidden from cameras. We were warmly welcomed by everyone insight. Crowds to children ran to greet us while parents waved. While the fast pace and traffic was alarming, it did not cloud our minds from the true beauty of this country as a whole. 

     These statements are not to say that Haiti is perfect. There is not a nation in the world that is. However, despite the animals and trash that lined the road, no one could deny God's handprint on Haiti. The group was more than ready and willing to allow God to use us to change lives this week.

Central Church Arrival Day

Todays focus was all about introductions. Introductions to one another, a new organization (for many), a new culture, and overall a new way of living for Jesus. Let me start with me.
Bonjou, mwen rele Samantha.
Hello, my name is Samantha.
With the expertise and assistance of my leaders, Michael and Melissa, I will be your virtual guide to the teams experience here in Haiti. Everyday you will be able to get a glimpse of this beautiful country and share in our experiences of all things new. Please be engaging. Share this link, comment, ask questions. Would love to do this together.
If you've ever traveled with kids you can relate when I start by describing our 2:30 am gathering. We started out very much like we were about to take a very long drive with a bunch of school kids (at least I felt like one). As the team of eleven of us (plus family members and friends) gathered around the lobby of Central Church, excitedly sharing about our sleep habits of the night, what we packed or didn't, emotions, and lots of bright, and awake, eyes eagerly awaiting to get in the car. For our two leaders, however, it was all about logistics. Passing out folders, getting our bags together, packing and repacking, asking about bathroom runs before we go.  Then there was the call to gather for prayer and everything changed.

The 10 team members (and family and friends) were mature, and focused. Our leaders relaxed a bit, smiled, and looked around at what will be their closest family for the next 8 days with excitement. There was balance and joy. We received our final instruction, emptied all of our individual thoughts, and prayed together as One mind, One voice, and One Spirit for our trip. We said our goodbyes and were off. Off for a wonderous adventure and a sparkle in our eyes for the unknown.

This is my first trip out of the country (as it is for many of us), and Melissa, Kate, and Michael were fantastic! They guided us through every process. We were presented with an outline of what to expect, then provided more detail as it was happening, so to not inundate us with a lot of information up front. When we arrived at the Port au Prince Airport it was exactly how they described it. A lot happening, in a small area, with a lot of people. We were in a large room with a beautiful view of the mountains for customs, then guided through narrow hallways with maze-like turns to be in a smaller area (with the same amount of people), then approached by many to "help" us, or to keep the "flow" going in the room. I state it like that because one was only for their own gain, and none of us seem to understand the method to that madness that was supposed to be their flow process.

We were not there, however, to "fix" any process or tell anyone what we might think can help make their process better. We later came to the understanding that none of us knew, at that point, what we were really there for individually. All we knew is that we wanted out of the chaotic process and be free. Which were were, finally, and met with a great big warm smile from a man that took us to what will be our home for the next week.

After about a 20 minute drive in the tap tap (I'll describe later) we approached two large purple doors. They opened and introduced us to the beautifully colorful Healing Haiti homes. The staff, along with 4 well trained loving dogs, welcomed us and introduced themselves. We were lovingly given an overall directional of the place along with an outline of what was about to transpire. All of us eagerly entered the doors and, as if it was the first day at summer camp, picked out our bunks and sleeping arrangements.

We were then given a couple hours of free time to process and explore the grounds. After about an hour the team gradually convened in the living room and got to know one other.  We were all given journals that will be written in by everyone (except ourselves). These journals are for others to encourage, share knowledge, reflection, and thoughts to you through this journey. 

Dinner was incredible. We all sat down at the 16 person table covered with a muted fuchsia tablecloth with our plates on top of laminated flash cards. Afterwards we worked as a team to clear the table, do the dishes and set it up again for breakfast. 

As the evening came to a close we gathered to do our devotional and reflection.  Our devotional was on John 15:16 "You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit—fruit that will last—and so that whatever you ask in my name the Father will give you"

We focused on the first half of the fact that we were chosen. As each of us answered the question, How does it feel to know that you are chosen? One of the answers was that it raised another question for them, "Why did you choose me for here-Haiti?". This was enlightening to the group. Some answered about changing their comfort zone, or mindfulness-to stay present with God more (You need to do a lot of adapting here), maybe to find their purpose in missions, or to be less controlling. 

For reflection, we got to pick a word of the day. These words of the day are the lessons Jesus shared with us throughout our daily walk. Below are the answers given:

Amanda - Trust
Eryka - Grace
Tara - Excited
Laurie - Relieved
Steve - Servitude
Melissa - Finally 
Melanie - Strength
Michael - Exhausted
Rebecca - Why
Zach - Team
Nancy - Faithfulness
Kate - Lens
Sam - Presence

Each one's reasoning behind their answers was wonderful to hear and very relatable. I encourage you to reach out to someone on the team and find out what their reasoning is. Not all posts will be this long, but as I sit here with everyone fast asleep resting for the next days adventures, I am an awe at how organic the communication was today. 

Now with introductions coming to a close (for now), reflect on your own day (or morning) and ask yourself what your word of the day is (or will be) and just be open to the possibilities of greatness, one small task at a time.

Saturday, November 10, 2018

Day Six - Beauty and Rejuvenation

Our team started the day as we have started the entire week- enjoying a delicious breakfast prepared by the Haitian staff. Every dish is devoured, but oatmeal is a team favorite – often with the bowl being scraped clean! We loaded up on the tap-tap and headed off to Rosie’s boutique. It was a lovely shop filled with beautiful stitched cards, tops, jewelry, ornaments, d├ęcor, and local delicacies. They also had a refreshing smoothie/frappe/ice cream shop within the boutique and we all enjoyed the treat. Kayla (the owner) is an American who started Rosie’s after coming down on a mission trip in college with her family. You could tell her passion for job creation and her love for the women she works with and employs. 

We headed off to Wahoo Bay, for a rejuvenation day. The beach was breathtaking- with mountains in the background and the blue Caribbean Sea surrounding us. Our team tried their hand at jet skiing, paddle boarding, snorkeling, and the water trampoline. Only 4 team members were stung by the jellyfish- who was later captured. The employees caught fresh crab in the ocean, and cooked for us over a fire. The brave shell-fish loving team members really enjoyed it! In fact, we enjoyed our day so much that the guys had a difficult time prying us away from the coast.

We ended our day at Fleri, the bakery and restaurant located near Grace school, and started by Healing Haiti nearly 2 years ago. We were able to tour the facility, and were delighted to hear how much growth the company has had in such a short period of time. As a team, we were able to share and try almost everything on the menu, including goat! The pizza was truly exceptional, and the delicious crust and toppings almost incomparable to anything we know of at home. Desserts were unique and tasty- and the iced coffee was exactly what we needed!

Chelsey F

Jenny D

Thursday, November 8, 2018


Opportunities.  Rollercoaster.  Intuitive.  Falling.  Gifts.  Play.  Inspirational-role model.  Warm.  Creativity.  Impressed.  Imperfect.  Ordained.  Break thru.  Provision.  Tattletale.  Tears.

Our words of the day for Thursday.  Every night at team meeting we each share a word to describe and summarize our experiences throughout the day.  We process together.  We cry together.  And we laugh together, sometimes a lot!  This has become one of my favorite moments of every day as we try to make sense of what we experience and what God is doing in Haiti and our hearts. 

We agreed that today was a day of opportunities.  The three places we visited filled us with such hope for the work being done here in Haiti.  We were inspired by the stories of the individuals who started the orphanages and school.  The way God provided specific opportunities for them earlier now yields opportunities for the kids who are currently there. 

Our visits to two different orphanages were filled with fun, joy, play, and hope.  These kids are so well behaved – sharing markers with their friends, picking up every single bead, and giving many hugs. With huge smiles, they play soccer, color, jump rope, paint nails, do back bends, and make bracelets.  We pray that our presence is a gift to them, but holding them and looking into their eyes is truly a gift to us.  Such joy in such simple things.

In the afternoon we visited the school TeacHaiti and heard from its founder directly.  She shared her story of living in Haiti, going to the United States for the time, and returning to start a school in Haiti.  In God’s small world, she attended high school at a school district where one of our team members teaches.   They shared a mutual friend.  I had goosebumps in this sweet moment of discovering this.  God is so good to His children.  This school has grown in size and these students are sponsored so they can learn from teachers with degrees and have access to books, heart diagrams (yay science!), and technology.  God gave this woman a dream so these students can pursue their dreams.

So, while we were impressed with the opportunities of the day, we still had tears over the imperfections in our world.  Being here is an emotional rollercoaster. Yet we will rest well knowing that the world is not falling apart, it’s falling into place.

Lana R.

Wednesday, November 7, 2018

Day 3 Emotions

Today was a day of mixed emotions. We had the opportunity to visit Haiti Design Coop. This was a modern facility that employs both local men and women to design and craft beautiful artisan work such as leather purses, wallets, necklaces, earrings, etc. We toured their facility and got to do a little crafting of our own. We each made either a beaded or leather bracelet. We even had a little time for some retail therapy! The integrity of the employees was inspiring, and the team expectations amazed us. They start each day out in prayer. This is a much different concept than many of us experience back in the states.

In the afternoon, our team split up into two groups.  Half went to the Home of the Sick and Dying Babies and the other to an orphanage.

The Home of the Sick and Dying Babies was overwhelming. We walked into two rooms full of tiny cribs with beautiful babies in them. Our hearts were heavy as we tried our best to love on each of them. We didn’t have enough arms to hold them all at once. A lot of questions would come into our heads while holding these little ones from what are they sick with to does anyone else love them and will their family return to bring them home. Their eyes were huge but often expressionless. Their malnourished bodies often were much less developed than one would ever expect. Even though our hearts broke for them we were able to hang on to the hope that they are and always will be children of God. He loves each and every one of them and has a special plan for them. Today we got to experience just a piece of that plan with those beautiful children and our hearts will be forever changed.

The team that went to the orphanage was able to also love on some amazing kids, but in a much different way.  We brought a supply of activities to entertain the kids.  Jump ropes, coloring books/crayons, nail polish, bubbles, and soccer balls/beach balls were some of the kids’ favorites.  One surprise to me was that many of the kids were able to speak and even write in English!  One of the little girls who took to me (Meghan) drew a portrait of me on a dry erase board.  It was so precious watching her look up at me to draw my eyes, then ask me to take my hair out of my pony so that she could see how long it was, carefully transferring what she saw onto the board.  Our time together was short, but memories were made by all.

Niomi H.

Lori G.

Meghan R.

Tuesday, November 6, 2018

Day 2: Food and Water Day!

Food & Water day!

We started the day at Fleri Farms, where Healing Haiti is helping to create a more sustainable future for agriculture in this country.  It was fascinating to learn about their struggles with the soil, and learning how to grow crops the way their land was created.  We were able to drink from coconuts & eat the flesh of the fruit.

The first and second water truck stops were relatively calm due to the rain the night before.  Still many showed up to fill their buckets.  The final stop, called 4 coffins, was much more active, with Haitians coming from every direction to get their fill of water.  The children were smiling, running to be held and played with, and unphased by their surroundings.

We also got the chance to see Hope church, school and soon-to-open clinic.  We were all impressed with the new pods delivered to the school a few weeks ago – technology, sewing, and solar power – that will help the children expand their knowledge and give them hope for a brighter future that God has in store for them.

We are grateful and humbled to be here together!  God is good!

Rachel F.
Jen E. 
Kelsey F.