Sunday, May 21, 2017

Got a Little Crispy

How was church today for you? Could you hear the children sing? Because I can tell you, the children in Haiti, know. How. To. Sing.

Today was a full day of pure joy. We all woke up bright and early this morning either to watch the lovely sunrise, or take a run through Port-au-Prince.  The day started out nice and hot.  The whole team dressed up very nice for church at Grace Church in the city of Titanyen.  The service was beautiful.  It was two and a half hours long, but it was worth it all.  The first 45 minutes of the service was all worship. Every voice in the sanctuary was belting out the words to every song.  There was a section of kids in the center of the room with their hands raised, singing with passion.  It was a beautiful thunder of angelic voices.  You could pick out every child’s voice that sang freely. There was no fear.  
Many of the children we visited last Wednesday reunited with our team at the church service.  Lots of them fell asleep in our arms.  We also had the whole team go up on the stage to lead the song Holy Spirit all together.  Kara also gave a powerful message on four stages (that she used chairs to demonstrate on stage) of our faith and relationship with Christ. The first is coming to meet God, the next one is when we continue to learn about Jesus, the third was becoming fishers of men, and the last was baring fruit.  Her words not only impacted and inspired the Haitians, but also her team.  She has been such a blessing to all of us this week in countless ways.
After church this morning, the whole team hopped into the tap-tap, and drove up to Wahoo Beach.  We spent a majority of the afternoon cooling off in the ocean, entertained by rafts and trampolines on the water.  At one point, all 16 of us laid down in a circle on the trampoline, tanning under the sun… or so we thought.  Some of us applied the sunscreen, and others may have “forgotten”.  But it didn’t matter if you had or hadn’t, for all of us got a little crispy.  This Haitian sun is aggressive, I tell you. But sunburn didn’t take away any of the fun.  The sight from the beach was absolutely stunning. You could stand on large rocks and stare off at the endless ocean next to mountains reaching the clouds.  I couldn’t think of a better way to end the week.  
When we got back to the house, we settled down and dipped ourselves in sunburn cream.  We sat on the balcony and reflected our day as usual with pictures, words-of-the-day, and lovely worship.  This week has been so real, it’s just unreal.  There are no words to explain the experiences we’ve had.  Pictures, videos, and stories are only a taste of how Jesus moves through His people.  From holding the sick and diseased children whose smiles bring deep joy, to rubbing the tender feet of the well-lived elders.  They touched our hearts once we touched their faces.  The Lord moved our hearts once we opened our eyes to what He had in store.  Although garbage and broken down homes filled the streets, Haiti was unbelievably beautiful.  It’s what makes Haiti beautiful! When driving in the tap-tap, we would see the day-to-day life of so many Haitians for only a few seconds.  We would laugh with the girl who made her new bracelet, and cry with the boy who was malnourished and diseased with no doctor to see.  So many were oppressed by hell itself.  Yet with all the joy they overflowed with, it would be hard to tell.  The Holy Spirit is so alive in every part of this country.  No one knows how big the world is, until they actually see the whole world.  But do you know who does see the whole world? Our Heavenly Father.  He moves through every inch of the air.  A friend once told me that it’s easy to see God as an American idea.  But God is Haitian, Guatemalan, Ethiopian, Chinese, Brazilian, and all of the above.  The Holy Spirit is flowing through Haiti just as much as He is in the United States and everywhere else.  Yet He is so personal and close to each of us.  What a privilege it is to serve such a sovereign King.  Although this week has ended for us in Haiti, there is SO much more The Lord has has planned.  

It is only the beginning. 

Sincerely,

Allison Eide

Saturday, May 20, 2017

Kara & Karen's Team - Day 6: Abundance of Sunshine

We are coming close to the end of our trip here in Haiti and I am incredibly amazed by how today was exactly what we needed after such a hectic, emotional, and chaotic week.  It’s silly though, as the way God works should really never surprise me.  I have seen how He works and this week, He has shown once again how we are just a small part of His plan, and only pawns in His game.  We are not running the show.  He is the teacher and we are the students.  

Today, we visited two orphanages.  After having seen several orphanages this week, we noticed a difference today.  Almost all of them have the littlest of resources available to their children, but the ones before today seemed to have a stronger sense of desperation and survival in the air.  We’ve struggled with not having enough arms to hold the children who were wanting/needing our love and with not being able to give them the physical things they needed to survive.  But one of the hardest things, was saying goodbye.  The feeling of making a child feel abandoned again in their lives was heartbreaking. 

The orphanages we visited today felt different.  There was more hope in the air, especially in the last one.  The children weren’t as starving for attention as in the others.  They seemed so much more content and eager to learn.  It just proved to me how much leadership and a little hard work can do.  Okay, a lot of hard work.  But still, it brings hope.  The man in charge at the second orphanage is also a pastor and he had such a sense of peace about him.  The children could definitely feel it and I could too, from the moment I stepped in those doors.  It was a great way to end the day.  Having the ability to see that we can make a difference and WILL continue to make a difference as the years go by.  We also were blessed with the gift of visiting the church that was located at the second orphanage.  We sang a song, said a prayer, and then walked around the room saying a prayer on the seats for the future church goers.  It was beautiful and the main reason why it felt so beautiful to me is because we were able to do all of this with the orphanage’s children right there with us.  They not only heard us praying for them and the people in their community, but they could feel God making changes right in front of them. That brings hope to the future generations of Haiti.

After our last orphanage visit, we went to a very special dinner at a restaurant that served delicious pizza (woohoo!), and then back to our guest house for some prayer and worship music.

All in all, a great day.  God knew what he was doing with this one. The whole week has been life-changing…and I’m not talking about the kid’s lives, but ours.

Hope everyone is well at home.  Sending you all love. (I am missing my kiddos so much and so am going to give them a special shout out now- also I have the computer so who is going to stop me? :-) — I can’t wait to see you D, T, & B and give you all extra hugs and kisses when I get home, love you so much. Sleep tight. xoxoxo)


Mikenzi

Friday, May 19, 2017

Kara & Karen's Team - Day 5: Love Needs No Translation

Our fifth day started off different from the rest of the days so far here in beautiful Haiti. As one body (our whole team), went to a church called church on the rock this morning. This made it so that our day was filled up in the morning with The Holy Spirit. Haitian worship is something that is hard to put into words until you experience it. Even though we were all up at the crack of dawn (literally), it’s what got our team through the day. It’s safe to say that you could really feel God’s presence moving in this place and it was very clear during this church service.

After the church service we went back and had yet another wonderful breakfast prepared to us by the beautiful and hard-working Healing Haiti guest house ladies. Soon after breakfast, it was finally time to start the day that we had all been waiting for. WATER TRUCK DAY AND WHAT A BLESSING TO ALL. We stopped at three different locations and each stop was very new. Our team is still processing it all but there is a reason it wasn’t on Tuesday but on Friday instead. Our plan isn’t always what God has in store and His is always greater. Today is a great example of that. The church service in the morning filled us up so that we could pour out God’s love in the afternoon to the Haitian people. In between stops we went to Hope church in Cite Soleil. This isn’t an ordinary church, because it was built on a garbage landfill. Only God could do such an incredible thing and this is just what Cite Soleil needed. God has a plan for everything and it was amazing to see even in all of the midst of pain and suffering that a church like Hope church can bring so much Hope to God’s people. Our team also got to see the ocean and many of the Haitian children followed us there. We were surrounded all day with water- spiritually and physically. This day may have been one of the hardest, but it was so awesome to see how God unfolded His love for His children through out the whole day today. 

Blessing these people with water was a splitting image of what being the hands and feet of Jesus really looks like. It almost seems so surreal to believe it, but it’s a day that brought our team closer, and challenged us to go out of our comfort zones. When we are completely out of our comfort zones, it is the perfect time when God allows us to grow so much spiritually and that truly unfolded today in each and everyone of us. 

We ended our day with a well prepared spaghetti dinner, once again by the lovely guest house ladies. We also had some more team bonding time and prayed over some team members for holy discontent. If you could continue to lift our team up in prayer, and also Haiti as a whole. This definitely hasn’t been an easy week but it’s one that is continuing to mold us into who we are supposed to be. Jesus is the light to what may seem like a broken land at times. In the next few days, pray for God to continue to use us and shape us in new ways and that we can bring all of this back and let God use us in what might seem like ordinary Minnesota. After all, God hand picked each and everyone one of us to come all the way to beautiful Haiti to be His hands and feet.

Thank you so much for your continued love and support.

anpil benediksyon (many blessings in Haitian Creole)


Anna

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Kara & Karen's Team - Day 4: We came to Bless them, but they blessed us

Waking up on today, Thursday the 18th, our team was expecting yet again that we would be heading out for water truck day. But our plans yet again were met with the sound of rain. Rain is a blessing in Haiti to some who need water, but also a curse to some when flooding occurs. Gods plans for us today brought us first to Grace Village.

Grace Village is an orphanage that houses about seventy children, educates four hundred, and feeds five hundred children every single day. Excluding today because it's a national holiday called Flag Day. The houses at Grace Village are family style and they work to help kids feel as though they are a part of a family. When they are at the orphanage they are taught skills that they can use when they leave the orphanage. When they turn eighteen, they graduate from Grace Village's school. Then Grace Village has a transition program for the older kids that helps them get ready for when they leave. While we were there we were able to put on a faith lesson for the children. We chose to do David and Goliath, where Ethan was Goliath (he is one of the tallest) and we had a Haitian student as our David. The kids got a kick out of it and were very involved with the whole story! After we did our play, we were able to draw on little stone bags and make sticker art with the kids. My favorite part at Grace Village was seeing everyone interact with the children there. Right away it seemed that the younger boys were drawn to the men in our group, which was pretty cool to see. They all loved piggy backs and riding on our shoulders. The view from Grace Village is mesmerizing because you can see all the mountains and the Atlantic ocean out in the distance. God really worked within us there at the orphanage and helped us make connections that we will always remember. 

The next part of our day was my favorite of all. We went to bless the elders who are a part of Grace Village and church. First we met a couple who welcomed us with hugs into their home. The best part was, even though we were there to bless them, when we walked in the first thing Pierre did (the elder) was offer us a seat to sit down on. We began to praise the Lord with our amazing guitar player Peter and our interpreter Emmanuel playing the piano. Some of the team, including myself began washing the feet of the husband and wife while other team members were giving them lotion massages. It was amazing to see people stepping out of their comfort zones and taking that leap of faith and working out the gifts God has given them. I work at a nursing home back home and today was just beautiful to me. Elders should be respected and treated with dignity and I believe that we should all take time to listen to the stories and wisdom that many of them have to give to us. If you take the time, you may be able to learn something truly amazing. We then went to another woman's house to wash her feet and give her a massage. This time we had Allie playing the piano and Peter on the guitar as we were all worshipping. One of our group members named Kenzie was able to make a connection with the elder while giving her an arm massage when the elder Marie was holding her hand. It's amazing how God will work through people to help you see connections. 

The last part of our day was visiting the mass grave site memorial of the earthquake on January 12th 2010. They had buried roughly about 300,000 people there because they ran out of graves to bury people in. When we arrived inside the memorial we were able to hear the story of our Healing Haiti interpreter who was there in town during the earthquake. Even through all of the hard times he experienced he still had his faith and still was able to be joyful afterwards. I would say that there aren't many words to describe the mass grave memorial, it's something you really would need to just see for yourself. But God is great and he is always at the end of every storm. 

To wrap up our day as a group, we end with a word of the day and worship. This night in particular was very special because instead of just having one person close in prayer, instead four team members were prayed over. We have been praying and loving on the Haitians for most of the week and this experience brought us even closer as a team because we prayed over each other. There is a special anointing that happens when every team member joins in on prayer. Please continue to pray for all of us to get through the rest of the week. Every day so far has been unexpected but God has blessed every piece of these amazing adventure. It's so much fun being the hands and feet of Jesus.

To finish this blog post, tomorrow is WATER TRUCK DAY! Maybe, well hopefully. But if not, hey, that was all a part of Gods plan for us! I hope that everyone on our trip has continued good health and is filled with joy as we turn to the weekend. With only three and a half days left it's hard to believe our trip is getting closer to the end. We are so thankful for this beautiful and amazing trip and can't wait to update you all on tomorrow's adventures! God bless you all. 
Written by Maddie
Helped written by Anna

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Kara & Karen's Team - Day 3: A Turn of Events

       We woke up today to deliver water, but God had a different idea.  Rain here is similar to home; it creates change, and it causes plans to take a turn.  As we sat around the table eating another breakfast filled with protein, pancakes, and lots of water, we awaited to hear what we would be doing.  By the time we loaded into the tap-tap, we had plans to go to the orphanage and school for the deaf, the metal market, and then the Stop and Go.  

       We have talked about driving in Haiti, but I can't get over how crazy it is.  I am a horrible driver in Minnesota, but I'd be a wonderful driver here.  There is no order to traffic, but somehow people drive along with little to no accidents.  Grace and I talked today about how brave you have to be to drive a motorcycle here.  Often times they weave in and out of traffic going headfirst towards other cars.  We spent a lot of time in the tap tap today, driving to all of our different destinations.  When we arrived at the orphanage and school for the deaf, our plans took another turn showing us that God is leading us.  Since the students were in school, we weren't able to interact and play with them as we had hoped.  However, we were able to get a tour of the grounds.  Walking around the school, we all kept expressing how impressed we were with the facilities.  The school has kids from the ages of 5 to 25.  Many students are able to live on campus; around 100 and more will be able to when the new dorms are built.  The school serves over 300 students who are all deaf.  As we toured the school, we stopped in a classroom made up of older students, who were 19-25.  The students were so eager to get to know us, to ask us questions, and to learn about where we were from.  We had the opportunity to tell them our names while many of us signed our names.  The students would laugh at us if we made a mistake and then teach us how to sign it correctly.  From the time they start school, they learn sign language, Portuguese, French, Creole, and English.  While we were in the classroom, the students loved to take ever opportunity to teach us their language.  There was one student who connected with many different members of our group.  The smile on his face lit up the whole room every time he taught someone something in their language,.  Yesterday in our group time, we talked about the little things and how if we lose the little things, then we lose the battle.  Today we saw those little things in a big way as we connected and talked with these students.  Despite the many language barriers, we were able to communicate. It's something that so many of us take for granted, but something that makes a world of difference.  Leaving the orphanage and school, many of us took away different things from God in how He worked through us in the hour we spent with the students.

       Driving to our next destination, we again experienced the "every day Haiti," in the world around us.  We drove through flooded streets, packed intersections, and countless piles of garbage.  As we drove through the streets and saw the different vendors, selling everything they could find, we came to a quaint area similar to an outdoor mall.  We arrived at the metal market.  The metal market consisted of many different vendors who were proud of their work.  They take metal barrels and work on them until they are beautiful pieces of art.  Many pieces of the metal art are bible verses.  There is wall art, table pieces, candle holders, and magnets.  The Haitians invite you in and are so welcoming, showing you their work, beaming with pride, and hoping that you buy something from them.  There was one vendor we met early on at his friend's shop and he told us, "So cheap, almost free."  We then saw him again at his shop and we asked him, "It is so cheap, it is almost free, right?"  He loved it and a few of us bought pieces of art from him.  It was amazing to see how these Haitians worked and lived, what they have to do to survive and to provide for their families.  Their hospitality, kindness, and joy for life were inspiring.  Kara encountered a situation where a man thought she did not pay him.  He came looking for her and through the interpreter was trying to get the money for the metal art, she had payed him and said that she did not have anymore money to give him.  You could tell he was very upset, but accepted it and walked away.  He came back later to find her because he had found the money in his back pocket.  He apologized and brought her a metal heart to show his sincereness and love for her.  Kind people exist, even in Haiti, in the poorest country in the Americas, a country where people have so little, yet still have so much kindness to give.

       We stopped at Haiti Co Design and the Stop and Go, a Haitian grocery store, on our way back to the guest house.  These stops were both another experience into the Haitian culture, teaching us so many things about how the people here live day to day.  We ended our busy day with taco dinner and an amazing pit time filled with stories from what we all took away from our day, and a tear-filled worship, where Grace joined us with her beautiful voice.  Today was not what we expected, God gave us a turn of events, but it was exactly what we needed.  This trip is teaching us all to let the Holy Spirit lead us where our trust is without boarders and to let Him call us higher, call us deeper, and go where He will lead.

God Bless you all,
Allie with some advice from Allie, Kenzie, Taylor, and Anna 

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Kara & Karen's Team - Day 2: We Got to See God Today

It's amazing to think that just a few short months ago, this trip to Haiti seemed so far away and yet today- here we are, holding babies, and playing with the abundance of kiddos in the orphanages that yesterday were something we only imagined in our heads. I think today we can all say that we were woken up in a very big way.  Not only are we blessed to have the little things we all take for granted like a hot shower, or easily accessible medicine, but it was made very clear that it is our job to spread the goodness, love, and resources we have. It is our job to share the love of Jesus.  The amazing thing is, the only thing you need to do to share this gift is to show love. A simple touch. A hug. The children in these homes just want to be held.  They want to be seen. It is such a simple thing that in reality is a huge thing to these kids and to their development.

Today, we visited a Home for the Sick and Dying Babies, as well as a couple special needs orphanages. Our job today was simple. To show as much love to these kiddos as possible. To change diapers. To feed them. To show them they matter.  I can't imagine the struggles some of these families go through and being able to help give a little love to these children, even if just for a short time, felt amazing. And yet, didn't feel like nearly enough.  I guess that's just the struggle we have to continue to fight on a daily basis.

Everyone is safe and sound.  We don't want any loved ones to worry.  The traffic is quite different here than in the states and we were pleasantly surprised with the driving skills of the locals...especially at intersections where stop signs have no purpose! As we finish up the day, and wind down after an emotionally draining experience, we are playing a little cards, eating life savers, and getting to know each other better.  Oh yeah, and we sing a lot of worship songs. Go team go!

Miss everyone at home! Much love to you all, xoxoxo,

Mikenzi




Monday, May 15, 2017

Kara & Karen's team - Day 1: Safe & Sound

Wow, what a day! I'd say a fair theme for the day today is safe and sound. Every destination we had today, we made it to safe and sound.

Our entire team of 16 made it to the airport right on time. Our flight from MSP to ATL was seamless, as was our flight from ATL into Port-au-Prince. From the airport, we made it to the Healing Haiti guesthouse safe and sound. We're all pretty exhausted from waking up somewhere in the 2am hour and our long day of travel, so this post will be fairly short. Here's some quick highlights from our first day:

  • Some of us got to check off a bucket list item at the Port-au-Prince airport when we got to de-board the plane using the ladder straight onto the runway
  • Someone in our group pointed out this evening that our team already feels like a family and I couldn't agree more. We all mesh so well with one another and are all so eager for what this week has in store. You can definitely feel the energy in the group! 
  • Our guesthouse compound has the sweetest guard dogs
  • We were all SO surprised to see how small our transportation truck is! It's called a tap-tap and I can't wait to show you guys pictures down the road of what it looks like to cram 16 people into this vehicle. It's pretty impressive! 
Tomorrow's plan consists of visiting a few orphanages but as we've already learned, plans can change. As I type this, almost everyone else is getting ready for bed so we can wake up refreshed, bright and early. We should have much more to share tomorrow and we can't wait to see what the day holds! On behalf of the entire team, thank you to everyone reading this for your prayerful support. We each are able to be here today because of your help and we are SO grateful. 

All for His glory,

Christa