Friday, October 20, 2017

DAY 5: PEACE CYCLE, WATER DELIVERY, APPARENT PROJECT

A BEAUTIFUL EXCHANGE

Today started with a second day of tent church for a few of us. It moves us to tears to see believers completely abandoned to Jesus. They may be poor in things but rich in faith. It is a beautiful sight to see.

After breakfast, we stopped at Peace Cycle to tour a water bag recycle company. Haitians go through 5 million water bags in a day and Peace Cycle reuses these plastic bags to make wallets, pencil bags, hats, aprons, costars, and lots of purses/hand bags.

We then made our way to the 3 hands sculpture where we stopped to pray and give food to a blind beggar. We came to find out that he did have Jesus in his heart. He asked for prayer to have his sight restored, rides to get to church, and finances. Since it was in a busy round-a-bout we drew a crowd as we laid hands on him to pray for his healing. He thanked us and said we were an answer to prayer. This was indeed a beautiful exchange as we were all moved with compassion and love for this man. We shared with him that God still sees him and he is never forgotten. This statement was also moving for our team as well as we will never forget this experience and the way God was present in that moment.

Next stop was another Water Truck visit to Cite Soleil. With a few members sick some were worried about having less hands to help, but with the grace of God it felt like an easier day than our previous water truck day. Many were able to reconnect with Haitians they connected with on Wednesday or previous trips. It was a great reminder of God's great community. Some of the team ventured down alleys into their homes to deliver water and they were very happy and blessed that we were just with them. The Haitians just wanted to give back with whatever they had. When one member of the team got hurt the Haitian ladies took care of her by doing her hair and were just glad to be in her presence.

We ended the day with an anticipated shopping trip to apparentproject.org. Help support this great organization who are providing rehabilitation to the families in Haiti by creating jobs.

Glwa Pou Bondye (Glory to God)
~Beth, Tara, Ann, and Ariel

DAY 4: MASS GRAVES, GRACE VILLAGE FAMILY ORPHANAGE, ELDER VISITS IN TITANYEN

Hi Aleah and Abby coming to you live from Delmas Haiti. Yesterday we visited our sponsored elders. It was a very eye opening experience, especially for Aleah because it was her first time. Seeing the elders homes was interesting because its very different from back home. One was made out of just tarp for the walls, and some wood pillars for support. Although they had so little they greeted us with such respect and there biggest smile. One of the biggest smiles that I remember was two elder sisters that both had knee pain, so we let them keep muscle cream to help with the pain. They were so grateful for something so simple. It made me think how something so small could make such a big impact on someone, and the saying "Its the little things in life that count" applies not only to the sisters but to us as well. When visiting elders we also played around with some neighborhood kids. We brought bubbles, jump ropes, balloons, and nail polish. we not only put a smile on the kids face but the elders were laughing and having a fun time too. From washing the elders feet to giving them massages and praying over them. Overall it experience and something that I will never forget.
~Sincerely Aleah and Abby



DAY 3: ELDER SCHOOL, WATER DELIVERY, HAITIAN INITIATIVE FEEDING AND SOCCER PROGRAM

Good Morning From Haiti!

We are sharing the Healing Haiti housing with Father Talbot and his group.  We started our day by sharing a Catholic service with his group at Mother Teresa's.  It was a short service and a short walk home.  Whether the Church Tent service or Mother Teresa's I so enjoy the early morning walks back.  You get to see the city wake up, hear the roosters crowing, goats scrambling for food, parents scrambling their kids off to school.  And, to see these young kids in such immaculate uniforms the older kids holding the hands of the younger, motorcycles with 2-3 kids riding just trying to get to school......

After a wonderful breakfast of pancakes, scrambled eggs, oatmeal, fresh avocado and fresh squeezed passion fruit we headed out to the Elder School in the heart of City Soliel.  So many kids of all grades packed into such a small space - but they make it work.  Going to school is a privilege.  Most of the prayer requests from elders is to somehow find the money to get their kids and grandkids to school.......it is their gateway out of poverty.  So if you are reading this, you can sponsor a child for about 40$ a month.

Water truck day (there are three stops).  Every emotion can be felt on a day like this.  Pure unadulterated joy, sadness, pain, love, anger.....but the greatest of these is love - it is not ironic - its written in the bible.  All the other emotions cannot be diminished because its true.  You will feel the pain of carrying a five gallon water bucket with the tips of your fingers or carrying it with a wire handle without the comforts of a grip, and it hurts.  You don't just carry one bucket and rest, if we carried one, we carried 20 or more.  Your neck and back hurt.  My word of the day was "Can't" (which contains the word Can).  Just when I thought I can't take another bucket or walk another step, God provided the strength and endurance.  Not only are we carrying these bucket, but we balance ourselves out with a child on our hip.  They want to be held and loved as much as we want to hold and love them. You feel anger that it feels as though these people have been forsaken, you will feel sadness for the children (slave children) and the sheer poverty.  Despite that, what outweighs all of the negative emotions and what you will see is the smiles and laughter amongst the people and children.  So happy to see us, to be held, to feel hope and to feel loved.  Our sadness is ours - they are a happy people.

Two last thoughts on water truck day.  At the first water stop, I was handed a naked toddler.  I rocked this child and it slept in my arm for the greater part of half hour or more.  With all the chaos of a water stop, this child slept.  It reminds me of the verse "come to Me all who are weary, and I will give you rest."  We as God's disciples were able to do His work of providing rest for a weary child.  How amazing is that?  It felt wonderful.  And just think how happy God is when He provides us the rest we need.  What a great provider - thank you Jesus! 

My last thought was of an elderly lady that I had seen last year.  She stood by a wall with all her water buckets.  I was immediately drawn to her and felt the need to help her carry her water.  She did not want help at first, but I knew she was there for me as much I was there for her.  I did end up helping her carry her buckets, but about 2 minutes into my walk with her, I started to sob.  Here was an elderly lady, carrying water twice a day 6 times a week.  She is not retired down south, she has no pension plan or Medicare....she is just surviving into her golden years.  She set the bucket down, held my cheeks and kisses each of them.  She is consoling me.  How backward is that?  I knew what I was going home to.  I had so much and she had so little.  I couldn't reconcile this in my head, but here I was being held and comforted by this lady.......That was last year and she was never really far from my mind, in fact I still have her picture on my phone.  This year, when I got to water stop #2, I desperately looked for her amongst the sea of faces and chaos.  I knew about where she lived, and found a young family living there.  My heart sank, thinking maybe she passed away.  Thank you Jesus for letting me know her, if even for a few minutes.  When we got to water stop #3, I carried a water bucket for a young girl and then I made my way back to the water truck.  I looked up and I saw her standing in her doorway.  My heart leapt with joy.  I knew her face, I knew her.  I ran up to her and explained in broken French that I helped her last year and she hugged me hard.  What is this connection?  I am not sure.  I've known her all of a couple minutes for two water stops over a 1 year period.  All I know is that I love her!

Our last stop of the day was the Haitian Initiative and Feeding Program.  This is a chance for kids to go to school, play soccer and have a place to get some food - Thank you Feed My Starving Children. In order to stay in this program, kids must maintain good grades in school.  You may see some of the kids who do come to Minnesota to play in the Soccer Tournaments at Schwan's center.

In one year, I have seen great progress....Thank you Jesus for everything!
~Micki

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

DAY 2: SWEET HOME ORPHANAGE/SCHOOL & GERTRUDE'S SPECIAL NEEDS ORPHANAGE

This morning we had pancakes, scrambled eggs, and oatmeal - courtesy of our amazing Hatian Ladies Madam Keslet and Benrlande and a couple of team volunteers. They were magnificent. After breakfast we loaded up the tap-tap to head to Sweet Home, an orphanage founded after the earthquake in 2010. During our few hours there we spent time holding infants and coloring, tickling, and painting the nails of the older children. Before we left we got a tour of the compound from one of the staff, Alex. We got to see the classrooms, bedrooms, and cafeteria with the children tagging along the whole time. We also were shown a building that was started two years ago meant to be an expansion, able to house 50 new children. Unfortunately, construction of the building was halted due to financial complications, Alex was adamant in his requests for prayer.
After the tour we headed back to the guesthouse for lunch before our afternoon adventures. On the way to Gertrude's orphanage, our next stop, we stopped at Fleri farms for a quick tour. We got to see different types of fruit trees and taste coconuts straight off the trees. Then, we left for Gertrude's, this orphanage was created with the intention to serve children with physical and mental disabilities. The children there had so much joy, our visit eventually evolved into a dance party with the children learning new dance moves like the disco. Our visit also involved drawing with chalk, swinging, and wheelchair races around the bus. When we got back to the guesthouse for the evening we had dinner then went to cool down at the pool before our evening team meeting where we saw a slideshow of pictures from the day.
~Kendra & Jazzy

Monday, October 16, 2017

The Bridge Team - Day 6

Today was the last day of a week I can only describe as one of the most humbling, emotional, scary, sad weeks of my life. Yet it was also one of the most refreshing, encouraging, soul searching, loving, amazing weeks of my life. Sunday is supposed to be a day of rest, and that is a great way to describe today. We rose to a amazing breakfast where we all ate until we were satisfied; some of the group had traditional Haitian meals for the second day in a row. After eating we loaded on the tap tap and headed to tent church where we had went a few days earlier for a early morning service.

We worshipped God with fellow Haitian believers, and we all observed that the people at this church came intentionally seeking God and to sing praise and adoration to Jesus Christ who has done so much for them, which was humbling for me because I often don't walk into  church with the right spirit seeking to give God what he deserves, which is all the praise of my soul out of gratitude for the gift he has given me. Church was a blessing we all  needed and it was a great start to the day.

We left church and went back to the guest house and got ready to go up the mountain for some relaxation and shopping at the market. The trip up the mountain was about a one hour trip and when we got there to the top we were eager to get out and look for some of the items many of us already knew what we wanted. The  group got out of the tap tap, and Erika asked if we would rather shop first or eat. Most of us wanted to eat so our driver led us down a staircase to a restaurant on balcony that overlooked the entire city. The view was one of the most beautiful sights I have ever seen and a reminder of how amazing our God is that he created this beautiful place. The restaurant was so nice that you could easily forget that you were in Haiti and that just down the mountain is home to some of the most horrific living conditions on this planet. We enjoyed our food, and many of us tried foods we had never eaten before. Some of us got up and went shopping while we were waiting on the food to come out.

When we were all finished we all loaded up on the tap tap and headed down the mountain which turned into one of the most entertaining tap tap rides that we had experienced all week. Several of the girls started singing and dancing to some of their favorite songs which everyone had plenty of laughs over. All in all it was a great day to end a amazing week that I do not want to end. 

This week we have laughed, cried, and prayed together more times than you can imagine while serving in this country that is one of the hardest places in this world to understand.When you see the horrible things many of the Haitian people have to live through. Sometimes the only thing you can think is "WHY?"When I started this week I did not know why God called me to Haiti with this trip but as He always does He showed me in many powerful ways why I am here. This week we have served many beautiful people here in Haiti and that is one reason for sure, but it  wasn't the only one. I also had the honor to serve next to and make meaningful relationships with brothers and sisters in Christ that were part of this team and I truly love each and every one  of them. I have learned so much from each of them. GOD has been so good to us this week, and I am so grateful for this amazing opportunity.
             
           TOMMY.



Saturday, October 14, 2017

The Bridge Team - Day 5

Cite Soleil started as a home for sugar workers in the 1950's.  The Haitian government created an export processing zone near Cite Soleil in the 1970's and new factories sprang up.  People flocked to Cite Soleil seeking work at the factories.  In 1991 the coup that deposed President Jean-Bertrand Aristide led to a boycott of Haitian products which caused the factories to close.  In the 2000's the United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti was installed in Cite Soleil to provide security for neighborhoods terrorized by gangs.  The children recognizing the letter "U" on the side of the UN vehicles started calling out "Hey you."

My first memory of Cite Soleil is of a barefoot young boy probably 4 or 5 years old dressed only in a dirty striped shirt.  As our vehicle traveled past he raced after us down a dirty street lined with open sewage canals.  With a huge smile on his face and his arms outstretched he chanted, "Hey you!  Hey you!  Hey you!  Hey you!"

Today is our second water truck day in Cite Soleil.  We follow the water tank truck to a water station that sells water.  Our tank truck waits with 10 or 12 others to take on its cargo of 3000 gallons of water.  The  contents of the truck will be freely distributed to one small section of Cite Soleil.

People are lined up with their buckets, cooking oil jugs, and wash tubs  seemingly before we arrive.  As we try to exit our tap-tap truck small children crowd the back door, each vying for our attention by reaching  up to us and shouting "Hey you!"  We step down and have difficulty walking as children grab our arms, legs, and clothes.  Many of the children are partially dressed or wear no clothes at all.

Two people man the hose of the water truck and start filling containers.  Soon the rest of us are either holding small children or responding to requests of "Hey you" followed by fingers pointed towards their home.  Women ask us to set 5 gallon buckets on their heads.  Women and children say "Hey you" grabbing us by the hand, wrist, or shirt and lead us to their buckets.  The men are conspicuously absent.  Soon the orderly bucket line descends into chaos as children and others start cutting to the front of the line.  We carry bucket after bucket under a 108 degree heat index.  Toddlers shout "Hey you" from dirty alleys while other children hold on to our shirt tails hoping to be carried back to the water truck.  Parents offer us their infants and ask us to take them home with us.  We repeat these trips over and over until the truck is empty.  We drive back to the water station two more times and return to deliver water to two other sections of Cite Soleil.

I've been called "Hey you" hundreds of times in Cite Soleil, but I will not forget that solitary barefoot boy joyfully pursuing us.  He modeled how I need to joyfully pursue Jesus.

Hey You Jesus, please bless this little boy as he has truly blessed me.

Todd



Friday, October 13, 2017

The Bridge Team - Day 4

Today began early, before the roosters crowed and the sun came up. No horns were honking yet as we boarded the tap-tap, and beyond the gates of the guest house, only a few lights illuminated the streets. Tent church began at 6 AM and as we arrived early, we took our seats. We quickly realized Haitians don't actually sit in church. Worship was both communal and at the exact same time incredibly intimate. As the worship leaders sang, people began to come in. Some embraced and worshiped together, others walked around, while still others lay nearly prostrate on the floor. Some songs were sang in English, as well as some prayers.

 "Jesus, we come to you today, and we have no requests. We only want to praise you." It seems in America, where we want for nothing, we often come to the Lord with our hands outstretched asking for more. Today we witnessed a church going before God with their empty hands lifted high only with praise as they sang hallelujahs to Him- their Jezi, their powerful Jesus - because He deserves it.

"No requests", that's how we started our day.

"Ayiti pa bliye". January 12, 2010 is the day Haiti will never forget. Unaware of what an earthquake was or how to protect oneself in the event of one, many Haitians fled into buildings as the earth in Port au Prince began to tremble. Buildings tumbled down, and as the dust settled, the reality of what had happened left terror and grief in the heart of every Haitian. While it is impossible to arrive at an exact death toll, at least 160,000 people lost their lives. Everyone here lost someone, and some people lost everyone. The cemeteries were quickly filled to capacity, and as days passed and bodies began to decompose, it was necessary to remove them from the streets. A few kilometers west of Port au Prince, the Haitian government dug a mass grave and bodies were dumped and buried there. We stopped at the mass grave today as our Haitian friend Valery explained to us what that day was like for him. It is a peaceful and lovely monument nestled in the hillside, overlooking the water, but it is also a sobering reminder of how the life of a nation can be changed in an instant.

Further up the mountain in Titanyen, sits Grace Village- a true city on a hill, and a testament of the power of God's church-in a town that literally means "less than nothing".

 Today, the town flourishes.

Grace Village sits atop the hill- a medical clinic, a feeding center, a school for close to 400 children, and homes- real homes with a mom and a dad, for groups of orphaned children. Grace Village employs around 300 Haitian people, and empowers children by providing them an education, and job skills. Grace Village is a ministry of Healing Haiti, and as we toured the facility we were truly amazed by what God's people can do through the empowerment of His Spirit.

One of the ministries of Healing Haiti that we are able to participate in are elder visits. Quite simply, we visit the elderly people of Titanyen, bring them food, water, wash their feet, rub their aching muscles and joints, pray with them and sing to them. The three women we met with today received great joy from our visits, and we were each impacted in different ways by today.

I loved visiting with the elders, but at the third home we went to, I noticed a little boy with Down Syndrome standing by himself while all of the other children came to see who was getting off the tap-tap. We walked into the yard of the elderly woman, and the other children followed, but the little boy did not come. I knew the Lord wanted me to go to that little boy. I went to him and asked him his name in Creole, and realized he did not speak, so I stretched out my arms to him, and with a little hesitation, he came to me.

There is something the Spirit of God does to your heart in those moments that I can only describe as sacred.  As I held that boy, whom no one seemed to notice, I felt like I was holding my own son. I cupped his cheek and I kissed his head and I loved that precious little boy with everything I had and I begged Jesus to protect him and be near to him because I knew my time with him was so very short.

 It's almost like...God was loving him through me...like my arms were actually the Father's arms holding that little boy.

So I did what mothers do. I rocked him and I sang to him in a language He could not understand about a God who is so great I can't fully understand, all while he curiously stared at the guitar Tommy was playing. As he began to get heavy in my arms, I laid his head on my shoulder, and he wrapped his arms around me and fell asleep.

 I asked some of the other children what his name was. No one knew. They only knew he was sometimes called Dezi. Another boy soon came and took Dezi from my arms, and began to walk away with him. As he passed me by, outside of the gate of the home, he awoke, looked at me and made a small cry.

And for what seems like the hundredth time this week, my heart was shattered.

Soon we boarded the tap-tap, and I scanned the area for one last sign of Dezi, but I couldn't find him. Then, suddenly, as we passed by, he walked into the middle of the road and stood and watched us go. I watched him and he watched us until we could no longer see each other.

And as I reflect, I'm so thankful for a God who is omnipresent. Because while I was only able to be present with Dezi for a few minutes, the God who knit him together in his mother's womb and knew every one of his days before even one of them came to be...the God who knows his name...that same God is always with Him, and He will never leave him, or forsake him.

And today....today my omnipresent God gave me the privilege to kiss the face of His son.