Thursday, April 27, 2017

April 27, 2017

Hello Friends and Family,

We had an event filled day today. We went to Grace Village and toured the orphanage, school, library, and medical and dental clinic. There are 4 Healing Haiti volunteers at this site. All of the teachers, cooks, maintenance, doctors, nurses, etc are Haitians. This is a great organization that has really become the heartbeat of what Healing Haiti is and does. They teach and feed 350-400 students every day, and the children are so social, extremely respectful, and beautiful in every way. Recent new additions to Grace Village include a farm for growing fresh produce to feed the children/community, as well as a new bakery and restaurant that employ several local people and have also created small business opportunities for people to sell baked goods back in their neighborhoods. Next, we visited a man in his 20s who is bedridden and cared for by his mother. Our group helped position him a bit and prayed over him and his sweet mother who is literally keeping her baby alive. We also visited a sweet 76-year old lady who was so kind and gentle. We sang songs, washed her feet, and prayed over her for her family and their safety. We learned the disparity of healthcare is powerful…we are so blessed to have the healthcare that we have. Most of the world does not have it at all. Then, we went to the mass grave site where over 300,000 were buried after the 2010 earthquake. It is very powerful to consider what happened that day, all the dead, all those who lost their loved ones and how the ones left behind had no choice but to go on. These are resilient people! Our day concluded with a home-cooked Haitian dinner and an exciting trip to the local supermarket. Imagine 11 Caucasians and 1 "Blanco Noir" (African American) wandering around and giggling as if we’d never seen a grocery store before. Thank God for our Haitian friend who accompanied us. Thanks for all the prayers! We are all holding up well. God is good – all the time.

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

April 26, 2017

Sak Pase(What’s up) Loved ones?

Today was a Wednesday not to forget.  It was water truck day.  What this means is we, our awesome healing Haiti team delivered water to 3 Haitian communities.  We supplied 9,000 gallons of water.  The process included filling up a water truck, following the water truck to the communities, and filling up the people’s buckets with water.  You would have thought the water was liquid gold.  When we first got out of the tap, tap; we were greeted by children with their smiles, hugs, and love.  The love we felt was over-whelming.    People came out of their homes lined up with buckets to get their water for that day.  We helped them transport buckets of water to their homes, helped them place buckets of water on their heads for transport, and helped delegate the filling of the buckets.  Meanwhile, a lot of us were spreading out love and God’s love to the community;)

From this experience, all of us will never look at water the same way again.  We all sat down together at dinner and had a heart-filled discussion about our day and one word to describe it.  Our words to describe this amazing experience included: water, survival, community, justice, protection, support, provision, sweet, revelation, desperate, family, and love.  Each of us had a unique experience that will forever change us.

Thank you Jesus for the love and support you give us every day.  We would have not got through this day without your saving grace.  We were your hands and feet.

Jezi renmen ou (Jesus loves you) and we love all of you too!

PS I love you M&M

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

April 25, 2017

Day Two in Ayiti (Haiti)

Today was our first full day in Haiti.  Our driver Valery was soooo amazing!  Many of the streets we were on were chaotic, full of cars, motorcycles, bikes and pedestrians and he managed to get us from point A to point B without any complications!  We made our first stop at the Home for Sick & Dying Adults where we rubbed lotion and gave massages, along with applying nail polish to the women's fingers and toes.  Although we couldn't speak their language (Creole), it was enlightening to see the connections we could make just buy non-verbal gestures and touch.  

Our next stop was a Haitian History Museum where we got to be indoors with some air conditioning and hear about the history of this country dating back to the 1400s.  

Our final stop for the day was at an orphanage where we did a simple art project, played soccer and did lots of jump roping.  Within 5 minutes of arriving, kids were lifting their arms in an innocent attempt to be held and loved.  It was hard to deny them any affection.  

We came with a mission to love and support these people today and it really felt like the mission was accomplished.  Even though we are just one 12 person team here in Haiti, it's comforting to know that teams are coming back here week after week to continue the love and support.  Our awesome Healing Haiti leader, Angela, spoke at supper tonight about the story of the starfish.  ( Its true that at times you can doubt that you are making an impact, but that the reality is that each person here being the hands of God is making a difference, one Haitian at a time.  

April 24, 2017

Greetings from Port-au-Prince, Haiti! Despite a very early morning wake-up (~3am), our travels were seamless and God provided extreme provision. Our drivers greeted us in Haitian style with the tap-tap (pronounced top-top) and whisked us through the busy streets to our Guesthouse. It has been refreshing to the soul to see green palm trees and bright flowery backdrops, although the heat required a bit of acclimation for us Minnesotans. The gracious staff cooked a hearty meal to meet the taste buds of us wary travelers – Shepherd’s Pie with Coca-Cola and 7-Up. As a group, we are experiencing an array of emotions – from anticipation to confusion to gratefulness. The final details for our first day of field travel tomorrow are underway. As Day 1 comes to a close, this group is anxiously watching the clock until bedtime.

Creole Word of the Day: Glwa Pou Bondye (Gwah poo bone-jay): Glory to God

Sunday, April 23, 2017

An Attempt

Jour 7

On the final stretch of our mission trip, we made our way in a full tap-tap to Grace Church. The morning had been a hectic race to leave on time, causing me to forget my water bottle. Luckily, Norma was kind enough to share her extra bottle with me today. We arrived early even though we were actually late, but I guess no one is really late if they come to worship. We could hear the little kids getting their pre-church lesson, filled with the repetition of "Jayzee" which is Creole for Jesus and horribly misspelled by me (I can't help picturing Jesus in a Yankees hat next to BeyoncĂ©). I guess a new rule was instated that kept the children from sitting with us this morning, but that didn't stop some adventurous guys from high-fiving us as they walked in. Instead, the littlest kids were watched by older kids, who themselves were watched by teenagers. Then there was a man with a mustache who I think was in charge of everyone under twenty as he was very concerned when kids would go to the bathroom. He probably thought they were just going to go play outside. Anyways, the music started playing, and church began. We recognized some songs, and enjoyed the ones we didn't know just as much. One little guy was playing air guitar on his bottle, hidden just enough so that the  mustachioed man would not see. We had to leave after the worship (which was really amazing) so that we could make our way to the beach. We felt a little guilty, but were tired from our week, and relieved to have some time to relax.

We played on this trampoline-of-doom floating in the ocean.: two trampolines connected by an inflatable bridge. Isabelle hurt her knee, Kaylee ran across just fine, Norma made her way across slowly but steadily, and a Brazilian UN guy tried to slip and slide his way across with some success. Carol lost her headband and I did a side-flip into the water (on accident). Afterwards, a few of us went snorkeling. I was hesitant to, but couldn't resist the temptation of some sweet coral. Zero sharks were seen (thank God), but a sea urchin, brain coral, and jellyfish were spotted. We all crunched ourselves on the shallow reef, bearing our scars to this day (today). I'd read in a National Geographic magazine that coral reefs around the world are experiencing bleaching due to pollution. This reef was pretty, but definitely bleached, a real bummer because now the fish have to find a different hang out. Carol had a rock activity (the mineral one, not The Ramones) planned for us, and some of us are coming home with rocks, and some left ours in the ocean. I bought some shells from a young man who said he liked Mexico, because flattery works sometimes. Walking back, I saw well off Haitian families chilling by the pool, hugging their well dressed children and smiling at their spouses.

We rode home in an even more full tap-tap while it rained. The tap-tap metal and the rain created a kool-aid of dirt water which dripped on us during the long trip back. We showered, then ate some sandwiches with fresh guacamole. It was so green that Carol joked that it glowed in the dark. The plan was to then go to a supermarket and buy Haitian goods. We made our way through a trendy part of Port-au-Prince. Club music was bumping, the street food was frying, and bearded hipsters rode their motorcycles through the crowds of young people. I love watching Anthony Bourdain, and he always says that hipsters ruin cities. In our country, these gentrifying millennials certainly do, but here in Haiti they show a growing young middle class. Of course the supermarket was closed, so we rode to another one. Carol was thrilled to show us her favorite goods, but I broke her heart by telling her that most of those products were from Hispanic countries. I still feel a bit bad, but Sam showed us some real Haitian stuff, so we were fine. Dan got a lot of coffee, and our battle money was carefully examined as the locals shopped. I drank my Limonade happily as Kaylee exclaimed that it was just a Seven Up. It's not.

We got home and found Christina and Al waiting for us to come back from our excursion. We talked about the reentry process, and how to deal with it. Naturally, we are sad about leaving. I am already anxious about school, texting my dad about how to print my essay that's due tomorrow. Montaigne created the essay to be an "assai", French for "an attempt". This week has been an attempt for us to understand Haiti, a country represented as only pain and poverty in our own country. We've attempted to understand the good and the bad, the poverty and the hope, the kids and the elderly, our prejudices and their openness. No, we did not save Haiti. We were part of an agricultural process by which seeds are being planted throughout this country. These seeds of hope are bearing fruit. A baby's smile, a job for a teenager, or a massage for an elderly man are a part of the process. Seeds grow and create orchards, and suddenly you have some prime land. I can see opportunity on the horizon. Colombus (who's in many ways a chump) saw this opportunity when he landed here too. This one documentary I watched talked about how the developing world just needs more opportunity. Luckily, Haiti, like all nations, is part of a new global network of human activity, commerce, and culture. Our team extended our hands, but ultimately it will be the Haitian people who pull themselves up. I want to close with another quote from another Californian, Kendrick Lamar, "If God's got us then we're gonna be alright!"

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Haitian Kibe

Log 137 (Day 6)

Waking up an hour earlier than normal, I was excited for the state of complete exhaustion which would overtake our team after our two water stops. My own modestly exercised body was pushed to the limit on our first water truck day, so I naturally expected the same to happen today. As we sat around the breakfast table, we learned that the rain had made the roads to Cite Soleil too difficult to drive on, and the entire endeavor of giving out water was deemed illogical by the drivers who reasoned that the rain would provide people with enough water for the day. After a unanimous decision, we made our way to an orphanage for sick and dying babies. Chance the Rapper has this song where he talks about negative things actually being blessings in disguise. Today was one those scenarios. Being there with the babies reminds me of that scene in the Rugrats Movie (a Carrillo family favorite) where all the babies sing and dance. There are so many tiny babies with distinct personalities, it's just awesome. The difference is that the babies we were with are in various stages of disease and malnutrition. I read somewhere that the most distressing sound for human beings is a baby crying, and the most pleasant sound is a baby laughing. Needless to say, this was one of the best and hardest experiences for us. It's just human nature to love babies. And babies love us too. 

We went to another orphanage afterwards, LaPherre's, where we sang and made crafts with some kids. These kids weren't as antsy as the kids from yesterday, who could hit that nae nae, and I thought were lots of fun (although I wasn't in charge so I just rejoiced in the middle of the chaos with a little girl meticulously decorating her styrofoam cross). These little guys sang and clapped and danced happily, but politely. One little girl chugged a frozen soda afterwards, a reward for her hard work. I was eventually approached by a little girl who wanted to go on my shoulders. Never having attempted this before, I was terrified for her safety, but eventually got her up with the help of Al. We watched as the rest of the team played jump rope with some girls who put us to shame, or talked to some of the kids who wanted to practice their English, or just sat with some children who wanted to be held. One little guy sat smugly placing stickers on his face. When I gave him a thumbs up and told him I liked his style, he just shot me this cool look that said "I know; I'm awesome". These visits to orphanages always seem too short, but I know that they have a lasting impact for the kids we get to interact with. 

Our day ended at Fleri Bakery, a bakery created for Haitian job creation. Down the hill from Grace Village, a young man about my own age took our order for pomme frites, Haitian Kibe (a delicious empanada type food), papitas and mango salsa, and three different pizzas. This young man is part of a program that seeks to give applicable skills to kids transitioning from school to the real world. He understood our orders given to him in 100mph English, smiling as he brought us our feast. Throughout the week, I have noticed that there is a generation of young Haitians growing up in the most interconnected world ever. They have grown up in a Haiti of relative stability (compared to the past) and incredible optimism. You can feel the hope manifesting itself into tangible reality. For example, the road outside our guest house is currently being paved. We had to walk about two blocks because of the dirt and machinery blocking our path, a small price to pay for the progress of an amazing country. Last year, I watched this movie where this guy talked about his life growing up as a Korean orphan in (I think) Belgium with his adoptive family. The South Korea of a generation ago, filled with war and poverty and pain, is nothing like the South Korea of my generation, filled with "Oppa Gangnam Style!", delicious barbecue, and makeup gurus. Perhaps the Haiti of my children's generation will carry similar connotations. I really hope so. The people here deserve it. They are kind, and strong, and fun, and just love life so much. In closing, I have to quote the great California native Ice Cube, "Today was a good day". 

Yours Truly,
Emmanuel Carrillo


Hi - Dan here, ready to write my reflections on what our team experienced today on Day 4 of our Healing Haiti trip.

Today our LIFE began with an early wake-up call so we could attend the 6:00 a.m. worship service at The Church on the Rock, a Haitian megachurch where many Haitian Christians begin their day, every day, worshiping God before going to work. It is definitely something to see and experience; like nothing most of us have ever witnessed before: people walking and praying and waving and singing and kneeling and swaying, praising and interceding and beseeching the Lord with talented musicians and worship leader moving the service along.

After breakfast, our LIFE took a surprising turn. We loaded our tap tap with all of our gear for the day - and promptly unloaded it into a substitute tap tap because our vehicle had an oil leak problem. Then we proceeded to our first ministry opportunity of the day at the Home for Sick and Dying Adults, an incredible care facility that seeks to bring comfort, healing, and LIFE to hurting Haitians. No photos are allowed, and so we can't show you what it is that we were part of. But we all agree that it was a beautiful, challenging, rather intimate relational experience where we were welcomed into the wards of the men and women to massage and relieve their aching bodies. We don't know exactly what each patient's ailment was, but their responses to our ministrations were beautiful to behold. We usually began by applying lotion to their legs, gently rubbing this soothing balm into their thighs, calves, legs and feet (a good opportunity to practice reflexology on the very tough, calloused bottoms of their feet!). Next we moved on to their arms and hands, easing their biceps and forearms with long, careful strokes and deeper pressure on their palms and between their fingers. The men then quickly pulled up their pajama tops, eagerly waiting for more massage on their stomachs, chests, and backs. No shyness, no awkwardness, no modesty at all - they simply opened themselves to the LIFE-giving touch we offered their sick and hurting bodies. I could see the peace and release in each man's face and in the way their shoulders and necks relaxed as I wiped lotion on their front torsos and pushed in more deeply on their backs, pressing out the tension and stiffness from whatever illness had them bound up. One man smiled and sighed and slowly nodded his head, affirming the healing touch I was giving him. Another man, Joshua, reached out and grabbed my hands when I finished with him, thanking me with smiles for the massage I had offered him. Altogether, I ministered to nine or ten men, and when the bell rang to summon us out of the wards, the four of us - Al, Sam, Emmanuel, and myself - were delighted to learn that we had massaged every single male patient! It was the same with the women. Not one patient was neglected.  The LIFE of each one was personally acknowledged and touched. Thanks be to God!

Following our lunch in the tap tap and a visit to the Haiti National History Museum, we experienced LIFE in a very different way: with about 40 very active children at the LaLoo orphanage. Despite what we would probably consider a dire living situation (life in in orphanage in downtown Port-au-Prince, with limited resources and opportunities), these kids were an active, loud, happy, relational bunch that were mighty hard to corral and do activities with. We sang songs with them (you should've seen the boys and the girls try to master their part on "Hallelu, hallelu, hallelu, hallelujah! Praise ye the Lord!:), laughed through an extended version of "If you're happy and you know it, clap your hands" in Creole with our driver, Max, keeping the beat on a cajon, and then every one of us got pulled into a huge "dance-off" with the kids leading the way (my "step" was a rhythmic version of my famous "bear rug imitation" flat out on the floor - what else?!). Next we pulled out a frisbee, soccer ball, hackey sacks, and bubbles for the kids to enjoy. Our final activity was a craft, organized by Norma, that highlighted the Resurrection: large cross necklaces that each child could decorated with a variety of stickers and jewels, expressing their own unique design and creativity - the special, energetic LIFE that God has placed in each one of them.

This theme of LIFE has been one that the Lord has been pressing into my consciousness throughout this week in Haiti. I'm seeing this country and this people differently than in my past two trips to this very beautiful island nation. In the past, I had a hard time seeing past the poverty, the hardships, the brokenness, the needs, the leftover devastation from the 2010 earthquake - what you would expect in the poorest of all the countries in the western hemisphere. But this time it's different. Through Healing Haiti's incredible work, partner ministries, seeing new construction projects, job creation opportunities, organizations that improve the lives of both children and adults (Haiti Initiative, Apparent Project) - this time I see new LIFE/new hope/a new future for this country and this people. What a privilege to have even a very tiny, small part in bringing this future to fruition. Glwa pou bondye! Glory to God.

One other thought, which is also related to LIFE. We learned this week that the suicide rate in Haiti is very very low. Haitians seek LIFE, no matter what! Yet from the perspective of us in the USA who have so much, we might wonder: Why? When you see the hard lives of the Haitian people, many living in tiny shacks, needing water delivered to their neighborhoods, unsure of where their next meal might come from, lack of medical care, lots of unemployment, almost none of the material comforts, securities, and opportunities that we in America can't live without, you have to wonder: why do they strive so hard, at all costs, for LIFE? Then, consider the USA, and the suicide rate in our country. In a nation where we, its citizens, have so much to make LIFE rich and comfortable and secure why do so many choose "not-LIFE?" Why is the suicide rate so high in America? Taking this attitude a step farther, what about abortion and now euthanasia in our country? The attitude that some are better off with "not-LIFE" (not wanted, not convenient, a hardship, better off terminated......) Ah! As I interacted this week with little Haitian children with deformities, no parents or guardians except an orphanage, infants close to dying, elders living alone in rural Haiti in tiny shacks - people living the very lives that I fear all-too-many in America would consider better off with "not-LIFE," I have to say that we in the richest country in the West have a whole lot to learn from this amazing country of Haiti when it comes to values, priorities, and the meaning of LIFE. Again, I thank God for the insights and the way my heart and life are enriched by sharing LIFE with the Haitian people.