Tuesday, April 2, 2019

Day 2 - Eager to Learn Serve

Our first morning in Haiti began with a delicious breakfast of pancakes, scrambled eggs with vegetables, oatmeal, and freshly squeezed grapefruit juice.  Then, with water bottles filled, we excitedly got on the tap tap to begin our day.  The first stop was the Haitian Museum where we learned about the four founding fathers of Haiti and the history of how this country came to be.  Our guide was very knowledgeable and enjoyed sharing his homeland with us.

Our next journey took us through the bustling, noisy, crowded streets of Port-au-Prince to our destination, La Loo Orphanage and School.  There, we met the precious children who sang some songs for us in their native language, Kreole.  Their principal then lead singing, dancing, and playing with the children and just having FUN!  Our team taught them the "Hokey Pokey" and then taught them some ASL.  There is a deaf boy there who doesn't know any sign language so our leader, Julie Friesen, taught him some signs and tried to communicate with him.  When it was time to load up the tap tap, we didn't want to leave.  Our interpreter (Kreole-English), was a huge help and so fun to have with us today.  His cousin's son is deaf and attends Haiti Deaf Academy (HDA) so he also knows a good bit of ASL! 

We bounced our way back to the Healing Haiti guest House for a little break and to get some great news!  Ashley, our planner, coordinator, and all-around "go to" person arrived with the soccer balls and backpacks that we had ordered to deliver to HDA later this week!  And, the best news of all??  Instead of the $425 that we raised for these items, the cost was only $266!!  That leaves $159 for other mission projects later this week.  We are so incredibly grateful!  We then unpacked the backpacks and added a little "ILY" key chain on to each backpack.  We are so excited to bring these to the staff and children at HDA on Saturday!!

Our final stop today was the Home for Sick and Dying Children and Babies.  Although our time was brief, we all left feeling pretty emotionally drained.  We played with and held the toddlers and surely there were many silent prayers being said for these beautiful little ones.

Dinner was another delicious family-style meal of chicken in lime juice and an amazing dish of rice, beans, carrots, beets, garlic, and greens.  Almost everyone had two helpings!  Dinner was followed by a trip to nearby hotel where we swam in the pool and met up with the other team that is here this week from Minnesota and Michigan.  We finished the evening with our devotion and "word-of-the-day" and sharing time.

God has been so gracious to us already and we've only been here ONE DAY.  We are EAGER and ready to SERVE again tomorrow.  Thanks for joining us in our journey and please continue to pray that we are open to whatever God has in store for us.

Monday, April 1, 2019

Day 1-Safe Arrival

Today as we traveled to Haiti, God was surely watching over our travels ensuring a safe and smooth day of travel. As we arrived in Haiti we greeted by very friendly faces from Healing Haiti! We loaded up in the Tap Tap for a short ride to our beautiful guest house. There we were greeted with more friendly faces where we exchanged ASL and Kreole greetings! Then received a lovely tour of the guest house. We unpacked our totes, settled in, then enjoyed a delicious first meal, tacos! Following dinner we got to witness a beautiful sunset while we enjoyed our nightly devotion. We are so thankful for safe travels today and are very excited to see Gods vision for this trip!

Sunday, March 24, 2019

Hello All,

The easiest way to explain today is restoration. After a week of giving our hearts and minds to helping Haitians, today was truly a sabbath day. We were welcomed into a Haitian church this morning and were lucky enough to be given head phones with English translation so we could understand and be a part of the message. The church was open to air on either side of the seating area. The left wall had tarps hanging down to shield us from the sun, and the right was open to beautiful palm trees. We all wished we could bring a few palm trees back to Eagle Brook!

After church we loaded up in to the top top and started an hour and a half journey to the beach. We were tossed around like bouncing balls, swerving and weaving through the craziest traffic you have ever seen; don't worry we took a video. We only hit one motorcycle and after both drivers exchanged glances, we kept driving as if nothing had happened. (Insurance cards don't exist here and surprisingly no one gets mad when you bump into them. What?!)

Soon enough we arrived at the beach and were blown away by its beauty. The mountains outlined our view of the bright blue turquoise ocean. The bright pink Haitian flowers outlined the beach hotel and there was a DJ on the edge of the beach blasting tropical remixes. We enjoyed fresh coconuts and frozen drinks. Some of us went snorkeling and others rented jet skis. We laughed, swam, and thoroughly enjoyed the day of bonding with each other. It was a blessing to experience the other side of Haiti to round out our view and understanding of the country.

While the day was amazing, we couldn't help but feel a twinge of guilt and confusion. Just 16 hours before we had been in the poorest slums in Cite Soleil where children were starving and families were thirsty for clean water. How did we deserve to be on this luxurious beach? This thought sparked meaningful conversations between us of how we can continue to give back to Haiti once we return to our usual lives in the US. Some of us want to sponsor children to attend school, others are interested in continuing to provide clean water.

Whichever way we choose to serve Haiti, we can make a larger difference together.

Much love,
The Eagle Brook Anoka Team

Saturday, March 23, 2019

Today was Saturday, the day before the Sabbath, and our final day of serving in Haiti.

We are ready to rest.

It never gets easier to enter into Cite Soleil for a water truck day; the smell of garbage and urine is overpowering as the children in dirty, torn clothing climb our bodies, desperate for affection. Mud cakes to the bottoms of keens and we walk through the labyrinth of mud and steel, delivering buckets of water to one-room houses that have nothing inside them, and yet are a precious home to someone. It hurts the heart to confront such severe lacking and consider our own excess.

We are worn out today, but through divine intervention, we're able to keep up with holding multiple children at once and carrying buckets of water to where they need to be. It's chaotic, it's wet, it's joyful, it's intimate, it's so very hot, and it's familiar. We know we can do this today because we've this before. We know how critical is for this community to receive water and how priceless it is to make people feel loved.

Two water truck stops and a playdate with the children later, we are sunburned, dehydrated, and exhausted. But it's good. We did what we came to do, and we did it well. We say heartfelt goodbyes to Cite Soleil and those that we have come to love (missing you already, Alex) and board for the next adventure.

We disembark at Fleri farm, a lush garden of fruit trees that is a mere 1.5 miles away from the barren desolation of Cite Soleil. The contrast is a striking, yet hopeful reminder that roses can and do grow in concrete. Our tour guide, Kenny, is the only American on this Haitian run-farm. He walks us through the impressive cultivation of plants that are able to provide both jobs and food to the Haitains. It's still hot, we've gone from mildly sunburned to bright red, but we're grateful to see another example of how the Creator is providing for His people.

We are beginning the process of preparing to re-enter the United States. Tonight, it looks like salsa dancing at the Elite Hotel. Tomorrow, it will be laying on a private beach. In every moment, it looks like an internal conversation with the Creator about what He wants us to bring home and how He wants us to reach the least of these in our own neighborhoods and communities. This is a difficult question to wrestle with, especially when we consider how very different our American life looks compared to Haiti, but when has following Him ever been easy? This is a welcome challenge, and we pray it is one that we will see through to the end.

But for now, we will dance, and sing, and laugh with joy in the Lord for all that he has done.
Our work is finished, and the Sabbath is here; we will rest.

Friday, March 22, 2019

Peaceful. Dignity. Palms Up. Moved. Colorful. Grateful. Touched. Thankful. Dedication. Peace. Different. Powerful. Praise. Broken. Challenging. Beautiful. Flourish.
We have been doing word of the day here in Haiti and the above words are what our team came up with for today's adventures. We started bright and early, well, not bright (before sunrise), but early, by heading to a local church at 6 am. It was a pleasure to see how the locals praise God in their own unique way. Eagle Brook should watch out, we have some wild ideas coming back ya'll ;) But seriously, it was truly fabulous to see how we were welcomed in to their space with open arms and how they paved a path for us to join in on their worship.
After church we headed back to the guest house on foot (a journey of its own) to grab a quick breakfast and then left for Titanyen. Haiti is hot, Titanyen is hotter :) We toured the lovely Grace Village and saw God at work through the staff, the students, and the surrounding community. They have a wonderful facility set up with a very innovative design that truly allows the students to focus on their education - which is a true key to success here in Haiti.
After Grace Village we went and visited 4 different Elders whom we were were able to care for today. What we thought would be a blessing for the elders proved to be a true blessing for each member of our team in a unique way. We prayed for them, they prayed for us, we sang to them, washed feet, painted toe nails, gave massages, rubbed lotion on legs, hands and arms, shaved beards, and most importantly, we were present for them and provided physical touch. We were able to visit each elder at their own home, which also proved to be a great opportunity for us to experience authentic Haitian life. Amazing is an understatement for this experience.
After visiting with the Elders we stopped at Rosie's, a local boutique for a some quick food, and shopping, then headed over to Fleri Bakery and Pizza for supper. This organization employees 30 locals who make no joke, the BEST pizza and bakery items :) Fleri Bakery buys their ingredients locally which in turn boosts the local economy. This is also key in Haiti as it creates more jobs. I think most of us had to waddle out of their at the end of our meal as we were all stuffed!
Thanks for reading this far and staying with us on our journey. We are sad it is soon to end but we are still eager and have ready hearts for the remainder of the days. Thanks for your continued prayers and support for us on this adventure - we love you all!

Wednesday, March 20, 2019

Day 3 EBC Anoka

Day 3 for our EBC Anoka (mostly) team!

We started the day going to Peace Cycle, where the amazing owner/founder (Rose from Indiana) explained to our group the process of taking small plastic drinking bags from the streets and making them into useful products! Peace Cycle exists to help give Haitians employment, dignity and an amazing sense of community. I picked up some cool new checkers board for my kids and a square zipper pouch!

We then went to Teach Haiti which is a school with about 250 kids. We got to play during recess hopscotch, jump rope, soccer, basketball, and drawing on dry erase boards. They have a little boutique where merchandise is sold to support the children's education as well.

Our third stop of the day was the grocery store called Giant. Its very similar to grocery stores at home, with air conditioning (felt amazing) except they are slightly smaller and have less inventory on the shelves. I picked up some Mt. Dew, Pringles and Pop Tarts- the essentials of course;)

Our fourth stop for the day was at Papillion, which employs around 150 Haitians that make a wide variety of products (all the things that are at the market at Feed My Starving Children are from Papillion)! Papillion started with one woman (from Washington state) who came to Haiti to adopt a child, but soon realized that the child's mother actually wanted be reunited with the child, but because of a lack of income, she had no finances to support her child. So Papillion focuses on job creation to help with orphan prevention. I also need to mention that they have a great Clay Cafe upstairs, with super yummy pizza and sweet drinks!

Our last stop for the day was at La Phare, which is a smaller orphanage. We pulled out our tote of toys again- sidewalk chalk, jump ropes, soccer balls, a parachute and dry erase boards. It was so fun to see kids smiling and laughing with us! We marched in a circle, holding hands and singing playful, Haitian songs.

Its been two years since I have last been to Haiti. I am so inspired and awestruck at the progress of roads and buildings since my last visit. Things in Haiti change slowly, but its still progress and its beautiful!

Tuesday, March 19, 2019

"Hey you!" was my word of the day today.  We heard this all day long from all the children who greeted us all day in Cite Soleit.  After a delicious breakfast at the guest house, we loaded up the tap tap (a covered, screened type pick up truck) and headed out to meet the water truck.  First we stopped at Hope School and saw all the children in all their classrooms with their teachers.  The school serves over 300 children.  The joy, laughter, and smiles  and "hey you's" were amazing. It was unbelievable to me that the Hope Complex was built on a former garbage land fill.  They dug down through 40 feet of garbage, then another 40 feet to build on top to create this complex.  First, the school was built several years ago, then a Medical Clinic, Dental office, lab and pharmacy were added & has been operating for 6 weeks now.  For people who have been here several times, it was evident that incredible progress has been made through Healing Haiti.

Then the water truck arrived and for this first timer, it was an overwhelming experience.  Kids were running, arms up, wanting to be picked up.  We scooped up so many children, held them, played with them and smiled with them while buckets after buckets were lined up and filled.  Everyone had a job to do and we took turns holding the hose, directing the water, lining up buckets and various size containers, carrying the buckets and playing with the kids while they bathed, danced and played.  Even though I don't speak French or Creole, the language of water, love, God, hope, faith, holding, helping and healing was universal.  I truly felt like we were the hands and feet of Jesus all day. 

We met the water trucks at 3 separate water truck stops and each stop was unique.  In between we took a walk through the city and walked down the alley ways and saw where families lived.  A stop at the ocean turned into a an impromptu song and dance led by our driver, glorifying God.  We also stopped at the pier and saw people catching fish. The mountains, the ocean breeze, the rubble, the dichotomy of all that is beautiful and heartbreaking were all evident.   

After coming back to the guest house, one of our devotions we talked about being was "stretched" and I truly felt stretched today - mind, body, spirit, beyond my comfort zone - but I am thankful for this experience today.  I saw God in the world today and how I can be of service to Him and others.  It was an amazing day and I cannot wait until tomorrow!