Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Dare's Orphanage

July 6, 2016 - Joy. Indescribable joy. Uncontainable joy. This is what I felt today at Dare’s, the whole time I was there, I was filled with a light, a sense of peace, hope, and joy like none I have ever experienced. This may seem like a weird feeling for some, as Dare’s is an orphanage for children with special needs, but for me, all I saw and felt spelled out love to me. At the door we were greeted with a big smile and a sense of welcome by a boy who is blind. As soon as I got in the doors, some very silly boys found me. They honed in on me and clung to me. One of them was the most adorable little guy who was missing an eye. He did not let that get the best of him though, and we soon realized that he was the “go-to” guy if we had any questions. The boys and I were outside on the patio, but I felt a sense of needing to go inside, so I had the boys lead me in. There, I discovered another silly and rowdy boy. It struck me that I needed to play with them just like I would play with any child, just because they have special needs doesn’t mean that I should treat them any differently. So of course, I started tickling them, we were laughing so hard, and soon another girl joined us. So there we were, the five of us tickling each other and giggling. The boys then lead me outside, where they showed me some toys and we played for a bit. Something was calling me back inside, I wasn’t quite sure what, but I decided that I needed to follow my heart. I went inside and said hi to two of the kiddos, but still I knew there was something else I needed to do. I turned around, and I knew it. Him. The boy who completely and totally captured my heart. I sat down next to him and started rubbing his arm, he let out the best laugh and showed me the most beautiful smile I have ever seen, his overbite, his crooked and gapped teeth … I have NEVER seen anything so beautiful. He leaned in to me, smiling and laughing. I looked at him and I just thought he needed to be outside, I wasn’t sure how often people take him outside as he doesn’t walk well or even appear as though he can walk. I knew that was why I was I had felt pulled to be inside, to get this boy and bring him outside. So I picked him up and brought him out, I carried him around and danced along to the neighborhood music. Then I noticed that some of the people I was with were pushing the children in wheelchairs and having races. So I got a wheelchair for him and we were ready to play. Cue the most beautiful smile in the world, again. I had him and one other girl in my wheelchair, we were zipping down, doing fun turns and the kids were yelling “ALE! ALE!” (let’s go, let’s go) and “beep, beep, BEEEEEEEEEEP!”. It was wonderful, full of laughter and joy and smiles. The mischievous boys I was playing with earlier were of course in one of the racing wheelchairs, yelling louder than the rest. It was wonderful. After the races, I sat down next to my guy and remembered that Kathy (one of the women on our team) told me he loved to sing. So I started to sing, immediately he smiled, and started clapping. Members of my team joined in, another child pulled up a chair to join, and the children all over the courtyard started singing. It was absolutely amazing, my heart SWELLED. The children taught me some songs in creole that I didn’t know, and my blind friend that greeted us at the door came over and taught me even more, plus some phrases. He asked me if I was born again, and when I asked if he was he said “#1 is God, He is my life”. Between songs, I kept blowing kisses or making kiss noises at my little guy, eventually he started making them back at me. He would pucker, I would pucker back, and he would lean back with this belly laugh … and oooh weee. If I had not already been in love with this child his laugh would have done me in. I will never forget that laugh, in all of my days. I will never forget the beauty, the peace and the joy on the children’s faces as they sang songs about a God who loved them. At some point while singing, two things hit me. First, that these kid’s knew God, they knew of his love and they had felt his love. Second, that I needed today more than I ever knew, that today was a defining moment in my call to serve in Haiti. If all of that didn’t prove the second thing, I can tell you what did … After we said our goodbyes, and my guy got brought inside, our blind friend asked if he could pray for us. We circled up to pray, and as he was praying I looked back inside, and there was my guy … Kissing in the air.

Jezi Remen Tout Timon Na
Tout Timon Nan Le Monde
(Jesus Loves the Little Children, All the Children of the World)

-Chloe Hofstad

Home for Sick and Dying Children and Apparent Project

July 6, 2016 - Today was filled with hope.  In the morning, our team split into two different groups.  Half our team went to Dari’s orphanage for children with disabilities.  The other half, (the one I was a part of) went to Home for Sick and Dying Babies.  This place is an amazing organization that takes in sick babies and young children and offers them love, medical assistance, and clean food/water.   While we were there, we held babies/children and showed them love along with assisting to feed them during lunch.  One moment during our visit really hit me hard.  I was in the room where the very sick babies were located.  There was one baby who I held for a long period of time and who was obviously very sick.  As I held and showed him love, I strongly felt God’s presence, and the word “beloved” started to repeat through my mind.  At that moment, I felt like God was telling me that all of these children are His beloved, despite their current circumstances, and there is nothing that will ever change His unfailing love for them, and everyone in the world.

Once we got back to the house, we ate lunch and visited this incredible organization called “The Apparent Project”.  This organization is focused on job creation with the Haitians in order to help keep families together.  We were given a tour of the facility where the Haitians were creating the merchandise’s that is sold to support their family.  I was in awe of the joyful and hopeful environment, and how God’s is working through this organization

Bondye si bon (God is so good)
- Jenna Rathlisberger 

Cite Soleil

July 5th 2016 – Today was our second day in Haiti and boy was it hot! We started off our morning with breakfast (fresh mangoes, French toast, oatmeal, pancakes and eggs) followed by circle time to prep ourselves for the day ahead. After closing in prayer, we loaded up into the tap-tap (a brightly colored truck that is enclosed in the back and serves as our mode of transportation)! Once out, we visited three different districts of Cite Soleil, delivering water to each of them. At each stop, we were greeted by chants of “Hey you!” and warm hugs from all the children. At our first stop, we were able to witness one of the wonderful opportunities Healing Haiti has created by visiting the new church and school that has been built on what used to be a waste filled lot. It is so amazing to learn about how those here worship and love God despite living in such poor conditions. It is truly inspirational.

We've been having some trouble with the internet - but pictures of our day will be posted shortly!!

- Caitlyn  

We Arrived!

July 4th 2016 – We arrived safely in Haiti! After a long day of traveling from Chicago and Minneapolis, we met most of the team in Miami, ready to start this adventure as a group. After a 90-minute plane ride, we finally arrived in Port-au-Prince! We were greeted at the airport by a wonderful band, friendly smiles and warm welcomes by all of those around us. Around 3 p.m. we arrived at the guest house where we met another team member. We decided to utilize our time before dinner for playing soccer with the neighborhood kids, and boy were they amazing athletes! While we started off ahead in points, the ending score resulted in them winning by a long shot. What we lacked in skill, we made up for in effort!  

Dinner, made by our amazing hosts, was shepherd’s pie and pepper salad, and needless to say, there were absolutely no leftovers by the time we were done! We closed off our evening in some processing time and word of the day. “Blessed”, “Content”, “Excited”, and “Home” were some of the amazing things that we were all feeling after arriving to our new home for the next 8 days. At the end of the evening our two final team members from Atlanta arrived. Our team was now complete with a total of 19 goers! Full of anticipation, and exhaustion, we felt prepared and ready to start our first day in the field delivering water.