Howdy friends and family! It’s Max back again with another fantastic blog! Today I am joined b one of the other adults on the trip, Lori MacKinnon. This is her first trip to Haiti and she is joined by her niece Abby Lawrence (also her first trip). Breakfast this morning was great as usual, but they threw a curveball and served French toast. (Shoutout to Grace O for helping in the kitchen this morning!) After breakfast we prepared for our day trip to Grace Village (GV) and the elder visits in Titanyen, a small town about an hour North of Port Au Prince. Usually an hour drive in the Tap Tap is already pushing it but we thought to ourselves, “Hey why don’t we add 4 extra people who also need to go to Grace Village in our Tap Tap?” All 21 of us (plus the two guides) squeezed into the Tap Tap and hung on for dear life in the rough roads to Titanyen. After we got to Grace Village we were once again greeted immediately by all the little ones. The school year was already over for the younger kids but it was finals week for the high school age students at Grace. A soccer game quickly ensued and we all instantly got attached to the kids. Kiki, the long term missionary at Grace Village, then gave us a great tour of the complex and told some great stories of how the kids were reunited with their parents. For those of you who don’t know, Grace Villages whole goal is to take the orphans that they do have, and reunite them with their families. The orphan crisis in Haiti is not that the parents don’t want their kids anymore, it is simply that they can’t afford to care for the kids anymore, so they are forced to put them into an orphanage. Healing Haiti has also been reaching out into the community to help these families get jobs and have a stable support income in order to successfully raise these children under their own roofs. I personally met a little boy named Fronzy last time I was in Haiti at Grace Village. I had brought a picture with him to GV today in hopes of finding him, but after talking to Kiki, it turns out that little Fronzy has actually been reunited with his family. I was a little sad to hear that I wasn’t going to be able to see him but it gives me great hope for the program. It was so great to hear that he was reunited with his family and was now living the way he should be. We also heard a story about a woman who had been searching for six years for her son after the 2010 earthquake. She had searched through boxes upon boxes of records in order to find her son and thankfully, after six long years, they were reunited. Stories like these give the team such hope and the future looks very promising for GV. The team then loaded back up on the Tap Tap and we began our elder visits. Marijo stayed back at GV to work at the clinic. She is the GV clinic ambassador for the the Healing Haiti team back state side so this was her way of checking up on the clinic. The rest of us then began to visit the elders. Today we had scheduled for five stops, but only four showed, as one of the elders had gone out for the day as we arrived. At each of the elder’s homes, we washed the elders feet, applied lotion on their hands along with massages, painted nails, sang songs of worship, and prayed with the elders for their hopes and fears. For these elders who had nothing and came from Titanyen, which is not a wealthy village by any means, they never prayed for materialistic things. Their requests all consisted of strengthening their faith, health for their families, and growing their relationships with God. We also gave them a care package before we left and noted requests that would be delivered with the next team that came to visit. There were many kids at each of the stops. Balloons were a big hit along with some pillow case dresses that we gave to the little girls at each of the stops. Ryan and I also painted nails for the first time today. Ryan witnessed a miracle when the elder he had to paint for requested the clear nail polish. I was not as lucky. The little girl who wanted me to paint her nails wanted bright pink as her color. You can see where this goes. Overall, the elder visits were a very intimate and enlightening experience for all of us and we are continually amazed by the Haitian community. After wrapping up with the elder visits, we headed back up towards GV to pickup Marijo and tour the new(ish) Fleri Bakery and Cafe. Fleri means “to flourish” in creole. For the returning members of last year’s trip, this was our first time seeing Fleri in action. When we had come down last year the walls were barren and it was just a large structure with some great ideas. Today, the smell of freshly baked bread was in the air and business is now booming. When Fleri first opened eight short months ago, they were using about 300 pounds of flour a week. Today, they crank out 300 pounds of flour in the first three hours of each day. Fleri also sources all of their ingredients from the local market and from GV. This is a great way of reinvesting money back into the community and shows the ripple effect that Fleri has had on the community. GV has also started having some of the high school age kids work at Fleri in order to gain some on the job experience before they are sent out into the world on their own. Fleri is another amazing success story here in Haiti and we look forward to seeing how they will continue to grow. The drive home from GV was much less cramped and was broken up by a brief stop at the mass grave site North of Port Au Prince. This site is the burial grounds for 300,000 Haitians who passed away during the 2010 earthquake. Brunei, one of our drivers, shared his personal story about being in PAP, near the epicenter, as the earthquake hit. It was a very powerful story and was truly amazing to hear his experiences from that fateful day. Even after he had lost so many of his close friends and family, he still has faith in God and believes that he survived for a reason, even if he doesn’t understand what it is. Haitian’s faith continues to amaze our team and I think we are all beginning to draw a lot of inspiration from it. We wrapped up our day by relaxing poolside and had some great Haitian food for dinner. Tomorrow, we have decided that it will be water truck day part “dou” after an early 6am church service. We then are going to take a visit to an organization Jim is very familiar with, Healing Hands for Haiti. Stick around tomorrow to hear about that. Thanks for reading and we will talk to you tomorrow! We will leave you with one of the elder’s favorite bible verses.
The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still. Exodus 14:14
Max Nelson and Lori MacKinnon