Today we split up into our two ministry teams. In the morning each team went to a different orphanage. Lea and Brice's team went to the orphanage called 'Home sweet home'. Home Sweet Home is an orphanage that began after the earthquake 7 years ago when many children found themselves homeless and seeking refuge. A man who saw the children in need decided to utilize a patch of land that he had bought previously to serve as a place for those children.--And thus was this orphanage born! Today, it houses many children with ranging ages. It provides a loving home for any children (mostly orphans of poverty), educates them in their on-site school and makes them truly feel like they are at home until they can find a permanent home by adoptive parents. Our ministry team had an amazing time today as we loved on all of the beautiful children that are currently living at Home Sweet Home. Some highlights were playing soccer with the young boys, singing praises to God with the children and lots of piggy-back rides! :) Certainly a wonderful experience filled with God's love!!
Austin and Ann's team went to an orphanage for disabled children called 'Gertrudes'. It started with Austin taking out his guitar and toy instruments being handed out. Immediately every kid's face lit up. We had a fun time dancing, singing and holding the kids during this time. It gradually transitioned outside to their playground where wheel chair races were held, children were swinging and playing basketball.
Today I(Katie) was pushing a girl in a wheelchair with two flat tires. It was much harder than pushing a regular wheelchair. After a few minutes I started to become tired and it was very tough but I started thinking about how hard her life is. The smile on her face and the joyful squeels she was making encouraged me to keep going even when I was tired.
-Katie and Annika C.
On the first day, I was exhausted. Wake up at 2:30 am, drive to the airport at 3:00 am. And we got on the plane and left at 6:05 am. We were on a pretty small plane without televisions, or anything to do but sleep. Since I can't sleep on planes or anything of the sort, I downloaded a movie with the hour of WiFi I had and watched it until I couldn't watch it anymore since I was out of internet time given to me. So then we got off the plane, waited an hour for our next flight and sat on the plane for an hour and ten minutes and took off. I finished my movie only with a few minutes to spare, and here we were in Haiti. I had been waiting for months to arrive here, and here I was. Standing in the middle of the airport, sweating like Niagara Falls, but I was finally here.
Haiti was a lot different than I had expected, but it was perfect. It had beautiful mountains, colourful houses on the streets, and beautiful people, plants and everything. I had thought that Haiti was going to be only homes made from metal scraps and blankets, and sick and dying people. But no. It wasn't. It was so much more different than what I had expected it to be. There still was the things that I thought there was going to be, but Haiti was so much different than I thought, and so much more beautiful!
On the second day, we went to 3 different places in City Solei. The first stop had my heart. It was so amazing how much joy a bucket of water and a few Americans could bring to a group of people. Right once I got to the first stop, children surrounded the Tap-Tap and one by one they were picked up by the other people in my team. I was one of the last people to get out, so all of the children had left to follow them. So I went and followed everyone and was weirdly standing in our group wondering if any kid would want me to pick them up. After some time, a little girl came up to me with her arms up in the air wanting me to pick her up, and of course I picked her up and we exchanged names and smiles since I don't know much french. After holding her for a minute or two, she slid down my side and pointed at a little boy near me and had him come closer to me and he put his hands up and I picked him up. It amazed me how the little girl, who was probably 7 or 8, gave up being held to another little boy, just to let him be loved.
After a while, I held plenty of kids and danced and played a game. And then a little girl named Daniella, ran up to me and I held her until a young boy yelled, "Hey, You!" and pointed to a bucket, referencing to him wanting me to carry it to his house. So I put Daniella down, and picked up the bucket and let the little boy show me where he wanted to bring it. After less than 10 seconds, I felt a hand holding onto the back of my shirt. And after I brought the bucket to the little boys house, I found out that it was Daniella. That happened so many more times and she didn't want to leave me and I loved her so much. She had my heart. After I said good bye and set her down, she grabbed my hand like we were just going to walk again, but I had to tell her that I was leaving. And I wanted to cry because she was the sweetest girl I had ever met and I didn't want to leave her.
I thought it was so amazing that I was able to communicate with so many people, even though there was a language barrier. I could speak a few words and phrases which made it easier to understand and have small conversations, but it was tough. But it was amazing how we all were able to communicate though actions, expressions and games.
Today we were split into our teams and went to two different orphanages. My group went to NPLH(No Place Like Home). Once we got to the orphanage, we went on a tour since the children were eating breakfast. But once they came out, I was so excited to meet them. One of the kids named Christopher jumped on me immediately. He was so full of energy and wanted to be carried the whole time even though he weighed a lot. But he was full of so much joy and light, and it made me so happy to see how much joy all the children could have when they don't have any parents and would never know what it felt like to have someone that they could call mom or dad. But they were so happy and it amazed me and just made me so happy.
After a while, one of the workers asked if she could take a photo of me, but I said yes because I just felt like I should even though I don't like being in photos. But after taking a photo, she kept on saying "belle" and I just couldn't hold back a smile because I knew what it meant(Beautiful) and it was so kind. I don't think of myself that way and it just made my morning when she said that.
In the afternoon we went to Papillon/ The Apparent Project. And saw people making jewelry and pottery and other things. At the Apparent Project, 201 people from Haiti are employed and payed well enough to help them survive and provide for themselves, and their families. I thought it was amazing that someone decided to employ and help so many people in Haiti and make their lives easier by providing them jobs and money.
I may or may not have spend a lot of money in the gift shop at The Apparent Project, but it was worth it because (1) I got a cool shirt and other gifts for family and some friends and (2) the money I spent is going to help the people that work there survive and provide for their loved ones.
This week so far had been incredible and I know that I'll never forget what had happened and I can't wait for tomorrow and the rest of the week.
Until next time,
Wednesday, August 2, 2017
WORD OF THE DAY, AUGUST 2, 2017
Each day we debrief our experiences by each picking a word of the day and describing why we picked that word.
Lauren - Sing
Both times I’ve been to a special needs orphanage Austin has sung loud both times and it brings me to tears. And we tend to sing a lot on the tap tap on our ministry team.
Emmy - Music
Like Lauren said, at the orphanage me and Shayla had a really touching moment then because when the first song started we started balling.
The second thing is earlier Emma and I were singing to a bunch of worship songs and that was really cool.
Lea - Sweat
Today was really physically hard for me. I don’t do super well with heat. Most of the day my reaction was when can I get out of this and the thing that just kept sitting in my life is that getting out of this was a question I could ask but for most people in Haiti they can’t get out of it.
It makes me really thankful and admiring of the Haitians.
Annika S - Overwhelmed
I got a little emotional during worship and my heart breaks for the people of Haiti. I wish I could do more to help. I am also overwhelmed in a good way, I have felt distant from God lately but today he was right with me.
Noelle - Experience
I was nervous going into the special needs orphanage but I absolutely loved it. I could do it every day.
Tori - Chosen
At the special needs orphanage I looked around and it felt like God specifically chose a child for each of us. I held onto one of the kids almost the entire time until we had to leave.
Braeden - Fun
When I held onto a little boy at the special needs orphanage it was pretty much the entire time but it didn’t feel like that long at all. I guess time flies when you are having fun.
Joanna - Holy Spirit
When I walked into the special needs orphanage I felt goose bumps the entire time even though it was over 90 degrees. I felt the Holy Spirit comforting us and the kids.
Josh H - Sports
I love how you can bond with people through sports even if you can’t speak their language. Brice and I were playing soccer at the orphanage and we were having so much fun.
Brice - Samuel
He was just my bro. I just hung out with him a lot. He took me everywhere. Lets do this race, get that soccer ball. Introducing me to his friends. He had so much joy.
Larissa - Blessed
Because I am blessed to be able to be here in Haiti with so many amazing people and getting to know you guys. This year God blessed me with enough money to come and more to spend it on the people I love while I am here.
Maya - Treasures
I could see the little treasures God sprinkled over us today — especially at the orphanage. The kids had such big smiles, the people that cared for them are such treasures from God. Everybody here is so important and I can see the light of God in everybody.
Rob - Photo
Way earlier today at home, sweet home orphanage Lea asked me to fill out the guest book and I was flipping through. They had a couple photos and a bunch of the kids came over to look at it with me and they knew all the names of the people in the photos who had visited them.
Abbie - Names
When we were at the orphanage today we were playing this game and the kids would mix our names up even though they knew our actual names. It was a sweet reminder of how important names are and how much significant they are. My name means father’s joy. As a Christian I love my name and it is a reminder to me.
Lizzy - Content
This morning sitting on the tap-tap a wave of peace came over me, like I knew I am supposed to be here. Also at the orphanage this kid fell asleep with me at the orphanage and he was so good. Even though my back was cramping up I felt like I was so good with where I was at.
Katie - Tough
I was pushing a girl in a wheel chair but the chair’s wheels were deflated so it was tough to push it but when I did it she had so much joy and laughter. After awhile it got tough but I just thought it is nothing compared to how tough her life is.
Daphne - Smileness
While I was at the orphanage today all I saw was smiles. It was so cool to see. These kids don’t have someone that they can call mom and dad like we all do but it was cool to see how happy they were and all of their smiles. Also all the workers had smiles on their faces when we arrived.
Drew - Steps
I had the chance to walk around the special needs orphanage with a boy named Daniel as he pulled me on this path that he wanted to walk on and then later I got to get more steps pushing a girl around in a wheel chair in the hot sun while she smiled and laughed.
Graham - Popillion
I really liked that place and spending time with you guys. I loved that tour. It was cool to see what God is doing and how they have gone from 5 employees to 200.
Bella - Eyes
Every interaction I had at the orphanage the kids I held just looked into my eyes. One boy pointed at my eyes and held my face to look at me. It is a connection I think I don’t always think about, to look in someone’s eyes. Also back at the compound the people I have been talking to have been looking directly in my eyes.
Ann - Awakening
When we got to the orphanage the lady didn’t know we were coming and she didn’t know what to do with all of us. Then Austin started playing his guitar. I loved how the kids just got their groove on. The music was so powerful in those kids lives. I loved watching them dance in their chairs and play their own instruments along.
Austin - Universal
I was playing music and I had to girls very close to me. It was awesome. One girl was hugging me the whole time and another girl was pounding on the guitar and listening and slapping me. She clearly wanted to be close to the music. Its good for me to remember that music can communicate something and connect people.
Josh M - Surprised
I was excited to play with all the kids because I had so much fun doing that yesterday. Then we got to this orphanage and we walked into a room with a baby who was crying and looked like he was in pain. After I saw that I didn’t think it was going to be very fun. But then Austin started to play music and it started to be so much fun. The kids were so excited to see everyone. The whole thing was surprising to me.
Emma - Feet
First, at our orphanage, sweet home, I saw this girl immediately whose name was Natalie. She stayed with me this whole time. God answered my prayer from the day before to connect with someone. The first thing she did was get on her hands and kick her feet up at me and have me walk her around the gazebo. I loved spending time with her.
Second, I feel like God has been saying that I need to open a lot of cans of worms which is not what I wanted to do but I think God is giving me this opportunity and saying to me, if you want to walk with me you have to trudge through the mud first.
Annika C - Perspective
At the special needs orphanage the lady was telling me the stories about how their kids got to the orphanage. I started comparing it to my own life because it felt in a way similar to the way I would be living if I had been born in that circumstance. I almost started feeling like I was at a higher better level but then I felt God telling me, well I love them the same as you. Stop looking at the circumstances.
Note: Shayla went to bed early.
WORD OF THE DAY, AUGUST 1, 2017
Each day we debrief our experiences by each picking a word of the day and describing why we picked that word.
Shayla - Empower
Today felt so good, not overwhelming. It felt wonderful.
Josh M - Joy
Never seen anybody as happy as those kids we saw at the water truck stops.
Braeden - New
I haven’t been on this trip before, its all new. I am a new kind of exhausted and I am feeling a new kind of joy.
Joanna - Hands
I felt the hand of God on all of us. Every time a kid would come up to me he or she would grab my hand. I did a lot with my hands.
Bella - Decrease
In a really, really good way. Decrease in who I am outside of Jesus. A decrease of what I don’t want to be.
Emmy - Love
Everyone loved each other. I didn’t see any violence. I only saw love today.
Lizzy - Watching
When you are holding a kid who you can’t communicate with I had opportunities to look around and watch. I wasn’t always engaged in conversation which was new and I was watching and God was saying that’s ok. Look around, take a moment.
Josh H - Comfort Zone
With all the chaos I felt pushed out of my comfort zone a little bit but reflecting on it I am really thankful for that.
Abbie - Giggles
A lot of giggles in my day with the children and at the pool with our team. The giggles transcended the language barrier with the kids and we could share in the joy and the laughter.
Lauren - Follow
I feel like a lot of things in Haiti follow a pattern. Some parts of the pattern feel like a vicious cycle. In the midst of that the kids have an undeniable joy.
Also, even after I put a kid down and we were leaving they would follow after us and not let go.
Austin - Privilege
I was carrying water buckets today and I was thinking about how at home I will go to a restaurant and be annoyed if people don’t serve me a certain way. I was thinking about how maybe some of the people I was carrying buckets for today have never had anyone serve them. I think that Jesus was telling the truth when he said their is joy and purpose in putting others before us. I got joy in serving other people. It became a privilege to carry the buckets for those women and serve.
Tori - Sacrifice
I witnessed a lot of sacrifice today. Our team put in a lot of sacrifice. I noticed sacrifice with the kids we spent time with.
Emma - Care
I’ve seen a lot of love in Haiti. I was holding a girl at our first stop and after one or two minutes she got down when a little boy came over and asked me to pick up the little boy — she cared for this boy.
Annika C - Wow
I was on the truck because I was tired and dizzy so I decided to take a break on the truck. At the third stop I just said to God, you want me to be here so heal me so I can go out. And in that moment the tiredness and dizziness went away.
So I said God what do you want me to do so I saw this boy who had sores on his body and I could tell God wanted me to love on that kid so I did.
Annika S - Protected
A little boy was so protective over the baby I was holding.
I learned from that I had some fears about feelings but God is protecting me and those fears mean nothing.
Lea - Father’s Heart
I am blessed that one of our Haitian guys, Jermaine, has chosen me as a friend. Being able to go 8 times has meant each time I have gotten to have a sweet time with my friend Jermaine. Each time he wants to tell me about his son. He has the best smile and beams about his son. It is a beautiful thing to see a father’s heart for his kids.
Graham - Break
I was carrying bucket after bucket for 25 minutes straight and then all of a sudden I get back to the hose and I wanted to take a break so I took a break I just got really tired.
Noelle - Sleep
On one of the water truck stops a little baby fell a sleep in my arms and that is one of my favorite things.
Ann - Chauvinistic
I had a baby boy fall asleep on my shoulder and that was wonderful so I was watching the filling of the buckets and I thought where are all the Haitian men, have you noticed it is all women and children? Why is it all those women and children filling up those heavy, back breaking water buckets.
Maya - Willing
God made all of our hearts so open to love and the Haitian people open even though they don’t know us. It was beautiful to see all the strength and willingness God placed in each of us.
Daphne - Tough
It was kind of hard to understand people even though I know some French. Sometimes thought I knew more than I did and started talking a ton and then I would do really weird hand motions to explain I couldn’t talk to them.
This one game this kid taught me was also hard to learn and hard to play because the kid was really fast and good at it.
Also carrying the buckets was hard.
But it was all cool and exciting, tough in a good way.
Katie - Grateful
We complain about the littlest things but to see what these kids are going through and yet have joy for something as small as a bucket of water made me want to be grateful.
Brice - Age
There was a time when Haitian people asked me to tell them how old everyone on our team was and then they would just laugh and pull in other people and tell them how old we were and laugh. It was awesome.
Larissa - Connected
Today I started to feel really connected to this group. I am a big talker when I am comfortable but since I don’t really know a lot of you it has been hard to make a conversation but today I actually achieved that and got out of my comfort zone and started a deep conversation with some people.
Robby - Step Back
The other times I have been here it has felt the same but different. I wanted to provide other people the experiences I had and on previous water truck days I always did the hose so this time I stepped back and hung out with the kids the whole time. In giving other people the experience I had I was able to have a new one.
Drew - Determined
I was carrying a bucket behind a Haitian woman who was also carrying a bucket. And her arm muscles were not as strong as me but she never put her bucket down. I wanted to put mine down and my arm was hurting and I just watched how determine she was, how determination seemed to fuel every Haitian person.
We all survived a little turbulence, and a few delays, and made it safely to Haiti!!
Today we all woke up well rested, and ready for our first day of serving. At about 9:30 this morning we headed out to Cite Solel, where we delivered water from water trucks to neighborhoods that can't get to it themselves. We also got the great joy of hugging and hanging out with all of the kids of the city, at each of three stops. Each team member had amazing and impactful experiences, we thought we would share a few:
"At our second water truck stop of the day, myself, and a few other team members, all began to teach large group of kids the hokie- pokie! It became quite the catch, and turned into a whole dance party! "
- Emmy Bottiger
" As the kids anxiously awaited at door of the tap- tap, yelling "hey you" I was instantly flooded with just pure joy. The second I stepped out a girl named belove attached to me arm, and I was able to just pick her up and shower her in love and affection."
- Joanna Porter
"In the midst of the initial crowd of team members, children, and people waiting to fill up their buckets with water at the beginning of our third stop a little boy named James who was no older than 3 or 4 found his way to me and asked to be held. After a minute or two of being with him he looked over and then pointed for me to look too, there was a woman with a few empty buckets walking with a little girl who appeared to possibly have some sort of special needs and wasn't paid much attention to by the other children. James quickly had me put him down and ran over to the two who i later figured out was his mother and sister. James brought the little girl to me and wanted me hold and spend time with her instead of him. He obviously cared more about his sister getting love than he did himself. It is moments like this that make Haiti so amazing to me."
After a long but incredible day of serving, we were were to have fun cooling off by taking a swim in the near by hotel pool.