Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Harnell- Kench '17: Day 3

To start our day, we met at the breakfast table at 8 o’clock (the only time all day Brian was on time). Over pancakes and oatmeal we applauded Mike for putting up with all of our girl talk and Brian’s weird behaviors (again, love ya, dad). Shortly after breakfast we loaded up in the tap-tap to venture to Peace Cycle. And yes, venture is the right word because if you have ever experienced Haiti’s traffic you would understand. Jonas interpreted for us at Peace Cycle, which we all appreciated immensely because between the thirteen of us we can barely scramble together “hello”. We entered through thick iron gates into a courtyard filled with men and women working. Some were cleaning plastic bags while others were ironing and sewing. The manager explained to us each step that the workers complete. Peace Cycle is an organization that collects plastic drinking pouches from the streets and up-cycles them into usable products such as tote bags and wallets. Peace Cycle has been able to make a dent in the millions of water bags stranded in the streets of Haiti daily. By doing this, they have cut down on Haiti’s carbon footprint and been able to contribute back to the economy. Next stop was Papillon/ Apparent Project. Tricky (or Alex, or Brian, or Ryan, we all weren’t too sure) gave us a tour of the company. We were all amazed at how well run the operations are and just how lively the work environment was. Each worker was welcoming and proud to show off their work and accomplishments. Above Papillon was a cafĂ© we ate lunch at. They arguably made the best smoothies we had ever had. Teresa made sure we all had enough to eat and shared her cheesy bread with us, God bless her. We then loaded back up in the tap-tap and grilled Jonas with questions. He told us 74 degrees in Haiti was when everyone pulls out the coats and we just about fainted. 74 degrees in Michigan is prime boating weather, right, Terri? After a brief midday break at the guesthouse we broke up. Ten of us went to Home for Sick and Dying and four went to Gertrude’s, both of which we were not allowed to take pictures at. At Home for Sick and Dying we arrived right at dinner time. After feeding the kids we were able to hug and play with the kids. At this point of the day the tears starting flowing because it was absolutely heartbreaking to put down and walk away from a sick, crying baby. Don’t worry kids, we will all be back soon. At Home for Sick and Dying we encountered many cases of malnourishment. Michele in particular came across a young girl of the age of 8 who was so sick and malnourished that you could see and feel every bone in her body. She was down to just bones, a sight foreign to our eyes. The pure hope in all of their eyes, though, was undeniable. Although the visit was emotional, you could not say that was the end. God was still using them for His purpose. God was everywhere we turned. The same girl Michele held was sitting in her crib alone. That particular area of the room was empty except me watching the girl. She finally began to eat and loud and clear I heard, “She is eating”. She is eating. Praise God. At Gertrude’s, a home for special needs children, there was a bit of a hold up. Unfortunately, there was a lot of traffic and the four people were only able to stay for roughly ten minutes. That was enough for God to show us what He wanted, though. What stood out to Jessie was how the wheelchairs being used were not your traditional ones. They were created out of tires and plastic chairs. For most children their wheelchairs prevented them from being able to interact and play with others. Lots of eyes were opened on this short trip. Group discussion led to an amazing discussion about everyone’s experiences thus far. I think it is safe to say that none of us are the same people we were three days ago when we boarded our flights. One thing I took away from today was that God uses each and every person on this earth. He loves us all and calls us to care for each other. We serve an awesome God.

Hendrickson/Severson - Peace Cycle and LaPherre's - Tuesday, December 12th

Today has been a day of good emotions. After breakfast we took another exciting ride in a Tap Tap (Haitian version of a ministry van) to Peace Cycle a place that recycles used plastic water bags and makes wallets, hats, bags, purses, stockings, aprons etc. out of them. It was really cool getting to see the simple yet innovative process that they use. It also helps keep the streets clean and employees Haitians. We were able to buy some of the products, which was really cool being able to help the economy and go away with something that was practical and would be used back home. Then we headed to Fleri Farms ( Fleri means flourish in Creole) which is a 28 acre farm that Healing Haiti owns that produces bananas, avocados, mangos, limes, coconuts, sugar cane and other fruits that I can’t remember. The farm employees Haitians and also provides food for the area. They have a vision of enlarging the farm to produce more fruits and add chickens and cows. One job at the Farm will provide a living for 14 Haitians. Which is unbelievable and amazing! We also went to a small grocery store and it was cool to see some of the similar products that we have back home along with some unique ones to the Haitian culture. I was kind of surprised at the wide selection of meat that was available. After lunch and a little R and R we loaded up into the Tap Tap and headed off on another exciting ride to an orphanage where we were blessed by the kids as much as we were a blessing to them. When we arrived the kids came out and hand selected a member of the team. We got to spend time loving on them, singing with them, tossed the Frisbee, jump rope and painted designs on the faces and arms. At first the kids were not too sure about the face painting but after we starting painting the first brave soul then we were swarmed with kids tugging at our arms to paint them. It was a great time just being able to hang out with the kids and love on them. When we left all the kids gave each of us hugs, which was really sweet. With all the good going on you know that Satan has to try his best at disrupting the blessings of God. During our group time in the evening one of the members didn’t feel well. It was probably a combination of the long day, having a reaction to the home remedy bug spray and medication. But God had our team prepared for this attack from Satan. There were a few of us that had medical training and background that we were able to take care of the situation and the team member is now fine and doing well. It also gave us an opportunity to gather together and pray with one mind. Today was a long emotional day but a very good day! We all took something different away from the events throughout the day and it was great seeing the team work together and witnessing people coming out of their shells and opening up. Everyone was touched by the kids at the orphanage. And everyone tried stuff that they weren’t use too. All in all a very good and blessed day. Kevin

Harnell/ Kench '17- Day 1-2

Day One Travel day left all of us exhausted and culture shocked. Our travels began at midnight in freezing weather and icy roads. All of us had stressed for days prior about flight times and busy traffic. Funny enough, we were so early that we arrived to an empty airport—-a sight unknown to the Kench family as we are accustomed to using up every single second you give us. That was the first sign that we were in God’s hands; we arrived safely and with ample time to prep and rest. Second blessing? All of our flights (well, except for Haley and Mike’s) stayed true to schedule and got us to our destinations safely. On our flight to Detroit, a stewardess thanked us for offering our time to go on this trip and applauded us for following God’s call for us. During our layover in Atlanta God introduced us to such beautiful souls. One lady in particular stood out to us. She was also heading to Haiti for a missionary trip, a trip she takes twice a year. She told us that mission work is something we are called to do and reassured us all that we are exactly where God needs us——third blessing. We finally landed in Port-Au-Prince, Haiti around three in the afternoon. While waiting in line at immigrations, we all laughed at watching our luggage being dropped accidentally off of the trolly outside. Thankfully they were recovered because they were our snacks bags and we had only had five meals by that time, if that says anything about how much we eat. Once we exited the airport it was a wave of emotions. People were everywhere you turned offering to help you, offers we unfortunately had to turn down. Once we were all in the tap-tap we realized what traffic in Haiti is really like. Imagine teaching a teenager how to drive and then give them a cell phone to distract them, then blindfold them, and then take away all stop signs. Long story short, it was the most exciting car ride we have ever experienced. The guest house was far more than we ever imagined. The staff had already prepared dinner for us and dogs greeted us as soon as we set our bags down. Unfortunately, we were all so tired that we did not get much of an opportunity to truly take it all in. In fact, we were all so lame that Michelle was snoring by eight o’clock. Day Two We woke up at 7:00 to the heavenly smell of pancakes, a far cry from the airport food we had inhaled just 24 hours earlier. Around 10:00 we headed out to Cite Soleil to deliver water. At this point Jessie got a little nervous because Max had told her the drive was four hours (it was really a 20 minute ride, tops). As soon as we parked, the utter juxtaposition of the environment was breathtaking. Amongst piles of trash were the most beautiful smiles and hearts you could ever imagine. Not a single person looked at us as if we were unwanted. Actually, kids clung on to us and offered to help us before we could even step foot on the ground. That was one thing that truly stuck out to us: here we are to help these people and the minute they saw we were dirty they were pouring their own water over our hands and feet to keep us clean. At the first stop we were able to tour Hope Church. For McKennah, McKenzie, and Brian this was shocking because two years ago it was still a makeshift landfill and had the beginnings of the structure being built. The church is absolutely amazing and a breath of life and hope into the community. This church is not only a place of worship but also a school. It offers the students a comfortable place to stay during the day as well as meals to eat. At the water truck we put Brian in charge of manning the hose which proved itself to be quite the task. The kids were beyond excited to see us and loved getting hugs and doing our hair. Words can not even describe the pure joy on their faces. The kids were eager to teach us games and sing songs about Jesus. Our physical strength was truly tested today as we struggled to carry buckets while also carrying three children in our arms. We joked about doing pull-ups on the way home every time someone honked but we could barely keep our eyes open at that point. We would not have wanted it any other way though. The beauty of water truck days are that the water is completely free for the people. For 3,000 gallons of water it costs Healing Haiti $5. At the end of the day we had poured out 9,000 gallons of water into 5-gallon buckets that were carried away by young children’s heads. It was incredible to be able to be a blessing in that form today. We all saw Jesus today in those people’s eyes and that is something you just can not put to words.