Our morning blessings started out with a great breakfast made by our house moms and Kathryn, Ava, and Cassie. I have never enjoyed oatmeal like I do here. We also had french toast, scrambled eggs, fruit and a juice that is incredible!
We left right after breakfast because we had a long trek to Mother Teresa's Home for the Sick and Dying. The distance is not quite the problem, it is actually the traffic! The students kept themselves active with songs and games and were very entertaining to our host, Valerie. He and Smith thought we were pretty funny! Once we got there we split boys and girls. The boys went to the men floor and the women went to the female floor. Some people go to Mother Teresa's because they are poor and can't get care anywhere else, some people go and will never leave because they are in the last stages of their life. Our jobs are to go in, give massages with lotion and the girls even painted nails! Carly is going to share her experience from this morning:
Today was an incredible experience in it of itself. After the rather long ride on the tap tap due to traffic, our driver made one final turn which revealed a gorgeous compound. Just beyond the gates laid a strikingly beautiful sight. The buildings were painted a bright blue and crisp white with vibrant purple flowers growing from the trees. There were pews and statues of Mother Teresa, and every face that I met had a compassionate persona. At first we thought it was a requirement to wear gloves while applying lotion to the patients. Our guides informed us that was optional and it was really cool to see my fellow peers also put them down, knowing that the skin to skin contact with the people there was something special. The moment I walked in, I sat next to a woman and non verbally communicated with her what she was wanting or perhaps needing at that time. At first, she wanted her nails to be filed and painted and I immediately got to it. I wanted nothing more than to please her and make this manicure the best she'd ever had. There was no rushing. Life can become pretty go go go at times, but during my time with her, nothing else mattered. The act of caring for her in such a simple way was something so much bigger than what it can appear. Once I finished filing each nail to the form she wanted, I painted her nails a shade of purple she picked out that reminded me of the trees there. I made sure to read her facial expressions as I filed her nails to be certain she was in no pain.
My favorite part of my time spent at Mother Teresa's Home for the Sick and Dying though, was the actual application of lotion and massaging. This was so much easier than I ever imagined. It was such a moving experience because the skin to skin connection was a language in it itself. No words were needed to show that I wanted to serve and care for her. It was such an intimate experience because she, and all of the women there that we were tending to, were in such a vulnerable position. Starting with her legs and moving on to her stomach, and eventually undressing her to moisturize her breasts and bottom as she requested, made me realize that there were no barriers that needed to be broken down. I was eager to assist her in any way that seemed fit. As Emily and I continued to be with her, she revealed a tumor on her pelvis that she also wanted moisturized, and Emily did not hesitate. We helped her onto her knees as as she made it clear she wanted for us to massage her lower back. She let out a moan of relief and I was so happy to hear her physical condition improving in some way. Sharing that connection with Emily and the woman was a very humbling experience.
Another woman that I served in the next room showed her gratitude to me through her eyes. I shared the same intimate experience with her as I applied lotion to her whole body. She was too weak to sit up for me to massage her back and motioned this to me. Without thinking, I put both my hands behind her back and gently sat her up. I unbuttoned her dress and applied lotion to her breasts as requested. When I was finished with a full body coverage, I went back to her legs and focused on her feet. The thing about this experience is that it truly proved that all bodies are beautiful. Each and every woman in those rooms had their own story and hardships they have had to endure. Callused and hardened feet may relate to a life lived without proper shoes or perhaps rough conditions to walk through. These women had lived through so much and I had so much respect for them. The group and I had nothing but the best intentions in mind. As I glanced around the room, not having taken much time off of the woman I was serving, my eyes started watering. It was just so moving to me that I had the opportunity to serve these women and speak to them in ways that did not require words. One of the sisters came by Cassie and I and thanked us for the work that we were doing which was so humbling to me because, how could this sister, who spends her time each and every day tending to these sick and dying people, be thanking me? She said that the world needed more people like us. The world needs more people like her just as much.
When we were informed that we had to leave, we stopped in a nearby room to see several little girls perform a dance to the song Hallelujah. This was such a mix of emotions for me because I was still crying from the time spent with the women, but also smiling at these little girls and their dance routine.
Overall, our time spent at Mother Theresa's home for the sick and dying was amazing. It was so nice to see the people there happy to see us. Everyone handled this experience in such a respectful manner and I am proud of these Holy Family students and the time we shared at the missionary.
Carly message home- Hi Hilgers! Haiti is going so great and I'm loving every second! Can't wait to tell it to you all when I get back! Love you all
The ride home was a little better than the ride there, but a little more subdued for obvious reasons. We had some time to rest and then we went back to Mother Teresa's Home for Sick and Dying Babies and to For His Glory orphanage. The students switched places from the previous day. Anna V and Shea are going to share their experiences.
This is Shea. I will be sharing my experience at Mother Teresa's Home for Sick and Dying Babies. Going in to this experience I was nervous because I didn't know how I would handle seeing these sick babies. My nerves were calmed as soon as I walked in and saw multiple babies smiling at me. We each got to feed a baby, so I went up to one who was staring at me with big eyes. After feeding her, I realized that she did not want to be picked up, so I went on to another baby who was crying. As soon as I picked her up, her tears turned into the most beautiful smile. I held her close and tried to make her smile as much as possible. When I set her down, she burst into tears again. Emily Lentz and I decided it would be best if we did a baby switch-a-roo, so I took the one she was holding. This little girl was absolutely tiny. Her arms and legs were so frail that I was scared I would hurt her if I held her too tight. Her head was heavy, so I pressed it against my chest. She stayed glued to my chest as I walked around the room with her. After awhile, Dols told me that we had to go over to the other room. I set this baby girl down, and the tears that came after that broke my heart. I will never forget the sad eyes look at me as I walked away. The next room we went into was for a little older kids. As soon as I walked in, I locked eyes with the smallest one in the room. She was crying and I was compelled to go pick her up. Just like earlier, as soon as I picked her up, the tears subsided. For some reason I felt a connection with this little nugget. I looked on her ankle bracelet and saw that her name was "Babylove." This name was so fitting because although she was so tiny, her eyes had an immense amount of love. Hearing our guide say that we had to leave brought me to tears. As I walked back over to her crib, my heart began to drop because of what would come next. As I began to set her down, the tears erupted. Walking away with tears in my eyes, I saw her hurt eyes follow me out of the door. I could hear her distinct scream even as I was outside of the room.
This experience showed me that a little love goes a long way. These babies may not get all the love they deserve, so it made me feel like I made a difference in the lives of these babies. I would go back to this place 100 times if I could.
Shea's message to home: Hi mom I know you're worried about me but I'm doing just fine. I am so thankful that you let me go on this trip. I know you're probably the only one reading this so tell the rest of the family I say hi. I miss you all so much and I can't wait to see you all on Monday! I love you guys so much!!
This is Anna. After an amazing experience at Mother Teresa's Home for the sick and dying yesterday, ten of us went to For His Glory orphanage. When we arrived and the gates opened, we immediately saw kids. A couple people and I went into the room with the toddlers. As we went into the room, about fourteen 1-3 year olds came running up to us. I looked down to see many brown eyes staring back at me. Immediately, I picked up two little girls and just squeezed them. It was obvious how they craved attention and touch. They were such energetic and beautiful girls who just wanted to play. They always wanted to be held, and if you ever needed a break and put them down, tears came to their eyes. This broke your heart and made it impossible to ever put them down. After playing with the toddlers for awhile, we noticed a baby sitting in a crib. Claire picked the baby up and rocked her. The baby never cried; however, it was very hard to maker her smile. After ten minutes of trying to make her smile, we finally did it! Dancing with her did the trick. A beautiful smile came upon her face and we got to see her one tooth that stuck out of her gum.
Being at the orphanage and playing with the kids was such a cool experience. In just one hour, you felt such a connection to all the kids. It was very hard leaving, and personally I know that I could have stayed there all day. I wanted to give these kids all my love and energy because I knew that everyone of them deserved it all.
Anna's message home- Hey everyone! Haiti is amazing! My favorite part is meeting all the kids and giving them attention. It is so beautiful here. I miss you guys! Say hi to Boopey and Millie for me! Love you!
I am humbled and blessed to be on this trip with these students and with Cassie, especially during Holy Week. I can't help but see the Gospel come alive every day in the different things that we do. When we were at the Home for Sick and Dying Babies our first job was to feed them. I could't help but think of the words of Jesus to Peter (in John)- "Peter, do you love me? Feed my lambs." We are given a unique and wonderful opportunity to say to Jesus, "yes, we love you?" by literally feeding his lambs.