Sunday, February 28, 2021

Day Six | Feels Like Home

It’s hard to believe our week is coming to an end. Our week in Haiti has gone by quickly, yet we feel like we’ve been here longer as things slowly become more familiar and friendships start to form. The streets no longer seem new to us, but more familiar. We are even starting to recognize how to get back home. It’s starting to feel like home. 

Today was our final day of serving. 
We made our way to Titanyen to visit Grace Church. Grace Church is part of Healing Haiti’s Grace Village. They wanted to offer a place of worship for the children at Grace Village, but God had a different plan in mind. And they opened up Grace Church for anyone in the community to come and join.

Once we arrived, we organized stations for the kids to explore. We offered crafts, colored hearts and had a sticker tattoo station. It was wonderful to sit alongside the kids as we created art together. We performed our skit about Peter again and also led the children in song – we even fit in some “Head, Shoulders, Knees, and Toes.” That always turns up the energy in the room. Smith helped us translate our skit and some of our songs.

Afterwards we went up the Matheux mountains in Haiti to go on a hike. After a very steep climb up the mountain in the Tap Tap, and a rugged walk to the top, we arrived at the beautiful view on top of the mountain. We took in the majesty of the ocean, the mountains and community around us. 

We then made our way back down to Grace Village where we created another opportunity for the kids to play new games. We brought out chalk, jump ropes, a giant parachute and music. During our time together we had lots of laughter and dancing. There were so many moments of hugging and embracing each other as we enjoyed our time together.

We then made our way to Fleri for a late lunch where we ordered pizza. Fleri serves up a fresh and exciting menu in the heart of Titanyen. We enjoyed Street Taco pizza, BBQ Chicken pizza, Pork pizza, and Pickles & Pepperoni pizza. All were amazing to taste and enjoy as the team celebrated a wonderful week in Haiti. 

We then made our drive home for the day. We all piled in the Tap Tap and went through the busy streets of Haiti with the loud noises, harsh honking, hard braking and accelerating, dirt flying and wind whipping around. But this time, for the first time, we all closed our eyes and rested. The noises of our loud drive still surrounded us, but it was still and quiet around us as we all took time to rest. It all started to feel like home.

The last thing we needed to do was go to the airport to take our Covid test to be cleared to fly back to the U.S. This was something our team uneasy about at times, because if someone did test positive, they’d need to stay back and quarantine for 2 weeks. The unknowns always stir up anxiety. But we prayed for God’s peace and that we would trust in him to protect us. All of our tests came back negative. We were so relieved and thrilled that our prayers were answered. 

That evening we gathered for circle time again to reflect together. Some of us shared testimonies of how God is working in our lives. Everyone shared their Word of the Day. Words ranged from: Mountains, Thankful, Familiar, Sweet, Comfort and Flourish. 

Tomorrow will be our last day to take in the beauty of Haiti – our new home away from home.

Friday, February 26, 2021

Day Five | God's Goodness

Our God is such a good God.

Today the team started the morning really early. 6:00 AM EARLY! We all visited the local church called Church on the Rock. This church offers a 6AM service every week day. We experienced the vibrant and loud sounds of worship. Our Haitian brothers and sisters walked around as they sang, moving to the sounds of the music and praising God. They also took pauses in between their praises to kneel on the ground and pray. We were so curious and excited to worship alongside them.

We were fully immersed in the experience with no understanding of what was exactly being said. Words that did stand out to us were Hallelujah, Jezi (Jesus) and Gloria. But during the middle of the Pastor's preaching, the Pastor started saying words in English. Talking about how the Good Lord is our Shepherd, he is our provider and we lack nothing. That Jesus will never leave us and that we praise God for our day.

Our team began to throw our hands up, clap, and shout Amen as he spoke to us. Though language was a barrier, we still felt unified as we worshiped together and we also felt the warm and welcoming love of Jesus as the Pastor spoke to us. It was an amazing way to begin our day. The team left feeling vibrant and full of life. 

Afterwards the team had the opportunity to visit a couple of local companies that are bringing job opportunities through beautiful design, fashion, locally sourced materials and handmade goods. 

Our first stop was to Haiti Design Co. Their goal is to bring sustainable development through design, training, and job creation. What started out as a small workshop grew and evolved into a training and production center employing over 150 people. 

Jerry, who is one of the designers, gave us a tour of the studio and talked about the importance they have in their ethical work environment. He walked us through the 15 different Code of Ethics. The number one code of ethics being “N’ap priye chak jou” which means “We pray every day.” It’s the most important part of their work day. They don’t begin any work until they have prayed. 

Next we visited Deux Mains which means “Two Hands.” Deux Mains is an ethical fashion brand that offers sustainable sandals, bags and accessories. We got to meet Sarah who is the Vice President of the company. She shared about Julie, the founder of the company who came as a volunteer to help in the aftermath of the 2010 earthquake. Her intentions were to give relief by handing out water and essentials for people. One woman commented to her “I don’t want water, I want a job.” That really struck Julie and she realized that the Haitian people wanted more than anything a way to provide for themselves and not be given a simple hand-out. 

That’s when she began working with Haitians to create sandals out of tires to find way to produce something to sell that is locally made in Haiti. What started off as a challenge soon grew into possibilities as they continued to refine their handmade goods into great, high-end qualities of work. It was incredibly inspiring to hear their stories.

We then toured the building and they shared how excited they were to finally see people coming back into their shop. It’s been over a year since they could experience that exciting energy of people shopping their store. One of the co-founders of the company mentioned to us that "it felt like her birthday today to see us." We felt the same. 

After we wrapped up at Deux Mains we then made a stop to Rebo Coffee to enjoy a drink and reflect on our day.

Our final trip of the day was a second visit to the Hospital for Sick and Dying Babies. The team was more familiar with the experience as we all got to visit the sweet faces we saw earlier in the week. We enjoyed feeding and taking the children outside again. Some of us try to get little smiles and giggles out of the babies, and sometime we see those moments happen. But for the most part we held, rocked and spoke words of encouragement and love over them.  We also enjoyed watching some older children take out small plastic trikes and ride down a ramp with big smiles and laughter. It was great fun for the smaller children to watch in wonder. Our goodbyes were still difficult, but the moments we were able to have together is what settled deep into our hearts.

During our team’s circle time we reflected on the last fruit of the spirit which is “self-control.” A verse Kat shared with the group really summed up what God is calling us to do. 2 Peter 1:5-7 “For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith GOODNESS; and to goodness, KNOWLEDGE; and to knowledge, SELF-CONTROL; and to self-control, PERSERVERANCE; and to perseverance, GODLINESS; and to godliness, MUTUAL AFFECTION; and to mutual affection, LOVE. For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.”

With every interaction we have, with every opportunity to serve, with every moment of prayer – we are building up the qualities God is asking us to possess. It is in these moments that we are in the progressive process of becoming more like Jesus.   

Thursday, February 25, 2021

Day Four | Laughter and Play

Today was such a fun day full of laughter and play time. 

Our day began with meeting Jean Fils Aime who has played a significant role for developing Healing Haiti. He is the Director in Haiti and has helped build the compound from the very beginning. He shared his stories of how it all began and the growth Healing Haiti has experienced.    

We then packed up crafts, musical instruments, bubbles and a parachute and headed to the Mephibosheth School. This school houses, educates and cares for children with disabilities. Because of Healing Haiti’s partnership, we brought bags of food to donate.

After we unloaded the truck we were greeted with big hugs and smiles from all the children.  We brought out all the fun and games to begin playing. We started out with song and dance, and some parachute games. Each of us in the group made connections with a child. Whether it was playing an instrument with them, holding and talking with them, or bringing laughter with the parachute, we all had smiles on our faces. Language is always a barrier when we interact with the Haitian community. But it didn’t take long for God to remove those barriers as we both understood what it means to laugh, play and hug each other. 

At one moment during our visit, a young girl wheeled out and wanted to sing for us. As she began to sing, her angelic voice carried above the noise of the crowd. And the group slowly began to quiet and gather around her as she sang to us in creole “Lord I Need You” and “10,000 Reasons”. It was such a gift for us to hear her voice and her praises to God. Music helps us engage emotionally with the words we’re singing, and we were all so touched by this moment. 

After we wrapped up our playtime at the Mephibosheth School, we made our way to Papillon Marketplace.

Papillon Marketplace is a fair-trade certified, socially-conscious lifestyle brand dedicated to supporting at-risk mothers and fathers with full-time artisan jobs in Haiti. Our tour guide Tricky shared with us how all the goods they sell are created. Most of their work is made with clay. We also enjoyed burgers and smoothies and CafĂ© Papillon for lunch. 

We wrapped up our time at Papillon and made or way to the guesthouse to rest. Our Tap Tap ride back home had the most thrill and excitement for the team as we drove through the heavy traffic of Port-au-Prince. Bumpy roads, big trucks, loud honks, quick motorcycles and all the maneuvering through the rush hour created a roar of laughter as we bounced our way home. 

Our third and final visit was to a community center for boys and girls in the neighborhood called New Hope. New Hope is similar to an after-school care program. This is one of the newer partnerships Healing Haiti has made in the community. 

We started off our time with a skit and craft focusing on walking with Jesus. We started out with about 40 children and quickly grew to over 100. We divided our time between 2 small rooms and one small area outside. The children inside had a dance party and sang the Hokie Pokie. We learned a new dance that the kids all new well which sounded like it was called Uncle Bookie. 

We also brought out jump ropes, the parachute, stickers, and heart shaped crafts. The children swarmed around as they all grabbed what they needed to decorate their wooden heart. We ended by singing Jesus Loves Me and Smith closed us out in prayer before snack time. As we handed out snacks we started to realize that we were not prepared for over 100 children. But God provided and we had enough for every child with only 3 left over. Praise God!

We made our way back to the compound for dinner. During our team devotion time we reflected on our day. Everyone shared their Word of the Day. Words ranged from Heart, Laughter, Community, Smile and Joy. 

Jesus tells us “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.” (Matthew 19:14) We experienced a taste of heaven today as we shared love with all of God’s wonderful children.