Welcome to the Healing Haiti + Eagle Brook Mission Blog. We invite you to follow mission team members as they experience what God is doing both through them and in them while in the mission field of Haiti.
'For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me. Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’
Saturday, August 11, 2012
Friday, August 10, 2012
The day begins with a delicious breakfast as always! I feel like (or rather I know that) I do not begin my days back home nearly as nutriously as this...but, it's for good reason. The days in Haiti require an exhorbitant amount of energy, both physically at times (like when riding in the TapTap), but more so emotionally and mentally. Most of the sights, sounds and interactions with the people of Haiti will make a tremendous impact on ones heart and soul. Today will be no exception I am certain. The agenda for the day is to visit the mass grave and several elderly or disabled Haitian citizens that are on the Elderly Care program at Healing Haiti.
After our inspiring morning devotional (provided by Donna), we are loaded into the TapTap (pronounced "Top Top" if you haven't been privy to this information as of yet...and which is basically a small straight truck with a cage on the back and a couple of bench seats inside - it's our beloved main method of transportation while here...other than by foot) and are off down the road. This turns out to be the longest trip we've been on so far...however the roads aren't too bad for the majority of the trip (SPECIAL NOTE: This is HIGHLY unusual).
January 12, 2010...an extremely large and devastating earthquake ruptures the country of Haiti. 300,000 plus people perish...both during the event and subsequently in the aftermath. Our first stop today, the mass grave that was made due to the lack of places to properly put to rest such a large quantity of loving souls. Junior, one of our translators and sometimes pilot of the TapTap, tells us the story as we gather around the memorial they've constructed on the site of the mass grave. It is a black tile circular monument with a large stone set atop and a plaque inscribed with the historic date and the words "We will never forget". It is a very touching moment for all, some more so than others. I can hardly imagine the pain that some of our guides/translators/Haitian friends we've come to know go through each time they come here and remember that horrific day two and a half years ago and the agonizing days that followed. Loved ones unheard from, hoping they are still alive...and sometimes, more often than not, the bad news arrives. We are all very moved. Some of us take a hike up the mountain to look at the crosses and memorials set atop of the hill overlooking the grave site while others stay down below to hear the heart wrenching tale told first hand of a loved one never to return. We are all moved to silence. It is just too much for the mind to process. After some time passes we load back up into the TapTap and make our way to Titanyen and Grace Village where we will pick up the leaders of the elderly care program, Carol and Jonas.
The first glimpse we get of Grace Village is as we approach it from below and my immediate reaction is "Absolutely amazing! How great is our God!?!" It is truly an awe inspiring and beautiful sight to behold! A literal oasis in the middle of a desert. What they are doing here can only be described as a gift from God. Inside the gate is a bustle of activity. The Haitians are busy constructing a clinic on site and there is a team working on the Aquaponics as we get a brief tour of the Host Family lodging. There are other buildings up already, and we will learn more about them tomorrow, but right now our attention is focused on Rob and Jennifer and their family, the Host Family who are on a 2 year long term mission trip here at Grace Village. They tell us their story and we are all moved by their tremendous act of giving, not just in time and tithing, but in true missionary service work here. It had a profound and deep impact on at least a few of the members of our team and I'm certain I will hear similar stories of such selfless serving from at least a couple of our very own team members in the future. God is at work in us already!
After we gather the group back together, we load into the TapTap and travel to our first stop, Edmond, a 77 year old blind man who lives in little more than a lean to with a cot. We bring him some food, water and love, of which he willingly accepts all with grace and reciprocal love. He tells us his prayer request in between bites of the peanut butter sandwich we've given him...and sadly his request is just outside our reach. He wishes to see again. I know he will one day though, when he returns home to our Father. As we leave he is eating his applesauce and we are off to the next person. We make 4 other stops today, each time bringing a care package and love to each person. We are blessed to have Jeff from our team and Junior to play guitar and sing worship songs at each stop. One thing I notice is the love, openness and welcoming of all the people as we visit each home. They invite us in, the kids come up and say hi, the younger adults smile and wave and are just so friendly! It is truly a loving atomosphere everywhere. It is a gift from God to behold such loving kindness.
At one stop, Jeff and Junior play Amazing Grace as Lauren is rubbing lotion on an elderly woman (Mirolen) and Chris is treating her neck for the soreness she is experiencing. The song moves me to tears and just seeing our team come together and interact with these people is both inspiring and encourging that there is still hope and love in the world...even if we have to travel halfway around it sometimes to find it.
When we return back to the guest house and reflect on our day, I can't help but wonder...maybe God cracked this land to let His light shine on it and show the rest of the world all of the love that is here...
Thursday, August 9, 2012
Day three means that we have settled in, getting to know each other's unique individual gifts, adjusting to sleeping in a new place and looking forward to the richness of what the Lord has in store for us. Day three can also mean needing that extra boost of energy if sleep has been difficult or if family members are being missed.
Isaiah 40:28-31 "Do you not know? Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He will not grow tired or weary, and his understanding no one can fathom. He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.
Speaking of youths.......the big kids met the little ones today. Our meeting began at the Home for Sick and Dying Children. Just to hear that title may make one think that this is a place of great sadness. Quite the contrary. Small arms reach up to be welcomed into your arms. There are also many parents outside sitting with their childen. They are able to be with them in the morning. My little guy was Waken, two years old and the most beautiful bown eyes looked into mine, Waken was asking for "MaMa". I did my best to show him my MaMa/Grandma love for a few short hours. My fellow team members bonded with a child and whether you were a parent, or had never changed a diaper the love for these children was in the air. Jeff brought his guitar and sang and played for the children. I have never seen the macaranah dance done to a Christian song but one young girl danced joyfully. Many, many smiles. The Sisters and staff who take care of the children are God-like in the work that they do and also must feel that love from the children each and everyday.
We had to leave the Home after we helped serve/feed the children lunch. It was their nap time. We wistfully said our goodbyes and headed back to the guest house where even some of the big kids took a nap. A break before our next journey.
The majority of the team went to Gertrude's Place and I and another team member headed back to the Home for Sick and Dying Children to accompany some of the Sisters and volunteers to the Wound Care Clinic. The ride to the clinic was a tour of the main streets of Haiti which were filled with people and vehicles. Traffic in the metro area is a piece of cake compared to the hazards of driving in Haiti. The Sister prayed the rosary enroute to the clinic and the prayers were a reminder to me that God had everything under control. The butterflies in my stomach settled down and I was able to visit with some of the other volunteers. One is a student from CO, but originally from St. Cloud. Another was a medical student from France.
Once at the clinic Jen and I tended to people who had come with wounds that needed cleaning and fresh dressings applied. There was not one word of complaint from any of the patients, and most were very grateful. Even though they are not rich in material items, they are rich with graciousness. It was my honor to clean and dress their wounds.
Once back at the Healing Haiti House, we met up with the rest of the group who had been at Gertrude's Place, which is a home for children with special needs. Again, the big kids were able to spend time with the little kids and it sounded like there was not a lack of joy and laughter. Stories were shared along with some tears.
After a dinner of pizza and ice cream, I hear my team members outside getting Salsa lessons from Jean Fils-Aime the Director of the Guesthouse. There is cheering and laughter, so it must be going well. I must go and investigate.....actually, I want to join the fun.
Even after another busy day and perhaps a bit sleep deprived......those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. Looking forward to Day Four in Haiti.
Wednesday, August 8, 2012
It has been a year since I last stepped off the TapTap into Cite' Soleil. How I have missed this beautiful land with beautiful people. Water Truck Day in Citi Soleil was my favorite day my last trip and I have looked forward to serving the people here for so long.
It was a wonderful to watch my teammates get to experience this for the first time. Healing Haiti comes to Cite' Soleil to deliver clean water to 3-4 areas daily for free. There is no acces to clean water except for trucks that charge for it.
God has taught me many things over the past year yet my blog entry from last year remains true to today:
Jesus is still in these streets - He always was and always will be.
How easy it is to love these children with their beautiful faces and wonderful smiles! They are faces that are beautiful to their Father God and they are beautiful to me.
Once again I can say to them "Jezi Renmen ou'! " They will come back with" wi!"
What's the difference since I last saw Jamison, the boy I met last year and the other children?
From an outside perspective looking at photos of Cite' Soleil over the past few years most would say nothing.
They would be mostly right except for the people that Healing Haiti has been able to help in one way or another.
They can't see my heart like God can.
With each person that comes down here there is a great possibilty for change. It is that some don't expect it, they even get side-swiped by it because the change occurs in them and not in Cite' Soleil. It is a wonderful change and each person is different.
For me I came back seeing the world differently and more clearly:
"Love God with all of your heart, soul, strength and mind and Love your neighbor as yourself."
We hear the familiar command from Jesus in Luke 10:27. It may be easy enough to hear it but is it easy
to process what those 2 greatest commanments mean?
For those of us who have chosen to follow Jesus this is a heavy command when you truly process it.
For me, my neighbors started a few thousand miles away in Haiti and ended at my doorstep. Each one in between is
a child that God loves as His own some he is still trying to rescue. Like my own children that I love dearly, they are very different from one another. I expect my kids to treat each other fairly and love each other. When they don't it can break my heart sometimes - much like it breaks the heart of God when we don't Love our neighbors.
If we don't love our neighbors are we really following the first and greatest commandment?
I had forgotten the "Go and do likewise" part.
The difference from last year to now is this:
I still say "Jezi Renmen Ou" to these children but now I follow with "Mwen renmen ou"
Which means "I Love You"
and I do.
Bondye Bon Toujou (God is good always!)
Jeff Gjerde (James)
Monday, August 6, 2012
At 3:45am, we all arrived at Terminal 1 full of emotion! After only a couple hours of sleep each, we began arriving at the airport where we came to learn that Jenn had lost her passport and was going to bring her donation suitcase to the airport for us to bring down for her. Her spirits got lifted when Claudia and Derek told her to see if she could get a new passport and join us in Haiti tomorrow! We all got through security without any issues and headed down to our gate. Once we were all together Derek R. inspired us by getting each and every one of us a notebook. He challenged us to write ourselves a letter in the back, discussing our own anxieties and goals for our trip to Haiti. Then when we arrived to the guesthouse we laid out our notebooks for others to write in while we all started to bond and build lasting relationships! We boarded the plane and headed for Miami right on time, and landed safely at 11:00am.
At 2:00pm we boarded our flight to Port-au-Prince. We landed in Haiti around 5 o'clock. As we were coming in to land, I noticed the shacks and some of the shambled buildings that were still leftover from the earthquake in 2010. There seemed to be many little villages made up of tons of little shacks, that are people's homes! This was a shock to me, even though I was partially prepared for it. We headed towards customs were we spent at least half an hour getting through and finding our many donation suitcases. It was sort of chaotic, but we finally headed towards our Healing Haiti taptap. The outside was beautifully painted with the Healing Haiti logo and some bible verses written on the side. On our way to the guesthouse, we all asked tons of questions; "Are there always this many kids unattended?," "Are these people's homes?," " Is that a tent city?" There were also many observations made; "That woman is carrying that large bucket on her head!," "Look at all the stray dogs, they look so sad."
It was eye opening and later in the evening we sat down for dinner and began discussing the things we had seen. We talked about not really knowing or expecting there to be larger and nicer homes, and talking about the community around us. Learning that you can almost always hear music from afar, and that the kids generally wander just because these people are very trusting and know their kids will come home. After we had finished eating, we each said our word of the day. There was a wide range of emotions coming from everyone; everything from feeling blessed, thankful, relieved and protected to feeling overwhelmed, exhausted and in awe of the things we witnessed so far knowing it is only our first day here! We finally heard from Jenn, letting us know that she will be meeting up with us tomorrow and we are all so completely joyed to hear that she is coming. She wrote to tell us her word of the day and this is what she wrote to us:
Today my word of the day is Faith! The last 24 hours have really tested my faith. I have stood strong in my faith even when difficulties arose. I knew that I would be going to Haiti and only my faith in God made it happen. Here is what happened in the last 24 hrs.
Met you guys at the airport with no passport :-( My faith was renewed when Derek and Claudia told me to get a new passport and come tomorrow. From the time I left you guys at the airport I began to talk with the airlines and passport agency. Hurdles began when the airlines deleted my ticket because I did not cancel my flight before the plane left. I wasn't allowed to talk with the airlines because a travel agent booked our tickets. I was given a number to call for the agency. After calling them I find out that actually another agency has booked our flights. By the time I found Cheryl the travel agent (from Hilton Head, SC) I had to leave a message. I was frustrated but I continued to have faith. She called me back and began to work hard to reinstate my ticket because of my situation but didn't want to book my ticket until I had my new passport in my hands. I had an appointment at the passport agency in MPLS at 12noon. I waited 1/2 an hour and handed all my paperwork to the agent. Then the agent said that I couldn't use the same passport photo as my last one. He then sent me 6 blocks to the government building to get a passport photo where I waited in line for a 1/2 hour for my photo. Then ran back to the passport office to drop it off so I could get the passport done today. I was told to return between 2:30 and 3pm to pick it up. By 3pm I had my new passport in my hands and praised God. I then called Cheryl the travel agent to book the flight. She said it may take a few hours but she would get it scheduled and would call me with the ticket change fee (around $150). I arrived back at home in Hugo and then received a panicked call from Cheryl saying that the airlines would not reinstate my ticket. She tried everything. A new ticket would cost $1085. She said I had to go to the airport immediately and talk with an agent and nicely plead my case and see if they would reinstate my original ticket. Hurry she said as the seats are filling quickly. Mike another travel agent from MN was willing to help out and find other flight options but nothing was working out. So at 5pm my husband drove me to the airport and I kept my faith in God that somehow I would get to Haiti. I walked up to the American airlines counter with not one person in sight. I ask the woman at the counter if I could get on the Haiti flight tomorrow morning to join my Healing Haiti team. Her and another associate typed and made phone calls for the next 3 minutes. She told the woman on the phone that I was with Healing Haiti and they fly with American airlines all the time. She hung up the phone and looked at me with a smile. "OK, I have you on the 6:25am flight tomorrow morning!" No fees, no nothing! Just a smile and both associates wishing me a wonderful trip. "We love Healing Haiti," they said! My heart sank and I wanted to cry but all I could do is smile and think GOD IS SO GOOD!!!!!
Check out my daily email bible verse today.
For our present troubles are small and won't last very long. Yet they produce for us a glory that vastly outweighs them and will last forever! ~ 2 Corinthians 4:17See you tomorrow!
I think that Jenn sums everything up wonderfully by saying faith in our Lord is holding everything together. So far on this trip we have faced Satan plenty of times, but we all decided that we are encouraged by this because we (with the help of God, of course!) have pushed through Satan's traps. With God on our side, nothing can stop us from helping those who want help!
I want to end my blog with a verse that I flipped open to at the end of the day today. I feel that it kind of sums up what we are trying to do here and what our goals are.
2 Corinthians 1:3-7
All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is our merciful Father and the source of all comfort. He comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort others. When they are troubled, we will be able to give them the same comfort God has given us. For the more we suffer for Christ, the more God will shower us with his comfort through Christ. Even when we are weighed down with troubles, it is for your comfort and salvation! For when we ourselves are comforted, we will certainly comfort you. Then you can patiently endure the sames things we suffer. We are confident that as you share in our sufferings, you will also share in the comfort God gives us.
As Americans we are coming out of our comfort zones to be the hands and feet of God and spread His good word to those who seek it (and even to those who do not know that they are seeking it)! Some in our group were weighed down with troubles today but we all pushed through and everything is turning out to be good, the way God planned it to be. I know that personally, I cannot wait to see what God is going to teach not only me but everyone else in this group. I cannot wait to watch everyone grow in their faith with God and sing His glory everyday.
Praise be with you all and thank you for supporting each and everyone of us throughout this journey of a lifetime!
Saturday, August 4, 2012
Taryn instantly befriended a little girl wearing a pink shirt and pink shorts. When it was Taryn's turn to hold the water hose, the little girl just did not want to leave her side, so she helped out by holding the hose behind Taryn. How helpful! Rita was claimed by a little girl in a white lace top. She was VERY possessive and would not allow Rita to pick anyone else up! When she finally released full claim on Rita, a little boy was next in line for Rita's full attention. His smiles and giggles were the best! Andra was handed a baby wearing flannel pajamas. The mother was so proud of the baby and was happy that Andra held it! After a short break in the guest house, a few of us made our third trip to The Home for Sick and Dying Children.
This time we were allowed to go into the "very sick room." It made all of us really sad to walk into a room to see rows of babies in little cribs with blank stares. It looked like they didn't even have the energy to cry. Many of the children were suffering from severe malnutrition, so they were all really small and skinny for their age. We all fell in love with special babies.
Rita was drawn to tiny Betchilove who was way too small for fifteen months, but loved to be held. He hummed a bit into Rita's ear and was very sad to see Rita leave. Andra held several babies, but her favorite part was feeding them! Taryn scooped up a little girl who was crying when we arrived. She was calmed just by being held. Because these babies were malnourised, we just wanted to get as much food into their little bodies as we could. We were so frustrated when they sometimes refused food or drink.
We all left in tears as we had to leave the babies crying for us to stay. Please pray for these babies. We trust God's plan for them, but it sure seems unfair. On a lighter note, we got lots of laughs out of a mischevious little guy who kept sitting on the edge of his crib. And at one point tried to climb out. We were so concerned he would fall, especially since he was hooked up to an IV. What a sneaky little laugh and giggle he had everytime we tried to get him back into his crib! Bondje Boni' ou (God Bless You), Rita Taryn & Andra