Sunday, September 29, 2013

So Hard to Leave Haiti


Being that this is our last night together in Haiti, we spent time reflecting on all of the moving experiences we shared this past week.   This team has become as close as a family, sharing many laughs, tears, and tender moments.    Starting out on Tues. at Cite Soleil, that was the beginning of breaking our hearts for these beautiful people of Haiti.   To see the desperation in them for something so basic as fresh water and then to have the children loving all over us at the same time, just wanting to be kids, was humbling and very heartwarming for all of us.   The living conditions in Cite Soleil left us lacking for words...the human misery was overwhelming.  We felt so blessed to be able to provide them with water and lots of love.
Later in the day, we took 18 neighborhood boys to a local soccer field to show off their skills and have some fun just being kids.   They definitely have the was heartwarming to see them so proudly wearing their "Eden Prairie" soccer jerseys and then the best part...their tender voices singing "God is so Good" all the way home in the "Tap Tap".

Wednesday was our visit to the home for the sick and dying babies.   Each of us had our hearts led to one of the babies, holding them and feeding them....we all felt very honored to be allowed by the nuns to love on their babies.    They do an amazing job caring for these children.    In the afternoon we visited "Haiti Teen Challenge", a home for young men who are struggling with addiction.     Our team member, Craig, shared his testimony with the group there...we were all moved by this and very proud of him.

Thursday and Friday were spent making visits to Grace Village, Isaiah's, and Gertrude's orphanages.
The children are all so precious, wanting to play with us and grab all the love and attention we are able to provide.   It's hard to leave them but we all felt blessed and filled with their love when we drove away.   We also enjoyed working with the elders at Grace Village, helping them with crafts they can make and sell at the guest house gift shop.

Saturday we took 40 of the children from Grace Village to the beach for tons of fun!   It's hard to say who had more fun, the team or the children.    They are all such great kids, polite and so caring with one another.

We had the opportunity twice to experience Haitian worship with Pastor Wesley and Pastor Gary, both very dynamic speakers and just beautiful men.   Their love of God is contagious and their love for their congregation at Grace Church is very moving.   Haitian people look out for each other and care for each other very much.  

After church today, we went up to the top of the mountain to do some shopping and take in the breathtaking views of this beautiful country.   The contrast between the beauty of Haiti and the miserable poverty are difficult to put into words.  

Tomorrow morning we will be leaving these beautiful people with heavy hearts.   There is still so much need here and these people deserve to at least have their basic needs met.    Our team of drivers/translators are the most enjoyable young men who made sure we were safe, providing day long entertainment on the Tap Tap with their singing, playfulness, and just plain sweetness.   We fell in love with all of them...they are truly thoughtful and caring and made this trip a pleasure for us

Please pray for these Haitian people...their daily struggle to just try to survive is heartbreaking.     They have nothing, but in terms of their faith, they have everything.

We have observed them to be a very humble, patient, and God-loving people.   I definitely have a place in my heart for Haiti and look forward to a return trip.

Ke Bondye Beni'ou,

Jeanne Lai

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Today was a beautiful day! We went for a new Haiti experience and opted to take a colorful city style bus. Little did we know it was rigged with a serious sound system and we rocked out to Kompa music, a Haitian form a reggae, on the way to pick up the kiddos at Grace Village. It was the perfect music to set the tone for a beach day! We split about 40 kids between the 'tap tap' and our bus. We were packed like sardines, but it didn't matter because everyone was super excited to head to the beach. It was about an hour ride and we got to a paradise in Haiti. The weather was perfect and we all jumped in the water with all the kids, listening to them laugh as they playfully splashed each other and got thrown around by Matt. Despite having to tweeze out some urchin stingers at the end of the day, the water was Marrrrrvelous! You could really see the joy on the kid's faces, and they were all getting along sooo well! The beach balls were a big hit! On the way home, after we all piled in and got going again, the majority of them fell asleep on each other- and us- it was such a precious moment :) It doesn't get better than an innocent child feeling comfortable enough to cuddle up to you and fall asleep in your arms. It really warms your heart and soul. God blessed us today with great company and amazing memories!

Mandi Halverson and Anna Collins

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Today was spent at grace Village with the elders doing crafts!  What fun to spend the morning doing my favorite activity and teaching others how to do it.  It is so awesome that HH is able to provide this opportunity through donations of materials so the elders can make the items to sell.  They each make and sell the items at the HH gift shop, and have the chance to work on them once a week at grace village.
The afternoon was more relaxed as we toured the hydroponic gardens and tilapia farm.  It is truly amazing what they have done here.  They are almost done with the clinic and the medical part of our group (myself included) hope to return Saturday to unload and inventory at least some of the EIGHT containers of supplies!  They are eager to get started and have physicians on the way so it is very exciting to be a part of it if only in a small way.
We also brought Pastor Wesley and his wife back to the guest house for a night.  We spent a night of worship and enjoyed a devotion from this anointed man. He admonished us to remember the freedom we have to be the blessing we are to tell people here and in the USA about Christ. It is a great reminder.
Michele Sochay

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Relentless Grace

Our day started off great as we got to eat a delicious breakfast prepared by our Haitian kitchen ladies (even fresh mangoes, my favorite!). Our fabulous team of 10 hopped aboard the Tap Tap once again. What a fun adventure to travel these roads! The sights, sounds, and smells are unique and captivating. We had the amazing privilege of visiting a loving Home for sick and dying babies. We felt so blessed to spend a couple hours caring, holding, singing, and praying for these precious babies. Our hearts melted as we loved on them. It was truly an honor to be the "hands of Jesus" for these suffering kids. In the afternoon, our team was so thrilled to be able to visit Haiti Teen Challenge. It has been running for 4 years now and it was so exciting to see what God is doing in the lives of these men! We were so grateful to hear 3 wonderful testimonies of God's relentless pursuing grace- to God be the glory! We also got to hear the men sing their praises to God in Creole- it was beautiful- truly a time of worship. Some of the men were able to sing worship songs in English so then we could join them. We experienced our oneness in Christ as we together worshiped our great God and Savior. Our team has been so captivated by the love and joy expressed by the Haitians. They are very special and beautiful people!

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Glory to God

Where do you start when words cannot express... The journey to Haiti was just the beginning. We have experienced so much and it's only been one day. First it must be said, Haiti is a beautiful country with such lovely people. BUT... the misery and poverty will rip your heart to shreds. 

After a beautiful dinner last night, we went out to the porch and saw the neighborhood children arrive singing to us "Glory to God." Their faces just beaming with joy. There were a few little girls that said to us "oh Americans" and then they started to count in English to show off...precious!!  This was the start of our heart strings being tugged.  We had a good night sleep and everyone got a cold shower and all of you back in the States that are thinking "cold shower?", when it's in the mid 90's and very humid all day long and the sweat just keeps pouring out of your body, a cold shower was devine!!  We slept well in air conditioned rooms and woke up with inspiration in our eyes and a song in our soul.  Praise and worship on the fly was spectacular and what a huge blessing to all of us to experience this before we really even started our day.  While waiting for the Tap Tap we started with another round of Glory to new favorite song.  We got the dynamic team of Brunais, Fabreze, Emmanuel, Maxum and Elisa and a straggler missionary Mike who is also the photo guy!!  Cite Soleil was an area that we were heading to deliver water on the water truck and what we were really in store for was not anything someone could have prepared us to see and feel.  Poverty takes on new meaning in this area of Haiti.  Tin shacks, tarps, canvases, no running water, garbage everywhere, naked children walking all over, talk about culture shock...WHEW!!!!  As soon as we made our first stop as many of you who have come before us can attest and remember, the children literally mob you.  They pull you from the Tap Tap (vehicle that transports us everywhere we go with a cage to protect us) and immediately want to be held and hugged and loved by anyone that will give them the attention they are starving to get.  This was not an isolated incident, at every turn while in Cite Soleil we got mobbed by so many kids that all wanted to play with us, to be carried around and to be made to feel special and believe me it is not an easy thing to out them down when it is time to leave or to try to walk with 3 or 4 of them hanging on you.  We all got to experience this group of people that have nothing of any monetary value but have God in their lives and are so very thankful for everything they do have and for the free water that Healing Haiti is able to provide to them.  This was not anything you could prepare yourself for, as it was abysmal and dismal conditions but they praise God for everything which is something I wish I could do or at least do better.  Our hearts were opened and our emotions came like flood waters form all of us.  

We came home and relaxed for a short while, grabbed our soccer balls and grabbed the neighborhood kids next to the guest houses and took a field trip to the soccer field to play soccer.  Who knew Haitians were any good at soccer...the non-Haitians really need to improve our skills...let me just say that.  We had Emmanuel on our team and because of him we actually won the game.  Playing goalie was my part and every time the opposite team came anywhere close, the other neighborhood kids yelled at me "Hey You...give me a hug" I swear they did this to distract me :)  On the way home the kids started to sing in the Tap Tap Glory to God in English and the best way was also in Creole.  They rocked all the way back to the guest house and I can't even begin to tell you how awe inspiring and moving and Godly this was!!!!  I really needed this trip to Haiti as it is not what I do everyday at home and it is playing crazy games with my relationship with God.  I feel like Haiti is beyond poor and in fact it is just out right sub poverty, but God is here and God is good and God is watching over His flock and His children don't just live in Minnesota or Canada or Europe, rather His Children live in every nation in every land in all of the world and the Haitian people are closer to God than anyone I know.  In our devotional tonight we read about running to God.  The Haitians don't run with God, they walk with God.  We run to God every time times get tough and when it is convenient for us.  He wants us to walk with him instead of the sprint we make when life sucks and bleakness fills our life.  Being here is as a camp some that I learned way back when I went to CLEC goes...just a closer walk with thee...

I love being here and I love having a broken heart for the Haitian people.  Check out Matthew 25 verse 31??  The sheeps and the goats...speaks volumes to what being here is all about!!  God Bless you all and I pray that God works in you just as he is working in all of us...Jeanne will add some more, they let me run solo for a bit typing.  I just want to say that God is Great and I have God on my side and that is the side that I always want to have.  Love and peace from Haiti...Matt