Friday, January 18, 2013

Day 6 The Hands and Feet of Jesus

Our internet went down on our last night in Haiti. Our team was unable to blog but I asked Bob to please put in to words what he had shared during our team sharing so that we could add it to the blog after the fact. Here is what he wrote:

Haiti Day 6 ~ January 12, 2013

Cold shower, hot tea and breakfast. I made pancakes this morning and they looked (and tasted) pretty good. We spent this day at Grace Village attending to the elderly from Titanyen. They were all brought to Grace Village for their quarterly visit with Dr. Sem, a Haitian doctor who was sponsored through medical school by a couple from Wayzata, Minnesota.  He brings his gift of healing in God’s name to the poor and elderly in Titanyen and the orphans in Grace Village.

I and one of the other men on our team took each of the men who wanted a shower to the boy’s dorm showers and helped them to clean up. Some were able to shower themselves and others needed a lot of help as they were frail and unsure of themselves in the wet and slippery shower stall. Edmond, a 69 year old blind man, required a lot of help ~ I had to lift him off the floor so he could get out of his shoes and over the curb into the shower. I was in the shower with him and assisted him in shampooing his full head of hair and parts of his body he could not reach. We then applied lotion to their skin and some baby powder as well.  They reveled in this treatment and left feeling very good about themselves ~ we even kidded them about smelling good and being more attractive to the ladies. It was a very rewarding experience for me and helped me to see God as He blessed these men through our work. Edmond, in particular, is a man of incredible faith and gratitude. While the others thanked us profusely for what we had done for them, Edmond never thanked us but could not stop saying “thank you Jesus”.  While I certainly felt blessed to be in the company of these men of faith, Edmond brought it clearly home to me as he recognized that we were truly Jesus' hands and feet doing His work and delivering His love. Edmond and the others had allowed us to open our hearts and hands to the Holy Spirit and, as always, God waits for the open heart and never fails to respond with love.
As we were gathered in prayer and recollection later that evening at the guest house I was reminded of the difficulty I had in seeing God’s hand the day before at San Fil, the Home for Sick and Dying Adults. Today’s experience with these men, and Edmond in particular, revealed to me that God’s love for each of us is unconditional ~ whether we are old or young, at the beginning of life or at the end of life, soft skinned or wrinkled and dry, rich or poor, athletic or clumsy, beautiful or plain ~ we are all precious in His sight and valued above all in His heart. God loves equally the beautiful smiling children, the elderly and lame, even those near death ~ it was only I that was troubled by their plight, God knew He was calling them home, and so did they.

Written by Bob

Friday, January 11, 2013

Compassion in Action

We reached the point in our week that stretched us to dig deep beyond ourselves.  It was our longest day and one of the most difficult emotionally, physically and mentally.  II Corinthians 12:9 "My grace is sufficient for you, for my strength is made perfect in weakness, therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weakness, so that Christ's power may rest on me."  That verse says it all!

We woke up at 5:30AM to attend church nearby.  Wow, it was an amazing experience to see people worshiping with complete abandon.  These people who have so little but are so thankful for everything.  They were jumping around in joy with arms wide towards heaven.  I felt the presence of God the minute I stepped into the tent.  We were standing on holy ground and the holy spirit was at work.  I prayed and worshiped right along with them with tears falling.  What's wonderful is that the church meets six days out of the week for two hours.  I wish I lived closer and could join them every morning to worship and pray.  It was a beautiful way to start my day and definitely gave me strength for what was ahead.

We did two water truck deliveries and spent our time singing and dancing with the children.  Their joy is infectious and so pure.  To see them so excited to see us. I had a different perspective this time because I was taking pictures.  So many children wanted their photo taken.  I was constantly being pulled by different children trying to get my attention.  There was a moment at the end of each stop when Bill Tapler sprayed the water over the children.  I did my best to capture the moment because the kids were so excited.  It is so hot and humid here in Haiti.  How wonderful it must feel to be sprayed with cool water.

We did a quick change of clothes before heading to San Fil to visit the sick and dying.  San Fil is a home for teenagers through elderly that is run by Nuns.  There are two floors, one for the women and one for the men.  We spent our time there rubbing lotion into their dry, parched skin.  It was a very humbling experience as many completely undressed before us, but I knew it was a wonderful way to bless them.  These are people at the end of their lives and we were showing them compassion and grace through our personal sacrifice.  I know that we provided them some joy and comfort today.  I can only imagine how wonderful it must have felt to be rubbed and touched.  Lotion is something that is a luxury in Haiti.  We in America put lotion on everyday, but could you imagine not having lotion for your dry skin?  Junior, one of our translators was along with us and he was playing his guitar and we were all singing and worshiping while we rubbed lotion on their bodies.  It was a very holy moment and wonderful to hear them singing with us.  There were so many words of thanks and praise for what we were doing for them.  I want to give all the glory to God for using  us to be His hands to touch their lives.  I hope to see them in Heaven where their pain and suffering will be no more...Where we can dance together on streets of gold and worship our Savior and Lord, Jesus Christ!

Written by Sara Luther


How can I begin to describe the power of Haiti.  The power to pull your heart and show you a world so removed from your own, that it seems surreal.  But that feeling quickly passes as you look into the faces of children that are dirty, hungry and seemingly hopeless.  But no, they are not dirty - their spirits are pure;  they are not hungry, but have a joy that satisfies; and they are not hopeless, they spread their message of hope with their smile and their ever present touch.

I come among them a white stranger.  I don't look like them, speak like them or act like them.  Yet they crave my attention.  They want me to hold them, touch them, play with them and sing with them.  Yes, they want me, they can't wait for me to depart from the taptap for our dance of connectedness to begin.  And so we dance, and our barriers don't matter, our differences fall away.  They embrace me just the way that I am, and I them.

Today I held a little girl.  She "chose" me and would not let me go.  We danced, we sang, and I prayed for her.  We never said one word to each other -- she never spoke to me.  But there was a bond formed between us that I will never forget.  She will become for me the face of Haiti.  Her eyes were matted with green slop, her nose was constantly running, but when we looked into each others eyes, we spoke to each other a love that needed no words.  We quietly would turn and our eyes would lock, over and over again, and I fell in love with her.  I don't know her name, but I will never forget her sweet face.  It was a holy moment and I felt God's unconditional love in those great big brown eyes.

I will ever be changed -- in that one brief moment I felt God's overwhelming love for the people of Haiti and how his heart must grieve for their suffering.  I thank God for giving me a glimpse of his heart in the eyes of a beautiful little girl that I will not see again this side of heaven.  But she has my heart and the heart of God.  I will keep her in my prayers and maybe, one day, we will meet again.  We will worship the God who created us - her to a life of want and me to a life of plenty - and yet, one in Him.

Bonnie Weber

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Thursday Jan. 10th Pure Joy & Renewed Hope!!

Today we traveled along the beautiful coastline of Haiti to the town of Tetanyen. Nestled in the crest of the mountain, above the city, looking out to the open sea we visited Healing Haiti's pet project: "Grace Village". Grace Village is an orphanage, school, and a church, with church services and education opportunities open to the locals of Tetanyen. Over three hundred local Haitian children attend the school, from kindergarten thru high school. The grounds were very impressive, including an advanced agricultural project, a Talapia fish farm, and 'three' Italian, wood-burning ovens appropriately named "Shadrach, Meshach, Abednego". The idea behind developing these resources, is that they would not only feed and benefit Grace Village, but the surrounding village and locals. The plan is to provide employment to locals by teaching them the skills they will need to keep these programs operating. The goods that will be produced on sight will include fresh produce, fish, and bread. We were informed that those employed will be able to keep one third of the goods for their own use, be able to sell one third of the goods, and the remaining third would go back to the community at Grace Village. Also on the grounds, a new medical and dental facility was under construction.

Grace Village is like an oasis for local children who have found a beautiful, safe, loving environment where they can grow and thrive without worrying where there next meal is coming from. It is the goal of Grace Village to reach out to the community, empower the people, and give them the resources so that they can live, grow, and thrive as a community. This experience renewed our hope in bringing hope to the Haitian people.

Following our visit to Grace Village, we went to visit and deliver a care package to a few of the elderly Haitians sponsored by Healing Haiti. Our first stop was at Edmond's humble home. Edmond is a blind sixty-nine year old, living alone in a small, one room hut. He had no physical belonging besides his single bed and a chair, but oh did he have the pure joy of the Lord!! He asked for nothing, simply stating: "I don't need anything... I have Jesus." When we gathered around him and showered him with song and prayer, he embraced our hands and pressed his cheek against our group leader, Laura. At the end of our visit, he threw up his hands, waving his arms and looking up to the heavens he praised: "Thank you Jesus." Besides the love and attention he received that afternoon, he may have been particularly thankful for the supply of "applesauce"... which was apparently his favorite!!

What we discovered as we visited the other local elderly and disabled, was that they felt blessed and loved regardless of the daily hardships, lack of food, clean water, and other possessions we, as Americans, take for granted.

"Greatness is measured by your gifts, not by your possessions" ~Unknown.
Susan & Suzanne :~))  

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Day 4 January 9, 2013

What is God trying to teach me?  Alyn's question echoes through my memories of this day.  Why is my life so full of blessings and those that we serve in Haiti seem not to be so full.  Our team spent the first half of our day at a nursery for sick and dying infants and children.  We were all able to spend time playing in the open court with one or two or more.  Gradually we all made special connections with one precious child ~ it seemed almost like they selected us and came to us for touch and comfort. I chased one rambunctious boy around for 30 minutes, taking great joy in his endless energy and enthusiasm for activity and play. Then in an instant he was clinging to me and shortly fell asleep on my chest. As I laid on my back with his steady breathing whispering in my ear I again asked the question ~ what is God trying to teach me? He awoke some 45 minutes later (I think I might have napped a bit as well) and was off to his own ramblings.  We were called in to feed the children and I was given a young girl of five or six years who appeared to be 3 or 4.  She was malnourished, with a distended belly and protruding naval, and appeared listless.  She had penetrating and seeking eyes but she did not frown or smile once.  She seemed to have an appetite but ate next to nothing.  Yet, as I laid her in her assigned crib she reached out for me, without a smile or a frown, but with clear and penetrating eyes that seemed to say "I need you". We had to leave, and the question lingered.

We had a lunch of snacks at the guest house and traveled to Gertude's orphanage for special needs children.  Many of the children were in wheelchairs as they were not able to walk.  Others were "walkers" but struggled with cognitive skills and motor skills.  All were eager to be held and touched and moved and paid attention to. We began by pushing some of them around the large sunlit courtyard, caressing them and humming with them and even pushing them in a chair race across the courtyard.  Many connections were made. Many smiles and much laughter. I saw a beautiful but sad faced girl of around 4 or 5 years, sitting on the concrete in a far corner of the courtyard, chewing on a piece of plastic film and mumbling to herself.  As I picked her up I noticed that she had wet herself and her underwear and her dress were soaked.  My first thought was to go ask if she could have a new outfit, mostly because I knew that she had soiled me as well.  It was then that the question rose up again in my mind.  What is God trying to teach me? So silly of me to worry about a little moisture when I was holding in my arms a precious child of God and had precious little time to bring some measure of joy, and worth, into her world.  If only for an our or two I had the God given power to bring some light and laughter into a world filled with mumbling and chewing on plastic film.  I held her close and began mimicking her mumbling.  It didn't take at first, but after a few tries she began to respond.  She would begin by taunting me with her mumbles and smile when I responded in kind.  Then she began to clap for me when I seemed to do an adequate job of duplicating her sounds. The question was still there but the fog was lifting on the answer.  What is God trying to teach me? After some joy filled play and song under the rainbow umbrella we finished our time at Gertrude's and headed back to the guest house for pizza and french fries.

As we met for prayer and reflection after dinner the question still lingered unanswered in my mind. We each choose a word for reflection that describes our day and the impact it had on us. I recalled a poignant note penned to my wife after years she had spent mentoring and providing emotional support and friendship for a Puerto Rican single mom and her three children. It was a short note, but she closed by thanking my wife for all of the friendship, support and "worth" that my wife had brought to her and her family. That word has stuck with me over the years and it became my word for the day. I know in my heart that God loves me unconditionally and believe that He loves all of his precious children with the same depth and conviction. Why then is my life so blessed and theirs is seemingly not? What is God trying to teach me today? Perhaps that He needs a little bit of help in conveying His love to those who may not feel His blessings.  After all, are not these precious souls the least of our brethren? We are called by God to bring His love and a sense of true worth to all of His precious children. I sense that we all felt, as a team, that this day brought us immeasurable blessings and required very little sacrifice from us. God has blessed us richly this day and has moved us to continue to ask the question "What is God trying to teach me?" Thank you, Alyn, for your vision, your compassion, your faith and your wisdom.

Submitted by Bob Timperley

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

My word for today was BEAUTIFUL!  How else could I describe the children of Haiti?  There was a moment at our second stop delivering water in city soleil when I was holding a small girl in my arms.  She had these beautiful brown eyes and hair that was all done up in pink barettes and ribbons.  She kept touching my face, neck, and hair.  She would smile and wrap her little arms around my neck.  I held her for a very long time and if I tried to set her down to help with the water she would cry and latch on to me tighter.  At one moment another little girl in this blue dress came running up to me smiling with perfect white teeth and big brown eyes surrounded by these long eye lashes.  My first thought was how beautiful she is... She had on cute black shoes with stockings that were framed in blue ribbon at the top and ribbons were braided into her hair.  "Porte Mai" she said to me which means pick me up.  I somehow managed to bend down and take her into my other arm. So there I stood with two perfect angels in my arms feeling overwelmed as they hugged me and held my face or neck.  I felt like I wasn't doing my part to haul and distribute buckets of water truck, but then I realized that this was my small part.  I could love on these little girls and show them affection just by holding them and smiling into their eyes.  I don't know their story or what life is really like for them, but someone took the time to dress them up pretty and put those ribbons in their hair.  I pray and hope that my kindness made an impact on them just as I know that their little faces will always be remembered by me.  My little angel blessings!

Written by Sara Luther

Today was an incredible day.  We rose to beautiful weather, ate breakfast as a group, prayed together and embarked on what would become a life changing experience; at least for me.  Our mission for the day was to deliver water to parts of what is considered Haiti's poorest neighborhood, Cite' Soleil.  We boarded the Tap Tap and made our way through the rough and skinny streets of Haiti to meet up with the water truck.  Upon arriving, we found the water truck with a dead battery.  I have found the Haitians to be incredibly resourceful and within a few minutes, our drivers/ chaperones had the water truck running and we were on our way.  It wasn't long before we stopped again due to a large rock becoming wedged between 2 of the dual tires.  Unsuccessful in getting it out, we chugged along with what felt like a flat for a few miles until a loud bang against the floor of the Tap Tap signaled that the tires had released their hold.  Fortunately, the courageous motorcyclist following closely behind us reacted fast enough to get out of the way.

Matthew 25:40 The least of these.

As we entered Cite' Soleil, the atmosphere quickly changed.  The streets were crowded and our awareness rose.  As we arrived at our first water drop of the day, the children seemed to attack the Tap Tap and a line of buckets formed in the street.  As we opended the back doors, a flood of emotion, love, desperation and poverty filled the air.  Before our feet hit the ground, the children were grasping for affection.  We were mobbed by beautiful, yearning faces that caught me off guard.  It took me a few minutes to collect my thoughts as I struggled to attend to the half dozen children that were treating me like a jungle gym.  I was drowning in emotion as I tried to take in the scene.  After a few minutes, I pulled it together and began to embrace the moment.  The Haitians are anxious for fresh water so the hose immediately gets hooked up and buckets start to get filled. Some of us were able to jump in and help distribute water; I had other commitments.  For our time there, which I'll guess at an hour and a half, I had anywhere from 2 - 6 children begging for affection.

This was arguably one of the poorest areas of Haiti; the sights, smells, wounds, and need is unforgetable. When the truck was empty, we took a walk which ended by the sea shore in an area that is part garbage dump, bathroom and graveyard.  It was a scene that I couldn't imagine and one that I will not describe in detail.  One of our crew, Wilson, brought the children together and they broke out in song celebrating life and God.  It was sureal and beautiful and a moment that I will never forget.

Written by Bill

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Getting the last minute details take care of prior to our trip...  Starts at 3am!!!  Praying for traveling mercies and a servant heart...