Saturday, March 23, 2013

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Today was another "stretch" day for many of us.  We went to Gertrude's Home for Special Needs Children, and loved up some of Port-au-Prince's most needy.  The morning was spent playing and wheel-chairing them in the sunshine, communicating through smiles and touch, feeding and loving them. It was hard and uncomfortable, given the severity of their handicaps, their needs for love, and their inability to communicate or even do very much for themselves.

Perhaps it was good this day was our last, as our earlier experiences this week undoubtedly helped prepare our hearts. These were some of God's most vulnerable children -- and some of us felt vulnerable ourselves, unsure of how to deal with the depth of their issues. During reflection time tonight we discussed how important it is to recognize and respond to that vulnerability. The more vulnerable we are, the more we can lean into Him!  These children blessed our hearts with their squeals of laughter and shy, sweet smiles.

After helping feed the children their lunches,  we said our goodbyes (which we have learned to do --keep saying goodbye to people we love) and left for our tour of Port-au-Prince. We drove through the city in the open-sided taptap, smelling the smells, seeing the faces, watching all the street vendors. There is so much devastation and rubble from the 2010 earthquake -- 4 story buildings leaning and crumbling, yet a street vendor has set up shop underneath the overhang. We understand that the infrastructure has improved, but there is so much more to do. We spent much time talking to our translators as we drove through, asking things from "do you come to this market?" or  "Where were you when the earthquake hit?"  One of our translators was actually downtown when it happened and he laid down in front of the palace, as it collapsed. We felt very close to people and scenes who were living their lives daily in the aftermath of such a tragedy.

The experiences that we have had this past week, with our seven daughters from Mounds View High School, have been unforgettable to say the least.  Seeing the sweet Haitian eyes yearning for love, arms stretched high, bloated tummies, lack of adequate clothing, hungry and thirsty for more.  More of the things that we take for granted in our everyday lives.  Waking up in the middle of the night thinking about the little ones with empty buckets in hand, gesturing for help fill it.  Then the hose stops and the water truck starts and we are signaled to move on to the next stop.  How can these realities for many impact us every day going forward?  How will our daughters be impacted by this trip within their areas of influence?  What will become of the ones we leave behind?  Our prayer for all of us is to listen to that small voice from within that prompts us to following that nudging, to reach out to another in need, to share the love of Christ.  May we all respond more lovingly to those around us and consider this as a gift we shared together.

~ Julie, Lisa & Judy

Friday, March 22, 2013

Today was a great day filled with love, lessons, joy and tears.  The days we spend here are teaching me so much.  We have seen extreme poverty, desperate need, horrific living conditions, and yet everywhere we go we see happy, happy children!  We spent this morning at Isaiah's Orphanage.  Judy, our team member shared the Easter Story (with our Translator) to the children.  Then we spent time decorating Easter Eggs, making collages with stickers, and lots of glitter, and playing games like soccer, and jump rope.  These were delightful, happy kids, that have their basic needs met.  I wish we could do so much more!  I met a sweet girl named Ketty, who sat on my lap, held my hand and played with me all morning.  I wanted to take her home.  I cried when I left her, and several times today, thinking about her in her cute little red plaid dress playing in the dusty, primitive school yard.    The afternoon was spent at The Home for Sick and Dying Children.  This is a clean, well run Orphanage. Not all the kids here are ill, and we spent time with the kids who could be held and play. There were 30 babies in cribs that we all fed, changed, held and prayed over.  There were also older children who we could play with outside.  These kids were very sweet, and it was so hard to leave them.  When it was time to go we put all the babies back in their numbered cribs and listened to them cry as we walked away.  There is so much need, and not enough resources!     Wendy

Friday- Day Five of our amazing trip to Haiti! Our leaders,  Laura and Deb have done a wonderful job of organizing our group, getting us where we need to be and preparing our hearts and minds for our daily experiences.  Tonight was especially emotional as five days of meeting, helping, delivering water, praying and loving Haitians, as children of God, really tugged at our hearts. Our teenage girls have been so loving to all the infants, children and elderly that they have met. Also, the parents continue to amaze me with their unconditional love for all the people of Haiti. I continue to wonder how we can do more? We met some other missions groups from Tennessee and Atlanta and they were great people.  If you would like more detail about today, read Wendy's comments above.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Greetings everyone!  Today, Thursday March 21, 2013, was another day in which we learned much about the "hope" of Believers despite their incredibly trying circumstances.  Yes, our group enjoyed another great breakfast together before shoving off to another day of activity.  We went to Grace Village and spent a long while with the children from their orphanage.   These activities included pushing them on Haiti's very, very rare swing-set, playing volleyball, and just sitting together and "talking" despite speaking a different language.  I'll never forget  (and i'm sure my spelling is wrong) Miko, Mikale, and Isak.  Unlike the kids from "City Solei" yesterday these kids feel at least cared for at Grace Village because they get fed, educated, and a nice bedroom to sleep in.  So, they weren't as desperate to be held and cuddled with. However, had we not experienced yesterday in "Solei" first we would have thought these kids were desperate for affection as well.  These kids still loved the individual hand holding and being cuddled with.  Izak had a coat hanger straightened out into as long of a stick as possible with just the "hook" on the other end.  With it he ran a circular disc along the ground but ran with it to keep the "wheel" along the sidewalk.  That's about as good as toys seem to get in Haiti!  Amazing how much more earthly hope these kids have because of the blessings they have been given through Grace Village's orphanage care-givers.  The best part of the day was visiting several very, very "senior" citizens in their own "homes" (most of them in a home no better than the best tent you've ever been in but with a dirt floor).  One of the women we visited was 103 years old!  But she so loved the Lord and because of it had great hope.  She said she had prayed we would visit soon and sure enough we came today as did another group from Healing Haiti yesterday!  We even went after we visited her to a water pumping station to bring her 10 gallons of fresh water.  She was very happy.  To see these people find joy in their circumstances demands of us to find joy in our circumstances as well.

Steve Parupsky

Bonswa from Haiti!

Today we all woke up extremely tired. It is pretty much mid-week and yesterday, water truck day was was exhausting! But then we all remembered what our mission was here and began again refreshed on a good note! We drove to Grace Village and were able to play with the amazing kids there. It was just so wonderful seeing how different they were from the kids yesterday, how nourished and healthy looking they were. They simply wanted you to just wrap your arms around them and be loved! Then we got a tour of the amazing construction that has been done there! We then rode and in the Tap Tap and sang our songs, Glory to God and 10000 Reasons! When visiting the elderly, we sang these songs to them after praying over them! It gave me shivers seeing how happy they all were to see us. God's light was really shining on them in these moments and I could feel the joyfulness everyone was feeling. It was overall a wonderful day to be spending the most blessed day with my friends! :)

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Today was our first day truly experiencing what Haiti was all about. We started the day off with church. I stood in awe of these people. They had so much pride in their faith, and I was embarrassed that I wasn't able to get up and be as confident in my faith as they were. Soon though i felt right at home, singing along to the songs and praying just as much as they were. Then was the water truck stops. We had the wonderful opportunity to spend time with the children from the tent village. Teaching them songs, dances, and new games. You could tell this was a big treat for all the kids and the happiness it brought out in them was unbelievable. Soon we had to leave and go to Cite Soleil to start passing out the water.
Cite Soleil was about as shocking as it gets. The trash was everywhere, and most children were either naked or in a shirt. One thing was true though, they were happy. Happy to be living and happy to see us. With big smiles on their faces they would exclaim "Portem" (Which means hold me)and hold their little arms out. I would give them a smile, pick them up and just start talking. It didn't matter that we didn't speak the same language, we communicated through hand motions and pointing. Most the time though we just smiled and laughed. At some point i think it kinda hit everyone that you cant hold everyone, and that was really tough on me personally. It broke my heart when i would see a child just starving for some attention, and there wasn't an extra hand to hold them. It wasn't until a small Haitian girl bent down to re buckle my shoe and dust off the sand, that i understood the love these children feel towards all people. It didn't matter the color of my skin or the color of my hair. They loved me because I showed love to them. It showed me that love is unconditional. No exceptions.

~ Zibby

                                       Some of the kids at the water truck stop in Cite Solei.

So far this trip has been an unforgettable experience, and we are only two days in! Going into this day I didn't know what to expect. To start off we had the blessing of going to a church that happens everyday at 6 am. Throughout the service we were able to see the difference in how the Haitians worship and how us as Americans worship. The Haitians where up walking the aisle and shouting praises to God. It was a great way to start our day and get our mind in the right spot for the day. As we traveled to our water truck stop in Cite Soleil I was very apprehensive, I had no idea what to expect or what to prepare myself for. As we came down the street I heard the shouts of joy of the children "Hey you!" at that moment all my worries washed away because I knew that God held these children in his palms and filled them with joy and love. The kids where amazing, smiling, giggling, and always happy. All we wanted to do was love on them and keep loving on them. This day as we gave them the gift of water and love, the Haitians shared with us the biggest gift of all. They showed us that in order to be happy we don't have to have iphones, cars, designer clothes, etc. All we need is to have appreciation for what the Lord has given us and love.

Silly Group photo at the water fill-up station

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

the beauty of haiti

This morning we woke up to a big beautiful breakfast. Together we enjoyed the avocados, eggs, and fresh mangoes!  We put on our swimsuits and packed our bags with tons of sunscreen and extra clothes. We jumped into the tap tap and headed to Grace Village where we picked up some of the Haitian workers.  We had a few gaps in our schedule so we were blessed with a beach day to share with the staff who work for Healing Haiti.  While we were driving, we past many towns and civilizations.  This was a little glimpse of what is to come the rest of the trip.  We passed the little tarp houses, and we passed the many vendors selling their goods on the street.  Today every ones eyes were opened to the beauty of this country.  The beautiful turquoise water and white sand, the mountains and hills in the distance and the glowing smiles coming from the people as we drive by.  It's really moving to see such joy come from the children and people here, they have so much love.  I am so excited for the rest of this trip, I can already tell how powerful and eye-opening this all will be.
 -Cadrian Axelson

Today I was really impressed by all the beautiful things Haiti has to offer. We could see as we were flying yesterday the crystal clear water, but we didn't realize the true color until we arrived at the beach. As we rushed in, we noticed how that even when we were swimming out deep, we could still see the very bottom! Then all of the girls and some of the parents decided to go snorkeling out in the reefs. The coral was so interesting and we loved to see God's handiwork in the depths of the sea. Some people were even lucky enough to see a squid! We could also see His perfection in the weather. Yesterday we were stuck in a perfect blizzard, today, it was 90 and sunny. I personally saw God today through the people here. Even in their desperation, they were able to laugh and smile. As we stopped at Grace Village, we saw all of the joy and exuberance of the children, even though they have nothing, no family, home, or belongings. I was truly delighted to see God work through nature and His Haitian children today.
-Kylie Monson

Monday, March 18, 2013

Today was by far the most shocking, eye-opening day of my life. I had been hearing about what Haiti was like long before I agreed to go on this trip, yet nothing could have prepared me for what we passed driving from the airport to the guesthouse. And that was only a 15 minute drive. Today I was humbled beyond words as I thought about every single little detail of my life that I worry about daily, and then I saw how these people live their lives. I have life made compared to the living conditions here. I am so blessed and even after just a few hours of being here, I know I will never look at life the same ever again. Despite the rough conditions, the children all seem so happy and I could not be more excited about the upcoming week getting to love these kids!

                                  This is the group taking a tour of the neighborhood with Max.

When we arrived in Haiti I was overcome with feelings of joy and happiness. This is my third trip to Haiti and it feels like home. The smells, the people, and the sounds were so welcoming. Even though it smells really bad, I have come to embrace it because I have come to love this country. The streets were so much cleaner than when I was here last and I can see God is answering this country's cry for help. I am looking forward to loving on the Haitian children and spreading the love of Christ this week.
--Olivia F.

Sunday, March 10, 2013


Tonight our team gathered together to pack up all the items that friends, family, neighbors and co-workers generously donated for Haiti. I've lead numerous teams to Haiti and every time my socks are blown off by the way the Holy Spirit perfectly orchestrates the size of each suitcase, weight restrictions, and donation amounts.

Our team is made up of 7 Mounds View High School Juniors, 1 MVHS volleyball Coach (my co-lead), and 8 parents (including me). I'm so blessed by how these girls and their parents are choosing to spend their Spring Break. Instead of partying it up on a beach these girls will be pouring their hearts out in Haiti serving the "least of these". 

Our God is the God of increase, overflow & blessing! 
"Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you." Luke 6:38