Thursday, October 18, 2018

Haiti Team 2; Oct. 18,2018

   Last night several members of both teams had some significant stomach distress. This morning most felt improved but Charlie was uncomfortable. Despite our urging to take the day off, he insisted on accompanying us on the trip.
   Coffee was started a 6:30 am.
   Breakfast included french toast, juice, avocados, mango, oatmeal, scrambled eggs.
   Our first stop was at Haiti Design Company Boutique and Workshop. We had a tour of the work area and met workers and observed some of the shop employees doing their jobs. We supported the economy by purchasing some beautifully made products. Iced coffee, smoothies and other choices were purchased and we all sat up on the rooftop patio in a cool breeze while enjoying the shop managers company, (Tess)
   Next stop was at Sweet Home Orphanage. The children were in good spirits and seemed pleased to have us there. They were all neatly groomed and wore matching attractive uniforms. We played for about 30 minutes on the swings, "keep away", and various children's playground activities.
    LaPhare Orphanage was our next stop. The children were attentive to Kathleens'  Faith Presentation."  She colored water with dye and said the change was like our pure lives being tainted by sin. She then added bleach to neutralize the dye and the water cleared. This is like our sins being forgiven by Jesus' sacrifice on the cross. She described how Jesus desires a personal relationship with each of us. She gave an example of a simple personal prayer to God.
   We described the life cycle of a butterfly and compared the change from egg to caterpillar and from cocoon to butterfly . These dramatic life changes were compared those that take place in those who invite Jesus into their lives.
   We then spent nearly 45 minutes playing jump rope,catch, coloring,beading and holding the children.
    All the children were beautiful today and we felt gratitude and blessed to have them share their lives with us.
    We met Team 1 at the pool and wound down with socializing there.
    Dinner was a Haitian style meal. Chicken legs, kibby, coleslaw,dark  rice and beans, potatoes and carrots with broth, and a squash like veggie.
 
 

Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Sabbath

Haiti Team 2, Weds. Oct.17, 2018

Charlie had coffee ready at 6:30 am. We did sleep in a little because there was a protest scheduled in our area. The details/purpose of the protest are still unclear but we were unaffected by it.
    Mike offered a nice devotional for our team this morning. That was after a breakfast of oatmeal, pancakes, bananas, mango, avocados.
    Jean, (vision expansion coordinator),  shared his story and his history with Healing Haiti.
    We spent the morning and early afternoon reflecting on our purpose here and enjoyed sharing time together. Some games included bean bag and Farkle (sp). 
   From about 1:30 until 4:00 both teams and the team from Reiser Relief ( White Bear Lake, St Mary’s Church) went to the local pool/hotel just a couple blocks away. We used the beach ball to volley around the edge of the pool and reached a remarkable sequence of 52 volleys before missing a hit.
    The were remnants of 3 burned tires on the road along our walk. There was no evidence of a protest. 15+ local young men were casually sitting along  the roadside. They smiled and returned our greetings. 

    Dinner of Haitian lasagna and fresh veggie salad was tasty.we were essentially unaffected by it. So our teams were advised to not go out of the compound

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Day 2

Haiti Trip, Team 1, Oct 16, 2018

     Charlie started coffee at 6:30 AM. We slept varying amounts between strange (but comfortable) beds and new nighttime noises. The roosters get up early and seem quite proud to announce it.
     Breakfast at 8:30 after prayer and a devotional. French toast, scrambled eggs, avocado,juice, bananas, oatmeal. 
     At about 9 AM we left in the Tap Tap to serve in Haiti. Our first stop was at Hope Church and School in City Soleil. As we approached, the children were curious and started poking their hands out the windows to touch us. When we went into the worship area, (connected to the classrooms)  the children came out to greet us. (hey you!)
The children are all wearing matching uniforms and are neatly groomed. They seemed to not get enough of our holding them and giving them attention.
 There are two Pastors and we met them too.
  The Technology Pod was ready to start up today and we had a tour. We had brought down 23 IPADS on our flight and each one can be used by up to ten students. It is State of The Art in teaching technology.
   We split up into two groups of 5. Our two Haitian guides introduced us to 3 different elderly Haitians. We asked each what they would like us to pray for them. They have so little and their situation seems so desperate that my prayers seemed empty.  I thought of my faith and focused on Jesus promise of a life after the time we spend in these bodies.
    We then went to the 4 Coffins area and again delivered water. It is fun interacting with the Haitians despite the strenuous work carrying water with them to their homes.
At both water stops the children were swarming around us and wanting us to hold them. Their dark eyes and smiles are easy to love and they genuinely enjoy our attention.
   There was a Haitian protest planned that seemed potentially risky for us so we returned to the Guest House. So, we all went to an adjoining property to use the pool. The setting was beautiful. It was great fun and we set a record of volleying a beach ball 34 times in a row.

Dinner was supurb.

Sunday, October 14, 2018

Rendevouz Christ/Wahoo Bay Beach Scott/Wermager 10-14-18

Today we went to an amazing service at "Rendevouz Christ" where the Haitians were extremely welcoming and loving towards us.  We were able to worship with them in half english and half creole, and for the actual sermon we were given headphones with a translator.  The pastor spoke biblical truth in a way that was extremely relateable and just reminded us that no matter what city, state, country, or culture we are from, we all worship and praise the same God.  The music was absolutely beautiful, and the church was stunning, you can tell they have a lot of pride for their congregation.  We were grateful to have been part of it.

We then stopped at the guesthouse quickly to change and get on the road to Wahoo Bay Beach.  The hour long ride there seemed like an eternity, because we were all so excited for the ocean!  This entire week we were blessed with beautiful weather, and today was no exception! The sun was shining, and most of us have burn lines to prove it ;)  We were taken back by the beauty God has created.  The crystal clear blue water, the mountains with clouds coming out from the tops, and the vibrant flowers were stunning.  We enjoyed swimming, kayaking, jet skiing, jumping on the trampoline, drinking cocounut water and authentic fruit smoothies for several hours.  It's remarkable the vast difference we have seen from different parts of Haiti throughout the week, it really is such a beautiful country with even more beautiful people.

We ended the night singing happy birthday to our team mate Leah and enjoying some chocolate birthday cake, and had one last devotional with each other.  We collected all of our pictures on the computer, and had an hour long slide show, reminiscing about the past week we were blessed to spend with each other.  It is so hard to believe we are going home tomorrow.  We may be leaving Haiti tomorrow, but it will be engrained in our hearts forever.

Please help us in praying for safe travels, continued safety and love for the Haitians, the staff here that have played such an important role in our success of this trip, and our friends and family back home as they will also have to adjust to our changed hearts.

Friday, October 12, 2018

Teen Challenge/Papillon Russ/Wermager 10-12-2018

This morning we woke up much earlier than usual. Rudy the rooster was still asleep and it was still black outside when we left to go to Church on the Rock. To experience church in a Haitian community was so amazing. This community is so incredible that they put on a service that has English spoken at it during friday morning services. To watch the Haitians walk up and down the isles praising God was so inspiring. We got home in time for some of us to get in a quick nap before breakfast.
After our delicious breakfast we hit the road to Haiti Teen Challenge. What an experience to be able to hear the stories of these young women and then to be able to encourage them also. To be able to show them that addiction doesn't descriminate and it's not because of the color of our skin or becasue of the country we live in, but because the devil wants to kill and destroy. We felt united in such a way even though we don't even speak the same language.
From teen challenge we continued onto Papillon Enterprises. Papillon is a cafe/giftshop that was started by an american women who went down to Haiti to pick up a child she was supposed to adopt. When she got to Haiti she found out that the birth parents didn't want to give up their child, but they couldn't financially support that child. So instead of taking their baby, she decided to figure out a way that the family could make money to keep their baby. This is what started Papillon Enterprises. They are so resourcesful in everything that they make. All the pottery, jewlery, stuffed animals, metal art, and beads are all made there on site. Beads made of cereal boxes, bracelets made of recycled t-shirts, everything made by hand, but so beautiful. Over 200 Haitians are employed by this company keeping kids in their parents homes. The tour was so eye opening and made us want to spend even more money in their gift shop to promote this mission. While at Papillon there happened to be a Haitian woman who was pregnant with twins go into active labor across the street. This was her 3rd set of twins and her water had broke 2 days prior. 2 of our team members stepped in to make sure she was breathing through the contractions and that her blood pressure wasn't getting to high. They stayed with her the whole time until a car came to get her and bring her to the hospital. Their willingness to step in without a second thought to make sure that if this woman gave birth that it was still a good experience was heart warming.
From Papillon we went back to Fleri for some delicious pizza. We got to enjoy this dinner with our driver, translator and hospitality team. We had so many laughs, probably more than we should have due to lack of sleep, and we continued to create more memories together as a team. We got back to the guest house to have an amazing devotion together where one of our team members was lead to give their testimony for the first time.
This experience continues to grow deeper and deeper and we are sad that this is slowly coming to a close.

Thursday, October 11, 2018

Fleri, Mass Grave, Elders - Russ/Wermager 10-11-18

Our kitchen staff cooked up an incredible breakfast this morning. We are so blessed to have full bellies when departing the guesthouse. We were priveleged to see the lush green country side on our forty-five minute ride to Titanyen, Haiti.
Our first stop was one that has left us all with heavy on our hearts from the second we got off the tap tap. We were on what is considered sacred ground here in Haiti at the Mass Graves. Mass Graves is a location whereby several thousands of Haitians were buried after the earthquake in January 2010. Our hearts were broken and tears flowed as as we heard the story of how that day unfolded by one of our translators. It was devastating to each and every person in the community, leaving them in shock, and having to start over from nothing. We heard of colleges, schools, and neighborhoods that didn't stand a chance for survival. It was absolutely heart breaking, we can't even beging to imagine how that must have felt, and we are so grateful our translator was generous and brave enough to share his experience and knowledge.
Next, we toured the ever-expanding Grace Village. Grace Village is such a unique place and the children that attend the school, and live in the village, are very well cared for and loved. The children live in family style homes, with appointed "mommies" (staff) leading their households. They are being taught amazing life skills such as gardening, coding, and being responsible for cooking at least one meal each night. It was such an incredible difference seeing the kids yesterday from Cite Soleil to the children today at Grace Village. You could see the hope and bright future in their eyes.
Next, the team toured the Fleri Bakery, everyone smiled as they entered the room because the smell was so good :)
A few years ago, what was once a room no larger than an average size American living room that held three bread ovens is now a full size bakery employing many Haitians. Fleri Bakery is tucked in the hills of Titanyen. Fleri is a full service bakery selling baked goods to the surrounding community, they get a lot of their ingredients from local markets, which helps build up the Haitian economy. We had a few treats and enjoyed visiting with our group, and our translators, and we were off to our next adventure.
In the afternoon, we were given the honor of visiting four elders who reside in shanties in Titanyen. Although the conditions of their environment is so very difficult, they smile when missionaries come to visit. We were allowed to wash their feet, give massages, sing worship songs. Although their physical conditions are hard to witness, they look out for one another. You can see on their face that they have lived a long life, with many obstacles and hardships, their hands and feet are calloused, but their smile is warm and inviting. They look tired, but also relieved to have company and prayer. It was so touching.
We ended up hitting traffic on our way home. It was VERY interesting to see the commute and public transportation in action on a typical "end of work day" lots of hustle and bustle, people running to catch busses "tap taps" and catching "motos" which are motorcycles that serve as Taxi cabs! It was a cool experience, but we hope we don't have to witness again, because that would mean an additional 30 minutes added onto our commute home ;) We were able to hit up the pool again, and enjoy another wonderful Haitian meal together. We were blessed to have worship afterwards as our devotion with the other missionary leader, Aleisha. She has a beautiful voice, and we were able to sing along with her in our living area, along with convining her to give us an encore! We discussed the plans for our day tomorrow, and we are so excited to see how those plans unfold.

Please say a prayer for us as we plan to wake up by 5AM tomorrow for church service, we are thinking it might be difficult since we try to push the limits with sleeping. We are also planning on visiting Teen Challenge, the core values of their teachings are something that our group holds near and dear to our hearts. We ask the Lord to be with us as we share some of our testimonies, and hear some of theirs. We hope we can go in with open hearts and open minds, and that God will use us as his vessel to touch the lives of others and give them the hope and freedom that was once missing from our own lives as well. This should be an amazing day, we can't wait to update you all!

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

Water Truck Day - Scott/Wermager 10-10-18

Water truck day.  Where do we even begin?

Today we started with our usual morning routine consisting of coffee, prayer, breakfast, and COLD showers to wake us up :)  We packed up the essentials and headed out for another day on the tap tap.

We spent our entire "work day" in City Soleil, which is known as the poorest city in the western hemisphere.  Each stop we had with the water truck was in a different neighborhood of the city.  There is a distinct smell upon entering Citi Soleil and each stop was a different experience. As we entered into the neighborhood the children recognized the tap tap and would jump right on the back. At each stop we were met with Children running and yelling "hey you", the women and children were more prevalent bringing in the 5 gallon buckets, there were some men but it's mainly a womans job in this culture. 

The first two water stops of the day went along smoothly. The children jumped onto the back of the tap tap and as we pulled up and they opened the door, we got out and lined up, the water truck had already started the water hose and we as a team took over the hose and started filling buckets. The line here went fairly well, at times the people would try to butt in and get their buckets filled before others, but overall, it went smoothly.

Many of the children came running up to us wanting to be held, tugging at our clothing, braiding our hair, just wanting any type of loving attention; some had buckets themselves and had to carry the buckets back to their homes, many on top of their heads. There were kids and adults with buckets that after having them filled needed help getting them onto their heads and would motion for us to help them. 

The third water truck run the amount of kids running around was impressive, there were people with buckets trying to get in line ahead of everyone else and there were people pushing to get in to fill their buckets.  There was just mass chaos towards the end of our water truck run.  We found out this stop was known to be a bit more agressive, as there was a little more tension and immediate need for water.  We enjoyed watching the children take bathes in buckets in the middle of the street, you could tell it was a luxury for them.

While waiting for the water truck to go back and get more water, Valerie, our tap tap driver, took us to the pier and our nostrils were insulted with a fishy smell with a mingle of garbage and swamp. After getting closer to the water we pulled up and got out and was able to watch some fishermen with some fishing nets and even helped them pull the ropes to bring in the nets. they only bring it in so far, then they take a small boat out to it and pull up the  net onto the boat. We also saw some boys fishing for sea gulls; they would put bait on a hook, throw the line out into the water and wait for the birds to come check out the bait and hook them and bring them onto the pier. Just as we were leaving, there was a boy who caught a pelican and there was all sorts of comotion when that happened.  We watched two men swimming to catch the pelican and then a man jumped in and almost landed on top of the bird, but started waving it in the air to show everyone he had it. Lots of cheering and clapping. You could tell that this was a big victory for them, and it was very exciting to witness!

We then visited Hope Church/School/soon to be medical clinic. We found out that on this site they had to dig 80 feet with the pilings, and 40 feet deep to pull out the garbage as this site was City Soleil's dumping ground. This site had been a water truck stop for 10 years, then Healing Haiti  started to pray over this land to become the church it is today, along with the school. The idea of this vision becoming a realty was seen to be impossible, but God had different plans.  The process has taken about two years. The medical clinic part of this will open soon, but not certain when. There are currently 300 students that attend Hope church/school now, and their lives have drastically been impacted.

After this we went to the Fleri Farm Plantation. Here we met with Kenny, he took us on a tour of the 28 acre lush grounds with coconut trees, mango trees, papaya trees. It was wonderful listening to his enthusiasm for this Farm and what he and Healing Haiti's plans were for this land. They want to be able to impact the lives of 1000 people with this farm by using his neighbors for resources as well as hiring 40-50 people to work the land. He pointed out that the coconut tree is a male tree, there were two of them, and the line of coconut trees beyond them were all female tree, each producing fruit and that the winds come from the angle of pushing the pollen onto the female trees. He explained that the farm is hoping to produce fruit that can be prepackaged and shipped internationally at some point.

From here we went back to the Guesthouse and we got on our bathingsuits and walked up a block to the Elite Hotel to go swimming. We all got some sodas and juice and enjoyed french fries! We were gifted some fried plantain, which was a delicious treat.  Laughter filled the pool area as we bounced beach balls and enjoyed the cool water!  We can't wait to go back again!

We came back to the Guesthouse and had a nice Haitian meal.  Our "word of the day" takes us awhile to get through, because our group is so interactive.  We truly value our time to reflect with one another, it is such a blessing being with each of these indivuals.  We had some incredibly vulnerable moments tonight during devotionals.  Our group had the chance to express raw emotions, and it's almost as if the air in the room felt lighter and more peaceful afterwards.  What a true blessing it is when you can feel God's presence so clearly.

Our devotion topic tonight was "dying to self, to become more like Christ"  Galatians 5:22-23 "But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, gentleness, and self-control.  Against such things there is no law." 

We go to bed with overflowing hearts, and sound spirits ready for another day to serve.  We can't wait to see what God has prepared for us for tomorrow.