Saturday, February 29, 2020

Vanguard Healing Haiti Day 4

We had lost our internet for a couple days so was not able to blog, but that does not mean we were not serving and enjoying every day.  Day 2, was our water truck day in Cite Soleil.  With our broken hearts we assisted with many heavy buckets of water for many in Cite Soleil.  With each truck and bucket, it was more apparent of our need to serve these beautiful people and their community.  As many children and women were carrying fresh water for their family, they quickly welcomed our help with the water or playing with their young children while they transported the water to their homes, many smiles and hugs were given to us.  These buckets were very heavy and quickly tired our muscles but not our spirits.  It was hard to see these difference living conditions but made the need to serve the people of Cite Soleil so much more important.  As if the passion from any staff member was not motivating enough, but the smiles, hugs and chants of "Alicia" let's you know you are following the Lord and making a difference for these deserving people. 
We then toured Fleri farms and met another amazing team member Kenny.  He quickly had us all enthused with his farming, future plans of mango salsa, future jobs, enriching the community with delicious food and jobs. 

On our third day, we started the day with a church serve with Pastor Gary at Church on the Rock.  It was so uplifting and spiritual that had filled many of us with hope, love and the Lord.  Shortly after church then we head to Titanyen to tour Grace Village.  Our jaws hit the ground with all that Healing Haiti is doing there.  The medical clinic was buzzing with patients with medical needs, classes were full of happy, beautiful children at the school and the family orphanage that gives these children mothers and fathers and assists in family re-placement.  There was so much in one village happening that all you could do is smile and be happy for this community.  Plus a little play time with the children at their recess was beneficial also. 
We then headed to some elder visits that was impactful to us and them.  We enjoyed listening to their stories about them and their families while we washed their harder to reach extremities.  It was pleasant to sing and pray with them.     
We ended with a tour of Fleri that not only wowed us with the bakery and production but the restaurant definitely filled us full of yummy pizza and treats.  We ate like royalty while enjoying the environment, service and scenery.  A meal we will not forget and will tell others to experience also.   

Day four saw our return to the mountains, but not the "purple mountain majesty" that we are used to seeing. Instead, we enjoyed the beauty of the lush, verdant mountains of Haiti, and our hearts were filled by the love and generosity of the Haitian people. We spent the day in the village of Kenscoff and in the company of the community leaders.

The leaders spoke with us about their desire for local children to have opportunities within their own community; opportunities for education and for a fulfilling adult life there someday. Currently, they have what we might consider a kids club. We spent several hours playing with the children. Temporary tattoos were very popular as well as chalk, football, soccer, and styling hair. Then we had a wonderful time of singing and dancing together before it was time to say goodbye.

Next we were able to visit an elderly gentleman in the community. The community leaders accompanied us on our visit. When asked if he had any advice for young people about faith, the advice he gave struck me as similar to this verse in Ecclesiastes, "Remember your creator in the days of your youth." It was a joy to be able to visit with him.

In the afternoon, the community leaders took us hiking. We hiked into a narrow valley that would have been a riverbed in the rainy season. We were able to see where the villagers go to get water. This time of year it is a trickle of water from a rocky crevice. They use a pipe to channel the bit of water into buckets. They use this water to drink, wash clothes, and water livestock and crops. It was heart wrenching to think of how much of the day women and children must spend waiting in line to slowly fill buckets. In the rainy season, they fill buckets in the river. We stopped a little above the stream and the leaders treated us to Haitian corn cooked over a fire. It was an honor to have these leaders serve us with warm hearts. They blessed us though they have little. Their generous spirit is something I will long remember. On the way back to the guest house our hearts were filled even more by the Haitian guides that have been accompanying us sharing Haitian street food with us. It was a beautiful day.

Mandy and Kristi

 Kaeleigh playing with Grace Academy kids during recess.
 Fleri Bakery and Restaurant was incredible and has created many jobs for the community.
 Our guide Smith asking Dorothy to sing "Glwa Pou Bondye" to the kids club in Kenscoff.
 Smith and the children teaching us a new game.
 On a hike to find the main water source for this small community in the mountainous Haitian countryside.
 This photo does not capture the amazing beauty of the Haitian mountains.  We reached 3,600 feet at our highest!
 The sweet girls of Kenscoff playing and braiding hair with Kalyn and Mandy.
 Discussing the Maternal Health Program with the Director and Clinic Manager of Hope Clinic.
 The boys at Grace Academy were hanging out with Lukas during recess.
 Kristi waving to a sweet class of Kindergartners at Grace Academy.
Smith and the Community Leaders of Kenscoff grilled fresh corn for us during a break in our hike.

Wednesday, February 26, 2020

Vanguard Healing Haiti Day One

"Hayyew - HAYYEW!" And so began our journey in Haiti with greetings, high fives, hugs, and deep bellied laughs. Over and over today, people of all ages spilled out of their homes and shops to greet us, bellowing "hey you!" with such familiarity it seemed more like a homecoming than a trip to a foreign country. The warmth of the locals was equal to the heat of the noon high sun. The fuchsia and yellow and tangerine walls of the humble buildings were consistent with the vibrant colors of the flowers and other flora peaking over crumbling walls and climbing abandoned fences. 

We started with a tour of Hope Clinic. This medical and dental clinic is run by locals who care for an otherwise ostracized population deep in the heart of the poorest slum in the Western Hemisphere. And yet, there was so much dignity in the organization and operation that it was evident how this clinic heals so much more than physical ailments. Afterward, lunch with The Elders of the community had much the same feeling; an older population considered vulnerable by their peers, and yet the maps of wrinkles on their faces told stories of unappreciated strength. And watching the neighborhood children flock to the known and loved group leaders revealed such admiration and trust it was palpable. This afternoon we concluded with time at the Home for Sick and Dying Children, a playtime so contrasted by antagonizing sorrow and pregnant with hope there are no words. Today was so, so much more than the sum of its parts. We head to bed with overwhelming feelings of gratitude and appreciation for this day, these leaders, and the work Healing Haiti is doing.

- Megan




Saturday, January 25, 2020

Wahoo Beach Day

Wahoo Beach Day!

Today was our fellowship day and we were more than ready to relax and have some fun together!  After a wonderful breakfast, we headed out for the long trek to Wahoo Bay Beach Club & Resort in Arcahaie, Haiti.

We were able to make a pitstop at the Haiti Deaf Academy to visit and hear their story from Keith and Meredith.  Haiti Deaf Academy has up to 50 deaf children who travel and stay in dormitories so they can attend school specifically for the deaf.  Most of these children came into the program knowing NO sign language and in addition to learning how to sign, they are also able to teach their families how to communicate better with them.  The children were so excited to sign their names and talk with us!  We were able to visit, ask questions, and take some photos with them for about 20 minutes before we continued on our way.

Everyone was elated to reach Wahoo Beach and see how beautiful the sand and the ocean were!  The resort was very quiet and didn't have many visitors/customers due to the recent political unrest in the country.  Healing Haiti teams hadn't been to Wahoo since September, so they were very happy to have us as visitors.  Everyone enjoyed the beach....from swimming in the ocean with the beautiful mountain views to jet-skiing and snorkeling!  We did some shopping and talked a lot with the vendors who have missed having customers.  We also did some awesome bonding and just laughing together!

On the way home, we played some Catch Phrase and Tap-Tap surfing (who can stay standing the longest without holding on).  It helped keep our minds off the busy traffic jam!  We enjoyed our last wonderful dinner and group time together and had a lot of laughs and tears.  This has been an amazing team and we know we will miss everyone.  Everyone is sad to leave and we are really crossing our fingers for a return trip together down the road!  Tyson and I are so glad we were able to finally make this trip happen and we are so grateful for this team!

Sara & Tyson







Friday, January 24, 2020

Kenscoff

Today was our fourth full day in Haiti, and our last day serving. We started off by going up the mountains and visiting elders. We visited 3 elders and we helped them by massaging their feet, hands, and back. We also gave them a few snacks. They were very very appreciative of what we did for them. Some elders had younger children and we were able to help them as well. One child we saw looked very malnourished including yellow hair and eyes. He looked two years old but was actually four due to malnourishment.  After we finished visiting with the elders, we walked back to the tap tap {truck} and had a few snacks before moving on to our next mission.


Our next adventure was the children!  We walked to this area that they use as their community church. We talked for awhile as the kids started arriving. After they all arrived, we hung out with the kids and did things such as painting nails, face painting, playing catch, and dancing. After awhile, we had the kids sit down and we gathered together. We re-enacted a skit of Noah's Arc. We all had our own part to play and the kids and adults enjoyed it. We sang songs as they sang back to us. We also taught them a new song and dance called "Baby Shark". Then they sang "Jesus Loves Me" in Creole. After we taught them "Baby Shark", they taught us this game called "Todo Buquee" where we all stand in a circle and clapped and sang. The game was super fun because we got to dance in the circle one by one. After everyone calmed down a bit, we handed out snacks and drinks to the children. After we handed out things we had to say goodbye. We gave them one last hug and went on our way. We all got back in the tap tap and it was about an hour and a half drive back, but about half way we stopped at a grocery store and grabbed some things like cookies, drinks, and candy. Then we drove all the way back home and we were super tired. Most of us changed into our swimsuits and went to the pool which is about a five minute walk. We hung there till dark then traveled home. Once we got home, we ate dinner and had group time where we talked about our plan for tomorrow and prayed all as one. We are all relaxing now and are ready for a fun day at the beach tomorrow.

   ~Hannah and Anika :)






Thursday - Elders, Grace Village, Rosies and Fleri

We awoke this morning finding that there had been a beautiful, soaking rain.  If you've ever been to Haiti, or even heard anyone talk about Haiti, you may of heard that you need some flexibility!  Today was a fine example of that flexibility that was required--a couple of times over.

We were originally scheduled to go up into a village higher in the mountains that had been described as "lush."  We were encouraged to bring a long-sleeve shirt because it's cooler there, especially with the recent rain.  

It was decided while we were eating breakfast that today was not going to be a good day for us to go to this village because of the rain.  So, alternate plans were made (we switched Friday's plan for Thursday), and we headed from the guest house up to Titanyen.  We made plans to see four elders in the village that are sponsored in the Healing Haiti Elder Care Program.  Our team leader advised us on the brief bio of each of the elders we would see.  Our Haitian interpreter secured a meal, water and a drink for each of the elders we would see, then we went up into the village.  

At the home of the first elder, Lindor, we were welcomed by his smiling face.  He told us that he was happy because his friends had come to visit.  Our group, including our teens and pre-teens, served this elder with foot washing, neck massage, worship music and even a shave and mustache trim! We prayed with him before we left.  We then left his home and headed across the street where we visited with a young mom and her very plump baby!  The baby boy was loved on and passed from kid to kid for some snuggles.  A cousin of this young mom was also blessed by our young ladies when they painted her fingernails and toenails.  Again, we prayed with this family prior to departing, and hugs abounded!

Our next stop required a bit of flexibility when a neighbor told our interpreter that our next two ladies were not home.  We dropped off one of the meals with a neighbor/family member, then proceeded to a different elders home.  There, each of our team members were greeted into the property with a kiss on the cheek!  She received some love from our group in the form of foot washing, neck massage, and music. 

After our visits with the elders and their families, we proceeded up to Grace Village, where we toured the school.  Lots of school children joined our group by holding onto the hands of our team members.  We heard the story of how the orphanage and school developed to also include church and a program for job-creation.

Our next stop was quite a thrill for our participants, with a stop at Rosie's Boutique where we were able to get ICE CREAM!  We also were able to shop for some Haitian souvenirs including t-shirts, hand-made cards, journals and ornaments.  After Rosie's, we hopped back into the tap-tap and headed back into Titanyen for our final destination of the day.

We arrived to Fleri and were given a tour of the bakery and advised how the bakery has grown over the past few years,  Not only in how they increased their bread production, but also how many Haitians they have been able to employ!  After our tour of the bakery and restaurant, we ordered pizza and appetizers for all.  Now, I'm sure when you think of Haiti, you might not think of pizza, but let me tell you, this is some delicious pizza!  Our team agreed that this is not only good for Haiti, but may get top billing over some of our favorite pizzas back home!!

After pizza, the kids enjoyed some games in the courtyard including giant Jenga and cornhole.  We all returned to the guest house with full bellies and happy memories.  One of our young people wanted to make sure you all knew that he had fun spending time with the kids and the elders today!  

We look forward to serving tomorrow as well, whether that be plans to go up the mountain or whatever else we may get up to!  

Thank you for your continued prayers for the kids on this trip, as well as the moms (who have had some very proud-mama moments on this trip!).

Joy




Tuesday, October 29, 2019

Healing Haiti Day 2

Its day two now, and I am pumped. We wake up ready to get our day going, get dressed, brush our teeth, sit together and go over what we plan on doing today. Were going downtown, to see the children. Well look at that, that sounds fun. After we have an idea of what we are going to do for the day, we have our morning devotional. Mrs. Angela started us off with Proverbs 28 and 29. In which she talked about love. Love for one another and not judging. She then shared a story, which led to the following, Love is not Fear. This reminded me of the scripture 1 John 4:18 (NIV)
"There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love."
Right here, in this scripture it says to cast it out.  Cast out all fear, for that is not what love is. Love does not worry, nor boast, nor sin. So when you do something, like participate in Healing Haiti and you are fearful, you are more likely to miss out the gift God has for you, because you cant overlook the fear that is standing in front of you. Once you fill yourself with the Love of God, you can See and Feel and Breathe, everything as if it was your first. And that is exactly how I viewed everything today. We arrived at the building, and the children were so happy to see us. When I went to help the younger kids, they were so excited to touch my hand. They wanted to smell me, hug me and just a glance or smile that you gave them, it looked like it made their day. We gave them Play-Doh and they were so happy. They wanted every piece they could, we told them too share and most of them did. Then we gave them a task, make something to do and show us. Some girls made baskets and some boys made snakes and fish and boats. It was very special to see. Some did start getting a little rough over who could have a certain color of Play-Doh but they calmed down. Some girls sung for us and we taught them some English. We tried to get them to sing "This little light of Mine" but they were so happy to see us. They started to jump all over us, Playing with everyone on the team. We shared some laughs as we noticed some people were making funny faces, not going to mention any names but
John was the one. Oops, did I say his name? Well, it's too late now, right? They loved my hair, and the girls and very few boys started to braid my hair and tangle it all up. My hair has been through worse but it was nice to see them happy. A lot of the kids were trying to leave with us, pulling us back. We had to leave, but they understood. As we were leaving, a little girl was so happy she ran up to me and hugged me, meanwhile the other girls and boys were either pulling them off of me or helping them try to pull me in. It was very eye-opening to see how the kids are being taught or even how they do things. They smile with the very little they are given and treasure that moment, and you can see that.
The Following Photos include what we did today :