Friday, August 16, 2019

Parent/Child Mission Trip - "Contagious Smiles"

Water truck days are by far my favorite days out of this amazing week. The first water truck day we parked at Hope Church, which is Healing Haiti’s amazing property that includes a church, school, and medical clinic. When we got off the tap tap (our truck) and the gates opened there were over 30 kids just running at us with big, beautiful smiles. We went back to that same place today and the same girl I held the whole time the first water truck day ran right back to me with that same smile. 

Alicia, a long-term missionary with Healing Haiti, talked to us for a little bit today before we opened the gates. One thing she said that really stuck out to me today is when the kids talk about us to her, they never talk about what we brought for them or if we will have the water truck with us. They ask about when we are coming to play with them and show them love again. That was amazing to me because they have so little and all they want is something we take for granted, affection. Overall today was a very good and I cannot wait for the next time I get to see the kids’ beautiful smiles again.

- Riley

Here are some contagious smiles from our day:

Thursday, August 15, 2019

Parent/Child Mission Trip "Work & Opportunity"

Today I experienced in Haiti an opportunity to support families by buying some arts and crafts from them. I felt good because I know Healing Haiti is setting us up to meet different organizations that support their families. This is how capitalism works, and it is a blessing for everyone involved. I am deeply thankful for the chance to serve in Haiti and the experience could not be better. Healing Haiti does an amazing job putting this together. I am so thankful  that God worked in the hearts of the founders, and I also pray for new entrepreneurs to come out here and keep finding new ways to bless the poor. 

Also, it’s great to see how many great people are here to serve others in a selfless way. Today I enjoyed seeing an ordinary man of God making a difference in the lives of an additional 15 kids besides his seven, because they didn’t have biological kids to support them. He is truly caring about leaving a legacy. People do the job God commands of them to do, no matter from which  culture. They only criterion is to have the Heart of God, meaning the Holy Spirit living in them.  

We all come to a third world country with the purpose of serving others, but at the end of the day I feel we get more from the people we are serving than what we give them. They are truly amazing and their hearts are joyful and content, even though they don’t have a lot of material  things to show. All this makes us reflect on what we have… perhaps materials things are not the key to Joy. Sometimes, it’s important to have a real relational opportunity in life to appreciate the keys things in life. I am also so glad I brought my 14 year-old daughter to experience this because I felt I could not hide from her how other people around the world live. 

I truly believe I see God and life differently going forward.

- Valmar

Thanks for reading this and please make your comments. How do you see life? Did you ever take a trip to see others lives and get a perspective on it? What do you consider to be the most important things to leave humanity if you know that you are a week away from leaving this Earth?


Parent/Child Mission Trip "Bubbles Should Be A Language"

Today, I talked to a 30 year-old man who I thought was much younger, drawing with chalks the color of plum skin and dandelions, deep blues and bright reds, soft mint and harsh pinks. Bubbles in containers so big it doubled as a lightsaber, red and blue and green and all the other colors you could see in your mind’s eye in the time it took you to read this. But it started like Haiti days do - bananas and toast (though I only ate the bananas, I get nervous in the mornings) before hopping onto the tap tap (we were also late) and heading off to Dios, an orphanage for disabled people.

You know, I prefer to call disabled people empowered. Have you ever met a person with autism who isn’t happy? Me neither. They’re empowered with happiness and joy greater than any person could know. Here we come, Riley and I sitting in the front, greeted by ten empowered kids who are waiting for us with smiles wider than I think is possible. Their eyes sparkle in the morning light, brown pools of emotion, not running towards us, but quietly waiting. I grab a lightsaber of bubbles, green, and blow a few past a lonely-looking boy who is older but due to his height is the size of a 5 year-old. He gives me a little bigger grin, grasping for the bubbles as they float past on the gentle breeze. 

I caught one on the wand, and it multiplied until four neat bubbles sat in a row. I showed them to him, and despite his initial doubts about the reality of bubbles-on-a-stick (sounds like a weird state fair food, right?), he grabbed at the wand and swung it in the increasingly strong wind. Sad I had lost my bubbles, I grabbed one more and went on my way to a boy who I discovered was almost thirty, drawing scribbles on the pavement. I came over and, with a careful motion, drew a large heart. He stared at me, then back to the heart, then to me again, before very slowly copying the shape beside him. It took a few tries until he perfected this newfound craft, but once he found the perfect one, he stared into my eyes and grinned bigger than anyone in the world. I drew a house, then a circle, then a word, each one flawlessly replicated in a shorter and shorter time, before he drew a big heart around the whole thing.

Suddenly, time stopped.

It was odd. I blew a bubble (he already had a wand with him) and he caught it like I had. He blew it back to me, smiling, and I caught it. This game went back and forth until he asked me to wheel him to the restroom, and after that no one saw him leave past the laundry ladies to the house, sitting in the kitchen holding his bubble wand, no one except me, briefly walking past for just long enough to communicate with our eyes,

I love you too.

Now, much more happened today, but I found an important lesson in this. You see, you can be like the Grasper, desperately reaching for goals you know won’t make you happy, or you can be the Catcher, who finds a way to be happy by simply making a goal small enough to hold without popping. You can run to an achievement, trying to be richer or smarter or have a better reputation at work, or you can deal with what you have and be able to catch and maintain it. It’s not too hard to wrap your mind around. 

Despite the very, very short blog post today, check out Valmar’s post tomorrow.

Miss you all,

Sunday, August 4, 2019

Woodridge High School Day 7

Hey all, today was a great but long day. Posting this blog is the last thing I am doing before I head to bed tonight. This morning, we visited a local church called Rendezvous, swam at the beach, and then had a very, very long drive home in traffic. We have been home safe and sound now for awhile, but we had several evening activities  to do together that have kept me from posting until now (dinner, team time, packing, etc). Because of the unplanned long drive in the tap taps, we sent everyone to bed so there will be no blog posts from students tonight.

Today's Word of the Day for each student are the words that we as leaders gave to them to describe their time in Haiti, how we have seen God move in and through them, and what we have seen in them this week. The leader words are words given to the leaders by the students. I hope you enjoy them as much as we all have!

Sam -- Eagle Eyes
Wyatt-- Davy Crockett
Ava -- Lion Heart
Alyssa -- Sunshine 
Allie -- River
Johanna -- Compass
Isabel -- Campfire 
Ellie -- Pearl 
Halle -- Bestie
Morgan -- Brave 
Aiydan -- Secret Boss
Claire -- Glue Stick
Jacob -- Ocean 
Brayton -- Cannon Ball 
Raegan -- Cardiovascular Muscle 
Megan -- Swiss Army Knife 
Charlie -- Dance
Thomas -- Mighty Oak 
Liza -- Friend
Lydia -- Compassion 
Austin -- Chief
Lea -- Loving 
Mel -- Sweet, Selfless
Ben -- P.M.S. (Physically, Mentally, Spiritually)

CJ -- Golden Retriever

Saturday, August 3, 2019

Woodridge High School Day 6

Hey all, today was a full water truck day in City Soilel. You can read about it below. It was also Alyssa Gerulis's 16th Birthday! We had a ton of fun celebrating her!

Liza -- Trust 
Aiydan -- Joy
Thomas -- Ay-yai-yai
Alyssa -- Family 
Charlie -- Loving Labor 
Morgan -- Friend
Halle -- Unbelievable 
Lea -- Go 
Megan -- Change
Ben -- Hand 
Claire -- Continue 
Isabel -- Kiddo 
Johanna -- Sister
Ava -- Hopeful 
CJ -- Proud 
Jacob -- Refreshed 
Annika -- Father 
Allie -- Hug 
Ellie -- Carry 
Lydia -- Loving 
Brayton -- Child 
Raegan -- Beaten 
Mel -- Jostled 
Wyatt -- Talk 
Austin -- Heaven 

Sam -- Time 

Hi fam! Today was our last ministry day, which included 3 water truck stops. It was a lot of work and I was exhausted but God reminded me that I have to keep going and keep serving these people. Tomorrow we have church and a beach day which I'm excited for! Can't wait to see you guys soon!

Today was my favorite day here so far. We spent the day providing much needed water to the people of Cite Soleil. I met a boy a little older than me and we had the most meaningful conversation I have ever had with a Haitian so far. He had eight siblings and said he was fortunate to have both of his parents. He said that one day he'll come to Minnesota, he wanted to meet my brother and sister. He then asked me when I'd come back, I told him January. We visited fleri farm witch was an amazing place in the middle of the community that needed it the most. I feel a lot of hope for healing Haiti and City Soleil after we left. I know God has great things for fleri, but there is still much work to be done. Tomorrow we go to church and the beach, 

                           -Wyatt Persful

Mom, I got a little toasty today. -Raegan

Hey family:)
I'll see you soon. I miss you guys and I am having such a great time. Today was a water truck day and it was a long eventful day:) love you guys.


Hey Mom and Dad, I've been having a fantastic time in Haiti. Some of the things that I thought I would be uncomfortable about have actually helped me step out of my comfort zone. I am having such a great time with my team and we have helped so many people. It has been awesome seeing God transform everyone including me. I have had lots of down time to reflect on my day and relax. I love you guys so much, and I can't wait to see you soon


PS: Didn't forget about you Kate. Love you too, and I hope all is well.

Haiti is amazing, having a blast! -Izzy 

Friday, August 2, 2019

Woodridge High School Day 5

Hey everyone, today we went to Titanye to visit elders there, tour Grace Village, tour Fleri bakery, and eat at the Fleri Restaurant. Read all about it in the blog posts!

Word of the Day
Liza -- Nail Polish 
Halle -- Present
Aiydan -- Community
Morgan -- Sweet 
Alyssa -- Provide
Annika -- Dance 
Lea -- Reunion 
Charlie -- Views 
Thomas -- Memory 
Ben -- Cared For 
Johanna -- Music 
Clair -- Singing 
Austin -- Double Time 
Megan -- Multiplied
CJ -- Growth 
Isabel -- Laugh 
Jacob -- Real 
Mel -- Overflowing 
Lydia -- Joy 
Sam -- Hope
Brayton -- Wisdom 
Ava -- Trust 
Ellie -- Beauty 
Allie -- Perseverance 
Raegan -- Protection 

Wyatt -- Play

Love you guys so much! Today we visited some of the elders in Titanye. We were able to wash their feet, sing, and pray with them. Those moments were very real; I clearly felt Jesus's love and understood what he did for his people.  
Thanks Mom and dad. Love Jacob 

Hi mom! 
Haiti has been sooooo fun! I love getting to know different people on the team and the wonderful leaders we have. I have found out that wearing my hair in anything other than braids is a massive mistake because the kids find it SOOOOO entertaining to be my personal hair stylist. I miss you so much! Message for dad- Hello!  can I please have some steak when I come home? 
See you soon 

Hello fellow families, 
I have had such an amazing time in Haiti the past few days! I love love love being with all the kids in Cité Soleil and at all the orphanages. It has given me so much joy to see all the Haitian people loving on our team while we were the ones who came to love on them. Yesterday at Sakala so many kids wanted me to hold them so I told them to sit and we played a hand clapping game. The game was completely unfair and somehow they made me win and they all piled on top of me and screamed to celebrate me! It was such a precious moment that I will never forget. -Aiydan

Mom, my shoulders got sunburnt today. -Raegan 

Hello all! 
My third time in Haiti has been the best yet. The students on this team are absolutely amazing, and have a special place in my heart. I have met so many loving Haitians, who have taught me more than they will ever know. God has allowed me to step back and watch him move through all the students on this trip. Watching most of them experience Haiti for the first time has been so cool to see them grow. The amount of love pouring from their hearts is amazing. I was blessed to join the team late, and can say God put me here for a reason. This week has been amazing, and I am sad it is coming to an end. 
Annika Swanson 

Hey guys, day 5 was a great experience. We got to meet some pretty cool elders and I painted their toe and finger nails. It was very hot but a very fun day. I got to see and meet and dance with more kids today and it filled my heart with joy. I love and miss you guys.


Thursday, August 1, 2019

Woodridge High School Day 4

Hey everyone! Today we got to return to City Soleil and play with the kids near Hope Church. We then visited a summer camp called Sakala. Read all about it in the blogs!

Word of the Day
Liza -- Determined
Alyssa -- Strength 
Halle -- Eventful 
Aiydan -- Loving 
Johanna -- Dependence 
Morgan -- Greeting 
Lea -- Children 
Claire -- Crayons 
Raegan -- Total Bosses
Charlie -- Stick
Mel -- Parents 
Lydia -- Patience 
Ava -- Attached 
Allie -- Jezi (Creole for "Jesus")
Isabel -- Volleyball 
Ben -- Serving 
Megan -- Jumping 
Ellie -- Lifted 
Wyatt -- Connection 
Jacob -- Value 
Annika -- Arms Open
CJ -- Whirly 
Thomas -- Intense 
Austin -- Calves 
Sam -- Basketball 

Brayton -- Happiness

Haiti has been so fun I'm so sad it's halfway over! My favorite day was water truck day and I can't wait to do it again! Today I decided to let down my hair when I was with the kids and they braided my hair almost the whole time! It hurt but the girls really enjoyed it haha! Haiti is for sure changing me and I'm so blessed I got to experience and explore this beautiful country and meet some of the most joyful people I have ever met!

This trip has been a lot of fun so far and I am excited for what the rest of the trip brings. My favorite days have been in the city we visited called City Soleil. On Monday we visited there when we were delivering water. Today we visited the city again but we were focused on playing with the kids rather than delivering water. When we visited today, I held the same girl the majority of the time and it was really fun to be around her when we would sing "Jesus loves me" together. When we had to leave it was hard to let her go. This trip has taught me so much and I am looking forward to the new opportunities that God will lead me through during the rest of the trip!

Mom, my feet are starting to have a slight Birkenstock tan line. -Raegan

Haiti is amazing! I've had so much fun holding kids all day! It's super cool to see all the work God has been doing in Haiti! The kids are so cute and they don't want to be put down. I look forward to more amazing experiences! 

Hey fam, I'm back and doing great. Today was a great day and I met a lot of super cool poeple. I miss you guys a lot and love you all:) 

Hey family,
I am having so much fun!!! This week is flying by. On Tuesday we had water truck day in City Soleil and I basically just held and loved a bunch of kids. On Wednesday we went to a school to help run a bible school and visited an orphanage. Today we went back to City Soleil and just played with and held the kids. After that we went to a summer camp and did I pretty much the same thing. It is so amazing here, it's so beautiful and you just feel so much love and joy. I hope Jack and dad had a blast in New Mexico and made it back safe. I miss you all and love you so much!! See ya Monday!!!

I've been trying to switch off with Charlie on writing in the journal, but he left me with the responsibility again today ;)! We had a lot of fun today playing with kids, Charlie played basketball with the older boys at both places we went to. First we went back to Cite Solet and had a "play day" with the kiddos we met at our first water truck day just outside of Hope Church. We then ate lunch and went to a school with about 100 kids we were playing outside with and hanging out! Mom, a little girl slept on my lap for about 30 minutes. Kate, we went shopping this morning at a market and I got you a cute bracelet! Dad, I haven't gotten a dehydration headache yet, and beef jerky was the perfect lunch idea. Love you all and miss you lots!!