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 :

Team Intentional Day 1

Let's start with the night before, I was told many things about going onto this trip, much more for the rest of the team. It's our first time on a missions trip with the Healing Haiti corporation, of course we are wondering about how the trip was going to go on. What the building was going to look like and what type of mission work was going to go on.  As we were getting ready to leave to go to Haiti, My family and I prayed. We prayed the usual and unusual, like traveling mercies and no discord coming over us as we get ready to do the Lord's work but there was a more serious and in depth tone in what we were saying. I mean, its not everyday a family member leaves the country. My church left Massachusetts around 5:30 am to get to the first flight. From the Boston airport to the next, then all of a sudden, I'm being told to fasten ,your seat belts because we are arriving at Haiti. You may want to know what happened in between that time, well I wish I could tell you. Most of the ride and flight, I was slumped.  I would wake up when the flight attendants would offer free food, and i watched a movie. Actually, the movie was Fast and Furious 6, it was free so I got excited. Any time I would look outside I could see how beautiful the Earth I live on was. The makeup of the land was just gorgeous. If you could look through a little kids eyes, its like seeing a room full of candy and ice cream. Exactly like that. Amazing. Yummy. Leaving you for wanting more. In between one of my flights, we met up with another member of out team, John. And he sure is a funny one. He's loud and upfront but very kind. I was excited at the airport because when I saw Steak & Shake I was one lucky girl. Unfortunately, they only accepted card, but John offered to pay for me and I declined because I had a card to use. That opened my eyes to how generous people still are nowadays. As we got to Haiti, not only was the airplane empty, but so was the Haitian Airport. the people at the airport and outside were very welcoming, kind and eager to help us get situated. That's when we got on the vehicle and went off to our compound which was a lot bigger than expected. The house was very nice, two floors with a huge balcony. A big kitchen with a big dinning table which can hold about 14 people. Everyone at the compound was welcoming and generous. we came to a hot meal and the bedrooms were big as well. 2 bunk beds per room, and an A/C  unit. Ah, this made me feel so comfortable. I went to the bathroom and very good impressions, on everything. I took a shower and called it a night.

Sunday, October 13, 2019

The Bridge Day 7- My Jericho

My Jericho
Before I came on this trip to Haiti, I was never an open person. In fact, I considered myself to be extremely introverted. Just like Jericho, my walls were tall, thick, and heavily guarded. Throughout my life, I’ve had trouble feeling accepted and trusting towards the people around me. I’ve always yearned for the feeling of complete friendship with people, but have never known how to go about it. However, this country has changed my perspective on how I can feel like enough, and how I can have an open and honest conversation without feeling judgment. 
I met a little boy at the home for the sick and dying children earlier this week that wanted nothing more than to be held and loved, regardless of his circumstance. He wrecked my heart in the best way possible. I realized that day that if he can open himself up to complete strangers, completely ready to accept love, I should give myself the chance to do the same. 
This team came in very open, so they didn’t make it very hard to connect with them. Throughout this week, my team has encouraged me, loved me, and helped me process my emotions (even the ones I don’t like). 
The people of Haiti, and the mission team I came here with were exactly like the song of Joshua: their instantaneous acceptance for not only me, but also one another, slowly chipped and cracked every wall of doubt I had. Because of this trip, I am so much stronger in my faith than before. I am ready to go home and continue to let the love that was shown to me this week shine into my life, because all of my walls have tumbled down. 


Saturday, October 12, 2019

The Bridge Day 6- Adoption: My Perspective

I suppose I am writing because I want everyone – especially my parents who adopted me- to truly understand the emotions that I experienced and how I feel about being adopted.

This is my third trip to Haiti, and each time people ask me “are you Haitian”? I tell them I am Haitian and American. I was ten years old when I first came to the states, and I continued to have a relationship with my birth family. I struggled with balancing two sets of parents. I didn’t really face the fact that I had two sets of parents until I was in my late teens. I especially struggled with the idea of how my adoptive parents could unconditionally love a child whom they’ve never met and brought from a different country to be their own. As I began to feel more and more like their child, I started to really hate the fact that I was referring to them as my adopted white parents when I would talk to my birth parents. It wasn’t because my birth parents were making me feel that I should refer to them that way, but inside myself I felt torn. I knew that my adoptive parents were so much more and meant so much more to me, even more than they realized. 

I remember when I came to the states, because of my upbringing in Haiti, I was scared of evil spirits (which are common in Haitian culture), namely the evil spirit dyab. I was afraid it would come to get me. I remember my adoptive mom, Natalie, being so brave in that moment. She was patient and willing to listen to a crazy voodoo story that I strongly believed was real. I remember my mom telling me that God was bigger than the dyab that I had known about in Haiti. This continued to happen night after night, and she never left my side. She stood by me through all of it. I admired the strength that my mom showed even when I was afraid. I knew that I was safe with her. That safety continued into my older years. In Haitian culture, moms show strength with their children. My American mom has Haitian strength within her, and I think that is why I feel so at home with her. God knew what He was doing when he brought us together. My mother carries herself, teaches and raises her children in Christ. 

At times, I can be difficult to love. My mom shows me the unconditional, unwavering love that God shows us everyday, despite my flaws. She loves me even harder through those times. Because of what my mom has done for me, I want parents who may consider adoption – or even someone who just wants to understand adoption, to understand what it feels like as an adopted child. I have seen other children who live in orphanages and I see the sadness and understand the feeling of missing something in their lives that they often feel. Although my Haitian parents made the choice to allow me to have a better life here in the states, I still felt a sense of loneliness when I was left at the orphanage. I wanted to be in a family. Every child wants to be in a family with people who love them- whether it is their birth family, or a family who adopts them.

Just as God sets eternity in every human heart, I believe he also puts the desire of a family in a child’s heart. Although we live in a fallen world, God is merciful and kind and he allows lonely children to experience a taste of what His original plan for a family should look like – and they long for parents come into their lives to fill that hole. He also calls some people to love children whom they did not give birth to, and then gives them a love for the children He is placing in their lives. God is a God of rescue missions, and I believe that He calls parents to adopt children to live out that rescue mission here on earth by rescuing them just as He rescued us. It’s a reflection of His love for us. My mom showed this reflection of God’s love to me. She rescued me – she’s the hero in my story. And for that, I am eternally grateful. I pray, and believe that one day He will also call me to adopt children and love them as my own. I hope if He is calling you to adopt, that you will remember fear is not from God and you will not be afraid to do what He is asking of you. 

Jezi bay tout timoun yo famni! (Jesus gives all the children families!)

~Eliana Manoucheka McBee

Thursday, October 10, 2019

The Bridge Day 4- New Hope

We started off our day today by going to New Hope Activity Center, in a neighborhood that one of the Healing Haiti staff is from, to play with the children there. Smith originally told us there would only be around 60 children, but this was not the case. As we arrived into a seemingly small building, a flood of sweet smiling faces began greeting us by shaking our hands. The initial amount of children in the building seemed perfect, we brought enough balls, jump ropes, and bubbles to keep them pleased. However, more and more children began showing up, until eventually the courtyard was packed wall to wall. We were swarmed with kind smiles and warm hugs from children we had never seen in our lives. They didn’t care what we looked like or who we might be, they just took us in as we were and loved on us until our hearts were full. One might assume this would be an overwhelming experience, and while they wouldn’t be wrong, it was incredible to be in that courtyard, watching as it flooded each second with the beautiful Haitian children.
We weren’t quite sure what exactly we were going to do with nearly 200 kids, but we managed to do so much. They were truly fascinated with the colors and textures of our hair as well as the color of our skin. For a majority of the time, we sat as the girls styled our hair and closely examined our hands. As they pulled at our hair and made their best efforts to comb out the tangles with their fingers, we sat patiently, even though it was a bit painful at times. 
The children here have found so many ways to bless us just in the days we’ve been here. We have both fallen for so many kids while being here, and we both hope to remember all of them when we return to the states.

-Meghan Runyon and Abigail Wille

Wednesday, October 9, 2019

The Bridge Day 3- With Every Heartbeat

In a place known as the Home for the Sick and Dying Babies, the sound of a baby’s heartbeat kept my spirit alive today. 

When we walked into the nursery, the only sound was a child crying in his crib. No diaper. No one to give him attention. No hope in his eyes. But, he had a heartbeat. Steven had a heartbeat. 

Steven, was carefully lifted out of his crib, cradled and soothed. It didn’t last long. But his heartbeat did. He was passed around from one loving person to the next in an attempt to calm him until he was placed onto my chest. I guess God knew we both needed to be held and our hearts needed calmed today. 

Our hearts needed to beat together, it seemed. As the temperature rose and the sun grew stronger on the black, rubber matted playground; our connection grew with it. 

We found a patio, free of children and parents and cries and the chaos of the entryway. There was nothing but the concrete patio and benches, and a beautiful large shade tree in the middle. Our hearts beat together. Just a few steps away from the doors of the hospital, Steven showed his first bit of joyous emotion. I couldn’t help but smile. 

We played with an empty soda bottle, the only toy we needed. We enjoyed each other’s company in solitude for just a few moments. He ate lunch, we wandered the playground again, and then he slept. 

Knowing our time together was drawing near, I soaked up the last few heartbeats of Steven’s that I could. I held him close as he grasped my arms in his sleep. Back in the entrance of the hospital with about 15 people around, still the only thing I could hear was the tiny heartbeat of the beautiful child in my arms. Hoping that the sound of mine brought him just as much comfort and serenity as I was feeling. 

Does the heart beat just to break? It’s a muscle, right? So without tearing and breaking it cannot grow bigger and stronger. But how can something so small do something so big? How can someone so small do something so big? God held that that child’s heart today through me, and my heart through Steven. Thank you Steven, for the reminder that God knows our every heartbeat. 

~Jessica Varner

Tuesday, October 8, 2019

The Bridge Day 2- The Closer She Got...

Today we had the opportunity to go to Cite Sole. It was water truck day. As our tap tap pulled into the city, the children chanted with an utter excitement, “HEY YOU, HEY YOU, HEY YOU!” As we neared our stop, preconceived notions became our own real fears.

She didn’t think she could. In her moment of nervousness, she thought, “I can’t.” She doesn’t speak their language, didn’t know how to connect nor communicate with them. For a split second she looked out at everyone and thought, “I shouldn’t be here.” The enemy crept in feeding the fears and telling the lies, such as “will I be able to fully embrace these kids and give them any love?” God had a better plan. The big eyes and big smiles and open arms of the children who embraced her and nestled into her chest broke down every barrier she thought existed. The sweet boy who jumped up in her arms gave her the best hug of her life. Just like that, God allowed her “I can’t” to become “I can.”
The closer we were to reaching Cite Sole – she felt a wave of panic come over her. The self-doubting questions started filtering through her mind like a hamster wheel. “Can I do this?” “Do I have enough love to share with these people?” “What do I even have to offer them?” At that moment, she turned over her shoulder and saw something that felt familiar to her, something that felt like home. Her eyes and her heart were paying attention. She saw a row of soccer fields. She grew up playing soccer. It was a part of who she was. And there in the midst of a scary, out-of-her-comfort-zone situation, she felt comfort. God met her in that moment. She remembered a mantra her dad had uttered continuously when she played growing up. “Leave it all out on the field.” She wasn’t about to step on the soccer field, but she was about to enter the mission field. And in that moment of comfort, she knew that all that she had, rather, all God had given her, she had to leave that love out on the mission field. The best part about the day was, when kids were speaking in Creole and she was not exactly sure what to say, she muttered the word “Futbol?” and got to see their faces light up. As she left the mission field, she didn’t feel like she left anything at all. Something better happened. She gained understanding, love and met some people who loved the game of futbol just as much as she did.

The closer she got to Cite Sole, the reality of it became real to her. She froze. It was overwhelming. Hearing “HEY YOU, HEY YOU!” made her realize there was no turning back. She thought to herself, “Ok, here we go.” After walking out the tap tap, she never looked back. And then a sweet girl never left her side. When she needed to transition from holding the girl to holding the water hose, the little girl followed her every move, the three-year-old hand mirroring hers. Never in her wildest dreams could she have imagined connecting with a three-year-old girl that just wanted to be with her wherever she went. The expression, “HEY YOU” that initially overwhelmed her now had an endearing, comforting ring to it.

Their apprehension and American cultural barriers that keep people at arms length combined with the Haitian children’s uninhibited, instantaneous ability to connect at a pure level of genuineness ultimately transformed them.

~Victoria Abell, Natalie Macias, Jen Bassford