Monday, June 17, 2019

WE MADE IT!

Our Aspen Grove team from Minnesota made it to Haiti!!

We met at the airport at 3:30am and our travel day began...thankfully our day progressed without any major issues (an answer to prayer!). We got settled into the guesthouse, had delish tacos for dinner and had our first "dinner question" of the week (a question that everyone must answer as we eat)...it's a great way to get to know one another :)

After dinner we gathered together for team time.

WORD OF THE DAY:
Annette - WEAK
Shannon - THANKFUL
Amy - MINDSET
Corrina - FRIENDSHIPS
Aphton - PEACE
Justin - GRATEFUL
Sue - PRESENT
Maya - STILL
Abe - ANXIOUS
Josh - INTRODUCTION
Craig - JOY
Savannah - EXCITING
Lydia - REMEMBER
Jenny - PEOPLE
Lauren - DIFFERENT
Jen - KINDNESS
Kate - DIFFERENT

We are very tired and we plan/hope to sleep very well tonight. We appreciate your prayers as we enter into this week of ministry.


Saturday, June 8, 2019

Day 5&6: Water trucks, sewing, Sakala, and beygs!




Friday we set out for Cite Soleil to help with a water trucks again.  We arrived at Hope Complex and waited for the water truck to return from filling up at the Water Distribution Center.  While we waited, we got the opportunity to see another of their cool projects.  Like the Innovation Center, the Sewing Center is housed in a remodeled shipping container.  They have 15 sewing machines, and three spaces for counting/measuring tables.  Here's whats extra cool:  they are making newborn baby kits: baby diapers, receiving blankets, and baby hats, and post-partum/menstrual pads.  Here's what extra cool:  they have employed a Cite Soleil resident to manage it and are training her in the patterns --then she will hire her own team and train them with the patterns. The photo shows the hanging diapers in various stages of the process.  This way they have a standard to work against.  The entire shop is very organized and is full of potential!






After the Sewing Center Tour, we headed out for a Water Truck distribution. The line to get water was 20-30 people long at any given time.  Much busier than our first day of it.  Lots of people and children out and about.  Carrying a 5 gallon bucket of water for a couple blocks is no joke - how they do this every day is something to marvel.  At one point, I took a bit of break from water and hauling and finally carried the little girl, probably about 7 or so, that had clung to my shirt and held my hand the whole time up to that point.  We stood in the shade of one of the shacks and I rocked her.  As I hummed "you are my sunshine" to her"I realized she had fallen asleep.  For a moment I closed my eyes too and focused on the sounds around me -  her little snooze noises, the water splashing out of the hose and filling buckets, the boys horsing around in the water, and adults scolding them to straighten up.  What I didn't hear were birds signing, or the rustle of trees in the breeze - there are not much of either of these in Cite Soleil.  As I stood there, with a child in my arms listening to the sounds, it really hit me how hard life is for these residents, yet no one is crying - i hear laughter of the girls splashing water on each other and "hey you"s that we are called to get our attention - usually to help with a bucket or play with a kid. It was humbling to say the least.  











We finished up and went back to the Guesthouse and hit the pool at Hotel Elite.  After splashing around for a couple hours up there, we walked the short distance back to the Guesthouse where we would greeted with  delicious Haitian cuisine.  We had roasted goat, papaya rice, mashed root veggies, fried okra, and peas and onion.  After dinner we played cornhole, or bags, or rather "beygs" if you have a deep minnesotan accent. :-)




On Saturday we had a bit of a sleep-in and headed back to Sakala for games with the kids.  A big group of teens and young adults we playing a very competitive game of soccer when we arrived. They definitely had some awesome footwork! Some of us watched the game, others helped some of the other boys wash clothes by hand, and others played with the younger kids with sidewalk chalk and bubbles.  If you are a chess player, I challenge you to game with Ketia - she's 11 and had me done before she actually got me in a check-mate.  I tried again, and she mowed me down in less than 10 minutes.  Miles also plays chess and he challenged her - nope, she sliced him down twice as well.  She's heading to the States soon for a National Tournament - no doubt she will be formidable.  
They produce Moringa oil and artwork done by the kids. Many of us found treasures to purchase to remember our fun times there.  














Saturday afternoon we ventured to a grocery store and found coffee, candy, honey, spices, hot sauce, more coffee -- oh and the boys got ramen noodles and ruffles--missing their US staples it seems.  ha! 

In Christ's steps, 
Heather Douglas






Thursday, June 6, 2019

Day 4: Grace Village - Elders, Tours, and Pizza



This morning we set out to a nearby artisan’s market just a couple blocks from the guesthouse.  
We browsed the souvenirs and each of us came back with a bag of goodies (no spoilers as i think
some are gifts to some of our blog readers - wink wink).  Upon returning to the guesthouse, we
packed up the Tap-Tap for our long drive to Titanyen (tee-tan-yay) about 15 miles, but about an
hour driving. So rough roads were mentioned in yesterday’s blog - these roads take the cake.  
Large section of the roads are washed out, rocky, and have random holes throughout.
Fortunately, there are some nice paved roads for most of the drive that border the oceanside.

Once arriving in Titanyen, we made our way to Grace Village - it hosts a Church, a school,
an orphanage, and a clinic.  Its stucco tan and lavender buildings sit upon a hill overlooking
the Titanyen village with the Titanyen mountains to the East.  
Our first task was an absolute privilege for us to help with - we met with elders at their homes to
wash and massage their hands and feet.  We were excited to have Katie, the Elder care missionary,
join us with her guitar and songs. We met first with Guerline, a sweet woman expecting a baby boy
in August.  The scripture we read to her (as translated by Valery - our Haitian driver and guide) really
touched her spirit and we were all moved. As she requested, we prayed for her health and her baby’s,
and for general wellness in her life. Next we met with Sitiala, an elderly woman that asked we pray
for her health, her house, and her children and grandchildren.  She sung along with the songs we
sang in her front yard of her meager housing. We then made our way just across the street to an
elderly man, Lindor, who enjoyed his radio in the shade just outside his front door along with his
baby goats. I think he especially enjoyed the hand and arm massage, because he asked for just
a bit more cream for his arm. He asked that we turn off his radio so he could hear the guitar and
sing along.  He asked us to pray for his eternal life. And lastly, we trekked around the neighborhood
to reach Felicie’s house. She sat under her cherry tree in the only shade she had. She also enjoyed
the music and massage while the neighborhood boys picked cherries from the tree. When we went
to leave, she wanted us to take some cherries as a gift of gratitude. if you get a moment, please send
prayers for these lovely people.






The neighborhood boys clung on our tap-tap until we left the area.  We then went to Rosie’s - a
boutique of local artists and an ice cream shop.  After a few scoops of ice cream and a fun
shopping spree, made our way back up to Grace Village.  



There at Grace Village, we got a full tour of the facility. We toured the school, kitchen, classrooms,
gardens, orphanage family homes, and the medical clinic.
 The school hosts 400 students and there were around 60 orphaned kids that live in the family homes.
It is a beautiful campus with even more spectacular views.  We were so impressed with all the extra
attention to detail they take into account for the children and their education.






I think we were all definitely ready for the final part of our day - a visit to the bakery and Pizza
restaurant - Fleri, meaning “fourish” in Haitian Creole.  They now employ over 50 local folks that work
in the bakery and pizza restaurant. I have to say, it was my favorite meal yet! Fantastic pizza,
yummy appetizers, and several games of, what we call “cornhole” in Nebraska, but I understand
it’s “bags” in Minnesota.  I think Valery wins the champion player! Also, do not miss out on the
mango creme brulee - amazing!





The ride back to the guesthouse seemed much shorter than the ride there - i think traffic was not
as bad as it was in the morning.  We are all wiped out today, but are taking a chance to do
“show and tell” with all of our cool purchases from the shops today. (still no spoilers as we are
hearing what cool items are going to whom - guess you’ll have to wait until we return stateside).


In closing, its worth saying the town of Titanyen, which means “less than nothing” is anything
but… we found it all inspiring, spiritual, at times sad, but we saw the resilience of the people and
how they are growing and flourishing.  

In Christ's steps,
Heather Douglas





Wednesday, June 5, 2019

Day 3 - Cite Soleil: Hope, water trucks and Sakala



Today started off with a delicious breakfast that included pancakes, veggie eggs, and fresh juice.
 We made our way then to Cite Soleil - the heart of the destitution in Haiti. The roads were rough
and journey seemed long in the morning heat.
As we left Dalmas center and made our way to Cite Soleil, we could see the plastic and trash
garbage accumulation increase - it certainly did not help the situation that we had a huge downpour
of rain last night. We could see the water line by where the trash had floated up to.
 Despite all of this and although labeled the worst slum in the western Hemisphere, we found hope
and jubilation in Cite Soleil. We started off at the Hope Complex - it houses the Hope Clinic,
Hope Church, and Hope School.
The church and school were first established 3 years ago and the clinic opened this year.
They offer free services to the people of Cite Soleil and are truly changing lives
- and with the clinic now, certainly saving them too!





The tour of the complex was impressive and we met many of their over 260 students - all dressed in adorable lavender-checkered uniforms. The kids were excited as they were practicing for their end-of-the-year performance with song/dance number that they all seemed to enjoy! When we came into the room where they were, we were about knocked over by their little hands wanting us to pick them up or dance with them.

One of the most interesting aspects to the campus is the Innovation center - it houses workstations and 25 ipads to help teach the kids technology and innovative learning styles and processes. What a great addition to an already impressive project!

We then headed out to the nearby streets to help dispense water, carry buckets, and play with the children. The neighborhood nearby has rows and roads of shacks - made with rudimentary materials of corrugated metal, scrap sheet metal, and broken down concrete. A large water truck parks in the street and we hook up the big hose to fill their buckets, pails, tubs, or whatever they bring. So many words to describe our time with all the people and the water truck - joyous, overwhelming, exciting, and, i think we can all agree, wet. The kids are the best - they are SO EXCITED! They try to catch your eye and once they do, they leap up into your arms or just climb right up you! They giggle, tell you stories, and show you their trinkets. Each of us seemed to even find a special child that we bonded with with. Mine was Rosalinda. It helped I learned the creole word for "name" so we could exchange names with each other. What a special time with the kids and people of Cite Soliel. We all took turns helping with the water hose, carrying buckets, and entertaining kids. In total, we made three water truck stops throughout the neighborhood.











After that we came back to the guesthouse for a quick clean-up and headed back to Cite Soleil to the Sakala project. This is an afterschool program for kids that encourages them to find their dreams and go after them. They have sports programs, a computer lab, and with 20 shelves in their library - they host the largest library in Cite Soleil. They told us schools all over the city come to it and also partner with them to host sports events and competitions. We also learned about their efforts to cultivate Moringa trees - an indigenous tree that has immense nutritional value. They also had a place where they create cool art pieces made from salvaged trash pieces - a painted and textured framed mirror was a group favorite. However, newborn baby goats were equally exciting for some of us animal lovers!











The evening closed with a hearty lasagna meal, that we should note only took us 10 minutes to eat both pans, and a quick trek to the nearby Elite hotel for a dunk in the pool which definitely cooled us off from today's heat. Sounds like another thunderstorm is rolling in for the night as we wrap up our team meeting. I'm sure we will all sleep well tonight.

In Christ's steps,
Heather Douglas