Sunday, April 7, 2019

Day 7-Joy & Kindness

Romans 15:13  "May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit."

Our Sunday morning started off with our usual delicious breakfast and devotion.  Our topic this morning was joy and kindness.  We have all experienced incredible joy throughout our week and have enjoyed sharing joy within our team and with those we've met along the way.  The kindness showed to us by the Healing Haiti staff, children, directors of various organizations, and the people of Haiti is infectious! 

Today we boarded the Tap Tap and headed to Leveque to attend the Deaf Church!  The road to the church (as well as the school where the HDA students attend) is a VERY rocky and bumpy ride.  Due to road conditions, we had to walk up a fairly steep and rocky path to get to the top of the hill.  It was all worth it when we were greeted by the precious students who were all dressed up in their new Sunday finest!  Many thanks to all who donated the beautiful clothing.  The students were all smiles in their new outfits. 

Pastors Benedict and Jacques Wilson offered prayers, worship songs, and the message about Daniel and how he fully trusted in God.  To sit in this special place and worship with these beautiful children and adults is truly an honor and a blessing. 

On the way back to HDA we stopped at Chez Maggy's, a true Haitian restaurant.  We enjoyed chicken, fish, and goat, along with traditional fried plantains and rice and beans.  With our bellies full, we returned to HDA and enjoyed some time hearing stories from the directors, Meredith and Keith Henderson, and then spent some time playing with the students.  There was jump roping, bubbles, sidewalk chalk, a parachute, and soccer!  Needless to say, we were all hot and tired when it was time to say our farewells.  Good byes are never easy but we will always cherish these memories and the special friends we have made along the way.

To cool off and refresh ourselves, we headed up to spend some time reflecting on the week at the pool.  We shared our favorite memories which included water truck day, La Loo Orphanage, the Home for Sick and Dying Babies and Children, pizza at Fleri, Montfort School for the Deaf, and the Haiti Deaf Academy. 

We continued the conversation over a great meal of shepherd's pie and fresh vegetables.  We wrapped up the evening uploading all of the photos from the week and continuing to reflect on all of the blessings we have received over the past seven days.  One of the best blessings is to have shared this week as a TEAM, a team of friends who joyfully served in Haiti and grew in our faith.  We will  be sad to leave and part ways, but we know that we have a bond with one another through Jesus and nothing can break that bond.  We want to say a special thank you to each and every person who has made this trip possible.  You prayed, you purchased birdseed wreaths, jewelry, paintings, t-shirts, coffee mugs, and many other handmade items.  You ordered cakes.  You encouraged us when we needed it most, and for this and so much more, we are truly grateful.  Thank you for following us in our journey and praying for our safe return tomorrow.  We leave you with this Haitian phrase: N a we pi ta, Ayiti, or See you later, Haiti!   

A day of Reflection and Sun

From Radiant Life - Michigan and Minnesota

Just like a regular Sunday back at home, we began our morning attending a church. This time it was not the one we are used to, for today we got to attend Rendez-Vous. Here we were able to wear headphones that translated the sermon into English for us. It felt a lot like a church service at Radiant Life some of us go to, back in Sturgis. The seats were filled early with people eager to worship and hear God’s word. We worshipped, took communion, and listened to a sermon about time. The basis of the message shared today was focused on how time is valuable. Filling your day with things that are not as important as they may seem, can take you away from your time spent with God.   
After a wonderful service at church, we all loaded onto the Tap Tap to get ready for a bumpy, FAST ride. This time we were headed to Wahoo beach. Getting to be here opened up a totally different view of Haiti. The sun was shining like it has been all week. The ocean was gleaming and just waiting for us to take a dip into the refreshing atmosphere. From seeing a jellyfish in our swimming area to seeing Paul zoom away with our fearless leader on a jet ski, I’d say it was quite a fun experience. Aside from swimming and jet skiing, we kayaked, paddle boarded, played volleyball and relaxed while soaking up the sun. The time spent here allowed us to reflect on our past few days of service to the Haitian community.

Throughout the week I was able to watch each team member, including myself, grow miraculously in our faith. Most of us did not know every person before this trip, but we quickly became family as the week went on. Jokes from Tom, Tap Tap rides, and serving God as a team brought us together. We were able to share an experience that not all of us have gotten to have before. From delivering water to visiting orphanages, we saw God here in every direction we looked. Haiti is a beautiful place. I have not watched this place change from what it was before, for this was my first time. But I can clearly see God working in all the hearts of whom I got the opportunity to meet. I’d just like to say, “Hey you!” from the team of 10 of us Michiganders and Minnesotans, or so called the M&M’s. As we head home tomorrow, we will surely bring home our well worth it sunburns, and most importantly the memories we created here in Port Au Prince. I will forever be changed by this trip. Blessings to everyone. I am excited to continue to watch this place transform into the visions that God has laid out, and what the people here imagine it to be someday.

-          Brandi

Saturday, April 6, 2019

Day 6 - HDA!

"May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit". Romans 15:3

Kevyen Aucoin said, "Today I choose life. Every morning when I wake up I can choose joy, happiness, negativity, pain... To feel the freedom that comes from being able to continue to make mistakes and choices- today I choose to feel life, not to deny my humanity but embrace it."

Today we choose life and joy! 

Joy from the moment we awoke to find new friends have arrived and the amazing staff at Healing Haiti had once again wowed us with their culinary creations!  Each morning has been full of great food and fresh squeezed juices. 

After breaking our fast and enjoying inspiring conversation, we headed again to the Tap Tap. This time we were loaded down with goodies because we were heading to the Haiti Deaf Academy (HDA). We were bringing with us HDA's directors. The kids had not seen them in a while. The drive was beautiful! We saw the blue Caribbean sea. We arrived at HDA, all of us eager to meet the amazing children and the dedicated staff. 

The kids were incredible--so personable and friendly. We met each one personally. We were blessed to have time to truly enjoy them. We chatted and played games and did not want to leave.

After our wonderful visit at HDA, we enjoyed a little shopping at Rosie's Boutique then pizza at Fleri. We took a tour of Fleri and saw the amazing work they do there. It was so inspiring! After a dinner of pizza and fellowship we headed back to Healing Haiti. Exhausted and dusty we left the Tap Tap, but our hearts were bursting with joy for every moment. 


Radiant Life - Michigan and Minnesota

We began the day around 9:30 planning on going to deliver water, well that was changed rather quickly when we got to the fill station and one of the pumps was broken. So we just moved right along and went to Fleri Farm, all of us being from either Michigan or Minnesota we had in our heads what we were sort of expecting for a “farm” and we all were pretty surprised to what we were shown. Plantain, mango, coconut, and pomegranate trees along with various plants were everywhere. None of what we saw looked like a farm to any of us but then Kenny (the Fleri Farm general manager) showed us and told us what God’s image was for this place. He didn’t need to have a crop that sold for big money quickly or the highest tech to get the job done quick and ready, he was experimenting for the future. Putting in more work than any of us probably could imagine, he was building for the future. Not wanting to drive out the business and overtake the market for Fleri Farms crop he was talking about even having example plots that farmers could come in and see what worked and how they could grow food to support their family. I can only imagine what it will look like in the future with Kenny following God’s direction with the farm.

Then we jump to delivering water for the last time. It was something you can’t understand until you have done it.. The first time this group delivered water we didn’t know what to expect, it was new. It was one of the things we were called to do and the second time around, I think if you were to ask the team members, they would say that this time it was a lot easier. We sort of knew what to expect, and because of that we were able to just jump right in. The water truck pulls up behind the Tap Tap (I still don’t understand how in the world they drive and get the places they do in Haiti) but anyways, people anywhere from a young toddler age to someone to way older past adulthood were dragging buckets and drums and getting in a line. From there nothing stops moving until you hear Shelly start rounding us up. Whether we are filling buckets or holding children, we are doing the best we can to serve in any way possible. I cant tell you how many buckets of water I have put on children’s heads because it is simply how they get their stuff around. Let alone all the other group members, I even saw Paul carrying a bucket on his head at one point. But it truly was an experience, the way it can humble you is outstanding. The basic need for water to these people is mind blowing. Then comes the moment that the truck has emptied and we have to go. Sadly having to tell them we have to leave, not knowing if they are even understanding what we are saying you just want to help.

The last thing we did for the day was visit Dios Orphanage for Special Needs children. Having lived my life surrounded by Special Olympics, Project Unify, and helping coach Special Olympics basketball for years I had an idea what to expect and so did Brad because he has been blessed with a son that has special needs. But as for the others I don’t think they have had a whole lot of interaction with special needs children but something taken into perspective as we were unloading from the Tap Tap was that we all just jumped in. Regardless of how new it was to us. Wes, Paul, and I playing soccer with kids that were unbelievably good at it, Brandi playing tic-tac-toe or drawing with them, Mackenzie sitting down and just being with the kids, Michelle, Shelly, and Smith doing the Cupid Shuffle, Carol and Julia taking the time to just listen to the kids and let them know that they are loved, and last but definitely not least, Brad pulling a little kid around in a wheelchair with a rope connected to him while the kid yelled “Peres Noele”. We all just played, were there with them giving them something to do and some joy and excitement to have. So how do you sum up a trip that has truly can’t be put into words? I don’t know but everyday we have been serving God and breaking barriers, all while growing closer and closer as a family. It truly is amazing to just stop and see what God is able to do.


Friday, April 5, 2019

A Day of Adventure

Radiant Life - Michigan and Minnesota

We started off today by waking up early and leaving the guesthouse by 5:45 AM to go to Church on the Rock for Friday morning church service. We were the first people to arrive and it didn’t take long for the place to be filled. It was so amazing to see the passion that the Haitians were worshiping God with and how thankful they are to God for the blessings in their lives. It was truly a privilege to witness and participate in the service, as it extremely impacted all of us! These people in Haiti are clearly on fire for God!

After the service, we walked back to the guesthouse to get changed out of our church clothes, and then we loaded up in the tap tap to head for the Olympic training facility for a tour. We started our tour in the gymnasium, where we were able to join in playing volleyball and basketball with some locals. From there we toured the Olympic offices, some other practice facilities, tennis courts, soccer field, and track & field area.

Following the tour, we headed from the Olympic training center to Grace Village. When we arrived, we met with the IT manager of the facility, and he gave us a rundown of what they are all doing for the kids with technology at the school. They have a bunch of iPad’s and MacBook Pro’s for the kids to use, with only approved learning apps loaded onto them. Grace Village was the first of its kind to have this type of technology available to its’ students in Haiti. It is truly amazing to think about the opportunities that now are available to these kids to further their education. Prior to having this technology, the kids we limited on what they were able to learn. Now with all this technology available to them, the can see the amazing opportunities the world has for them!

We finished our day at Grace Village by playing with the kids once school ended for the day. We played a variety of games including three-legged race, soccer, and hitting a beach ball around. We also were able to play music and dance with the kids and just hang out with them. It was a lot of fun spending time with the kids and seeing how well they are doing!

It was then time to head back to the guesthouse; Unfortunately, Haitian traffic had other ideas. It took us about two and a half hours to get home from Grace Village (It only took us about 30 minutes to get from our guesthouse to Grace Village in the morning)! Our group took the extra time to bond further and some of us took some naps. I am proud of our group for the way they just took this delay in stride.

At the guesthouse, we had a quick dinner and then most of us headed for the pool. The pool felt great after that long tap tap ride! When we returned back to the house, we held our nightly devotional and our word of the day discussion. It has been great getting to know our team better and to be sharing our love of Christ with one another!


Day 5- I will not be shaken

Psalm 62:1-2 "Truly my soul finds rest in God; my salvation comes from Him. Truly He is my rock and salvation; He is my fortress, I will never be shaken"

Before sunrise, a couple of teammates attended a glorious early morning service at Tent Church. There they were treated to a worshipful Haitian/English Church Service. After returning to the guest house, we started our morning with a delicious breakfast including freshly squeezed cherry juice! Our morning devotion was focused on humility, reminding us to not focus on ourselves but to focus on God's glory. As we loaded in the Tap Tap to begin our journey, we were joined by an extra special Healing Haiti staff member and headed to the mountains.

Our first stop was at Middle Ground, a malnutrition center, where we were given a touching presentation of their programs and a tour of their newly expanded location. This center is devoted to helping children recover from malnutrition as well as educate the family about healthy nutrition habits. This center accepts children of all ages and welcomes families to stay with their child during their healing process. They also provide job training and small business loans to people so that they can earn a living and take care of their families. 

Back in the Tap Tap, we headed farther into the mountains to the Baptist Mission Center. We took a tour of the beautiful grounds and were greeted by the smiling children enjoying their time at Noah's Ark playground. The Baptist Mission has a wonderful serene atmosphere where you feel at peace as you look around at the beautiful mountain scenery.

Our return trip was nothing short of adventurous!  Gas shortages cause HUGE backups at the few gas stations.  Today, there was little gas to be bought, causing major traffic issues on the mountain road and a two-hour delay in the Tap Tap!  Our team made the best of it, creating our own tap tap song, and finding laughter in the moment. 

Our return to the guest house was filled with joy and lots of stories!!  We enjoyed a yummy pasta dinner and ended our evening with our "word of the day," and evening devotion.  We are so excited to go to the Haiti Deaf Academy tomorrow and see how God uses us throughout the day! 

Thursday, April 4, 2019

Unbelievably Humbled

Radiant Life - Michigan/Minnesota

Today turned out to be another wonderfully humbling yet powerful day. We started it off again with a bumpy ride in the tap tap and made our way to visit some of our elders near Grace Village. There was some anxiety amongst the team on how this would look and how we would show up with love. To be quite honest, it was intimidating. But perhaps that was a good place for us to start. Each one of us coming from lives of excess in America in comparison to these elders in their dirt floor homes with leaky roofs (or no roof at all). And we’re the ones who are intimidated by the situation. It only took our first elder visit to remove all hesitation and bring all of us to our knees with open palms to serve. We had the privilege of washing 4 elder’s feet, massaging their shoulders, and bringing them a warm meal and a goodie bag. Not only that, we had the honor of praying over them as team with the elders’ specific prayer requests in mind. This was so unbelievably humbling. We saw Jesus in each of their faces today. And yet, we also saw Jesus in each other today. We laid bare our hearts, our insecurities, our fears… and allowed God to show us all his wonder. For many of us, it was a glimpse of what it’s like to take our hands off the steering wheel and just let God be.

After our elder visits, we went to a beautiful place called Rosie’s where we had a quick snack for lunch and bought some souvenirs. Then we drove back up the hill to Grace Village, where we met Caleb for our tour of the grounds. This village contained a clinic, a school, a huge garden, cafeteria, playground, and family-style living quarters. Children start school at Grace Village at age 2 and are able to go all the way to age 20. It costs $75 per year to attend, which covers all their food and medical supplies needed. The homes are set up as all-girl and all-boy homes with a “mommy” or “poppy” living in each home with the Grace Village children. Standing on the grounds looking out over Haiti and the ocean, it reminded us of the technology pod at Hope in Cite Soleil – while you’re there, you forget where you are for a bit. Rather than poverty, you see opportunity. Rather than despair, you see joy. We’ve seen immeasurable good being done in Haiti in our short time here. It is an honor to be a witness to it.

After sitting under the shade trees for a while looking out at the ocean and reflecting on the power at work in Grace Village, we made our way down the hill to Fleri bakery and restaurant. Fleri means Flourish, and it was such a great ending to a day filled with humbling grace. Jake gave us a tour of the bakery and restaurant and shared the history of how it came to be. But most of all he shared his love of the people there and how proud he is of the progress they’ve made. In his own time serving with Healing Haiti, he shared how his outlook on “serving” has transformed. Serving can mean so many things and look different for everyone. What matters is that we open our hearts – we lay them bare – to God and His plan and let Him take it from there. He can do far more than we could ever imagine if we allow Him. It is then, only then, that we may flourish together.  - Mackenzie