Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Hello All! This is Alesia. The team knows me as "Mo", short for Moesha. It was too confusing to have two Alicias on the team, so I inherited a fun name. It works well, and I love the name. 

Before I blog about the two outings our team experienced this morning, I'll share some of the words of the day from our evening meeting: hope, passion, refresh, worry, care, observe, appreciation, local, joy, connection, impact. 

Today, energy was vastly different than yesterday. If I were to compare and describe yesterday and today in one word, I'd say Yesterday: Intense  Today: Calm. 

Our first drive was to Sweet Home Orphanage. When the gate opened from the street, an "ahhhh" was heard from our tap-tap. There was a beautiful, massive gazebo where children would later hang out with us. We observed immediately how loved and cared for the children were at this facility. The children wanted to stay with their nannies rather than run to our arms like the children did in Cite Soleil (water truck day) yesterday. We got a grand tour of the grounds. Sweet Home started as an orphanage seven years ago after the 2010 earthquake.There are doctors and nurses on site for the children. All the spaces are very bright, colorful and welcoming. We embraced in the hope and faith that the orphanage has for the future as they are in the process of building more dorms to house 50 more orphans. 

After our tour, we went back to the gazebo to love up the children. They got into the songs, story and craft. Sydney and Abby did a fabulous job sharing the five loaves and two fish Bible story to go along with our fish craft. We had a lot of laughs with the fun camp songs too. Getting silly and allowing ourselves to be kids at heart was evident during our visit. Unlike yesterday at water truck day, leaving the orphanage was much easier because we knew the kids were in good hands.

The second location we went to this morning was to Peace Cycle. It is an organization that upcycles small plastic water bags by making them into fashionable and durable totes and purses. Fact question of the day: How many bags of water (similar to our water bottles) are consumed everyday in Haiti?     The answer is 5 million!!!!! Since Haiti does not have a garbage sanitation system, all garbage ends up on the sides of the streets. Peace Cycle's goal is to help reduce the waste on the streets. There is a large process of steps to make the totes and purses including washing and sanitizing the water bags and ironing plastic sheets together with a coal iron. Eventually after a lot of steps, the plastic pieces are sewn together to make totes and purses and so much more.

Peace Cycle focuses on valuing, honoring and giving dignity to the employees. I like how the organization leader, Rose, is finding progressive ways to teach the employees how to speak and interpret English so they can confidently communicate with the visitors and guests. 

After our tour, we had time to explore all the fun products Peace Cycle makes in the gift shop. As we approached the merchandise, we walked past a world map that included how many water bags have been bought by upcylcing for each U.S. state or country of the world. I am proud to announce that Minnesota is crushing the contest! We have bought and upcycled over 25,000 bags. Way to go Minnesota!

Our morning was calm and engaging by everyone on our team. It was enjoyable to see how our team has bonded so much over two days.

Signing off with love from Haiti,

Hi friends! This is Sydney, and I would love to share with you what we did this afternoon! After Peace Cycle, we headed back to the guest house because we had some time before we went to Gertrude's Orphanage! Some people used the time to reflect, while the majoriy of others used this time to nap (which was greatly needed). After nap time we all hopped in the Tap-Tap and headed to Gertrude's. Gertrude's is a unique orphanage that not only houses able-bodied children, but 15 children with special needs, physically and/or mentally. In Haiti, many who have disabilities are abandoned and forgotten in the hospital. Gertrude's works to give these kids a second chance and it is truly remarkable.

For me personally, this was a very emotional stop. Two years ago on my first trip to Haiti, the team stopped at Gertrude's and I met this two year old baby, Sarah, who could not move her arms, legs or back due to stiffness and her brain developing faster than her body. I instantly fell in love, so much so, that having to say goodbye left me with my first true heartbreak. When I went home, Sarah was on my heart and mind so much I wanted to do more. I asked my mom if we could sponsor her and for the past two years we have donated to Gertrude's in honor of Sarah to give her proper meals, medication, a better wheelchair, and more.  Flash forward two years to today, she is bigger, healther and has the most contagious smile! I wish I had the words to describe the emotion my heart felt and the gratitude I felt towards God and my mom for allowing this girl to have a better life. I spent the entire time rubbing her head (as she still could not move her body), singing her songs, pushing her around the orphanage, just holding her and giving her my love. 

While I was sharing my moments with Sarah, the other team members were singing songs with the special needs children, blowing bubbles, stacking blocks, racing the kids around on their wheel chairs and sharing God's love and compassion through the gift of touch and genuine connection.

Last night, our team listened to the song "Difference Maker" by NEEDTOBREATHE. Sometimes when you are surronded by the amount of poverty that you see in Haiti, it's hard to see the difference you make because there is always another child to love, a mouth to feed, and a conversation to have with the amazing people here. I couldn't help but think of this song today as I was surrounded by 17 people who took the time to serve, the 15 children playing with us, the Haitian staff who allow us to do what we do, the Haitians who take care of these kids in the orphanage, and God who shows himself through every interaction. I learned today that, although I feel as if I can never do enough, being present in every moment is enough for the person I am interacting with. Every person can be a difference maker; you do not need to end the poverty in Haiti to do this. You can take two extra minutes to ask how a friend's day is going or smiling at a stranger. I challenge whoever may be reading this blog, make a difference tonight, tomorrow and everyday. You are a difference maker!

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Water Truck/Day 2/ Tuesday

Successful first day of serving!

Hello, this is Jaycie Gerding here:)  I am 20 years old and this is my first trip to Haiti and wow has it been quite the experience in just two short days.  Today our mission was serving the people in Cite Soleil, where we  would deliver water to the poorest villages with a water truck.  Man, was this experience eye opening.  We roll up into a certain village in our "tap tap" and kids surround the vehicle smiling, yelling, screaming "hey you".  You would never tell by some of their faces that they are in such awful poverty.  As I got out of the truck, there were multiple kids just begging to be held.  It was very hard for me to even turn one kid down.  The want for love there is extreme and that is all I decided to show today; love.  As I was holding my first kid, the village was playing a powerful song by Celion Dione and I couldnt help but let the tears flow.  It was a beautiful, God sent moment.  I know I was meant to be here.  Not only was I making a small difference in their lives, they were making a huge one in mine.  Young boys kissing my cheek, girls holding my hand; at one time I had five kids fighting for a spot on my lap. I hope that paints a picture of desperation for love.  As you gave it to them, they showed it right back with their beautiful faces.  While all that mayhem is going on, the water truck is distributing water into the hundreds of buckets the people bring out.  If you saw the look on their face and the effort they made to get the water, you would realize how scarce it all really is.  This isn't a game.  Even people getting violent... this is real.  You don't know how real, until you experience it first hand.  They live day by day off of things we can "hopefully" provide them. A lot of times we do not realize how fortunate we are... taking our love for granted, the water we have for granted, the unlimited supply of food.. taken all for granted.  These Haitian people cherish every bit of that, with the tiny bit they have... and STILL have a smile on their face.  Why do I get sad about a boy?  Why do I care so much about the best thing to do this weekend?  Why is there any drama between friends?  I am done taking things for granted.  I will love til I die, because at the end of the day, that is all that really matters.  A little love goes a long way.  Having a heart goes a long way.

Sidenote:  *Sydney wore her sunscreen Kathy Borys.. she says she loves you!
* I miss my family but the love I feel here is undeniable.
* Our team has grown so much in just two shorts days.
* I already know I'm coming back here.

Goodnight  <3

Sunday, July 23, 2017

Hosanna Youth Team - Day 7

Bonswa, friends and family!

At the end of each day, we have something called "Pit Time". During this time, all of the girls (leaders included) chose one word to describe their day. Tonight, we all joined together for our last Pit Time. As the girls finished sharing their words, it was time for us leaders to share our word of the day. Our words (Erin and Haley) were 'one' and 'family'. We are going to explain to you why we chose these words to describe our last full day in Haiti.

Our day started off like any other day; it started off with all of us joining together for breakfast. However, there was something slightly different about this second to last morning. As we were sitting at the large table seating 18 of us, we noticed how everyone seemed to be in sync with one another. We were no longer looking at one another as merely acquaintances, but as family.

After breakfast, we left for Grace Church to attend their Sunday morning service. As we entered the church, we joined the congregation in worship. They wove both Creole and English together throughout worship. It was an incredible experience for everyone to come together to praise our God. In that very moment, we were experiencing a piece of heaven.

Our last adventure of the day was to drive up one of the mountains in Haiti. There were many twists and turns along the ride, as well as some places to stop and shop. Once we reached the top of the mountain, we were all able to experience one of most beautiful views God created. We are certain that no pictures will do justice to what we experienced. We were able to have a complete overview of everywhere we went this last week. It was a beauty that only God could create. We were able to see Haiti how our Heavenly Father sees it, beautiful and complete.

Throughout our week here, we have been so welcomed by the Haitians we have encountered. When we would visit an orphanage, they were so grateful for us to spend time there, and would pray over our team. When we would see a child, they would run to us with open arms wanting to be held. We have seen first hand that this is what it means to all be a part of God's family. There are no barriers and no borders and each of us have something in common, our Creator, God. He remains the same across languages, cultures, and the physical miles between Minnesota and Haiti. His love for His people is deep and unending. We are made one in Him. Though this team may have began our trip as merely acquaintances, we are leaving with a deeper understanding that we are indeed, one family.

Haley and Erin

Saturday, July 22, 2017

Hosanna Youth Team - Day 6

Hello friends and family!

We started this day off with yet another incredible breakfast. We left around 9:30, but we barely got out the gates of the guest house before we got stuck in the mud. Again. Luckily, we were pulled out by the construction crew. Off to a rocky start, we headed out to the metal market, which was about an hour away from the guest house. Many of us might have gone a bit over board on spending there because the things that they created were incredible. After our little shopping spree, we headed out to our last orphanage, which was an hour back towards the guest house (so lots of time to think and process this trip as we traveled in the tap-tap). When we arrived at the LaPhare orphanage, we were greeted by about 20 smiling children and the man who runs the orphanage. We told them the faith lesson and then played with lots of chalk. The man who runs the orphanage was full of gratefulness and smiles the whole time we were there. He continually wanted to bless us for blessing him and his children. He even gave a few of us some bracelets that the kids had made. Even though Kara insisted that she pay for them, he would not accept any money. Later, we walked over to the community church that was run by the same man in charge of the orphanage, which was absolutely gorgeous and simple, and we sang the song "Holy Spirit" over his church, and prayed a huge blessing over him and his church. After leaving the orphanage, we headed to a Haitian grocery store where many of us bought ice cream, and Kara also bought a cake for Audrey's birthday today. We finished the day off with a delicious meal of pasta, and later lit candles on the cake and sang to Audrey for her birthday. Now, off to play some bananagrams and get some sleep before our last full day tomorrow!
God bless!

-Jaiden and Rachel

Friday, July 21, 2017

Hosanna Youth Team - Day 5

Hello everyone!

Today we started our day off at 5:30 am. We walked to church at 6am, and found ourselves slipping in disgusting mud. When we were at church we were very surprised when the Haitians started to say a blessing over us. After church we came back for breakfast, and most of us took a little nap before it was time to leave again. It was a beautiful but long drive along the coast of Haiti, to the city of Titanyen (which means less than nothing). First we stopped at the mass grave cite from the 2010 earthquake. It was a beautiful memorial, although it was sad thinking that we were standing over (around) 200,000 bodies. After that we visited our four elderly homes of the day. There we brought them a warm meal and worshipped with them. They were very excited for us to be there to wash their feet and rub lotion on their arms and legs. It was truly humbling to be able to serve them, especially being out of our comfort zones. Some of the elders had no toes, only one leg, and many of them were in pain. Because the homes were only the size of a bathroom, many of us took turns playing with the neighborhood kids as well. After the elder visits, we toured Grace Village. We were amazed at the program they had going on with the orphanage transition homes, school, and medical clinic. The view of the ocean and mountains surrounding us was incredible. We traveled down the hill to a restaurant and bakery called Fleuri for dinner. There we had amazing pizza, and learned more about the job creation program at Grace Village. At that time it was time to go back home, around 7 o'clock. While sitting in the front seat the driver taught Tyanna and Angie how to drive a stick shift, but then he warned us it was going to get a little "bumpy". All we saw were cinder blocks mixed with mud, and we soon were seemingly entering Jurassic Park. Everyone in the tap tap was soon flying around and screaming, until the left side slowly started to sink.. the tap tap went tip tip. Our driver calmly said, "One second.." We all got out safely and luckily we were right outside the guesthouse gates. Thirty minutes later we heard the beeping of the tap tap getting pulled out. It was a very long day but also very humbling. It was definitely worth it. ~ Angie and Tyanna

Hosanna Youth Team - Day 4

Bumpy, Sticky Thursday 

To start things off... yes, it was a bumpy, sticky Thursday but we are all safe :) The day started off as it always does eating breakfast. Things got delayed when our tap-tap was half an hour late as it was being used to pick up "American Rice" (Gravel). We made our way to our first orphanage at around ten o'clock. The ride was too bumpy and long. When we arrived the pastors wife, who is in charge told us that she didn't know we were coming so all of the older kids left for an adventure in the mountains. The only kids that were there were about nine of the little tikes. The owner spoke really good english as she was telling us about the grounds and their expansion. She is hoping to expand from having thirty kids to about fifty or sixty. She look us into a shady gazebo where all of the kids were playing. As soon as we walked in, most of them started to cry and clung to the Haitian staff. This surprised us because most of the kids we had met previously jumped all over us. It took until we started to sing that the kids calmed down. Most of the kids sat with one of us and listened quietly to the music (except one). By the time we were getting ready to leave almost all of them were sleeping in our arms. Next, we made our way to the Apparent Project. This is a company founded by an American lady who went to Haiti around 2009 to adopt a child. When she got here she found out that the family didn't actually want to give up their child but they needed the money. She decided to start a business providing stable jobs for Haitians so that they could keep their families together. It opened in 2011 and they now have 201 employees along with a separate production and distribution center. We shopped and got to tour the production center. Our last stop was to 'La Loo' another orphanage with younger kids. Once we were there we gave a faith lesson in the form of a skit. Georgia was Jesus. After the skit, the kids made friendship necklaces and enjoyed a snack!¡!¡ Once we were finished visiting the children, we made our way back to the compound. It was rocky, bumpy, sticky, hot, sweaty and a long ride. At dinner Haley broke out the dance moves to 'JuJu on that Beat'... surprisingly amazing. Later tonight we attempted group worship on the deck but quickly were rained out. Instead, we broke out in song in the kitchen in front of two men just trying to eat. Currently we're watching people sing and dance to Michael Jackson, Hannah Montana and the electric slide.
Have a blessed evening 
Juju and Bebe 

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Hosanna Youth Team - Day 3

Bonswa Friends and Family,

This morning we started of the beautiful day by visiting an orphanage called Croatian Relief Orphanage. We were greeted by the lovely children as they sang us a song while trying to supress their giggles. At the orphanage, we formed a huge circle while Kara and Erin taught a faith lesson incorporating games and funny props. After finishing the lesson, the older boys, our driver and interpreter, and some of us girls immediately jumped into an intense game of soccer. The rest of the girls played with hula hoops, jump ropes, bubbles, and chalk with the kids. After saying goodbye, we had a quick snack and headed out to our next stop. On our way, Emmanuel our interpreter, Kara, and Erin broke out into song and convinced the rest of us to join. In the afternoon we visited a special needs orphanage called Dios Orphanage. We interacted with the beautiful children through music, art, and especially jump roping. We met a little boy who constantly persuaded all of the girls to jump rope with him. We sang multiple songs and each child broke out with a smile when they heard the beautiful noise. Each one of us had a special connection with these kids, even more than a physical connection. At the end of our exhausting, yet fulfilling day, we headed home, and later enjoyed tacos for dinner. Now we are off to play some bananagrams and apples to apples!

Much love from Haiti!!!
-Nicole, Sheridan, Kylie, Jaiden