Saturday, March 17, 2018

There is Power in the Name of Jesus

There is POWER in the name of Jesus!

Woody Allen is quoted as saying, “If you want to make God laugh, tell him about your plans.”   Last night, we spent hours planning for our Health Fair held today at Fleri Bakery in Titanyen.  We edited, sorted, packed, and imagined every detail.  The food was ordered.  We were ready for the masses.  That was our plan.
The Health Fair was advertised by word-of-mouth, and that began this morning after we were all set and ready to go. 

But God had another idea.  We had about 7 people trickle in over the next couple of hours.  Some of them were the elders from the Healing Haiti program, others were community members.   We identified some health concerns, and made referrals to Grace Clinic.  We got to see some elders that we may not have otherwise captured.  But that was just the medical stuff . . . .
When in Haiti, you kind of have to roll with what happens in Haiti.  Today, we may have been somewhat dissapointed with our turn out, but God was praised in a mighty way.  Our translators are talented young men who play guitar and sing.  One of them started to strum on the guitar, and the next thing you know, one of the elders begins to sing the old hymn “Trust and Obey”—of course in Creole!  The translator quickly caught up to her lead, and the other Haitians all began to sing the song.  After that song, they sang another beautiful song in Creole, then we all joined in to sing “Break Every Chain” –

There is power in the name of Jesus . . .
There is power in the name of Jesus . . .
There is power in the name of Jesus . . .
To break every chain, break every chain, break every chain.
There’s an army rising up . . .
There’s an army rising up . . .
There’s an army rising up . . .
To break every chain, break every chain, break evey chain.

We planned a health fair for the people of Titanyen and we hoped more would come.  God gave us a bigger vision.

We have been talking about “big picture” during this trip.   We were able to learn from the Elder Care worker, Vania not only the needs on an individual level, but the needs of Titanyen as a whole .  Vania is an incredible woman who takes such good care of our elders. When we asked if she needs extra help, she said no. She loves the elders and loves caring for them. She visits many of them every day, delivering food and other supplies. She plans to start helping the more vulnerable elders with their wash on Saturdays. When we asked what we could pray for, she said “patience”.

Our prayer tonight is that we follow God’s lead not only to develop plans for each elder seen, but that He help us to see the BIG PICTURE that He has in store for Healing Haiti, Titanyen and Haiti as a whole.   

Friday, March 16, 2018

Cite Soleil and Elders

Cite Soleil


Our Thursday looked a little bit different from yesterday… as we began our day by delivering water to the poorest slum in the Western Hemisphere. Water isn’t free, so Healing Haiti takes a water truck to a “filling station” and fills a large tanker truck for about $25 US dollars.  After the truck is full, we make a stop in a neighborhood, filling buckets and containers with clean water.  Typically, the children come running as soon as they get sight of a Healing Haiti tap-tap.  This day was a bit different for those of us that have been on a water truck trip before, as the crowds were much smaller than usual.  Regardless of the size of the crowd, the children still met us as we came down the steps of the tap-tap.   These kids enjoy to play games with us, including “hot hands” and hand-clapping rhythym games.  Those children that know some English typically ask what your name is and how old you are! 

After quick showers and lunch at the guest house, we headed back out to Titanyen, arriving in the heat of the day.  Our teams again divided up, with one team seeing a married couple and another team seeing sisters that live in close proximity to each other.  We also doubled-back on 2 people that had been seen on our previous two days, with a follow-up dressing change and a therapy visit for a recent hip surgery.  We were pleased to see that a request of one of the elders from a previous day was also being addressed, with a bedside commode being delivered to his home.  How amazing Queen Jody looked as she rode on the “throne” in the back of the Kubota! 

Pierre was our gentleman that was assessed today.  We had heard that Pierre likes to dance with his visitors.  After finishing his social/mental questionaire, he was asked about his desire to dance.  Our interpreter took his phone and played some music, and boy, did Pierre ever begin to “cut a rug!”  (His ability to hop up out of his chair and dance sure did make his mobility assessment by PT an easy one!).  After his PT assessment and nursing assessment were completed, we all (social worker, PT, and RN) proceeded to dance with him, including a brief period of trying out the Macarena!

At the house of one of the sisters, we had our two Titianyen interpreters, MiCarlos and Josnell lead a worship song.  They sang a beautiful song in Creole, and many people near the family’s property were raising their hands and praising God! 

Then it was back to the guest house in Port Au Prince for the traditional “Haitian food,”  consisting of chicken drumsticks, meatballs, plantains, and an assortment of vegetables—bon gou!!

After dinner, we spent time with our whole team discussing our day, then broke into our groups to discuss the needs of those assessed and a possible plan for going forward.  After these group meetings were completed, we prepared for tomorrow, which will be to host a 2-hour “health fair” in Fleri Bakery in Titanyen!  We are planning blood pressure checks, wound care, and instruction in basic stretching. 
We bought food for the health fair and when there is food, the people will come. 

It is almost midnight here and as we finish this post and reflect on the day it is overwhelming to think that just a few hours ago we were providing clean water to a city known for free flowing sewage water in all of the streets.  Even for those of us who have been to Haiti before and experienced the poverty, our hearts are burdened with the reality that is Cite Soleil.  Pray with us for the poorest slum in the Western Hemisphere and for all the needs of our Elders. We look forward to updating you about our Health Fair. Have a Happy St. Patrick’s Day on Saturday!.

With Love,
Your Elder Medical Missions Team

Thursday, March 15, 2018

Elder's Trip March 12-19th


Hello from Haiti! 

We apologize for the lack of blog updates--the days have been wonderfully long and productive--and periods for Wifi very brief. To catch you up we included a lengthy blog post. Feel free to read at your leisure. ;)

If you are just joining us, we are a team of 2 Nurses/3 Mental Health Workers/1 Physical Therapist/1 Spiritual Counselor and 1 Elder Liaison serving 34 Elders outside of Grace Village. Our goal of the trip is to assess the Elders from each of our various lenses. Then with that assessment we are putting what one might call a "care plan" in place that can help the Grace Village Clinic continue to serve them as well as future Healing Haiti trips. So with that said... 

Today was our second day serving the Elders. We broke up into 2 teams for the day and served a total of 7 elders. Here is a little bit of how it works to visit an Elder...

Our day starts early with a fresh meal prepared daily by local Haitian women. Quick last minute preparations are in order. After packing snacks for lunch, lathering on sunscreen, grabbing our gear, and saying a prayer we are ready to go. 

In order to get to see the Elders we must first take a 45 minute drive in the "Tap Tap," to the village where they live. For those unfamiliar with Haiti, the "Tap Tap" is basically a truck with a camper shell type structure in the bed of the truck. It has 2 long benches in the back and multiple loops hanging from the ceiling in which is you can attempt to balance. If you are really feeling it, you can try "Tap Tap Surfing," which means you stand up and with no hands attempt to balance as the Tap Tap goes bumping down the more-often-than-not, unpaved road. 

The drive brings perspective to the poverty and devastation to the country. The Haitians continually burn their trash and the smell of the fires takes some getting used to. By the end of the 45 minute drive your hair has collected so much dust from the ride that your hair feels like straw. The sites, smells, and sounds are new and overwhelming for those who have never experienced Haiti before. 

After the Tap Tap adventure it is time to begin! Today we saw 7 Elders (see some pictures below.) 
The needs varied from Elder to Elder. We found that the biggest need often stemmed from living conditions. The places that our Elders call home look like what an American might call a make shift shelter. They are small and made from a combination of cinderblock, tarp, plywood, and basically anything that might hold 4 walls and a roof together. Many of our Elders asked for help repairing their homes or helping them move. 

Our Elders lives are difficult and it is starkly different from the average aging American. They usually only eat the meal that Grace Village brings them 1x a day---like a Haitian "Meals on Wheels"---as they are typically physically unable to provide for themselves. HOWEVER, and this is a BIG however....These Elders have many things Americans do not. They have a reliance on God that is pure and beautiful. When asked if they feel safe or if they are sad about anything all of their responses looked something like, "With God I feel safe," "With God I would be nothing," "With God I have peace." And the craziest, goosebumpiest, (I know that isn't a word) part is that they say these things with true trust in their eyes and smile. They say that God is enough for them as they sit on the one and only chair they own, wearing well worn shoes. And they gladly pose and smile at our camera for one of the few pictures they will ever have taken of them. 

Since we have been here 95% of the Elders we met with said that their favorite Bible verse is Psalm 23! It's mentioned so often that our team is learning to say it in Creole. And despite being unable to read or write, some of these Elders have the whole thing memorized. (Please take a second and See Below For Psalm 23.) To put this in perspective... as they sit dizzy from thirst and hunger, one of the main and simplest requests they have is for new shoes, specifically fancy shoes for church, as to show respect to the Lord most high. They have nothing and yet they choose to praise the Lord with words, songs, and even shoes. 

I will leave you with these words and the pictures and verses that follow...the BIGGEST smiles and excitement we have been privileged to witness is the sheer joy of seeing a Children's Bible that is full of bright and colorful pictures of basic Bible stories. At one visit, one of our gentlemen quickly took the Bible and put it safely in his room. The saddest part of our day was telling him that we needed to keep it in order to share with the other Elders as we only have 1 translated Bible in Creole. For our team, it was the coolest thing to witness their faces light up and yet so sad that someone could find so much joy in a Bible and yet not be able to have one. Please be in prayer about this need for our 34 Elders. The Bibles are around $25.00 each and despite needing wound care, food, etc. the greatest need and want they have is for a picture Bible. We would love for each Elder to be able to have their own someday. Thank you for praying for us. Thank you for following our journey with us. And thank you for the grace you are having with us with our lack of updating. Enjoy the attached pictures and our Elder's favorite scripture. May it be written on your heart as it is theirs.

 The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing.
2     He makes me lie down in green pastures,
he leads me beside quiet waters,
3     he refreshes my soul.
He guides me along the right paths
    for his name’s sake.
4 Even though I walk
    through the darkest valley,[a]
I will fear no evil,
    for you are with me;
your rod and your staff,
    they comfort me.

5 You prepare a table before me
    in the presence of my enemies.
You anoint my head with oil;
    my cup overflows.
6 Surely your goodness and love will follow me
    all the days of my life,
and I will dwell in the house of the Lord


Sunday, March 11, 2018

Cite Soleil

Started the day off by going to Fleri Farm and getting a tour of all the different plants and food that they grow: mangos, coconuts, papayas, limes, avocados, sugar cane, etc. One of the men cut us each open a coconut to try - definitely fresher than what we have in the U.S.
The rest of the day was spent "doing" water truck. A tank truck was filled with clean water, and we then distributed this water to three different locations in Cite Soleil. People were lined up behind the truck with their pails and containers to bring back to their home. Our team rotated dispensing the water, helping carry the containers to where they needed to go, and just playing with the children that flocked to our side. They were very eager to be held and loved having their picture taken.
The day concluded with the women at the guesthouse making us a traditional Haitian meal: Rice and beans, meatballs, chicken legs, fried plantains, and potato & carrot stew.

- Hannah & Bean

Saturday, March 10, 2018

King's College - Day 5

We started today with a quick visit to one of the local markets in downtown Port-au-Prince. We enjoyed meeting the vendors and "discussing" prices of their handicraft. After finding a few souvenirs to remind us of our time in Haiti, we went to an orphanage that for babies through teenagers. A little girl who was missing part of her leg and hand decided to adopt me for the day. It was difficult to think of her life as she got older, knowing that she may or may not have access to a prosthetic limb. But I tried to stay in the moment and got to be her wheels for the time that we were there. She had fun ordering me around and peeking through the windows at some of the smaller children who were still in their room. Another team member who is a nurse worked with a child with cerebral palsy who had fallen from his chair the day before. Others had a chance to introduce the kids to the wonders of sidewalk chalk and held bubble wands for blowing approximately one million bubbles! A few of the teenage girls were creating a dance routine to a Justin Bieber song and were thrilled when one of our team members popped her head in and started to sing the song with them. Music and love really are universal languages!

We then drove to Papillon, an organization that was created to provide jobs to people so that they can provide for their families. They have a large cafe and employ over 200 people who make handicrafts. The even have on-site childcare for their employees, something that most U.S. entities lack. As a business professor, I am particularly interested in having my students see first-hand how job creation can help develop a sustainable economy, and Papillon is a terrific example of a sustainable enterprise that continues to employ more Haitians each year.

Finally, we traveled to a hospital for sick and dying babies. We were all a bit apprehensive, as it can be difficult to see anyone who is sick, let alone a baby. Half of our team fed some of the healthier babies their evening meal. While we fed them, other older children played hide and seek between our legs, enjoying hiding in the folds of our skirts. The other half of our team helped feed and change diapers of the sickest babies. Like other places we have seen, supplies that we take for granted, like wipes and diapers, are in limited supply. While some team members continued to care for the sicker children, others were able to take some of the healthier babies and children outside. We all enjoyed being on the large playground. My specialty was pushing the swing for two children at a time. Even the girls cried for me to push them "plus fort" - harder so they could grab the leaves on the tree. While we there, another team of volunteers arrived, and it was great to see so many people who had come simply to love and be with these kids. And in the process, we got some pretty amazing love and hugs in return. 

- Kimberly

Thursday, March 8, 2018

Study in Contrasts

Day 2 in the field, and it could not have been a better experience. 

We started the day off with going to a home for sick adults run by nuns. Not ever have gone to serve in a medical setting, this was something that I was really looking forward to being able to do. Upon arriving there, we were led up bright blue stairwells to where the women's ward was. Our goal for the morning was to pamper the women, making them feel relaxed and loved, even in the midst of their sickness. We were able to serve in the Tuberculosis ward, as well as a couple others with sick patients. The women absolutely loved being pampered, and were loving the nail polishes that we brought along, all requesting bright beautiful colors for their mani/pedis. In addition, a member of our group is a nurse, and was given the chance to administer IV's to some of the more dehydrated patients. It was amazing to get to see how much of an impact we could make, just based on a few hours. Upon leaving, one of the Sisters mentioned exactly how much they appreciated our presence there, and how they hoped we would return in the future, as there is truly a need for volunteers in Haiti, to serve those who are sick. This made me realize how important it is what we are doing, and further, made me that much more passionate to come back in the future.

    For the second part of our day, we got the chance to go to La Loo orphanage and spent a few hours with the kids. Upon walking in, they gathered in the middle of the room and sang to us, welcoming us with beautiful song. The age groups varied, ranging from babies, all the way up to kids around the age of 15. Personally, I got the chance to connect with some of the pre-teen/teenage girls. After talking with them for a while, I learned that several of them wanted to be doctors someday. However  the chances of them becoming one are slim, due to lack of any financial aid from the government. This made me realize something very important. Even amongst poverty and the lack of being with their biological parents, these kids are passionate and smart. The drive is completely there, however, what is missing is opportunities for them to get a higher education upon leaving the orphanage. To those who read this, I challenge you to research ways to invest in these kids futures. Whether that be through spreading education about their situations, lending financial support, or even coming here to Haiti to witness the spark and drive in these kids eyes. These kids want to be loved. They have been given every reason in life to give up, however, possess this natural passion for life, and aim to strive ahead. Their personalities were truly beautiful, and I feel blessed to have been able to take part in this day.