To begin our day, 8 of us attended "On the Rock" church at 6 am. This was a very unique and interesting experience because there were a bunch of Haitians walking around waving their arms and praising the Lord. Most of the service was in Creole; however, there were a few parts that the pastor said in English. I can see the spirit of Christ flowing through each Haitian every day in many different ways.
After breakfast, we ventured up to Grace Village, which is about a 45 minute drive into the mountain area, but we took a stop at the grave/earthquake memorial along the way. On this day 8 years ago, there was a large earthquake here in Haiti, which killed over 300,000 people. Our Healing Haiti staff shared their stories of what they were doing on that particular day. Their stories touched all of our hearts. Many tears were shed during our prayer over the grave and over all of the families and friends still grieving.
Grace Village is located in a city called Titanyen, which means "less than nothing;" however, this is far from true because this city is beautiful. Grace Village is an orphanage for children of all ages. We were able to see their classrooms, their playground, and their homes they live in. There is a bakery and a restaurant that is part of Grace Village, called Fleuri which means flourished in Creole. Fleuri is fitting name because Grace Village and the bakery/restaurant is flourishing every day. It is always growing, expanding, and helping serve the Lord. We were able to eat here for supper after we visited some elders.
Visiting and serving the elders was a very special moment. We were able to wash their feet, give them a massage, and give them a meal. All of them really appreciated our work we did for them, but I believe that they were giving more to us than we were to them. I was honored to be able to wash Marie's feet with Katie, while Elizabeth was giving her a massage. She was very appreciative and I was thankful that I was able to help her. While at the elder's homes, we would sing songs in both Creole and English. I enjoyed every moment of it, and I am sure they did as well. While serving the second elder, Flerisiane, I started crying while holding two little kids' hands. The girl who was holding my hand looked up at me and saw that I was crying and then laid her head against my arm. This was a very special moment for me, which made me start to cry even more. Simultaneously, the little boy, who was probably about 3 years old, looked at me and readjusted his grip to make it even tighter. Even though we do not speak the same language, we are still connected and are still able to communicate, especially through the spirit of God. After visiting with Marie and Flerisiane, we visited Lindor, who was really funny and a joy to be around. We then went to visit Jude Jean, who is a young boy with epilepsy. Jude Jean is not able to communicate, so we just sung songs to him and cared for his mom, who is his caretaker. He really touched my heart because I know a young girl back in Minnesota who has epilepsy. She recently was given amazing news that her EEG came back normal, so they are going to start eliminating her medications. I am seeing God work in glorious ways all around the world. He is truly an awesome God.
I am blessed to be serving our God and blessing many people here in Haiti. God is strengthening me and stretching me further than I could have ever imagined. I thank God every day for giving me this opportunity, and I am already looking forward to the next time when I can come back to Haiti, but right now I am focusing on the couple days that we have left here. I am going to make the most out of every day I have left serving here and I will value all of these precious moments forever.
Friday, January 12, 2018
Today was another amazing day of spending time with beautiful and joyful Haitian children and discovering one courageous woman's plan for drawing Haiti out of impoverishment one by one. We made two stops at LaLou and For His Glory Orphanages. As soon as they were released from their rooms, the kids came running out with huge smiles ready to be picked and give some love. We got to cuddle with sweet Haitian babies and spend time with first and second graders at their recess playing Hop Scotch, tic-tac-toe and coloring pictures.Tonight at our team time, we all agreed that though we are here to bless and show God's love to others, we feel like we are receiving much more than we are giving. At the second orphanage, an intense game of soccer was started in an alley next to a pile of rubble still leftover from the earthquake. Despite these conditions, the children laughed and played a very competitive game where one of our team members actually got "kicked out" of the game for not being quite fast enough :)
In between orphanages, we stopped at Papillon (Butterfly in English). This is a shop started by a woman who had a passion for empowering Haitian parents to provide for their kids instead of bringing them to orphanages. The store employs about 350 Haitians who do everything from digging the clay to make necklaces and bracelets to selling delicious smoothies and pizza to giving tours of the compound. It was very heartening to see opportunities for the Haitians to provide for their own families and feel proud of their work.
Another amazing day serving God and making new friends we will one day see again in Heaven.