Wednesday, April 3, 2019

There is HOPE

How do you start a blog after the Wednesday that I have had, and also after the last blog…. I heard it was a great long blog that Brad,  our awesome Lawyer/Novelist wrote.  I didn’t want to read it, because I wouldn’t be able to write about todays experience without using a lot of big words I don’t understand!  Haha….  So here goes.

I woke up at 6:00 a.m. not being able to sleep in this amazing house we are staying in.  The rooster was crowing outside, and I thought how ironic and amazing this is that I am in Haiti, but hear familiar sounds of the U.S.  At 8:00 sharp breakfast was on the table by our amazing hosts at the Healing Haiti house.  More food than we could finish and some awesome juice that was definitely made from scratch!  We found out that our plans to go out on the water truck were still a go…  the people in Citi Soliel have not had the water truck visit them for almost 2 weeks due to the unrest.  So we loaded all our gear on the  Tap Tap, and along with another group we drove off to the Hope Facilities in Citi Soliel.

Once at the Hope we got a tour of this amazing property that was once a trash dump and turned into a beautiful sanctuary.  We got to see their beautiful church, which isn’t like our typical church.  It had an open ceiling and concrete floors, bench seats and a platform for their preacher.  It is more than enough to worship an amazing God.  Not only the church is there, the school is around the church and teachers are on hand to teach children up to Kindergarten age.  Ladies from the Healing Haiti team put together a sewing room with 10 sewing machines, that are solar powered and an air-conditioned trailer for the women in Citi Soliel to learn to sew and make diapers, menstrual pads, and so much more.  Then we got to see another trailer that is being used to teach the children about technology.  This was a very heart-warming experience for all of us to hear about.  Ash is the IT teacher that takes these children for 45 minutes at a time and let the kids get lost in technology.  These children are learning to read, and do math amongst other things without even knowing they are learning, with iPads that are customized for them.  No You tube or other distractions. There’s also a clinic that consists of a few doctors and 3 nurses that see patients.  The cost of a new patient visit is less than $1, but the reason they are charged at all is to allow the Haitians to have dignity and not take handouts.  They invest in their healthcare or education.   Also, as well as getting schooling the children are fed a hot meal.  As we all know it’s hard to learn or stay focused when you are “hangry” so these kids might not eat otherwise.  This sanctuary is God’s work in its finest and you can feel it within those walls, through the leaders and helpers of this awesome place!  

Our day didn’t stop there, this was all before 12:00!  Next,  we were on our way to deliver water to the Haitian people.  We walked out to the streets of Citi Soliel, I had a camera in hand ready to click away some adorable children.  I wasn’t prepared for the camera duty, as I soon noticed that every child wanted their picture taken and they wanted me to hold them at the same time.  I held one and snapped a picture of the other, and then another was trying to crawl up my back, and one tugging at my shirt.  These children were adorable, dirty, and some were naked… but it didn’t matter. These are God’s children and we need to love them. So, in my most broken Haitian I said Jezi Ray Man oo, or Jesus loves you.  I got an extra squeeze from the little girl I was holding and felt God working through me.  All the while there is a line of women and children lining up behind a huge water truck blasting water into 5 gallon pales, and any other open container, trash can, anything they can put water in and carry back to their homes. It was a moment of mass chaos of happiness, and despair all at the same time.  We still felt and saw the beauty of God at work.  We made another water stop after a long break at the Hope house.  It wasn’t quite as chaotic, but all the same feelings were there.  The Haitian people were very friendly and you could tell they were happy to see Americans, because that means clean water.  It was a quiet ride back from the Citi in the Tap Tap. 

We were all touched by today in different ways, we have bonded so much in two days.  There are 10 people in this house that have been forever changed, and will continue to change in the days to come.  The question is what will we do with what we have learned here?  Who will really want to know what we have learned here?  I do know this, that God brought me here for a reason and I will do my best to live through him. 

~Don’t count sheep tonight, talk to the Shepard.   -Tom Gacek                

-----Michelle - Radiant Life - Michigan/Minnesota team

Day 3-Water Day!

We started our day with a wonderful breakfast of eggs, oatmeal, fresh fruit and delicious hand-squeezed mango juice. Our devotion this morning was about hope, reminding us when doubts fill our mind about the God we serve, we should hold onto hope and cling to His promises. This helped prepare us for our task ahead.

After yet another bouncy ride in our tap tap, our convoy arrived in Cite Soleil--along with the water truck containing 3000 gallons of clean water for the people there. Before we delivered the water, we were given a tour of the Hope Church and also of the exciting additions that came this year. One of the projects is a solar powered sewing pod that will provide the area women a place to use their skills to make diapers, receiving blankets and other needed items for the people of Cite Soleil. Through donations, they have also been able to set up a technology pod that will be used to help educate through state-of-the-art technology. Their long-term plan is for their program to expand to include all ages so that a foundation of education can be provided for the children of Cite Soleil. The instructor is a native Haitian who shared his touching story of how he was led to Hope Church. His passion is the teach and God has provided a way to do so.

After the tour, it was time to start water day. As soon as we walked into the city, we were greeted by many endearing children. The women and children lined up with any vessel at all that could hold water. We took turns filling buckets, holding children, and carrying water. The task was daunting, but the Lord lifted our spirits and empowered us to be His hands and feet. We were able to provide water in two different areas in Cite Soleil. Some would call the situation in the city devastating, but the people there lifted our spirits with their smiles, the innocence of the children, and their sense of community. The day was hot and exhausting, but as we reflected we felt renewed, grateful and blessed to have had the opportunity to serve the people there.

This evening we had a chance to visit a local artisan market where we purchased unique items that supported local Haitians. We relaxed and enjoyed each others' company at the pool as we reflected on the day. Dinner tonight was a traditional Haitian meal including fried plantains, potatoes, rice and beans, pikliz, and chicken legs.

As we end our day, we need to remember that the Lord is our living water. We can be His hands and feet to fill buckets, but He is the living water.

Isaiah 44:3- For I will pour out water on the thirsty land and streams on the dry ground; I will pour out My spirit on your offspring and My blessing on your descendants.

Trash to Treasure

From Radiant Life Team - Michigan and Minnesota

April 2, 2019

Yesterday, our Michiganders flew from Miami to meet our Minnesotans who picked us up at the airport and whisked us away in the taptap (think modified box truck where the box is actually a locked cage that allows airflow when we get over 15 mph which is rare) to the guesthouse where the Michiganders found their rooms, dropped their luggage, changed into shorts and t-shirts, lathered up with sunscreen and back out the door to our first stop of the day: Peace Cycle (where Michigan and Minnesota met people from Maine!)

What is Peace Cycle? Think recycle. In Haiti, a common way for people to get drinking water is through waterbags, little sealed pouches of clean drinking water. Haitians go through and consume approximately 8 million of these waterbags PER DAY!!!!!!  After drinking their water what do they do with the bag? Throw it on the ground of course. We didn’t really notice them until it was brought to our attention and then, while walking around, you saw that they were everywhere. Peace Cycle takes that trash/litter and processes it so that it is usable and then uses it to make something beautiful. Sort of what God does with us when we are saved through grace and belief in Jesus Christ!  Peace Cycle takes the thrown out, discarded and used waterbag and washes it clean, cuts it into uniform rectangles, joins them in piles of 4 and irons them into a new and stronger piece of plastic and then sews those pieces into something useful like bags, place mats, kids aprons, passport covers, wine bottle totes, games, etc.  All items tell you how many waterbags it took to make the item being purchased. Let me tell you, what once was weak and flimsy and discarded as not useful anymore to the person who consumed it is, through the above process, turned into something not only sturdy and useful, but when you get the chance to see the beautiful people rehabbing this trash, their beauty is reflected in the new product created. Speaking for myself, before I turned to God for saving and redemption, I was like that used and discarded waterbag. Then people picked me up and, through Godś amazing grace, I was washed clean, trimmed, pressed and put together with other discarded and rehabbed water bags to form something greater than my old self; something greater than my new self alone; something beautiful in a community of other discarded and rehabbed trash. WOW!

After Peace Cycle, it was off to Papillon and the Apparent Project. This place was started by a lady who intended on coming to Haiti to adopt a child, found a child in an orphanage that she wanted to adopt, but then figured out that the child was not an orphan in the sense that we understand where the parents are no longer alive, but simply a child that the living parents could not afford to keep. Needless to say, the adoption did not go through. Rather, God used this experience and this woman to birth an idea whereby the Haitian people created items like jewelry, coffee mugs, etc from clay, as well as from things like cereal boxes (again discarded items of no use to anyone and intended for the trash heap), all the while providing income for the Haitian people who create these items so that they can provide for their families. On average, Haitians who are employed earn approximately $5 per day. Through Papillon and the Apparent Project, the Haitians who create their items earn $12 to $15 per day. In addition, their employees receive free child care and inexpensive schooling for their own kids on-site. We were again privileged to get a behind the scene looks at the Haitian people at work. In a day, one person can roll 1,300 beads from large cereal boxes or 900 microbeads or 1,000 regular beads. Another person can make a necklace every 15 minutes or earrings every 2 minutes or a bracelet every 5 minutes. And this is not a sweatshop atmosphere in a big factory. It is people seated at work benches talking with one another and casually, but intentionally getting their work done at the same time. And talk about beautiful items that are created. Whether it is necklaces and bracelets from the clay or cardboard bead or coffee mugs that are from the master and junior Haitian potters from the slab of clay to the potters wheel to the kiln to the sales floor. This stuff is great quality. Again, a metaphor for us going from sinner to saved!

Our last stop of the day was to the LaPhere orphanage. Our group was all set with blow up beach balls, balloons, games and a Bible lesson. The children had just returned from school and were all inside, but slowly started to emerge from their house. This was not their first experience with missionaries coming to visit and play, but they were still shy nonetheless. We were told that this was a sign of being well adjusted and well cared for. It didn’t take long for them to warm up to us when we invited them over to us. Hugs were shared and then they started taking us by the hand to play by kicking the beach balls or jump rope with them or play hopscotch or 4 square. It wasn’t long before we had all worked up quite a good sweat. Our Healing Haiti interpreter suggested that we take a break so that none of the M&Mś (Michigan and Minnesota missionaries) melted. A bible lesson then ensued, followed by the Haitian children singing and dancing for us and games that we played with them.

When we returned, some of us showered before dinner and then we shared a dinner of chicken and rice. Most of us went to a nearby saltwater pool located at the Elite Hotel to cool off and community. After getting back to the guesthouse from the pool, it was time for some team time. Our prayer for the week is What is God trying to teach me? It is not a mistake that we are here and we may all be here for a different reason. But we trust that for each of us, God is intending to teach us something through this experience and it up to us to allow God to work in us and through us with an open heart and mind and a palms up attitude.   - Brad