Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Jezi Renmen Ou!


I can't believe that our week is over.  As I sit here in the Haiti airport getting ready to head back home, my mind keeps wondering back to this week and all that I have seen and learned.  I am not sure how to relay to those that were not physically here what I have seen and learned.  In order to give you a little glimpse of what I felt this week I will share my "word of the day" with you.


Day 1 - EXCITEMENT - There were a few different kinds of excitement I felt this day.  There was the giddy excitement of finally being on my way.  Nervous excitement when we landed in Haiti, not knowing what to expect, and if I was going to be able to handle what was to come.  Then finally there was excitement that was joyous, knowing that I was not going to be doing this alone. I had Jesus with me, and I was getting to be His hands and feet!


Day 2 - SENSORY OVERLOAD - Today was our first day on the water truck.  My sensories were bombarded from the moment the we drove into Cite Soleil.  I think every sense was hit all at once! When you enter the city you see houses made out of tin and tarps, broken concrete buildings with sheets hanging in the windows.  There was trash everywhere, and the smell was beyond words. The hardest part was seeing how overcrowded it was with little children running everywhere, many partially clothed or completely naked.  When we pull up with the water truck, the children flocked to us to be held. I did not have enough arms to hold them all.  Through all of this devastation, I saw laughter and praise for our God who has provided water for them, and arms to hold and hugs these little children.


Day 3 - EYES - On this day I went to The Home of The Sick and Dying Babies.  Our job here was to care for these babies in whatever way they needed.  There were rows and rows of cribs, and many of these babies didn't have anyone to hold, or play, with them.  Since these babies were so little they couldn't speak, and if they did, they did not understand English.  So I decided to be very intentional to look into their eyes, to let them know that they were loved.  I was also the recipient of their love as they look back at me.  God does not need words to communicate, he just needs our hearts, and in this case our eyes, to show His love to others.


Day 4 - CARING - We went back out on the water truck again this morning.  During our first water stop I met a beautiful teenage girl. She was fascinated with my long, greying hair, and wanted to braid it so it looked nice.  Then she brought me over to her water bucket where she scooped water out, so she could wash my face.  She was caring for me, when I was there to care for her.  I was so humbled by this girl, who had so little, and she was washing me with her most precious resource, water.   I did not expect to learn so much about God's love from a girl I had known for such a short time.


Day 5 - PRAISE - Praising through song seemed to be everywhere today.  We started out our day singing song and praising the Lord with the local Haitians at the neighborhood church.  Then later that afternoon we went to visit a few of the elders.  We brought a guitar and keyboard to sing praises with them.  We also prayed with them.  These people who have seen so much, but have so little, did not ask for any material things from The Lord.  They only praised Him and simply asked us to pray for them so they would grow closer to God. I was amazing to witness such faith!


Day 6 - BEAUTY - Today was the day we took 20 of the neighborhood boys to the beach. There was the beauty of the country side as we left the hot, dry city and headed to the cool ocean breezes.  The most spectacular beauty was the site of these boys running into the ocean. They laughed and played all day! God gave us the chance to help ease the burden that these boys carry with them everyday. It was a beautiful site to behold!


Day 7 - EXTREMES - This day started out with a church service up at Grace Village. From the moment I walked into the church Jesus was so present in the building it was palpable.  I couldn't help but to shed tears for the love of Jesus I felt in that place. After this, we toured for the rest of the day.  We drove through downtown Port-au-Prince. Here I could not stop crying because of the devastation that I was seeing.  The other extreme that was present was in the weather that day.  Down in the lower part of Haiti, it was very hot and the air was still. In contrast, the air up on the mountain was cool and the breezes were pleasant.


Today is Day 8, and my word is BITTERSWEET.  We started our morning visiting and saying our goodbyes to the neighborhood boys we have grown to love.  It is sad to leave them not knowing what will happen with them, but in the same breath I know that God will watch over them.  Each one of the boys has Jesus in their hearts and carry amazing faith inside themselves.  I have mixed emotions as our plane gets ready to take off.  I am excited to get home to see my family, but I am sad to leave knowing there is still so much to be done here in Haiti.  As I leave I know that God is watching over Haiti, and sending others who will continue to be His hands and feet.  We will also continue our mission back in the states as we pray for all of those whose lives we have touched, and those who have touched ours!


I want to leave you with the words that were said, and treasured, so much this week,  Jezi renmen ou (jez-ee reh-may oo)!  Jesus Loves You!  No matter where you live and what your circumstance, we are His children, and He loves us all!


"I give you a new command: Love one another.  Just as I have loved you, you must also love one another."  John 13:34


Lynn Giles


Sunday, June 22, 2014

A Mountian Top Experience



Since I got word that Maddie and I were blessed to be coming back to Haiti for a second time, I have been prayerfully preparing my heart.  Two words kept coming to mind over and over as I prayed and prepared.  "Love" and "Storm".  The Love, I understood completely, but the Storm was making me a little uneasy.  After all, we have entered hurricane season in Haiti...Yikes!  Clarity hit me by way of a "love storm" at Grace Church this morning as our group joined the children of Grace Village and residents of Titanyen, for praise and worship.

God's love for us, 'love like a hurricane, bending beneath the weight of His wind and mercy. Oh, how He loves us all' (song lyrics).  Imagine a room filled with God's people loving with abandon.  A love storm, a perfectly glorious storm between God and our team and the people of Grace Church, worshipping our savior. What a privilege. We were able to meet new friends and spend time with cherished old friends and raise our hands together in prayer as we sang "Glory to God, Forever"!

We took our show on the road and drove the team thru Port-au-Prince. It's unimaginable the devastation that remains from the 2010 earthquake.  The conditions of the buildings and the streets were truly beyond comprehension.  In many ways, it's as if time has stood still for these people and sadly, it seems that there is no change in sight.  We then headed up the mountain to do shopping/supporting the Haitian economy.

Everyone enjoyed a little bartering with the local artisans and was satisfied with their Haitian purchases.  As we stood at the top of the mountain and posed for our group photo, we looked down at the city below.  We could find the specific places we had been throughout the week and the places where we had served.  We could see the area where Grace Village is way off in the distance, the beautiful beach where we  had a fabulous day swimming, the Healing Haiti guesthouse and the poorest slum in the western hemisphere, Cite Soleil, where we had delivered clean water to people with virtually nothing, living in filth.  It is here that one appreciates the mountaintop, for they have been in the valley.  And for all of our friends in the valley, all of those beautiful babies, young girls, women, and neighborhood boys, thank you for allowing us to walk with you this week in the valleys in your lives and for walking with us through the valleys in ours.  I believe together, we had a mountaintop experience!  Glory to God Forever! 

 Lori and Maddie Friedrichs

Saturday, June 21, 2014

A Day at the Beach





Today was the most awesome day (in a different kind of way)!   After 4 long days of serving in a variety of physically and emotionally challenging ways, we got to spend the day at the beach.   Not exactly what would come to mind when you think of beach on an island in the Caribbean (think rocks, not sand and lots of glass), but such a sweet departure from the parts of Haiti we've been in thus far.

The best part was, we got to take with us 20 of the Healing Haiti guesthouse neighbor boys.   We have all come to love and care for these boys, who we spend time with after arriving home at the end of every day.    They were overcome with excitement when they found out they got to go.   Most of them, rarely if ever, have gotten to go to the beach.    This is what made it extra special for us!  

The joy they had while we were there is unexplainable.     Laughing, splashing, playing with us and each other and just having a ball.   We even took the fun to the beach and taught them how to play Duck-Duck-Grey Duck.   I thought the Haitian boys were being sweet by always picking the moms, but then I realized it was probably because they wanted to make sure they didn't get caught!

At the end of the day, on our long trip back to Port-au-Prince most of the boys fell fast asleep on someone's shoulder or lap.  As I look into all their sweet, innocent faces I can't help but feel deep sadness and heartbreak.    I wish this day didn't have to end.   I wish the joy and laughter that these boys experienced today didn't have to end.     They have taught me so much about true joy.   They have it figured out.   They know the source of their joy, and it certainly isn't in their material possessions or comfortable lives.    Their Joy is in the Lord and their Hope is in Him...alone.

-Karla Carson

My mom kind of summed up the whole day, so I will tell you about my personal experiences I had today. It started when we picked up the neighborhood boys to go to the ocean. They were so excited to be able to come with us because some of them had not been to the ocean before. It was crazy to think that these boys lived in a Caribbean island, and they have never been to the beach before.

The best part for me was when we got to the beach, these kids will make anyone laugh. To give you an idea on how much joy these kids had, was we played duck duck goose for about 15 minutes with kids ages from 8 to 18. These kids loved it, and were sad to stop, but where else will you find an 18 year old playing duck duck goose and actually enjoying it. Being able to spend a whole day with them is truly a gift, these kids gave me so much more joy than I could ever give them, or anyone else.

At the end of the day, I was thinking about how hard it is going to be to say goodbye to these kids tomorrow. It is going to be hard because I have been getting to know these kids and they have had a bigger impact on me than I can understand now. They live in one of the poorest countries on earth, and they tell dreams and hopes of what they want to become, when I have amazing resources and I still don't know what I want to do when I get older.These kids are the most genuine people you will ever meet. Coming here, we thought we were going to teach these kids more about being a Christian, but they are teaching us.

- Andrew Carson


Friday, June 20, 2014


Day 4 - Healing Haiti Mission. 

Our day started early, a 5:30 wake up call for church services at 6am with a wonderful Haitian Pastor. What a truly moving experience to see how the Haitians worship. The setting was a giant warehouse with folding chairs, benches and overhead fans. The music was blasting and God was present....everywhere.  The active worshipping and singing was contagious. I have never witnessed such passion and dedication to our Lord. To start everyday this way would be a blessing. My way of prayer and worship seems to pales in comparison, the Haitian people are teaching me so much.

Our next stop was 45 minutes away to Grace Village, an orphanage, community school, medical clinic, and church operated by Healing Haiti. I can not begin to describe the feeling of walking into a beautiful courtyard with brightly painted buildings, with children of all ages running around in their school uniforms, and the children of God with gleaming smiles.

 Because it was exam time for grades 1 through 12, we quietly toured the school, feeding center then the aquaponics facility and the medical clinic. What a breath of fresh air to see such hope for the children who live there, the students of Titanyen who are educated there, and for the elders who are provided one meal a day by them. What a contrast to other orphanages that we have visited. It was a small slice of Heaven to witness it all.

The highlight of the day for me was visiting the "Elders" who are sponsored by Healing Haiti donors and are provided one meal per day. Our team of 18, visited four elders and washed their feet, prayed with them and sang with them. I can not put into words how loving and pure this experience was for me. When we asked one of the Elders what we could pray for her, she asked if we could pray for her to "love God even more".  WOW!!!! She was not praying for a single material item, in a world where she has nothing. I am learning more and more each day about how much more work I have in my walk of faith.

Sheryl Beyersdorfer


This was my second time coming to Haiti, and it was incredible to see all of the new hope throughout where we served. At Grace Village, some of the members of our group met a very interesting boy from Titanyen. He was 17 years old and knew many different languages. He told us all about life in Haiti and his hopes and plans for the future. We found out that he worked at Mission of Hope and loved art. He said that he painted and made bracelets. He told us that he wanted to attend school in the United States, preferably California because it was warm, and also said that he wanted to be either a engineer, pilot, or artist. He even said that he wanted to be the mayor of Titanyen. Seeing this hopeful and motivated young man amongst a country of destruction was incredible.

Even more hope came after we left Grace Village and went onto our elder visits. When we asked the elders for prayer requests, instead of the answers that we expected, like prayers for health and shelter, they asked for prayers about loving God more and having Jesus present. This experience opened my eyes to how powerful the people of Haiti truly are. Americans sometimes think that Haitians are somewhat hopeless and depend on missionaries for Joy, but while in Haiti, we found that they find joy in the Lord, and not material things like we depend on in America. It was very impactful to see that even in harsh conditions, the people of Haiti stay stronger in their faith and joy than the majority of Americans that I have ever seen.

After our visits to Titanyen, we returned to Port Au Prince and hung out with the Haitian neighborhood boys that live near the guest house. There was one boy, almost like the leader of the group, that was beaming with joy and love. When we brought the children to a session of praise with us, he knew more words, in English, to some of the songs than all of the people in the mission group. This boy, loving all of the people in the group, showed me that when we think that hope is gone, is typically when it is the most prevalent. Seeing all of these signs today, I am filled with joy and hope for the future of Haiti and the future of faith throughout these fellows lives.

Americans sometimes feel like we are the heroes while in Haiti, but if you look deep into how you are impacted while on this trip, you see that you may be impacted even more by the people that you are serving. Seeing all of the signs of God throughout our trip, I feel moved by the strength that flows like a river throughout this entire country. The unity binds everyone together, and creates a bond that we lack in America. A bond that is broken by dependence on material needs and unnecessary drama. A bond that is created by the love for each other and the love of the Lord.

John Ose

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Glory to God



I was really impressed with our group today. We spent the morning working on the water truck again, providing clean water and love to the Haitian people who needed it most. Before we even began our work, we learned there was a delay with our water truck, and we would have to wait at the water station until it arrived. Instead of groaning and complaining and staying on our tap-tap eating salted nut rolls until we threw up, our group made the most out of a bad situation. We quickly noticed two little kids playing around outside of our tap-tap, laughing and having a good time. Without hesitation, our group piled out of the vehicle and embraced these little boys. And it wasn't just some of us, everyone was joining in on the fun. We played and danced and joked around, communicating with a minimal amount of Creole and a lot of finger pointing. These kids were so resourceful too, turning a car into a drumset, a cap into a Frisbee, and when there was nothing left to use, they could always play a simple game of bouncing around on their feet and dancing. I watched as each member of my group had a blast pouring their hearts out to these underprivileged boys at the water station. And I thought about how lucky I am to be surrounded by people who can turn an annoying inconvenience into a beautiful memory.

Nathan Derks


Unlike the three water stops we made on Tuesday, the two we did today had far worse living conditions. The people at the first stop seemed to have better homesteads. As per usual, the children would immediately jump on to you with smiles on their faces. With a weird fixation on my hair, the kids would crowd around us, trying to get any kind of love they could get. The second and final stop had to be the most demanding one, both emotionally and physically. What made this stop significant, was that this one was a tent city. The old women would fill up their buckets of water and point to their tents. I would carry the buckets with them only to find a collapsed, stitched-together bundle of cloth that they called home. I had the hardest time wrapping my head around how these people could have so much joy from such living conditions. On the way back to the guest house, I decided to sit in the front of the tap-tap with Margie and Lukenair. Lukenair explained to us that these tent city residents were given extra resources and money from the government to move out. I then remembered Philippians 4:19 which states, "And my God will supply ever need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus". I was reminded that God provides supplies for these people to survive.

Riley Derks

Our morning devotion from "Jesus Calling" stated, "Glorifying and enjoying Me is a higher priority than maintaining a tidy, structured life.  How true this would prove for our whole day. 
After we had finished our water stops we loaded up on the Tap Tap and traveled to an orphanage named, "La Pherre".  Our plans included bringing a bit of Vacation Bible School to them. (although vacation is not quite the right word that we want to use in Haiti).  We arrived to a broken concrete open air facility housing 18 children ranging from 2 - 16 years old.  They sat attentively on old wooden benches as we made name tags for them and talked about how God loves them and they are a child of God.  They were so appreciative of the backpacks that we gave each one of them.  The packs were made from donations we received from friends and our church.  In each bag was a toothpaste, toothbrush, washcloth, pen and a Creole Bible as well as an Eden Prairie basketball jersey.  (Interestingly enough just that day they had run out of toothpaste).
Before we left the children asked our interpreter if they could sing a song for us.  Listening to their beautiful voices I was overcome with emotion as they sang, "Glory to God, Glory to God forever.  Take my life and let it be, all for you and for your glory.  Take my life and let it be Yours."
I couldn't help but thing, "Who was the student?"
    "But let all who take refuge in you be glad, let them ever sing for joy.  Spread your protection over them, that those who love your name may rejoice in you."   Psalm 5:11

Carrie Derks


Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Least of These

Our group split forces this morning; 10 of us went to the Home for Sick and Dying Children, and the other 8 did water therapy in the pool with several disabled children from a local orphanage.  I knew going in that it would be difficult to see all the sick babies laying in row after row of lined up cribs.  The home serves as a combination hospital, orphanage and school, and the work done there is truly amazing.  When we arrived, some of the children had parents that were visiting and holding their children.  Many did not.  We picked up and comforted the children the best we could.  They all looked at us with beautiful eyes and reached their arms up so trustingly.  As an adoptive mother myself, seeing the children without families was heartbreaking.  When it came time for the parents to leave, because visiting hours were over, the crying was overwhelming.  All I could think was that these are all God's children - He knows them all, and loves them all. 


The other 8 members of our group, including Connor, picked up 5 disabled children from Gertrude's orphanage and took them to a local hotel, which had a pool, for water therapy. Here are Connor's observations: I think we were all apprehensive about how the disabled kids and us would interact given the language barrier and their disabilities, but we soon realized that all of the kids were very happy to get the chance to leave the orphanage and go swimming. They had huge smiles on their faces the whole time! We worked on moving their arms and legs under the water, taught them how to kick in the water, worked on them standing up while under the water, and also just played with them. It was so fun to see how happy they were to be able to cool off in the pool and how good it must have make their tight muscles feel. We discovered that these were some of the sweetest, nicest kids we had met in Haiti, and it was great to do something for them that made them smile.

Early afternoon we had the chance to visit the Apparent Project, a local artisan company started by an American adoptive mom.  She came to Haiti originally to adopt 2 children, and ended up moving back to Haiti to start this company as a way to allow Haitians an opportunity to earn a living in the hopes that they can support themselves and their children without having to give their children up.  She now employs over 300 Haitians and they make the most beautiful artisan goods.  It was so inspiring to hear her story and be reminded again that one person truly CAN make a difference in this world!  We were happy to do a little shopping to support this worthwhile cause, and was yet another emotional reminder of how amazing the adoption community can be. 

Later in the afternoon, we had the opportunity as a group to go back to Gertrude's Orphanage and spend some more time with the children there.  Throughout our various stops, we all fell a little more in love with the Haitian children.  All of us had the supreme privilege today to serve the least of these, just as Jesus commanded in Matthew 25:40 - "I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these you did for me."  We continue to be awed by the amazing experiences we are having on this trip and with this group.  God and Haiti are truly doing powerful things to our hearts!

Angie and Connor Ott

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Water Truck Day- A Day of Heartbreak and a Day of Faith

I was a little anxious as we rode in the tap-tap to Cite Soleil. Since this was my first time serving in Haiti, I didn't quite know what to expect. Especially after seeing the conditions that the people live in. As we pulled up to our first stop though, all of the kids outside had huge smiles on their faces and were clapping in anticipation of our arrival. When Brunet, our driver, opened the door of the tap-tap the kids congregated outside the door. In my mind, I thought, "here we go!" Soon after I got out of the door three kids swarmed around me with their arms stretched up to me. When I saw this I knew that my concern over what to do with the kids was a fear no more! I found that all these kids wanted was attention. They didn't care what I did with them, they just wanted to be held and hugged. There are two parts to the water truck days. The first as explained earlier is to love on the kids who come out to us. The second is to fill up all of the buckets that people have lined up with water. I thought that I would like the physical work of filling up the buckets more than hanging with the kids, but again I was wrong. I found that the water line is pretty chaotic since people try to budge in line. As a result, this part was stressful for me. Giving those kids attention was more fun because they were so joyful over us doing the littlest of things.
                                                                     Blake Aakhus

My heart was split wide open today. Children living in the poorest slum in the western hemisphere are amazing! Living amongst garbage, pigs and sewage, they are full of smiles and true joy.  At "stop 17"  we  walked out on a dumping area.  I was  holding two kiddos and another was holding my hand, I looked down, wearing my closed~toed Keens while the little tots are running through the glass, sewage in bare feet. We sang "God is so Good" with the kids in the midst of this dump. They were clapping and knew the song.  I started to cry as this is the same song I have sung many times with my little BSF kids in MN.  These Haitian children are God's beautiful children as well.  Known by Him, each one by name.

On return to the guesthouse, we were met by our neighborhood boys. We went over to see and meet them and play a little soccer before supper. We found out a new neighborhood friend could sing, so he sang a song for us.  An awesome voice!! The boy had written the song himself and our interpreter told us what the song was about.  It was about that "this life isn't finished.yet " He said when you have faith in Jesus, your life isn't finished." I asked how did he get a faith like that? Writing his own songs about Jesus?  He was so authentic, real. and said "He died for me, was crucified. I love Him. I love Him."  Big Smile.  Kelly starts to cries and hugs this sweet boy.  If I could only be more like him.  God is truly Good.


Kelly Aakhus


Monday, June 16, 2014


 Hello everyone from our guest house in Haiti,

     Today is our first day in Haiti and we are already seeing the works of God here. After arriving at the Airport at 3:45am this morning and two flight's worth of travel, we have made our way to Haiti. Even as we landed on the plane I could tell that this place was like no other that I had been before. Looking out of the window of the airplane you do not see the towering buildings that we are used to in the United States. Instead you see the tent cities of Cite Soleil, which is the poorest slum in the entire world. In these tent cities, people live in houses made of cardboard and other things that they can find. The goal of them is to keep them dry and safe, but as you can imagine, they do not work as well as our homes do in the United States.

     Later tonight, while having our reflection and group devotional time, each of us were given the task of selecting one single word to describe our day. The word I selected was eye-opening. This word may seem like an obvious choice when you come to a place so different from what you know, but that is not why I selected this word. When our group was picked up from the airport we were escorted to our Tap-tap, which is like a car but you ride in the back on benches along the sides of a metal "cage". As we drove along in these crowded quarters, I looked outside at the people of Haiti. I saw their buildings crumbling and breaking, yet people still living in them. I saw people's homes set up, not even in buildings, but instead in the ruins between two buildings as they rotted away. I saw people walking past a government official, armed with a gun across his chest, and not even flinching because it seemed like something they saw regularly. But yet, even as I saw these people who had every right to be angry, every right to be mad at God for the situation they were in, every right to doubt in God's plan, I instead saw something else.

     The people were smiling!

     The people were keeping a grateful attitude even through the worst of these times. The people here were so thankful for all of the minor things they were given, such as food on the table and something, even if it was just a tent in a tent city, that gave them shelter. Things that we simply take for granted at home, the people here are so grateful for here. Everyone, we are so blessed with everything we are given. We are blessed with so much more then we deserve because we are sinners. We are given so much more then we could ever need, and yet we complain about such minor things in our lives that don't really matter.

     In 1 John 4:7 it reads, "Let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves is been born of God and knows God". Everyone, lets all take a moment and think about all that we have been blessed with and have. Now think of all of those people who you might disagree with at times. Lets be thankful for all that we have and love one another as Christ Jesus loves us. Is we lost everything today, but maintained Love, would we have lost anything at all? If the people in Haiti have taught us anything so far, it is that everything should fall back to Love. Thanks and Praises to God for everything he has given us, and our prayers and his good will to all those less fortunate then us.

Here is to hoping for a great week, and for a more thankful and grateful heart.

God's love and Peace to you all!

Ben Giles

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Seek and Find

Our trip to Haiti is almost a reality. God has placed this opportunity on our hearts for the past year and a half. We are now counting down the days.

One of our final preparations was to have a garage sale.  We had some earthly treasures that we felt others might enjoy and also we wanted to raise some additional funding so that we could take some of the Haitian children to the beach and host a meal after a church service.
If you have ever had a garage sale you know that you have to be open and flexible. I believe the very popular movie,"Frozen" says it best with one of it's songs, "Let it go". One of our first customers taught us many lessons and this being one of them. He came to the "huge multi family" sale (we had quite a bit of stuff) and started collecting all the down hill boots, skis and poles he could find and put them in a pile. As I was telling him what he owed and realizing he was getting a wonderful deal I thought perhaps he was outfitting some neighborhood children or maybe even his own brood. I casually asked him and he told me he was going to "resell it". I said, "okay" and gave him a bookmark with information on "Healing Haiti". After he walked to his car, the 3 of us moms that were working thought we better say a prayer before bitterness took too deep a hold. We prayed that God would send just the right people and that the garage sale might not be about the money but instead be used to touch others and ourselves. 

We had just finished praying when the ski man walked back and said, "I read what you gave me and I like your cause". He then put in a generous gift in our donation jar.  We realized our sale wasn't about monetary gain. As we open our hearts and minds God is able to use our experiences and interactions for His glory. 

 "You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart".
Jeremiah 29:13

Carrie Derks