Saturday, June 20, 2015

Sydney's Day

We dedicated this day in Haiti to Sydney Galleger, on the day of her funeral back in the US. Today turned out to be the happiest, smile-filled day of our trip, just as Syd was every day. Before the trip, Marijo called down to Haiti to have the boys make us all bracelets to say Sydney to remember her kind heart while serving throughout the week. When we got them, we realized they were blue, Sydney's favorite color, and the boys had no idea, which was a chill-sending blessing from God. Bringing the neighborhood boys to the beach showed us what ideal friendships are supposed to look like, which Sydney replicated without ever meeting these boys. I have had the privilege of serving with her, and I have noticed she puts as much passion into being the hands and feet of Jesus as the people of Haiti do about loving the Lord, which is an incredibly enormous amount. The light that radiated from her will never be forgotten. We love you Syd.       Haley Nixon

The doctors did everything they could, but God wanted Sydney with him that day and forever. Sydney, and all the good she did on this Earth, will never be forgotten. The people's lives she touched were precious, and we thank God for the time he gave us with her. We pray for her family and close friends for God to keep his hands on them during this hard time. We pray that they lean not on their own understanding, but trust the Lord with all their hearts, souls, and minds for comfort and strength. We pray for our comfort that we know she is with you happy and loved. We pray that we never forget how temporary our lives are down here on earth and that we dedicate our lives to serving you and loving others. We love you Sydney and your service that made everyone else smile with you. We will miss you. You are alive within our memories and with the lives you saved with your body's organs. Thank you for the lessons you taught us down here.    Revalation 21:4 : "He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things was passed away."     Lauren Stich

Sydney Gallager was one of my very best friends. She was the most amazing and beautiful person. It was obvious she had the light of the lord in her heart. You could tell through her contagious laugh and perfect smile. I debated whether or not I should go on this trip, but I knew in my heart that she would have wanted me to go and serve God's people. It has been rough for me, but I have served with her constantly in mind, and the thought that she is watching over me has kept me strong. Although we are in a different country. Sydney's name is now known here. As you read earlier,  some of the neighborhood boys made bracelets in her honor. They made the bracelets blue too, without being told that they needed to make them in a certain color. (blue was Syd's favorite color). God is so good, and works in ways that enlighten and encourage us. Sydney will be missed so much by everyone she has touched in her life.

Love you forever and always Biddy, Maddie

Beach Day


I know this is a completely confusing statement to make, but I truly feel this way.  This is my second time in Haiti and it was an unexpected gift to be able to come this time. I only  jumped in on the trip about 2 weeks prior to leaving when God opened the door.    

One fun blessing is that a neighborhood boy that I am close to (and had heard had moved away) was here.  He is still going to school in the neighborhood and so I have been able to see him in the afternoons.  The best surprise was today, finding out HE was going WITH US for beach day with the neighborhood boys!  So Tulce and I got to spend the day along with all our friends splashing and playing at the beach!. I asked him on the way to the beach which bible story we should read together to the group- as we have a creole and an English Children's Bible.  He chose the story of Zacchaeus who didn't have ANY friends!  So while the kiddos were eating on the beach, my buddy Tulce read part of the story in Creole, then I would read in English. It was such a privilege to read with him out of God's Word.   Another gift to me. Another unexpected blessing was getting to take all the boys on a boat ride. We all got to go up and down the coast to see how things look from the ocean with the boys. On the way home, we visited about school, our families and I told him I would be praying for him.  He told me his favorite verse is John 3:16.  Another gift to me.  I am always way more blessed by the Haitian people than anything I do serving here.  Merry Christmas and Happy Birthday to me :)               Kelly Aakhus

Hello from Haiti! Today was our first day not physically serving, instead we took the neighborhood boys to the beach. This, in its own way was a way of serving. These boys don't have much, but they have each other and seeing the bond they share and being able to be a part of it for a little bit was a huge privilege. Their vibrancy and generosity is contagious, and it was so wonderful to spend time with them today. Not to mention the beach and the ocean were beautiful and refreshing after a long week. That beach was honestly a slice of heaven amidst the usually rough looking terrain of Haiti. This entire week has been amazing and I feel wonderfully blessed to witness this beautiful culture and how God is a part of these people.       Laurie Linscott
Today was another beautiful day in Haiti; It is truly amazing how such a poor place could be so beautiful. The people specifically are what makes Haiti so beautiful. They don't have much but live in a more positive and fun loving way than most people in the United States. Today we took the neighborhood boys to the beach which is something they only get to do twice a year. These kids are the kindest, sweetest boys I have ever met. They are a tightly knit family and take care of one another. Some of them are orphaned and most of them only have one parent, but regardless of their circumstances these children have a very strong passion for God. You can see God working through them in everything they do. They even taught us some of the common Creole Christian songs on the way to the beach. It was a very hot day but we were blessed by these children and their love for God. I wouldn't have wanted to spend it any other way.                      Caitlin O'Leary

Friday, June 19, 2015

Its Friday Friday

The day started at the young hour of 5:45, with the sun still sound asleep. We attended a local worship service, unlike anything you can witness in the US. The wee hour did not impact the Haitians ability to praise Bondye (God). The service opened with multiple raps in creole which was then followed by about an hour of singing and dancing. It brought us all great joy to see the Haitians loving Bondye and being so happy.
Once the service was over, we walked back to the guest house through the village of Delmas. On the journey back we happened upon a weathered sign reading, "Thou shalt not park here." We chuckle.
After we had eaten our fill of second breakfast, we departed for another day of water deliveries in Cite Soleil. Today we had two stops. The first was similar to the three we did the other day. At the second, once the water had been distributed, we took a group of kids to the pier. Two boys, who hadn't yet seen their twelfth winter, not only because it is warm here, had a gymnastics dual which could be summarized with one word: nuts. The show consisted of backflips and backbends both done in the nude. It was a great show, the boys did not flop. One of the boys exited the competition in dramatic fashion with a flip off the pier into the ocean's waiting arms.
After the water deliveries, we went to an orphanage for deaf and mute children. Most of these children are suffering for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and were orphaned from the earthquake. We brought the kids soccer balls, jerseys, and foam baseballs. We toured the facility with the kids in tow, many upon our backs and, in Nelson's case, very broad shoulders. This orphanage aims to teach the children life skills such as farming and woodwork, so that they can lead productive lives in Haitian society despite their disabilities. They had cows, pigs, an intricate irrigation system, and copious amounts of crops. After the tour, we played soccer, baseball, and anything in between with the kiddos.
Tonight was the guesthouse staff's night off from cooking, so we went to a pizza place in downtown Delmas. The tap-tap ride turned into a bit of an adventure when a stray SUV, encroached into the tap-taps vehicular bubble. With minimal casualties (a mirror) we arrived at Pizza Amor for some high quality Za featuring lobster, an alfredo sauce, and a "meatza pizza." With satisfied stomachs, we returned to the guesthouse and watched Ben and Lauren kill it on the dance floor. S'Cute. We learned salsa dancing from the best, John. Joe and Karen struggled to master the "Titanic," a move consisting of spins and weaving of arms behind the head. Rain ended the dancing pre-maturely, but this did not spoil the night, as the rain turned the dance floor into a slippery Slip-N-Slide.
We would love to tell you more; however, it is late and Marijo wants us to publish and go to bed. So this Jack and Joe, with minimal help from Nelson, signing off.

*Mic Drop*

Day of Hope


The last two days were both physically and emotionally draining, so we were exhausted today, but somehow God gave us the energy before each place we went to serve as his hands and feet. First we visited elders, and God blessed us by allowing us to see the beloved Marie, who everyone prays to get to visit because of her love and trust in the Lord and her precious graciousness. Getting to see the joy her heart as we played music and the neighborhood kids joined in singing "gwal pou Bondye" (Glory to God) was a bigger blessing to me than it was to her. We then visited Edmund who was blind and partially deaf and it was also a joy to see Laurie wash his feet. We realized how different it is back at home where we need more time to do all the activities and daily duties, and all he has is time and not much to do with it but think and pray. The presence of the Lord here is incredibly powerful, and is making a huge impact on all of our faith lives. Today we also visited another elderly woman named Charletude who was a sweetheart and we really saw Jesus in her as she repeated "Mesi, Mesi" (Thank you). Then we visited Grace village and Shalom orphanage. It was a well needed happy day filled with hope.

Miss you mama and daddy,

Today was a great day,  After two pretty tough days of seeing a lot of hardship in Cite Solei and General Hospital, we saw some very positive things.  Grace Village is an amazing place that is giving an opportunity to a bunch of kids by giving them schooling, food and a family environment in which to live.  It was pretty cool to see the kids and spend time with them.  We then went to an orphanage called Shalom.  The kids there were so excited.  We gave them a few things to play with but I think their smiles did more for us than we did for them.  Again the day closed out with soccer in the streets with the neighborhood kids.  It has been a joy getting to know them.  They are trying to teach me some Creole but I think I am a lost cause. 

Love to Joan, Rachel, Anna and Lydia.  Davis and I miss you.

Wednesday, June 17, 2015


Bon Swa-Good Evening from Haiti, By Angie O and Karen L

What an emotional day.  We started the day with a fantastic breakfast of eggs, pancakes, oatmeal, fresh squeezed juice and mango!  Delish.  These ladies take such good care of us.  They also do our laundry and tidy our beds while we are away for the day. 

We traveled by tap-tap (a truck-bus) to the Home of the Sick and Dying Babies.  It is here that we went bed to bed holding babies that are very ill and needed some loving.  One would cry and we would pick them up only to have another needing to be held.  The home is staffed by wonderful nuns who tirelessly serve.  Their parents, if able, are also visiting daily.  Life is so fragile yet you could see God in their eyes.  It was challenging to leave these little ones behind, but we know they were in God's hands.  "The righteous cry out, and the Lord hears them.  He delivers them from all their troubles."  Psalm 34:17

After lunch, we did get some shopping in at a place called Apparent Project, a great organization that employs Haitians to make beautiful artesian crafts.  The jewelry was the highlight along with a round of tropic smoothies.  The employ over 200 people with the goal being to provide for their families so they can care for their children and keep them out of orphanages (many orphans in Haiti have parents that are not able to care for them because of the expense.) 

Haiti Blog By Nelson L

My day started out with a delicious breakfast consisting of pancakes with nutella and syrup with some fresh bananas and juice. After washing the dishes and filling up our water bottles for the day, we loaded up the tap tap and headed off for the Home for the sick and dying babies. The morning was an emotional roller coaster for me. For the first part at the home I was holding a three year old boy. He and I grabbed a toy car and pushed it back and forth together for what seemed like hours. We probably would have kept on doing this all day if one of the sisters had not called me on a mission. The home had received a shipment of 100 buckets and we had to fill all of them with rice, spaghetti, and fish. While I was sad I could not be with my little buddy, I got great joy from knowing that families would be able to have dinner because of these buckets. After about half an hour of filling buckets, I went back to the kiddo area. This time I picked up a tiny little girl who would not stop crying. It seemed as if this poor little girl could not be comforted, so I decided to start singing a song in Creole I had learned earlier that day. The lyrics were simple Glwa Pou Bondye just repeated over and over, Glwa Pou Bondye means "Glory to God". Once I started singing this song, the girl immediately calmed down. When I set her down, she started screaming and crying, this was pure heartbreak.

Later we went to the general hospital, the conditions were terrible and it was one of the saddest things I have ever seen. There were a myriad of babies in such a small place. A positive that came from this was handing out bibles to the parents and seeing them indulge in the word of God was one of the many moments that gives me hope in this country.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Water Truck Day

Sak pase! (What's up),

Sorry for the lack of posts so far. Service is pretty scarce here. We are doing well unconnected and sweaty! Today was our water truck day where we stopped in different parts of City Soleil and filled buckets with water. The children have the most beautiful, joy-filled smiles. The biggest job is to be human jungle gyms for the kids to climb on according to Gates, our coordinator of mission teams at the guest house. The sun is not as bad as we all expected. We are tired and ready to take on a new day. Praying for everyone at home and all the amazing Haitians we have met on our trip.

P.S. Mom, I wore plenty of sunscreen, I didn't even burn. Haley made sure of it :)

Love Lauren Stich, typed by Haley cause Lauren is apparently illiterate.

Hey you!!

This was the greeting that we received from dozens of children as we climbed off the tap-tap. For most of them, it was the only English they spoke, and no one in our group, excluding Ben, speaks any creole. Today was incredibly fun, yet exhausting. we spent the day carrying water around City Soleil, carrying little children (I had six on me at one time), relaxing on the roof of the tap-tap, and playing soccer with the neighborhood boys. I quickly discovered my incompetence in the sport. We are all looking forward to getting beaten in soccer again and again. We all appreciate all the prayers that are being sent up for us.

Davis (I typed it myself) then Haley and Laurie edited all the countless mistakes

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

immeasurably more

"Now to Him who is able to do immeasurably more that all we ask or imagine, according to His power that is at work within us."  Ephesians 3:20

This has always been one of my favorite verses.   It's just so God.  We have these meek little visions, goals and dreams and He always blows them away with immeasurably more than we can ask or imagine.  This trip we are about to embark upon in 5 days has already started out just that way…

Immeasurably more…

Donations - we had our packing party Sunday night and we got so excited packing all of the donations that team members had collected that we packed a few more suitcases than we are allotted for travel :)!

Lemonade Stands - some sweet neighbor friends hosted a lemonade stand this weekend and collected over $120 to bless the sweet kids in Haiti.

Team members - at the last minute, through a series of events that could only be God, we have added Kelly Aakhus to our team and she will be such a blessing to us and the Haitians in many ways.

Trip funds - a few of our goers were apprehensive about raising the necessary money to cover the cost of the trip…as donations from family and friends have come in, their accounts are immeasurably more than they ever anticipated.

Garage Sale - the Linscott family hosted a garage sale a few weekends ago.  We hoped to raise $1000 and ended up raising $1380.

Sorrow and Joy - many of the first time goers on our team don't know it yet, but they are about to experience immeasurably more sorrow and Joy all mixed in to one that they have ever experienced before.  What a blessing it is to cling to the promise that we will have His power working within us as we serve in Haiti.

All of you - So many family and friends that have come along side us in prayer, with donations and with financial support.  There may only be 17 of us physically going to Haiti but there are hundreds of you that we will take along with us in many ways.

So…we hope you will follow along on this blog as we feel so blessed to have the privilege to serve the people of Haiti and experience immeasurably more than we could ever dream up ourselves.

Glwa Pou Bondye!
Glory to God!


Sunday, January 18, 2015

What is Church?

What is church?

Today we experienced what church really is. 

In America most our churches are surrounded with walls, topped with a roof, and filled with chairs. While this description fits the basic churches of America it is not The Church that Jesus talked about. The church is not about walls, sound systems, chairs, crosses, or floors. The Church is the people. The Church is Christ in us, all of us as one body. 

This morning our team got to experience what The Church is, or more like Who the Church is. Today in the poorest country in the world, in the poorest neighborhood, in the poorest district, we had church. We had church on top of 14 feet of garbage, dirt, and buried dead bodies. We had church for the first time on this plot of land by telling one man to spread the word about church on Sunday. One man, and God did the rest. People and children poured into the lot which will one day be a beautiful church building. 

Today we had church in a circle, with one microphone and a guitar. We had church Haitian beside American, naked children in arms, holding hands, praising and singing Jesus loves me. Every detail wasn't planned out, there were bumpy moments, but above all there was God. What a site to see people standing on a mound of garbage praising, hands in the hair, lifting up bold prayers, and trusting in one God who came to save and love all of us. 

At church this morning, I (Emma) got to sing to a little boy about 4/5 years old, who, unlike all of the other children was not smiling. When I started to sing “Jesus Loves You” to him, ignoring everything else around me, this boy got the biggest smile. Each time I told him Jesus Loved Him his face would just light up. What a blessing to be a part of this community, this Church that Jesus united, where his presence is our joy, where his love is what brings smiles. I think we all learned valuable lessons about the Church today, and were each touched in unique ways. As for me, today was an epic love letter from God to us. A love letter that many wont understand, but to me will be a long treasured souvenir. 

After church, we got the opportunity to drive up the mountain and visit some markets. We business students put our sales knowledge to the test bartering with the locals. We saw amazing paintings and tin decorations. The crowning glory of it all was the view which we got to witness briefly before being encompassed in the refreshing mist of the clouds. 

To finish off the night Jeff Gacek spoke life into us. He shared his story of chasing success, and encouraged us to pursue significance. God has chosen each of us, at this time to be here together. God has a purpose for each of us. I ask you to pray with me for Holy Discontents within this team as we wrap up our trip. Let us be vessels of His love, letting His purpose flow in and through us.-------Emma

Friday, January 16, 2015


Today was our second day bringing the water truck into Cite Soleil and it was nothing short of amazing.  The smiles on everyones faces continued to impress us and they only got bigger once we hopped out of the truck.  We brought water to many deserving Haitians in District 26 and in N'ap Boule.  After distributing water to District 26, we walked to District 17 where we learned that we will be having the first ever church service at Healing Haiti's new church in Cite Soleil.  Thus far, there is no building, seats, or structure.  It is simply an open plot of land that sits on 16 feet of garbage.  It is sure to be a powerful service knowing that even without a church we can come together and be thankful for all that God has blessed us with.

After spending a couple delightful hours with Haitians in Cite Soleil, we travelled over to Lapherre Orphanage to brighten the kids' day.  Along with our team, we brought many fun toys and snacks for the kids to enjoy.  Besides the yummy snacks, the kids smiles really glowed when we were playing with the rainbow parachute.  This also filled our teams faces with smiles as it brought joy to the kids and it reminded us of the awesome days of elementary school.  While some were playing with the parachute, others were playing soccer.  We tried to keep up, but the kids are much better at soccer and definitely made us work for every goal.  Being that we were blessed with a good amount of time to spend at the orphanage, we were also able to sing songs and paint t-shirts with the kids.  Once it was time to leave the orphanage it was hard to leave the kiddos as always, but we were looking forward to the pizza we were fortunate enough to enjoy at Pizza Amoure.  At Pizza Amoure, a local pizza place run by missionaries out of their own home, we enjoyed a fun team dinner that involved great food and even better company.

The whole team is thrilled to get some sleep tonight as the kids wear us out every day.  Tomorrow we will be going to the beach with some of the kids from Grace Village to swim and enjoy a beautiful Haitian day.

~Willie and Danny

Thursday, January 15, 2015

A day filled with Grace

Day 4 started off with a special treat; a 6 am Haitian church service.  Haitian churches are much different than most churches in the US in the sense that it has less to do with listening to a sermon, and more to do with individually expressing one’s love and prayers to God through music and prayer.  We saw many people praying up and down the aisles, along with people pacing back and forth within the pews.  We decided to walk back from the church instead of taking the tap-tap in order to experience a more typical Haitian morning.  
After arriving back at the guest house we all ate our typical, delicious, family-style breakfast.  Today’s schedule consisted of a visit to Grace Village, caring for the local elders, and an emotional stop at the mass grave.  Grace Village was created by the people of Healing Haiti back in 2011.  In short, it is a place for the people of Haiti to go for many different reasons.  Grace Village is compiled of many different aspects including a school, a clinic, a bakery, and homes for children who didn’t previously have homes, or were no longer able to stay at other orphanages.  Grace Village was built to give children homes, a place learn, jobs for adults, and an opportunity for the Haitians to look forward to their future.  Fortunately, we had the opportunity to play with the kids during their recess time.  Nothing makes the kids smile more than picking them up and hugging them constantly.  I (Danny) immediately connected with a boy whom I couldn’t understand what he said his name was.  He was a young boy, probably around the age of 4, and loved when I would push him on the swing.  The toughest part of hanging out with the little kids is saying goodbye when they have to go back to class.  This little guy didn’t realize how he was making my day so much better with only a few hugs and some good ole’ fun.
Our next activity for the day included visiting and caring for the elderly within Titan Ye.  In Creole, Titan Ye stands for “less than nothing”.  We made several different stops to the homes of elderly women.  During these stops, we cleaned their hands and feet, rubbed lotion on their hands and feet, prayed for them, gave dresses and shorts to the children in surrounding homes, and sang with the help of guitar from our Haitian leader, Emmanuel.  I (Sammy), with the help of Emmanuel, freshened up my piano skills for the first time in a very, very long time and was actually awakened to the fact that we, as Americans, live extremely busy lifestyles.  Between work, school, homework, and other daily activities, we forget to take the time to really slow down and take the time to do what really makes us happy.  It’s important to take time every day to relax and thank God for the blessings and beauty in each and every day.  

Our last stop of the day included a stop at the Mass Grave.  Over 300,000 people were killed during the earthquake and being able to see the grave was extremely emotional and moving.  While at the mass grave, we got the opportunity to hear a first hand experience from our Haitian leader, Brunet.  Brunet was downtown when the earthquake hit and therefore saw everything happen right before his eyes.  Hearing his story really turned the entire situation into reality.  Once Brunet finished his story, we realized that there was a large group of Haitians that lived in Titan Ye who had surrounded us.  We decided to give them meals from Feed My Starving Children, and since we didn’t have enough to go around, we handed out two bags of our own personal snacks to help.  Perhaps the most difficult part was still not being able to give food to every person that came to us.

Sammy and Danny

Wednesday, January 14, 2015


Before I explain Gertrude’s orphanage I would like to give a quick explanation of this trip so far. My word of the day today is trapped. Initially one might assume that by “trapped” I am referring to the people of Haiti and the poor country that they reside. Any of you reading this who HAVE NOT visited Haiti could sympathize with this statement. These people are struggling and they do not have the option to leave, it seems like a pretty straightforward metaphor, but it is not that simple. Visiting this struggling country is giving me a chance to see deeper and to empathize rather than sympathize with Haitians. They live in some of the poorest slums of the world yet they have the biggest and brightest smiles I have ever seen. It sounds so cliché to say that, but the emotion is impossible to describe. The happiness and sadness that is experienced down here is so contradictory that it overwhelms you and tares your heart apart.

Upon arriving at Gertrude’s we were met by a woman named Lauren who helps care for the 45-55 children that live in the house at any given time. Lauren led us to the back of the house where class was being held. The children ranged from age 3 to 20 and half had visible disabilities. When we walked into the classroom area an older child walked up to me and grabbed my shirt with both hands. Valarie, our Haitian guide, laughed and told me, “uh oh, he chose you!” This thin Haitian boy holding my shirt stood about 4 and a half feet tall to me, but would have easily stood 5 and a half feet tall with the ability to stand up straight. His stance was a crouched position as if he had been holding a 100 pound weight on his shoulders since birth. When he released my shirt, he patted my chest then patted his own and quickly removed his shirt. He handed it over to me and pointed at his chest. I looked over at Valerie and he told me that he wanted me to put the shirt back on him. I delicately put the shirt over his head and helped each of his decrepit arms back into the sleeves and gave him a big smile. He smiled back and then removed his shirt again… That is when I realized what Valerie’s “uh oh” meant. This process repeated itself 7 times over before Lauren led us back over to the entrance where we went into a rehabilitation room. We brought 7 children with us that each had different special needs. Each of the members of our group worked personally with the child that stood out most to us. 

I stuck with the child that chose me. He started screaming with excitement when he realized that we were going into the rehab room because he knew that there were toys to play with in the room. Lauren told me that if abled, he would spend his entire day in that room playing with the Legos. The funny thing is, he did not even understand how to put Legos together. He would just hold them in his hands, put them in piles, dump the bucket out, and clean them up. It was like playing with a 9 month old child when given legos. I tried to help teach him how to put the Legos together, but he just could not comprehend. 

Within this room there was 7 different individual stories going on like this. In this room was a child whose crib was accidentally lit on fire by a candle, a young girl who had almost no physical capability at all, a young girl who knew how to walk but refused to do so in hope that somebody would push her in a wheelchair. All of the volunteers in this room grew a strong attachment to these children over the hour or so that we were there, but the story that stood out to me most was Willie, one of my teammates, and the motionless and emotionless child that he was rubbing lotion onto. Willie was rubbing this child’s muscles for probably 30 minutes with no sight of emotion. None of the toys in the room could conjure a smile from this child. Then I heard a laugh and looked over at the two. Willie was tickling this child to the result of an abundance of smiles and giggles! This moment made me realize that there was hope for these children and also the children of Haiti.


Broken Hearts

Today was another amazing but heartbreaking day for our team. We started the day with a delicious breakfast prepared by our Haitian staff and then set out for an unpredictable day. Our team split up in the morning with 10 of us going to the Home for Sick & Dying Infants and the other 6 going to Gertrude's orphanage. I went to the Home for Sick & Dying Infants and it was an experience that will live with me forever. As we walked in we saw lines of people waiting to either drop off their children or to visit their children that were sick and staying at the home. Walking in, we encountered rows and rows of cribs with babies in them, 99 children total. Some of the babies were crying to be picked up and others were too weak to cry and lay still with an IV in their tiny arm. It didn't take long for our heart strings to be pulled; we immediately jumped in and picked up the babies to show and to tell them we love them and Jesus loves them ("Jezi renmen ou"). Some of our team was holding two babies at a time, others holding on to one until picking up the next. At this moment we all wished we could have 99 arms to love, cradle and pray over each and everyone one of them. After hours of holding, loving, and feeding the babies, it was time for our team to go. Laying the precious little angles down into their cribs and hearing their cry is a feeling we will always remember and I am so grateful to have been blessed with this heartbreaking experience. 

After stopping back at the guest house to grab a snack and to refresh, we headed back into our tap-tap (bus) to go to The Apparent Project to learn about the organization and to do some shopping to support them. We toured the facility and learned about this organization that had been started to give parents the chance to work and support their families. With over 300 people employed, every one with their own story, we saw all the hard work and detail that goes into every piece of artwork and jewelry they create. After being extremely impressed and inspired by the organization and all the business they are doing, we filed up with amazing smoothies served at the "Clay Cafe" and headed to our last stop of the day. 

On our way to General Hospital we hit "rush hour" - the ride was long, slow, and bumpy - but it gave us a chance to take in Haiti for what it is and to view all of the different neighborhoods that are so different from our own. We visited General Hospital and handed out 115 care packages that Marijo and her daughter packed for us. They were a big hit! The General Hospital was also a heartbreaking visit for our team that made each and every one of us sorrowful but also grateful. As we pulled up, we had the warmest welcome from two little boys that came running out, arms flaling and ready to give us all the sweetest hugs, as if we have been friends forever. As we entered the hospital we witnessed families with young children and babies crammed into two large rooms waiting to see the doctors. With families shoulder to shoulder with sick kids and a sighting of a few rats, our team definitely had ours eyes opened to what healthcare could be like and for how grateful we are and should be with our own. We also experienced a sense of helplessness and of being underserving for all the aid we have access to and take for granted everyday. With all eyes on us, we made our way through the hospital handing out our care packages. Making sure every family had only one, to be fair, made the process a little stressful, but was a good test for us. Our translator and leader, Emanuel, brought out the guitar and played and sang a variety of worship songs. As songs of God filled the air it insistently brought a sense of calmness and hope to the whole facility. It didn't take long and our team was out amongst the families, holding their babies and singing to the songs of worship. We left there with tranquil and broken hearts. Coming home from an emotional day, we had the privilege to enjoy an evening meal together, reflect on all that we have experienced in only one short day, and thank God for our courage and protection. 

We ended the night joyously with a Salsa dance lesson at the guest house from John with many laughs. We are heading to bed to prepare for another incredible day in Haiti.   


Tuesday, January 13, 2015

We made it through our first day! Today we brought water to three different locations in Cite Soleil. It was amazing to see the kids run to our tap-tap (bus) right when we pulled down the street. They yelled "Hey you, hey you!" When we got out of the tap-tap the kids immediately jumped into our arms wanting our love. My favorite part of today was when the kids sang "Happy Birthday" to me in Creole and English. It was fun to see all their happy faces and excitement to be together.  
After delivering water to Cite Soleil we visited the HI (Haitian Initiative) Soccer fields where we watched the kids play soccer. The passion that each kid showed to the game was amazing to see. We also saw where they got to eat a meal before they played. The program designed to encourage kids to stay focused and stay in school in order to enjoy a meal and play the game. 
It was a great first day in Haiti. The sun beat down and we are tired but we are ready to go for tomorrow...after a delicious Haitian spaghetti meal! 

Nicole, Britt, and Catherine

Monday, January 12, 2015

Each Day is a New Adventure

...and our Haitian adventure has officially begun.  Each one of us is incredibly thankful for safe travels, a welcoming staff and an engaged team.  We are grateful for the opportunity to travel to this amazing country, full of noises, smells, and an atmosphere foreign to us all, but one that has already captured our hearts.

We have left the comfort of the familiar and are opening ourselves to a world totally different from our own.  We are here to meet people we couldn't invent and see scenes we couldn't imagine.  We are trusting God will embrace us on this journey, walking with us and guiding us along the way.  A sense of His presence is already here - in the hearts of our amazing students who have responded to the call to serve, in the Healing Haiti staff who have worked tirelessly to prepare for our travels and in the sweet smiles of the beautiful people of Haiti.

We are grateful for each of you - in one way or another you have supported, loved, encouraged, and trusted us to join this adventure.  You have graced each and every one of us and for that we are blessed.  Although we don't know exactly what is on the road ahead, we are certain we are equipped for the journey.  Our week is guaranteed to be anything but dull or predictable; it's certain to be full of excitement, fear, trepidation, tears, love, joy, encouragement and wonder.  It is a precious gift and will certainly contain surprises.

We're looking forward to the adventure ahead of us and are already aware we're bound to come home blessed and full of God's grace, embracing His trust and with changed hearts.

With Love from Haiti,

Friday, January 9, 2015

How Will I Feel?

How will I feel?  Will I be safe?  Will I get sick?  Will I be as excited in Haiti as I am now?  We all have questions.  We all have doubts.  Each of us will search to find purpose and meaning in what we are about to see.

The mission trip we signed up for months ago is now upon us.  The pre-trip preparations are all complete.  Items purchased, donations collected and everything is packed.  We are now faced with a couple of days of quiet waiting and reflecting on what we are about to embark.

There will be joyous times.  There will be uplifting moments.  There will also be days filled with introspection.  All of this will come together to make a permanent imprint on us and the way we look at things.  We will all be affected differently, but this is certain, we will all be affected.

"What do you have to offer?  More than you probably think.  You have the gifts and talents you were born with.  The blessings of education.  The skills you've honed as you worked at home and in the marketplace.  The life experiences that have matured you.  The pain that deepened you. The love that spills from God's heart into yours.

Once you decide to invest even a small portion of the blessings God has given to you into the lives of others, you'll find the seed of something powerful sown in your own soul.  And someday, in the midst of giving yourself in the spirit and act of volunteering, that seed will blossom into the amazing realization that this is what you were made for!" --- Bill Hybels-- The Volunteer Revolution