Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Words of Gratitude from Joan

Shelley, The experience of Haiti was an experience of a lifetime. I am so very grateful for having had the opportunity to be a part of an extraordinary team of individuals with hearts as big as the stars. I cried all the way from ATL to MSP. I was in the middle seat and the tears ran like a river down my face. I held back as much as I could but it was like a dam that had to be released. I cried more so for my inadequacies, seeing how strong the Haitians are, from the innocent little emaciated babies, to the 100+ elders, as they continue to survive and thrive in an environment so harsh, so limiting, yet they are there to warm are hearts with their beautiful brown eyes and gorgeous smiles. It's as if they are giving you their heart and soul, openly and freely. The beauty of you and Missy was so rewarding to watch you two in action. You are making a difference in so many peoples lives by creating the conditions for peoples needs to be met. And I think of Missy down there right now, still serving, still working, still making personal sacrifices of comfort to serve the most needy. The little angels of mercy that she will be holding and growing from. And I was thinking of Zack and Lait, so young and so brave to follow their heart. And Matt and Lori working in the trenches and dungeon conditions, being up close and personal in the pain and suffering these people had to endure. Freely giving of their time and talents, with tenacity and fortitude, enduring long arduous days in conditions one could only experience to really appreciate their sacrifice. With no complaints, just doing what they came to Haiti to do, to relieve the pain and suffering as much as they could. And Deb working right with them, giving of herself, learning as she went, with dedication and humbleness, a true trooper. And Missy's constant organizing and facilitating and dedication to get the tasks accomplished. And, Mary Beth. The joy she gave to the group, and the children, and all the people she touched with her loud booming voice and big smile, to her wacky, childlike innocence and seeing only the good in all, and her laughter that was contagious; was priceless. And Laura, how she shared her joy and hard work and dedication to serving all. Strong emotionally, mentally and physically. She saw what needed to be done and did it. She played such an integral part in partaking in the medical team and the "play" team. And beautiful Ali. As she worked tirelessly, with the basic of basic tools, doing what she could to improve the quality of life for so many. And Margaret, the young and dedicated heart that she has, her charismatic personality bringing joy to many. And Mike, a strong man of mind and character, being touched by the little angels, watching his heart become opened and exposed to a depth he newly discovered was like watching a flower bloom before your eyes. Missy is driven and focused on her passion to assist the Haitians and their plight, and give of herself in heart and soul. She is multi-talented in achieving what she sets out to accomplish. She will stop at no obstacle to get the job done. Ghandi's quote fits Missy perfectly, "be the change you want to see in the world". She is as good of an example of that as any I have personally seen. And she has and will continue to be a integral part in the change for the better in Haiti. Which also sums you up, my dear Shelley. You are creating the formation of a new Haiti. Centered on your compassion for the people of Haiti, birthed from the love you feel for the people, and the passion you have to formulate that change, and growing exponentially in heart, mind and spirit. And of course, the Haitian people that made this trip to Haiti an incredible eye opening experience. Fan Fan with his humor, help and guidance, Junior with his big heart and incredible driving skills that kept us safe throughout our travels, Jon, who worked behind the scenes a great deal of the time, making our stay at the house comfortable and dedicated to meeting all our needs as best he could (not to mention he is an incredible dancer!). And the newcomer, Brunat who had such compassion for the babies and the young children, helping in so many ways, so kind and gentle. I cannot express the gratitude I have in my heart for all you do Shelley in making this trip such a rewarding experience. You are a GREAT team leader and I would love to be on your team again some time in the future. I cry not in pity for the Haitians, though their living conditions are as sorry as they can get. The Haitians are incredibly strong and have continued to live lives that have value and meaning, in the most harshest of conditions. Amazing me how they can come to church or go dancing in clean, beautiful clothes, (especially the salsa dancers!), looking better than most Americans! And my tears are not only for the starving children that come surrounding us each day, for they are to be admired in their strength and endurance, and their giving of their hugs and kindness, or the orphans as they surround us with their love, nor the people at the water stops, they endure in the harshest of circumstances, yet somehow eek out a life, these are people to be admired, not given pity, for I cry for my lack of strength in so many ways when I have so much. How I was forced to look deep into who I am. I am humbled by this experience. I am filled with gratitude for the experience, and I know how and why you have grown to love Haiti. With a heart filled to the brink, I thank you, Love, Joan

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Haiti Revisited

This is my second trip. My first was in June of this year. Yes, I fell in love with this country and its beautiful people. When I landed almost a week ago I could not stop smiling as we drove to the guest house. It felt like a homecoming. The sights, the sounds and even the smells were familiar and welcoming. The plight of Haiti's people is one that has etched my heart deeply. The depth of poverty here is unfathomable. And yet joy can be found in the eyes and smiles of children as well as adults. Delivering water to the homes in desperate need in Citi Soleil helps with my feelings of frustration of not being able to do anything. For some, this water represents life, hope and encouragement. Junior, our driver, thanked me for coming and doing this for his people. He assured me that we are helping meet a great need and that the people very much appreciate it.
The children's Home for the Sick and Dying is the hardest place to go to and the hardest place to leave. I have met and held so many precious little ones. They become part of me. I pray that the time I have spent loving on them with tender touch, loving songs, and gentle smiles pours into their souls and anchors their hope.
This trip I seem to have several encounters with teenagers. Historically, it has been the little children that steal my heart. This time was no different, however, I was pleasantly surprised by the intelligence, grace, politeness, dreams, passion, poise, character and hope in the teens I talked to. It gives me a new found hope in Haiti's future.
Visiting Yvon's and Guilliame's Orphanages is such a treat. The children are so polite and take care of each other. This time I assisted Dr. Sem by helping out with the medications needed. This gave me a new perspective I hadn't considered. Of course, food, water, shelter and schooling are very important for these kids. But if they are sick and miserable it defeats the point. It felt good to be helping these children become healthier.We also had a team of dentists. What a blessing. They extracted absessed teeth that had been causing horrible pain in people. I will never complain when I go to the dentist ever again!!! I am so excited for the kids to move to Grace Village. It is so beautiful and peaceful. It will be an oasis in a desert for them.
I love everything Healing Haiti is doing here and am so happy to be a part of it. We can't save the world but today we can make a difference in the life of a few individuals. That is where it starts. God also uses the people of Haiti to help me empty myself out so that He can pour Himself in. I feel truly blessed.
By Laura

Last Day

It's been an incredible trip. Today is our last day and I am not looking forward to going home. Yesterday we spent the day at Yvon's orphanage. The kids singing brought tears to the eyes of some team members. They sounded like angels. There was a lot of activity. The dentists' pulled 6 teeth. This was anything but normal working conditions for them. They were in a room with no electricity, it was dark, and hot. They were incredible. We asked how they would explain it when they got home. They said, no one would believe it. Doctor Sem saw 41 kids plus 2 adults. We went through all of the medicine we bought for 2 orphanages. Missy is off to the pharmacy this morning. 7 kids need parasite testing. Alli saw all of the kids and tested their vision. She was happy to report that Haitians have good eyes. I got to play with the kids. My favorite thing to do. I'm not a good nurse so I was happy to turn that position over to Debbie (who is a medical assistant, and Laura who's learning the ropes so she can do it when she's here). We brought water balloons. I thought about this a lot before I brought them. It's kind of hard to play with water when it's so precious here. We did have fun with them though. Today we are off to Guilliams orphanage again. Dr. Sem will see the kids. The dentists' will pull teeth and Alli will see the rest of the kids. I get to play again. We had 2 kids who we tested for parasites on Friday and both tested positive. It's nice to finally get some of this tesing done so we can treat them. I can't wait to get these kids moved to Grace Village. It is so beautiful up there and I think they will love it. We've been eating good down here. Fonese is a great cook. I told her I was going to bring her home with me because I don't cook and haven't eaten so well since I lived with my parents. Last night we had pumpkin soup. Fanfan explained that when the French ruled Haiti the Haitians couldn't have pumpkin soup so when the Haitians took over they celebrate their independance on Jan. 1st with pumpking soup. I am sad about going home. The time is always too short for me here. I will look forward to coming back in Feb. Please keep us in your prayers for a safe trip home tomorrow. Shelley

Friday, September 9, 2011

Church with Fanfan

Yesterday a few of us went to church with Fanfan. 6am. I think there is a peace that comes with poverty. I noticed this again as we came up on the church. It was a big white tent and there was music playing. People were walking outside with their arms stretched up, praising the Lord. What a freedom. Most of the people here have to rely on God for everything. I wish I could do that at home. It seems I get so caught up in the busy life we have in the U.S. sometimes I forget to take time and rely more on God. I have never prayed so continuosly. They prayed straight for an hour. And there were a lot of people there. What a wonderful way to start the day. No wonder Fanfan is the way he is. I go to church sometimes in the morning at home. It lasts 1/2 an hour and it's not very crowded. I still get to praise God but I need to RELY ON GOD. Amen

Thursday, September 8, 2011

We had a busy day today. first we delivered water to another neighborhood in City Solei. The crowd was very large and a bit roitous. But all went well and most got water. Some of us played with the children during this time. they are so loving and just want us to hold them and smile at them. I will have to say the highlight was the conga line. I led the way and the children hung on and joined right in. Bum Bum Bum Ba Bum Ba with a hop hop hop and a kick, kick. It was so funny. We have a young optomatrist with us on our team. I noticed a little boy with a sore eye so I her over to look at it. In no time flat we had a triage MASH going. We were fixing up cuts and pulling out stitches and putting ointment on wounds. It was exciting. Later that day we went to several elderly peoples homes to visit and see how their health was so the doctor could do follow up visits. These people were so lovely and so dignifed. They were very proud of their homes. A small one room cement structure with a bed in the corner and perhaps a little shelf with a few cups and plates. We even visited a woman that was 104 years old. So sweet and dignified. When we asked if we could take her photo she turned her head and squared her shoulders and struck a bit of a pose. Very special. mary beth team member


Concert in the orpanage. Oh what a day! We brought musical instruments to the orphanage yesterday and had a concert. What fun. The kids were great and Fanfan was singing. These are the children at this orphanage that are up for adoption. A few of them are coming to Minnesota and I love to check to see how they are doing. One of our team members is friends with the mother of one of the children so it was fun to have them meet. This orphanage also takes in sick babies. It was so touching to watch one man with his tiny sick child. He was so tender. There was a 1 month old baby boy there who was abandonded. I want to put him in my backpack and bring him home to be a twin to my 2 week old grandson. I have so much respect for the women who work at this orpanage. Day after day, crying babies, sick kids, feeding and changing diapers of children they don't know and they do it with such care and dignity for the children. It was a wonderful day.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

water truck/City Soleil

It is so nice to be back here again. It's the little things that have touched me so much on the first day back. Dickenson, the boy who lives by the guest house made a bracelet for me that says Dickenson on it. Maybe it's to remember him, but little does he know I could never forget him. I remeber cleaning a cut on his foot a year ago and giving him new shoes so it would heal. The smiles on the people who take such good care of us at the guest house always warms my heart. Then to see the water truck drivers. Cenole has always been special to me and we even had him smiling today which doesn't happen often. We spent the day delivering water to the people of City Soleil. I really enjoy having new people on the team and watching them interact with the children, help carry water buckets, sing on the garbage dump, and just opening up to experiencing the beauty of Haiti. It was a day with very mixed emotions. We did have a little fun too. Mary Beth showed us how she could catch the baby chickens with her hands. Today we are off to see the babies. Mary Beth will meet the little girl her friend is adopting. Another day of mixed emotions is in store. I'm blessed to be part of it and to share it with others. Thank you for the prayers for our team, please continue Shelley

Monday, September 5, 2011

First day in Haiti

Oh my, so much excitment. We got picked up at the airport in a little truck with bench seats around the perimator and wire around the sides and top. Very fun. The roads are really not road but more ruts and holes. Lots of traffic. We had a wonderful meal cooked by the house lady. We all sat around a hugh table and boy did we eat. Creole chicken. Fried plantain. Avacados. Rice. Smashed eggplant. Yummy. Tomorrow we go to City Soleia and deliver water. Mary Beth

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Haiti tomorrow 6am

Everything's packed, I took my last hot shower for the week. I'm thinking about Mary Beth and Joan who are spending the night in the JFK airport waiting for their flight to depart at 9am. God Bless them and keep them safe. I feel like a kid the night before Christmas. I've been waiting and waiting and so excited that I get to go back to Haiti tomorrow. I hope I can sleep. Looking forward to meeting up with the rest of the team at 4am.