Saturday, June 30, 2012

The last few days we have done LOTS of stuff.  On Wednesday we visited Gertrude's orphanage for handicapped kids and The Children's Home for the sick and dying babies.  At The children's Home we got to hold lots of babies and played with some younger boys.  We brought jump ropes and bubbles.  One kid was determined to hold onto me the entire time at there and would not let go.  When I would let go, he would cry, so I held him for two hours.  It was fun, but tiring.  My word for the day was thankfulness.  For my family and my life back home.

Thursday was our day to take all the Grace Village kids to the beach.  The kids were loaded up into two large buses and some of the volunteers were in a third bus.  I rode with Fanfan (a super fun guy who is a pastor there) and a bunch of kids.  The kids sang worship songs for all of us in Creole.  A Haitian at the beach climbed up a tree, grabbed a coconut and let us drink the water out of it.  I really liked bringing the big kids into the water.  The like to hold onto you, since they can't swim.  I was also baptized by Fanfan.  My word for the day was wet.  

Friday we woke up at 5:45 to experience a Haitian church service.  Even though I didn't know what they were saying, I knew some of the songs.  I saw how they would come in and get on their knees to pray and then they would walk around praying and singing.  Even though it was early, I liked it.  After breakfast we went to Grace Village to see all the Healing Haiti kids.  They have a very nice home and a fun playground.  We played for a long time, sang songs and had a lesson about India.  After they had to go take their rest hour. From there we went to visit 4 elderly people.  We prayed over them and sang to them with Junior on the guitar.  We went from house to house.  In their homes they only have a tarp covering over them and they each have a talking bible.  I and the other kids here who sponsor Marie were able to pray for her.  She was crying as the interpreter told her what he were saying.  My word for the day was fun.

Written by Logan (age 12)

Friday, June 29, 2012

Day 5 written by Marci

Our fifth day in Haiti began for many of us with a morning worship service. Our morning walk took us to a large open space with a huge tent on the grounds of a private school.  We could hear the service even before we got there.  What a beautiful, touching, moving experience!  A number of beautiful Haitian people were gathering and singing praises to God.  Some sat on or knelt beside benches, others walked, singing and raising their hands to the glory of God.  A pastor was leading the songs, along with several other singers.  Although I could not understand all the words of their songs, I was able to tell that they were thanking and praising Jesu (Jesus).  The worship space looked over the mountainside, covered with crumbled buildings and tents, but men and women were down on their knees thanking God for what He has given them.  It was very humbling, and I too thanked God for the many gifts he has given me and for strength and health for the Haitian people.

After breakfast, we headed back to Grace Village to spend more time with the children we were lucky enough to meet yesterday.  It was wonderful to see their smiling faces again and interact with them.  We got there during their "free time" and were able to play with them.  We colored, jumped rope, threw the football, played on the swings and talked with our new friends.  As a physical education teacher, I loved when we took out a parachute that I brought and played games with it.

When it was time to get back to "school", Laura and Beth, along with a few Grace Village young girls gave visual aides to the lesson on India.  They were dressed in everyday Indian garb (sari's) and special Indian clothes, often worn to weddings.  Laura led the lesson on Indian culture, geography and religion.
Christine taught the children about the 7 continents of the world, and enlisted our teens to help teach a song, accompanied on the guitar by Junior.

After leaving the young (we didn't want to go), we went to visit the elderly in Titanyen, the village surrounding Grace Village.  This was interesting because we actually went into some of the "homes" in the village to meet and talk to the elderly.  Shelley brought us to four of the elderly that Healing Haiti helps and at each stop we were first greeted by little children.  They wanted to hold our hands, and be held by us.  They loved having their pictures taken and then looking at themselves.  The elderly we visited ranged in age from around 70 to over 103!  Edmund, our first visitor is blind and very hard of hearing, but he was so happy to see us.  With Brunet interpreting, Shelley was able to ask him what he needed, show him the food that we brought and find out what he needed us to pray for.  He was so gracious, sharing his small space with us and was touched when we all laid hands on him to pray over him.

We all enjoyed visiting with Marie who is over 103 years old.  She was lively, talkative and loved to have her picture taken!  She is sponsored by some of the youth in the group, so they were all able to gather around her for a picture.  When asked what she needed, she responded that she wants things (candy, etc.) to sell to earn money :-)
Marie was so moved by the prayers that all of the teens offered for her, she wiped away the tears as our hearts and hands surrounded her.

God's grace and goodness was very evident not only in the people who reach out to help the elders, but also in the elders themselves.  My words can not even begin to describe the conditions they live in and yet the joy they had and that they shared with us.  They were very inspiring.  I know we will keep each and every one of them in our daily prayers from now on!

Our last stop before heading "home" for the day was at the mass burial site outside of Cite Soleil.  After the earthquake, many of the dead were buried in a huge area on the side of a mountain.  It now has a memorial there and the hillside is still covered with several large and many small black crosses.  It is a holy site and we couldn't help but offer prayers for the souls of the departed, and for their family and friends who miss them terribly.

We are tired, emotionally and physically drained, yet eager to await God's plans for our day tomorrow.
Bondye Beni'ou!

Gratefully written by Marci Wills

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Beach Day written by Kristen

June 28, 2012

Today my day was filled with absolute joy!  My eldest son was baptized with three of his friends by Fanfan, children's pastor at Grace Village.  The short testimony Fanfan shared with the kids was so fitting for the commitment they were about to make with their Heavenly Father.  The look on Logan's face as he came up said it all.  Priceless.  Thank you Lord for such times as these.  I just wish the rest of my family was here to experience it with us.  After the baptism all the kids and staff delved into the refreshing water.  All you could here were giggles and shouts of laughter as everyone was enjoying this special treat.  Beach balls were flying and all the kids were looking for someone to take them out to deeper water.  Most of us had two or sometimes even three kids holding on. :)

One boy, whom I was able to send a birthday gift to earlier this month was there at the beach with my photo in his hand.  I also have held his picture near me everyday, since getting his name a few months ago.  He was just as I anticipated, huge smile and lots of love to share.  He and I connected quickly and my favorite moment was taking him out into the deep water to just lie on his back resting in the peaceful waters.  We stayed there for at least 20 minutes, not saying much, but connecting in a way that I cannot put words to.  I hope to continue a relationship with him in the months ahead.  I look forward to spending more time with him tomorrow.  Thank you God for putting him in my life.

As I look back on our past few days here in Haiti, I can feel the Lord nudging me to draw closer to Him for his guidance and wisdom on how to best serve the people here.  However most days, it feels like they are blessing me more.  I guess you can say it is a two way street.  A place I do not want to leave and will without a doubt come back to often.


Teens in Haiti

It has been so fun watching our 5 teens bond together and serve "the Least of These". The children here adore our kids and can't get enough of them. Every night the street kids at our Guest Home look forward to the soccer game that Danny, Logan and Olivia will participate in. More importantly provide the soccer ball for :) They take their soccer serious here and are really good players. It is fun to see these three right in there with the Haitian kids. Emily, Katie and Sophie are on the sidelines loving on the kids. I love that the individual giftings of these 5 teens shine so brightly here in Haiti. My prayer is that the Lord will capture their hearts through all that they are experiencing. They will never be the same. Praise God for His love endures forever.

Prayer written by Beth and Fun written by Debbie

My word for the day is Prayer. We spent yesterday morning at a home for physically and mentally handicapped children and the afternoon at the home for sick and dying children. It was awesome to hold, cuddle, feed, play with and love the children. But at times you couldn't communicate with a child or get to every child to hold, so in those moments all I could do was put my hand on them and pray for them. So grateful for the moments I had to spend with each precious child of God! And it was so fun to watch Emily hold sick babies and Katie, who fell in love with a "precious" (her word of the day) little baby girl, that she held most of the afternoon.

Written by Beth Tastad

Today Nick (one of our drivers/translators) asked me if I had fun. I had to think for a minute because "fun" is not the first word that I would use to describe the places we visited today. For as much Fun as water truck days are, Gertrude's and the Children's Home are borderline the exact opposite. Don't get me wrong, I love going to both places, but my mindset entering today was one of preparing for battle: somewhat guarded, expecting the worse, "just survive".

We took balloons for balloon animals to Gertrude's - the pumps didn't work, the kids chewed on the balloons, and the ones Danny did manage to inflate via lungs of steel popped within about 15 minutes. Yup, expect the worse. But then I was able to take a moment to see the team members that were with me - REALLY SEE them. Logan giving piggy back rides to boys twice his size. Danny swinging with kids on his lap. Sophie pushing kids on bikes. Beth reading to a boy that didn't speak English. Olivia playing "soccer". Katie pushing kids on swings. Emily holding one kid after another. Each person's face was beaming, radiating joy.

This afternoon my group went to the Children's Home for the Sick and Dying - a place that ripped my heart wide open a year ago on my first trip and continues to do so with each return visit. I was able to hold the same boy for much of the time today and I quickly realized that he was "my boy". He was somewhat of an instigator/trouble-maker - pinching the girl next to him and then playing innocent, popping the other kids' bubbles (literally since we had taken bubbles along for blowing) - but oh how he loved to giggle. Everything was funny, including my attempts at talking Creole with him. I loved tickling him simply to hear him giggle. And as prepared for battle as I was, the more he giggled, the more I giggled, and then he'd giggle more, until soon the only language we needed was laughter.

The one thing that was evident at both places was the hopeful looks in the each child's eyes as we entered the room and walked past their cribs. They desperately craved the loving touch and hugs that they knew we could give them. My hope and prayer tonight is for each of those precious little ones to know and experience the only true Hope that one can have, of everlasting love and hugs with their proud Father.

Written by Debbie Peterson


The kids are going to the beach today. It's 6:30am, they are awake and their rooms are almost clean. They are so excited, they ask every day, beach today?
It's so nice to wake up here at Grace Village. The kids are so sweet. Hugs & Kisses and "gooood morning Shelley".
We will send more about the beach later

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Norm written by Debbie

Water truck day is always one of my favorite days. Even though it can be frustrating or seem like we're not doing enough, I take confidence in the fact that that 5 gallon bucket of water I carried for a little kid made a difference to her in that moment. The 15 minutes I spent holding a little boy and teaching him to count in Hmong were 15 minutes of love he probably wouldn't have had otherwise. I loved seeing familiar faces at the stops today ... and having some of the kids recognize my face as one that was familiar. I loved shouting "Hey you!" and trying to teach them the Macarena with Olivia Fixsen and Sophie Fixsen. I loved seeing the smiles on the faces of everyone on our team as they immersed themselves in the people. I cherished singing "God is so good" with them on our trash heap. My word for today is "norm", and not because that was some little boy's name (although that would've been pretty sweet). It's actually the word that kept entering my mind as we wound our way along the narrow pathways between the small metal huts, carefully chose our steps across a trash heap, straddle-walked along a sewage culvert, and cringed as children walked barefoot along a "road" of shells with us. This is the "norm" here in Cite Soleil - trash, dirt, sewage, poverty. The question came to my mind as we strolled along the trash heap "would I ever do this in Shoreview, Minnesota?" Yet this is the "norm" here. In a lot of ways, life is like Haiti - dirty, smelly, with lots of trash and poverty. MY life is like Haiti. But although that's what's come to be accepted as "normal", it's not what God ultimately intended. Yes, Cite Soleil is in rough shape, but there are glimpses of the Garden if you look - older boys helping younger children carry buckets, proud moms and grandmas showing off their little ones, laughter and singing of God's greatness, kindness and love overflowing in hugs and kisses and high fives. The challenge is now for there to become more and more glimpses of God's original intention in my life. Less dirt, filth, and trash. More caring, generosity, and love.

Written by Debbie Peterson

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

The First Days by Logan

On day 1 I woke up at 3:30am to leave for the airport.  My flight left at 6.  It took us 3 1/2 hours to get to Miami and 1 hour to Port-Au-Prince.  When at the airport it was hot and muggy while we waited for the bags.  On the car ride to our place, I saw how run down and dirty, which surprised me since it was not even in the slums.  Right when we got to our home, we put our bags down and had a taco dinner.  Afterwards we went directly to the pool across the street (hotel let's us use it :)).  We then interacted with some of the locals in our neighborhood. Then we all crashed.  

Day 2  I woke up at 7:30, ate breakfast and got on the truck.  We went to the water truck station and from there we went to a district of Cite Soleil "worst slum in Haiti".  When some of the adults helped fill buckets of water, some of the younger kids, like me, hugged and played with the younger kids.  I especially liked how all the kids were happy even though they lived in one of the worst places.  Even though I can't do everything the Lord has helped me give what I can.  

Written by Logan Beale (age 12)