If you are a friend or loved one of one of our team headed to Philadelphia or Louisville you'll need to get flight information directly from them. If your friend or loved one is headed to Minnesota here is our flight info:
Expect text updates and other information once we have more fully functioning phones in Miami.
Today, Sunday, we went to church at Grace Church in Titanyen. Grace Church was built on the same land that Grace Village is on but closer to the village so it is more accessible to the people in the community. Two of the pastors from Grace Church were at a Leadership Summit in Minnesota but it was still a really fun gathering. We sang songs in both English and Creole which was a really sweet gesture on behalf of the band to include us. The pastor spoke on Daniel 6 and challenged the community that "Our destinies are not determined by humans but that God determines our destinies."
After church we went to Wahoo Bay which is about an additional 30 minutes up the cost past Titanyen. It was a really relaxing time together swimming in the ocean, lounging on the beach, playing volleyball, reading by the pool and hanging out together.
Tonight we have been packing, organizing and preparing to leave. In just a few minutes we are going to pause and do our last team debrief in Haiti.
Our day began with another great breakfast but for a lot of the guys the morning was a hard one. Our air conditioning (that we only turn on while we are sleeping) turned off at midnight. Most of us had a warm and fitful night of sleep but it was also a good reminder that while we are in Haiti our experience of the country is still insulated by some of the comforts that the people we serve don't have access to.
After breakfast we delivered water again in Cite Soleil. We made two stops and after each we walked around a bit. Our "walk outs" exposed me to more of the area than I had seen in either of my previous trips. We walked out to the pier and watched fisherman pull in their nets, we walked along the homes and shoreline - piles of clothes and trash and crushed sea shells. We walked through narrow streets with tin homes on either side while people were cooking in front of their houses. We saw bowls full of rice and chicken and mixtures of beans. We saw really small children, really elderly people and everyone in between. We saw port-o-potty doors turned into doors to homes. In addition to our walk outs we saw the field where the Haitian Initiative soccer team practices and the feeding center where 300-400 children are fed a meal every day.
After Cite Soleil we went to an orphanage called Juno's. This group of orphans is incredibly well organized, polite, calm and respectful. Our team has been getting more and more tired every day and even though we are still giving MAX EFFORT all the time it was nice to have our most mellow experience so far on Saturday afternoon. We brought out our signature craft of polaroid pictures and "God is Awesome" picture frames which the kids loved, we played basketball with them, toured their home/school, did temporary tattoos and finished our time with them singing songs.
We just finished a delicious meal of macaroni and cheese with peppers, onions and hotdogs. Some of us are going out now to play soccer with the neighborhood boys. The rest of us are relaxing at the guest house and unwinding after the day.
Sorry we've gotten a bit behind on the blog, we've had some very full days.
Yesterday we went to Cite Soleil to deliver water and then to the General Hospital. If you remember this is what we were planning on doing Wednesday but our plans needed to change.
Water truck delivery into Cite Soleil is an incredibly unique experience. The day begins with a 20 minute drive to where the water truck fills up after each stop. From that point we head to Cite Soleil. When we pull up with the water truck a line fills up behind the hose and kids begin to swarm our truck as we get out. Some of our group scoop up the kids that are so excited to hold them and some of us head toward the hose and begin to assist in the distribution of water. Our goal all morning was simply to communicate love and care to whoever we came in contact with whether through giving them water or through smiling and moms or through holding and playing with kids.
The kids seem to love to be held and given attention. The older ones enjoyed playing a hand slapping game that relies on speed and concentration - as with most things in Haiti our team typically loses to the Haitians we play with. The younger kids want to be held and and held and held the whole time we are delivering water.
When we are delivering water it is a culture clash of language and methodology. We quickly learned the Creole word for line and did our best to make sure that we weren't filling the buckets of the people that cut in line because we never had enough water to fill all the buckets. After we filled a bucket we wanted to get it out of the way of the hose as quickly as possible and sometimes kids and adults would ask us to carry their water buckets with them back to their homes.
Nothing I could type would really do justice to the experience of delivering water - when our team gets back and you see one of us ask "what was the water truck like"?
We were only able to do 2 of our scheduled 3 stops because the water truck malfunctioned. After delivering water we came back to the Guest House, got cleaned up, grabbed the care packages that we'd put together with items that were donated (THANK YOU AGAIN IF YOU CONTRIBUTED!) and got in the truck on our way to the hospital. Along the way we stopped and picked up water to hand out as well. When we arrived at the hospital we went to a large dome kind of building with a metal frame and a waxy canvas exterior. This building is more permanent than temporary though. When we walked in we quickly realized that we were in an area reserved for very young children (Infants - 2/3 years old). Each crib/bed had a parent next to it with one significant exception.
The first thing we saw walking in was the exception, a little infant boy had an incredibly swollen head and seemed to be near the end of his short life. After noticing that we saw more than 30 beds in one room and about 20 in a second room with little children in various states of needing care. Some had scars and tubes, some were quietly resting, some were being held by their parents. We quickly distributed the water that we brought and the care packages (diapers, soap, canned food, apple sauce, toys, books, pens, etc). We delivered 50 bags and as is always the case it was not enough to meet the need but it was something. Afterward we visited with parents, held and played with children and watched as doctors and nurses made their rounds.
Thursday was an emotionally and physically exhausting day and we ended it by wandering around a Haitian grocery store - the funniest purchase that was made was by our 15 trip member Shane who bought butter and mac and cheese (we had milk already). Later on Thursday night he made it (and did the dishes after he was done!).
After the grocery stop we had a noodle and chicken dinner called Yakisoba and spent the rest of the night relaxing and debriefing.
Today, Friday, we were slow to wake up and even slower to get going (Thursday ended up being even more tiring than we thought it was). Our first stop was to an orphanage called Gertrude's that has 47 kids, 30 of them have some kind of mental or physical disability. It was a really inspiring place to see and to be in. One of the missionaries staying at Gertrudes told us about their exhausting daily schedule and all of the incredible good that they are doing for these kids with physical therapy, access to school (and special school for those with learning disabilities) and just generally creating the best possible environment that they can.
Our team dove right in and served the kids in all kids of different ways. We played with them, did different sorts of physical therapy with them, pushed them in swings, pushed them around in wheel chairs, played bubbles, made a craft, played soccer and basketball and fed them lunch. As team leaders we were so proud of how each of them found their niche in this space and gave such tremendous effort even though we were all really tired.
After Gertrude's we drove to a place called Apparent Project. We were hoping to tour the facility but it was only open for shopping so we looked around, bought some stuff and a few people got smoothies. If you are interested in seeing what it is like, why we went to check it out or why we think it is so great click on the link.
When we finished at the Apparent Project we went back to the guest house, had dinner (Taco Night - very delicious) and then some of us went to play soccer again with the neighborhood boys. Tonight they wanted to start by playing Haitians vs. Americans in a version of soccer that has a 3 foot goal (marked out by cinder blocks) and where the ball has to be on the ground rolling as it goes through the goal - the game is played without a goalie. This kind of soccer emphasizes speed, footwork, ball control and passing...it was a tremendous advantage for our Haitian friends. But we did pretty well we only lost by 1 (5-4). After a long game we split up the teams and kept playing until it got dark. By the end some of us were playing, some of us were talking and all of us were enjoying the relational connection that we are beginning to develop with these kids.
We hope to go back tomorrow to play soccer - please pray for the small impact that we might be able to make in communicating God's great love for these boys not just by the way we act but by what we say. Ask God to give us words of encouragement and hope to speak from God to them through us.
Today we woke up, had breakfast and got ready to go deliver water in Cite Soleil. After delivering water we were planning on going to the General Hospital to pass out care packages and visit with the people waiting to be seen and waiting for their relatives.
But, right before we got in the truck to leave we were told that we weren't going to Cite Soleil because their was a possibility of some unrest because a former president who had followers in Cite Soleil was on trial for corruption. Our team did an awesome job being flexible and in no time we had come up with an alternative - Wednesday became Thursday for us and we were getting ready for a new set of plans.
We changed and got ready to go to Grace Village for a tour of their facility. Before we left we bought a hot meal for each of the 5 elders that we were visiting who live near Grace Village in a town called Titanyen in the afternoon.
Grace Village is an incredible place. The highlight was that one of the orphans - Ronaldo, gave us most of our tour. We saw the feeding center, the dorms, the new homes being built, the doctor/dentist office, the school, the hydroponics and the bread/pizza ovens.
After our tour in Grace Village we prepared to visit 5 people in the elder program. We went from home to home either walking or driving and when we arrived we washed their feet, arms, hands and legs, prayed with them, sang them songs and visited with them.
After a spaghetti dinner some of us went next door and played soccer with some of the guys in the neighborhood.
It was another full, fun, challenging, eye opening and inspiring day in Haiti. We feel so blessed for our team, for your prayers, for the experiences we have had, for the staff taking care of us in Haiti and for what is ahead of us in the next few days!
Tuesday in Haiti for our team was really three parts (in addition I'll tell you a little bit about the meals because they are always pretty incredible).
Breakfast was pancakes, scrabbled eggs with onions and peppers, oatmeal, avocado, fresh squeezed juice, mangos and papayas. A pretty great start to the day.
We then took an hour long ride to a home for sick and dying adults. The guys and the girls from our team split up and went to the different areas of the facility where the men and women stay but we had pretty identical experiences. In each room we walked in we were met with two rows of beds facing each other. Each room had about 14 beds in it. Most of the beds were filled by a man or a woman in a different state of sickness. Some seemed as though (because of age or illness) they might be near the end of their life while others seemed to be in the bed because of an injury that had immobilized them. Whatever the reason, we were in that room to serve and care for them by cleaning their skin with a wet wipe and rubbing their arms, legs, hands, feet, back, chest and shoulders with lotion.
One member of our team, Shea, got the chance to accompany a visiting doctor who asked her to serve as his scribe (a role she has already played a couple of times for our team as well). Shea visited patients with the doctor and got to see the kind of humble and thoughtful care he gave to his patients as well as the challenges of being a doctor in this part of the world without access to anything more than an oral medical history.
After lunch (which really isn't worth talking about since it is bars/trail mix/fruit snacks/etc) we headed out again. This time our destination was an orphanage run by a husband and wife. The orphanage is home to either 19 or 23 kids (we were told 19 but we spent the afternoon with 23). The orphanage was stuck in between houses in what looked like a neighborhood. Every driveway we enter is sealed by a large metal door on a sliding track for protection (our own Haiti home as well). When we walked through the doors the whole area was fenced in by cinder block walls. The walls had disney cartoon characters painted on them. To the left was one large building which seemed to function as home and school. To the right was a building under construction (which we are excited about because one of our team members (Levi) is staying and meeting up with some other people to help finish that construction by putting a roof on). Since the roof is not on it made for a great location for crafts and games.
Tammy and Molly came up with a great craft activity for us. They tracked down polaroid cameras and film and we had each kid make a picture frame and then put their picture in it. First they had to take the photos and wait 30 minutes for the picture to emerge - very challenging waiting but the kids did a great job. We distracted them with some other really cool airplane making crafts and also some made up games of soccer and basketball keep away. One of our team members, Greg, is 6'8" so we thought we would be at a distinct advantage (whether we liked it or not our Healing Haiti group was always on one team). What we found out was that these boys were tenacious and if the ball ever bounced away they were right on it to snatch it up. Riley, Levi and Shane were devoured by the boys whenever they tried to dribble and usually all they could do was flip the ball behind their head.
After the polaroids developed everyone enjoyed looking at their picture and putting it in a frame that said "My God is Awesome". Before we left we got out some temporary tattoos and put them on - Spider Man was a big hit.
Dinner was Haitian food. Drumsticks, rice, a soup dish to put over the rice with onions/potatoes/carrots/peas, plantains, a broccoli dish, a beet salad with peppers and onions, some kind of potato or plantain dish (we weren't sure). Most importantly, it was all delicious! It is amazing how such a talkative group can be so quiet at dinner time.
Speaking of talkative, one of the things we are so thankful for with our team is how well everyone is getting along and mixing together. Not all of us knew each other going in but it really feels like God knew what to do in bringing us all together for this experience. If you are praying, continue to pray for unity for this special group.
After dinner we sorted out the 34 checked bags we brought (I said yesterday that we brought 68 carry ons too but that was a little exhausted math gone amiss - 34 carry ons too but the truck was still full). We were able to pack 50 care packages with food, diapers, soap, toys, etc. that we are taking to the hospital tomorrow morning.
And, we were able to pack 16 SUIT CASES full of stuff (balls, diapers, medicine, food, toys, notebooks, pencils, etc) to bless the Healing Haiti Haitian staff that we are serving with this week. We were so excited when we were told that we would get to serve and bless the people we are serving alongside. If you donated THANK YOU! It is going to some pretty cool people with Healing Haiti and it is going to some really hurting people tomorrow at the hospital.
Because of all the amazing donations it really felt like a whole third thing we needed to do today in terms of getting everything organized, sorted and assembled - thank you again for creating such a good problem to have. It was fun to end the day leaning into God's generosity, your generosity and the knowledge that tomorrow we are going to be the hands that deliver your love and God's love!
Time to say good bye - I need to stop writing so I can get back to laughing and talking with our team!
Hello everyone! It is a sunny, warm and beautiful morning in Haiti. We arrived safely yesterday afternoon thankful for a travel day that went as scheduled. 15 of us left Minneapolis together and then we met up with 1 of our teammates in Miami and the final member of our team joined us in Haiti. We are finally all together!
The craziest moment of our day was when we stuffed 34 checked bags, 68 carry ons and 17 people in the truck we travel around in called the "Tap-Tap". Hopefully we'll be able to share a picture of what that looked like pretty soon.
We have a full day ahead of us.
In a couple minutes we leave to visit the home for sick and dying adults. Our main task is to communicate love to these people and since none of us speak the language we'll do that primarily by massaging their arms, hands and feet. Please be praying that we will be fully present this morning, relying on God's strength and love instead of our own.
In the afternoon we are going to an orphanage with a bunch of fun activities, games and care packages to give the kids.
We'll report back later tonight with what is going on.
going back to Haiti i had the intention of blogging everynight, but as most people would know my bed got the best of me. I am proud to say i only got sick once on this trip and I stayed home to rest up. I slept for 32 hours; and boy did it feel good. Returning to Haiti for the second time has really just made my love for the country grow even more (I didnt think that was possible!) I am positive that my future in the medical field is much needed as the people living here dont have access or the money to the proper medical care. I have also had another vision of bringing my father down here come Janurary for the adult trip. Hes always been talking about going on a joint mission trip and i feel this would be the best oppurenity for it to occur. I want him to see what has been shaping my decisions for the future along with my overall love for the people and culture. The children here have really touched me. working as a full time daycare worker and nanny you could say i am incredibly amazing with children. Leaving all these children is going to be so so hard for me. I loved each and every one that i was blessed to be able to hold. I made it my mission to kiss as many babies as humanly possible. Hopefully I dont get sick ( i mean sicker) I am counting down the days until i am able to see these beautiful faces again.
Well, Haiti has been such an amazing experience!! It has been such a blast and I have really learned things about God, myself, and haiti. Haiti is such a beautiful island. The mountains are so incredible and the ocean view is sweet. I have a lot of cool storys to tell you guys but it is hard to say in words. See you guys on Monday.
If I had to describe my first day in one word it would be comfort. Going into this I was a little unsure of what to expect going to a third world country. I was a little nervous about what it would be like when we first arrived. I prayed about it during the plane ride that God would give us peace and he definitely did. When we got to Haiti, right away I could tell that God was with us and I knew that everything would be okay. Everything fell into place and suddenly we all knew what we were doing. It was really fun riding around Haiti in the tap-tap observing Port-au-Prince and seeing all of these Hatian people who have nothing, yet they still wear a smile on their face. Once we got to Guest House 2 (around 5pm), we were welcomed by a couple of stray dogs and our loving staff for the week. They prepared a delicious Haitian meal for dinner. We then had team time as we talked about our favorite child hood memories. We were then invited to play a game of soccer with local kids. We got our butts whooped. They're pretty good! Overall, our day today was really comforting and God definitely moved through all of us. All of the Hatian people we encountered today were very accepting and they were all excited to hang out with us. It was really fun seeing kids wave and smile at us and randomly come up to us and introduce themselves and they would just love on you even though they have never seen us before. God definitely did a lot today and it wasn't even a full day. Thankfully he brought us here safely and we are all really excited to see what God has in store for us this week. Prayers are appreciated! We will keep you guys posted throughout the week!
Devon's word of the day: Everyday
Today, I learned what today means to Haitians. After we had passed through customs and baggage claim in Haiti's compact airport, we were bombarded by menwhose regular everyday life is asking people if they need help with their bags in order to earn tips. After we got our bags into the tap-tap, we crammed ourselves in the truck-like vehicle and started our first drive through Haiti. Crowds of people lined the streets, and as my team member, Emily, said, "every hour is rush hour." Turning a corner revealed one-armed men standing on the median looking for donations. They were used to the rhythm of heat and honking as though they did it everyday.
Later today, after a delicious meal cooked by our Haitian staff, much of our team went outside to play soccer with the neighborhood kids. Ally and I headed up to the rooftop of Guesthouse 2 to watch for a while. The rooftop provided an amazing view of everyday life for this country. Houses were built up the sides of hills and mountains, crammed together to provide as much housing in as little space as possible. I stood in shock at the unfinished appearance of their cement and mortar houses. There was trash laying around the yard where the kids were playing soccer. Yet every single one of them was so happy that these new American acquaintances wanted to play with them.
One of my prayer requests for this week was that God would show me or teach me something new. Within a few hours of arriving in Haiti, He showed me that today or everyday to a little Haitian girl has a completely different meaning to me. To her, a smile means the world, when, sometimes, I'll ignore a smile, if I'm grumpy or not paying attention. The initial impact of Haiti has made me so excited to see what else God has in store for us.
Team had a great day today! Ally and Devon will tell you all about it. At the end of each day we each share our word of the day and I will post those words to our blog. What a blessing to be here with these students! What a blessing to have Bryan Royle and Katy Kalleberg as coleaders!