Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Thank you for following our blog during our trip. We got home Monday night, greeted by our family and friends, after a long day of almost missing our connections, and lots of running through airports, and lots of sweating before we left PAP (really, lots!).

The entire team (in unity, exactly as we prayed) feels that the Lord has put Loving Heart orphanage on our hearts to partner with in the long-term, and possibly to build a relationship with Well-being, too, but not necessarily providing finances.

G-d was so faithful to keep us safe and to bring joy and unity to our team, to provide us with a comfortable, cool place to stay, and to partner us with drivers and translators who are awesome men of G-d.

We had so many great experiences, and His hand was evident everywhere we went, all the time. What an amazing blessing!

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Children's Household of Tomorrow.

Yesterday, we went to this orphanage with very sweet kids. 47 or so of them, and we took lots of shoes, clothes, fun things to play with, musical instruments, etc. We had a great devotional by Josh before we left, exhorting us to give this orphanage the same fresh spirit we had at the beginning of the week. The team stepped up to the challenge!

We had a lot of fun playing and dancing with the children. It was a shorter visit, because the "chicken team" had taken quite awhile at the market, and then the head momma at Well-being also pointed out their need for corn, rice, beans, cooking oil, milk and spaghetti noodles (which they like to eat for breakfast), so we had a crew head out for those supplies when we left a little early.

Treated our translators and drivers to a nice dinner at the hotel, which, of course, took almost three hours!

Source de la Grace.

Today we left at 8 a.m. for a 9 a.m. service at Source de la Grace. I first visited this church in September of 2010, and it was in ruins, and surrounded by a huge tent city. It is now a beautiful new building. Pastor Moise Vaval is an amazing, passionate godly man, who lost one of his sons in the earthquake. We got there a little early, and he remembered my being from Texas, and he called me into his office to chat. He was a very gracious host, offering us headsets so that our translator could speak to us, and asked me to come up and speak during service.

It was about a two-hour service, with very lively praise and worship and an extremely passionate message. After church, they showed us their new school building, already in use, and the new orphanage building, where they hope to house 40-46 orphans by the end of the month. Moise spent a lot of time talking to us and sharing with us. It was so good to see him again!

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Well-being Orphanage.
Thursday we spent the day at Well-being. There are 20+ kiddos who seem pretty used to having visitors. They sweetly and calmly came out and greeted us with hugs and kisses on the cheek. We had a Bible lesson, played soccer, sang lots of songs, helped with laundry and helped serve lunch (which I inevitably do wrong and need lots of instruction on exactly how much to put on each plate!).

The main "momma" had left a couple days before because of some kind of disagreement, but somehow they got word to her that we were there, so she decided she would come back. She has a prosthetic leg from diabetes, and everyone was helping her walk across the very large property, as all the kids went to greet her. She is obviously well-loved.

The property is big, but it's leased, and some body of believers has built buildings on it. The problem here is that at anytime, the landlord can kick them off and keep the improvements, making him able to get more money for leasing or selling it. This is a widespread problem with land in Haiti. There are two empty chicken coops, but just one chicken and two pigeons roaming around.

We had just a fabulous day with those kids, who are so sweet and loving.

This morning, Hellen and David and Neal just left to go to the live chicken market, praying it will be open and praying it will have 40  live chickens to take to the orphanage before they pick us up to go to Children's Household of Tomorrow Orphanage today.

I, for one, am cracking up at the thought of David, Hellen, Neal and our translator, Jonas, in the back of a tap-tap with 40 live chickens. I'm glad I went to the market the other day instead! This could be very interesting...

HCRM (Haiti Christian Rescue Mission)

Yesterday we left early for a drive into the mountains to HCRM, where many people from Texas and even our area are adopting children. It was a beautiful drive, and the cooler air felt amazing. The driving is downright frightening, but the drivers handle it all very well. You just have to not look sometimes. Well, you just have to not look often, actually.

When we got there, the children were having school, and stayed in their seats and on task until they were released to come greet us. They seemed a little more hesitant than some of the other children we've met, especially the older ones.

I was asking for Stephania and Sterline, who are being adopted by my friend, when I was introduced to Sunny, for whom I had a message from her parents. I read the message to her, and could barely keep it together as it was so moving. She clung tightly to her parents' friends for the rest of the day. So precious to have that time loving on her on their behalf.

In time, I met the two other girls, who were pleased to meet us and classmates of their brother and take photos with us and even call their mom in Texas. G-d is so good!

Our time there was short because of the longer drive, but so much fun.

On our way back, we stopped for a sugarcane treat and to take photos of the Presidential Palace, still in ruins.

Friday, June 8, 2012

Hillside Haiti Blog

Check this blog for updates, too. I'm behind and will try to catch up tomorrow sometime... only have wi-fi in the common area and our schedule has been crazy full!

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Market, Loving Heart, SDMT

Hellen, John and I left after breakfast and devotionals and took a tap-tap to the main market, essentially a gigantic intersection full of cars, trucks, motorcycles, bicycles, people, music, animals, and, oh, yes, things for sale. Clothes, shoes, food, drinks, jewelry, electronics, you name it.

We had two Haitians with us, which made us a tiny bit less conspicuous, but not much. The Haitians took us to their friends' stalls and we haggled for corn, rice, beans and cooking oil at three different places. What should have taken 30 minuites took over an hour. It was such a great experience to be in the midst of everyday life in this country that I love.

We got back, loaded up, and headed back to Loving Heart, where we received a VERY warm welcome from the children. We taught a lesson, played with balloons, held little ones, played a little soccer, and jumproped a little. Olivia and I got a great cooking lesson in the outdoor kitchen (running water in the indoor one, and a washing machine out back!), on how they make their giant pot of beans and rice with mackerel tomato sauce.

This orphanage has its lease coming up in August, which is unable to be renewed because of some bureacratic red tape, and they do not know where they will go next.

Today we learned the stories of several of the children, and it is just heartbreaking. This orphanage is set up to do adoption. I've never been to an orphanage where that was a possibility. Sure does change your thought process.

It was very hard to say goodbye today. Very. Many of them ask when we are coming back. How do you answer that question?

We left and went to SMDT. Another great orphanage. Big inside space, small outdoor space, indoor kitchen that might have running water, not sure, and an outdoor kitchen. Very well-run with high hopes to add school for neighborhood children in an effort to keep them from being dropped off at the orphanage so that they will get an education. The son of the director, Carlo, is 25 and in his first year of law school. He does a lot to help with the running of the orphanage.

This orphanage has its lease coming up in September, and the landlord has upped the price by 33%, so he does not know if they will be able to afford to stay.

I was very quickly shown to the outdoor kitchen to help :) and got put in charge of stirring the grits. Holy moly, was that a big pot of grits! And they were almost done, so it about ripped my arm off. Then I helped serve them, and she kept telling me to give them more, which is encouraging. They topped it with some vegetables and some kind of gravy.

There are about 27 kids, of all ages, but mostly younger ones. There were only a couple that were very shy or withdrawn. They loved music, playing and just being held. Holly taught them a dance routine, which they loved.

All the youth have blown me away with their maturity and their selflessness. What a great experience for them, for the children, and for the rest of the team to see thim in action for the Lord!

Pictures later...

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Loving Heart Orphanage

Haiti travel day.
Great day. Everyone got to the airport in time, though most with little to no sleep. All flights went as planned and on time. Getting out of the airport is a very chaotic challenge. You can't tell who works for the airport, the airline, or customs, and they are all grabbing at your bags and carts to "help" you for tips. With 18 of us and our approximately 40 pieces of luggage, all trying to stay together and say "no merci" ("no thank you"), yet not knowing which of them might be our hired drivers and who me might therefore be offending. It is a long, narrow walk like this from the baggage area to where you can get in your "tap-taps" (taxis, really just trucks with benches in the back and a cover for shade, which is appreciated, believe me.

Likewise, it took a long time to get all our rooms and luggage sorted out and get checked in and by then it was time to meet for dinner. The hotel is lovely, surrounded by tropical lush greens and plants with a sparkling pool and very nice, courteous staff (at least they seem that way; I can't understand a word of creole, except "no").

Dinner completely perplexed the staff because of our need for 14 individual checks, and it took about 2 hours for our food to arrive, and longer for pitchers of water. Several people were adventurous trying the goat and pork and conch, while several stayed tried and true with pizza and burgers. Some were happy with what they got, and some were less than. All the teenage guys were at the end of the table, and many plates of leftovers got passed down to them until they were finally full!

At about 9, we went to the one large room (suite) with ALL of the stuff everyone sent for the children and their caretakers. For over an hour, in a big room for 4 but a small room for 18, we sorted shoes, clothes, toiletries, first aid, medical supplies, toys, games, activities, stickers, balls, etc. Everyone was exhausted. Halfway through, the electricity went out, and all the youth thought we were fooling them. Nope -- welcome to Haiti! We worked by cell-phone light until it clicked back on, finished with a group prayer, and headed to our rooms, with strict instructions for travelling in groups or pairs, and with the sweet youth guys escorting Hellen, our Visiting Orphans leader, to her room.

Today. Haiti day 1.
We got up early for a light breakfast and short devotional, then loaded into three tap-taps with stuff for today for Loving Heart and SMDT orphanages. It took about a half an hour to get to Loving Heart, over mostly bumpy potholes on rocky roads where there are no traffic signals or signs, and very few street signs. It's wide enough for 1.5 vehicles, yet they pass each other. It's good to keep your arms inside moving vehicles here!

We arrived at the orphanage, and they were finishing up bathing and dressing the children. A man, Tony, who  lives here and helps with the orphanage, because the woman who started it "might be my cousin, we think", told us some of the history of the orphanage and who the caretakers are, etc. The director, cousin or not, kept telling him she wanted to start caring for kids she saw on the street, but he told her she was crazy. She persisted, and after the earthquake he agreed to help get it started. They are leasing the bottom floor of a building with a tiny front yard, tinier back yard, small common area, decent-sized kitchen (the nicest one I've ever seen in Haiti), a boys's room and a girls' room. The woman's 14-year-old daughter helps when she is not at school, and there seem to be 3-4 other adults around doing things.

There are about 20 kids here, and most of them are quite young. They were all seemingly well-fed, clean, fully clothed (except a baby because they didn't have a diaper), shoed and well-mannered, if somewhat shy. They clearly do not get a lot of teams coming to visit and love on them. Most of the older (6-11, I would guess) warmed up pretty quickly as we sang songs and played music and passed out rhythm instruments.

Several of the littlest boys (2 or so) seemed quite withdrawn and slow to engage, sad even. I picked one up, and he protested for a short moment, and I just started kissing him softly all over his head. I guess he decided I was okay, after all, because he then let me hold him and even fell into a deep sleep in my arms.

Everyone on the team found ways to engage with music, the kids, arts and  crafts, etc., even with most of us sitting in the shade (as many of 40 people as could fit there at at time!) on a tiny front patio.

Gary was not feeling well (tummy issues, unfortunately), so when we left at lunchtime, we made a short grocery trip (in theory; nothing happens very fast here!) for supplies and then swung by the hotel to drop off Gary and me. I gave him a phenergan and he is sleeping peacefully now; praying he will be 100% when he awakens.

The rest of the team went on to SMDT for the afternoon, and will be back in a couple of hours. When we will have discussions about the day, probably in the pool! We will try sitting at several smaller tables and ordering dinner earlier tonight.

I will post pictures later if wi-fi is working. Some of our rooms are close enough to the wi-fi signal, and some are not (mine). Don't be surprised if you can't reach us by text or facetime. We will reach you when we can!


Monday, June 4, 2012

Here we GO! Up an hour early full of anticipation -- every trip brings new people, new encounters, and new lessons and experiences.

Thank you, G-d, for preparing our hearts and minds for this trip. Thank you for everything You have for us for the next week, the good, the challenging, the fun and the love. I am so humbled by the team You have put together and the richness of relationship you have already made possible. We ask Your blessing on each of us and we ask for unity, for surrender, and for Holy boldness. Amen.

Next stops -- Dallas, Miami, Port-au-Prince.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Two Days to Haiti

Our team leaves Monday morning, bright and early, for Haiti! Tonight we will have dinner together with our families and get prayed over. Tomorrow morning we will get commissioned by our churches. My bedroom looks like a hurricane came through it as I try to get everything organized for the trip. I am now going to post a random "test" picture because I'm using a borrowed computer and a borrowed camera and am just learning this whole blog thing.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Haiti Mission Trip 2012 (Riverside/Hillside)

June 4-11, we will be updating this blog regarding our Haiti trip!