Sunday, December 9, 2012

Hope for the Future

"Be willing to go out on a limb with Me.  If that is where I am leading you, it is the safest place to be.  Your desire to live a risk-free life is a form of unbelief.  Your longing to live close to Me is a odds with your attempts to minimize risk.  You are approaching a crossroads in your journey.  In order to follow Me wholeheartedly, you must relinquish your tendency to play it safe.  Let Me lead you step by step through this day. If your primary focus is on Me, you can walkalong perilous paths without being afraid.  Eventually, you will learn to relax and enjoy the adventure of our journey together.  As long as you stay close to Me, My sovereign Presence protects you wherever you go." --December 9 Devotion from Jesus Calling

Grace Village--Day 6

Our time spent at Grace Village today was in stark contrast to the depravity seen yesterday in Citie Soleil.  Grace, in all it's colorful beauty reflects loved, nourished children playing and learning. Their eyes light up with joy. It provides hope for a better Haiti.  Our team created an organized lesson plan including science and creativity along with an educational lesson about Minnesota. As the saying goes, "the best laid plans..." Similar to our children at home, they had their own ideas and we instead learned from them. Faces were painted instead of pictures, necklaces became belts and "sink or float" became throw and "DUCK!".  Due to the language barrier, a snowfight ensued creating chaos, but the laughter and joy was universal. The children LOVED to slip and slide, throw snowballs and feel the energy from the harmless fight.  It was magical to watch. 

After our visit to Grace, we stopped at the mass gravesite.  It was humbling to stand on hallowed ground.  To think about the magnitude of death and destruction is unimaginable and incomprehensible.  A few of us walked to the mountain top overlooking the weed covered gravesite.  The energy felt was that of conflicted peace and tragedy.  One of our driver's shared that he lost his finacee in the earthquake and another shared he was a drink of water away from his own destruction.  When something like that happens on a scale so huge and so far away, it is easy to forget that each victim is someone's mother, fiancee, or child.  Time passes, weeds grow and life goes on and out of the rubble becomes a new home and new futures for those left behind.  -Beasy Juanitias

Friday, December 7, 2012

Trickling Water

Water Truck Day

  Today we are going to the city of Cite Soleil, this is one of the most poverty stricken cities in Haiti.  We had 9 drivers and translators along for the trip, it can be a dangerous journey.  The first thing we noticed is the smell changes from city to city.  As we crossed over a river to enter the city, it turned into a smell of pig manure mixed with hot, steamy trash.  The waterway was like nothing we have ever seen, full of trash being eaten by pigs and goats,  green/brown in color, and used by humans for daily needs.  The UN was present with guns working on projects, the streets were filled with garbage, there was more of a feeling of desperation here. 

  The taptap followed a water truck filled with 2500 gallons of water.  The water is filled at a pump station, it's well water mixed with chlorine.  We had four stops to make.  The first stop was the hardest stop, it seemed to be the poorest of the poor, the housing was tin sheds, tarps, and branches, it reminds me of birds building their nests, using whatever is around to make a home.  It seem deserted until the water truck stopped (like the ice cream truck)  women and children came with their empty bucket and bowls to be filled.  We helped fill the buckets, play with the children, and helped carry the water back to the homes.  It was a very humbling experience, all we could smell was pig manure and wonder how the bare footed children ran over the pieces of glass without getting cut.  Water is a basic human need that we take so for granted, the joy on the faces of the children as they splashed, washed, and drank it was amazing.  We were not allowed to help someone to their home with their water unless there were two of us going.  Our Haitian drivers keep close watch.  Walking with the buckets through the streets of mud and manure and into the maze of huts was an honor as they included us in this picture of their private lives.  It is hard to put into words, but it is nothing like you can ever really prepare yourself for.  We were invited to walk out onto a path toward the ocean, it was covered with trash being eaten by pigs.  Again, the smell.  The children followed us like the pied piper with as much enthusiasm.  Amazed again by the broken glass and bare feet.   We did not even notice the ocean beyond the trash and tin huts.   We were told that this is a place they bury their dead because they do not have a dollar to pay for a burial.   The kids sang for us in this place praising God.

   The next three stops we made were not so tragic, but none-the-less still dangerous and poverty stricken.  This is a place where we got to play soccer and jump rope with the children.  Our nurse Betsy cleaned a wound, children were asking for sandals and food, we felt useless, so many needs that we could not fill.

  The water truck delivered 5000 gallons of fresh water today, an improvement as not as much water is needed daily, Healing Haiti has contributed greatly to filling this need since the earthquake.  We had an extra hand today, Amy from Gertudes orphanage got to join the team today and she was a blessing to us all, her enthusiasm for God's work is inspiring!  

   We feel ungrateful after this experience for taking just the gift of water for granted, one of the team members, Joye,  said that her word of the day was trickle because of the water that trickled down the faces of the children and then as the truck emptied, the last trickle out was used, leaving empty buckets behind.  We take it so for granted.  Our team's words for this day are broken, blessed, helplessness, open arms, open eyes, Jeff and Alyn, vision, and the beautiful TRICKLE.

Mountains beyond Mountains by Tracy Kidder (thanks Clarisa)

How could a just God permit great misery?  The Haitian peasants answered with a proverb: "Bondye konn bay, men li pa konn separe, "  in literal translation, "God gives us humans everything we need to flourish,  but he's not the one who's supposed to divvy up the loot.  That charge was laid upon us.

Roy, CJ, and Sam Bomouse (the first water truck experience)

No child should ever go to bed thirsty, hungry or unsafe.........we are all human beings.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Learning from our Elders

Today has been a very full day filled with praise, joy, serving and fulfillment.
Our day began at 5:30 am as our team chose to attend the sunrise Haitian morning worship service.
As the sun rose over the lush hillside, it was exhilarating to see the Haitian people young and old praise God with such conviction.  To be part of such a powerful service helped to jumpstart our day.  God would lead our journey again on this beautfiul sunny day.

After breakfast we loaded the taptap and ventured to get a tour of Grace Village.  We have not been there since May 2011 when Grace was still under construction.  As we drove up the hill in Titanyen and the gates were opened for us, we were in awe to see the incredible progress of Jeff and Alyn's vision for Grace Village.

There are now 56 orphaned boys and girls living in colorful, clean quarters who looked so happy and healthy.  What a joy to see as we had witnessed the living conditions many of these precious children were living in previously.

Grace Village is now open for school to 306 children, they are growing food, having worship services, and so much more.  Trying to comprehend that all of this is a vision coming to fruition due to loving hearts for God.

After enjoying time with the school children it was time to venture into the village and care for 5 different elders.  Our first visit was to Izna who needed to be bathed and cared for.  Respecting her privacy we left Betsy and Marilyn with Inza and her family members at their shanty and the rest of us left to see the other elders.

Marie is 103 years old and we received so much joy from her spunk and spirit as we sang and prayed with her.  We all took turns rubbing lotion on her arms, hands and feet as she laughed and smiled.  Here was a woman living in what we would consider unacceptable, and she was the most grateful, loving woman who seemed to have it all.

Each elder we visited stated such simple needs.  Angeline who was housebound and can't walk just wanted someone to wash a bag of dirty clothes she had.  Edmond, a blind man living in a hot room about 7X12 just wanted to know what he could do for us.  He said Healing Haiti is always helping him and bringing him good and he wanted to do something for us.  Unbelievable!  Antoine said he would just like for someone to bring his 12 year old grandson some shoes as he just got chosen to start school and he has no shoes.  He also requested someone plan a New Year's party and he would like to have juice.

Later in the day we all pondered the simple needs and wants of these wise elders who have experienced so much.  It is so humbling to see that everything these people need they get from the neverending love of our God.  They asked us for so little in the way of material possessions.We can all learn so much from them.  They gave us such a gift today, so much more than we gave them.

Thank you God for this amazing team as we serve and learn life's lessons together.  Our hearts are forever changed.

As we sang with the elders today:
Glory to God
Glory to God, Glory to God forever
Glwa pou Bondye Glwa pou Bondye
Gllwa pou Bondye  Pou tou jou

Jane and Joye

Wednesday, December 5, 2012


Today, Wednesday, was our first day to wake up in Haiti and go out to serve in whatever way we are led.  The plan is the The Home for the Sick and Dying babies in the morning.  For some on our team this was their first experience in this setting and for the rest of us it was our first time going to their beautiful, new building.

It is bright and airy; filled with children and babies who raise their arms to use as we enter, in the hope of being picked up and cuddled.  We, with willing hands and hearts, gathered them up; as many as we could manage to wrap in our arms.  At one point, our only male team member Roy, was sitting with five children in his lap.  It was difficult to tell who was enjoying this more, Roy or the children.  Because we cannot take pictures, the rest of us captured this moment in our personal memory bank.  It was priceless.

While we were there, much love was given and even more was received by us to take away.  I love how God does that.  We come to Haiti, to serve and give and God in his wisdom, fills us to overflowing.  We helped feed the children, then it was time to leave, because it was nap time. For our team, a difficult departure as always.  Last hugs, cuddles and more than a few tears leaked out as we boarded the TapTap back to the guesthouse.  Our afternoon schedule was spending time at Gertrudes, home for special needs children.  This is my personal favorite event.  This orphanage has been added on to and is bright and open with a new play area for the children. Most of the children were out of their wheelchairs and on to the floor.  As we each were drawn to our own special angel, we sat with them on the floor.  Some of the children would go from lap to lap and some were content to sit and be cuddled.  I was in my "happy place" as Rosalyn snuggled as close as she could get. 

Two of our team had elected to spend the afternoon at the wound clinic and came home with their stories to share. 

After dinner, we shared our word of the day.  A very wide range of emotions were covered; fulfilled, conflicted, hurting, caregiver, were a few.  This opened up a time of sharing, discussion and bonding.  Our evening ended with a salsa lesson under the stars.  What a great ending to our first day on the mission field.  Thank you Lord for all you've given us.  --Marilyn Bomouse

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Get Me to Haiti

"By having the eyes of your heart flooded with light, so that you can know and understand the hope to which he has called you." Ephesians 1:18

Monday, Day 1
The first 48 hours, our team of 10 amazing people lived out the movies "Planes, Trains, & Automobiles" and "Groundhog Day". The journey started at 0400 at the Minneapolis airport, many had not slept the night before in anticipation of our adventure.  With smiles and hugs, we all warmley greeted one another and boarded the plane to Maimi.  Landing in Miami at 1100, we had a 3+ hour layover before catching the next flight at 2:45pm.  One of our team members, Jane, was "recovering" from a kidney infection diagnosed the day before departure.  We all encouraged her, "You will be fine."  We knew we might have been wrong as her pink cheeks paled and she was found leaning next to a pillar lethargic and diaphoretic.  Two nurses and an EMT looked at each other and were afraid, "Let's just get her on the next flight."  "If only we can get her to Haiti, she'll get a good nights sleep there."  We passed the time with a game of spoons using peanut butter m'm's.  Awesome, We were hopeful again.

At 2:00pm, we began boarding our crowded, hot flight on which all but Sam's carryon were confiscated by the gate agent due to lack of space in the overhead. Not a problem.  Just 1.5 hours away from a bed for Jane!!  After waiting 20 minutes, we were told we had to wait a few minutes more while they checked a mechanical issue.  "Don't worry, folks, we will be off the ground shortly."  Another 30 minutes went by and they informed us that the plane was not leaving the ground and that we had to de-board and re-board another plane.  Jane was tired, but after a smile and a thumbs up and we headed for the gate.  At 3:15 we re-boarded a new plane, hopefully one that flew.  Here all 200 passengers are again, a little bit more restless, but hopefull.  UNTIL, about 30 minutes went by and they announced they were taking time to refuel and get a fresh flight crew.  "We should be off the ground in 30 more minutes."  Another hour went by before they announced the flight was CANCELLED:)  Back to the airport we go to wait in line for another 2 hours to rebook our flight and find "Plan B".  At this point, we were all wondering if Jane needed to go home. The only member of the team with her bag was Sam and she offered to share her wonderful clothes and toothbrush but had no takers.   Despite the delay and becoming dysfunctionally familiar with the Miami airport the team perservered.  Our fearless leaders came back with hotel rooms, meal vouchers and a shuttle to and a flight out of Ft. Lauderdale at 1:05pm the next day.  After a late night dinner at Subway, we all crashed in our comfy hotel beds.

At this point in our journey we are a very close team, one of the blessings that rose out of the ashes.  We found out today that they meal prepared for us after we landed on Monday was shared with the Haitian workers.  For some, it was the first time they ate at a dining room table.  Another blessing that came out of day one was that Jane got a good nights rest and was well to continue the journey today.

Tuesday, Day 2
Smooth day, after Starbucks coffee and an on-time shuttle we boarded the plane and left Ft. Lauderdale at exactly 1:05pm. 

From above it is a vision of a beautiful island surrounded by ocean water with rooftops of the city.  As you get closer to landing the water turns a shade of brown and the buildings turn into tin shacks.  The airport is new and also appears "normal" and  organized.  As we made our way with our 26 pieces of luggage to the outside to be loaded into the taptap we were ambushed by a crowd of Haitians waiting to be the first to help us for the tip.  The smell outside was that of something burning in the air, the real journey begins.  The taptap reminds me of an old grain truck from the farm but with a cage around the bed.  We piled the luggage of donations (thank you everyone!) into the back and crawled in, with the door being locked behind us.  The paddy wagon took us through the city on streets of stones and dirt.  The sidewalks had pieces of ambandoned tires, trash, and vehicles randomly left behind.  No traffic lights but surprisingly organized intersections of grace and kindness as cars, trucks, motorcycles and scooters shared the space.  Trying not to stare, but to drink it all in, we watched the beautiful people of Haiti through the cage of the taptap as we made our twenty minute ride to our guest house of Healing Haiti.  It is a gated home with no locks on the gate :)  I love that part!  We were greeted by our host warmly and sat down to a very welcome meal  of spagetti and hotdogs.  Looking forward to the day tomorrow!  Sam and Betsy

The Mind grows by taking in, but the Heart grows by giving out; it is important to maintain a balanced life. Warren Wiersbe


Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Water Truck Day!

Water Truck Day!
      It has been a year since I last stepped off the TapTap into Cite' Soleil.  How I have missed this beautiful land with beautiful people.  Water Truck Day in Citi Soleil was my favorite day my last trip and I have looked forward to serving the people here for so long.
      It was a wonderful to watch my teammates get to experience this for the first time.  Healing Haiti comes to Cite' Soleil to deliver clean water to 3-4 areas daily for free. There is no acces to clean water except for trucks that charge for it.
God has taught me many things over the past year yet my blog entry from last year remains true to today:
Jesus is still in these streets - He always was and always will be.
How easy it is to love these children with their beautiful faces and wonderful smiles! They are faces that are beautiful to their Father God and they are beautiful to me.
Once again I can say to them "Jezi Renmen ou'!  "  They will come back with" wi!"
What's the difference since I last saw Jamison, the boy I met last year and the other children?
From an outside perspective looking at photos of Cite' Soleil over the past few years most would say nothing.
They would be mostly right except for the people that Healing Haiti has been able to help in one way or another.
They can't see my heart like God can.
With each person that comes down here there is a great possibilty for change.  It is that some don't expect it, they even get side-swiped by it because the change occurs in them and not in Cite' Soleil. It is a wonderful change and each person is different.
For me  I came back seeing the world differently and more clearly:
"Love God with all of your heart, soul, strength and mind and Love your neighbor as yourself."
We hear the familiar command from Jesus in Luke 10:27.  It may be easy enough to hear it but is it easy
to process what those 2 greatest commanments mean?
For those of us who have chosen to follow Jesus this is a heavy command when you truly process it.
For me, my neighbors started a few thousand miles away in Haiti and ended at my doorstep. Each one in between is
a child that God loves as His own some he is still trying to rescue.  Like my own children that I love dearly, they are very different from one another.  I expect my kids to treat each other fairly and love each other.  When they don't it can break my heart sometimes - much like it breaks the heart of God when we don't Love our neighbors.
 If we don't love our neighbors are we really following the first and greatest commandment?
I had forgotten the "Go and do likewise" part.
The difference from last year to now is this:
I still say "Jezi Renmen Ou" to these children but now I follow with "Mwen renmen ou"
Which means "I Love You"
and I do.
Bondye Bon Toujou  (God is good always!)
Jeff Gjerde (James)

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Sunday Funday!

Hello! Today was our last full day here in Haiti.

We started the day with church service at Grace Village with all the kids. While the service was mostly in Creole, there were many moments where I found myself lifted, and then lost in the sound of Fanfan’s voice or the children’s song.

From Grace Village we headed into down town Port-au-Prince. It is so striking the number of buildings that remain significantly damaged from the earthquake, and even more striking that many of them are still being used for work or living. The town was so busy with vendors and people and animals moving about…So strange that some of the sites here have become common for me to see including tent towns and huge trash piles in the street…I will miss Haiti when I leave.

SO, it was with mixed emotions that our day came to an end…tomorrow we head home. I feel unsure of completely how this trip has changed me only certain that it has. ~Rachel

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Today brought the entire team to St. Joseph’s for the Wound Clinic and Dispensary.  Several of us drove with the Sister’s to the clinic location and while en route, prayed the rosary.  This was a bit unexpected but an interesting experience.  The wound clinic was a little overwhelming for us “newbies” but The Sisters and an experienced volunteer were informative and made sure we knew what to do to help. We thought it was amazing that most of the patients had been coming for wound care for many years, one man for 10 years, and new exactly what wound care they needed and how to perform it- we pretty much just let them tell us how to dress their wounds; patients usually know best! The wounds were shockingly extensive, and we felt terrible when our care caused pain. The patients never companied or reacted negatively however; they bravely endured the pain and were extremely thankful.  The people of Haiti continue to impress us with their spirit! We were able to leave most of our remaining wound care supplies with the Wound Clinic before we left. 

The rest of the team helped in the dispensary distributing much needed medications. The team gave out “handfuls of pills” and they quickly treated the massive amounts of people for free.  The Sisters were amazing and the team just loved working with them.  We cannot say enough about how wonderful the Sisters are and what a huge asset they are for Haitian people.

After a brief lunch in the Tap Tap, we headed to Grace Village for a visit with the kids and the nurses did assessments of some elderly patients from Titanyen. We saw 5 elderly at Grace Village and visited 2 elderly in their homes for health assessments.  We were able to assess their needs and just be someone to listen to them for a little while. Visiting the elderly in their strikingly modest homes was extra special for us and let them know we care. For a few team members, it was our first experience in a tent home and we were struck by the simplicity. It warmed our hearts to know that the immobile elderly are checked on almost every day.  After a few more tight hugs from the kids, we headed back to the guest house for dinner.  Another day brought us very rewarding work and once again, we are exhausted and content. God blessed us once again.

PS- We have a little Gecko that visits us every evening by clinging onto our family room window. We have named him Stripey Jr. I wonder if he’ll visit them next team as well.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Tap Tap Klinik in Titanyen

Yesterday, we couldn’t bring ourselves to blog – the exhausting drive to and from Reiser Heights was very rough and we were all too tired! SORRY!

Today brought us to Titanyen and Grace Village. For the new members of the team, myself included, it was our first look at Grace Village and we were AMAZED! This place is absolutely beautiful from the breath taking view of the hills below and the sea to the blues and purples of the dormitories and other buildings. It was obvious that every detail was carefully thought about and built with love. The children were all in school so many of us team members swung on the swings! It was super fun even for us “grown ups”

We set up a clinic in the back of the Tap Tap and at first were a little worried that it would be a slow day. BOY, we had nothing to worry about! I’ve learned that word spreads fast in Haiti and in no time, we had a huge line. We organized into two teams (The Fungicides and The Wound Warriors) and formed two lines plus a station for washing and treating scalp infections. One member even gave the elderly massages. We saw people with a wide variety of complaints, handed out Tylenol, Ibuprofen, topical creams including large amounts of muscle rubs and vitamins to almost every person including adults. We also saw a few people we couldn’t help – one man with very obvious symptoms of Diabetes and several people with hypertension that we had no medicine to treat with. They promised to seek out a doctor if they we able.  Even with the limitations of our Tap Tap clinic, I think our most valuable treatments were love, compassion, understanding and someone to listen even if it was for just one minute. We have conservatively estimated treating about 300 people in Titanyen!!!

After the clinic wrapped up, we headed back to Grace Village for a quick visit. The children were waiting for us and rushed to hug us as soon as we exited the Tap Tap. We hugged them all up as much as we could, played with them on the playground, and talked to them about school. I was instantly in love with Grace Village.  What an amazing place for children to grow up!

We ended the day with another first aid station at the tent city just down the street from the guest house. We were only able to stay an hour before dark, but we saw many people, dressed some wounds, and washed and treated some infected scalps.  

We experienced another day packed full helping the Haitian people and God provided guidance to our medical team again today.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Day Two

Day two in Haiti has come and gone and as I reflect back on the day I keeping thinking of a quote I noticed on a rock in the guesthouse, "Those we have held in our arms for a little while, we hold in our hearts forever. It describes our day at the home of the sick and dying perfectly. It is hard to walk away after placing an infant or child back in their crib, knowing that they may not survive through the night. Their cries for love and attention are not easily forgotten; their smiles and laughter seared into your heart and mind. It amazes me to watch them laugh and smile even though most could barely hold their head up or lift their arm because they are so weak from disease or malnutrition. Pardon the cliche, but laughter really is the best medicine. As always, I'm in awe of the nuns and helpers that work tirelessly to feed, change, play and treat the babies and children. I can imagine it being mentally, physically and spiritually taxing to the point of helplessness at times. Going to the home for the sick and dying for me has always been the most challenging day in Haiti, but always my favorite.

After dinner, the team decided to do an impromptu clinic out of the tap tap at one of the tent cities close by. Jean drove us to the tent city and did some much appreciated triage, translation and crowd control. Each day here has provided some critical knowledge & information on organizing and operating our "clinics". Once word spread, we had a line outside the tap tap and a crowd inside the tap tap. We treated 3-5 patients at a time and ended up treating 37 patients in 1 hour. The team as a whole was energized, encouraged and renewed by our mission. Our goal on this journey has always been to help 1 patient. Every life is precious and important and if we only touch one than we have accomplished what we set out to do. As always, God's plans abundantly exceed ours. We are blessed with any incredible team; a team who collaborates, cooperates and meshes well together. Each member has her role yet we cannot function without the group as a whole.

Tomorrow we look forward to hosting a clinic at Reiser Heights. I can't wait to see what God has planned for us!

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Water truck day

Today we went with the water trucks to deliver clean water into some of the poorest parts of Haiti. The first stop some women on our team helped with the water hose & fill buckets while others played with the kids. It was great to see all of the “newbie” team members so engaged in what we did (along with the other team members who have been to the water stops before.) It was fun to see them experience the water truck for the first time as it brought back memories for most of us about our first time stepping out of the tap tap with wide eyes just looking around trying to take in as much as you could. During our 3 stops we where able to provide wound care to many people. The clinic (aka Tap Tap) proved a great spot for us to see people & provide the necessary care needed.