Friday, December 6, 2013

Day 5. By Emily and Kalley

     Today can be described in one word - crazy.  After the normal routine of breakfast and devotions, we started out the day with a little tour of downtown Port-au-Prince and some souvenir shopping.  Shopping in Haiti is a bit of a crazy experience, as you've got vendors calling you over to look at their stands and barter with you.  It was a bit overwhelming for some of our team members, but fun to experience a little piece of Haitian culture.

     After shopping, we had the opportunity to head to a newer ministry partner of Healing Haiti, the general hospital.  We spent our time in the children's area of the hospital, handing out clothes, diapers, and other donations to the children and their families.  It was a crazy experience to see the conditions of the hospital and the care that was received.  There were many parents caring for their children and watching over them, so we were a little unsure of what we could do to provide comfort and love.  But as we looked into the faces of the parents and the children and began to interact with them, we saw that all they needed was a touch or a kind word.

     So many times in uncertain situations, our first instinct is to think of ourselves.  But when we take the time to reach out and offer a word of encouragement or meet a need of another, we see a world beyond ourselves.  God uses these moments to stretch us and grow us, and what starts out as a crazy moment turns into a beautiful moment.

     It's crazy to think that we're heading toward our last full day in Haiti.  God has used each day to break our hearts and mold us into women who desire to be changed by our time here.  May He take each of the "crazy" moments we've had in Haiti and show us how we can use each moment for His glory.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Day 4 by Heather Siverhus

Today was day four for our amazing team of sixteen women.

Most of the team started the day by going to church at 6:00 a.m., followed by a hearty Haitian breakfast, morning devotion and off into the Top Top for the day.

On our way to Grace Village, we stopped at the mass grave site and prayed over the hundreds of thousands of Haitians who lost their lives in the 2010 earthquake.

We went to Grace Village for a tour and were amazed by God's supernatural growth from our last visit.

Our afternoon consisted of 6 Elder visits.  The love and joy of each Elder we visited was indescribable.   They have very little, but yet their hearts have so much to give. They rely on the grace of God to provide for them.  Our team prepared lunches and stopped to buy watermelon, juice and water to bring to the Elders. We were blessed with our Haitian brother Emanuel who played the keyboard and Brunet as we worshiped singing together.  We brought wipes and lotion to clean the Elders hands and feet.

God worked through each and every team member today shining his light, enabling our team to be His hands and feet to the Elders.

A very special moment occurred where God completely amazed me; I experienced His holy spirit working through my fifteen year old daughter.  She completely gave herself to God becoming his hands and feet by washing the Elders hands, arms, legs and feet.  She showed unconditional love through physical touch and her beautiful smile.  The glow that surrounded her brought tears to my eyes leaving me so very thankful to our Father for calling me to Haiti three years ago which then opened the door for my daughter to experience the blessings of Haiti.  Through God, my daughter experienced love and compassion that some may not experience in a lifetime.  She put her trust in God and took it upon herself to step out of her comfort zone, putting her needs aside and seeing directly into the hearts of the Elders.  We are called to serve and help people who are less fortunate.  I thank God for giving my daughter and I the privilege to serve the Haitian Elders today.

Matthew 25:35-36
For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, 36, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.

Serving, loving and trusting Him,

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Day Three by Kristi Carstensen

Today was the water truck day. I've been looking forward to this day for months. I'd say since August when I finally said yes to the call to come, but in all truth, it's been since I boarded a plane to go back home 18 months ago. I have this little boy I've connected with each time that I've given the name of Max.  It's my favorite day.

We visit areas, delivering water, in Cite Soleil, the poorest of the poor here. There are tin shanties built on garbage, babies playing on the same space as the pigs and goats, walking on broken glass, tarps and tin and wood sticks making homes. Yet, the children bring great joy. The people have faith that could move mountains. We talked tonight of how they have to have the faith that God will provide the next meal. The next bucket of water. The health and good weather for the next day. The other stops were in a tent city- where there are those still living in tents from either having a damaged home or no home prior to the earthquake. The other areas where the sewage is along the side of the streets. Where there is desperation for the provision of water in some places.

My word today was missing. My heart aches every time for their lack in the essentials we take for granted every day. I don't have to think about a bucket of water to feed my family. I don't have to think about where the next meal is coming from. I have the good fortune of a stable, clean, spacious home that is warm or cool depending on a switch. They have none of this in these areas. I'm so thankful that God has done a number on my heart that I am able to be ok with just doing something instead of fixing all of it. I want to throw my activator fix it on Haiti in the past and it has taken God's grace to be at peace with helping for the one day. I can do this knowing another team is not far behind to help. That my one day, the one, two or ten buckets of water was one, two or ten more than they had yesterday. It isn't forever, but it is meeting the basic need of the day. If I've learned nothing else, it is the resourcefulness and the lack of waste in the Haitians. They'll make the water last. Missing this basic of needs.

Missing. I didn't see Max. It took the ride back to the water stop to process the loss of not seeing him this time. It may have been that there was water brought yesterday. It could be that he finally can go to school. It could be that they moved in the last 18 months. It could be that something happened. Missing. I generally don't like having my hair touched and it is this surrender that happens on each trip in having my hair done. The girls didn't this time. Missing. The hand slapping game with the kids. Missing. Some of the faces at the last stop since I was working with the water buckets.

Missing. Direction in some ways. I had said I'd keep coming for Max. Haiti feels unfinished right now.... this unclosed project that I'm supposed to continue to work on. Bringing my kids. Working through the work of this mission that has captured my heart. Part of the reading this morning was the feeding of 5000 where Jesus said "Do not send them away, YOU find them something to eat" (paraphrasing here). I underlined the word you three times. As if I was being told that this is something I'm called to, much like the rest of the ladies. I can't do everything, but I can pray over a water truck and do it thus that, should I ever hit the faith of a mustard seed, God could make the water flow and flow and flow until they had enough. I'm convinced of it. I wrote today a prayer that there would be enough water... twice over. And all but one stop? There was enough for all the buckets.

Oceans that was played as part of our devotion seems to end up fitting right in.
"Your grace abounds in deepest waters; Your sovereign hand; Will be my guide; Where feet may fail and fear surrounds me; You've never failed and You won't start now.

So I will call upon Your name; And keep my eyes above the waves; When oceans rise; My soul will rest in your embrace; For I am Yours and You are mine...." Oceans, Hillsong United.

Asking for strong enough again today... I can only ask that I become so small in the days ahead that God can be so big. Asking God to be strong enough for the both of us and to lead me out into the great unknown where my feet will fail because I'm not strong enough. Where my feet may fail because when I have my heart broken, the more cracks in this armor that can happen, the more God gets to work and be seen. Sinner that I am, He still calls me to do this work.

Work in progress. Until tomorrow.


Day 3 By Erin Cody

Today was spent delivering water into City Soleil at four different water stops. Its initial impact is overwhelming for all senses. The blended smells of dirty water, garbage, feces and sweat fill the air. The buckets line up almost as fast as the kids and you can't climb down from the tap-tap quick enough. My teammates were very efficient. Some grabbed the hose, others swopped buckets out and the rest just gave some lovin' to all the ones that wanted it.

These children who materialistically have so little. In fact in many cases their basic needs aren't being met but they somehow find it necessary to remove the piece of hair that is stuck to your cheek. One sweet girl dusted of your bottom after standing up off the ground with her. Their smiles could light up a room and the warmth you feel from a hug is indescribable.

Specifically today for me it was a little girl named Joelle. I spotted her before we even got out of the tap-tap. She was standing on the side of the curb jumping up and down with her hands in the air.  She was dressed in a little red Christmas dress, fuzzy with a white collar. I was determined to get to her before anyone else. We locked eyes, I squatted down and put my arms open for her to run into. What a gift it was for me to spend time with the most adorable child.  I couldn't even put her down while attempting to carry water with the other hand. We goofed around and smiled together until the water ran out. If it were possible I would have already packed her in my suitcase to bring her home with me.

While we were waiting for the water truck to be filled there was plenty of time for the neighborhood kids to congregate. Some of the crew was snacking and it was impossible not to notice the hungry eyes staring into the truck. Guilt quickly rose in my stomach. Another little guy brought up his baby brother, he started crying after a bit and wouldn't stop. Deb tried rocking him but his sweet brother finally took him back and rubbed his tummy. Could you imagine not having the means to fill your child or siblings needs- Heartbreaking. In that same waiting time we noticed there was a goat that had lost its kid  and kept 'bah-ing' as it was trying to wake it up. For an animal lover this too was horrible to witness.

With all the ups and downs of the day I can truly say I'm blessed to be back with this inspiring culture and inspiring group of women. It was hard for me to take a risk and come with a bunch of strangers but I can honestly say when a group has made up their mind to be completely selfless and vulnerable it makes for a life-changing week.

Erin Cody

Day Two by Kristi Carstensen

I woke up this morning with the song "Strong Enough" by Matthew West in my head... but mostly just the part of the chorus that goes "I know I'm not strong enough to be everything that I'm supposed to be; I give up; I'm not strong enough..." Some days I don't know where the song comes from, but some times can end up being the theme of the day.

Yesterday was filled with actually a split team for how we started our day. Several went to the Home for Sick and Dying Babies, while others of us went to do water therapy with the orphans from Gertrude's. Both places were started by nuns, both work with hurt children, just in different capacities. I love the Home for Sick and Dying Babies. It is something special to hold a child that may or may not have a family, that's in a crib, usually suffering the effects of malnutrition. Praise God in this trip, I was hearing the ladies who went say that all of the orphaned children there have been spoken for with families in the States.

I went to do water therapy with the orphans from Gertrude's. My first time down here, I had a really hard time with being there. The second time, it was better... this time? So blessed to have been a part of it. We had three of the five children suffering from Cerebral Palsy, one that was severely behind due to malnourishment, and fifth child confined to a wheelchair. We carried them in the water, bouncing with them, swimming with them, but all in all, just putting them in a space where they were weightless and could relax their joints. The smiles... there aren't words almost to describe the kilowatt smiles these children had in being played with, loved on, and held. There were some who stepped out of what was comfortable for them and into a day of blessings in working with these children.

The rest of the day was spent first doing a little shopping with an organization here that employs Haitians to make different items, and sell them not only in their store, but back in the States as a way for them to earn money. I love the idea- it isn't charity- but a means to help the Haitians have an income source where they otherwise wouldn't. Next was a new orphanage Healing Haiti has partnered with. I don't recall if we are supporting them, or not, but we made crosses with each of them, and then played some outside with a jump rope and soccer ball. Soccer, is as always, a second language to these kids.

My word yesterday was health. I have two kids- Chloe (12) and Chase (10). They are extremely healthy kids- rarely getting a cold even. I have lived a life enjoying good health. My family, even most of my extended family has had the blessing of good health. These kids- living in poverty- can't say the same. I've asked before why I was blessed with living in the US, but even more so, why was I blessed with good health for myself and my children when I live in the country that has the medical facilities and research to help? I couldn't imagine being trapped in your own body in many ways. I broke down last night, feeling unworthy of the good fortune God has provided us in this. I'm missing Chloe especially this trip. I'm still mom, and she's still the kid, but she's turning into a friend in many ways. She's been asking to come and I've said no for years now. For the first time, I'm wishing I had her here to talk through the day and watch her face as she sees what I've experienced here.

So... strong enough. The day yesterday was exhausting on a few different levels- it is tiring to be in a pool for a few hours, emotionally draining to be at orphanages in any capacity. People are gracious with their conversation about how great it is of me to be coming here, but the truth is, I do very little. The work God does is very big. The work the Haitians do to my heart is phenomenal. I just hold kids and today, deliver water. I'm not strong enough to do any kind of work down here. It has taken a big God to work in my heart to accept that I can't fix it, I can't make it better, I can't do anything. But He can. Just as those babies at the Home for Sick and Dying are all spoke for, each of us are as well. God has our names written on His heart, asking for us to pursue and trust Him, as He is relentless in his pursuit of each of us. How awesome that the God who created the world is interested in the pursuit of my heart.

".... I give up; I'm not strong enough. Hands of mercy won't you cover me; Lord right now I'm asking you to be strong enough... for the both of us."


Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Day 2 by Charity Grubbs

Day Two.  December 3, 2013.

I know that I should sit here and explain my day.  I know that I should tell you all about the heart breaking things I have seen.  I could go on and on about the babies in the orphanages, the little girl burned so badly she only has one digit on one hand but as I sit here and think about what I want to share, it isn't the heartbreak.  It isn't the dirt, the pain, and the things that they DON'T have.  I need to tell you about the one thing they have the most.  Peace. 

    Peace comes to those who still hope even though they've been disappointed, to those who still believe even though they've been betrayed and to those who still love even though they've been hurt

I sat today on a playground in an orphanage, I held a baby wearing a cloth held on by masking tape, and I played soccer with a boy whose pants wouldn't stay up due to lost buttons and broken zippers.  It was so amazing!!  Does it sound amazing?  I am guessing not, but in the midst of all of it was such a peace.  I cried at first, I can't pretend that I didn't, but it wasn't tears of sadness, it wasn't tears of pain or want for things they can't have, but tears of ...can I say it...jealousy?  How do they live in such conditions, in such places, yet still have so much peace?  The little girl I mentioned earlier, did I mention all the high fives she gave?!  Over and over, she brought joy and smiles to every single person that laid eyes on her.  You didn't see the scarred scalp, the mangled arm, and the lost fingers you just saw this light, and when people gave her that high five, it was as if she passed it on to them through the palm of her hand.  She was magic, truly. 

As I sat in the midst of it, you can't help but start to introspect and I begin to do just that.  Funny how you think of missionaries as so selfless, but if I have learned nothing from doing these trips it is that if you want to learn about yourself, and I mean really learn what you are made of then this is the premise to do it.  I have spent this past year, mourning lost relationships, building different ones, struggling to be a good Mom, learning how to be a great wife and right here in the middle of Haiti it all hits me.  I begin to cry, I am sad for what I have lost, I do want to be the best Mom/wife/friend, I want to be Wonder Woman.  Isn't that the American way?  Isn't that what we all strive for?  Well, tonight I met Wonder Woman, in person and she didn't look anything like me.  She sat in a crib and held her arms up asking to be held.  She was scarred and beautiful, she didn't float in an invisible plane but she floated from arms to arms as if she had wings of her own.  She gave off a light of such magnificent beauty, and opened your heart in such a way, you could have imagined she had a golden rope of truth.  This was Wonder Woman, this is what I truly want to be.  This is what I want to work hard to become. 

God works in such mysterious ways, and I am sure his intent was not in a cartoon character, but He did teach me something today.  He showed me what Peace is, what Peace does, and how Peace can transform your life.  Peace is a super power, and it is hard to attain.  You have to truly, truly believe that God will do for you what He wants done.  You have to believe that what you want is not important, you have to trust that in the end you will be in a good place.  These things are not easy.  But this much I know is true, if she can do it, then I can do it. 

Psalm 86:3-5 - "Have mercy on me, Lord, for I call to you all day long.  Bring joy to your servant , Lord, for I put my trust in you.  You are forgiving and good, abounding in love to all who call to you."

A work in progress,
Charity Grubbs

Monday, December 2, 2013

Day One by Kristi Carstensen

Wow is really the best way to start to talk through the day. I followed the crowd and did the 30 days of thankfulness leading up to Thanksgiving this past week... starting anew with finding the good in each day to talk through. Many of the last days have included the overwhelming gratefulness that comes from the generosity of those around me, my team, and Healing Haiti as an organization. Trips do not happen without a prayer team that is faithful and on such an awesome wavelength with God that things just happen. A team of financial supporters... a family and friend network that listens to the ramblings of a full mind of all that I need/ want to get done before I go.

And then we land in Haiti. The day started like the previous trips... up early, last minute additions to the bag, watching the kids sleep for a few minutes, and off to the airport with my mom. I can only describe the whole day as seamless in many ways. No real issues with the check in, flight, layover, flight, pick up, dinner, and team. I'm listening to laughter and sharing and bonding and things that just happen in Haiti. Sometimes strangers, sometimes friends, sometimes family... but always a team.

Words of the day follow.... mine was Home. I have said it before, and it is just as true now as it was a year and a half ago when I was last in Haiti, that most of my days are a soundtrack. The song that popped into my head today was one that is, in full length, a love song. The chorus repeats the line, "it feels like home to me..." The smells, the sights, the beautiful mountains, ocean view... It is when I'm here there is a peace that settles. Perhaps it is in knowing that all I'm supposed to do is what God asks of me. Perhaps the lack of daily demands... Perhaps it is because there is nothing more than what is immediately in front of me. Perhaps, and what is most likely the most true, is that because God simply calls teams, trips, people for a time and place such as this. There is a peace and a calm that surpasses all understanding in simply saying yes. I am so guilty of overthinking life- making it more difficult than it needs to be. Everything has to be calculated and double checked and certainty gained before I'll jump in. A cost/benefits analysis of nearly every facet of life. Even this trip was overthought and analyzed to death. But the yes nearly always comes.

It just feels like home simplified.  In the simple, every day Haiti, home. A peace and a calm for the day can be found.  My heart is so full. Dear God... thank you for calling us to do Your work in this place. Let's go.