Saturday, August 22, 2015

Saturday - Caden

Today was another great day, but it involved us to be flexible. The first thing we were planning to do was visit the Haitian Museum, but right away we found out that it wasn't open. So we had to adjust to God’s plan for the day and decided to explore and taste the culture of downtown Port-au-Prince. When we did that we all ended up having a lot of fun, because the city was setting up for a community festival! While we were exploring, workers were putting huge colorful birds made out of old car tires in the trees and we also saw a dance group practice. We really enjoyed ourselves even though it was very hot.
The second thing that we did was visit an orphanage called La Lou. I really enjoyed myself there and also the kids! It was really calm during our Bible Story and craft, but after we brought out some toys and stuff for them to have, it became crazy in the place. There was a lot of grabbing as the kids wanted to have the toys for themselves. After we got all of them calmed down it went very smooth! 
After the orphanage we went to The Apparent Project, this is a place that woman in the community are able to use their amazing talents and gifts to make things that they can sell. We were planning to get a tour but we weren't able to do that so we had to be flexible again. So instead of doing that we explored the store and bought stuff. There was a cafe in the store so we all were able to get home made smoothies, lemonade and all that jazz which was amazing!
The final thing we did today was eat at an American owned pizza place. It is called Pizza Amour. The thing that we so cool about this place was that the restaurant was a house. The people who started the place were very nice. They had 6 kids and they all worked at the restaurant. We all had a really good time bonding over some amazing pizza!

The thing that I really liked about today was that this one girl at the Orphanage stepped up and told all the other kids at the table to put the materials in the middle. That way everyone could have some materials during the craft. The reason that I love this action is because she and the other kids have so little, but they are willing to share the little things that they have! We are often so greedy and don't want to share, even though we have so much! This is just one reason why I love Haiti.

Friday, August 21, 2015

Day 5

We started the day early and went to the sunrise service at a neighborhood "tent" church. It's not really a tent anymore. It's actually made out of cement blocks. The pastor was enthusiatically speaking in Haitian Creole, so we didn't understand what he was saying. It wasn't like a church in America, because everyone was up and moving and praying. Some people were walking while they prayed. The pastor spoke a bit in English and told us to ask our neighbors for prayer requests and to pray with them. Everyone held their neighbors' hand and spoke to each other. There was a lot of singing - even some American songs that we recognized, like "Our God." The pastor moved with the music and jumped around with the people. His enthusiasm made us feel like we could understand him, even though much of the time we couldn't. He told us that "YOU ARE NOT GUILTY!" He repeated that a bunch of times. He also said "This house is full of joy. OH YEAH!" The people cheered often.

After church, we had breakfast back at the guesthouse and gathered all of our stuff for the beach. Many teams that come to Haiti take kids from the neighborhood or an orphanage swimming at the public beach. Unfortunately, it did not work out for our team to do that, so our team went to the beach by ourselves. We went to Wahoo Bay Resort. When we got there, there was a beautiful view of the ocean. Some of the team went snorkeling and we all enjoyed swimming. A couple of us got stung by jellyfish. Today we had fun and grew closer together as a team.

-- Elaina Gerst

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Elderly and Grace Village Visit

Today we went and visited 3 elders in Titanyen. The first elder we visited was named Clelie, she is 76 years old. She had lots of spirit and joy, we washed and massaged her hands and feet then painted her nails. We prayed over her for strength and health. The next elder we visited was Marie who is 105 years old. We also painted her nails as well as the neighbor kids around her. Her only prayer request was to be able to go to church on Sunday. Finally we visited a 22 year old named Jude Jean Paul, who has epilepsy. We sang and prayed with his mother who is very loving and caring and has devoted her life to him through God.

Next we visited Grace Village and toured the compound. They are creating family lives for the orphans because God created families not orphanages. They are also providing schooling, food, jobs, and health care. The aquaponics farm is providing responsibility and food for the children. It's so great to see the vision of Grace Village come to life.

After we visited the Mass Grave, 300,000 bodies were buried there after the Earthquake. Brunet told us a story of his personal experience with the earthquake and how emotional it was for everyone. Outside of the Mass Grave we gave out "Feed My Starving" food to the surrounding community. When the food started getting low the crowd got a little aggressive, we finished giving out the food and started our ride back to the guest house.

Today was a long emotional yet joyful day and we are very thankful for this experience! -Avery Whitbeck, Maddy Canny, and Lucy Gerst

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Day 3 - Wednesday

Day three was one of highs and lows, one of change and growth, and finally one of understanding and respect. At the beginning of the day we started off with yet another great breakfast cooked by our world famous guest house chef's, made with their chicken bullion eggs and ripe mangos. After breakfast we had down time to fill our water bottles and get ready for the day, while our leaders talked with our translators to figure out the current situation with the water truck. One of the filling stations was down and we needed to get to the truck so we hopped in our trusty Tap-Tap, and off we went.

When we arrived at the filling station we spent little more than seconds waiting for the truck which came out with it's horns bellowing speeding into the busy intersection, we followed hastily behind in an attempt to match the truck speed. As we drove we passed many roadside landmarks some of which will remain in my mind forever. To give a little background my first time in Haiti was about this same time of the year in 2014, it was only four years after the earthquake and Haiti was still in shambles it had a corrupt government and there was only ruin and despair, it was an arid desert with little more than crumbling infastructure and a people in a national depression (both in a physical and spiritual sense).  That is why it was so relieving for me to come around Haiti and see a land bustling with life and happiness. See America is a place with a more materialistic culture and scale of happiness, however in Haiti you see a culture built on community and spiritualism, which is why while we were driving when we pass such communities with trees and grass and the simple things you can see how much Haiti has truly grown, from despair to a relative happiness, you can again be proud to be Haitian.

When we arrived in Citie Soliel, the vast trek through open sewers, past U.N. guards with assault rifles and past market stalls with pigs heads seemed to initially bear no reward, but one of the great things about the Haitian people is that the beauty is not always on the surface, what may seem a hard and unforgiving land can truly blossom into a picture of beauty, the trick is that it is in the eyes of the beholder.

With our first stop morale was high, delivering water to a people with such hope tends to rub off on you and being the reverse missionary truly sets in. we left the Tap-Tap only to be greeted by un-clothed children desperately needing to be held, these are loving people who live on nothing but prayers to get by. It was a stop 17 one I had been to before, this stop was a great example of the warmth of god and the prayers of a people, not to mention the change the Haitian people have endured in their last year. the church was still being built but its mere existence was a triumph over poverty itself not to mention a symbol of hope to the Haitian people that the earthquake was just a veil of darkness over the Haitian peoples otherwise bright future.

When the bellowing horn sounded that was when the people came flocking from all about through routes that most of the team didn't even know existed, and in seconds a gravel street corner had become a vibrant and bustling hub of energy and movement. Within the first couple of seconds water had filled the streets, turning the whole vaguely tiled floor into a mess or wet dirt and slippery tiles. People had began to crowd around and it was time for me to make my choice as to whether I was going to be on the hose or with the children, though I chose the hose initially that is not to be said that I couldn't be swayed to find a different place on the line. In the beginning Nate was working the front end where the business happened but he kindly moved offered me the front end so that I could experience the hectic rush for water myself. Though there was a kind Haitian man to help show me the ropes, we built up a rhythmic order and in the end it was just our Haitian guide and the locals moving buckets into order and me holding the giant hose in place while the water rushed out in a white current.

After encountering no problems at that stop we moved to the Haitian Initiative, where I had the most memorable experience yet in Haiti. When you walked into the steaming hot room you saw that there was little more that a makeshift kitchen and a table in a space large enough to be a warehouse. To give a little more background, I moved from Saint Paul to Edina in the summer of second grade, where I made what would be my home until I graduated high-school, In Edina we often hear of the Haitian Initiative, not only in how they would destroy us in soccer but also how many sponsors would bring these children from Haiti to Edina, where they would live during soccer season. Needless to say Edina is very connected in the Haitian Initiative organization, so it felt quite good to see Edina's loss had gone to some worthy players, these kids were kinder, more playful and more joyous than any kids I had ever new. With countless games and ways to entertain themselves they must keep themselves in shape and quick on their feet come soccer season.

While inside the Haitian Initiative organization I sat down with my grandmother, Pam and a man I had never met before, we sparked up a conversation and though he looked the part he had to good of english to be born here, it was as if it was his first language with little to no accent and using words that a gifted scholar might use it warranted the question of "where are you from?" the question was of course met with a toothy grin and a heavy laugh followed by an explanation and short summary of his life.

He told us how he was raised in New Jersey and was an avid reader of many holy books, he found his calling by doing missionary work down in Haiti after reading a particular book that listed quote from the bible. "I am working for the lord" he said, making his mark as an true christian.

While majority of the Haitians ran into a circle to play a group game some of the players and I snuck off with David to get some photos, they all had Edina jerseys on and when I told them I was from there to they burst out in somewhat laughter and somewhat amazement as they seemed to never expected than someone from Edina would come to visit them.

As it grew later in the day we socialized some more and gave the kids some more amazement when I told them I was 15, and 5'-8'' they thought that it was not possible that I was 15 as the nearest kid a 16 year old was barely 5 feet tall. However at that point the amazement and fun was only to be continued as Micah busted out his dance moves and showed the whole team what fun really was.

Chris Lethert

Day 3 of Haiti - By Caden Boike

Today was a really fun and it was also a very emotional day for all of the people in our group. One of the things that we did was deliver water to a poor shanty town called Cite Soleil. The first stop was a lot of fun! We all enjoyed playing with the kids and helping people get water. The thing that I really liked about the people of Cite Soleil is that they have so much joy about everything that goes on. For example when we got to the place where we would deliver the water all the kids crowded around just wanting to get hugged and held. Then when they would get that hug it would bring them so much joy and happiness. So if we weren't carrying kids or playing with them we would be helping people get water in their buckets and carrying it for them. The second place that we went was a little more emotional for the group. It felt a little more intense. The kids and people were a little more aggressive in wanting our attention and love. They also had different boundaries then we did. For example, they would grab at us and want to stroke our hair. This definitely showed their high need for touch and attention. But sadly we had to leave this stop a little early because of things starting to heat up. Afterwards though, this experience led to a lot of bonding and help our group grow closer to each other because we were able so share our thoughts and feelings about what we had gone through.

Another thing that we did today was go to this place called Haiti Initiative, also called H.I. This was a place for kids to get schooling, food and also attend a soccer academy. This place was also in Cite Soleil. The thing that I like so much about H.I was that the kids had the most joy that I have ever seen. The boys would like to arm wrestle and they were a lot stronger than you would think! They beat me almost every single time! Then the girls would have a fun dance party where they would get in a circle and clap and dance (There may have been some Whipping and Nae Naeing involved). Despite there was a big language barrier we were able to have so much fun through playing and interacting. To wrap up I think that the biggest thing that I learned was that we can find joy in the littlest things, just like how the people in Haiti do. Like they don't have as much as we do, but they have the most joy and love I have ever seen. The Lord is at work in Haiti and I can for sure see it.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Day 2 Haiti

           During the day our group split up in to two groups. One went to Gary's, and one went to the home of sick and dying children.

            The home of sick and dying children was really an eye opener for me. You would walk by their crib and they would just stick out there arms wanting to be held. We would feed, them carry them, or just sit with them. At the time we were there, it was the time when the kids parents would come visit them. They left before we did and when they left the kids would just scream and cry, there was a time when I was just sitting in the toddler section without a kid. When a little girl just came and laid on my legs just saying "Mama no" that was all she say for the last 45 minutes. She really clung to me and when I had to go it was really hard, I was just about out the door when I looked back. the girl was standing maybe 10 ft away with a tear going down her cheek. But over all it was a great experience for me that showed me that these kids just want to be loved and cared for. -Jack Boike

            The other half of our team went to Gary's orphanage for kids with special needs.
This was a newer destination considering only four teams have been down there. When I got out of the tap-tap I could already hear the cries of delight from the kids in the orphanage. We walked in, found 17 of the kids in the orphanage. Some of them were very stiff and couldn't completely move all of their muscles. Those were the ones that I loved to be around, because all you needed to do was stroke them, or massage them and they would be happy. I held a kid for a while, and she only smiled when we sang. I helped a little boy make a mighty fortress, using four chewed up legos. I also helped spoons feed a different little boy. I guess i need to practice before I have a child, because i didn't do the best. I had to leave right in the middle of struggling to feed the boy. At the start I was an observer, the trick is to jump right in. -Micah Stoerzinger

Monday, August 17, 2015


After a relatively smooth pair of flights, we have arrived safely in Haiti.  The kids were excited and seemed to love the tap tap ride to the guest house where we will be staying for the next week.  After settling in, about half the team challenged the neighborhood boys to a soccer match while the other half walked over to a neighboring hotel pool to take a refreshing break from the heat.  All seemed to be looking forward to tomorrow where we will face our first day of serving.  I'm sure more than a few hearts will be broken at the home for sick and dying babies and the handicapped orphanage that we will be visiting.

Our trip that we have been preparing for these last months in now upon us.  I can't think of a better way to close out the summer for these kids.