Sunday, May 5, 2013


The trip could not have ended on a finer note.  After attending the inspiring service at Grace Village and touring Port au Prince, we were invited by Jean to attend a celebration of his sister's son's first communion.  His sister's family were so kind as to open up their home to strangers and extend their hand in friendship as we celebrated together this milestone event.  The family was so welcoming that we felt like we had known them for years.  To attend was an honor that was not lost on the team.  It was a wonderful evening gifted to us by some gracious new friends.

Saturday, May 4, 2013

Trusting the Lord

Today, the Lord blessed us with the opportunity to lead the children's ministry at Grace Village, along with the vivacious Creole interpretation by Pastor Wesley.  The lesson today was about Gideon in Judges chapter 7, made us realize that the Lord was not only speaking to the children but to all of us here at Healing Haiti.  How do we trust the Lord with everything that we have seen, heard, smelled, touched and walked?  The enormity of the needs of the Haitian people has left a mark on all our hearts!  These enormous needs are similar to Gideon's initial large army.  Our initial reaction is to want to bring in a large "american army" to see immediate resolutions to these needs.  However,  will this be glorifying us or will it be glorifying the Lord?

The Lord speaks clearly that we need to totally trust him and that the resolutions should glorifying Him, and Him alone.  Just as the Lord didn't want Israel to boast in their own strength, the Lord wants us to have humble hearts and follow his lead in all situations.  Here in Haiti, it is not about following our own agenda, but trusting God's purpose for this country.  Sometimes, these needs seem so big and overwhelming that it is hard to trust there is a plan in all of this.  But when we listen and obey God's Word, the end result is that Our Lord is glorified and we see that God's plan is greater and far larger than we could ever imagined.

Yes, the Haitians have many needs, but amongst trying to meet some of their basic needs during our time here in Haiti, what is actually happening, is we are the ones being touched by the Haitians.

Glwa pou Bondye!

Emily Bruhn
Sue Peterson
Deb Hulbert

Pictures of the faith lesson for the kids at Grace Village

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Day 4

We started the day as we always do with a great breakfast prepared by the wonderful Haitian staff here at the guest house. After pancakes and eggs (with Nutela) we dropped donations off at a needy school then headed over to Grace Village for a tour and to visit with the Elders in the town. Our third visit was with Elie who is approximately 65 years old but can’t remember exactly how old he is or what year he was born. Elie lives with his daughter, son-in-law and two grand daughters. Upon entering the home, which was extremely small and warm with little ventilation, Elie was very happy to see our group and immediately said that we were sent by God and pointed up to heaven! He was so grateful for the lunch we brought him which included a peanut butter sandwich, hard boiled egg, juice and salmon and applesauce for later. After he ate, we asked him about his family and we were introduced to his son-in-law, Derice, who doesn’t have a job yet and is expected to provide for the family. After our conversation our group washed his hands, arms, face and feet while another team member played the guitar for him. We were honored to wash his feet which gave us such a deep feeling of compassion and love for Elie. He was so gracious and looking up to heaven, thanking God again for our love and attention to his needs today. 

I told Jennifer when we were leaving that Elie is such a Godly man and I would like to grow old just like him!

John and Jennifer

Today was harder than I ever imagined it would be. Before I Left for this trip I thought that going to home for sick and dying babies would be the hardest part for me, but I was so wrong. Home for sick and dying babies was also heart wrenching but at least they get there basic needs met. They have a bed, food, clean clothes and even diapers. People come to snuggle them and they are protected from the outside world by the home they are in. 
I guess I didn’t know what to expect and didn’t make any assumptions about the water runs we would be doing in Cite Soliel, the poorest slum in the world. When we arrived at our first water run before we were even out of the truck the people had started a line for water and the children were already lined up behind the tap tap waiting to be picked up and loved. The first child to grab my arm was a nine year old girl who asked me my name and then grabbed her little brother and handed him to me. Another girl came up to me and held my hand and with her other hand held on to my upper arm and studied my skin and rubbed and squeezed my arm. She looked up at me and smiled and pointed to my bandana. At first I thought she wanted me to give it to her but realized she just wanted to know how to say “bandana”. I repeated the word to her a few times and she repeated it. She told me her name was Deleda and when I told her mine she repeated it perfectly. She was so beautiful and smart. I guess a lot of the times when you go on water runs the children will ask for things that you have on; headbands, hair binders, bobby pins…ect. Delada never asked for anything. She took out bobby pins from my hair and then would put them back in. She just wanted to play with my hair. I told her she was pretty in Creole and she repeated, “pretty?”, to me and I said “wee, you!” and pointed at her . She smiled and hugged my arm. A few minutes later she looked at me and stroked my hair and told me she thought my hair was beautiful. We took a seat on the side of the road next to Jennifer, another teammate, covered in little ones. We continued to try to communicate, repeating each other’s names and ages. She asked me if the other team member was my mom and then was trying to communicate something to me about her mother. I asked a translator for help and he told me she was telling me that her mother passed away. I held her tightly and tried so hard not to cry. I looked down and saw her tears and cried with her and told her I loved her. Soon after that our team and the kids took a walk out to the “beach”, which is a pier covered in garbage. Pigs and goats are eating the trash and many people are using the bathroom as we walked through. Delada would push and pull me when she saw that I might step on something, which I thought was incredible since she was walking through garbage and glass with no shoes on.  We sang and danced with the children. In the middle of all of that garbage was a beautiful, happy, joy filled few minutes of dancing and laughter. When we had to leave my heart felt so heavy. I hugged Delada one more time and told her I loved her and would see her again someday. I was choking back tears as we got back on to the truck and it hurt my throat not to cry. I couldn’t hold it in for long. I wanted to take Delada home with me. I prayed that God would never let this hurt leave my heart and to not become numb to everything I have seen and heard. I don’t want to forget. I want to make a difference and do whatever I can for the people of Haiti. A piece of me will never leave this place.  My heart is broken for these people and children and it will never be the same. 
-Amanda Jean 

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Searching for Answers

"We learn something from everyone who passes through our lives... Some lessons are painful, some are painless... but, all are priceless."        unknown

What can we learn from a very young girl who has lost her mother and quietly weeps as she tells us her story?  Only later to help us avoid stepping on broken glass with our sandals even as she walks along barefoot beside us.

What can we learn from a mother who desperately needs medical attention for her young child when none is available and we are unable to help?

What can we learn from small children whose only joy for the day is to have some strangers hold and share a laugh or kind a word with them for a few fleeting minutes?

Is it that life is unfair?  Why are we so blessed while others struggle with famine, disease and crushing poverty?

Anyone who enters Cite Soleil is faced with many of these sole searching questions.  None of which has an easy answer.  All I know is that even in the most destitute places you can find hope and joy.  Sometimes it's not easy to see and even more difficult to believe. Yet it's there as shown in their faith, spirit, and undying hope and determination that the future will be a better place and even though it may not come tomorrow, it will come nevertheless.

I find that I learn something new every time I come to Cite Soleil and every lesson stems from the heart and soul of the people.

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Hi Everyone ! This is my first trip to Haiti and I am so excited to see what God has In store for me and the team. Today was our first full day here. We arrived at the guesthouse yesterday around 3 something , quickly stored our checked bags in a space under the stairs where they will stay until the days that we need it, since it is filled with the donations that we are taking to each place we visit. We ate dinner around 4. We had taco salad which was pretty good. I was hesitant to eat the lettuce since I wasn’t sure if it had been rinsed in the water or not but I did anyways, and I am feeling fine today. We wash our hands  A LOT. We wash with soap and water (from the faucet) and then have to sanitize since that water is not clean. After dinner we kind of just did our own thing. Me and Jen took a walk inside of the gate (we aren’t allowed outside of the gate without a Haitian ) I pet the dirty guard dogs while Jen watched in disgust haha The dogs names are Princess, Bacon, and Bitsy. Jen and I plan on bathing them at some point this week because they need some loving too. The team congregated in the living room a little later to do our nightly devotional. Everyone was pretty hesitant to answer any group questions. I am not sure if that was due to people just being uncomfortable or tired. For me, It was a little of both. One of the questions would of needed an explanation far too personal for me to share, at least the first night. We chatted for awhile, listened to a song, and then prayed. After that we were on our own until we wanted to go to sleep.   
From the balcony on the second level you can see a lot of the city. All brick buildings, most of which are crumbling. You can see goats, some roaming and some tied up, lots of garbage, women doing laundry in buckets behind their homes, and kids playing on the streets and on roof tops. At night you can see a few lights, some people sitting outside of their homes and the glow of a couple fires. I am assuming the fire is burning trash. You can hear the children playing in the streets, goats “screaming”, horns honking, and dogs barking.  One of our team members, Todd, brought his guitar and he was kind enough to play a few songs for us that he wrote while we sat outside around the table on the porch of the guesthouse. 
I slept great last night, fell asleep right away and didn’t wake up until my alarm starting going off at 2 am because I forgot to shut it off from the other night. I had some really crazy dreams though. People say they are from taking to malaria pills. I remember waking up at some point and hearing the rain and thinking of how wonderful it sounded, I am assuming I woke because the power went out and the sound of the humming, white noise from our air conditioner in our room shut off.  I woke up again around 6 and tried to make coffee but I didn’t want to break the coffee maker so I just waited for someone else to get up and make it for me. Once I had my coffee in hand I sat outside at the table on the porch because there is somewhat of a breeze out there and it felt lovely. Also, it is the only place my internet worked and I wanted to skype my daughter. It was surprisingly quite except for some birds chirping, and a few dogs barking. We ate bananas, pineapple, pancakes, eggs and oatmeal for breakfast.
 Since home for sick and dying babies only allows ten people there at a time and we have a team of 16 we had to split the team. Half of us went to home for sick and dying babies and half went to the home for sick and dying adults and then we swapped in the afternoon. Home for sick and dying babies was really emotional. When we arrived there was people waiting at the door to bring their sick babies in to get medicine or to drop them off to stay there to be taken care of. Before I was even off of the tap tap I was teary eyed. I could tell that the small frame of the child one of the women was holding was at least 2 years old. To see the women desperately holding their sick, frail, children in their arms waiting for either medication or to drop them off there to be cared for was heartbreaking. I instantly imaged myself holding my 2 ½ year old in my arms, looking in to her eyes while she is sick or dying and knowing that there is nothing I can do to help her but stand outside this door and wait for anything I can get with no promise of knowing that she will get better. The babies were all so sweet. It was hard to put any of them back in their cribs. Adoption has always been an option in my mind but nothing could have made it more heavy on my heart than this day. 
We had a small break between the time we went to the home for sick and dying babies and Sick and dying adult. The majority of us took that time to head to the pool down the street. Some of us just relaxed, dipped our feet in the pool and had a pop. Some of the guys swam.  
On our way to home for sick and dying adults I was…..I don’t even have an emotion for everything I saw and I can’t explain it. It was hard to take it all in. The trash is everywhere, people are selling (what seems to be whatever they can find) off of stands that they have set up right off the street, a few coming up to the tap tap asking us if we want to buy a pop, and the large amount of tents that people live in. The driving was pretty scary, I am surprised we didn’t see any accidents but I guess they are used to it. They do have rules but from what I heard, when one Haitian was asked about driving rules, they responded with “we have rules we just don’t follow them” . The whole thing seemed Surreal. 
When we arrived at home for sick and dying adults church was being held and from the rooms we were in we could hear them singing. At some points during our visit the women would start singing along. We painted their nails and rubbed lotion on them. They were so grateful to have us there and I felt so blessed to have met all of them. In the second room there were adults and children. One of our translators brought in his guitar so he was able to play for them. Three young adults in particular were laying and sitting in their beds, eyes closed, arms raised, and worshipping the Lord. The smaller girls were so excited to have us there with them. They were quick to touch and hug you as soon as you walked in the room, showing you their hands wanting them to be painted while others stood behind you and brushed and played with your hair. 
This whole day has been so amazing and humbling. I feel so incredibly blessed to be a part of this. I know this wont be my Only trip to Haiti. 
Thank You to everyone who is praying for us and the people of Haiti. Thank you for your love and your support. 
-Amanda Jean 

Monday, April 29, 2013


Arriving in Haiti

The team all arrived in Haiti today safe and sound.  We all got picked up at the airport by The Healing Haiti Haitian staff and were taken to the house where we stay.  It was very hot and a different environment from what I/we are use to back in the States.  At the guesthouse we saw kids just running around with smiles on their faces.  When we were out on a small tour a young boy came up and gave me a big hug and we just walked around together talking.  He just put a smile on my face.  The entire team had dinner together and just enjoyed each others company.  

Kids from the walk

After dinner we all got together and discussed the day.  During discussion each of us picked a word to describe the day.  My word was calm.  I felt like the flight here was very smooth and the Haitians at the airport, as well as the ones who drove us here, could not have been nicer.  That experience was very calming.  In America we are always on the go.  Today I took everything I experienced in and realized how simple life is when you stop and see what God is doing around you.



Friday, January 25, 2013

The End Game

As the afternoon wore on, I looked over to where our patients were quietly sitting and waiting.  A lady I had spoken to had been sitting there for hours. Our priority was to see as many children as we could and she never complained when one was placed in the dental chair ahead of her.  I never saw a look of disappointment, anger or frustration.  She sat there for hours.  For her, it was worth the waiting to get a chance to be seen by our dental team.  At the end, it was her turn and I remember her smile.

I couldn't be more proud of this team from Advance Family Dental.  They worked for hours in the hot sun and many would not take the time for a break.  I'm sure that they would have worked well into the night if they could.  They showed great compassion to all and really cared for their patients.  Even after a long week, they were happy and upbeat and reflected on how the operation could be improved and when they could return to Haiti.

We were only here for a week and I'm sure we could have worked for many months. The people here are in such a great need for dental care and many are extremely grateful for a chance to be seen. I know this trip was a challenge to the team, but they embraced it with enthusiasm which only grew as the week progressed.  They were the right team at the right time and I know there are a lot of people thanking God that this team came into their lives this week.

Day 4 Dental Team


We are a little slow at publishing because we were so tired after a full day of dentistry in the heat and sun.

We got our equipment semi-working.  Limping along with less than ideal but far better than most Haitian dentists use.  It is obvious that the usual dental treatment has been extraction and everyone is happy that we have repair options.

The pattern of dental disease is quite different from our patient group in Minnesota.  Lots of calculous (tarter) on young kids age 5.  We usually only see this at age 30 and above.  Decay on the chewing surfaces of teeth are the main problem and when caught early it is a simple fix and the tooth can be perfect for decades without much further care.

The improved diet in Grace Village appears to be making a big difference for tooth health.  Many serious decay area seem to have stopped and "healed" to some extent because the sugary meals they had been eating have been shifted to fruits and vegetables.  They all seem so vibrant too.

So many of the kids are interested in watching us do our work.   I'm sure we have some future dentists in the group.

We have seen the potential to train some individuals in simple dentistry so when we are gone, some abilities remain with the people.  Troy Livesay, resident in Haiti has been training with us and will take some of our equipment and be able to do some basic things.   We will see how that goes.  He is eager learner and has gotten some great experience.

All of our patients are so grateful for our care.  Some haven't had good experience with the dentist in the past, so it takes some coaxing to get them to cooperate.  Smiles after for all!

While exhausting, we drop at the end of the day grateful for the chance to serve.  For many of us, this kind of service is new.  We are talking about "when we come next time" so everyone is excited about continuing our service into the future.

We all fall in love with the Haitian people.  You cannot help but love all the fun smiles and personalities.

We are off for our final push.  We are committed to doing our best and "leaving it all on the court" because we know that they will have limited care in our absence.  Any time lost means we leave some needed care undone.

We have only 3 more children on the must see list but hundreds left that could have some trouble.  We cannot yet do it all but we do what we can and are grateful for the chance.

Dr. Z

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Day 3 in Haiti

Day 3- Healing Haiti

Well its day 3 now, we have experienced so much it is difficult to put it all into words. From the moment we got to Haiti it has been so much more eye opening then any of us anticipated. The Haitians live their lives unlike any other lifestyle we’ve seen thus far. They don’t have all the “necessities” that we think we need, and they survive just fine. They find things fun, interesting, and amusing that we completely take for granted. For example, today we delivered water to a village in City Soleil, one of the poorest places in Haiti. We brought along a jump rope for the children to play with, and before we knew it, they were fighting over who got to use and keep it. It’s these little things that they cherish, that we completely overlook.

Today, tomorrow and Friday we will be working in a place called Grace Village on various patients’ dental needs (orphans, staff members, and the elderly). We have gotten the opportunity to see first-hand how fortunate we are to have regular dental visits. Some of the patients we worked with have never seen a dentist at all, or can’t remember the last time it was. Majority of them were so willing to sit in our chair and get the chance to get their teeth looked at, it was humbling. Others were a little apprehensive, but once the translator let them know that we were there to help, not hurt, there defiance was turned around. Knowing you can help someone, who would probably never get the chance otherwise, is a miracle in itself.

This experience is incredible, and I feel so blessed to be a part of it.

Kalli Flaherty

A Single Tear

"I am only one, but I am one.  I cannot do everything, but I can do something.  And I will not let what I cannot do interfere with what I can do."  Edward Everett Hale

The little boy was first to be seen today.  He looked a little scared and his body tensed as he was brought to the examination chair.  He timidly smiled as our team talked with him to make him feel at ease.  Several people surrounded his chair, holding his hand and encouraging him to be brave.  I can't imagine what he must have felt being the only child there at the time surrounded by strangers with weird looking glasses and masks.  Yet he sat there and never complained.  All I saw was a single tear roll down his cheek that was quickly patted away by one of those around him.

Another boy stood ramrod straight with his arms crossed.  There was no way he was going to be persuaded to sit in that chair.  For 5 minutes we talked with him to try to convince him that we were there to help and feel better.  After quite a while, he finally relented and he was treated.  Later in the afternoon, I saw him return and sit in the examination chair for fun.  The transformation was astounding and heartwarming.

From seeing the kids with previously identified issues to treating the staff of Healing Haiti, the dental team from Advance Family Dental worked tirelessly and obviously loved what they were doing.  They worked with precision and constantly strove to perfect the mobile dental clinic they had set up in the courtyard of the boys dorm.  From the look on the faces of the kids and the staff they treated, I would say there efforts were greatly appreciated.

Haiti Day 2

Today we woke up and had a wonderful breakfast. Fresh fruit,  eggs, pancakes etc.. I guess I should back up a few steps and discuss our night last night after the blog. There's no hot water here at all, we are all becoming very used to cold showers. By cold showers I do not mean luke- warm, I mean COLD. After a long day it is energizing, exhilarating, and leaves you feeling just slightly frozen.  We are all sleeping in bunk beds. They are cozy. During the day the electricity of the guest house is completely off so they kick on the air conditioner at night time. Unfortunately the power goes out often so for a small phase of the night instead of hearing the humming of fans, we heard barking watch dogs and cock-a doodling- do roosters from all over. It was surreal.

After breakfast we got dressed up to go to the home of sick and dying babies/toddlers/children. We took a 10 minute bumpy ride just a few blocks away. We waited at the gate for some time along with a few mothers waiting to visit their sick children. After some more time we discovered the home was too busy and that we will have to come back at a later time..

From there we went back to the guest house, changed and headed up to Grace Village. It is at a much higher elevation than the guesthouse allowing us to overlook the ocean and surrounding land. The whole trip there was eye opening. The things we saw still blow my mind. Mothers carrying buckets that must way over 60 lbs on their heads,  skinny horses with wooden saddles, and thousands of children roaming the streets without parents. I will have pictures to follow.

We arrived at Grace Village which is a home for orphans. We  got a tour from Jessica. She showed us all the school children in class, swing sets, lunch halls etc.. Then we saw the children. Or should I say...the children saw us?!  It was only a matter of seconds before we had all been ridden of our  headbands, sunglasses, and cell phones. Children were literally leaping into our arms begging us to hold and carry them. They would say things like " You are beautiful! "  "What languages do you speak?", and "Are those lashes real? ". It was so funny because we didn't know what they were saying until we asked the interpreter. The interpreters would Laugh out loud and  then tell us what the children were asking. It was always a surprise what would come out next.

At grace Village the kids were dressed beautifully. Hair was braided and perfectly, girls were in dresses and boys were in dress shirts. Tomorrow we are going somewhere where the orphaned children will not be as dressed or not dressed at all. From what I hear they will be even more eager to see, touch, and be held by us.

When we were finished playing with the kids we thought it might be time to begin some dentistry. We set up 4 units and elderly workers began to line up. We saw a total of 11 patients in the few hours we were there. Tomorrow we plan on seeing more because we will have more time. It was a wonderful day and we will be sleeping well tonight.

I will continue to keep you all updated.


Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Our Work Has Begun

"Never worry about numbers.  Help one person at a time, and always start with the person nearest to you"  Mother Teresa

For a long time our elderly patiently waited to see a dental team who are selflessly donating their time and talents to bring dental care to people who desperately need it.  I watched a lady carry herself with pride as we examined her eleven teeth.  Five were determined to have decayed to the nerve, yet she bore her pain as I'm sure she always does- quiet, stoic and uncomplaining.  Another lady (103 years old) had to have a tooth extracted.  When it was finished and she was asked how she felt, she raised her hands and said "Thank you Jesus".  I'm sure that's not the response our team normally gets in the states.  It took a little longer to see each patient as most were in need of extensive cleaning and repair.  Yet I never heard a complaint from those who were waiting nor did I ever catch an angry glance.  All were grateful for the opportunity to be relieved of the pain that most have endured for what I'm sure felt like an eternity.Our team worked through most of the day with little rest, yet I think they would have continued to work for hours more.  In the fading daylight and with reluctance, they finally had to stop seeing patients so they could get our translators home for the evening.

Our list is long and I'm sure we will be unable to see everyone, yet we will try. Tomorrow we will try to exam most of the children Healing Haiti has.  I wonder if they will be as calm and accepting as the elders we saw today?

Saturday, January 19, 2013

The Time is Now

Do not go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail.  Ralph Waldo Emerson

We are finally packed and ready to go.  Will everything get to Port au Prince?  Will we be overwhelmed?  Have we done everything we could to prepare for our next week?  A lot of questions and a lot of uncertainty,  yet there is no place we would rather be and no time like the present to help in any way we can.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

" I Wondered Why Somebody Didn't Do Something. Then I Realized, I Am Somebody."

" I am only one, but I am one.  I cannot do everything, but I can do something.  And I will not let what I cannot do interfere with what I can do." Edward Everett Hale
"I expect to pass through life but once.  If therefore, there be any kindness I can show, or any good thing I can do to any fellow being, let me do it now, and not defer or neglect it, as I shall not pass this way again."  William Penn
" Let no one ever come to you without leaving better and happier." Mother Teresa

How can we help?  How can we best make a difference in their lives?  There must be something more we can do?  Something-anything!

The issues in Haiti are so many that we're often overwhelmed.  Everywhere we look, there's a scale of need so massive that it appears insurmountable.  Nothing happens quickly.  In many cases, change is so slow as to appear to be nonexistent. Yet we must try--

In a few short weeks, a dental team led by Dr. Zollinger will take time off from their busy schedules to volunteer their time to bring dental care to many Haitians who have never had any.  They are bringing supplies, knowledge and above all skills that will ease the burden and suffering that many have had due to decayed or diseased teeth.  Not only will their everyday pain be removed, but future discomfort as well through preventative measures.We have a chance to ease some real suffering.  We have a chance to be able to walk away knowing that everything possible was done to help them.

As with all teams, there will be many tears and soul searching, but my prayer is that we will come away  not feeling frustrated because we couldn't do more, but coming away remembering the smiles and gratitude expressed on the faces on those whose lives have just been measurably improved.  What better memory can there be?