Sunday, April 19, 2015

Sometimes All You Need Is A Comforting Bosom 

Mission work is a complex amalgam of love, hard work, spiritual warfare, travel, giving, and joy. Throw in some pain, terror, sacrifice, heartbreak, privation, and laughter and you start to get the idea of what it really is like to leave your home behind, get on a jet with a bunch of strangers, and then eat Pringles as you bounce across rotten roads with a load of orphans.
This week in Haiti was my second one in three years. It won’t be the last unless I get lucky and meet God in person before next year. It cemented my impressions and love of the country, and people, that occupy this fragile island.
Two years ago it was a different place. Where there were stinking canals full of garbage on the first visit, there is water flowing and backhoes clearing away the sewage. Pounded collections of rubble from the 2010 earthquake have been replaced with small markets, new homes, and plantings of corn and sugar cane.  Smiles have replaced frowns. Blue skies are no longer darkened with the clouds of burning plastic.
Best of all, the national color of Haiti has changed from the blue of tarps in a tent city to the reflective vest of the construction workers and their matching hard hats. The country is cleaner, more vibrant: they are coming back from a terrible tragedy and a history that mixes despair, despotism, and liberty in unequal parts.
One thing hasn’t changed: the hearts of the people who come here on missions. Tender, caring, broken people who give their time and money to help Haiti climb out of the pit. A national mass grave has been left behind in a move toward a future of growth and tourism.  All with the help of people like Tamara and Stefan.

They are the two very tired missionaries who have children, also asleep, draped all over them. A soft bosom to comfort the children of Haiti, as they grow toward a future of joy. Two very different bodies, two different people. One spirit. The spirit of Jesus as he uses us as his hands and feet. And his comforting breast.


Saturday, April 18 

Love Thy Neighbor...

We made our way back to City Soleil to bring water, one of life’s most precious resources, and good will, to the people that live there.

As we maneuver the creaky Tap Tap and sister water truck into place, the residents of the city gather. Children smile and reach up and out, toddlers wait, for something--they don’t seem to know just what; and grown-ups are all business.  They line up their buckets quickly, looking for any hole in the line to slip into (we call it butting)--some succeed; others are reprimanded by the water truck driver, or our Haitian translators.

There is an energy circulating within the gathering--not upbeat as it was earlier in the week.  More unsettling, as if a storm was far off but brewing.

Our group begun to help;  carrying buckets, hoisting gallons of water to impossible positions on top of small heads; holding small children and babies, praying to infuse everything good thing that we held in our souls into these lovely beings as if for storage when needed.

Two young ladies shielded my team mate and me as we sat  in the hot sun, with a rag just big enough to cover our heads and the young children we were holding. They reminded me of sentinels; their sole duty to give back something to these strange white people whom they trust are here to help.

Later, a man vehemently slaps a young boy about the ears and on his head repeatedly.  I stand between them, helpless--to do much of anything else.  The man leaves; the boy begins to whimper, then sob.  I try to comfort him, to no avail.  He is distant--perhaps anticipating further unrest when finally he must go home sometime today for shelter.

Shelter.  4 by 5 feet, perhaps.  A couch. No bed. Dirt on the floor.  A chicken pacing in front of the towel hung in an opening to constitute a doorway.

The morning grows chaotic as the water begins to run out.  The people quicken their pace to retrieve water that they pray will get them through to the next delivery.
The water runs out.  Our group makes their way to the pier, as our driver tends to a flat tire.

When we return to the tap tap, we find waiting an injured woman, her head gashed and bleeding.  As our team mate,who is a nurse practitioner, and one of our leaders tend to her injuries, our translator explains that a man has intruded into her house and attempted to rape her 12-year-old daughter.  When the mother fended the man off to protect her daughter, he beat her severely. Our skilled nurse patched her up with with what tools we had from the tap tap first aid kit.  The woman would go back to her house.  No hospital--no money.  No police--there are none.

Love thy neighbor...

I stand by the tap tap. Lost. Where is God today, I’m wondering?
I feel like crying, and then I do. Stuck. Helpless. Saddened. 

A little girl in a dirty white dress sees me from the other side of the tap tap.  She makes her way over to me, looks up at my tears with genuine, adult--looking concern.

Beautiful, deep brown eyes, furrowed brow.
Genuinely concerned.

She takes the hem of her dress and lifts it to my face to dab at my tears.

I hug her close, wanting to savor the utter, simple humanity of this moment.

The injured leaves, the crowd begins to thin.  we board the tap tap.

A morning of tension, a morning of violence, a questioning of faith--redeemed by a small child reaching out--an act as large as God--an act of loving thy neighbor.

After all...

Marj Hellweg

Friday, April 17, 2015

Just Another Mission Post

We went some places and did some things. 

We did this and we did that next. Then we had lunch, did some more stuff and came back for spaghetti.

Thus your classic mission blog begins. Usually about where the average reader ends their interest and skips back to Facebook to see if the friend from Ohio put up the new pictures of their child.

Not today. Because each of the members of my mission team, and all of the people with whom we spent time deserve much better.

Chronology matters in this narrative only in that it frames what we learned to love about Haiti today. Our morning on the road was slowed down with some vehicle issues. Unlike many groups I’ve spent time with on this planet, in other times, and other uniforms, this did not result in endless kvetching and eye-rolling. People laughed, looked at the pristine sky, and chatted with each other while we waited for the translators to take care of our vehicle. Good guys, every one of them. Excellent drivers, sheep dogs when wolves approach, and friends to share a joke with during the moments between moments. 

This is my second trip to Haiti. Not my last. I was greeted with smiles and hugs from all of them. Evidently tales had been told, because the ones who had just started all seemed to know about me. Reserving comment on that: I’m honored and nervous.

Time now encroached on the mission. That doesn’t change if you’re flying bombers over Nazi Germany, making stops at orphanages, or driving the kids to hockey practice. Our leaders are good ones. They sought our opinion, weighed it and decided. Bad leaders move by consensus regardless of the situation. Our leaders did the right thing. Maybe not in my opinion, but theirs. I appreciate that and love them for it all the more.

We did the full core workout today: bouncing on bad roads in the back of the van will do that: you have to use every muscle in your core to stay on the just-not-wide-enough bench and avoid smashing into the person next to you, or the grab rail just above your head. Your team will catch you/cushion you as you roll around. Mutual defense through mutual contact.

Now to the point. Glistening soap bubbles floated toward the palm trees lining the orphanage as the snow-cones amped up the sugar level in our blood. Not one child was  alone in the night, nor were we. We loved the time together, the bounding soccer ball and the cracking jump-rope. Small children, 64 year old retirees, and twenty-something men and women who had more in common than most families: Jesus Christ.

Mutual respect, loving kindness, and joy reigned supreme from the breakfast table to the diesel smoke clogged highways. Spiritual love and blessings went right along side of the squeezable apple sauce. Peace and joy occupied the knees of middle-aged men as children sat upon them in search of solace.

So, while we did go places and do things, we mainly were the hands and feet of Christ.

That made it a perfect day.------Joe

Thursday, April 16, 2015


Today was a day that overflowed with hope, the kind of day that is rare in Haiti. Our team toured Grace Village in the city of Titanyen, which translates to "Less than Nothing". God's glory has transformed this town of "Less than Nothing" to a town of hope, opportunity and perseverance. Grace Village has given the children of Titanyen hope for the future, for independence and sustainability. The compound contains a school, clinic, feeding center, aquaponics center, library and homes for orphans. Driving up the hillside to Grace Village is one of the most awe inspiring sights I've laid eyes on. The astonishing mountains and crystal blue ocean pale in comparison to the beauty inside Grace Village. When I look at Grace Village I see the Lord, I see the passion of hundreds of people who have worked themselves to the bone to spread God's hope and promise to the Haitian people. I see a vision that only our Father could have orchestrated.

In addition to serving and educating the youth, Healing Haiti also supports the elderly of Titanyen. Many consider the elderly to be the true orphans of Haiti as the average age of mortality is 52. Many of the elderly that receive support have lost everyone close to them or have simply been forgotten. We met with a woman today named Marie that had an immense impact on each of us. Marie is 104 years old and had 14 children and only one of them
is still living. Marie is filled with the Lord's light and relies on His grace to provide her meals, shelter and medical care. We sang in worship with Marie and washed her body as she beamed with joy and prayed for us. Words can't describe how humbling it is to have this magnificent woman who lives in a home the size of a walk in closet praying for you. When we asked Marie what we could do for her she said she'd like us to pray for her family, for her health and daily meals.

Marie requested that we take a picture of her so that we never forget her face - which would be impossible for anyone that comes into contact with her. I will always have Marie in my heart and in moments of weakness I will do my best to remember her joy and gratitude for our Savior and for the gift of life. Christ has blessed me immensely in the opportunity to meet Marie and I pray that each of us is given the opportunity to be a shining light in a strangers life.
- Tamra

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

A day of contrasts.  That's what today was for me.  The beauty of mountains and aqua ocean and pink flowering vines contrasted against broken and crumbling homes made of tarps, cinderblock and sheetmvetal.  We spent our time out today at City Soleil.  The poorest slum in the western hemisphere.  We delivered water with the water truck.  Happy half naked and wholly naked children of various ages literally pressed around and into us at each water stop, latching onto our hands and/or bodies, thirsty for attention and touch just as much as water.  Large empty buckets and metal tins were lined up to fill from a continuously flowing hose of water.  Our duties and privileges of the day: holding kids, acting as human playgrounds, helping fill and facilitate the filling of these buckets and bowls, helping carry these filled water buckets back into the maze of homes in the City - sometimes one hand/arm holding one child and the other helping another child carry a 40 pound slushing bucket of water.
I said today was a day of contrasts.  The sun was HOT, the water was cool.  The water we brought was clean, the water in the surrounding gutters was DIRTY, filled with urine, trash, and likely human waste.  Contrast our team's need for consistent hydration and these Haitian people who don't seem to need a third of the water we need to keep going.  The contrast of dirty, dusty feet and bodies and pressed and sparkling clean uniforms on the kids coming and going from school.

The biggest contrast for me today: weakness and strength.  These Haitian people have an unbelievable strength and stamina.  They work and live hard in the sun, don't seem to require nearly as much water as we do, and these kids can carry and push 40 pounds of water without taking nearly as many breaks as I need to.  The water buckets hang on unbroken fingers and rides atop strong heads and necks. I started the day out in weakness.  We are all probably cruising on less strength and energy than we otherwise would (not being used to the heat and perpetual sweating, to be honest.)   But let me tell you this - in my weakness and fatigue, the LORD Almighty, who loves these Haitian people, was my STRENGTH.  And seeing the fatigued, sweaty, yet willing and joyful faces of my team, I know that my Jesus was their strength too, without a doubt.  There were several times where I  literally felt I could not help carry one more bucket or pick up one more child with their arms outreached.  In the moment of silent confession to my Creator of my inability, strength that was not my own lifted up the other side of the bucket and picked up and held the darling child.  And I praise God.  Because moments of this kind of physical weakness are hard to come by in my middle class American life in the states, but this experience provides a beautiful soil for growth of knowing my LORD to be my strength and to LEARN that His grace IS sufficient for His power IS made perfect in weakness - 2 Cor 12:9-12.  And while my faith isn't always sure of the validity of that promise, my experience today and the experience of my friends with me affirms that it IS true.  
Let now the weak say I have strength, by the Spirit of Power that raised Christ from the dead. - Hillsong   -------- Stephanie

A Passionate Heart, A Willig Heart A Volunteers' Story

A Passionate Heart, A Willing Heart - A Volunteers Story

     Let me ask you this question.  Where is your heart when it comes to serving others?  Many people ask "what do I have to offer"?  I asked myself the same question at times.  We have more to offer than we think.  It says in 1Peter 4:10 Each of you should use whatever gifts you have received to serve others as faithful stewards of Gods grace in its various forms.  God has blessed each and everyone of us with gifts and talents that he wants us to use on a daily bases.  So, what we should be asking ourselves is, What am I passionate about, what inspires me to want to serve?  Gods love pours into each of us.  If we in return would pour some of that love into blessing others the more passionate we will be in doing what God has asked us to do.  There will be some that will say "it will take me to much out of my comfort zone" or they may feel they don't have what it takes to serve.  I said the very same thing.  It is through our weakness God is strongest.  Take it from someone who's shy and insecure at times, when i'm being a blessing to someone it's worth getting out of our comfort zone for.  So, when you ask yourself why me, why not you.  Why not me.  We are all children of God.  We will guide us every step of the way.  And, maybe a whole new doors of opportunity may open.  You never know where it will take you.  Take that step of faith and be a blessing to someone.  And as for me, why do I do what I do, I want to make a difference in this world.  To love my neighbor.
     I had the greatest  opportunity to spend the day with some young beautiful children today.  I was holding a little girl with the biggest smile on her face.  We were both feeling quite content as I was rocking her in my arms humming Amazing Grace.  That's what it's all about.  God is good.

Kimberly Juska

Monday, April 13, 2015

Winding down a beautiful day filled with sunshine, happiness, courage, faith, and love. Feeling blessed to be in the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere serving our LORD in Haiti. We are already forming intense bonds that will last a lifetime in our hearts. We were honored to play soccer with the little ones and to be amongst amazing company throughout our first day. The Haitians were incredibly welcoming while destroying us in soccer. They were extremely fast, energized, and limber. They taught us how to smile big throughout the struggle while also teaching us Creole. A devotion meeting helped us to focus on the reason we are all here. Just as the prophet Isaiah was called by God in Isaiah 6:8. The verse says, "Then I heard the voice of the LORD saying,'Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?' And I said,'Here I am. Send me!'

" God called us to serve in Haiti. We are all extremely excited to begin this journey together with God leading the way. Kasey Kelly

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Ready to Go - Just Need to Pack

"And someday, in the midst of giving yourself in the spirit and act of volunteering, that seed will blossom into the amazing realization that this is what you were made for!"

I love this quote that Dave mentioned in his previous blog.  It is reality for me.  I went to Haiti last year for the first time.  I have not been the same since then.  I call it the week that I was "fully alive".  Doing what I was made for.  Experiencing the full range of emotions, from deep joy and heartfelt laughter to gut wrenching sobs and heartache, to bonding with people on the team I had never met before, but felt like I have known  for years, to finding within myself a compassion, love and care for others that I didn't know was there.  My heart opened to serving "the least of these" and in that I discovered that I am "the least of these". 
In one of my favorite books "Your God is Too Safe" the author Mark Buchanan describes how we each have a "holy must".  Paul says in Philippians 3:12 "I take hold of that  for which Christ Jesus took hold of me."  That is the "holy must".  What must I do  - what was I made for?  I want to "take hold of that".  I found my "holy must" in Haiti last year.  I found what I was made for.  And it has been growing within me ever since then. 
So I go to Haiti again, with an open heart to whatever God wants to do in and through me to fulfill that "holy must".  To do what I have been made for.  I am "Ready To Go - Just Need to Pack"

Kathy Witte

Saturday, April 4, 2015

Our Trip is Upon Us

 All of us come from different backgrounds and all of us have different reasons for wanting to travel to Haiti.  We all have taken time off of our busy schedules and spent considerable effort and thought in preparing for our upcoming mission trip.  Some of us will have doubts.  Some are excited and some are probably not quite sure what this will be like.  For many, this will be their first time volunteering and they're probably wondering what they could possibly have to offer to the people of Haiti.  Bill Hybels answers this best in  "The Volunteer revolution".

" What do you have to offer?  More than you probably think. You have the gifts and talents you were born with.  The passions that inspire you.  The blessings of education.  The skills you've honed as you worked at home and in the marketplace.  The life experiences that have matured you.  The pain that deepened you.  The love that spills from God's heart into yours.

Once you decide to invest even a small portion of the blessings God has given to you into the lives of others, you'll find the seed of something powerful sown in your soul.  And someday, in the midst of giving yourself in the spirit and act of volunteering, that seed will blossom into the amazing realization that this is what you were made for!"