Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Final Days and Re-entry (Day's 7 & 8)

Greetings to those who have been following the happenings of our team in Haiti. We are back! We flew in late last night and had a somewhat joyful, somewhat tearful, but very thoughtful farewell. We were met by a handful of Rockpointers and shared in a hand-locked prayer in the baggage claim to cap off what was an absolutely spectacular experience in Haiti.

To sum up our last couple days in Haiti... On Sunday (Day 7) we drove up to Grace Village where we joined the people of Grace and people from Titanyen in a worship service led by Pastor Gary. The worship was powerful, going back and forth between Creole and English, and the sermon was great as well. After some time with the kids of Grace, we took the taptap up the mountain to see some markets and sites of Haiti. The higher we went, the more it contrast to Port-au-Prince it was. The temperature was much cooler and the landscape and living conditions seemed much more like a Caribbean vacation location. There was a market and restaurant that overlooked all of Port-au-Prince, Grace Village, and the lands beyond. It was truly a breathtaking and beautiful site.

When we returned from the mountain, we began to pack and get things situated for our departure the following day. To cap off the day, John wanted us to have a genuine Haitian salsa dancing experience. A handful of the team decided to go and it certainly was an experience. If you have ever imagined what it would be like to be on the set of "Dancing with the Stars", I am sure it was similar to our Haitian salsa experience. I am sure that all of the dancers were professional. And despite our fear of offending them with our poor dancing abilities, we hit the floor a couple times.

On Monday (Day 8), we started the day by bringing some bags (full of food and other items) to some of the tents near the guesthouse. We ended our experience in Haiti with a soccer game with the neighborhood boys. It was tough to say goodbye to the boys.

All in all, God worked in MANY ways during this trip. In each person differently, but no less profound. It was a humbling honor and privilege to be the hands and feet of God. There is no way to measure how impactful our service in Haiti was. But, then again, God doesn't call us to measure results; He calls us to be faithful. Haiti has left a lasting impression on each of us and I can guarantee that this won't be the last trip to Haiti for many of us. There is progress being made and reason for hope in Haiti. We will continue to lift up Haiti and it's wonderful Haitians up to the Lord!

Thank you for your support and prayer.

Guapo Bondje, Guapo Bondje, Guapo Bondje, boo doo ju!!
Glory to God, Glory to God, Glory to God, FOREVER!

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Caribbean with the Boys (Day 6)

Tonight we are all just a little sun-kissed, after a day swimming in the Caribbean with the neighborhood boys. After breakfast this morning, we gathered 25 of the neighborhood boys headed off to the beach! Via bus and our tap-tap we made our way southwest to a Caribbean beach located in the outskirts of Port-au-Prince. The ride out was a blast as we got to see the largest market in Port-au-Prince and the contrast between the inner-city and the outskirts, which were less populated and more spread out; and less garbage, though there were numerous trash filled canals along the way. We finally began to see palm and banana trees, the Caribbean Sea to the east as we journeyed to the beach. The roads were much easier for those of us in the back of the tap-tap, not quite as bumpy but traffic was the same, with drivers making 3 lanes from a 2 lane highway.

We got to the beach after 2 stops; one to exchange money (dollars for goades) and a second time for another drinking water jug.  After a false start pulling in to an adjoining beach and a lot of maneuvering to park, we were there. The enclosed courtyard was walled from everything and was such a contrast from Port-au-Prince. The neighborhood boys had been anticipating their day and were so patient and obedient as we re-counted them and put bright colored wristbands on them.  To lose sight of any of them was not an option.  We unloaded beach toys and water, after which David needed serious bandaging (he cut is hand while carrying the water jug – but all was taken care of), but then our fun started! With minimal trouble we established which boys needed life jackets and determined that we would lifeguard from further out and watch/corral from there.  We had a blast and the boys alternately teased and splashed or watched out for each other. Not that they were perfect, but mostly so very well behaved and polite. Very little if any squabbling occurred; and except for one time that three ventured much too far down the beach collecting shells and coral, they even reminded each other not to stray too far from the group. We played for a long time before breaking for lunch and distributing peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. These were quickly devoured. After this break there were pictures taken and Karl told the boys about Jesus and everlasting life.                                                                                    

After a wonderful day at the beach with the boys it was time for the ride home. On  the way home the 4 members of the team rode home in the boy’s bus and some of the boys accompanied the rest of the group on the tap-tap. On the tap-tap, several boys fell asleep on an adult shoulder. On the bus there was a lot of excitement and singing. A few of the boys, in the back, fell asleep after the exhausting day.

When we arrived back to the guesthouse and unloaded the transports, each kid was given a giftbag and a Frisbee, which resulted in a little (expected) chaos. And then it was back through the gate to the guesthouse.

It was such a blessing to spend the day with the boys. They are so full of joy and they love the Lord. Again, the world stood still as the boys belted out praise choruses on the ride home. Jesus is present in Haiti and there are big things happening. Bless you all and thank you for your support and prayer. Goodnight!

Friday, November 15, 2013

Tent Church, water truck, and General Hospital (Day 5)

Our day started very, very early with a morning Praise Service at the Tent Church. Freedom of Worship took on a whole new meaning. The chairs were empty as people walked around the area with raised arms praising God. When the Pastor asked people to pray for one another, no one was left without a prayer partner, even us!!! This was a strong foundation for the rest of the day; little did we know how much it would be needed!!

After prayer and a hearty breakfast prepared by Phonice, Brian and David set out for Grace Village to work on the Pizza Oven (they called it Shadrach). The rest of us climbed into the tap-tap for our first stop of the day being the “Hands and Feet of Jesus” delivering water to the Haitians in a tent city (a permanent refugee camp which was suppose to be a step up from Cite Soleil). Our group did amazing work together as a team. Karl began with a reading of God’s word, John 7-24, (translated to Creole by Jonas) prior to turning on the water spigot.  Our team was able to pass and deliver water to the tents for some of the women who were elderly, pregnant, and also small children, unable to carry the 5 gallon buckets that had been filled with water. We knew how heavy the buckets were as we lifted them onto the heads of many. Glimpses inside the living conditions of the tents were beyond description. Similar to our other water stops, there were many children, anxious for our attention, to be held and loved. “Hey you” was a term we have all come to love, as it is the cry we hear from the children as we arrive.

Arriving back to the guesthouse, we prepared for our afternoon visit to the General Hospital. We packed what we thought was a sufficient amount of bags with candy, stuffed animals, toiletries, diapers, crayons, etc, etc. Boy did we underestimate the need!!!

To get to the hospital, we had to drive through “streets” where there was remaining earthquake damage. It was like driving on dried riverbeds of rocks, rubble, trash and masses of people.

The hospital was not one building but multiple buildings and it was never, ever like any hospital Kathy or Sandie (the RN’s of the group) worked in, or anyone had ever visited.  How can we even begin to explain the deplorable (not even a sufficient adjective) conditions we encountered?  We started our visit in the buildings housing the babies and their families, if they were fortunate to have any. You could tell the babies that were orphaned because they didn’t have a sheet on their crib but were left to lie on the plastic mattress in the Haitian heat with no ventilation and surrounded by trash. They had no names; the labels above their cribs only told where and when they were found!!

 All the rooms were dark with chicken wire on the window frames.  IV lines were strung across the walkways between beds as poles were shared between several children.  Cardboard was used to splint IV sites. You had premature babies, babies with feeding tubes; Oxygen was hooked to a huge tank, with no flow meter!! There were approximately 30 babies in the Intensive Care Unit.  Parents were also there so conditions were extremely crowded.   Some parents slept on the floor with their babies.  We started passing out the bags we made but it was so obvious that our attempts at relief while well intentioned could not match the overwhelming need. 
We were then allowed to visit the “Emergency Room”, which was in a different building.  It turns out people arrive here and just stay until they get better or die.  Families must provide everything- food, sheets, care and even prescribed medications.  This building like all the others was not air-conditioned so the common ailment of heat stroke and dehydration added to the other illnesses.
Our last stop was the Elder Care building.  This housed that had no family to care for them so many slept on blankets or cardboard directly on the concrete floor.  One patient that had no bowel control was set naked outside.  Four lovely Haitian Christian women volunteers come each day to care of them. They had no staff.  We were blessed as we spoke and prayed with these abandoned adults.

This could all be summed up in one word, stunned.  Stunned that such a place and conditions can exist in our world.   On our way back to the guesthouse we sang of God’s goodness. He is good and what a blessing to know that though we could not meet the needs of all those we met; He knows and loves each one.

Please pray for those in the hospital and those that are working to make a difference.  What an emotional day, please pray for us as well.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Grace Village and Pizza Ovens (Day 4)

Today we were blessed with the opportunity to visit the Apparent Project and Grace Village. We were given a tour of the Apparent Project and it was very exciting and inspirational. Over 225 Haitians were busy at work, crafting many crafts, jewelry, and other things to be sold in the shop.

After the Apparent Project, we ventured up the mountain to Grace Village. It was so neat to see the way God is working at Grace Village. It was great to meet the resident missionaries and the children. Bryan and David have been working on building another brick oven with a team of Haitians. Today our entire team combined forces to make dessert pizzas for everyone at Grace Village and, the children especially, LOVED it! It was a wonderful and fitting celebration for how God is working there. The contrast of Grace Village to places like Cite Soleil is great and provides hope for what great feats God can accomplish in Haiti!

It is hard to believe the week has already crossed the half way point. God is moving each of us in different and powerful ways. As always, we look forward to what He has in store for us tomorrow.