Sunday, June 29, 2014

Goodbye for Now

Today is the last day here in Haiti and as sad as I am to leave I know that for now my time here is over. I have a feeling though, that God will bring me back sometime. I have discovered a heart for the hurting people here and I really want to be able to help them as much as possible. I know a few of us have talked about coming back, so I know there is a lot of passion for this country. 

I tried not to have many expectations of this trip because I didn’t want to be disappointed but I can honestly say that I am far from that. God showed up everywhere we went, which was so cool. I felt his presence just in everyday things like I never have before. I think one thing that I had in my mind that was going to happen was we would go to a lot of church service and we would see people speaking in tongues, prophesying, being slain in the spirit. I had expectations of God in a different way. What I found was that God was working in our hearts. Today was a special day for me because I got baptized. After I was baptized, I really just felt a sense of renewal. I thought about the trip and what God did in my heart and I know being baptized was the perfect representation of the trip. Because my heart and mind was totally changed by God’s love. 

I saw God in everything on this trip. From the very first day, as we were coming from the airport, looking at the small houses, and people-lined streets, I knew that God was going to do something awesome and he really did. I don’t want to lose sight of God when I leave this place. I don’t want to lose the fire and the passion for the presence of God. I cannot wait to come back here and do more. But I am just as excited to go home and spread God’s unfailing, amazing, super-duper awesome love to everyone back at home. I couldn’t have asked for a better youth family, I love them so much. 

Goodbye from Haiti for now,

Abbey :)

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Crushing Comfort Zones

I didn’t blog yesterday because I just ran out of time but my experience was crazy! First of all, I’ve never had any desire to be a doctor ever. And I realized that I’ll either be the furthest thing from a doctor or that’s exactly what God is going to call me to be. We visited a home for sick and dying adults and a hospital. I had decided going in that I needed to step out of my comfort zone but actually doing that was terrifying. When we walked into the home, there were women that were clearly very sick everywhere and I was nervous but they were so happy to see us. I washed people’s arms, legs, and feet. As we did this for them, we also sang songs and I could just see on their faces how much they appreciated it. I felt and continue to feel God’s presence literally everywhere we go. 

The second place we went, General Hospital was absolutely crazy. I stepped out of my comfort zone just by walking in there. I thought the first place was difficult to deal with but it was nothing to what this hospital was like. These people were not just sick, they were left to die. The things I saw will never leave my mind. When I walked in there, my stomach turned in knots, I couldn’t move and was shaking like crazy. I stood there with eyes widened in shock at the conditions these people were living in. Almost everyone got straight to work but I was honestly too scared. Amy walked past me, could tell I was feeling uncomfortable, and said “Go crush your comfort zone.” So that’s what I did. I talked to the people (as much as I could since I don’t speak creole), I prayed for them, and I washed their hands and feet. I definitely didn’t do as much as I could but I really tried. The experience of yesterday is definitely something that will stick with me forever.

Today was super awesome as well! We took water to two small villages in Cite Soleil. So many children just come running when they see the water truck. They swarmed us, jumped on us, hugged us, kissed us. We were all holding two or three kids at a time. I really loved being able to visit them. I love being able to help these people that really appreciate it. The second thing we did was visit a special needs orphanage. We sang and played with them and they were all adorable. We can’t help but love on these kids because they always seem so happy to see us. I really have a love in my heart for all the kids here.

-Abbey :) 

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Road less traveled

Yesterday, we arrived in Haiti, my first time out of the country, my first time on a plane, and I don’t think I could be with a better group. Today was the first day of work, we went to visit Grace Village and went to feed and wash the feet of elderly. The hardest part for me was to step out of my comfort zone and humble myself enough to do that. I don’t know why but I was scared and nervous. Washing other’s feet isn’t an every day occasion for me. We drove through the streets and let me just say, it was a bumpy ride. I was not expecting the streets to be bumpy and have no traffic laws at all. I don’t think I will be able to get used to the roads. Seeing the streets of Haiti was crazy, people lined the streets, selling different things. Also there a ton of goats here, it’s crazy. I saw a couple of horses too which made me super happy :) I can honestly say that the city is exactly as I imagined it and my heart just went out to every person I saw. Seeing the houses they lived in with barely a roof over their heads. When visiting Grace Village, we took a tour, there were so many children there, and they were all so sweet. They were all holding people’s hands, but they weren’t holding mine and I didn’t understand why. As I prayed about it, I really felt like I needed a more openness in my heart and as the day went on I could feel God opening my heart for these people. 

When we went to visit the elderly, the first man we visited was Edmond. We all attempted to squeeze into this tiny house. I got to lead the group in “Break Every Chain” in Creole, which was super awesome because I’ve been practicing it for a while. It was getting really hot in his house, so I walked out with a few others. A little girl, in a torn dress and no shoes, walked up to me and held my hand. She looked at me and asked me to pick her up, and of course, I did. That was exactly what I had hoped for. She was only about 3 years old and so cute. I wish I could remember her name but when she told me it, she was very quiet. I held her the whole time we were there and it was the exact experience I was praying for.

 As a team, we really just wanted to love on these people. And even though I wasn’t washing feet, I felt good about what I was doing, I still felt the presence of God there with me, as I was holding her. Tomorrow, we are going to a hospital and a home for sick and dying. I really am praying that I am able to step out of my comfort zone. At this point, children are within my comfort zone, and as amazing as it is to help those children, and love on those children, I really feel like God has something in store out of my comfort zone. 

-Abbey :)

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Auto Pilot

Second morning, not waking up in Haiti.
I stayed busy yesterday, trying to mask the pain and longing I had for the Haitians and to fog over the images in my head of what I saw less than 24 hours prior.  I felt like I was on "auto pilot"

My son was home from College, so I wanted to spend time with him and visit with him, but as we talked , I was struggling to stay engaged.  I picked up the younger 2 boys from their sports, and I guess I expected them to somehow understand what I had been through.  My youngest who is 13 said..."aren't you glad to be home?"  I didn't have an answer that was completely truthful I guess. I was certainly happy to see my boys, hug them and thank God for them, but my heart was still in Haiti.  I wanted to walk out to the kitchen and see my team.  I wanted to fill my water bottle, and head out to the Tap Tap.

As I went to bed last night, I looked at my journal and reread my entries.  I had blogged on Tuesday about the Home for the sick and dying Babies and how it had affected me.  It was a profound day for me and one I thought I would never forget.  With everything that went on throughout our week, I had nearly forgotten the faces of the women that wanted me to care for their babies.  I don't want to forget.  Ever.  I cried myself to sleep, angered that my memories were already fading.

For those on my team that have taken trips before this one, I now understand what you meant when you said...."I had to go on another missions trip"  Its really not an option, I will go again.

Hanging on....

Broken Hallelujah

I just returned from my sixth trip to Haiti.  Returning from my first trip was probably the hardest....readjusting to "normal" life after what I had seen.  But this one is a close second.....I'm in a fog, broken-hearted, confused and at the same time, so FULL.

Yesterday, I heard a song I've heard a thousand times in a different way.  The first line is "I can barely stand right now, everything is crashing down".  This is exactly how I felt after visiting General Hospital just two short mornings ago.  Twice during our week in Haiti, we couldn't go to General Hospital as we had planned.  On our one visit there to the abandoned adults building, our team was so broken and wanted to return to help so bad that no one hesitated to get up extra early and help with breakfast so that we could go before we headed to the airport.  The sacrifice was well worth it.

We arrived ready to serve.....we had met these people before....we knew their names and some of their stories and what help they would need.  Within minutes every single person from our team was on their knees next to a patient on their thin foam pad on the baths, changing diapers, feeding, dressing wounds, praying and loving.  My heart was so full....seeing each person do exactly what God called them to do with absolutely no hesitation.  My heart broke for one man who had soiled his bed and was being treated brutally by the staff there.....naked on the cement floor with some kind of cleaner being thrown at him.  So grateful that a few people from our team stepped in to clean him up, get him back on his bed, and pray over him while their tears drenched his body.

Luke 7:38 And standing behind Him at His feet, weeping, she began to wet His feet with her tears, and kept wiping them with the hair of her head, and kissing His feet and anointing them with the perfume.

Just as the sinful woman anointed Jesus before his crucifixion, I believe our team was anointing this man.....this man who was Jesus in his most distressing disguise. (Mother Theresa)

As things were settling down, I was able to paint some fingernails.  As soon as I had finished painting the nails and praying over one younger girl, she got up and beckoned me to follow her to a place outside where they can shower.  I didn't quite understand because there was no water, no showerhead, no soap.  Just a cement floor and wall.  With the help of others, we figured it out, got the supplies we needed, got her undressed, scrubbed her from top to bottom, brushed her teeth, powdered her neck and put a clean white dress on her.

While we were doing this, I noticed two men laying on the ground with some other Haitians around them.  I wasn't quite sure why they were there (they weren't there when we arrived) or what was going on and was determined to ask once we finished the shower.  It was soon discovered that these men had been dumped here by the ER hospital staff....literally next to the garbage cans.  While others attended to the naked man face down on the cement closest to the garbage can, I went to the other man who was trying to put his pants on.  I asked if he needed help and he said "wi".  As I straightened out his pants to try to help him put them on, I realized that they were filthy.  I looked down to see that he had no underwear and his body was also filthy and flies were covering his genitals and wounds.  I immediately grabbed the tub of water we had used for the shower and used cloth upon cloth to clean him.  It had been a long time since he was bathed.  I discovered a cut on his genitals and asked for our nurse Judy to come over.  One man on our team, Patrick, ran to the truck to give him some of his own clean clothes and as we dressed and bandaged this man, he screamed in pain.  I figured out that the pain was behind his knees which he refused to straighten.  I was able to get him to relax enough to see behind his yellow pussy wounds that I fought to keep flies off of as Judy cleaned and bandaged them.  He screamed in pain again as we let his knees back down.  He had been clutching money in his hand the entire time....I'm guessing all the money his family had when they dropped him off at the the hopes it would be enough to pay for some help.  He tried to give his money to Patrick.  We were able to find a couple more mattresses so we were able to carry these two men into the "hospital".  (if you can call it that - cement floors, corrugated metal walls, openings for doors and windows, no doctors)  We were rushed for time, as we had to get on the road to make it to the airport on time.  But as I was getting ready to leave, this man's eyes pulled me down to the ground next to him......over and over he cried mesi, mesi, mesi, mesi, mesi, mesi.......such gratefulness for just cleaning and clothing him, but how could I not.  And how could someone else leave him naked, filthy, fly covered next to the

As we boarded the tap tap to leave, our entire team was in shock and tears.  We clung to each other trying to absorb what we just witnessed.  Men thrown out with the trash.  We cried and prayed and cried some more.

The next lines of the song leave me longing: "Even though I don't know what your plan is, you make beauty from these ashes".  I have no idea what is next, but God is stirring something inside of me and in so many I am close to.  There are so many "ashes" around us......I am waiting for the "beauty". It's so hard to wait, but I know that God's "beauty" will be amazing.

The chorus of the song goes like this: "I've seen joy and I've seen pain, on my knees I call Your name, Here's my broken halleluliah".  This week I saw so much joy especially on the day we took to the elders to the beach (probably my favorite day ever in Haiti) and so much pain at General Hospital (probably my hardest day ever in Haiti).

I am so full of joy and yet I am so broken.  "I raise these empty hands to You........"

Tuesday, May 20, 2014


The first day home today was a tough one. I woke up, went to work and did my best to have a normal day, but just couldn’t. Putting rubber gloves on reminded me vividly of general hospital. The faces of those we loved, reeled through my mind constantly, I could not escape it. I look at all I have and feel almost disgusted, even though I know I shouldn’t necessarily. A maelstrom of emptiness, sadness, confusion, happiness and love fill my body. Never in my life have I felt the way I do now.

It has been less than 24 hours and I already want to go back. As a considered homebody, I never thought I would grow to love Haiti as I did. It taught me that home is not a place, but a feeling. Surrounded with people who cared about me, and people who lived life to the fullest I became a different person. I look at my own life entirely different. I need to accept that for awhile I will struggle to understand so much. It feels wrong being in Minnesota. I feel closer to the Haitian people who touched me, I feel closer to the people I spent the past week with, than I do to my own family.

The past week chewed me up and spit me out. I am struggling more than ever now in my life, and I love it. I love what happened to me, I love how transformed I am. I know now more than ever my purpose and calling.


John Dugas

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Mixed emotions.

The past two days have been filled with such great sadness and such great joy. 

Visiting general hospital was one of the hardest things I have done. This hospital, had no power in the building we were in, and the nurses looked helpless. It was here that I looked death in the face. Some of the people I encountered in the first building looked as if they had little to no fight left. It was challenging for me to watch this. As I went around and bandaged and also provided whatever French translation I could, a man called me “doctor”. 7-10 years away from an actual doctorate, my basic knowledge of wound care, and human anatomy was perceived as so much more. These people looked at me as if I had all the answers when in actuality I was scared. Watching a bed sore devour this woman to the bone wasn’t as shocking as I thought it would be, it was not the sore that got me. The fact that this woman had not given up, despite her wounds, despite her paralyzation shocked me, her courage and bravery was remarkable. 
We proceeded to the infant area after the adult quarantine. I was checking for any visible sores that I could take care of, and applied several wrappings to children. What hurt me about this, is when I bandaged a young girl who had a cut on her elbow, she immediately tore off the wrapping, and her family did nothing about this. I didn’t know what to do because I had done what I could yet, the child and family did not understand the importance of keeping that wound covered. The very last child I came across was the most sad part of the trip. This little baby had retinoblastoma, it was evident because we extensively studied this in one of my first semester classes. It looked as though the cancer had spread past the pupils and was taking over most of the eye, if left untreated most certainly the infant would pass. The mother asked me in French, “Will my baby be okay?” and I froze. I didn’t have the heart to tell her what was happening. I do not know if this was the right thing to do, in not telling her but instead directing the conversation in a different direction. These thoughts go through my brain constantly when I lay in my bed at night, it eats away at me. 

Experiencing the HaItian Beach the next day was a nice day to get some things off of my mind. The elderly were so happy to be at the beach and were so eager to swim and feel the water. They collected the ocean and brought back home with them, this melted my heart, every single time they look at that they will remember the joy they had experienced that day. It was a special thing to be a apart of. 
At the beach I was able to play some soccer with the kids as well. They embraced Patrick and I from the start and really wanted to just have a good time, there was no judgement. Minimal judgement has been demonstrated by the Haitian people and this is something I hope to bring back to the states and make a conscious effort to improve upon in my life. 

Today we were able to go to Juno’s Orphanage. Kicking the soccer ball around of course, I unfortunately stepped on a stump of some sorts and sprained my ankle. This was actually kind of a blessing because when the kids sang their songs they put me in the middle of the circle on a chair, and I was surrounded by all of them which felt pretty special. The innocence of the children really gets to me at times, they are so happy all of the time, it is quite remarkable. 

Tonight was also special, and my team was the reason why. My team has been amazing all week. My birthday is the 19th and it was arranged to have a little celebration for me. I had no idea this was coming. It truly meant the world to me that they remembered and were there to share this special day with me. I am so happy I am able to spend it in Haiti with people who care about me. I love them. 

This trip has taught me so much about the world, about people, and about life. I am so humbled and honored to be part of such an experience, I cannot wait to come back and continue to make a difference. The way the people treat you here is what life is all about. This place feels more like home than anything I have experienced. 

-John Dugas