Tuesday, August 27, 2013

All Dough Flies in Haiti

Although the team left yesterday, I've stayed on to concentrate on bread and the wonderful bread oven that we began to use this week at Grace Village.  It is hard to find words adequate to describe this experience. Serving here has been like nothing I have ever done. At the end of the day it seems to me that all our work and perhaps our whole life comes down to relationship.

First our relationship to God. The cross has two directions and the first I think is vertical. Perhaps we can think of it as up toward heaven or perhaps we think of it as that which is so fully grounded. God can. Time and time this week, things worked out that could not have if only facts were considered. Things worked out that should not have. We arrived at the oven to bake for the first time and it had not been lit. A team member used a hair dryer as a bellows and in 90 minutes the oven was 400F. Another day we made 80 pizzas with the children at Grace Village, enough communion bread for 300, and bread  to share with the other team and the long term missionaries; then left to go move elders into better, more stable housing. Yes, one day. We worked delivering water at two sites one day and at the second site the line was so long it seemed no one of us thought there could be enough water for everyone. There was enough. Time and time again it seemed surely we would run out or just get too tired. Time and time again God showed up in the form of a song or a smile or a hug.

It is all about relationship and our meeting the desperate poverty of "things" in Haiti with enough openness to see the vast "richness" of spirit and joy. It's all about relationship and digging in with people you didn't know who become friends and who become a family in an extraordinarily
short time. It's about relationship to the land of Haiti by seeing it's beauty through the veil of poverty. The land is beautiful and I wonder if Haiti is more broken than my own country or just broken differently?

I am a baker. My hands have developed a relationship with the process of coaxing food from grain, water, salt and yeast. My familiarity with bread was changed through the Haitian climate and the ingredients and I am still learning.  There is a process in baking called a pre-ferment; a way to start a dough early and get it's flavor to be deep and rich. One such ferment is called a poolish and you can speed it up and create a "flying poolish"  (no kidding i'm not making this up)...but I found that with Haiti's heat and humidity, all of dough I've made have been "flying" :).  And so we start again developing a  relationship with what we thought we knew so well. We do not come to Haiti with answers.  We come to serve and to learn.

Strangely we come to Haiti for our own healing too or perhaps that just happens when we allow ourselves to be open and transparent. We find that when we strip away the ball games and malls and all our petty insecurities there is a Love that really does transcend all we can imagine.

God bless,

Saturday, August 24, 2013

A Day I've Been Dreaming Of

 Often when I’m in Haiti, I pray for the time in the day to be multiplied.  Especially on a day that required hundreds of volunteer hours, multiple training sessions and thousands of dollars in donations to pull off.  God delivered!

To back up a bit…..since my first trip to Haiti, my holy discontent has been that there are not enough opportunities for people to support themselves….to have the dignity of paying rent on time, having enough food each day or even paying for school for their children or grandchildren.  Then when I became ElderCare Advocate, I fell in love with each of the elders in our program.  So many of them are perfectly capable of working and every time I visited they asked for the only things they knew of….goats, chickens, candy to sell, etc.  Some of those things have been tried in the past, and I knew it wasn’t the answer.  Slowly, God provided the answer through people He put in my path, donations that came in and an amazing team that came together for our trip this week.

The day started with a talk about poverty….not just their poverty of material possession but that every person in the world has poverty of some kind.  My first trip revealed that I had poverty in my hunger and thirst for God….it was nothing compared to that of every Haitian I encountered.  So we talked about this verse:
"Know the hope to which God has called you....and His incomparably great power for us who believe.  That power is like the working of His mighty strength, which he exerted in Christ when He raised Him from the dead."  Ephesians 1:18-20

We talked about how Gods power was in each of us to change poverty throughout the world.  That I could help them with their poverty as they have helped me with mine.  That God can move mountains and that we can overcome!  We talked about the crafts and bread that we were going to teach them how to make.  While they started out unsure that they would be able to make these items, Brunet convinced them that while it would be difficult at first, they needed to persevere and learn from all the “blans” that had come to teach them. 

And so away we went….each elder (and some of the daughters that live with them) picked which craft they wanted to learn and we got to work:

Laura teaching Lauramise how to make rings.

Here, Michaela and Amy (and Emmanuel) taught beading…..this was the most popular craft…..and they made some beautiful pieces!

Marcy and Pouchan teaching Camisane how to make baskets.

Amy teaching Elie's daughter how to make a crocheted tshirt bag.

An unexpected surprise that God provided was that some of the older children at Grace Village were amazingly good at creating these pieces.  They jumped in as translators and helpers to our elders.  We hope to continue this in the future as a way for the older kids at Grace to have a job and serve the members of Titanyen. Here, MarieTerez is learning how to make bottle caps (recycled from the guesthouse) into earrings and keychains.

MarieDeloude, who can only use one arm because of a stroke, was able to make stamped notecards.

Meanwhile, out at the pizza oven, Ross, Calvin & Tim were teaching Pierre & Ofhane how to make bread to sell at the market.  They were amazing students and each had at lease 2 dozen pieces to sell!  (although Ofhane was trying to give away some of his, we quickly taught him that he must charge money!)

Pierre with some of his finished loaves.

At the end of the day, the elders who made crafts were paid for the pieces they made.  (And the pieces are now for sale in the new gift shop at the guesthouse!)  Some were speechless and almost in tears.  Others, like MarieDeloude, who has not been able to send her girls to school…..can now do so!  We even provided them lockboxes that will be kept safe at Grace Village, so that they can safely save their money for school or rent.  Some chose to save it all, some saved a little and some needed it right away.  The only thing we didn’t pay for was the bread, which the elders took to sell at market today.  I haven’t heard the outcome yet, but am excited to see if they sold everything!

We had time at the end of the day to deliver one more income producing item to Lindor, a man who had shined shoes in his younger days.  We brought him a brand new shoe shine kit with polishes, brushes and rags.  He was speechless and had tears in his eyes.  It melted my heart.  He invited us into his home where we got to see his old shoeshine box that he could no longer use.  What a heart melting moment.

We had heard that Marie was worried about the cracks in her home and that snakes would come in.  We brought spray foam insulation and sealed up the cracks.  Calvin even saw a baby snake in one of the cracks!

Theft has been a big problem for our elders.  Tim on our team is an industrial designer and designed a lock for their talking bibles.  He used a cable to attach Marie’s bible to the metal frame of her bed.  All the custom brackets and cables (over $1000 value) were donated by a company he works with!  Praise God for brilliant designs and generous donors!!!

And lastly, we were able to bring a wheelchair (big thank you to Ross for getting it through the airports!) to Haiti for Meme, a man who is blind and who is having more and more difficulties getting around.

Friday, August 23, 2013

Checking in (With Video Links!)

Bonjou Friends and Family!

Just sending out a quick note to say we are having a wonderful, powerful time here in Haiti. Here are the links to the videos we have been posting to Facebook of our adventures each day. Please continue to pray for the team and the beautiful people of Haiti.

Ke Bondje Beni'ou,
The Team

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Photos From Wednesday - Water Truck Day

Water Truck & General Hospital

Today was water truck day. After breakfast, Ross and Calvin went to Grace Village to bake bread and teach Bread Baking 101. The rest of our team loaded up into the tap tap and traveled to Cite Soleli to deliver water to those in need of it.  As we pulled into the area where we were delivering the water, the children immediately ran up to our tap tap excitedly screaming words of welcome, chanting "Hey you! Hey you! Hey you!". The gleeful look on their faces will be something our team always remember. Desperate to receive water, the people of City Soleli brought us numerous buckets, pans, trash bins and anything that we could fill. While some of the team filled buckets, the rest of the team were interacting with the joyful kids. These kids were so happy just to be held and loved. When the truck was empty and we had to say goodbye, the kids were extremely reluctant to leave our arms. After that first stop, we went to the water filling station to fill up the truck and then went on to our next water delivery stop, where we were met with the same desperation as the first stop. After an amazing experience we ended our water filling portion of the day and loaded back up into the tap tap. Our second half of the day consisted of the team delivering gift bags to the General Hospital which included things like snacks, soap, baby formula, tooth paste and a tooth brush; all the basic necessities that we take advantage of in our everyday life. Seeing the poor conditions at the hospital really shocked and impacted the team, as it was difficult to see the difference between how the patients are taken care of here versus back at home. Today was an incredible day full of smiles, tears, laughs, hugs, baa's (haha, inside joke) and most importantly, sharing God's love and tender care to the inspiring people of Haiti.

Ke Bondje Beni'ou,
Katie and Amy M.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Tuesday - Bread Ovens

Holy moly. What a whirlwind of a day. To start, I spent most of my day in Titanyen at Grace Village working with Ross on the team with the bread ovens. What a blessing to work with someone who is truly devoted to his craft, and has sacrificed his time to serve the least of these. His story on how he got connected with this trip is just as amazing. It was so much fun to step back and be patient and watch all the details of firing the oven for the first time happen. And, I got to eat some GREAT bread! The rest of the team spent the day at Isaiah's Orphanage & Juno's Orphanage. What great stories they brought home tonight!

However, after our group time, I received some bad news. I received an email with my CFP exam results, and unfortunately I did not pass. Ouch. To be transparent, I felt so poor and my heart sank. Shot below the belt for sure. But, after stepping away from the first-world for some time to spend some time with God, He directed me to the verse I opened to last night:

"For you this whole vision is nothing but words sealed in a scroll. And if you give the scroll to someone who can read, and say to him, 'Read this, please,' he will answer, ' I can't; it is sealed.'" - Isaiah 29:11

Wow. Just wow. What if I stepped away more in times of struggle to spend time with God to give our troubles to Him? I personally struggle with this, but God hit me hard with this thought tonight as I sought Him before trying to fix things myself. Trying to rely on my imperfect self never works for the long-term, and leaves room for satan to enter with lies of worthlessness, fear, and wasted time (this has always been a struggle for me). This hurts myself, and those around me. I know the results will still enter my head for days to come, but I know I have a God that is bigger than all this, and firmly believe "If God is for us, who can be against us?" - 

Jesus is my Savior, I have a beautiful bride who walks right along side of me to the same eternal destination, and this week I am blessed to be in Haiti with so many amazing disciples. We will always face struggles in life. We are imperfect. Let's make it a goal to seek God for approval and value in this life, and rely on others around us for help and prayer.


Friday, August 16, 2013

Bring it on!!

"Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil." Ephesians 6:11

Our team leaves in 3 days for our mission trip to Haiti and the devil is angry. Really angry.  He does not want us in Haiti next week.  We have an amazing team that is ready to serve and we are feeling very attacked from all directions...

*A mother in the hospital
*A huge car accident
*A grandfather in the hospital
*Severe migraines
*Two cars that won't start
*Allergic reaction to the malaria pills
*Family problems
*A possible tropical storm
*Fear of storms

These are just a few of the ways the devil has tried to keep us from the work God has for us in Haiti.

BRING IT ON!!!  Nothing is going to stop us from doing the good work that God planned for us on this trip.....and I know that this team is already amazing and that we can go through anything together!!!!

 "Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go. " Joshua 1:9

God's got this...