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....
Sheila

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 floor.....giving 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 knees......open 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 ER.....in 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 trash.......how?

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

Transformed

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.

Cheers,

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 

It's the little things......

Today was a good day. No. Today was a great day! Today we had the privilege of bringing 20 elders  from the Eldercare program to the beach.  For most of them, it was their very first time to the beach EVER! (The oldest was 104!)
As we pulled up to Grace Village to pick them up they were all sitting in a line waiting patiently for us. This was an exciting day for them so they had bathed, powdered and put on their best clothes all for this trip to the beach. 

A 40 minute bus ride later, we pulled up to the crowded beach (picture spring break) and loaded them off of the bus. Some of them thought we were only there so that they could bathe, so they started to take off their swimsuits! They were giggling like school children, pointing at each other and joking. These people have great senses of humor and it’s a good thing because let me tell you, we were quite the spectacle and a crowd gathered to watch us and take pictures. We slowly walked all of them down to the water and as soon as they felt it you could see the pure joy fill their faces. I have never seen anything like it. They were like children again. Splashing each others faces, pulling each other into the water and laughing uncontrollably. They kept saying, Mesi Jezi, Mesi Jezi.....thank you Jesus. Some of them were bottling up the water and when we asked what they were doing in fear they may try to drink it, they simply just wanted to bring some of the ocean water home with them (something my children would want to do). We cradled them like babies and brought them into deeper waters. I wondered what that would feel like but I could quickly see it on their faces. Pure joy, thankfulness, happiness, elation....like many things here, there are no words to explain. What a blessing to be a part of this day. A day they will never forget and most undoubtedly a day that we will never forget.

Sometimes it’s just the little things. 


Today was a great day. Mesi Jezi.

Friday, May 16, 2014

Feelings like never before...

Today we experienced something that our eyes and hearts will never forget. As we walked into general hospital unsure what to expect, we were nearly frozen at the sight of devastation. This area in the hospital was one room filled with thin mattresses on the cement floor, with people in pain and in need of desperate help. we can't even begin to describe the pain that we saw on their faces. From bed sores to the bone, to gun shot wounds, to a paralyzed pregnant woman, we didn't know where to begin our tender care. As we started to rub their arms and legs with lotion, you could immediately feel their bodies begin to relax and feel comforted. Many of the people we cared for had extremely high temperatures, their skin was radiating heat onto ours, and you could see the dehydration on their bodies. We laid our hands on them one by one and began to pray and sing for healing. Amongst all of the pain and suffering their faces were still glowing as if nothing was affecting them. Our faces on the other hand, showed the complete opposite, with tears falling from our faces we continued to show them our tender love and care. The feelings that came over all of us was something none of us have ever felt before. As we started to walk out of the room the tears continued to fall down our faces, and the emotions that we were feeling completely took over our bodies. The pain that we had felt, stuck with us throughout the rest of the day and into the night, and will never leave us.

Today at general hospital we learned to put all of our trust in God, to be his hands and feet, and to spread his love throughout the people suffering. Many of us were out of our comfort zone, but God took complete control over us and the fear was quickly forgotten. We were able to be his servants like we have been called to haiti to be. Today we have all gotten to experience something that not many people are able to.

Love,

Katie, Terra.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Love

Water truck day was amazing, there is no other way to put it. Watching the joy on the faces of all Hatians young to old was fulfilling. Arriving on the tap-tap, dozens of litte kids awaited us... we one by one got off, each of them wanting one thing and one thing only, love. Having 2-5 children climb on me as if I was jungle-gym was so much fun. The children are so full innocence and it is what drives their love for us. I was also able to carry several buckets of water deep into Cite Soleil and was even allowed access into several of the homes of the Haitian people. This was touching, yet heartbreaking all at the same time. These people were so delighted to just embrace love, and service, it really touched me.
Perhaps my favorite part of the day was visiting the Haitian Initiative. With music echoing throughout the town, what seemed to be hundreds of children were dancing with me in the middle of a gravel laced field. I was being goofy, and every single one of them loved it. Often times back home I feel judged which causes me to be self conscious which triggers many other negative events to happen in my life. The love and compassion these children displayed was truly moving.

After having a conga lined of dozens and dozens of children, we played "le foot" There was no organization to this whatsoever, everyone created an allegiance with someone, and played a free for all game. Children with bare-feet, holes in their shoes, ran all across a the gravel bit chasing a flat soccer ball. It truly warmed, and broke my heart. In this moment I did not care about myself though, I just continued to play soccer with the kids, and had a blast.
After I was about ready to pass out from running up and down the gravel pit, I sat along the wall that surrounded it. Immediately a swarm of Haitian children surrounded me asking me questions in French and Creole. One of them happened to have a pen, and wanted me to sign their shirt as if I was some international star like Ronaldo or Messi. To make things simple, I had each kid write down their name and age on my arms, hands and legs. They seemed to have great joy in doing this.

My heart honestly breaks everyday for these people. I do not know what to do, I am truly lost within my own mind. No other way to put it. I don't know what else to say...

-John Dugas

hey you!!

Hey you! Hey You!  

Hey YOU.... have you ever seen poverty?
Hey YOU...have you ever  ever had to run or hobble on crutches with with whatever “bucket” you have to get clean water? 
Hey YOU... have you had a sick baby that you can’t help because the help is too far away?
Hey YOU..... have you ever lived, slept, ate and went to the bathroom  in the same place?

Hey you -have you ever been to Cite Soleil,undoubtedly one of the poorest, most desperate places on earth? We did and it was one of the most moving experiences of a lifetime. A lesson in how grace, love and hope- yes, hope can coexist in an almost unearthly place.  


Our call today was to deliver clean water to the poorest of the poor residing in the slums of Port-au-Prince.  I struggle to think how to describe this day, but for those who have traveled here -they know that this is impossible.  For those of you following us at home, imagine your heart shattered in a million pieces and you might come close.

We make three truck runs today with water and are additionally blessed that Lisa and I are both R.N’s. We take along the first aid bag to see if we can be of any help.  We laugh because the medical bag is not so practical- A CPR mask and tourniquet seem out of place for Cite Soleil. Little do we know that we are “doctors” now. 

As we pull in behind the water truck, dozens of children  run behind us yelling out “Hey you”!  We smile and wave and yell “Hey you” back- it is our communication with them-the way we bridge our worlds.  

The chaos ensues as the water begins to flow. People, buckets, pushing, arguing, line jumping are all the norm on these runs. The water flows fast and it seems in no time the the truck is empty and we need to reload. The team fills buckets as fast as it flows, others help carry the heavy buckets to the “homes”. Others simply hold and hug the children who cling desperately to our necks, arms and legs like velcro.

Lisa and I pull out our medical bag very quietly  and with help of our Haitian Translators Cadet and Jonas begin treating those we see in need of care. As we tend one, another  and another appears. Some are “easy” fixes, clean a wound or burn as best you can. We have only a few gauze pads, some hydrogen peroxide and Hibiclens.  Our treasures are a pair of scissors and a small tube on antibiotic ointment. 


Lisa treats a nasty burn on an arm, Judy removes some homemade stitches from a boys’ lip that have been left in too long and have healed over.  Our heart breaks however for those who show up with cataracts, bulging hernias and lumpy cancers.  We tell the translator to say-”There is nothing we can do”.  We work as quickly as we can, but when the water runs out we have to go. The rule of these trips is when its time to go It is time to go- as this is still a dangerous place no matter how much love and help we bring.  I  feel  a sense of helplessness-if only I had one more hour... 

Today’s journey to Cite Soleil and yesterday’s to the Home for Sick and Dying Adults forced me to take one of the largest leaps of faith I have ever made.  We were asked to serve without regard for ourselves emotionally, mentally and physically. No time to contemplate the call to action- we were called to act now.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Chemistry

Today was very remarkable for several reasons. I felt as though today I continued too develop relationships with not only the Haitian people, but my team as well.

Early in the day we visited the adult home for the sick and dying. I was very intimidated by this because I truly did not know what to expect. Patrick and I sat there facing two rooms full of sick Haitians, with what we thought was a daunting task. Thankfully the men their were very kind, and gave me directions. A lot of these men had terribly dry skin, and the relief of just basic lotion provided them was incredible.

I really started to feel resonance when I was applying lotion to kids around my own age. A 25 year old by the name DJ spoke english and french just like me. We were able to combine both languages and had great conversation. He told me about his past, a dark one, riddled with tobacco addiction, gang violence and drug sales. He said all of these things were the reason he ended up being so sick, but he was thankful. I began to ask him why he was thankful and he said he would not have found the way, if not for this. He has become a practicing christian and has used to provided meaning to his life, when previously he thought there was none. He told me about his dreams to come to America, and how he planned on doing it. It started with getting a job and having enough money to to buy a passport and ticket. I found this to be very special that he had given so much though to this, it provided him hope with something to look forward too, just as his faith did. I was so happy to converse with him, it was a really special moment today.

The tap tap is always a very bumpy of course. Today I feel as though our team really developed a lot of chemistry today, as if we became a family. We are all a bunch of goofs and I absolutely love it. We have created an environment in which everyone appears to feel comfortable which is very important.  I believe our impact will be even greater than it is because of this. I have connected with everyone on this team and each one of them has made me feel as though I belong. Thank you to them :)

We wrapped up the night just relaxing at home. A few us sat on the tap tap and sang songs to those walking by outside the gates. It had a bonfire atmosphere without the fire, but this was just the start of our night. Jean gave us salsa lessons! I didn't think I had it in me, but it turns out that I can shread the dance floor!

I just want to thank my team for being there for me and creating such a special environment. It has been a lot of fun. I cannot wait to wake up every morning.


-John Dugas

Everything I learned in nursing school?

Our tap-tap is in for the day.  I am surprised at how well our drivers get around this city, safely! We laugh at how close they come to pedestrians, vehicles, curbs.  The horn works very, very well.
This morning our team had a beautiful breakfast with fresh fruit; loaded into the tap-tap (a diesel truck style vehicle that has us protected in the back with diamond patterned fence.) On our drive through the city of tens of thousands of poor people: selling their wares of shoes, pants, fresh fruit, charcoal, sunglasses.  Like a huge-amongous Texas flea market with sewage flowing down city streets and rivers, too numerous to count sounds including the drivers horns constantly.

We arrived at the home for sick and dying adults after an hour.  The first floor housed the males, us ladies walked through and left our male team members to go to work.

Up stairs of stone and cinder block (rocks are EVERYWHERE around here) we were met by the nun,  who sent us to apply lotion and paint nails for these ill ladies.  Myself, Wendy and Judy were given chores by the nun.  Wendy took off with the blood pressure machine.  Our first patient was lethargic, low BP and refused to eat.  Wendy noticed her chart recorded HIV.

Wendy took off with the BP machine, a clip board and pen to take all the ill woman's blood pressures. Judy and I tagged with a beautiful nun from Mexico.  A metal tray with syringes of B12 and an antibiotic.  Judy and I decided these shots should be given in the butt.  That was probably the last sensible thought we had!

The rest was one moment at a time.  One buttocks after the other we went.  The nun letting us know what color syringe to choose and which patient.  Most of the patients were very thin; one of them was so thin my first impression of her hip bone looked like a large hernia.  Unsure if we felt any muscle at all, the young lady asked in french if the nun would give it.  Thank God we were saved on that one and knew what to do for the next several young ladies.

HIV, Cancer, Starvation.  Mostly starvation I suppose.  Froth from mouths.  Edemetous hard lower extremities.  Sweet loving eyes. By afternoon and the trip back, a quick snack and lots of water and electrolyte tablets we were off again.  The half of our team headed to the general hospital ran into not being able to go related to Haitians protesting. Something about the presidents birthday.Myself, Judy, Brianna and Sharon found ourselves at the home for sick and dying children.  The 3 of us followed Sharon into the baby's ward.  I wondered why the bunjie chords were hanging from the ceiling, today IV bags were hung from them.  Each child has an ankle bracelet stating name, date of arrival, and age.  All were small for their age.  Tiny babies, tiny legs, tiny arms and 6 months old.  The need is so immediate, as soon as you enter by the screen door your arms reach for a baby.  My heart, our hearts melt.  It is almost surreal. We all are imagining at this point "Jesus' love is here."  The diaper changes expose how sick they are.

I shadowed the nun who spoke some English, thank God.  A little boy was having seizures continually.  The female Haitian physician started an IV like a pro, the old IV had blown.  The nun took orders, said a prayer and gave an injection in the IV that soothed the child almost immediately.  Brianna, who desires to be a pediatric oncologist, was delegated to pull the childs nasogastric tube that was providing feedings.  We learned the doctor ordered to have the baby transferred to another facility when we found the nun searching for clothing in 2 large bins.

The day ended quickly with a nice Haitian meal, cold swim, cold shower.  The ladies are chatting about there day.  How they have cried over what they have seen. The kids are up at the next guesthouse balcony salsa dancing.

Our guard at night, his name is Andre.  He asked if I was sad.  I told him yes.  He asked why.  I told him.  His comment :"don't be sad, if you are sad I am sad and I want you to be happy"  "I love God"Hope is everywhere!

Tomorrow is a new day of helping bring fresh water.Pray for the nuns, caregivers ad Doctors who live this day everyday.
Lisa

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Unconditional

I understand now that each day will continue to challenge me more than the last.

Meeting Maxso was probably the best thing that could have happened to me. Aimlessly searching for meaning in my life, my relationships, my everything, this little boy was able to provide me with something not many have, guidance. Maxso doesn't even know what he has done for me.
Love is a word that is thrown around a lot in our society, I personally believe that it has lost considerable value in my generation. People can be in relationships and call it love but do they really know the meaning? Even if they say they do..? I'm a skeptic.
Not knowing what love actually is has caused me to venture down dark roads in the last few years, but I finally feel as though I can move on, as if today I found what I was looking for.
Feeling Maxso's little face press up against mine was quite remarkable. The way had grabbed on to me and just wanted to be nothing more than held for as along as possible awoke something within me, at that instance I thought to myself, this is what love is. Love is an empty word but not an empty emotion, and for the first time in awhile I can honestly say that I felt it. This was special, again this was something that I believe a person needs to feel to understand. I could truly preach about it all night long but those of you have not experienced this can truly never understand.

Walking around parts of Haiti had me quite nervous at first. I guess I was expecting to be glared at, or shunned in some way but never once did this happen. The people I came across today whether it was a smile or a wave or a "Bonswa" or "Bonjou" always returned the favor, they seemed happy to see me. This is something that is not consistent in the USA. The people here are so happy, yet they have every single reason in the world not to be.

I felt a lot of anger today as well. Every problem here stems from a corrupt system. The infrastructure here is not shattered, it is non existent. Those in charge, the people who could do something about this show extreme ignorance. When you here things like "5 billion" donated to Haiti's relief effort initially you think of good things. How much of this money actually was put into helping though? I've learned that donating your money is the easy way out, the only way change will ever happen is when time is put in. The United States usually throws money at their problems and I believe a lot of the world has followed this standard because we set it. We have gone about helping this place the absolute wrong way and it breaks my heart.

Obviously I have my theories about what should/could be done about helping this place but I do not know if that is what the people want. A better line of communication is essential to this place rising out of poverty. TOGETHER we must develop the best possible way to help these people who fight for survival every day.

I just want to rant about what needs to be done but I won't get into it, education is probably at the base of it all, but as a human, and as an American I want to fix things, and I need to be able to find peace with the fact that I cannot fix this, but only do my part.

-John Dugas


Happy Birthday Edmond!!!!


Last week, as we were preparing for this trip, I realized that Edmond would be turning 81 while our team was here.  So last night, Elisa made some cupcakes and this afternoon we went to visit Edmond.  In Haiti, birthdays are not celebrated like they are in the US, so it didn't surprise me that Edmond had no idea what today was when I asked him.  When I told him that it was May 13.......he realized that it was his birthday and our team broke out in song......the French version of Happy Birthday.  He was so happy!


Love from Haiti, Sharon

A Moment with the Mommas

As a "first timer" here in Haiti, I was unsure of what to expect and what would and would not affect me.  I can say that today was an "ah ha" kind of day.  I was affected.

Today some of our team went to Gertrudes water therapy, where some of our team took 6 special kids to the pool and worked with them, and had a blast.  

The rest of us went to "The Home for the Sick and dying babies".  I knew in my heart that this would be a rewarding day and I was looking forward to it, but I had no idea how it would impact me.  

The parents of the sick and dying babies spend time with their children in the morning hours and then leave them in late morning.  We were there to help anyway we could during this time, but a lot of the sick babies and children were spending time with their Moms.  The bell rang to let the parents know it was time to leave. THAT was the "moment" for me.  

As a mother, I cannot think of ANYTHING more horrifying than leaving my sick or dying baby with a perfect stranger that does not even speak my language.  As the bell rang, 3 mothers came towards me, with their sick babies in their arms, ALL wanting desperately for me to care for their child.  One was pulling on my shirt, while another one held her baby out to me. The third just stood there with tears in her eyes.  Their eyes were pleading for me to take their child out of their arms and love them as they would.  I was paralyzed with the thought that I could only take one into my arms, and at that moment I wasn't thinking about the babies because I KNEW they would be loved and cared for by one of us.  My sadness and love went to the mothers that had to leave their children.  Trusting that we would care for them.  Their hearts must have been breaking.  Words cannot express the emotions that were going through my head and heart as I looked into these mothers eyes.  It was real, it was raw and I was truly in the moment praying for these mothers.  

The rest of the day was busy, amazing and memorable for sure, but this moment in time I will never forget.  EVER.

Sheila (Zell)

Monday, May 12, 2014

Fill this vessel...

What sparked my second blog of the night was my venture over to the balcony. I felt at some point I would be broken down a bit but never did I think it would come this soon. I met a 16 year old boy by the name of Dickinson, Lauren, a team leader for Healing Haiti told me a bit about him. Watching this kids smile and listening to his voice had a huge impact on me. His kindness and innocence was evident, he seemed so happy, so curious and full of life. Immediately the thoughts of bringing him home, or doing other things for him overwhelmed me. I had to reach out to several people on what I must do to combat this, my heart breaks for these kids because I picture myself at age 16 and then I see them. I thought of this piece of advice I received, "You cannot fix anything, even though it is your nature to fix things. You must express your love for them, that is all you can do at this point in time" I am really struggling with handling these emotions for I have so much, and these people so little. I don't want to say I feel guilty but I am becoming more and more thankful as the minutes go by. If some of these kids had half of what I have, who knows what they could accomplish, the sky is the limit.
My mind had raced off on tangent tonight thinking of all the things I can do this week and in future weeks to help out. I need to use my blessings, my education, all of my gifts to help these people. Tomorrow my goal is to stay within myself, and express my love for these people. I need to allow my heart to break in order to grow as a person.

This is another random collection of thoughts that probably seem so unorganized, but then again who cares. I don't expect myself, or my team members to be able to verbalize their emotions this week.

I just wish there was so much I could do for these kids.

-John Dugas

First Night in Haiti

Good evening to all who we left behind in the States!  It is hard to explain what a different world it is down here.  The people are lively, and for the most part very friendly.  Our fearless female leaders took a stand today against the tricks of the porters who while scourging for more money, Amy and Sharon did not fall for it.  Those fellows followed and yelled at our tap-tap out of the airport drive.

There is Wifi here, but techno geek me cannot figure out how to use it without running up a $1000 phone bill in 1 minute (Hi my lovely Gary!!!)  I miss you already.  Remember Lisa, no fear!!  "It's all going to be okay"  Give Sarah and Gabbi a hug and kiss for me.  Call Dorothy, tell her we made it great.

"Welcome to Haiti!!!" as the generator flashes off!!  And here I thought we brought head flashlights to take a walk in the woods in a State park!!!  Way too funny.

Love you.  You are going with me tomorrow to the home for sick and dying babies, visiting elders and Grace Village.

Lisa OBrien


Challenged.

I am having trouble finding the proper words to describe what I am currently experiencing. This is like nothing I have felt before. A mixture of guilt, sympathy, excitement and various other buzz words would probably be a good place to start.
Walking out of the airport was probably the most profound moment of the day. For the first time in my life I felt as though I did not belong, I felt like an outsider, an outcast, as though if my every move was being watched; I was the minority. It is hard to put into words on just how profound this feeling was, I think this is something that one must experience for themselves, I can’t just write about it. 
When we arrived in Haiti and were waiting for the truck to pick us up at the airport I saw at first glance how desperate some of these people were. Uniformed men insisted on helping us with our luggage despite the fact we told them we did not need assistance. As kind as they were, they seemed to have expected payment. This was extremely hard for me to process, because at that instance I was not in a position to tip them, even though I wanted too. It seemed to have caused some feud between the workers which was disheartening. I am currently still wrestling with this. 
The ride over to the Guest House was extremely interesting too. People here do not use turn signals, instead they honk to alert other vehicles of their presence. On numerous occasions I felt as though we were about to crash. The roads were not very nice, in fact I would equate them to dirt bike trails or off roading trails back home. The roads, buildings, and vehicles all look to be in pretty rough condition, it amazes me that human beings can live and find love in the areas. I believe these people have found something within themselves, some form of happiness at least. It is making me realize how materialistic we are back home. 
Watching ordinary citizens of this country sell small goods along side the streets was something that I was not use too. It would be extremely awkward or different to see such a thing back in the states. 

It is very hard for me to put thought and emotion into words at this time. 

-John Dugas

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Leaving for Haiti tomorrow......and you will be WITH US!

As I prepare to leave for Haiti tomorrow, I feel so blessed by the people who will be WITH ME on the trip, but are not GOING on the trip.  They are all of you, who have donated items that are filling our suitcases to the maximum weight, who have helped our team prepare through discussions or prayer, who will work a little bit harder at home for our families or jobs we are leaving behind, and who will continue to hold our team in your hearts and prayers while we are in Haiti this week.  As I write that list, I can see the faces of the people in my life that represent each of those items and I thank you from the bottom of my heart.

Last night, I received a very special gift from a friend:


This friend was supposed to be GOING on this trip, but through unexpected circumstances, will instead be WITH US on the trip in spirit.  He created this loaf of bread with his own hands and with a heart full of love.  This loaf of bread will be broken as Christ's body during a communion service we will have as a team.  Around the edges of the bread are 15 slashes.....one for each of our 14 team members and one as a symbol for those not physically there....but still WITH US.

Thank you for all of your love and support.  This trip would not be possible without you!

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Give Me Your Hand

This afternoon we pulled into Juno's (a Haitian orphanage) unannounced. Our plans were to go to another orphanage... but as frequently happens, God had different plans. Due to some miscommunication we found ourselves stepping off of the tap tap and into the lives of fifteen precious little ones whom we have never met.
We spent time playing, singing, snacking, and even sharing the Bible story of Jesus walking on water. Our time was short and sweet, but certainly not in vain. We found out from Juno that of all the children, only four were true orphans - meaning both parents have passed away. The other eleven were from Cite Soleil (where we previously accompanied water trucks) and have been left with Juno in hopes for a better life. How difficult must life be for a parent to willingly leave their child with a stranger  in hopes of a better life? It is one thing to make sure that your child will be well fed, well bathed and have a bed to call their own.
However, this was a place littered with trash and waste, covered in dust and dirt, yet essentially the hope that these Haitian parents clung to. If there is one thing we have learned this week it is affirmation that there is none too poor, too dirty, too broken, too naked, too stupid, too drunken to be thrown outside God's love.
video
Our hope is in Christ. We have faith in our Lord who cares for the the orphan. Today we witnessed the joyful worship of fifteen souls while they sang - making evident God is revealing himself to them.  We desire for God to carry on to completion the work He has begun in each life. While the role that we play in this end is unclear, the two hour trip we took -to hold, to sing, to teach, to love, to kiss- may have had a greater impact on us than them.

-D. Wriggs and M. Hughes

Touched

The Home for the Sick and Dying was a hospital I visited today and a place that gave dignity to those who were at the end of their lives. My experience there this morning was one of tender moments with many. I used wipes to clean the women and body lotion to soften their arms, legs, and face. Some women encouraged us to paint their nails.

Although I looked forward to being a part of an organization that cared for people with such honor, I was hesitant to touch these women whom I didn't know or had never met. I soon found out that these women hungered for touch and to have someone invest in them.  Their smiles and inviting eyes gave way to soft sounds of delight or words of appreciation. A sweet spirit prevailed.

I left knowing these women were ministered to in a way God would've wanted, and I was blessed by women who taught me that receiving is as much a gift as giving.

Gail Dart

Friday, January 31, 2014

Friday

We started this morning off by going to the six AM Church Service. Pastor Gary was leading the worship and he was kind enough to sing in English, then Creole, back and forth. It was truly beautiful to see the Haitians praising. One elderly woman came back and gave a lot of us hugs, a truly loving moment for each of us. Later in the day, Amy said this woman gives hugs out every time to the Healing Haiti people visiting. That made her hug even more special for me. :-)

Later we did the Water Truck in Cite Soleil again. Three times, WHOO HOO! At the first stop I met two men in their twenties. The first one was Pierre Dave Snyder. We had a hard time communicating so after a bit, we got Cadet (our translator today) to translate. Pierre took a lot of classes and cannot  find a job so he is going to take even more classes. He was carrying a French dictionary with him. I asked if I could pray for him and he accepted. Cadet translated my prayer to him. This whole time a baby was tightly holding onto me. Please pray Pierre gets a good job. We refilled and went on our second run. This time I helped with the buckets and helped a boy then a girl carry their buckets with no handles. The last run I held a toddler girl almost the whole time while trying to communicate with 10 year old Emanuel. Almost all the children I held touched my face and hair and were fascinated with my moles.

I am deeply touched by the need for love all these children have. I thank God he has given me Jesus whom showed me how to love. I praise you father.

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Roselinda and Adrianne

        On the first day delivering water in Cite Soleil, I met an adorable fourteen year old girl named Roselinda. Yesterday while working at general hospital, I started talking to a seventeen year old girl who was looking after her three year old niece who was sick. Today I immediately clicked with a fifteen year old girl at a school that we visited named Adrianne. The more time we spend out, the more I realize this is becoming a pattern. The teenagers find me and cling to me. Whether it be purely because of our age or a safety they feel with me, wherever we are, whatever we are doing, those sweet teenage girls want to be by my side, holding my hand. 



        My heart breaks for these precious children probably more than anyone else here in Haiti. Being a teenager seems rough. Being a teenager in a poverty stricken country (taking care of family members, living in slums, covered in dirt, objectified by the men around them, caring for their parents, working already) would be a little more than rough. This is more then I can think of handling. These are the girls that reach out to me. And this is the age group we need to be reaching out to.
       Speaking from the view of an eighteen year old, the last five years of my life have led to becoming who I am as a person. This is such a pivotal point in human lives. There is an openness and a willingness to learn and discover what life is about. I've come to discover that Jesus IS what life is all about. We have the ability and the attention from these beautiful Haitian teens to teach them what life is all about. And they're ready for it. They need hope. They need a place to put their faith. And once these wonderful young adults have that faith, they can be the ones to make the change that Haiti needs. A Top Top full of white missionaries ARE going to make a dent. But we're not going to change the fate of this country. The Millennials in Haiti can though. If we raise up this generations as people seeking after Jesus and people doing what Jesus would be doing and serving as Jesus would be serving, that's when we can start seeing a real, tangible, physical change in the Haiti.

That being said, I have no idea how we go about changing the youth to change the country. I'll let ya'll know when I come up with something.

-Maddie

A little about giving and a lot about receiving...

We've all heard that is better to give than to receive and it truly is a good thing to give. I would never down play the blessing that comes when we when we give, I mean that's the reason I came on this trip, to give of myself. But, today I learned a lesson in receiving from a beautiful woman named Marie. It is said that Marie is 104 years old, but she is the youngest 104 year old I've ever met. Ok...she is the only 104 year old I've ever met, but a very beautiful woman just the same.

As a part of the elder care ministry of Grace Village, we visited many of the elderly of the community. We helped in a variety of ways: helping put a tarp up, moving a women into her new home, washing hands and feet, putting lotion on and feeding them. Immediately when we walked into Marie's home, she told us she was so happy! That she had hoped we would come today. She laughed and hugged each one of us. I immediately loved her. She plopped right down on the floor and let is wash her with such joy. We sang and worshipped with her it was an amazing time.

When I think of getting old the thing that scares me is not being able to take care of myself. I remember my Grandmother saying she didn't want to be an imposition to anybody or even my Mom struggling with having us see her as she was dying of cancer. My attitude: I want to be able to take care of myself! NO, no I can do it! Don't go to any trouble on my account. But today, Marie gave to me by joyfully and gracefully taking the help we were offering.

My words seem inadequate to describe today, but I pray that God makes it a reality in my life that I am able to receive like Marie.

Jill


Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Hope

REAL HOPE

Today we drove into the mountains; a long, dusty and very bumpy (but beautifully rural) ride to a place called Real Hope for Haiti. We learned "real hope" is the kind of hope beyond just "fixing" people but that REAL hope comes only when ones life is changed in the power of Jesus.

Real Hope for Haiti is a medical clinic that was started 20 years ago by a husband and wife team, joined two years later by their two daughters, one of whom is a nurse. They've developed a nutrition program that rescues malnourished children in the community, quickly bringing many of them back to life. We were so impressed by this family's dedication, testimony, humility and their love for Haiti and what God has called them to do.

It was explained when new Haitian mom's first started coming to the maternal clinic, they didn't even name their babies until they were 3 months old because many babies didn't live that long, now all the babies are names right when they are born and the infant mortality has improved greatly. This was amazing to me as I have a grandbaby expected early June and that baby already has a name!

We were then ushered into another room with babies who moms' died giving them birth. They still have father's that love them but they are kept there until they can walk and eat on their own. They  have nannies who care and love on them 24/7. We were able to play and hold these precious kids. They now have kids who are old enough to return and thank them for helping them live.





GENERAL HOSPITAL

General Hospital, a free government run hospital in Port au Prince was our next stop where we planned to clean and change the diapers of sick and abandon babies. The hospital was a busy place but more with family members and doctors today than sick kids. We had expectations of doing more but God must of had different plans. Washed a few babies, painted a few mama's nails, tried our best through the language barrier to connect with these mamas waiting patiently for their babies to heal.  It was hard.  Really hard.

One of the girls on our team connected with a 17 year old girl that was the auntie of the 3 year old baby (maybe 15 lbs), there to watch while the mama was working.  She was eager to talk to someone younger, using the translator to communicate with Maddie.  She was so open and wanted to talk and it led Maddie to think that she would be receptive to talking about Jesus.  Use this beautiful Haitian teen for your kingdom, Lord.

Kim and Coleen

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

For I was hungry and you fed me. I was thirsty and you gave me water to drink.

We started the day delivering two truck loads of water to Cite Soleil.  Last night our leader Amy, informed us that Cite Soleil is the poorest slum in the world, not just the Western Hemisphere.  There are 300,000 people living in an area of 3 square miles, built on a garbage dump with no running water, electricity or sewer.  It is also a dangerous place, so we would need to keep close to the truck.  Decision time... do we trust God, or do we let the fear take over?

As soon as the tap tap (truck) stopped, we were swarmed by children reaching up to be picked up, held and loved.  They clung to us, they touched our hair, felt our blanc (white) skin, and there were many more waiting for the same chance to also be held, but we just didn't have enough arms.  It broke our hearts at the depth of their need,  but we were blessed to hold and love them.  We were privileged to have this opportunity with "the least of these."







A few team members were able to pull themselves away from the kids in order to deliver the water.  Women and children and a few men came with buckets and tubs to receive the clean water and carry it back to their homes.  Even some of the little ones carried up to 5 gallon buckets of water on their heads.





At the first stop, we took the kids for a little walk towards the ocean to sing and dance with them.  As it turns out, it was a place strewn with human waste, where they even bury their dead.  In the midst of this, the kids all sang, danced and clapped with a joy indescribable.



In the afternoon we were excited to see the fruits of our labor with Feed My Starving Children food distribution.  We helped fill the bowls and personally hand them to each child.  Haitian Initiative is an organization that runs a soccer after school camp.  After practice the kids are fed daily with the food from FMSC.



~Kim, Coleen, Jeanne & Wendy


Monday, January 27, 2014

Jesus Sees His Faith

During our layover in Miami, 4 of us grabbed a quick lunch together.  We were sitting at our table eating, when a man at the next table over began asking about our trip.  We shared about the work we would be doing and he spoke encouragement and blessing to us.

As we continued on with lunch, he came over and put $40 on our table.  He told us he wanted to use the money to bless someone on our trip.  We were talking about his generosity when he returned to share his favorite parable.  He recounted the story of the paralytic being lowered through the roof by his friends.  This man talked about how the man was healed by his friend's faith.  He told us that he wanted to be a friend that helped the people of Haiti.

Just when we thought he could not have gotten any more bold in his faith, he returned again and asked to pray over us.  He prayed for God's protection and blessing on our trip.    He prayed that God would go before us and that he would lead us while we were in Haiti.

It was such an encouragement to us before we ever boarded the plane.  A blessing that God uses his people to encourage one another, that God speaks to his people and that the work we are able to do in Haiti is possible due to the prayers and finical support of others.  


-JJ, Maddie, Lisa, and Jill