Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Coyle & Bower Family Trip Day 3 (Sweet Home Orphanage, Rebuild Globally, Gertrude's Orphanage)

Today our team went to two orphanages and one non-profit organization. Because my mom has been to Haiti many times before, and I have been there once, I came into this trip believing I knew what to expect. I have never been more wrong. The two orphanages we went to were opposites on so many levels that it was difficult to look at each one and not compare. I will go into each one, but I feel like it was important for our team to go to each one and see the different conditions, and I feel like they prepared us for the rest of the week.

Sweet Home Orphanage is by far the nicest orphanage I have ever been to in Haiti. The rooms had air conditioning, they had a grassy area to play, they were adding on to the compound, and they had a little pergola area that was shaded for different games. I feel like it was the stereotypical orphanage in the sense that they were all cute. You wanted to hold them all and you felt very comfortable. As my mom put it, the day was like a rubber band being progressively stretched more and more as the day went on, and we started with a very loose rubber band. There was one kid who stood out to me and a few other people on my team and that was Zach, or Zach Attack. He was such a cute little boy and you could tell he was taking it all in. He was constantly moving and looking at his surroundings, which did complicate things a bit when you were holding him. He was young and could not walk. Zach also had a lung issue and had been hospitalized many times. I felt so bad that he, at such a young age, had already gone through so much and there was only more to come for him as he grew up so I spent most of that visit loving up little Zach.

Rebuild Globally was the organization we visited and it was such a cool place. They made shoes, bags and jewelry out of recycled leather, tires and tire tubes. It was really cool to see all of the people they had employed and how they had impacted their lives. They had not only provided these Haitians an income but had taught them a trade and that will serve them well in the future. Laura, our guide, said that there hope was to double the amount of employees by the end of 2017 so they could increase their productions. Rebuild Globally's main sales are in Orlando, Florida where they have somewhere to sell their items, but otherwise they have people in the US working on sales and you can see them at different pop-up stores. It was really cool to see how these people were impacting the lives of these Haitians. 

Finally, we went to Gertrude's. This was where our rubber bands got pulled hard. We got to Gertrude's at 2:00 only to learn that we were an hour early; the kids had their rest time at 2:00, not 1:00. So we were faced with the choice of going to the Guest House and then coming back later, or going to Fleuri Farms for a tour. Majority chose to come back later so we went back the Guest House. This is where the stretching started. Not only had we just had to rearrange our schedule but we were all tired and this would mean we would be having a longer day. Luke started to fall asleep on the bus, and we were all pretty exhausted. But we piled into the truck after a little resting time and headed off to the orphanage. 

Because my mom had been before and I had seen pictures, I felt pretty prepared walking in and was convinced I would have no issue pushing myself. Wrong again. I walked in and was so uncomfortable. I spent a good 5-10 minutes just standing their awkwardly trying to figure it out, and I felt bad because I came in wanting to love them just like I had to those kids that morning  but I couldn't. Some kids were not disabled so a few kids on my team and myself all gravitated towards them, something familiar. But soon we were taking the outside to play and I started to warm up to them; I kind of grew into spending time with the kids with more serious disabilities. Then I got to the point where I felt myself being impacted more and more by those who had a stronger disability. The kids I had avoided in the beginning because they couldn't walk right or drooled I found on my lap or holding my hand, and they were just as sweet if not sweeter than the kids that morning, and it made me start to question how I acted at home. 

I started to wonder why we judged everyone by appearance. Why could I so lovingly hug and hold all those kids that morning yet be so uncomfortable just because they looked or acted differently? And, to be honest, I have no answer for that and I am now certain it is not right. Something I did on the regular, subconsciously, was something know that is making me so frustrated. And then that brought me to an even bigger question: Why, just the day before, did I pick up a naked child and hug them and play games with kids who may have had infectious diseases, and push myself away from the disabled? That one stopped me, because now I had no excuse. For the previous question I came to the conclusion that because they were normal, it was more comfortable and that's why I was more open, but now? I had nowhere to hide.
This experience pulled the rubber band farther than I expected to be pulled on the second day, but I am so grateful. It made me really examine myself and some of the things I was doing wrong that God was definitely telling me to change. And I am so glad we did what we did today because it prepared us so well for tomorrow, where we will be going to another disabled orphanage. God was bringing things out of us now so we can apply what we learned and saw to tomorrow and I literally cannot wait to see what God does in the hearts of our team tomorrow. 

- Lilliana

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Coyle & Bower Family Trip Day 2 (Cite Soliel Water Truck Day)

Today was the water truck day. Just the bare heat was enough to make a person fall over. I woke up to the sound of the team waking up, the AC about to turn off. I thought today would be nice. Maybe some mild heat, cute kids, and maybe a little commotion. No way did that happen. It was a beautiful day, and I stared at the cloudless sky as I filled my new water bottle. I heard dogs barking, and the rumble of tap-taps as they fired up. Breakfast came hot and fresh. Toast, banana slices, mango, and various syrups and spreads were laid beautifully on the dining table. 

After some malaria pill frustration, I strolled out the door.  My new found friends, two eight week old puppies, greeted me as I walked down the gray steps. I referred to them as Rosie and Jax. Jax has big brown eyes, a boxy muzzle, honey-mustard fur, and some white on the tip of his tiny little snout. Rosie, however, was the opposite. Instead of more light brown, she looked like a baby Rottweiler. The only thing making her less like a mini guard dog was her floppy ears and big, hazel-brown eyes. 

My friend, Willow, and I waited at the back of the tap-tap. Jonas was yet to oped the squeaky rusted door. White paint, once fresh and spotless, was now chipped and revealed plenty of rusty chunks. A rainbow of colors proudly stated a Bible verses in Creole. Patterns and colors, I soon learned, were popular for cars, public tap-taps, even school buses. I kept my eyes open for two little girls who had danced and sang for us the night before. I can still remember their big brown eyes, white smiles, and pink dresses. My daydreams of the cute twosome disappeared as the loud creak of the tap-tap doors opened. I searched for a shady seat. The breeze felt nice on my skin, blowing my messy bun. 

As we rumbled out of the property, I stared at the many guard dogs. Proud parents, Gracie and Boaz, sat side by side. A dog that I didn't know, pale cream-and-white patched, slept under a truck. The fattest, white-faced Bacon lay on his post by the higher ledge. The dark-skinned men and women stared at our colorful ride, waving, smiling, or maybe leading a few goats back home. A chicken waddled past, his red comb waving in the dusty wind. 

Before I knew it, we were at our destination. We all crowded out the doorway. Practically slo-mo, I stared into the bottomless eyes of a little girl, wearing a white-and-yellow striped dress too big for her tiny body. I skipped down the small stairs, straight for the tiny little girl. She grinned so broadly I thought her fragile, sweet face would break. She said, "What is your name?" in crisp, but slightly accented, English. "Rachel," I replied to her. "What is your name?" she looked up at me. She was probably four, wearing cute sandals any grown woman would die for if it was in their size. "My name is Ashi." she said. I thought, What a pretty name! No average American would name their kid that. She asked me, "Potem, potem." Pick me up, pick me up. I swept my arms under her fragile body, lifting her up so we were eye level. "Go away!" she yelled in  her sweet-toned, high pitched voice to a little boy asking me to pick him up. Instead, I grabbed his chubby toddler fingers. 

After a blur of other kids, we had to go. I sat out of Stop 2 and 3. The hot, windless day had definitely put a number on me. As soon as we got to the guest house, I changed in to my flowered swimsuit. We swam for hours, ate dinner, had Pit Devotions, and then, after a bit of technical difficulties, I started writing this blog.


Coyle & Bower Family Trip Day 1 (Arrival Day)


Today, when we got to the guest house, we ran through instructions and what to use and what not to use. We got acquainted with the Bower family, the family accompanying us on our trip. We first saw the new, 2 month old puppies and the other dogs, then went upstairs to explore. I went to the balcony to look out. As I looked around, I noticed a medium sized gap between the railing and the yellow stucco walls. I went into it, and got a beautiful view of the neighborhood. I glanced around and saw people burning trash, Bathing in the open, and a few boys fighting on a roof. I invited the rest of the kids over to look at it. As we looked, our neighbors came over and said hi- or some sort of welcome in Creole. Then they did what I was not expecting. They started to sing. They sang and sang and danced along with their tune. They were dancing, and probably wanted us to join. So I started to clap to the rhythm. Then we wanted to know their names. We grabbed a Creole packet and practiced. It took us a while to find out who would do it. Then, we all said it. At first, they didn’t hear it well. So I took the guts and said it again. They heard it then, and laughed at my American accent. I was very embarrassed. I stayed longer, hearing them sing Jingle Bells in the middle of summer. We then had Devotions and talked about bearing a fruit that is eternal. We talked about how to act as a Christian in public, not just in Church. Then we talked, Rachel, Willow and I, on the porch. After a little bit, we went to sleep to make up for our wakeup time of 2:30.


Added by Mike: As I tucked Luke in he said: "Dad I was nervous about going into Cite Soleil tomorrow with all the kids, but after tonight, I'm not nervous anymore."

Monday, June 19, 2017

Nokken Team # 3 - WEEK SUMMARY

                Looking back on this week, there is so much to think about. We learned a lot, grew closer to each other, and grew closer to our God. For many of us this week was a bit of a surprise. We knew that we were going to be bringing water to people in City Solei, we knew we would be caring for children and for the orphaned elderly. We did not, however know what that was going to look like.

                Our first day was water truck day. On water truck day, we drive into different parts of City Solei and fill up buckets of water and help bring them to the people’s homes. While some of us did do the physical labor of helping the people, many of us spent our time holding children. This was unexpected to many of us. We were in one of the poorest slums in the western hemisphere, and the most helpful thing we could do was to hold the children.

                As the week went on this theme continued. We went to a house for sick and dying children, orphanages, special needs orphanages, a home for deaf children, and at all of these locations our job was to interact with the children. Remember, none of these kids speak English, so it’s not like we were having deep conversations with them or sharing the gospel. We are there for the purpose of showing Gods love in a way that is often taken for granted in the environment we come from.

                As the week went on we really saw their mission statement, “The world is a better place when families are strengthened,” shine in what we did during our time in Haiti. The orphanages that Healing Haiti supports are family styled, where there are houses, and each house has “Mommies” and “Poppies” who are the primary care takers for the children in their house. Healing Haiti also partners with organizations like Papillion whose goal is to prevent kids from being orphaned by providing jobs to parents in order to keep families together, as well as running small businesses near Grace Village that do the same thing.

                As we did our job of loving on children throughout the week and I thought about Healing Haiti’s mission statement, it dawned on me, that we are a part of the families of all these people. It is our job to be the loving supportive “big cousins” for all of these children who are starved for love, because of their unfortunate circumstances.

                At the beginning of the week I know that some people felt that we were not being as helpful as we could be, and felt that we really were not doing much. We were hanging out with kids for a week. That’s it. As I struggled with feelings of uselessness I realized that Healing Haiti is so much bigger than myself that it is hard to see the impact I am having. I am only here for a week being the “big cousin” to these kids. But healing Haiti has teams here every week, and these kids have “big cousins” loving on them every week. Healing Haiti the organization is a crucial part of all of these families for their entire lives, and when I was a part of healing Haiti, I became a part of all of these families who see people every week from Healing Haiti.

I am so glad that Healing Haiti is there for them, showing them God’s unconditional Love every single day of the year, and I am honored to be an honorary “big cousin” as a part of Healing Haiti for this week. Thank you to all that made it possible for this team to be here. We learned a lot, and had the wonderful opportunity to show God’s fatherly love to those around us.



Nokken Team # 3 Day 5 Saturday

Saturday was our second water truck day. We set out for the day, filled up the water truck and went to our first stop. Just as the first water truck day the kids were shouting “Hey you” while they anticipated us to pick them up. Water truck days are a way for us have a glimpse of what life is like in Cite Soleil. We often forget there is not an unlimited source of water. These days are not only filled with delivering water, but showing an abundant amount of love to the kids. It is also a day where the children praise our all-powerful God. As many of them would sing “God is so good, God is so good”. We may be the ones delivering the water but it is God who is the true provider.

                After two water truck stops, we ended the afternoon with a trip to an orphanage. There was something very special about this orphanage, it was a depiction of family. It took a little longer for these children to warm up to us but after they did, we enjoyed an afternoon of singing, playing, drawing, and cuddling with these amazing and beautiful children.   

                Finally, we ended the day playing soccer with the neighborhood boys and team time. Sadly, there is only one day left but tomorrow we get to go to church and rejoice in the Lord for the amazing week he has provided us with.

Katie & Ellie

Friday, June 16, 2017

Nokken Team # 3 Day 4 -Friday

Today we woke extra early – 5:45 – to attend a Haitian prayer service.  The church was huge, and the speaker was fantastic.  He preached and praised, alternating between Creole and English.  The whole time, Haitians prayed and praised along, pacing the aisles and raising their hands and voices in answer. One older woman had hugs for all of us, making us feel so welcome.  Afterwards, we were able to walk back to the guesthouse.  It was so cool to walk the streets as Haitians were heading to work and school.

We scored the white tap-tap today, which meant we could sit on benches along the wall rather than in comfortable coach seats.  That was actually awesome, because we got to face each other and talk (and practice our “surfing” in the middle.)  Armed with bubbles, dry-erase boards, and a bible story craft, we headed to a home for special needs children. They greeted us with excited smiles and LOVED the bubbles. The dry-erase boards and markers were a hit as well. Some of us got marker manicures, and the CUTEST little girl brushed Walter’s hair with her toothbrush J.  Walter read a bible story while Valorie gave an animated Creole translation, and then the kids created a colorful craft. Some boys happily played soccer – really inspiring to see so much joy at this special home. 

Afterward, we were off to the school for the deaf.  It’s a boarding school with a good-sized enrollment.  We brought the markers & boards as well as traditional paper & markers, which were a big help in communicating.  A new basketball also drew a crowd – but the Haitian sun got the best of our crew pretty quickly.  The kids loved writing their names and our names, showing off stunts and finally arm wrestling against our young men. And our youngest team member had a good-sized fan club – he handled that like a champ.

Tonight’s dinner was at Fleri Bakery & Restaurant in Grace Village (which we visited yesterday), where we enjoyed Haitian-inspired appetizers and the world’s greatest pizza and a mean game of Jumbo Jenga & bags.

After team time and word-of-the-day, Jean, the Healing Haiti Director, gave salsa lessons.  Our team won.  And we know salsa isn’t supposed to be a competition – but still.

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Nokken Team # 3 Day 4 -Thursday

(Wednesday and Thursday)

                Kalvin and Jake here. We figured we would write to you guys about kids tonight. Why? Because kids have really been the centerpiece of our past 48 hours in Haiti (Wednesday and Thursday). We really weren’t too sure what we were getting ourselves into when we signed up for this trip, but we didn’t expect kids to play such a huge role. Yesterday (Wednesday), we were at the home for Sick and Dying Children. There, we got to hold, feed, and change diapers for nearly all the kids in this home. There were dozens and dozens of children in this place, and very honestly not nearly enough workers to hold, feed, and care for each of these kids on their own- we were able to offer helping hands. (Who even knew this would be a “need” while we were down here).
Today (Thursday), we spent much of our time at a place called Grace Village. This is run by Healing Haiti up in Titanyen – about a 45-minute (considerably rocky) drive from Port Au Prince. We got to love on even more kids here and spend time playing games and sports and giving TONS of piggy back rides. Afterward, we went to different homes in Titanyen to distribute elder care packets to elders in the community. In doing so, we were able to wash these elder’s feet, pray over them, and sing a couple songs of worship with the elders.
Overall – these past few days have been ultra-unique. These kids really do need someone to love on them. They crave affection and they crave receiving love. We saw that with kids in Cite Solei when we were distributing clean water and we’re seeing it big time in these orphanages & homes for children. It has been a blessing to be a blessing to these kids and of course the elders as well. Please pray for continued strength and joy to serve where our hands and feet are needed during the rest of our time in country.

Kalvin & Jake