Sunday, March 11, 2018

Day 7: Grace Church service & Wahoo Beach resort

Hi, it's Danielle blogging again. We began our day by going up to Grace Church. It was a very uplifting and energetic service. The people in Haiti rely so much on their faith, and you can see it in the way that they worship. Many people raised their hands high in the air and sang with passion.
After church, we drove out to a beach  resort called Wahoo Bay. The beauty of the surroundings there left us awestruck. The ocean was so clear and blue, the sand was beautiful and fine, and mountains on one side reached high. It's always a great experience going to see the beautiful parts of Haiti because for most of the week we are centered in the city of Port-au-Prince. It's also simply a nice time to just wind down and process the past days that we've had here. We spent the time there swimming, snorkeling, relaxing, and of course, jumping off of the water trampoline. This past week here has been one that none of us will ever forget. This country, the hearts of the people here, and each smile that we witness are all so beautiful. We now thank God, the people that helped get us here, and the wonderful staff and people of Haiti for making this week so amazing.

Saturday, March 10, 2018

Day 6: Water Truck delivery & Home for the Sick and Dying Babies

Hello blog readers,
Today was our last day serving the people of Haiti. We started off our day by doing two water truck stops. Water truck day always brings on tons of emotions. It's overwhelming, fun, exciting, heartbreaking, and eye opening all at once. Being on the water line means you are directing and holding the hose. If you aren't a part of the water line, you are helping carry the buckets of water being filled up or loving on the kids. Today after delivering a bucket, Abby and I had the opportunity to help some ladies wash their laundry. Washing laundry in Haiti is not throwing all your darks in one pile, your lights in another, and then throwing them into a machine. Washing laundry in Haiti starts with a large bucket of soapy water and your hands. Clothes become clean when you rub your hands back and forth with the fabric in the bucket of soapy water until it makes a squeaking noise. We helped them wash clothes for about ten minutes. Most of the ten minutes was spent laughing at the fact that we had no idea what we were doing. This was actually one of my favorite experiences I have had while in Haiti. It really allowed me to be apart of the culture here and that was super cool. Something I have always loved about water truck day is watching the kids dump the water on themselves and dance while they're doing it. It shocks me every time how joyful the Haitian people are even though they are living in the conditions that they are. The littlest things can and will put the biggest smile on their faces.

-Rachel Nagel

After our last water truck stop we went to the grocery store! The grocery store is always a somewhat exciting adventure. The best part of going to the grocery store is the air conditioning. Besides AC we enjoyed buying a whole bunch of different Haitian food such as ice cream, candy, and drinks to try! Dana was especially excited about finding limeade! After finding all of our delicious snacks we got on the taptap to go to the home for sick and dying babies. When we arrived we were led into two different rooms of babies. Each room had at least 30 cribs. We started off by feeding each child their lunch which was soup. After lunch we were allowed to take the babies out of their cribs and bring them outside on the playground. Some kids had to be held because they were too little and sick to play. In America we have the luxury of technology and here in Haiti they have little access to care for the sick. This was one of the most heartbreaking experiences of the entire trip.

-Rachel Nagel & Grace Rieckhoff

Day 5: Elder visits, Grace Village orphanage tour and Fleri bakery

Hi, our  names are Danielle and Grace, and today we're blogging about our fifth day here in Haiti.  We started the day by going to visit some Elders in the city of Titanyen. We were able to visit three homes. The elders were so grateful for the time we spent with them. We were able to bring them a hot meal, wash their feet, rub lotion on any of their aches, sing with them, and most importantly pray for them. These simple things that we provided for them really meant a lot to these people. In Haiti, the life expectancy is much lower than in the US. This means that many of them have outlived their children. For many of these elders, we are the only "family" they really have. For me, it was really fun being able to bring a guitar with and make these visits more vivacious with some songs that they could sing and dance to. There was one especially lively elder who could not stop smiling, laughing, and dancing. His smile was contagious and brought so much joy to us all, as well as an inspiration. While visiting these three homes I think it was a good view to see how truly happy they are and that they put all their trust in God and his plan for them. They were all so joyful over the little things people have and I truly think it opened all our eyes to us in the group to how grateful we should be for every little thing we have in life.

After the elder visits, we went to Grace Village and had a tour of the whole set up of the area. Grace Village is a family style orphanage and school in the mountains with a beautiful view. Lots of kids call Grace Village their home after the hurricane. A family style orphanage is where there are 4-6 kids in a house with two adults that are fulfilling roles as parents and teaching them things such as cleaning their own clothes. Healing Haiti firmly believes that children should be able to experience growing up with a family, not in dorms. There are more than 60 kids in the orphanage, about 450 kids in the school, and they have helped over 11,000 in their clinic. It was amazing to see all the cool opportunities these kids have at the orphanage/school.
~Danielle Gjerde & Grace Rieckhoff

As an addition to our Grace Village visit, we were blessed with the opportunity to both take a tour of the Fleri bakery and enjoy an incredibly delicious dinner there. The tour was led by Jake Stebbing, Fleri's manager. During the tour, we were surrounded by Haitian employees making their products, and restaurant employees preparing for the dinner hour.  Jake shared how the mission of the bakery has changed quite a bit since its inception due to Healing Haiti's focus on job creation. Originally, they were going to use part of the facility as a baking school, but as those involved in the project sought God's will on the matter, it made far more sense to start a restaurant.  And proof that the project is in the center of God's will is shown by the amazing success and growth they are experiencing. Last year the bakery/restaurant made nearly $200,000, which is a tremendous number in the Haitian economy.
~Mark Magnuson

Thursday, March 8, 2018

Day 4: For His Glory Orphanage, Haiti Design Co., Dio's Special Needs Orphanage

For His Glory Orphanage
Hi! My name is Rylie and today our team went to a orphanage called For His Glory. As we got off the tap-tap and walked inside, the building was already filled with an immense amount of laughter and the sound of kids learning (loudly). The orphanage consisted of about 4 different rooms that held a good amount of kids of the same age in each room. Our mission today was to teach the kids about the importance of dental hygiene and show them love and attention that they may not always receive. The first group of kids that were brought out to get a cleaning and a fluoride treatment were the second youngest group containing mostly 2-4 year-olds. A little boy in a yellow Thailand shirt ran straight up to me with the biggest smile across his face and his arms up. I looked at him and I just knew, it was going to be hard to separate from him when it would be time to go. He knew how to brush his teeth, ON HIS OWN. His smile was beyond contagious and you could just tell how loved he was by not only our team, but by the staff as well. As more groups continued to go out and learn how to brush their teeth and get a fluoride treatment, you could see how happy and loved all the kids truly were. The experience I had at this orphanage was by far the best and it truly was heartbreaking to leave my little man. I was blown a few kisses and waved goodbye but my heart is still with that little boy and I'll be praying for him and the rest of the kids that reside in For His Glory.

~Rylie Unruh

Dana, applying flouride treatment 

Rylie and her "little man"

Haiti Design Co.
Next, we went to a place called Haiti Design Co. They employ 60+ Haitian artisans who create beautifully designed jewelry and bags made of various combinations of leather, beads, and fabric. While I had been there a few times before, I had not yet had the experience we had today.  When I was in Haiti last July and visited Haiti Design Co., I noticed a sign advertising an "experience," where you could choose to learn from the artisans how to create one of their items, such as a leather bracelet, a bracelet made out of leather beads, a sewing project, or even participate in a rooftop yoga experience.  You could also opt to have a meal with your experience. I was intrigued and was happy my team was excited to try it, too!  We had a really great time creating our own works of wearable art and are so excited to show them off at home and tell others about it.

Leather beaded bracelet making!

Half the group working on their leather beaded bracelets

Modeling our leather wrapped bracelets

Dio's Orphanage for Children with Special Needs
Bonswa! My name is Avery, and today we visited a special needs orphanage called "Dio's". There were about 25 or more kids there. This was one of the way nicer orphanages that we have seen. It was very big and the kids seemed to be very loved where they were. The instant we got off the Tap Tap one boy, who was about seven, came running and squealing towards us because he was SO excited. He continued running and hugging everyone throughout the visit. We brought play-doh for them to play with, danced and sang with them, and played soccer. There were a lot of things going on, but one thing I noticed was that almost every kid was very happy. One guy, maybe in his 20's, who had down syndrome, was just dancing the whole entire time (and he was GOOD at it, too!). At the beginning he was in the trunk of a truck just dancin' all by himself, and it was soo adorable. One thing that I also noticed was that all of the kids had one special thing or talent that stood out about them. There was the dancer boy, the happy boy that gave everybody hugs, and everyone just had very contagious smiles. Everyone seemed to have a great time, even Mark got to break out some of his dance moves. Usually it's very hard for me to leave orphanages, because I always feel like the kids didn't get all the love they needed. But the whole place had a very loving atmosphere, so I felt good knowing I was leaving them in good hands.  

This little guy was amazing at soccer!

Playdough fun :)

Time for a little "Tooty Ta!"

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

Day 3: General Hospital, Apparent Project, Le Pharre Orphanage visit

Hi, my name is Abby, and I am so excited to you all about a little part of our 3rd day here in Haiti! To start off our day we went to General Hospital, with this being my 5th trip here to Haiti, I have never been to General Hospital so I was super excited.  (This is a place that was visited in the past, and we were lucky enough to be able to test it out again for other teams to possibly visit again as well.)   This was a public hospital and we went to the pediatric area where many parents came to for help for their ill children. I think I can speak for the whole team that we were a little shy and overwhelmed in the beginning, but it was amazing to watch the team blossom and step out of their comfort zones to help be the hands and feet of Jesus. From stepping in and asking if they wanted a massage or for us to paint their nails, to playing a hand slapping game with some older kids, we achieved our goal of bringing laughter and light into the people! Later on in the night during team time, we really took that time to reflect on what we had seen and the differences and hardships the people of Haiti have to face on a daily basis compared to our way of life back at home. I am confident that as a whole group, we gave our all, and I truly feel we impacted so many people today that I personally will never forget.
~Abby Johnson

Being here for the first time, I did not know what to expect at all. I didn't know if I should be scared of people saying "Bonjour" to me at the airport, I didn't know if I should smile at the men sitting on the fence, I didn't even know that Haitian people owned cars. When I heard that we were going to Apparent Project today around lunch, I had only heard that there was a gift shop, so to say the least I was excited. My perspective quickly changed when I started listening to the tour guide and our team leaders. The Apparent Project is an organization that helps parents keep their children. There are so many different situations that can bring a parent to have to abandon their child, and so many people can't afford it. This organization provides jobs for parents and helps them earn the money to be able to keep their children, and these people are so thankful. I know being here for three days now, I have noticed that these parents are so proud of their children. They love them so much, and it has been so humbling to watch how they put this entire project into action.
~Elissa Magnuson

We went to an orphanage today called Le Pharre to visit children and educate them on taking care of there teeth .  I also placed fluoride after they brushed them. (I am a licensed dental assistant and have worked in pediatric dentistry for 18 years.) I explained to the children they were tooth vitamins for their teeth to help keep them strong.  We sang them an old Raffi song (and modified) when you wake in the morning and you get out of bed you brush your teeth ch-ch-ch-ch   ch-ch-ch-ch.    "When your day is done and you get ready for bed you brush your teeth ch-ch-ch-ch   ch-ch-ch-ch." I think you can all get the gist of it.  The kids loved it with a blow up toothbrush, tube of tooth paste and the puppet Dudley the dinosaur.  It was amazing to see the contagious smiles on the faces of the kids when we showed up just loving on us and wanting to sit on our laps and give and receive hugs.  Words can not even begin to explain how I feel on this trip.  We all have many different emotions at many different times of the day.  This has been an amazing experience and kudos to our awesome leaders Michelle and Julie.  You two make a wonderful team leading.  You both compliment each other.  I am exhausted and time to get some shut eye. Please continue to pray for our team and the people we will touch the rest of this week.  Good night and God Bless you all!
~Dana Pinson