Sunday, January 12, 2020

Jacmel - Remote Village Day

After eating a wonderful Haitian spaghetti breakfast (ham, chicken, hot dogs, and white cheese garnish on top) we headed off to a remote village, Bossier, which is north of Jacmel. On our way, we drove past a funeral procession. They were walking through the streets in their finest attire, while a marching band was playing. The police were escorting the attenders as well as the funeral director. We then continued through some bumpy roads, a beautiful lake, and many spring fed water fill stations. There are many more motorcycles that make the trek up the mountain than 4-wheeled vehicles due to the conditions of the roads. Horses and mules are utilized for transportation.

We ended up at a beautiful village after 45 minutes filled with many welcoming faces. There was a strange absence of teenagers as well as people between the ages of 20-30 years old because a lot of them tend to leave Jacmel and head to Port-Au-Prince or the Dominican Republic for high school and university. Many don't return since there are more opportunities for jobs elsewhere.

We met all of the children in a catholic church and started our time with them by singing some songs. We were also able to perform our "hands" drama, which was followed by a fun, creative activity. The kids loved hanging out with us, and we enjoyed their company.

Some of us then split off to go help the women cook lunch that we had brought up to share with the entire community. We were able to grate coconuts, peel potatoes, and cut up carrots and beets. Helping prepare lunch was a new experience and it was a blast!

While some of us were making lunch, others were playing with the kids. Many fun games were involved such as dancing (a.k.a. Haiti's Got Talent), musical chairs, and heads or tails. The kids enjoyed the heads and tails game, but they cheated on the first round. They did figure the game out and it went much smoother the rest of the time.

We then walked to four different homes to visit some elders. We were able to massage and pray over the elders and their families. The elders were thankful and grateful for our visit. They were so sweet, and a couple of them were filled with a lot of energy. After our hike to the houses, we were able to enjoy lunch with the leadership council of Bossier. The leadership council is made up of a variety of different leaders from the community such as pastors, teachers and a school principal. We were able to have a great conversation with all of the members from the council. We learned that the nearest medical facility is about two hours away. Also the catholic church is currently being used for a school because their school is currently under construction. Getting supplies to a remote area is very challenging due to the rocky paths. Everyone in the community was very welcoming and the day was filled with many shared laughs and smiles. Lots of memories were formed and we are all very excited for the future of Bossier.

Charlie and Brooke (a.k.a. Creek)

Jacmel - Home for Sick and Dying

We got an early start today with breakfast at 7:00a.m. in order to get to our destination in good time. The Home for Sick and Dying was very clean and nice. It was in the city of Jacmel, but took quite some time to get there due to traffic.

We noticed several differences between Jacmel and Port-Au-Prince. The pace is slower and the people seem more relaxed. The traffic isn't quite as chaotic in Jacmel either. Some of the architecture has more of a caribbean and colonial feel to it.

The first room we went into was the babies. There were mom's there to nurse and help care for their children. We were impressed how mom's were caring for other babies who didn't have their own mother's there. The nuns were extremely friendly and full of joy. You could tell they loved what they were doing with all their hearts. Some of the babies were very sick. One little girl was so sick and lethargic, but seemed so comforted by our presence and Alicia holding her. One little girl was being admitted when we arrived and she seemed a bit overwhelmed by the experience. It was a good sign, as that means she is firmly attached to her mother and/or caregivers. You could tell the other mothers felt for the little girl and tried to comfort her.

After awhile, some of us went into the toddler room. Most of them were pretty shy at first, but then warmed up and played games with us while being held. With a few of the boys, we played "this little piggy" and even though they couldn't understand the language, they loved the playful tickles and the human contact.

We went to another part of the Home to minister to adult women. We offered massages with lotion and all were anxious to receive this small mercy. You could see from the smiles on their beautiful faces, that they enjoyed this very much. We were able to get to most of the women, but then it was their rest time, so we had to leave. The sisters were very sweet and thanked us for coming. They would like us to come back again.

Once we arrived back at the guesthouse, we had hoped to visit some school children at a school within walking distance. However, we were informed that school doesn't start until Monday, so we decided to head to the school anyway for a tour. The teachers and administrators were there doing an in-service and planning meeting, but they were more than happy to show us around. We learned that it is a free school. We are hopeful the connections we are making during this "going deeper" trip will turn into future opportunities for service for future Healing Haiti teams. The school has a beautiful deck overlooking the ocean. You can hear the sound of the waves and it will be such a peaceful place of study. It is a brand new school building that will teach students K-6 and they are hoping to expand to higher grades.

We got hot and sweaty walking back up the mountain, so we were very excited to relax at the pool. After a delicious meal of salad, rice and chicken/veggie mix, we had our word of the day recap. Some of the words were hope, connection, fun, joy, peaceful, challenging, sweet and touch. Concerning touch, we discussed how important and impactful it can be, and how the love of an unfamiliar person can be comforting during a stressful event. Some of the team members shared some personal experiences where in their childhood they still remember the kindness of a stranger and how the feeling remains with them still today. This conversation reiterated to each of us how it may seem insignificant at times this work we are doing, but it is actually very important. We will never know this side of heaven, the impact that has been made here. We appreciate all our friends and family that have made this opportunity possible for us!

Kathleen and Kim

Jacmel - Bassin Bleu and Beach Dinner

"Remain in me and I will remain in you. I in them will produce much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing." John 15:4

We started today off with a poolside breakfast of veggie omelets, scrambled eggs with cheese, toast, and of course the most important thing, coffee :) After breakfast we did a devotion on the fruits of the spirit and how they don't always come to us easily, sometimes they require sacrifice. But, when we abide in Christ, He produces good fruits in us.

After breakfast we were joined by more Healing Haiti staff that made the trek down from Port-Au-Prince and up the mountain very early in the morning. After packing the Land Cruiser and pick up truck, we headed out to Bassin Bleu for more unknown adventures. After our scary hike the other day in Furcy, I'm pretty sure many of us were nervous that the hike would be much worse. Our only hope was that there would be guides again to hold our hands through the tough spots. on the way, we got to drive across a river, which was new for many of us. Once we got to Bassin Bleu, we found many guides willing to help us out. We chose a few and headed out on our hike. To our surprise, this hike was easier than the other day. There were cement stairs and rocks for grip along the way and the guides were there to hold our hands at any slippery spots. After awhile we arrived at a high cliff with a rope. This is where some of us got a bit nervous. Kim was brave and became our guinnea pig and went first. Her guide held onto her as she held the rope and down the cliff they went together. To our relief, the cliff had indents for our feet, so it wasn't as scary as it initially looked. Once we were down, we realized we had made it down to the waterfall. All we had to do was jump off a rock and swim to the base of the waterfall. Bassin Bleu is a beautiful oasis in the middle of the jungle. It has large waterfalls surrounded by tall cliffs and a canopy of trees with a beautiful pool of bright blue water in the middle. I think it was more beautiful and spectacular than any of us were expecting. The whole team jumped in the water and were very anxious to climb up the rocks that led up to the waterfall and jump off. Bassin Bleu is 75 feet at its deepest, so there was no worries about hitting the bottom when jumpingin. At the waterfall there were three levels you could jump from. Many of us were satisfied to jump from level one or two, but we had a few brave team members, (Brooke, Charlie and Kenneth) that chose to climb up the slippery rocks and jump from a very high spot. It was fun watching everyone come to the edge of the cliff and sit and stare at the water as they contemplated whether or not they had the courage to jump. After everyone got their fill of jumping and swimming in the basin, we all swam back to shore and hiked on back to our starting point. We all made it back with no falls. After we thanked our guides, we headed back downtown to Jacmel.

On the way back to the Haiti Surf Guesthouse, we stopped to do some shopping of some Haitian hand made goods. We also got to visit a local health clinic ran by Dr. Wilbur who grew up with our Healing Haiti Director in Jacmel. It was really nice to see how Dr. Wilbur has returned to his hometown to serve his community. After seeing the clinic, we headed back to our guesthouse where we freshened up before heading to our own private beach for dinner. The sea water was a gorgeous turquoise blue and the waves were pretty big. Not big enough to keep many of us from going in, though! After a swim and some card games, the hotel staff brought out an amazing dinner of lobster, conch, rice with beans, french fries, chicken and pizza. As we all ate, we discussed our word of the day. It was fun hearing everyone's take on the day and what they felt and saw within our group. It was a great way to end our most adventurous day of the trip. The purpose of this trip was to go deeper, and I think we all got what we came for today. The good news is, we're not finished. New adventures still await us the rest of the week.


Tuesday, January 7, 2020

Jacmel - Water Truck Day

The day started with a great breakfast of Haitian omelets (egg-stuffed bread), oatmeal, mango, and bananas and amazing fresh-squeezed juice.  The weather was beautiful and there is a good feeling in the air in Haiti.  We had devotions out on the patio using the song So Will I (100 billion times) - "all creation praises your so will I." 

We donned our lime green water truck shirts and prepared to go to Cite Soleil (Sun City) in Kreyol.  Cite Soleil is home to over 400,000 people in 8 square miles - higher per capita than Manhattan, NY and all on one level.  It being on the bay there are no wells close by because they would pump out salt water so all water has to be trucked in.  Healing Haiti delivers over 87,000 gallons per week free of charge to the residents in Cite Soleil. It is always a beautiful time to play with the children, help carry water into the homes, unload the water into the buckets and tubs that they bring, hold the babies and take lots of photos!  It takes about an hour to unload the water and can be very busy and chaotic. 

We took a break in Hope Church, which is located in Cite Solei, while the water truck went to refill. After this we unloaded another truck load of water in a different section of CS.  Then we went to visit the Fleri Farm which is a ministry of Healing Haiti about 10 minutes down the road in a very fertile section of Port-au-Prince.  Sylveus gave us a tour of the farm and pointed out different crops. The goal of the farm is to produce crops that can help feed the school children and be used at Grace, Hope and the guesthouses. In addition they would like to find a market and buy from local farmers in order to elevate the Haitian farmers in the area.  

We had another great Haitian dinner we went up to the hotel to swim and relax. We had a blast playing Farkle and Alicia who was near the bottom in points snuck up on us to become the high winner!  We joined the other team for 'keep the ball in the air' in the pool and it was rowdy and fun!

Kimberly and Kathleen

Monday, January 6, 2020

Jacmel Trip- Kenscoff/Furcy Adventure

Today was a great first day of serving! We started our day with a devotion from Charlie about wonder, and how we always need to be open to what Christ has in store for us, instead of making our own plans. After the devotion, we headed towards Kenscoff. This was a new area for everyone to experience. We were able to visit four elders there who were full of lively spirits. Each and every one of them were rich in their faith and were able to share fantastic stories. We were able to connect with all of them through music and songs. We were able to serve many elders, but in reality, they were also serving us. Kenscoff had a welcoming community, where we could all see the love of God and love for one another.

Next, we headed higher up the mountain towards Furcy. There were breathtaking views along the way, and a much cooler climate. We started a long trek down the mountain towards a waterfall. Along the way, we kept making new friends, aka "tour guides." If it weren't for those young, kind men, we would never have made it. The path down to the waterfall was very narrow and slick. We avoided many major injuries with the help of our new friends and our teammates. After a few slips here and there, we finally made it to the waterfall, which was beautiful, but not quite as large as the "tour guides" had promised.

After taking a few pictures, we started the long journey back up. Our "tour guides" then pulled us back up the mountain to complete their duty. The hike was quite an adventure with amazing views. We also stopped to get some coffee on the way up. The coffee trees did not look like what we had imagined. The beans were pink and white. We were also able to see a gentleman ground the coffee beans himself with a large stick. There were also lots of chickens roaming around. We finished the rest of the hike to the tap tap and began our long journey home. The ride was much longer than expected since we were stuck in unexpected traffic. We were able to pass the time with some good stories. On the way home, we stopped to pick up some Haitian food, which was delicious. We finally made it to the guest house at 8 pm, where we scarfed down our taco dinner.

Overall, the day was filled with lots of laughs, smiles, and adventure. We were able to make many new friends and see a lot of new things. We are very excited for another day of serving tomorrow.

Brooke and Kristen

Sunday, January 5, 2020

Jacmel Going Deeper - Travel Day

Jacmel Going Deeper Trip
Travel - Day One - Jan 5, 2020

We arrived in Haiti and were joyously greeted by Healing Haiti Haitian staff outside as we exited the Port-au-Prince airport.  The weather was a balmy 86 degrees - quite a difference from Minnesota and Kansas weather! The staff informed us that the Vikings had won the play off game against the Saints. The atmosphere in the streets is calm and peaceful and it's pretty much 'business-as-usual. This is a welcome change from the difficulties the people have been facing in the last months here. The schools are re-opening later this week.

After a short ride in our tap-tap on now paved roads we arrived at the Healing Haiti guesthouse and settled in and then enjoyed a great meal of oven baked shepherd's pie. After dinner time we walked up to the Elite Hotel meeting friends along the way to relax around the pool. Even though the pool water was super chilly some of the team members engaged in a rousing game of pool keep-the-ball in the air. 

Back at the guesthouse we had a team meeting and Word of the Day. Some of the "Words" that came up are anticipation, excitement, and peaceful. There is singing, laughing and lot's of chatter going on all around the guesthouse.

Kimberly and Charlie

Saturday, October 12, 2019

If I had to wrap our day up in one word I would choose heavenly..

The morning began with a beautiful sunrise at 6am. Roosters roosting, goats bleating, and a nice breeze on the balcony while most of the team slept in a little later.

Every morning the Haitian staff from Healing Haiti trickle in before most of us are awake and they begin making the most amazing breakfast from scratch. When I say from scratch I mean fresh squeezed papaya juice or passion fruit, scrambled eggs with chopped up onions, peppers and tomatoes, freshly chopped up avocado and bananas, oatmeal made with condensed milk and cinnamon, and pancakes. We all sit down and do a morning devotion with prayer to get the day going. We surrender the day to The Lord.

As the day got going our serving opportunities were somewhat limited but God had us get creative and serve at the mission house. Team 1 invited us to join in on what would be a piece of heaven on Earth. God had led them to become the hands of feet of Jesus to the Haitian staff that so selflessly serves missionaries week after week. They are so used to serving us that some were reluctant to receive what had been prepared for them. They received facials, a mint for their mouth, massages, foot rubs and hand rubs while Tommy played the guitar, Danielle as our drummer and the rest of us brought praises and worship to the Lord. We sang some songs in Creole and forced pampering on people who received facials and massages for the first time in their life! Although it was difficult to get them in this vulnerable position most of them did not want to get up once they got comfortable. They were extremely thankful and made fun of each other a little bit. What a blessing and honor to serve those who take such great care of us while we are here. They drive us, translate for us, cook, do our laundry, plan our trips and protect. This staff has been amazing and we've enjoyed getting closer with them!! To see all ages, male and female, different cultures and colors come together and love one another as Christ loves us is nothing short of heavenly!!!

The rest of the day we spent in fellowship at the pool mingling and getting to know other members of the team. Bonds have been made. It feels like one big family down here!!
Mesi Jezi