Thursday, July 31, 2014


We started out this morning by visiting Haitian Initiative in Cite Soleil where we were able to observe and help with their daily ruitine.  First we were able to watch the soccer team tryouts that were going on on the HI soccer field. From there we walked to the feeding center where all of the soccer players are fed breakfast each day in the summer, but fed dinner each day during the school year. Many of the kids greeted us on our way in to the center. We were able to take part in serving the food to the children as well as playing games and dancing. After Haitian Initiative, we had the pleasure of walking with our team to our first water truck stop of the day.

We delivered water to two neighborhoods in Cite Soleil today. Here are some facts about Cite Soleil:

Cite Soleil has a population of about 400,000 and is one of the most impoverished communities with some of the largest slum areas in the Western Hemisphere . Over 70% of people do not have access to a latrine. Half of the homes are made of cement blocks with tin roofs and the other half of the houses are made of a variety of found things like sheets, cardboard, and sticks. There is no sanitation system; therefore, the garbage swims in the mini-ditches along the sidewalk in the city. Many of the children do not have clothes so they run around the streets bare.

All of this does not slow their love for life. They are such sweet people and speak with kindness.

Healing Haiti, founded in MN, is the only organization allowed to bring free water to the neighborhoods. The people of Cite Soleil are grateful for the water and gave us a big welcome when we arrived. The second neighborhood had children everywhere in the streets when we arrived with very few adults in the distance. The children chanted, "Hey You! Hey You! Hey You!" when our Tap-Tap (taxi bus) and water truck were coming down the street.

The neighborhoods were quite different in personality. The first neighborhood had order and waited in an almost perfect line behind the water truck. There was definite desperation and they quickly took their five gallon pail of water when it was full, but yet there was order. No one was allowed to budge and only a few tried. I was able to help on the water line to fill the buckets and get them out of the way in order to waste as little of water before the next bucket started to fill. The hose was as large as a fireman's hose, so the pressure was quite high. We were soaked after helping with the water line.

The second neighborhood was not as orderly, but I think that was mainly because they didn't seem to have as many buckets. The line was shorter, but the energy was higher. It seemed more impoverished, if that was even possible.

When we weren't on the water line, we were entertaining the children, walking pails of water to people's homes, or lifting buckets on top of the girls' heads for them to walk home. It was common for 4-5 children to be tugging at each of us begging us to hold them. If only we could hold that many! We sang songs like "Tooty Ta" which was easy to entertain many children with that song. The children loved to be held and they also loved to play with our hair. Their immediate love for us was selfless and all-knowing.

The day was emotional and empowering and took time to process when we returned to the guesthouse. I know when we return home to Minnesota next week that I will still be processing today's water truck day and all the experiences we've had here in Haiti. I am thankful for all of the blessings I see here in Haiti and that God has allowed me to be present in the moment.

Glwa pou Bondye
Glory to God


Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Day 3-Shannon's Point of View

We spent our time at two orphanages today playing basketball, kickball, showing the children how to make paper airplanes, dancing with them, organizing relay games, singing and praising The Lord together. 

I couldn't get enough hugs and kisses from these beautiful children. I was amazed by how they can have so little material items, yet have an enormous amount of love to give. They give it away so freely and expect nothing in return, besides wanting lots of love and attention. 

One boy named, Lovinsky, melted my heart. He walked up to me with arms wide open and said, "Embrace me, Love me." This was another day I was happy not to be wearing mascara. 

I thought it was a little ironic that my husband and myself are at the end of trying to adopt, our adoption plan expires tomorrow. God was definitely challenging my emotions today. How desperately I wanted to take some of these kids home, love them unconditionally and have them call me mom. 
I learned that God is always trying to teach us something, and we have to be open to listen and hear his message. I also am learning that sometimes we may not fully understand Gods plan, but we do have to trust and continue to have faith in where we are currently in our life. 
I am inspired by the children's faith and love for The Lord. When we were leaving Grace Village, I heard one of the boys yell out, "Jesus loves you." That's a smart kid!! He is spiritually rich for sure๐Ÿ™๐Ÿ‘

It was a spiritually moving day and I can't wait to see how God works through us tomorrow.

Day 3--Teamwork, hey what's your name again? (Grace Village sportscamp/Juno's Orphange

  Well, this day actually starts on the evening of day 2. The other team in guesthouse one came to our guesthouse as we were going to team with them to kick off their Grace Village sports camp the next morning.  We all introduced ourselves and discussed what we would be doing at the camp.  To save space on this blog I will spare details, but basically we spilt the GV(Grace Village) kids into three groups by ages and determined what activities they would be doing for the day.
  On the morning of day three, about two thirds of our group went early to get the camp t-shirts ready and the other third came a little later. I was with the second group and once we got there, the other team members had almost all of the GV kids in their camp t-shirts with their names written neatly(and correctly) on the front and backs of their shirts. We had a time of worship and explanation of the first group of activities. Then, we broke out into our three age groups and got them started on their first round of activities. Now let me pause here.  Trying to organize an activity, for kids, who we don't speak their language, in 100+ degree heat........I might compare it to herding cats....nearly impossible and could drive a man crazy. Luckily, that is not where our story ends, our two Healing Haiti teams, blended and molded together the night before pulled together and delivered an outstanding experience for these kids. A little snack and juice part way through definitely did not hurt to keep the kids energized (as well as the adults!!!)  We left around lunch time, but not before saying our goodbyes and being generously thanked by the other team for helping them kick off the first day of their sports camp. 
  Now, as we drove off, I could tell some teams members, myself included, were running on empty. We had one more stop though, Juno's Orphanage, a place none of us had visited, not even our most seasoned member of our team, our fearless leader Michelle.  We refueled and were given a second wind knowing we were all newbies at this stop and would need to lean on each other in unknown territory. Now, if we were comparing the two places we visited today, it would be comparing Ceasars Palace to the Super 8.  But wait, that is only a comparison in appearance and amenities. The kids at the orphanage made me smile on the inside and out from the moment I stepped off our Tap Tap(taxi bus/truck).  They introduced themselves and told us their age using perfect English.....I was very impressed. We sang songs with them and then made special paper airplanes which they made airborne time and time again with team members and each other. Finally(sadly), it was time to leave, each of us received a hug and an orevwa (goodbye) from each child.  
  I feel a continued growth within our team as each second, minute, hour and day passes. Our night time sharing, playing games and joking around is infectious. We are blessed to have come to know each other. This blog entry is just one man's quick account of the day. I cannot wait until we share tonight to see what other took away from our experiences today.
  For those of you who are back home and may read this, nothing that happens down here, anyone could adequately put into words. We just try to help you understand just a sliver of what we experience here during the week in these blog entries. A question that we ask ourselves down here is "What is God trying to teach me?" (A question co-founder of Healing Haiti, Alyn Shannon would ask and has continued since her passing). But why not ask this where you are? What is God trying to teach you in the good times and especially the more trying times? Nothing happens by chance, what will you do that might stretch you out of your regular, comfortable routine?

Ke Bonjye Beni'ou!


Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Elder Visits and First Time At Grace Village

Today was spiritually moving to say the least. We got to see so many things here that you can't see anywhere else and it was truly amazing. We had a great breakfast filled with good food and good people. Oatmeal, mangos, scrambled eggs, french toast, it was a wonderful way to start the day. After breakfast we met on the balcony for a morning devotional led by Michelle. It was about how God works through us and sends us out into the world to be his hands and feet. Then we headed down to the tap-tap and were on our way to Grace Village.

On our way we started to play two truths and a lie. After explaining it to Jonas and Valery it turned into the game of what doesn't belong. It was hilarious and so much fun. Once we arrived we got out of the tap-tap and could see some kids beginning to gather by us. Their faces lit up when they saw everyone getting off and ran up and hugged some of the people that they recognized from previous mission trips. It was really amazing seeing how happy they were to see us all. Once we were ready to go we loaded up the tap-tap with our team, along with five kids from Grace Village, and we were on our way to visit the first elder.

We visited Pierre first and he was so sweet, he helped every person down the small hill and hugged people upon arrival. We washed his body, clipped his toenails, and massaged his back.  Then he was ready to get up and dance. We played music and all sang along and danced with Pierre. It was so moving to see the pure joy he had just from spending time with us. Gaustf, Pierre's son, sang for us and had some really genuine words for us. He told us to not have pity for them because they are poor, but to instead pray for him and his family, and he hoped people would keep coming back to visit them. We also painted some of the little girls' nails and a little boy named Edwins painted my nails a lovely shade of pink. 

After hugging Pierre and saying goodbye we got back on the tap-tap and were on our way to the next elder's place. The second elder we visited was Marie and she was 104 years old! There were many kids there because she loves children. She got her nails and toes painted, you could tell she loved being pampered. She was the happiest one hundred and four year old lady I've ever seen. ;) 

After visiting with Marie we got back on the tap-tap and went back to Grace village for our tour. It was amazing getting to see what Healing Haiti does for these kids that wouldn't have a home if it weren't for them. We got to see where the girls live, the soon-to-be family houses, classrooms, feeding center, and aquaponics. Everything about Grace Village amazed me, the people, kids, even the great playground in the middle amazed me! 

After the tour we went to another elders home and his name was Edmund. He loved everyone's company and smiled so much. Edmund had a lot of animals at his house, chickens, pigs, and dogs. There were also a lot of kids that came over to our team while we were there and they all just wanted us to love them. One little girl Kelly from our team was holding told her "Jesus loves you" in Creole and that really pulled at my heart strings. I don't know many little kids that would say that and it was so touching to see this little girl say that to her, she didn't want Kelly to let her go but we had to say our goodbyes and get back on the tap-tap. 

Overall, the elder visits were so amazing and moving because we got to see all of the happiness they still have and that that joy doesn't come from material things or anything else, but that their joy comes from people, and relationships, and love that's shown towards them. That's real happiness. It's so hard to put into words what we saw today and it was so amazing that it can't simply be described in words. It was just such a spiritually moving day. ~ Molly

Monday, July 28, 2014

Day 1--Monday, July 28-- We Arrived!

We started our venture bright and early meeting at the airport at 3:45 a.m. We shared many similar emotions as we prepared for this journey. We felt excited, anxious, lots of anticipation, but most of all it felt right and God led us together for a common purpose.

Throughout our layover in Miami, we spent time bonding, getting to know each other, and doing fun activities like scavenger hunts in the airport, lots of laughter was spread throughout the day.

The flight from Miami to Haiti helped us begin to learn more about the pride Haitians have of their country and the appreciation they want us to embrace for their culture. They were so open to share about themselves and also wanted to know more about who we are. They spoke with such kindness and love, which showed how important relationships are in their culture.

Around 5:00 p.m. we landed in Haiti and then went to baggage claim to gather our 18 large suitcases filled with donations that family and friends have so graciously contributed. We then got onto the tap-tap (taxi bus) on our way to the guesthouse where we will be staying, we quickly learned the rules of driving in Haiti (which really means there are no rules, except that the bigger the vehicle...the better, and stop signs, if any, are a nice friendly suggestion. On the 20 minute bumpy drive to the guesthouse we were thankful for loud horns, as that is the main way drivers communicate.  :)

Haiti has slowly been rebuilding since the 2010 earthquake and we learned there were less tents that people were living in not even a year ago. There was a lot of hustle and bustle to see on our 20 minute drive. Vendors were selling goods on the corners and cars were motivated to get places.

We were greeted by the Haitian staff with an amazing welcome and settled into our guesthouse. At our devotional team meeting we discussed our goals for the week. We shared that it's important to step out of our comfort zone, be vulnerable, open our hearts completely and be committed to spreading the love of God. Our focus for the week is to understand and demonstrate, "What is Christ's love?" We shared a few words to describe what that will look like for us this week (unconditional, selfless, sacrificial, tangible) and will strive to reflect His love throughout our week.

We are looking forward to being the hands and feet of the Lord and being present where we are needed.

Our favorite quote of the day that brought tears to our eyes when we walked in the guesthouse was, "Thank you God for blessing me with much more than I deserve."

We are so thankful to be part of this wonderful community in Haiti!

Glory to God
Glwa pou Bondye,

Alesia and Shannon