Sunday, February 28, 2016

Day 6 ~ Grace Village, Elders and Mass Grave

I don't often get the opportunity to blog anymore.  As a leader, you begin to serve your team and humbly step aside and allow your fellow team members to step up to experience their first time serving in this capacity.  Knowing full well what they are experiencing is what your heart is longing for.  Well, today I got to serve again.  I got to serve one of the Elders and my heart exploded as soon as I was able to bend down and begin washing her hands and feet.  I was able to serve alongside my co-lead, and more importantly my friend, Carol.  It was a wonderful moment that I was so happy to share with her.

At Grace Village today Carol and I were able to see a very special friend of ours, someone we hope to see each time we are there.  This filled me up!

This evening we had a very special experience.  We feel so fortunate to spend tomorrow at Hope Church in Cite Soleil.  Tomorrow is the dedication for Hope Church.  A place they said a church couldn't be built.  It has been built...and tomorrow we will go!  Tonight we had a very special worship time with all those who have been working so incredible hard and have been praying for such a long time.  It was exactly what I needed.  Tears of joy and thanksgiving flowed while we sang and prayed....I can't wait for tomorrow!


Hi, it is my pleasure to add my thoughts from today. As we start the day, I wonder if others are starting to get that unhappy feeling of us only having one more day. That's one of the worst things of mission trips, as special as this has been, you have to leave these people who you have grown to love, the Haitians, and your team.

Today we traveled again, but the difference was it was a comparably comfortable route. As we left Port Au Prince we headed to what had been the first focus of Healing Haiti, Grace Village. We were accompanied by some other Healing Haiti staff and visitors, and all the donations and supplies brought from the states. Grace is an orphanage, which generally houses around 40 orphans who are housed in 4 homes there, with adults who function in roles as a parent would, so the kids can grow up learning the Haitian culture and can more easily acclimate once they transition out into Haitian society. In addition, they are currently temporarily housing orphans that needed to be moved from other orphanages, and that is around 26 children.

In addition to the orphanage, they run a school for the neighboring children of Titanyen, and the Grace Village kids. The kids are also fed a meal during school, and they average serving meals to nearly 450 children. There is also a medical clinic, which typically has a long line to get in each day, and also a dental facility. We saw the library and a room where they are planning a computer lab for the students. All but one of the staff are Haitian. Kiki provide us our excellent tour of the property.

Located just a short walk down the hill is Grace Church, which serves the whole neighborhood. And also next to that is an important new employment initiative, a bakery. It is expected they will sell breads and other bakery goods around the islands, in addition to the Titanyen community. The building is complete and they expect to employ dozens of Haitians as plans evolve. Happily too, is the front of the bakery will be a pizzeria, which should be open for our next trip down:)

As it always is at Grace, we have interaction with the precious children and we were all relieved to see them receiving such great care and that they are safe. It's hard to describe their desire to get close to us, as they just seem drawn to jump into our arms, or for sure hold your hand or have you put your arm around them. It's like they crave loving human touch, and our team was always ready to show them the love of Jesus. One cute anecdote, is one of the boys, likely about 12 or 13, was happy to try on Lori W's. hat and Christina's sunglasses and show off his new look. When we tried to get them back no one could catch him, and he thought it was a pretty fun game! Happily, Valeri, our super amazing driver and translator was able to retrieve them back to their rightful owners. Let me add that we all owe our lives to Valeri, as he is the best tap-tap driver on the island, in addition to becoming a true friend in Christ.

After our lunch break we visited with some of the elderly that Healing Haiti supports, and first met with Ofhane, right there at Grace Clinic, as he had just had his lower left leg amputated. He had suffered from leprosy as a younger man, and although now cured, has had trouble with both lower legs. The good news is there is a local agency that has fit him with a prosthetic lower leg, which we expect will provide him the ability to return to his goats very soon:) Ofhane was quite happy to see us and we washed his limbs and applied lotion on them and his back. Even though he is in a wheelchair, he is a great hugger! At this as well as the next 3 stops our youth pastor from CA, Patrick, played the guitar, while Emmanuel, our talented other interpretor, played a key board and we sang our favorite Christian songs to them. Honestly, I'm sure others got choked up, as I did. It was beautiful to be God's hands and feet!

We next went to visit Izna, who lives just down the hill. We think Izna is 93, and lives in a tiny hut that has a small mattress on what looked to be a wooden bed frame and a low small wooden chair on which she was sitting when we arrived. She wasn't feeling the best today, but was happy to have us wash her arms and legs and lotion them. She also received a hot meal from Healing Haiti, provided through the Feed My Starving Children foundation, as well as some every day essentials, as each of the elders we visited received. She was so precious, but frail, and am sure we all wished we could change the way she would spend her remaining time, but knew she would be spending eternity in paradise.

We then visited for a time with the oldest, most joyous person I've had the pleasure of meeting. Marie is believed to be 104, or maybe it's 106. She has the sweetest voice and I think she enjoyed the music more than anybody. We all marveled at her spirit and as with each of the elderly, spent time in prayer with her before we left.

Our last elderly visit was with Antoinette. It was nice to see she had many people around her, including her sister. Antoinette preferred to wash her own feet, but allowed us the honor of putting the lotion on them and her arms. Her sister, enjoyed the same loving treatment as well.

After visiting the elderly we swung back to pick up our other friends and went together to our next stop a memorial, which commemorates the tragic January 2010 earthquake. The sight is said to hold the bodies of likely over 200, 000 Haitians who tragically lost their lives. It is nearing completion, but we were all feeling blessed to have had the opportunity to spend time there and pray together.

After  a return ride home, some had a brief opportunity to shower before we went out for the traditional Saturday night pizza party. We ate outside, which was so welcomed, especially us Minnesotans,  and enjoyed the chance to come together and celebrate another memorable and meaningful day serving together in Haiti.

As Marni mentioned above, we ended the evening back at the Guest Houses with prayer and worship before tomorrows dedication of Hope Church. It's an understatement to say we are all excited to experience the initial service and dedication of this miracle Church, built by Healing Haiti in one of the most impoverished places in the world.

Thanks for following our special week, serving together, as we have truly been God's hands and feet. Special thanks to Carol and Marni, our amazing leaders on this trip, for being such terrific women of God, and super nice people too! To my teammates, I am feeling completely blessed to have met each one of you, and had this week serving these lovely Haitian people. Love to all.     Al

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