Saturday, December 15, 2012

December 14 - photos!

Here are a few pictures of our return visit to Cite Soleil, where there is some of the most extreme poverty in Haiti. You'll see us filling buckets of water for the families from the water truck we drove in. We loved to play (and dance! and sing! and laugh!) with the kids and talk with the families as they were in line.  They seemed more thirsty, and more hungry on our second visit yesterday (Thursday). There are also some photos from our visit to the elderly on Wednesday.  Healing Haiti takes care of about 30 elderly people through their Elder Care program (which Jess Burmester oversees). We visited five of them in their homes. We washed them, helped put lotion on their dry skin, delivered meals, sang, and prayed with them. Most are sponsored by people in the U.S.  It was hard to imagine what their lives would be like without their basic needs being met by Healing Haiti, and without people helping protect them and advocate for them. What a blessing to be a part of this ministry.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Each night, after returning from our day serving in the city, we gather to reflect. Everyone chooses a word for the day; any single word that summarizes or relates to our experiences. It was hard to pick just one word to describe all that we did, saw, and experienced as a team today. 

A handful of us rose with the sun this morning to attend church in a tent overlooking the hills of greater Port-au-Prince. The service was not conducted in our language or a structure most of us were familiar with, but it was truly incredible.

The afternoon was spent outside of Port-au-Prince in Titanyen where we toured the Grace Village property, from the colorful dorms to the aquaponics. I think the consensus among the team was that our time within the walls of Grace Village left us inspired and hopeful. After a few days of serving in Cité Soleill, at the Children’s Home for the Sick and Dying, and elsewhere it was inspiring to see the good that has been done and hopeful for the good that is inevitably going to be done at Grace Village.

The latter half of the afternoon was spent visiting members of the community in Healing Haiti’s Elder Care program. We arrived with lunch, stayed and sang songs, and left with fuller hearts.

There are a lot of words to describe today. My personal word for the day was moved. As a team we moved in so many ways today. Physically, we moved to church in the back of a pickup truck at the crack of dawn. Then we moved around Titanyen for hours in our tap tap. From one home to the next, we moved as we visited the elderly. Then of course, we were moved emotionally by the events and experiences of the day. We were moved by the children at Grave village and by those in the Elder Care program we are all so blessed to have met. We were moved by the music and devotion at church this morning and the songs we sang in the homes in Titanyen. Yes, today was moving. Tomorrow will be moving as well, I’m sure. Yet tomorrow is a new day, a new challenge, a new experience, and inevitably a new word.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

December 12, 2012 - with photos!

Hi!  This is Jenny Koehnen, and I'm posting for our team tonight. Like Katie, it's a huge gift to me to be here with my Mom, a few old dear friends, and a few new friends. I had wanted to come to Haiti for so many years, especially since I started going on missions trips to the Dominican Republic to serve Haitians living in remote villages. I always wondered what Haiti must be like if all the Haitians that I met in the D.R. worked so hard and risked so much to live in the Dominican. The devastation I saw there was horrific, so how much worse could it be? Today, I really began to understand.  We took a wrong turn and ended up taking the long and "scenic" route on the way to a hospital, which meant that the one tent city we saw yesterday was just a glimpse of the many miles of tent cities and pieced-together shacks that we saw today. With each mile, our hearts broke more. The problem of poverty is so huge and overwhelming.  How can we help when the problem is so big? What we do and give seems like just a drop in a sea of poverty.

It wasn't just devastation we saw today, but also hope! We saw three more places today where we met heros who are giving their lives to those who are suffering and making a real difference.  Yesterday and today, we were invited to join in on their great service and see God at work restoring and providing for His people one by one. 

This morning we went to the Children's Home for the Sick and Dying. As we arrived, we saw families lined up by the door with their children, hoping to have them admitted. We were led to two nursery rooms, which had about 30 beds in each of them. Our hearts broke as we walked in and could hear the sick babies crying, and then, walking in the rooms, seeing so many hospitalized babies and infants. It was incredible to watch the team go immediately to the babies, sometimes holding two at a time if we could. The children are having such a hard time being away from their parents (if they have parents), and there are far more children than nannies and nurses, so they really want teams to come in and hold, love, and feed the babies. And boy, did those kids love to be held!  It was so hard to put any of them back down into their cribs. It's a beautiful place, serving children who are so helpless and need the care so badly. We saw hope and healing first hand for the most vulnerable of all people. Pray with us for their recoveries!  The staff there work tirelessly taking care of these precious babies. (Note: due to the hospital requirements, we have no photos of this visit.) 

While on a short visit back to the neighborhood where we are staying, we visited 3Seams, a ministry that is employing Haitian women who need jobs to support their families. We were able to purchase their hand-made purses and hair bands. Their children can be fed and go to school because their moms have been given a job opportunity!

In the afternoon, we went to an Adult Home for the Sick and Dying. There were also several rooms filled with about 40 adults each - all who were very sick. Some had cancer, AIDS, and other diseases.  We sat with them, laughed with them, helped them to get lotion on their dry skin, and prayed with them. We saw many children too - orphans - who called this sweet place their home.  They ran around and flashed smiles, gave hugs, and joined us in the visits to the sick adults. As we were leaving, the nurses told us that they are getting ready for Christmas, when they will have 800 children on site for a big production, a huge meal, and a toy for each one. If only we could see that beautiful event! 

A few of the team members (Maria, Katie M, Jess, and Kari) went to a Wound Clinic while the rest of the team was at the Adult Home. As they arrived, they saw people lined up sitting along a wall in a long corridor. One by one, they would be admitted, their wound would be cleaned, and they were given their needed medication. The clinic serves hundreds every day. Our team members were so impressed by the respect, patience, and joy that each of the wounded people had. In spite of the severity of the pain from their terrible leg wounds, they cared about the others who were in line. It was a privilege to help clean and repackage the wounds because of the incredible people we met, and the resilience we saw in such pain. 

As we do every night, we ended the night talking about the day, each picking a theme word to describe our day's experience.  Today was a day of tears, joy, pain, reality, and hugs. 

We miss you, our loved ones, and we are so grateful for your support, prayers, and love!

The team

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

December 11, 2012
Today was the first full day back in Haiti. It is so good to be back. So great to be here with so many people I love.  It is an honor to bring my mom, my step-dad, and good friends here to experience this place that I love for the first time.
Today we went into Citi Sole to deliver water to the people of Citi Sole. As we stopped at the stops we discovered many of them already had water. This is a great problem because it means the government is taking care of the people and filling the need of brining clean water. It brings me great joy to see the country improving and filling the needs of the Haitian people. Before we left stop seventeen we took a walk out on the peer. Wilson led the kids in song as we stood by the ocean surrounded in garbage and human waste and yet the sight was so beautiful. Seeing Wilson come alive with the kids of Citi Sole brought so much joy to my heart. When he started with Healing Haiti he seemed so shy and now he is joking a laughing with the team and the kids in Citi Sole.

After 2 water stops the guys decided the people already had water and we should be done for the day. We went back to the guesthouse to shower and then went to Gertrudes. Seeing the team at Gertrudes was amazing, I was so impressed that everyone seemed to come alive caring for these children with special needs. I saw so much love in each of their eyes as he cuddled, tickled, and played with the kids.
Seeing my step-dad lying on the tile floor with a little boy that had been found in a garbage dump, stroking each others face and humming. They both had the most peaceful look on their face. Seeing them connect was truly beautiful. I can only imagine what that little boy has been through and the fact that he was able to emotionally connect seems truly amazing to me. 

God continues to amaze me with all he teaches me here in Haiti. 
Thank you for all your prayers and support
 Love Katie

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Counting the hours


It's Sunday morning and in less than 24 hours we will be on our way to Haiti. I've mixed emotions at this point: excited to be on my way; afraid I've forgotten something important; unsure what awaits me and what God will reveal to me during my stay; eager to see the children and try new foods; praying for patience and understanding; wondering whether I'll remember everyone's name. It's been a while since the meeting, so I probably won't remember all of them.

See you all in Miami!