Hello again! Today was our last full day in Haiti and I think the two words that our team would use to describe us is tired, but filled. We spent the day in multiple capacities with therapy provided by some of us in the morning while others spent time shopping in the market for gifts to provide the Miriam Center staff at a party. In the afternoon we were able to work with 5 outreach families as well as to take some of the Miriam Center kids on an outing riding motos (motorcycles with a Haitian driver). One group went with 8 of the kiddos on a long ride to a beautiful remote beach, while another group took 8 of the more involved children on a shorter ride into town where we ate ice cream at the “One Stop.” This evening we were able to provide a party to the Miriam Center staff (about 35 in attendance) with games, dinner, and t-shirts plus a small gift. Another group of volunteers watched the kids so that the evening staff could attend the party. The staff is amazing in their love and care for the children, and it was so fun to see them have an evening of fellowship, laughter, and relaxation. Yes, we are all tired, but feeling so blessed and fulfilled with life! Half our team will be heading back to Port au Prince tomorrow, with the rest of us following the next day. Pray for safe travels and ability to process our thoughts and feelings upon returning to the states!
Bonswa! From Haiti! I really cant believe how God opened the doors and provided for all that went into getting me connected to the Miriam Center and how God has provided over an abundance through my church and others in my community! I am so blessed to be here and thank God for giving me this chance to experience all that I have so far on this trip and more to come. Every day that goes by has been a huge growing experience and an eye opener to the poverty in this culture, not only to the poverty but also to the love that I already have for these people….It is absolutely amazing what Autumn and Stephanie have done this far in the Miriam Center. I thank God so much for the privilege of being able to help them this week. They are both truly amazing women of God. Today we got to take the miriam center kids to the park for a little while to play, I wasn’t sure how this was going to work, as Im sitting in the bus holding a sweet little girl by the name of Minushe. She can’t walk and can only sit about one way, which was leaning against my right arm. I carried her onto the bus with such joy, you see this little girl was probably the happiest girl I have met so far, always smiling and laughing, she is so beautiful even with her crazy hair. 😀 I leaned down and asked her if she wanted to go to the beach and instantly she lit up like a light bulb and smiled at me…she was so excited to go and I got the privilege of being her one on one. In that same moment I asked her if she was ready and picked her up, she let out a giggle that just shattered my heart, she was so excited. Though we weren’t able to make it to the beach for some reason, the park was just as fun. But I’m not going to lie, I was a little concerned as to how this was going to work, but we walked down to the park, well slid down part of the hill…what she thought was the funniest thing in the world as my leg took the fall for the team! haha I carried her everywhere up the play place and down the slides…we swung on the swings, sat on the grown and talked to other kids and laughed a lot. Just watching everyone playing with kids who were similar to Minushe really broke my heart and reminded me of the verse that talks about us being the hands and feet of God. We as a team were literally doing this with these children. Though they couldn’t walk we were able to walk for them…we all had such a great time! As a team we have been talking about purging ourselves of captivity and letting God’s glory shine in and through us, freeing us to a point of finding a peace in the presence of God and a contentment in leaning on him in all areas of our lives. This really couldn’t have come at a more perfect time and just shows another reason why I know this is where God wants me to be. I just thank Laura and Erin for choosing this study. Super cool! “=D Today we also got to go on a home visit…I love love love doing these home visits. Haitians are the most friendly people and want you to come talk and spend times with them. One of my favorite times was yesterday when Erin, Laura and I went to one of their friends homes. She invited us to sit with her and had her son sing to us. We sat and talked with her for a while and then sang them Lord I need you. This is how open they are…Haitians also have the most beautiful voices. Today we went and visited a home of one of the little outreach girls Anania, and got to share John 9 with her grandfather and other siblings. Anania was in her little walker that we helped Autumn pass out the other night, it was so good to see her in her walker. I had such a fun time talking with them and it was the very first time I was able to talk to someone about God with a translator. This week so far has been so filling and exciting! A verse that keeps coming up this week is Ephesians 3:18-19 “…To grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge-that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.” I believe that in everything I see, I am just seeing a glimpse of God’s heart for special needs children, his love for people in this country and his love for you and me. God Bless you. Jessica
Today was the first weekday we were here, which means we were able to really get a feel for how the mission works on a day to day basis! It is such a blessing to see how God has called each of the Miriam Center (MC) staff to be the “hands and feet of Christ” as they serve the children. Even more evident, is the image of God in each of the children. They find contentment and satisfaction in simplicity, have joy and smiles that light up a room, and truly show what it means to have a childlike faith. Following morning devotionals and breakfast, our team split duties to help around campus. My mom and myself were able to partake in the incredible therapy programs that Autumn has been able to set up for both the MC kids as well as outreach kids in the community. It was a really neat experience to be able to co-treat with my mom for some of the kids, and to bounce various treatment ideas off of Autumn. (And we were able to get a second stander put together after much tinkering, so that some of the younger kids can take advantage of weight bearing!) The stories of progress these precious kids have made over the years of therapy received is really incredible. One of the most evident things seen when treating these kids is they have an insane tolerance for treatment. When treating Steven, he put in such hard work for an hour and a half session (that’s really long!) and when his legs were spasming he let us stretch them out without crying or any sign of complaint. He is SO determined to be able to walk independently! Here are a few ways you can be in prayer for us tomorrow: 1) We will be taking along some of the MC kids to the beach tomorrow! Pray that it will be a fun time of getting off campus and experiencing sand/water for them. Pray for strength as tomorrow will be a long and busy day in the sun for all of us! 2) In the afternoon we will be doing home visits and will have the opportunity to share the Gospel and how God sees disability. Pray for open hearts to receive the Gospel and open eyes to hear how precious their children are in God’s eyes though this country may not understand or see it. 3) Pray for the physical healing for many of the children and staff that are sick from the Chickanunga virus that has been going around Haiti.
Well here I am in Haiti! I have only been here for 2 full days and it has already been an experience and to think I still have this week to go! I can only imagine how I will be feeling by the end of this trip!! The travel I feel went really well and the 7hr bus drive from the airport to St. Louis De Nord was not as bad as I thought it would be, just a good ole tire change before we left and about an hour stop to do other repairs (not sure what needed fixed at that time!) but we made it safe and sound to our final destination. Thank you Lord! On the drive I just could not look away at all I was seeing and just trying to take it all in. The driving here is crazy! Does not seem to bother anyone when a bus going 60mph is headed right at you then it swerves just in time not to hit anyone or anything or a cow! Yes we seriously drove right between to cows (barely) that would not move out of the way, or a child running on the side of the street with no parental supervision was a little unreal for me since I ALWAYS yell at Cortney to not play or ride bikes in the street where we live. The team of ladies I am with our super cool and nice!! 🙂
Today we got to meet all the children of the Miriam Center and have church service with them! It was really cool to hear the Mommas of the center praise, worship, and read scripture in Haitian Creole while i was holding a beautiful child (her name is Hope) in my arms on the floor singing praises in her ear. 🙂 After service we helped the mommas feed all the children. I got the pleasure to feed T-Willy and found out right away we have something in common…giggling!! It was so funny and cute and I kept telling him he was just like me!! We then took a tour of the campus which is very big with A LOT going!! Toward the end of the tour we got to meet the section where they care for the elderly and my heart just grew right away for them!! (Chris you were right!) Everyone there was soooooo nice and sweet I didn’t want to leave, I shook hands and said hello to everyone there and I got kisses and smiles back! LOVED IT!! I will definitely be spending some time with them this week. My teammate Jessica and I plan the next time we go she will bring her guitar! Can’t wait to see what happens then!
I have been praising God over and over everywhere I go! I just still cant believe I am here!! He is so GOOD and loving! I miss my family and friends but I am so glad I am here for such a great experience! Thank you Lord!!
Edie, Caitlin and some of their new friends on the hike back from an outreach families house, way up in the mountains!
Today is actually day 2 in Haiti with yesterday being entirely spent in travel. We flew into Haiti early Friday am and waited a few hours at the airport for another plane with additional travelers to land. We then took a bus across the island of Haiti to the Mission where we are staying for the week. The bus ride was about a 7 1/2 hour adventure. We saw a lot of the countryside, typical towns and living environments, as well as beautiful rivers and ocean views. While it was a long day and a bumpy, dusty ride (windows open), it was an awesome way to experience the country.
Today we spent the day working with Autumn in the outreach program for children with special needs that she has developed here at the Mission. About 25 families traveled by foot or about 45 minutes on a tap-tap bus to spend the day and receive walkers to take home. We were able to provide parents a period of respite babysitting the children while the parents met with Autumn. They selected the finishing touches for their walkers (fabulous cloth seats and pillows),completed a sewing project, and had a time of worship. We then helped put the walkers together and fit them for each child and were able to spend great time in interacting with the families. We had lunch together and then helped in transporting kids and equipment to the tap-tap and for those who were within walking distance to their homes. What an eye opener to carry children through rocky pathways and streets, up steep hills, and for some a long distance. We realized that these families do this every day, Children with developmental delays are beginning to receive the services they need by coming to the Miriam Center and the outreach program has grown to such an extent that there is a waiting list. It is amazing to see God’s work being carried out and the hope and change provided to these children and their families. We are all tired, but feel inspired and blessed to have been a part of this day!
This was my first time in Haiti, but my 3rd
international mission trip and my 5th time abroad. I have previously gone on
two mission trips to Ukraine with Mission to Ukraine to work at a camp and
orphanage for individuals with disabilities. I have also studied abroad in
Ghana twice. Both times I worked some with individuals with special needs, but
this summer when I lived in Ghana I had an internship working at a school for
individuals with special needs. I love working with individuals and
orphans with special needs, and after finishing occupational therapy
school I plan to live and work abroad. I was planning on coming on this trip
for one last adventure before I start graduate school this summer, but as with
all our human plans, God had other ideas.
It’s cold outside…dark and quiet still…I’m back in Denver. Feels weird actually….sitting at my breakfast bar, stringed music playing softly in the background, a hot cup of coffee, warm croissants, wrapped in a bundle of clothes, clean from a long hot shower…the sweet smell of an apples and cinnamon lingers in the air and I’m at peace. Compare this to just a week ago and it’s worlds apart. Hard to believe.
I sit here this morning trying to process through everything that has happened this past week. How do I begin to assemble all of the pieces of Haiti that make it so magical? The smells of Haiti from burning trash, to urine and feces, to bug spray, to the clean ocean breezes, to the scent of chicken cooking over the fire…the sights of Haiti from the intensely pink and orange sunrises over the ocean, to the lush green fruit trees, to the royal blue waters of the Caribbean, to the blood red signs for Digicel, to the muddied brown rivers and puddles speckling the landscape, to the rainbow of trash littered everywhere…the feel of Haiti from the hot scorching sun, to the perpetual drops of sweat coating your body thanks to the humidity, to the cooling breezes from the coast, to the refreshing rains that clean away the filth and grime from the day, to the rocks that poke at your feet and the mud that questions your balance as you walk the unpaved roads, to the bruised bottoms from all the bumpy tap tap rides with never a soft cushion to absorb the shock, to the cold showers if there was enough water for the day…the tastes of Haiti from the strong, thick, coffee, to the spicy slaw, to the salty sweat that pours down your face, to the unforgettable, all to common beans and rice, to the rejuvenating, bubbly, coca-cola classic, to the perfectly spiced chicken, to the sweet taste of raw sugar cane…the sounds of Haiti from the roosters crowing in the early morning, to the “hey you” from the village boys, to the honks and beeps of the mopeds and trucks passing by, to the voices of a Continue reading →
Today we took a group of kiddos from the Miriam Center to the playground built by Kimmy’s House in Bonneau. It has been a very hot day, and there was no shade available at the playground. Even the kids were affected by the heat and very few of them wanted to play. We had a couple water fights, but other than that, we mostly just hung out with each other. Was it a waste? I don’t think so.
This week, God has been teaching me the value of just being. So much of the time spent with the children has not been in organized games but in being near them, loving on them, and the occasional wheelchair race. At times, there was the temptation to feel as though I needed to do something more, but the smiles that lit their faces told me that that the love and attention was all that was needed. There is such beauty is being able to just be with someone, and they are amazing at it.
It’s becoming clearer that my worth and that of those around me does not come from what we do. God’s love is for all, regardless of productivity, activity level, or station in life. This concept is emphasized as I work with the children at Miriam Center. They are not productive according to the world’s standards, and many of them can’t even move their bodies on their own. Yet, they bring so much joy and hope to those of us who have the privilege of being with them.
They are amazing teachers about God’s love and people’s value. The amount of attention and one on one time they get is Continue reading →
This morning, I was privileged to watch firsthand two of God’s children undergo surgery. It was incredibly powerful and moving.
First up was Den Den. He had a cyst behind his left ear that bothered him and so it was being removed. As he walked through the doors into the OR, he had a nervous smile. His smile is one of the most warm, goofy and touching smiles you’ll see. He’s adorable and yet, I can only imagine the fear and confusion he must have had walking into a strange room, laying on a strange table and seeing all sorts of strange instruments around him. Before he knows it, the gas mask goes on and he’s out. The doctors jump in, hook up the IV, track his vitals and start the operation. It lasted only 11 minutes, but those 11 minutes that impacted me more than years and years of living. I hardly know Den Den, but he’s precious and has such a beautiful heart and seeing him in the OR, I felt like that was my son on the surgery table being operated on. I got to look over the doc’s shoulder and watch as the cyst was removed, the wound cauterized, and then cut being sutured up. I was amazed…fascinated really how skilled and knowledgeable the doctors and nurses are…such life giving hands, truly.
We then moved Den Den over to the gurney and wheeled him into recovery. I got to sit there with him, holding his hand, rubbing his chest and just talking to him as he slowly woke up, not wanting to leave his side. His eyes opened trying to focus and make sense of the foreign room he was in and the pain in his neck. . The momma’s came in to check on him and you could see the love in their eyes…tearing up knowing the pain he was in…and not being able to do anything about it. It doesn’t seem to make sense, a child so pure and innocent having to endure such pain.
Wow, what to say. Well, we made it to Haiti safely and in one piece after days of traveling. I have a new appreciation for people who travel all the time. Patience is definitely mandatory. Thankfully I have a wonderful team who enjoy laughing. Haiti reminds me of living in Cameroon. When I close my eyes, the smell takes me back to Africa. I am so amazed at the warmth and love that has been poured out to us from the moment we arrived. Up until today my team has been chillin’ with the orphans at the Miriam Center. There are special needs orphans as well as elderly people who have outlived their families who live here. These people have such a desire to feel love and be loved. Love is something I take for granted and thinking that there are people who want it and can’t get it is something I have never seen. Thankfully the Miriam Center is a wonderful place where the least of us are cared for and loved.
Today I worked in sterile processing. I have a whole new respect for surgery in developing countries. The docs are not high maintenance at all, at least for the week. Today a tongue depressor was used as the other half of an army/nave set during a hernia surgery. How awesome it that? And it worked great. Tomorrow is a trip to Tortuga. Blog later.
Love and Kisses,
Today we took several of the kids from the Miriam Center to the beach. As the anticipation was building for our departure, I will forever remember one of the non ambulatory boys (Joshua) making eye contact with me and starting to crawl towards me with his arms outstretched. His sweet eyes spoke these words, “I want to go. Will you carry me to the tap tap and be my friend for the day?”
The excitement that the kids showed simply to be going on a ride much less the beach was simple and precious. While at the beach the kids’ fun-filled spirits were on full display. They had a blast splashing, digging in the sand and pouring buckets of water on each other and the adults. We all had a blast.
I found it amazing the amount of faith that these kids place in us and the other adults that care for their needs. I was one of several that had the honor carrying a kiddo to the beach. Simple faith was on display by each of these kiddos that we were going to safely deliver them to the final destination. It is the very same faith and trust that I believe that God is challenging Continue reading →