Saturday, July 23, 2011

Haiti - Day 5

June 22, 2011

Good morning, Haiti! I'm still here. I think that kind of surprised me this morning. It took me so long to get to sleep last night and my cot was so uncomfortable. Before it was light outside, there was a smell of something burning. It was a horrible smell. The sounds are extremely loud again. There is no coffee. I heard the first rooster crow this morning. My throat is sore.

I don't know how they do it. I miss quiet and pleasant smells, yet I'm reminded that when my feet hit the street this morning on our prayer walk, I will again love the people of Haiti and none of that will matter.

I'm wearing a rubber band that Evanson gave me yesterday. That boy is special. He sat down beside me and said in English, "What's your name?" I said, "Mandy, what's your name?" He said, "Evanson. You my friend?" I smiled, grabbed his hand and said, "Yes. I'm your friend." He smiled so big. I loved him!

Today, we are going on a prayer walk, then to the tent city. It's going to be a heartbreaking, painful day. They say there will be no orphanage visit. I'm praying that somehow, some way, we get to go to one. Somehow, some way, Lord.

Last night, Marcio (our AIM leader) shared his testimony. It was really his life story. It was quite amazing and fantastic. He was here on his first mission trip, when the earthquake happened. He was on day 2 of being here.

The other teams have come under great attack. I'm thankful that we've been spared, but I also wondered what is happening at home that I have no idea about. It sometimes overwhelms me.

I have also struggled a lot with feeling like I'm not doing anything. I've taken a very back seat spiritually and physically on this trip. I feel like that's how I've been led. I just don't know why. I will say that I've seen huge changes in others though and I can't help but to think that has something to do with it. I feel like I'm going to go home and not have a lot to tell people (in retrospet hahahahaha), yet God keeps telling me not to despise the small things. I struggle with obedience there though I work very hard.

I could use a big cup of coffee right now!

LOL 1 Timothy 6:6 But godliness with contentment is great gain.

Wow Verse 7 is the scripture Marcio quoted last night when talking about the woman that her two year old died in the earthquake. She said, "He brought nothing into this world, and he will take nothing out," and laid him in the sea, immediately after he died.

Contentment. Today I will be content.

God is good. It's hard to look around Haiti and to think they could grasp the idea of a good God. They do though. Their friends, neighbors, children, parents, etc. died by the earth shaking terribly for days. They live in the midst of filth and chaos, but they still see a good God. They worship and praise Him as a good God. They, a large, large group anyway, comprehend His goodness, even when I struggle with it, looking at them. As I walk the streets, I make eye contact and say hello ("salude", "bonjou" or "bonswai") often. They are warm, responsive and inviting. They welcome us readily into their homes and speak openly with us.

I wish I could sit and talk with Rony for hours and gain insight. I'd love to know how the Haitian people feel about how they live. Do they know there is better? Do they desire better? God wants better for them, but most of all, He wants their worship. He wants their hears. He wants all of them.

Today, I will set my mind on things of Christ, not on earthly things. I will give freely and be content in what God gives, physically and spiritually. You've called us for such a time as this and I pray for Your will to be done. Thank you, Lord, that You are a good God!
We hit Ft. Lauderdale Friday at 12:35pm. I can't wait to make that first phone call!!! I just can't wait! To hear his voice again will be amazing!
This morning, we went for a prayer walk. It was awesome! I loved it! Before we left, I felt led to pull out $20 and take it with me. The first house we went to, there was a woman that asked for prayer for money. No one has ever asked us to pray for that. When we got to the street, Deonne stopped us and asked about giving money, I told them I'd been led to bring money and Rony agreed that it would be, so I got to give the woman $20 and hug and kiss her.

We got to pray with many more and it was awesome! My role here is definitely supportive.

Our Street

Fun during our prayer walk! Rony was always trying to balance things on his head like the women do. I'd catch him doing it often. Him and Camille mastered it on this occassion. :)

Ah coke again. How I love thee!
I love Haiti! Oh my, how I love Haiti! I've never been any place that I have loved so much. The youth were just on the rooftop worshipping. They started singing, "Merci Jesi" (Thank you, Jesus). The people on the streets began to sing. People came out on their rooftops to sing. It was all so overwhelming. I cried. I will miss this so much! The love, community and welcoming spirit is so amazing. They love each other well! Haiti is a Christian nation. Most Haitians know and woship Jesus. They believe that God is good. In the midst of everything I've seen, they believe God is good! That just blows my mind!

I'm not sure if you can see it in this picture, but this was a man across the street that came out to worship with us!

We delivered 4 large trash bags of medical supplies to the medical clinic today. They clinic was clean and orderly. It was impressive by Haiti standards.

Filing in to donate supplies at the medical clinic. We were walking into the waiting area here.

Surgery room - I can't remember what they said but there are only like 4 major surgeries (like heart transplants) that they don't do here. Everything else gets done right here!

These pictures are the entire stash of medical supplies that they have.

Then we went for the prayer walk.

After lunch, we went to the tent city. It was beyond words. People were hot, hungry and hopeless. They welcomed prayers and were thankful. The stories of people we've met could go on and on. There are so many stories! There was one girl in a yellow shirt that followed us from afar. She stayed back and snuck a chance to touch my hand once. I would look at her and smile and she would light up, but stayed back. She followed us for so long. Right before I stepped on the bus, I slipped the bracelet Kristen gave me off (It was a bracelet that she got from VBS that says "Watch for God" and has eyes on it) and slipped it on her wrist. I got on the bus and looked back at her. She was beaming and skipping. She showed her friends and came by the window and smiled and waved and blew kisses. I'll forever have that girl in my heart.

I'm so torn. I miss my family and cannot wait to get home, but I don't want to leave Haiti. I'm leaving part of my heart here. I love it here so much. Right now they are having church downstairs. They've been singing and now they are praying, even in the streets. God is alive in Haiti!

Back to the tent city, it was impossible. There are no jobs, no food, no school, no medical help and no homes. It's hot and oppressive. There were so many pregnant woman. So many! The children we naked and had rashes. It was just so overwhelming.

Side Note: Here are some stories that we heard that I didn't include in my journal.
One woman said she had gone to church before the earthquake, but since the earthquake, she doesn't have the clothes to go, so she cannot go. Another family said that they didn't have a place to live even before the earthquake. We prayed for a pregnant woman laying outside her tent that said she was hungry. Amber got to hold a newborn baby that wasn't wearing a diaper and had pee all over it. The tents are all stacked side by side and there is no ventilation. Haiti is hot. Hotter than anyplace I've ever been. Homes are ventilated. Tents are not. Grown women were bathing naked in the street. Groups would congregate and though people were nice, it was a bit scary. There was sometimes a bit of hostility in the air, though no one treated us poorly. I felt like a tourist, wanting to do more than pray. We'd come with 10 new, nice tents, but there were about 400 tents on this location. How would we choose 10 people to give them to? If we brought food, how do we choose who to give it to? That is much of the problem is Haiti. The need is so great, how do you choose who to help and who not to? The tent city was no joke. It is this right here that makes me cringe when I read facebook statuses that speak of the homeless in America and veterans without benefits. I agree those are real needs, but you've not seen devastation until you've seen something like this. Homeless Americans cannot compare to a family of 7 living in a tent in a tent city in Carrefour, Haiti.

Street on the way to the tent city

Amber holding the baby

The little girl in the yellow shirt

Tent City

Tent City

See how close together they are. How would you like to live that close to someone else and their family that doesn't have a job or food and smells as bad as you do.

Tomorrow, we are doing a team building exercise in the morning, then hopefully going to the orphanage. The majority of the team is going to the beach. I'm really not even interested in the beach. I pray the orphanage will work out.

Then we'll pack up and get ready for our early flight home! YAY! Five great big kisses!!! I cannot wait!!! I pray Justin isn't too stressed. I hope things have gone well. I try not to even think about it because I'll get consumed with worry. I just have to pray and leave it with God. 

Well, church will go on forever and I'm not going to sleep any time soon, but I think I'm done writing. Good night babies. My heart aches for you. I miss you so much!!! Good night babe! I'm overwhelmed right now just thinking of your arms embracing me!!

Ahhhhh, we just stood on the balcony and danced and worshipped as they danced and worshipped in the streets.

I love Haiti!

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Haiti - Day 4

June 21, 2011

Good morning, Haiti! 6am again. I slept well. While I was waiting on the bathroom this morning, I got about 15 mosquito bites. Other than that, I haven't seen mosquitoes at all.

You should see the children's legs. They have so many round scars from mosquito bites presumably. It's only some of the children and I'm assuming that is what has caused the scars.

Today, we are going back to the school to play with the kids, do a food distribution and then to the orphanage.

I want to hear your voice today, Lord. I want to silence my own and hear Yours.

Did I write yesterday about the teenage girl that tried to take my wedding band? I didn't wear my engagement here to Haiti at all, but I've been wearing my band.

There was a guy, Carl, yesterday that talked to us about his experience in the earthquake. They all want to tell you about their experience. It was such a frightening time. I think about the fear of the children. He also talked about voodoo here in Haiti and zombification. People will see someone walking around and speak to them, though they've been dead for years. There are markers to show that one has been seen there and if you touch it, you will lose your soul, so they believe.

Here is his story.

My stomach is really jacked up this morning. I dreamed that I stood under the water in the shower for a long time, then realized I had let the water run so long. You think I miss the shower? Or I haven't let go of home? :) God is good! I'm off to attempt getting dressed. I'm so thankful I brought so many skirts. We are having to wear them daily.
(Side note: When we showered, we had to let the water trickle over us to get wet, then turn it off. We soaped up, then turned the trickle back on to rinse off.)

They have a water tank in each house that gets filled whenever it's empty. It was empty this morning. They are still filling it. There is a black hose running from the house across the street to the roof here. It's a new hose (wasn't there yesterday) and it is noisy so I'm assuming that is water. Toilet motto: If it's yellow, let it mellow. If it's brown, flush it down and NEVER put toilet paper in the toilet. I wonder though, but I'm afraid to ask those that know, where do those of us that know better put our garbage bags? There is no common dump or garbage truck. All we can do is what the others do, throw it in the streets or under the bridge. I wonder if we're doing the same.

Psalm 75:7 He putteth down one, and setteth up another.

Promotion, acknowledgement, recognition, demotion, putting one in their place - it all comes not from here or there but from God. He exalts and He brings low. He will show some their path, and others He will just lead. In that, if I'm to stay involved with Haiti it's not for me to say or to guess, it's for God to do and only God.
We went back to the school today. We (23 of us) played games with the children. A few of us put together food distribution bags. Five of the entire team sponsored a child at Pastor Phillipe's school. They are orphans since the earthquake, so they needed someone to pay for their education and uniforms. Those that sponsored children have been on cloud nine since then. I feel bad that I wasn't one of the five, but strangely, I didn't feel led at all. I'm waiting. Maybe it's just not my time.

Putting together bags of beans and rice


Rony leading the children in a song.

Girls jumping rope on their playground

I love the translators. Watson is awesome at telling you what you don't know without having to ask. Rony is thoughtful. I haven't worked with the others yet but they've been awesome!
Oh where to start! We had worship after lunch and God moved in such amazing ways. I don't know if I can write tonight. I'm not too much in the mood. I got a heart for Haiti during worship. God was moving! We sang so amazing and worshipped with our whole hearts. Seems there has been a shift today. God is good!

We went back to the church for the Women's Bible study and five of the leaders shared their testimony. Then five of the Haitian women shared their testimony. Many of the women there were women that we'd met yesterday on the prayer walk. It was cool to watch all of that come full circle. The testimonies were great. Maybe I'll talk a little more about them later. It was a great time of ministry.

View from the stairs of the church

The smell right now, as I lay here on the balcony is atrocious. That is one thing. You can never escape the smell.

Deb called a cadence on the way to church tonight. I'll have to get it in the morning. Everyone is ready for sleep right now and waiting on me. It was a good day to be alive in Haiti.

I want to remember certain people:
Evanson - boy at school who sat beside me and asked my name in English. Then I asked his. Then he looked at me and said, "You my friend?" He was a cool kid. He made everyone feel special.
Emmanuel - one woman's husband that we prayed for yesterday. He doesn't know Christ.
DJ - a missionary girl I've had the privilege of meeting and hearing portions of her amazing story
Hearts United with Haiti - an organization that I want to look into

OK, off to bed. I miss home! I love you Migc, Kristen, Jaden and Kara. Sleep tight. See you soon! I love you! Good night, babe. I love you!

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Haiti - Day 3

June 20, 2011

Malachi 3:6 For I am the Lord, I change not.

He has always been the same God, even in Haiti. In Haiti, God has always been God. I sit here on the balcony, looking toward the mountains. I hear talking amongst the houses and water in the streets, birds chirping and roosters crowing. There are beautiful green trees everywhere and smells you can rarely decipher. Right now, because it's breakfast time, I assume it's food that I smell. Jesus is here, walking the streets in the midst of a people that desperately need Him. You shook their earth, Lord, now shake their hearts. May we be Your hands and feet in these streets today. I keep picturing Jesus walking through these streets with a friendly smile and healing hand.

Last night, sleep was good. It rained most of the night and a big storm hit again during the night. I think I'm the only one that heard it, but I also got rained on a bit. My guts feel better this morning, for that I'm thankful! I'm thankful to be alive and safe in Haiti this morning. God is good!

Storm rolling in. The storms were amazing! In Kansas, we are pretty proud of our storms. Not anywhere near as amazing as storms in Haiti!

We're all in skirts. All of our piercings are out. No make-up. We look better than we feel. :) I don't want to complain. I want to magnify God.

Babe, I wish you could experience this right here! A motorcycle going by with amazing, Gospel-sounding music that you can hear a block away. A boy singing. A rooster crowing. People in their homes and on the streets singing. Feet shuffling. The noises of Haiti surround me and I wish I could share this with you. I wish you were here. Please come with me and help with Haiti. You would love the people.They would love you. I can see you here. I want to come back. I want us all to come back here and make Haiti our second home.
Just back from Vacation Bible School. It was rad. We sang songs, played Simon Says, colored pages, played games and talked with the children. It was fun. We sweat so much. Fun stuff!

I have a coke in my possession. I need a P38 babe! :) Miss you!

The squalor is disgusting. We went over a bridge and the river was full of trash and sewage, and there were pigs, even a large one that laid there looking dead.

This is the bridge of death. Can you see the pig? I think they counted like 8 pigs one day. We walked this bridge at least two times every day.

The smell was horrendous. Those are people's homes you can see.

Can you see the actual bridge? It was made of a thin metal and there were lots of holes. It was scary to walk across! The leaders said that if we fell, no one was coming to get us!

It seems impossible not to stay hydrated. I drink and sweat all day long.

It's Monday night and I'm full of extremely mixed emotions. I love Haiti and the people and ... but I want to go home. I miss my family so much. As we met this woman and her daughter, her baby poked her head out of the door. She was Kara. I got tears right then. As I met a 8 year old, it reminded me of Kristen. As I washed the dishes, the girl that helps asked how I was doing and I mentioned that I missed my family and I couldn't hold the tears back. I want to kiss Jaden and have Migc hanging around. I miss them so much I can barely stand it.

I also had to take my nose ring out today for ministry with the church, and I can't get it back in. That just really bothers me right now. I'm angry I had to give that up.

I'm also starting to feel my introversion kicking in. there is no way to get away here. You are never, ever more than 1 1/2 feet from someone else. Never! Even in the bathroom, you have about 1 minute because 22 other people could be waiting. There is no escape.


After lunch, we went on a prayer walk. A woman from the church led us from Christian friend to Christian friend. We did get to talk to some awesome people and pray for some real needs. I really just don't feel like writing about it. How dumb is that?

The children would randomly yell out "blanc" as we walked by...just in case everyone hadn't noticed the white people. :) The children loved Camille! It was cool to watch the group flock to her!

Amber and Zach sat in a woman's home that we prayed for. She made clothes to sell, but found that she didn't have any people to buy them. We heard her testimony the next evening at the Woman's Bible Study. Also, at her home, we got to pray and talk with some college students that were living with her.

A street that we walked daily. We constantly dodged puddles.
I'm in Haiti. God is faithful and there is work to do. God has a hope and future for this land. Lord, heal this land!

It's 10:18. I've been up since before 6am. My children are in bed. My husband is watching TV with my mom. I'm here on a cot, listening to an amazing church service downstairs in a different language. It doesn't smell like garbage or stale body odor right now, so praise God for that. I'm off to read. Everyone is going to sleep. I'm not ready.

Lord reign!

Good night babies. I love you more than life itself. Good night babe. Life isn't life without you!

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Haiti - Day 2

June 19, 2011

What a fantastic way to wake up! Good morning, Haiti! It's 5am. Fully light and the roosters are crowing everywhere!

My mild headache yesterday turning into a killer one that kept me awake in pain until 1:30am when I finally got Excedrin from Amber. I'm kicking myself for not having done it sooner because the next 3 1/2 hours were full of beautiful sleep.

All night long, there was music and endless dog barking. After Excedrin, my body did not care and enjoyed the lullaby.

The smell of food, delicious food, surrounding me.

I'm off to do quiet time and get ready for 7:30 church service. Bring it, God! :)

Ecclesiastes 7:16 Be not righteous over much, neither make thyself over wise: Why shouldest thou destroy thyself.
-Don't get too much because you will fall because of your lack of humility. Humble yourself and know that you are a sinner saved by grace.
We've been moved. The other house wasn't what the owner had agreed to provide, so they've moved us. For one thing, the plumbing didn't work. Not fun! We're waiting for the other team to return from church before we can "move in", so we haven't seen it yet. We are at the home though. It's beautiful and clean and nice here. There are 7 children and we've passed the 4 month old baby around. He stares at me like Kara and smiles when I look at him. This family seems much better off than where we were before. The children are dressed well and Mama has been doing beautiful hair all morning.

Mama, doing hair, and Pastor - on the patio

One of the little boys - he was so cute and enjoyed being with us. You could tell that he was pretty used to being around American Christians. He would come upstairs and play and worship with us. They were all such good kids!

Baby David, 4 months old

The beautiful home that we stayed in. The upstairs is where we were and all of us girls slept on the balcony. The guys slept on the roof.

(Side note: The pastors in Haiti seemed to be doing well and I'm pretty sure that is purely because they have a job when most do not. It's purely a difference between having something and having nothing. Plus, we learned through this family that their doors are always open. The church comes to worship in their home at least 2-3 times a week and there are always people coming and going.)
No church today. With the sudden move, we didn't have time. After we got here, we decided to go for a prayer walk. We got about 4-5 houses away and Watson, the translator, said, "What about these boys?" It was amazing! One boy said he's in and out of church. Another said he doesn't have the clothes. The culture in Haiti says you have to dress nicely. That certainly excludes some people. He also had a hang up because his mom is Catholic. Camile and Calvin shared about coming from a Catholic background and how we worship the same Jesus. They decided (4 boys) to accept Christ right there! I cried. God is here!

Our group with the boys

We walked a little further and prayed for healing in a Christian man, and there was a man and woman that want to marry but don't have the means. The man carves wooden furniture without electric tools.

The 3 tools he used to make furniture.

We prayed that God would give them the means to marry, as that was their desire. They put on their best clothes before allowing us to take a picture of them.

These are only a few of the beautiful things he makes with those 3 tools.

Then we walked around the block.

Goats and graffiti are everywhere.

Businesses on the block, along with goats in a pile of burning trash.

We came back to the house, moved our stuff into our rooms and dun dun dun I HAD A SHOWER! YAY!

Now, we're talking/chatting and drinking a coke. :)

This afternoon, the other group arrived. There are 13 of them staying here with us, mostly youth from Colorado. We had dinner and worship service in the streets. Three little girls clung to me during it. They are so sweet. I loved them! They ask what your name is and tell you their names and tell you words for things in their language. One girl stood hugging me through the whole thing and touched my hair and held my Bible.

Mama can cook! The food was so good every day!

Tomorrow, we are doing a Vacation Bible School in the morning, then a prayer walk in the afternoon.

God is faithful and I'm excited to get to do something tomorrow!

Tonight, we're sleeping on cots on the balcony. It's raining and there is a nice breeze. I'm hoping for amazing sleep tonight!

Sleeping on the balcony

I miss Justin and the kids so much! I'm not worried about them. I'm only worried that they don't know that I'm ok. I wish there were a way to let them know. The children remind me that mine are home not hugging me or clinging to me. It makes me feel a little guilty, like I've forced them to give me up, so that these children can have me. God knows!

I'm on dinner duty. That means set up and dishes. I like interacting with the mom of the house. She is a nice woman. It's cool to have a little one-on-one time with a couple of the youth too.

I also met DJ today. I want to find her on facebook and keep up with her endeavors. Tomorrow, they meet with people to discuss land purchase for a church, medical center and school. I'm praying for God's favor and direction there. There is much to do in Haiti.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Haiti - Day 1

I've been horrible at updating my blog. Not at all how I intended! I'm sorry for that! I think what I'm going to do is give you a day-by-day snapshot. I kept a journal while I was gone and I think I'll copy it here, along with *some* (I took almost 300) pictures for that given day.

June 18, 2011

I'm on the flight to Miami, then an hour later, on to Port-au-Prince. Justin and I were up at 2am and at the airport in Wichita by 4:30am. God is good! We made our connecting flight in Chicago by mere minutes, having run to catch it. I suppose Miami will be the same. I have to pee something terrible and I feel a headache coming on. In just a few short hours, I'll see things I've never seen. I expect God to move. His hand on these flights has been tangible. I'm not missing home or the kids yet. I suppose it hasn't quite sunk in yet.
In 30 minutes, we touch down in Haiti. Miami was pretty uneventful and easy but no downtime. I just filled out my paperwork for entry into the country. I've cried several times during this flight, which I didn't expect! I cried on the phone with everyone as we were pulling away from the gate and it's been off and on ever since. I just thumbed through a few pictures on my phone and cried when I got to Justin's.

Haiti is going to be amazing. I'm bummed that I'm in an isle seat and not able to see out the window. This plane is FULL of missionaries. It's AMAZING! I wish we'd break out in worship. What a sweet sound that would be. We're descending!!!!
What a day! What a day! Babe, this would blow your mind! We were met by these average, non-dressed up guys, Steve and Marcio. We made it safely, on time and with all our luggage. A-MAZING!!! We hopped on a school bus and drove through things your mind cannot comprehend. I'm amazed that you cannot hardly see the rumble due to normal living conditions. There is trash everywhere. Pigs walking the streets. People everywhere mostly standing around with nothing to do or trying to sell something.

We drove in our "gated community". hahahahahahahahahahahahaha There is a gate that people randomly come in and out of, but why mess with the gate when you can hop roofs, which is where I am now and going to sleep. The one room they've given us to sleep in is sooooo hot. I cannot breathe in there. I'm sleeping under the Haitian stars for the remainder of the this trip.

It's cool. It's awesome! We had a fantastic time of worship. It was better than I'd envisioned. All of this is really. It's all so amazing and God is going to do amazing things.

Right now, I'm laying on the roof, writing by flashlight and I can hear the people next door talking on their roof and the one behind us. So crazy!

And, I am unbelievably tired and off to sleep.

Good night, babies. Sweet dreams. See you soon. I love you!

I love you, babe. Sweet dreams. Dreams about me. Good night.

Goodnight Haiti.
Haiti from the plane

The bus we rode. We were already so hot! The humidity is unbearable! I've never sweat so much in my entire life! And, the airport experience was a bit scary!

The first of many tent cities we would see.


These are businesses along the road the first day.


Trash among homes and along the road.

Haiti is a beautiful country! Do you see the building on the right side? I noticed that the buildings that are being rebuilt, seem to be rebuilt like this, with bricks and poorly sealed. There are lots of holes in the cement/grout mix holding them together. Doesn't look safe or sturdy.

This was the room, we thought we were going to have to sleep in. HOT!

View from the roof. The edge that you see was the edge of our roof. Next to it was another home. You could literally jump from roof to roof.

This is not a good picture of the hole, but we had to climb through this hole to get on and off the roof. It was small and difficult to climb through. There were nails poking out at us too! This is also the roof we slept on.

The neighbors.
The stairs up to the roof. They were very slick and no rail to hold onto. A member of our team fell the first night. Once the owner finishes the property, it will be a nice home!