Wednesday, August 13, 2008

A time for babies...

Today started out as a kind of sad day for me. Mike and I were heading to Mother Theresa's Missionaries of Charity... a home for sick and abandoned babies. The reason I was sad is because it is one of Alyn's (my wifes) most favorite places in Haiti. Her illness prevented her from coming on this trip and it was hard to go there without her.

What also made me sad, is as we left our hotel on foot, we passed one of the women who works at the place where we're staying. She asked if my wife was here and I told her of Alyn's illness. She responded with such sadness for her and said she would keep her in her prayers. So many have asked about her... including the nun's at Mother Theresa's who are praying for her.

Mother Theresa's is such a special place because they care for babies that are not only innocent and beautiful, but some of the poorest and most vulnerable children in the world. They have nothing to say about their life or the circumstances they were born into. They are all so precious and Mother Theresa's is God's hand working in Haiti.

Burned Scarred Children
If you ready my earlier blogs, I've posted about all the burn scarred children that I've seen and met in Haiti. I've wondered about the circumstances of their injuries but have no answers. Earlier this week, I was met at one of our watering stops by one of the burned children I met last year during my two month stay. Today, I was pleasantly surprised to meet another of these children again at Mother Theresa's. She was there to see her baby brother. I passed her in the hall and she looked at me and I looked at her. I turned around and said to her "Camion – Dlo – Bucket by Bucket" (camion = truck, dlo = water) and she immediately remembered me. We hugged, held hands and she took me to her little brother. Here is a picture of her... asking me for my cell phone number.... she wants to stay in contact.

If you click on her picture, you can see how terribly scarred her arm, face and hand are.

Dear Lord,
I pray that you keep the burned scarred children of Haiti safe from future harm and protect them from stares or comments from those that see them as anything other than your beautiful child. Give them strength and faith to live a life for you knowing that your unfailing love is enough. In your loving and precious name we pray, Amen.

Reiser Heights
In the afternoon, Mike and I took a ride up to Reiser Heights School in Lespinasse/Donte. This is the school that Father Resier started and the one which with God's grace we were able to add classrooms to. We knew the students were out for summer break but needed to pay teachers salaries and discuss the upcoming school year.

Mike was surprised with the wonderful view that is available from the school of the valley below.

Finally, here is a small video clip of the ride down the mountain. The roads are so rough and bumpy... see what you think.

We thank God everyday for his hedge of protection, keeping us safe and secure in our mission and blessing us with opportunities to be his hands and feet in Haiti.
Thank you for visiting and reading the Healing Haiti blog.
Jeffrey Gacek

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Another beautiful day in Haiti.

Today we went back to Titanyen to visit the ElderCare program that we sponsor. We were able to visit with a few of the elderlies, but most were unable to make it because of the heat and physical limitations. I would guess it was at least mid to high nineties with high humidity.

As we met with them and shared our thanks to Jesus for bringing us here, they all joined in thanking him for the blessings they receive. Andrenoi, the director of ElderCare introduced us to each of them and shared a little bit about each of them. One of the women was 105 years old. Can you imagine the life she has lived?

One of the men was the person that we were able to help with emergency surgery, two of the women had dresses on that we had sewn for them. Mike Lindahl, my friend who has joined me here said "The elderly seem so kind and gentle spirited". How much more can God bless us than to have the joy of helping them have a better life...

Afterwards, we headed back to the orphanage and were treated to a beautiful, impromptu singing from the children. This was completely unplanned and came about as we were asking the children what they liked. One said she liked to sing, so Jean our director in Haiti asked her if she would sing for us. She came and sang a beautiful song. Afterwards a few others came up and did the same. Please take time to listen to these precious angels as they sing for you too!

Mike Lindahl was also a brave soul. He sang a beautiful song for the children that they really enjoyed. Most of the children hummed the song in the background. Enjoy!

Finally, here are a couple of pictures of Mike playing with the children. They love having someone fun like Mike to play with.

Another Day in Cite Soleil

Monday we returned to Cite Soleil to deliver more water to those in need. But before we got started, we stopped at Terra Promise, a primary school in Cite Soleil that we fund. We were greeted by Elder Morland, the director of the school and about 60 children that are taking summer school classes.

Some of the children were being tested to meet the requirements to go to the next grade, while others were being individually tutored while still others attended a full classroom setting. One of the benefits for these children of attending summer school is being fed a meal each day at school.

Afterwards, we were off to deliver four 3500 gallon loads of water to various neighborhoods in Cite Soleil. It is interesting going on these different water runs how different they are from each other... some being more orderly, some being more disorderly... but all having the same common thread of people desperately wanting the water we bring.

The other common thread is how much we all need to be noticed. Children are everywhere, just wanting to hold our hands, full of joy... smiling, laughing, tugging at us... they are our small blessing to us from our living God.

I've mentioned previously how many burned scarred children I've seen down here during the last three years. Here is another that just breaks my heart...

In an attempt to bring Haiti back to you, and let you see through our eyes, I've taken a few photos of our stop today and a few videos that I've uploaded to YouTube for your to watch.

Please continue to pray for strength and safety for Mike and I and for God's loving grace for the people of Haiti. We humble ourselves before the Lord giving him all the glory for the work that we do. It is only through the grace of our living God that we are able to be here and do what we do.

This is a video of an earlier delivery. I am under the truck filming trying to show the actual delivery of water into the buckets.

This is a video looking over Mike Lindahl's shoulder. I am trying to show you a view of what he sees as he loads the buckets.

Here is a video of our last water delivery.

A visit to the Titanyen

Sunday we took a trip to Titanyen to visit the children at the orphanage. We were met by the them singing "This is the day the Lord has made". It is very precious to see the teachings that Yvon has done with these children. You can see a very loving fatherly relationship that he has with the children. We were blessed to be able to capture some of it on video... enjoy.

Afterwards, Mike Lindahl, my dentist friend that is visiting Haiti with me, did a dental checkup on all the kids. He found that most had good teeth with a few that had a cavity or two. We have asked Yvon to arrange for them to see a dentist in Port au Prince within the next month.

In addition, one of the boys had 3 baby teeth that had not fallen out and were causing his adult teeth to come in very crooked... Mike carefully and gently pulled the three teeth to make room for the new ones.

Later in the day, we visited the new land for Grace Village. We purchased 16 acres of land in Titanyen but were only able to do this by the grace of our living God and so we have named it Grace Village. We plan for Grace Village to be a place where God's loving grace can touch the people of Titanyen.

Below you will see pictures of us walking the perimeter of the sixteen acres walking up to the top of the first plateau and down to the valley in the middle and then back up to the second plateau. I was worn out getting to the second plateau and did not look forward to making the return trip... but I didn't really have a choice so you can probably guess how I felt when I got back to the truck. The air conditioning in Jean's truck never felt so good.

Thank you so much for visiting our blog. If you'd like to help please visit
God Bless.
Jeffrey Gacek

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Coming Back to Haiti

This is my first trip back to Haiti since Alyn (my wife) was diagnosed with cancer. She finished her last chemotherapy on August 16th. She was very sad that she was not able to come back to Haiti with me. We plan to return late fall or early winter and if she is healthy enough will make the trip. Please pray that our living God, heals her and protects her during her recovery.

A First Mission Trip
I am blessed to be accompanied this trip by Mike Lindahl, a friend from my small group/bible study. This is his first trip to Haiti and his first mission trip.

Our first day in the field, brought us to Cite Soleil where we worked on the Water Truck delivering water to those in need. Mike said he was scared at first, but quickly adapted to running the hose, lifting buckets and playing with the children.

Being August, this day started out as a very hot day. The lines were long and tempers flared at our first stop. I was concerned what Mike would think, but the rest of the deliveries went without incident. God had his hedge of protection around us that we prayed for back at the hotel. The people we encountered were so thankful for us being here making these deliveries very rewarding.

Mike entertained the children with his "detachable thumb" trick... the kids were very entertained...

Cite Soleil has not changed much
As we drove through Cite Soleil, it was evident that it has not changed much. There are the same "shot up" buildings from the battles between the UN and the gangs. There are the tin shanty's that still are home for hundreds of thousands, and there is still the black rivers emptying out into the ocean that run directly through Cite Soleil.

Click on Photos for Larger View

Even though our mission is about delivering clean water to those in need, the thing that continues to tug at my heart is the children we see along the way. They are just so curious about us... touching our arms and legs and stealing a feel of our hair when we bend over to help put a bucket on someone's head. It is difficult to walk down the street without 10-20 children running up wanting to hold our hand. They are such a blessing.

And then there are the babies and little ones that I just want to hold, love up and take home.
And then reality sets in. There are the ones who have been maimed or disfigured by a cruel twist of fate leaving them with scars that they will carry their entire life. Here is a little boy who broke his arm at some previous time. The arm now dangles uselessly because it was never set in a cast to heal. One can only guess why the parents weren't able to get him the medical treatment that would have changed his life forever.

And then theres my special friend that I introduced you to last year. He had been burned at some time in his early childhood and is just the nicest little boy. When I first got off the truck at his stop, he came running yelling "Jeff, Jeff, Jeff" and we were fortunate enough to capture some beautiful pictures of him.

On the way "home"...
One the way home to our hotel room, Mike was telling me about how heavy the bigger water buckets were. He said he had to help a girl put one in a wheel barrow and it surprised him how much it weighed. I had to laugh when I was going through todays photos. Here is a picture of Mike straining to put that bucket in the wheel barrow...

and then the "after" shot where I can only laugh and wonder what he's thinking as he looks at that bucket.

Thank you for visiting the Healing Haiti blog... I will try to update it with other posts as we have time.
God Bless....
Jeff Gacek & Mike Lindahl