At church last night I was reminded by God to be faithful... and that through him all things are possible... and that God works for the good of those who love him and have been called according to His purpose. That God uses the low points and struggles in our in our lives to prepare us to do profound things. God knew just what I needed to hear.
So as ordinary people, just like all of you who read this, God has once again inspired Jeff and I to continue on His mission. To provide clean water, food, education, housing and a living faith to the poor and most vulnerable in Haiti.
Last week, our orphanage caretakers asked us if we would take 30 orphans from Cite Soleil to swim at the sea. These children have never been to the sea so we rented a tap tap bus, and went to a deserted resort that had the most perfect swimming area for the kids.
I wish you all could have felt the simple joy that came from all of these children as we played in the water. It was so much fun. We had peanut butter sandwiches, cheese puffs, cookies and juice for lunch and I have never seen 30 kids so well behaved and thankful for such simple things... things that most of us would take for granted.
After lunch, we headed back into the water and all the kids started singing songs to God. It was so touching. These children who have nothing physical in this world... still abound with joy, faith and hope in Jesus.
During our swimming and spa day, we noticed some health issues and skin sores with the children. For the poor in Haiti, there is not such as thing as going to the doctor. In emergencies, kids are taken to the hospital to be treated but we couldn’t bring 55 kids to the hospital. We took photos of some of our concerns with the hope of identifying what the illness was. Mike, one of our team members, emailed them to his brother-in-law who is a doctor. As he finished, a medical team that had been at the hotel earlier in the week came in for dinner. Mike took the photos over to them to see if they help identify the sores or could guide us in anyway. The group were nurses and told us that the doctors in the group had gone home earlier in the day... they could not identify what the sores were.
As Mike came back to our table, two women and a couple of men stopped by to ask us what our mission group was doing in Haiti. We told them about our mission and and then told them about the sores that many of the children had and showed them our photos. One of the men was a doctor... a Haitian doctor. He knew immediately what they were... Zona. He suspected that it was caused by dirty water. After more discussion, he agreed to go with us the next day to do a medical clinic for all 55 kids. God had placed this man in our path at the exact time that he was needed...it was amazing.
So the next day, after 55 checkups that took most of the day, we were saddened and overwhelmed to hear that only one child did not have any medical needs. We had 5 hernias and several swollen tonsils... most of the children needed antibiotics and hydrocortisone creme for the Zona and skin rashes from the unclean water. A few need to be taken to the hospital to be checked for typhoid and malaria. We had one case of pneumonia, several very bad teeth, several that were anemic and malnourished along with one ear infection and several high fevers. The doctor wrote up 54 prescriptions that Jean, our director of Grace Village is working hard to procure.
After viewing the well at the orphanage, we discovered that the water table is only 5 feet underground. This is not deep enough to cleanse the surface water that sinks into the ground and is most likely the cause of the Zona sores that many of the children have. We made plans to install two new water tanks at the orphanage and have our truck deliver clean water for the children. We also planned hospital visits for the fevers and pneumonia. Going forware, we are going to start collecting vitamins, tylenol cold medicine, antibacterial and itch cremes to have on hand at the orphanage and figure out a way to get more protein in their diets. We will by the antibiotics in Haiti until we can get a medical source here in the US that can provide it for us. Doctor Sem also said that the dirt the children walk in and play in is also part of the problem. When the new orphanage facility at Grace Village is completed this problem will be solved.
When working on the water truck in Cite Soleil, my heart was burdened by all the requests for food. It is so difficult to continually say "I only have water and love to give you. God Bless you". It just tears at my heart. At the end of August we have a container of 270,000 meals from Feed My Starving Children that we are shipping to Haiti. We are grateful for the donated food but most don’t realize is that we still have to pay $10,000+ for the shipping and customs.
The night before we left, we had a pizza dinner with the ten street boys that we sent to school this last year. Only 4 had final report cards. We asked why the other six did not stay in school and were told that they had to quit because they had to make money to pay rent for a small room that they shared. It is amazing that 8,10 and 12 year old children have to make a decision whether they stay in school or drop out to pay their rent.
After some discussion, we made a deal with them... we would pay their rent for the next 6 months and will continue to do so, as long as they stayed in school and receive a passing report card. They live in groups of 3, 3 and 4. We had one condition though. If one drops out of school, funding will stop for the others in their group too. We hope that this will encourage support from each other and lessen the financial burden of them living on their own. We discussed how they could still work on weekends to earn money if they need too. They all are street window washers.
After the negotiations we discovered a new room in the hotel that the management said we could use with the boys for a short time. They got to play pool, foos ball and sit on big couches in front of a wide screen TV. This group of tough boys turned into little kids. They explained to me how much they liked the big couches and wished they could sleep on those instead of a floor. Of course they wanted us to buy them a big screen tv too. Please pray that these boys will stay in school this year.
Visiting Grace Village and seeing the foundations for the girls dormitory, boys dormitory, feeding center and cistern being dug out was wonderful to see. They workers were having difficulty because the land is so rocky. We watched as they pounded under the hot sun with sledge hammers to break up the rock. It is difficult and demanding work. Eighteen workers from the community started the project but only 4 are left. The work is very hard and many have gotten bad blisters and sore backs.... please pray for strength and health for the workers at Grace Village.
One of our team members gave me a couple books on Mission Trips and Creating Strategic Partnerships. After reading them, I felt again that God was speaking to us on how to better run Healing Haiti, be more effective with our giving, encourage sustainability and to further the Kingdom in all we do. Some of our projects are just humanitarian and short-term relief oriented... but with this new knowledge, we are challenged to see how we can grow these into more in the future.
Something I did this trip before reading the books mentioned above, was to choose seven children that we've come to know over the past 3 years while making water deliveries to send to the school we support in Cite Soleil. One is the brother of one of our water truck workers who is 18 but will only be in the 4th grade. The others have all touched my heart over the years and I felt lead to do something. I met with the parents while we were delivering water and then met them again the following week at the school. The parents were so grateful and the kids so excited. It was a $70 per child per year investment that will hopefully impact their entire life... the cost of one latte per day for many of us.
Other great memories include my niece giving breast feeding directions to a new mother, visiting inside the little tin shacks in Cite Soleil with some of the people to discuss their needs, caring for Pierre at Mother Theresa‘s who looked like he was 5 years old, but was really 10 and had a kind spirit and a very inquisitive eye for watches and glasses, the man that Melissa cared for at the Sisters Wound Clinic who had a dead foot, the hugs and greeting from Marie Alice from the prayer house, FanFan, who opened up to everyone and had such a great time with lots of laughter and fellowship and getting a bunch of kids in Cite Soleil to do the "Alleluia" song along side the ocean.
With great faith and trust that God will show up, and driven by obedience, Jeff and I will continue to develop new relationships, work on additional funding and create more efficiency in what we do. If you are moved or nudged by the Spirit to help, please contact us.