Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Haiti Day Six

You, oh Lord are the God of this city. You are the God of America, and the God of Haiti. You have revealed yourself in countless ways the past five days, more than I can remember, and I know there is more to come.

On the third day here, my heart was split wide open, but it had been rapidly breaking wide apart since the moment we arrived. I am struggling to understand, what makes ME so worthy of my life that God has given me? I have always heard about life in third world countries, and of course I've seen infomericals, but to experience Haiti, to see it, live it, taste it, smell it, my preconceived perceptions were nothing in comparison. The love I have developed for he Haitian people is indescribable. Their lives are so completely different, so simple, yet complex, so poor, yet rich, so lacking, yet full.

Why do I have my life, and not a Haitian life? Why do these people have their lives, and not mine? Why don't I live in a tin shanty with my husband and two daughters, with mud floors, one or two sets of clothes, no job, and a faith like no other? What my daughters have compared to what all the children have in the tent city nearby just breaks my heart. I feel guilty for the life I have. I feel heartbroken for the life they don't have.

It is hard to keep my tears trapped within. To view Haiti through a filter. While I do not understand, I can and do care. I know that God has His reasons...He has His purpose for me, and for each and every person here. He has a reason why I live in America. Why I have STUFF. It is hard to have stuff now.

My tears cry out to Jesus. I have so much, yet can give them so little. It should be reversed. I want it reversed. I want to have little and give much.

So many memories bring me joy...

When I sat next to Ivonne's wife (Ivonne runs an orphanage that Healing Haiti sponsors, and we brought to the ocean 36 children to the ocean.) I taught a few of the children how to bury her feet in the sand, and then how to unbury them and wash them off. That brought joy to both her, the kids, and myself. I fell in love specifically with two girls at Ivonne's orphanage. One is Rachel, she is 12 I think. She sat with me on the tap tap (bus) and tried to stay with me as much as possible. The other girl, I don't know her name, but she is around 17, and she held on to my hand as much and as hard as the little orphan girls did. I broke the ice with her by putting sunblock on her shoulders before we got out to the water, and were close the rest of the day. She braided my hair when we returned to the orphanage, and I gave her my cross necklace.

This is us in the toptop. Rachel is sitting next to me in a lime green shirt. My other girl, she is in front, mostly cut off, but in the blue tank top. Our bus was PACKED.

Okay, side note - Mirliton is delicious. It is a squash we have with Chicken Creole at the Habitation Hut restaurant. I order that every night wherever we are.

This little one fell asleep in my arms while standing in the ocean, while packing up, on the bus ride home, and during my hair braiding session. :) I will always cherish that time!

Okay, my time is up. We are eating very authentic tonight, rice and beans, made by Michelle, who works for the hotel that our house used to belong to. She also did our laundry...by hand.....in a metal tub out back. My clothes have never been cleaner. They hung outside for 2 days.

I love Haiti. I haven't even left, yet I already long to return. Thank you God for sending me here.
Sandy Anderson

Healing Haiti Team Member

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Why is it so hard for us to just ‘be’ ?

I feel so often that we go through life just to get by and do what we need to do; trying to get to the next thing on the list, trying to get things done before the deadline, trying to get somewhere, or waiting for something or someone. These are the moments that I feel furthest away from God and am just trying to get through my day and check the items of my ‘to do list’. During these moments I often feel that I am frustrated, worried, anxious or concerned.

Why is it that we often feel the need to always go go go? Why is it so hard for us to just ‘be’ and spend time with God? Why am I so preoccupied with myself and everything else that is going on in my life?

It amazes me how being in Haiti brings me so much closer to my Lord and Savior. Even though it has only been a couple days since we arrived, I am continually reminded of all that I have to be thankful for and what a loving, caring, compassionate and forgiving God we serve.

Despite all that has happened in Haiti, they continue to be joyful and seem to be enjoying life and making the most of it. Of course not every moment is going to be a joyous moment, but I feel that they view those moments as possibilities and opportunities for hope. I wonder if people look at my life and could say the same? Do I view every obstacle as an opportunity for hope and possibility and bring it to the Lord or do I become frustrated?

Being in this environment; surrounded by poverty, trash all around, tents as homes, limited water supply, broken roads, children walking on rocks without shoes, piles of cement from what used to be someone’s home breaks my heart. As many have wondered I’m sure, the question is why? We could repeatedly wonder this question and try to come up with a million reasons as to why Haiti is like it is, but it comes down to faith. We have to have faith that God knows what He is doing and that He has a plan for everything.

As He says in Jeremiah 29:11 ‘For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.’

Should it really take an environment like this to help me to just ‘be’ and spend time with God? Why is it that I can’t do this at home in my own environment? I’m not sure why that is but I do know that I need to bring it to the Lord and pray about it because the closeness that I have with my Savior while I’m in Haiti, I long to have everyday of my life.
The Haitians lifestyle is definitely different from the Americans but I feel that as I am here and interacting with them they continually teach me and remind me of all that I have to be thankful for.

Enjoy the little moments in life, don’t live your life just trying to check the items off your ‘to do list’ or be constantly on the go that you don’t have time to spend with God and ‘be’ in His presence, life is too short.

Jessica Burmester

Healing Haiti Team Member
June 19, 2010

Friday, June 18, 2010

A short but heart filled trip to Haiti...

I can't believe I am already on the way home. It was a very quick and heart filled trip.

It is exciting to see all the rebuilding, construction and water delivery that Healing Haiti has been able to do with all of your support... but it was very disappointing to see how little has changed in Haiti since the earthquake. The rubble and collapsed buildings are still not removed and cleaned up. Tent cities are everywhere, now surrounded by mud. I wonder if this will be the new Haiti. US troops are gone. We saw plenty of UN personnel from Brasil, but who will help rebuild? We didnt even see the DRC in force like we did in March.

Jeff and I purchased a small guest house for our mission teams and to house our Director Jean Filsaime and Fan Fan who both lost their houses in the earthquake. It is a wonderful place and we are so blessed to have found it. It had become very difficult to find lodging after the earthquake. Many guest houses and hotels have collapsed and many of the ones left standing many have been blocked out for six month to one year commitments from large construction companies to house their workers.

We worked hard all week doing things to make it a little more comfortable for mission teams. From buying fans on the street at night to stay cool, to bargaining for plastic chairs on the corner, to visiting hardware stores and delimarts. It is so hard to understand how everything in Haiti is more expensive than in the US... I know they have to import everything, but how can such a poor country pay almost double of US prices? It really made me appreciate how everything is shared and how people have to go through rubble and garbage to get things. They are truly masters at recycling. And I became such a hoarder of plastic bags.

We have started rebuilding part of a wall surrounding the property that came down in the earthquake. That is really the only damage that happened to the house. We're going to put a new roof on the little house in the back that is home for the security and laundry person live on the property and repurpose a storage area for a part time cook for our mission teams. I was shocked at how they have been living. We purchased fans for them and shower curtains for privacy in the toilet and outside shower area. We are also offering any curtains and furniture from the house that we
won't use. They each live in a 6 x 10 room that has a bed and a piece of luggage that they use as a cabinet. They put their mattresses outside during the day to dry because the roof leaks at night and the mattresses get wet Another wake up call to how spoiled we are!!

The stove isnt working so we were not able to cook yet, but it was sure nice to to have a simple sandwich, cheese, fruit and snacks. We did buy a crock pot for Jean...he had no idea what that was....so that he could cook with electricity...when he has it! Hopefully painting will get done this week along with some repairs to chairs so it is ready for our teams leaving on June 16 and the 23. We brought new sheets down and it was so cute...Mikail put the pillow protectors over
the pillow cases. We also brought fresh colorful towels that are stored in the hallway bookcase!

Years and years ago Jeff and I thought we would make great bed and breakfast inn keepers... looks like God has a funny sense of humor :). Oh and we have 2 dogs at the house..Bitsy and Bacon. Bitsy is super friendly and is just so excited to see you every time you come home. Bacon is the security. He has a tough bark, but is also very friendly once he knows you.

It was great fun to hop on the motorcycle and visit Elders School in Cite Soliel. We are doing major recontruction on the building and it was exciting to see the progress and well as 750 students. The kids got a real kick out of my bald head.

The down side was the new toilets are backed up and urine is overflowing...but it didnt seem to bother any of the kids... they were just so happy to be in school. The toilets are being looked at today and hopefully fixed.

We stopped at Mother Theresas on Thursday, but no one would answer at the gate. They have totally removed the old builings that were damaged in the earthquake and have set up big hospital tents for the babies. We will contact Joyce and Dale to see what volunteer opportunities are there now.

We visited both orphanages and made the Haiti friendship bracelets with all the kids and gave out treat bags. Fan Fan was such a joy to watch lead the kids in song and prayer. He is like a new person. We got an appointment for his Visa at the embassy on July 13. Please pray that he receives a Visa and can come to the US.

We then stopped at the school in Titanyen that Healing Haiti supports. We have rented a new building since the old one collapsed in the earthquake. It was exciting to see that another 350 children being given the opportunity of an education.

Carl Djovanny was so excited to visit friends and family. He said his mother Gigi kissed him over a 150 times. I thought it was interesting that he went to his old house and slept in a tent for a night. This young man has brought me so much joy.

Seeing how far the construction has come at Grace Village was amazing. The feeding center is going up fast. We received a generous donation of $60,000 to build it. God is so amazing. I worked on paint colors and Jean our Director thinks its too colorful...he is a typical tan and brown guy. (I am bring back with me the bed in the bag set I got him because it is too colorfull and graphic...we did find one online that he liked and I ordered it for him). We are learning in Haiti that certain color palattes are used for certain kind of buildings... Aquas are for hospitals, yellow for schools, blue is for police, neon bright colors are used on small businesses and the neutral colors are for sophisticated bigger business. Brighter caribeann colors are used mostly in the country side. I guess I think that Grace Village is in the mountain/countryside, so we're going with the caribean colors.

I am thankful that I could make this trip. Today I am a bit sad. Wondering if I will feel this good in the future or will I become less able. Please pray for me to stay strong and be able to continue my work in Haiti. Fan Fan prayed over me evernight. All the school kids are praying, all the orphans... it just amazes me.. God has been such the perfect planner for my life. Transforming my life just when I needed it, building a new support system before I needed it, teaching me forgiveness and letting go, knowing that would bring me peace and giving me opportunities to live in faith, trust and love. I have had the life that most only dream of.

Thank you all for loving me. And for your kind hearts for Haiti.