Thursday, September 2, 2010

I realized how blessed I was...

Upon returning to Haiti just six months after the devastating earthquake I realized how blessed I was to have the opportunity to do so! To see the smiling faces on the many children that I had met just days before this country was shook to it's core was absolutely amazing. To hear their sweet voices was encouraging. To feel their tender touch was overwhelming. To see that through the fear, the shock, the destruction of many of their homes and country, the loss of family members ~ that they had not lost their spirit or their faith in God is unbelievable! I am so grateful to witness this firsthand!

While at Mother Teresa's, with the realization that I may be the first person ever to tell the orphaned babies that I love them, or possibly to be the last person to hold them before they go to heaven is an honor beyond compare. When my time with these beautiful children of God is so limited, I strive to make the few hours that I spend with them some of the most enjoyable moments in their lives through praying, singing, rocking, holding, feeding, changing and snuggling! It is awesome to see, and even more so to feel, the special bond between two total strangers through the simple gifts that I am able to share with these children and the imprint that they leave on my heart forever!

When I visited the ninety year old blind lady who sang and danced for me when I met her in January, I was sure that she would have now lost her spirit! Not so! Ever so proudly, she stood up on her cardboard mattress and sang and danced for me once again and it was remarkable, especially seeing and realizing just how frail and fragile her body was. The smile on her tired but ever so loving face was incredible! Hearing the excitement in her shaky voice as she gently touched my face and stroked my hair was breath-taking. She brought tears to my eyes. Although she could not see me, she could hear me, she could feel me and she knew that I was there for her! She knew that I did not give up on her after her world was turned upside-down, rather I showed up ~ again, and because of that her blind eyes sparkled with such happiness! She physically held my hands, however, she spiritually touched my heart forever!

We have so much to learn from the people of Haiti! We must never quit, we must never give up and we must never lose the faith no matter how hard the battle is! God will never quit on us, he will never give up on us, he will never lose his faith in us! God will be there always! When all else fails, when there is nothing else . . . you can count on God to be there! In your lowest moments you can count on God to lift you up, to turn you around, to plant your feet on higher ground!!! GOD IS SO GOOD, HE'S SO GOOD, HE'S SO GOOD!

In the end . . . I have come to realize that those who have nothing ~ really have everything ~ for it is not the materialistic things in this world that matter, it is the faith and relationship that you have with God! Those that have everything ~ really have nothing ~ because their focus is purely on the tangible things of this world! To live your life for a greater purpose than your own makes everything you do from day-to-day so worth the effort put forth! Everyone has the ability to make someone's life better - no matter how big or how small your ability is. To know that you have the ability to make someones life better is truly a gift from God!

It is obvious that Haiti is no longer in the news, Haiti is no longer talked about in daily conversation, unfortunately, Haiti has been forgotten once again! It is the personal responsibility of those that have the opportunity to witness life in Haiti first-hand to come back to the United States and keep Haiti front and center in the minds of those who have a heart for the people of Haiti. Haiti needs us now more than ever before. We must not forget those who have absolutely nothing and yet ask for so little. We must never forget what God has placed on our hearts! I know that I never will!

Paulette Carroll

Healing Haiti Team Member

I have to admit... I didn't know much about Haiti.

**Haiti** 07/28/2010 - 08/04/2010

I have to admit, before the earthquake, I didn't know much about Haiti. I didn't even know where it was located! The earthquake happened the day before my birthday. I was talking to one of my co-workers, and he was telling me how poor Haiti is. I remember him telling me that the average Haitian makes under $3 per day. I never knew this; I was shocked! He also told me he took a trip to Haiti and that the people there were extremely kind. After our conversation I went back to my desk and did a little research. He was right. Haiti is a poor country. And now with the devastation of the earthquake, things are even worse for them. I decided I should use all my vacation time and go to Haiti to help with this disaster. I tried to find an organization that I could go with, but at the time it looked like all they were looking for were doctors and nurses. After that, I stopped searching, but the thought of Haiti never left the back of my mind. A few months later, by the grace of God, I stumbled onto the webpage for I was amazed by their website. I watched a few videos and right then I knew that I was going to Haiti. I would do whatever it took to get there. This organization looked like they were really making a difference down there.

On July 28th my group met at the airport to head to Haiti. Before I went, I thought I knew what to expect. After arriving, I immediately saw that the country was much worse off than I could have imagined. Driving down the roads you see sea after sea of tents. People are still living in tents six months after the earthquake. This blew me away! Most people can barley stand to go camping for a long weekend, let alone to live in a tent for six months! Can you imagine? Another thing I noticed right away was all the friendly faces and people waving. Every time we drove by someone, they would wave and say "bonjour". Through all the turmoil these people are going through, they have the biggest smiles on their faces. It didn't take long for me to realize that Haiti may not have much money, however, they are still really rich. Rich in spirit, strength, compassion, and love. God is shining his light on these people, and it wasn't hard to see.

Every day in Haiti was my favorite day. It's hard for me to pick just one. One of my team members would tease me each day and say, "I thought yesterday was your favorite day" because every day consisted of something so important, yet so different from the next. One day we planned to take Guiliame's orphanage to the beach. We woke up early, made forty peanut butter sandwiches, and climbed on the bus to go pick up the kids. It was a long and bumpy ride, but we knew we had arrived when thirty kids started chasing the bus. We were approached with shouts of excitement, smiles, and hugs. I have never had such an overwhelming welcoming in my life. These kids were so excited to see us, as we were to see them! I couldn't even find open ground to stand on when climbing off the bus, and by the time my feet hit the ground, I realized I couldn't move. There was the prettiest little girl with her arms and legs wrapped around me. I picked her up in order to move forward because so many other kids were grabbing at me and wanting my attention. Once it was time to get on the bus, I noticed how well behaved the kids were. The lined up in a single file line - shortest to tallest. We got on the bus first and the kids followed. Before I knew it, there were seven people in my seat, which was only meant for two people. It was really hot in the bus, and we were all squeezed together, but no one cared because we were all so happy to be with each other. Right when the bus took off the kids started singing "Lord I Lift Your Name on High", followed by many other songs to praise the Lord. Some were in English, while the others were in Creole. Right in front of my eyes I was witnessing this group of kids that have nothing, not even parents, and here they are thanking God for the blessings in their life. This moment really taught me that we don't need "things". If we have faith and compassion, then we too can be rich! It's hard to find the words to explain that moment, but I feel so blessed to have been a part of it. It was an experience that not a lot of people will get to experience in their lifetime, and for some reason, God chose me to be there. I am so grateful for that! We all had an amazing time at the beach. We prayed, played, ate, and did a couple projects. Not one time all day did I hear a complaint or see any of the kids fight. Instead, just the opposite. I felt so much love, gratitude, and compassion from each and every one of those children. One the bus on the way home, the kids continued to sing for us. They sang a song that I am actually quite familiar with. The lyrics include:

" together at the end of the day- we all say

when I get older, I will be stronger

they'll call me freedom just like a waving flag

And then it goes back, and then it goes back, whoa. "

This really touched my heart to hear because it shows the faith and courage these kids have in each other and in God. They all have high hopes for the recovery of their country. The kids are the future of Haiti and I truly believe that one day they will be the difference that the country needs. These kids are truly God's angels and He just had them waiting there for me, to show me His work!
When I look back on the video at, I try to answer the question, "What is God trying to teach me?" I think God is trying to teach me to always think with my heart. He wants me to see how fortunate I am and to start putting the less fortunate first. God has taught me a valuable lesson of compassion and love through these kids that don't have really anything. He has shown me that no matter what, faith will always get me through. My goal when going on this trip was to share my love and example of Christ with all the kids. Who would have thought it would end up being the other way around? These kids taught me what real love is, as well as real heartbreak. My heart has never felt so broken. I, like many others, left my heart in Haiti. Can you believe this lesson was all learned in just this one day? Can you imagine the whirlwind I experienced when you include the other five days of my trip?

I am so proud of what Healing Haiti has accomplished thus far! With all our help, they have been able to do so much. We must continue to pray for the recovery of Haiti, as well as make awareness to the people around us. This experience in Haiti has forever changed my life, and I cannot wait until I have the opportunity to go back again!

Margaret Knaeble

Healing Haiti Team Member