Sunday, July 31, 2011

Reflection and Re-Entry

It's hard to believe that just 2 weeks ago I was packing my suitcase & preparing myself for my 1st missions trip. I heard the stories from others and had a preconceived idea of what a 3rd world country would be like but never in my wildest dream I thought I would have a hard time returning back to my home.

They call it Re-Entry. Friends who have gone before to Haiti mentioned to  us first timers that some people are very emotional while in Haiti, some will be a few days after returning home and for some people it might take a year. My special friends who were guiding us said to each of us that whatever process it might take for anyone ~ it's okay!

What great advice for me because I was wondering out loud; Why is it that I didn't shed as many tears as some others. What is wrong with me? Am I not compassionate enough?
But God was working on me in a different way. He had a plan for me. We are not designed to compare ourselves to others; we are only supposed to be hearing His voice & listening to what HE is showing me in my own journey.
So, for me 24 hours after coming home to America the flood gates opened up. I am not much of a cryer so it was so liberating to cry it out. I sat on my deck and marveled at my backyard. It was a quiet morning, the birds were singing softly, the green trees swaying lightly in the breeze, even capturing a butterfly was inspiring to me. I couldn't help but keep thinking of the word "blessed".

We are so graciously blessed - Words can't even explain it.

What do I do now? Should I be feeling guilty for living in America? Absolutely Not!
A friend said to me recently and it really stuck in my 50 year old brain, that we are NOT to block any of God's blessings but we are to acknowledge them, To Give HIM Thanks and to Pay it Forward.

So as I reflect after my 1st week of being back home and all of the milestones from my journey...I hope & pray for God to help me stay humbled and thankful for all of my blessings, to stay true to not only myself but to my family and friends and to serve others as Jesus has served all of us.

To all of my "12" disciples who embarked on this incredible journey with me I thank each of you from the bottom of my heart. I can't wait to return back to Haiti once again.


Barb Curtis
Healing Haiti Team Member

Wednesday, July 27, 2011


About 2am on Tuesday the 26th of July we landed back at home here in Minnesota. I was excited to see my mom and aunt... They have always been beautiful to me, but for some reason, they simply glowed, and they looked so... TALL. When I hugged them, I couldn't believe how good they smelled. Little things that I may have once taken for granted, or simply not noticed at all have become little treasures from above. How soft my sheets were that first night in my own bed, or how incredible a hot bath feels. I am definitely changed, I have a vast appreciation for things that once were simply ordinary. I have yet to shave my legs, or put on make-up, as it seems a bit trivial, and I know the day I go back to work will come soon enough, and with it the full arsenal of color cosmetics.

I seem to be more comfortable in my own skin than I was prior to Haiti, perhaps when there is a greater simplicity to life certain things are unimportant. For example, water is needed to live, the process of obtaining and rationing water takes hours where for us here in the U.S. it is a matter of seconds, we have a lot more time to think about one thing... ourselves. I think there is more self addiction here in the U.S. which results in some pretty major spiritual poverty. When you live in a place that requires more time to go towards survival, the appreciation one has for that survival i.e. life seems so much greater, and God is glorified in that living.

What can I do in my own day to day life that will continually glorify God in my actions? How can I greater show my values and beliefs without speaking a word? How do I plan to keep the appreciation I've acquired fresh? What can I sacrifice in my daily life to better usher me into the changes I wish to make?

A good man once shared this phrase with me, "Preach the gospel as often as possible; if necessary, use words."
I believe something God let me see while in Haiti was how powerful actions are, language isn't a barrier unless we let it be. I want my actions to reflect Christ-like love, I want my life to be an example of grace to others. When I went to Haiti I thought of all the awesome things I was going to do for people, deliver water, love on orphans..... but in reality, Haiti did so much more for me than I could have ever done for Haiti. And for that I am eternally grateful.

Christy Scott
Healing Haiti Team Member

Jesus Lives in These Streets

     As we rolled out as a team on the Healing Haiti, in my mind I knew one of the things I was supposed to do.  The same thing I am supposed to do back home.

Love my neighbor as myself.

    If this is what I am supposed to be doing back home, I have sadly misunderstood what that truly means after experiencing today.  As we arrived at Soleil 17.
 17, one of 3 stops in Cite Soleil. I had an inkling of what to expect because of previous blog posts.  I could even picture it from some photos.  None of those things can give a true feeling of what this is. You can't smell the odors of the streets.  You can't feel the roughness of the streets, the jagged rocks cutting into your knees if you happen to kneel down so you can be eye to eye to love the least of these. You can't experience the hands of so many children longing to hold onto you as you leave the stop.  You can't hear the voice of a young 12 year old pointing to his friend of the same age  whose shoulder I have my arm around saying "you - papa" wanting me to take the boy home with him.

But Jesus IS here.

More than anywhere I have traveled (just the U.S.) He is here.  As I stumbled along with a 5 gallon pail of water, I was surrounded by around 10 children that I had previously been playing some games in the street with. As we walked I thought I would try something I had never done back home.  I yelled out to the children "Jezi renmen ou!"  Jesus loves you in Hatian Creole.  Immediately in unison every child said "Wi" (Yes) I tried it again "Jezi renmen ou!"  the response, louder this time, was "Wi". Again. "Wi"

Jesus is here.

Later I came up to group of young men sitting along the curb.  One called to me and we had a fairly short 'conversation', as I really only know probably less than 10 words in Creole.  When we were done, a man who was sitting with them said "Hey You" - a common phrase among many of the young children. We made some small talk again and I thought I would engage him a little.  I had just learned 'brother' from one of the water truck guys named Wilson.  So I pointed at the line of men.  
"Fre?", I inquired.  
"Wi,...Wi! He smiled and spread his arm toward his brothers. I was somewhat elated as I had only been communicating with kids. 
I continued "Se?"  (sister) 
"Non".  I thought I would take it further; "Mama?" a face change, one of sadness, "non" was his reply.  "Papa?, I asked.  He shook his head and said "Non"....sadder still.  I was almost out of talk when the Spirit whispered to me.
"Jezi?" (Jesus?) I said to the sad face.
The grown boys eyes watered as he smiled "Wi! Jezi!" and grabbed my hand hard. "Mesi, Mesi!" (Thank you)

Jesus is Here.

As I walked with children and mothers with buckets to homes that were smaller than most peoples bathrooms and seeing the floors muddied with water and dirt and other unrecognizable things,  I thought of Jesus' hands healing the lepers. My Jesus, who was not afraid to touch them,  but willing to embrace them with the truest love only He can posses. Walking back,  I viewed our spread out team doing it's best to Love like Jesus would love if he was physically walking in these streets and alleys today.  I welled up as I knew we were doing what He wants us to do.

Love your neighbor as yourself.

There were many more of these moments that told me of Jesus' presence within the poorest of cities, and I know there will be many more, This was really just day #1
Ke Bondye Beni'ou
God Bless You  

Jeff Gjerde (James)
Healing Haiti Team Member

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Haiti leaves a mark...

Monday was surreal. I am still unsure if I have fully processed the days events. Our airport, (MSP) was the usual drill, check-in, security, get to gate and hit the bou. We were off, settled into our seats on an immaculately maintained plane. Some of us slept, while some chatted. Others played scrabble and talked about expectations.
I had broken sleep for the better part of 2 weeks, and i am still surprised i didn't crash the minute i sat in my seat. I hadn't traveled outside the U.S. since 2002 shortly after 9-11, and that was to Paris and London. Not quite third world countries.
I wasn't even in Haiti before the scenery changed. The airplane that took us from Mimi to Port Au Prince was a far cry from the pristine one we had just left. Out dated video screens encased in yellowed plastic replaced the drop-down L.E.D. monitors aboard the last flight. The seat just to my right had a defective tray that did not stay in the up-right position as is required during take-off.
I had to ask myself if the airfare from Miami to Haiti is that much less than it is Minneapolis to Miami, that the lesser maintained planes are used for such flights?
I had been "bracing" myself, preparing my heart for the worst imaginable sights and conditions i had known. I knew I would be in a 3rd world country for a week, had been prepared to "act as the hands and feet of Christ", and all that I thought that would encompass. I don't think it is actually possible to even grasp what it was like when we walked into baggage claim, if it could be called that. The Haitian airport still wears the scars from the earthquake in 2010, shattered glass is still in window frames facing the jet way, and the large pole barn that serves as both customs and baggage claim has no working baggage carousels.
Maybe once they had actually turned like ours do, the conveyor belts moving luggage from a window dispersing bags in an orderly way, but not anymore. I am sure everyone else has gone into detail, so I won't. Needless to say, we had to fight tooth and nail for our bags, our carts, and walk through hundreds of men who grabbed at, laughed at and blocked our path in order that we get to our waiting truck.

That was Monday, today is Wednesday. The day was filled with hundreds of little faces, faces that have experienced and know pain no child ever should. We are given a single directive... to love them. pick them up, feed them, change them, hold them, comfort them, play with them. It does not matter, the gift of human touch is gift enough to these little ones.
Leaving our first stop today broke me. I do not like to cry openly, it's hard for me to do. There have been times that I have needed the release, but I can usually stifle it until i am alone, but not today.
The sobs came without shame. I wept as one of my sisters here held me as if I were a child. My tears were not the only ones, They were joined by my dear friends as our hearts broke together, the pieces shattering in unison.
I am emotionally spent today. I feel like between the heat and the tears I am being purified in a big way. My inability to stay present at our second stop showed itself forcefully. My instinct was to run, but with nowhere to go... i was forced me to look at myself today. I wanted to come here because i knew that God would use this experience to rid me of some character flaws I can not see.
He is.

There is no amount or kind of mental preparation i could have done to convey to myself that Haiti would actually leave a mark. That I wasn't going to experience Haiti from a safe little bubble, observing the sights of the slums without knowing the smell or feeling the heat. Nor would there be any way to describe what it feels like when a child who has never seen you before is lit up at your presence. There are few times I have walked down a street and have been greeted by each person I encounter.
Well, I am off for now, tomorrow we see the Haiti few know and I get to swim in the ocean I have never seen.
much love, until tomorrow.

Christy Scott
Healing Haiti Team Member

Words cannot describe.....

Day Two - July 19, 2011

The scripture that came to mind as we delivered clean water to people in need was Jeremiah 29:11: "For I know that plans that I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope." One of the most humbling experiences was watching an astronomical amount of people stand in a uniformed line with buckets waiting for clean water just to bathe, cook, brush their teeth, and so much more. I held back tears watching elderly people, pregnant women, crippled men, and naked children enduring the scorching heat while waiting for their buckets to be filled.

Shortly after we'd finished our third round of delivering water, we took some of the children on a walk. Words cannot describe the devestation I witnessed. Close your eyes and envision a moment when you've stepped in dog poop while walking on a trail and how quick you wipe it off to clear the shoe of filth. Well, many of these children do not have that luxury. They walk barefoot through a field of pig and goat poop; glass; garbage; and dead animals every single day. They live in make-shift homes made of rusted tin, torn tent material, and rotted wood. The space is no bigger than a closet of a standard one bedroom apartment. Despite the conditions around them, they each had a smile on their face. They are immune to it. Life is just normal in their world. It's tough to fathom that there are men, women, and children subjected to a daily routine as such, but it Haiti.

When I got back to our living quarters, all I could do was sit and cry and reflect on how much I've taken for granted. I pondered over all the times that I simply "sweated over the small stuff". Now I'm asking myself the same thing my father would ask me: Will your worries matter in 5 years? If not, let it go. The majority of people in Haiti adopt the attitude of relying on God and not worrying. A true lesson to place at the forefront of our lives indeed. God has given me so much and it will remain a priority to use every tool and gift he has provided to the fullest. I genuinely appreciate my kids and having people in my life whom I love very much including the ladies on this trip. I will never miss opportunities to show and tell them that. It brings me comfort knowing that I'm here representing the Lord through an organization that genuinely believes in the words of Jeremiah 29:11 and are demonstrating it through ACTIONS not just broken promises.

Day Three - July 20, 2011

Our co-leader Jennifer began the day at breakfast with a very moving devotion. She was preparing us to be spiritually replinished as we faced the day. I did not realize how much it would come in handy. Thanks rock!

I'm so choked up by my experience at the home for sick children. The first sound I heard when I walked in was man man (creole)...sounds like ma ma. It was a little boy just under 2 pointing to me and calling me his mom. He simply wanted to be held and loved. The hardest part in doing that is knowing that many of these kids are not only orphans but terminally ill. Praise God for those who have been nursed back to health.

I observed lots of things that no human should ever have to see. All of your prayers were amazing because after crying twice, it was easier to embrace the moment and serve others in HIS name.

We made it back to our quarters safe and sound but there also appeared to be an elephant in the room. It was evident that many of us needed time to process the happenings of the day. Today was indeed emotionally draining but also a reminder that true healing can take place in any capacity if we rely on God; appreciate the family and genuine friends you've been given and show it by spending quality time together; and lastly that no matter what we are suffering from..God can and will provide hope and relief if we simply trust and rely on HIM. Until tomororw....Mwen Renmen Ou ( I love you)

Saturday, July 16, 2011


My word for the day was observation.

For the past week I have been observing the culture of Haiti and am intriqued by their resourcefulness in what seems to be such a bleak situation. At our first water stop in Cite Soleil I observed a little baby pulling along a little vehicle made from a broken plastic water bottle with wheels made from bottle tops and the handle...discarded plastic. When I complimented the mom on her skill, she beamed with pride and joy. I observed the compassion and kindness in many of the small children who eagerly would share a small piece of bread with another small child when asked. I observed adults who were afraid for us to move their bucket in the line for the fear that they would not get the water they desparately waited for. I observed those at the end of the line that may go home with out the most basic of resources to sustain life.....

Along the roadside, I observed the craftsmanship of old where headboards are shaped and carved by hand labor, sweat and pride. I observed a community where people don't understand the concept of television and internet, but who know what a true community is - helping each other survive. I observed mothers washing their clothes by hand, giving their children dignity by giving them clean clothes to wear. I observed older boys wearing girls clothing without any sense of western convention. All that mattered is they were clean and modest and the clothes were their own.....

I observed the sick and dying babies as we fed them their evening meals. I observed their innocence of their own predictament. I observed their trust that someone would be there to nourish them and to soothe and comfort them. I observed the caring and compassion of the staff and their endless energy and selfless love. I observed the gift that God has brought to the children in these women.....

I observed a woman teaching a group of girls her skill of sewing and embroidery. A skill that will help them survive by bringing in an income to purchase the basic necessities of food and water.....

I observed a Healing Haiti mission team that are all observant. Always observing what needs to be done and stepping up to help without being asked. To pick up the dirty child with no hesitation to give them a hug, to rub the back of a baby crying for their "mama", to share their food with the water truck workers, or giving their own water source, knowing it means more to someone else. To make a fool of oneself just to bring a smile to someone else....

On the flip side, I observed how the people of Haiti have been observing us through holes in the side of their tents, through the piles of refuse, from the top of an over croweded tap-tap, from their crib at the hospital or the small children that follow us down the road saying "Hey You!" And I wonder what is going through their minds...
And I wonder what I will observe upon my return home....

Laurie Demuth
Healing Haiti Team Member