Sunday, January 29, 2012

Comfort Zone

This week has been a week of stepping outside of what I call my norm. Too many times I have taken hold of my norm, held on to it with all my might and have been determined that no one was going to mess with it. I love comfort. I am a person that likes to have control of the environment in which I exist. I love black and white. I love schedules. They are safe and predicable. I planned when I was going to go to college, get married and even have children. I like planning. I like having things turn out the way 'I' planned them to go. Well, followers of the Healing Haiti Alleulia! blog site, things HAVE NOT turned out the way I planned.

This week I  thought I was going to spend a lot of time being extremely sad. I thought I was going to crumble when I went to visit the home of the sick and dying children. I thought I was going to sob when we went to go and deliver water to the poorest of the poor. (That was my plan) God had another plan for me this week. Don't get me wrong, I have cried, felt confused, and at times been angry. I have also found a lot of happiness here.  I have been with some of the most amazing people this week. There is so much good going on here in Haiti among so much pain and suffering. Wow! For example, the nuns are caring for the sick and dying children, handing out medication and treating the worst of the worst wounds. Wounds you couldn't imagine seeing. So much love is present. Through Healing Haiti, we visited the elderly that are still living in their own homes. We delivered food, water, touch, conversation and prayer. They truly appreciated it. I learned so much from them. We visited two orphanages. One was Healing Haiti's, Grace Village. What a place! What beautiful children who love God to the fullest. Talk about singing! (Careful Alleluia! I am going to be singing on Sunday morning) I challenge you to do the same.

This week, God humbled me when we visited the mass grave site where thousands of people have been laid to rest after the massive earthquake of January 2010. We formed a very large circle around the memorial. We invited some local people that were there to pray with us. They jumped at that opportunity. It was extremely moving. God was there! He was talking to us. I truly believe that. I was told that the people of Haiti try to build their homes up high onto the mountain to be closer to God. That made me question, what do I do to be closer to God daily?

I have held and loved so many children this week, too many to count. I have witnessed so many beautiful smiles. I have given and received thousands of hugs and even shared tears. I can't tell you how many times I have heard 'God bless you for helping my people and my country'. Among the despair, hurt, hunger and pain, the people of Haiti love God. They sing, 'God is so good, he is so good to me'. I wish you could hear these people sing and praise the Lord!! If the people of Haiti believe with all their heart that God is so good to them, why do we find ourselves questioning that now and then? We are more than blessed!! I am more than blessed!

When I return to Minnesota, I will be changed. That is fact! I will see the shallow side of our culture once again. I will find myself reflecting back to Haiti and wondering why there is a place like Haiti. I return home and will continue to try to do my best to make a difference in my community, my church, my family, with my friends and continue to help this country (Haiti) that so many love and hold dear to their hearts. There I go, planning....well, maybe somethings may never change, but one thing is for sure, deep down in my core I have changed! How can one not?

God bless and remember always......GOD IS SO GOOD, HE IS SO GOOD TO ME AND YOU!!!!!!

Healing Haiti Team Member

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Stripped Away

We have come to Haiti as
  • mothers
  • fathers
  • bosses/ employees
  • sisters
  • brothers
  • coaches
  • volunteers
  • home owners
  • licenced drivers
We can all describe ourselves by the roles we play, the jobs we do, the places we live and the home we own.  Our t-shirts speak to the things we value or activities in which we participate. 

In Haiti, these are stripped away...

Here we can identify what it is that really makes us "tick."  When you take away all those titles, I am left with the knowledge that I am a person
  • who is willing to serve outside of my comfort zone 
  • who can give love regardless of color, health or location
  • who is comfortable being dirty and sweaty in exchange for the smile of a child
  • who will move beyond my own feelings of nausea or dizziness so I won't miss out on a moment at the orphanage
  • who desires nothing more than to serve God fully and completely
In two days, I will fly home and return to my roles and titles.  But, at my core, I know who I am.  I know what I will do.  And, I know Whom I serve.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Today was a Fairytale...

Today was a Fairytale. One of the most
beautifully written fairy tales. No it did
not involve any sort of romantic love
between a woman and a man. Nor did
it involve a missing slipper, a sleeping
beauty, or a knight in shinning armor.
My fairytale was written between me
and my God, interceded between the
Hands and Feet of Jesus and the breath
of the Holy Spirit. I could not ask for a
more perfect and marvelous God. Today,
I fell even more in love with my savior,
Jesus Christ, and God, my Father.

The morning had started with a little
hesitation and anxiety about the plans
for the day. I had to get to Grace Village,
but had no way to get there. Jean told me
the night before that we would wait to
see what tomorrow brings to see if he
could get me there. Well, this morning
there seemed to be a pretty slim chance
I would be able to get up to Grace Village...
my mission here in Haiti was not complete.
There was a few more kids I needed to
assess and I needed to deliver the letters
to the orphans from the 5th graders in
Nebraska. I felt as though I had failed my friend
(who is the teacher)... failed the class of
5th graders who wrote such beautiful
letters from the bottom of their hearts.
What was I going to tell my friend?
How was I going to tell her that we weren't
able to have them write letters back? ..
I guess that's just Haiti. After breakfast,
I went into my room. Sat alone on my bed,
put my ear phones on, and bursted in tears
as I listened to Rescue by Desperation Band.
I felt so weak... so out of control.... so hurt.
I knew how much this project meant to my
friend, to the kids in Nebraska, and to myself.
Connecting the link between the young kids
in Haiti and in Nebraska was so important to me...

Suddenly, one of my roommates (Jennifer)
came in the room, tapped me on the sleeve
and said, "Hurry up get ready! Dr. Sem can
drive you to Grace Village! Do you need help
with anything?" In complete and under shock,
I scrambled to put my bag together.
Thank you God... answering my call once
again. The hands and feet of Jesus came alive
today amongst my team mates, Missy and Jennifer,
and Dr. Sem for giving me a ride to Grace Village...
I could not be more appreciative.. more thankful.

It was the most perfect day at Grace Village,
and I did not want to be anywhere else but
where God had placed me. I was exactly were
I wanted to be... where God wanted me to be.
He heard my cry, and He answered. I could not
imagine leaving this place without saying goodbye
to these children that I have fallen in love with
and could not have imagined not having said
goodbye to Fanfan, one of my best friends.

When I got to Grace Village, I was greeted
by the kids with their big smiles and warm,
gentle hugs. We spent the morning playing.
The boys had gotten a few new toys like
batman and superman, and they were
playing with them.. telling me who they were..
and flying them around the courtyard.
I moved to the girls' dorm and was greeted
by my little 3 year old peanut, Shersunny,
"Kristina!" she said in her sing-song voice
followed by a sweet giggle. It's hard not
to fall in love with her and her uplifting spirit.
I picked her up off her feet and snuggled
her in. The girls and I played with the
jump rope and hula-hoop for a while
before it was time to gather as a group to
do my project.

Fanfan gathered all the kids in the feeding
center around noon, and I told the kids
about the 5th graders in Omaha that had
written letters to them explaining what
snow is. I showed the kids the pictures
of the snow men, snow flakes, and sleds
that the 5th graders drew. I explained to
them what this thing called snow was like.
Then I shared with the kids a few
of the letters.. we couldn't read every one
because Fanfan had to translate.
But I passed around the photos of the
kids in Omaha, and the kids all gathered
around trying to get a look at what these
5th graders looked like. In some of the
pictures, they noticed the playground in
the background of the picture.. and
realized that it looked much like their
new one at Grace Village. They were
all so eager to get their hands on
these pictures... to see their new
pen pals. After the excitement of
the photos, I passed out the letters
so that each kid would get a chance
to see the letters.. and read them if
they were able to. While all the kids
were viewing the letters before them,
I prepared a little sample of fake snow
and gave each kid a pinch of snow so
that they could understand better
what it is. They were so interested
in this white, fluffy powder. They
pinched their fingers together to
pick it up out of the palm of their hand.
Some smelt it to see if it had an odor.
And others cupped in in so that none
would fall out.. they didn't want to lose
this precious new treasure. Once the
kids were finished observing, I asked
them if they would like to write a letter
to their new friends in Omaha. They all
were so excited and eager to participate..
to share the news of Haiti with their friends.
I was just as excited to see what these
kids were going to share with the
5th graders. During the creation of the
letters, I was blown away by some
of the artists in the room. One of the
six year old girls was drawing flowers
for other kids since she was so good at it.
I was shocked by her talent at such a young age.

Another young boy who appears
to be mentally slower than the rest
of the kids took me by surprise.
A true artist; he drew the most beautiful
and detailed heart with vines all around it;
I couldn't believe my own eyes.
The detail and quality of his picture was
breath taking. He showed me the gifts
and talents God had given to him.

Other kids wrote things like "I love you.
I love Jesus. I love Healing Haiti"
and "God Bless you." Another boy, who is 16,
was writing a letter and kept asking me
for a new piece of paper. Unfortunately
I didn't have another piece of paper,
so I asked him what was wrong with the one
he had. He said, "I screwed up.. here,
here, and here."
He pointed to mistakes on the paper.
"You see. I can't have mistakes with
the name of Jesus." He was so
determined to write a perfect letter
about Jesus. I explained to the boy,
"It doesn't matter if it isn't perfect.
Jesus loves you and your writing
even if it isn't perfect. Jesus just
loves that you are spreading His
word and sharing the good news.
"The boy continued to write.. and
his letter was absolutely beautiful.

I felt so accomplished after the crayons
were picked up and the letters were
in a pile on the table.
"Thank you, Lord, for blessing me"..
was all I could think about. I looked
through a few of them and was so touched.
All the kids expressing their love for Jesus,
love for Jeff and Alyn, love for Grace Village,
and for Healing Haiti. (I can just picture their
little Haitian voices saying Healing Haiti...
brings a smile to my face). It felt so great
to know that my mission here was nearly
complete for this trip. Almost all the
kids assessed for nutrition; the
Feeding Center at Grace Village now
having a pantry stocked with peanut
butter and whole wheat flour; seeing
my buddy in Cite Soleil and starting
to make plans for supporting his education;
and completing the letters for the 5th graders
in Omaha. None of this.. absolutely none of
this could not have been completed
without the grace of my God.

I spent the rest of the day with the
kids and the two beautiful ladies that
will be spending a month with them
at Grace Village. My heart ached as
I hugged the children and rubbed
their backs. I didn't want to leave them..
I had drawn so close to them this trip.
I was slightly jealous of the two that
get to stay with them because I so
badly wanted to do the same, but
I knew God has other plans for me
and I need to trust what He has
written for me. I knew that
the kids will be in good hands..
the two ladies staying up at Grace Village
are so full of faith and love, and God
has brought them to Grace Village
for a much bigger purpose. He has
written this month on their hearts
and has prepared the way for them.
I was comforted watching the ladies
and Fanfan interact with the kids...
I smiled when I heard children singing
"Glory to God" in the shower...
in the bathroom.. in their bedrooms..
as they were playing... when they
were cleaning. Songs of worship
were being sung throughout the
whole village. I could not imagine
a more perfect place for these kids;
they have been so blessed. God
has been preparing Fanfan, their
spiritual director, for this job his
whole life, and it was absolutely beautiful
seeing what Fanfan has shared with these kids.

I will miss the warm smiles and
gentle hugs of these children.
I will miss their angelic voices
and their child-like faith. I will
miss their sweet giggles and lively
spirit. I will be longing to be reunited with them..

When I arrived back home to the guest
house this evening, I opened my facebook
to the most perfectly written letter.
It was the icing on the cake to my
fairytale day. A facebook friend that
I have never met in person, but
shares a deep love for Haiti and Christ,
sent me a letter with this devotion in it:

"I AM ABLE to do for beyond all that
you ask or imagine. Come to me with
positive expectations, knowing that
there is no limit to what I can accomplish.
Ask My Spirit to control your mind,
so that you can think great thoughts
of Me. Do not be discouraged by
the fact that many of your prayers
are yet unanswered. Time is a trainer,
teaching you to wait upon Me, to trust
Me in the dark. The more extreme your
circumstances, the more likely you are
to see My Power and Glory at work in the
situation. Instead of letting difficulties
draw you into worrying, try to view
them as setting the scene for My glorious
intervention. Keep your eyes and your
mind wide open to all that I am doing i
n your life. I love you." -Jesus

God spoke to me today.
He reviled Himself to me today,
and I am here to testify His great
love for me, for you, for Haiti, and
for this world. You weak and wounded sinner;
you imperfect servant of the Lord..
God is not finished with you yet.
He is still writing... He is still completing His fairytale.

Kristina Ann
Healing Haiti Team Member

Monday, January 2, 2012

Our God Really is an Awesome God.

I can't believe I am back in Haiti. Six months ago,
I didn't even think I was going to be able to come
down for at least a year. Stepping off the plane
into the Haitian airport, I felt like I was stepping
back home. It feels so amazing to be back again..
it's hard to think that I am only here 9 days!

Jeff (my uncle and the co-founder of Healing Haiti),
Jeffrey (my cousin), Jessica, Kerry-Ann, and Jean
(our Haitian Mission Director) picked us up at
the Haitian airports full of hugs and smiles.
It was so great to see familiar faces and to
meet up with the group that has been down
here for the past 2 weeks.

It's a full house at the mission home in Haiti,
but it's great to be here with so many people
that love Haiti and that are just getting their
first dose of what will be the most profound
week of their life.

On my way down to Haiti, I spent some
time reading a book about Mother Teresa,
and her life reflected through the Beatitudes.
Mother Teresa spent much of her life facing
human suffering, poverty, and death.
She cared for sick, dying, disheveled, and
outcasts of our world. She was a woman
that gave up her life of comfort to come face
to face with suffering. While many people fear
suffering and try to avoid it at all costs
(often times using drugs, alcohol, or other
worldly pleasures to numb their emotions/ feelings),
Mother Teresa dove right into the deep-end,
into places most people would not dare to go.
Her work eventually received recognition and
praise from others who had heard of what
she had done and what she was doing for the
poorest of the poor and those on the margins
of society, but Mother Teresa continually gave
her glory to the one that was working through her,
Jesus Christ. There is so much to be learned
from this great woman; there is so much I aspire
in her.

The idea of suffering brought up throughout
the book really strung a chord in my life and
what is being done in Haiti. Over the past few
experiences I have been down here, I have
realized that God uses Haiti for so much more
than we (the missionaries) realize. Many
people that come to Haiti to do mission work,
realize this contradictory about Haiti; it is literally
a beautiful mess. How can a place full of so much
poverty be such a beautiful place? While many
question this about Haiti, they also began to
realize their own brokenness.. their own mess...
Many times people are faced with turmoil,
uncomfortableness and doubts in their own
lives. They face a period of trial, which often
leads to frustrations, sorrow, and drastic life
changes. People on the mission teams began
to open up about their suffering, and allowing
other team mates to partake in their suffering
experience... helping them to understand or
discern what exactly is happening in their life.
It is through this human connection and
relationship that the Body of Christ is exemplified. ...
and so often we realize how God turns our
broken selves into a beautiful mess, as well.
God calls us all to look into our own lives to
see how we are broken, and how we are
poor of spirit. God calls us to find beauty
in our suffering... just like that of the suffering
and persecution of Jesus Christ. When we
allow others to partake in our suffering,
we allow the work of Jesus Christ to be
reviled and God's love to heal us and make
us more beautiful than we have ever been before...