Saturday, April 20, 2013

Confessions of a Healing Haiti Newbie

Hello, Gary again.

Tonight I am afraid it is time for me to fess up.
I will have to admit that I had serious misgivings
 about making this trip. I will explain.

I was first contacted about this trip by my cousin Claudia.
I accepted because Claudia is one those people that simply
loves everyone in the world and wants nothing more than to
help everyone that needs it. It is a modest goal, but she
is sincerely trying to accomplish it. I felt if she was involved in
this it had to be great work.

A few weeks before our departure we had a team meeting.
Being approximately a thousand miles away I decided to
call in instead of driving to Tom and Shelly's house in the
Twin Cities. During the call they went over the agenda for
 the week. It consisted of one day working a water truck
bringing water into Cite Soliel, one of the most dangerous
places on the planet I am told. This appealed to me and in
fact was a great experience. The rest consisted of visits to
hospitals, orphanages and schools. They didn't really say
what they were going to do there, or I couldn't hear it over the
laughter, they were so excited about going they couldn't control
themselves, so I wondered what they wanted to accomplish.
When they were done I asked what I felt was a very important
strategic question ( that way they would know I was some
kind of great planner, anyone who knows me would get a real
charge out of that). I asked; "Are we going to look for opportunities
for projects to help rebuild Haiti, my thought was we needed to get
some value out of the visits. I was told that was really not their
intent but if they did see something they would pass it on to others
that handled that kind of thing. I was immediately deflated. I had
thought we would go there, work hard, and make real changes
in Haiti. Instead it sounded like we were going to do what many
would call touchy feely, feel good things that meant more to those
doing them than to those receiving them. I even shared this with a
co-worker who has been on a couple of mission trips to Haiti where
they did things like build playgrounds. I told him how disappointed
I was and that I regretted agreeing to go. He just looked at me
and said; "Why don't you wait to see how you feel after you have
made the trip. These turned out to be words of wisdom.

If you have read my blogs from the last two days you will already
see clearly how wrong I was, shamefully so. I will not go over
everything from those days but I will try to explain the depth of
my error. First off, it is exhausting work. The schedule is as full as
can be tolerated. I have two full days left, and though I don't want
them to end, I am already so tired I know it will be a hard push to
finish. The exhaustion comes from, the work itself, the heat and
humidity of Haiti and as I learned the constant rush of emotions
constantly flowing over you. But none of this is really to the point
of my shame. The point of my shame is my belief that touchy
feely things are mostly fluff intended to make the doers feel better
about themselves. One of my beliefs that was the basis for the former
is that the people we were going to see would not get anything
substantial from us, and if they did it would be so fleeting it could
even do more harm than good because as soon as we left they
would be right back to the misery they lived in. I felt it could make
them even more miserable than they were before. Now lets take a look at reality.

Here is what really happened. Each place we went I found the
people overwhelmed with gratitude and full of love for us.
It was clear the result was not at all fleeting. The difference
made would stay with them and give them hope and more than
a little light in their lives. When we walked into a hospital room
with lotion to rub on bed ridden patients they all eagerly placed
themselves in a position that made it clear the anticipation of
what we were going to do was high. If they weren't so sick, I
would have said they were excited. I began with the intention of simply
rubbing in the lotion as quickly as I could and moving on to the next.
I was not at all enthused about rubbing on a strange man and many
were in diapers. But as I worked God worked a small miracle in me.
It quickly became obvious that the lotion was bringing great relief but
more importantly their longing for loving human touch was bringing
relief to their lonely soul. The next thing I knew, I was in full massage
mode working as hard as I could to bring as much relief as possible to
both their bodies and their souls. I even made a point to bring relief to
any rashes they might have. But that wasn't the miracle.
The miracle is what it did for my soul. I found myself full of love
for these men and boys to the point where I didn't want to leave until
I was sure we had done all we could. Thank you Lord. This was just
the beginning. When we visited the schools and orphanages I found
the children would rush to greet us and jump into our arms. (I want
to make it clear this is not from any willful neglect on the caregivers.
The staffs at these places are truly dedicated loving people.
Many giving all they have from their hearts and souls as well
as financially to bring a better life to these children. It is simply
an overwhelming task.) It was obvious the children looked forward
to our coming with great anticipation. They were absolutely full of joy,
even squealing with delight. The amazing part is they are the ones
that brought the joy to us and filled us with their joy. I made the
comment to members of our team that only someone made of
stone would not be profoundly moved. The idea that the effect
would be somehow fleeting, or even more absurdly as I now know,
make them feel worse when we left, was completely smashed,
and as before God worked his small miracle in me and enlarged
my soul. I could go on like this for another twenty pages and still
not get even remotely close to the depth of the feeling running
through me, so all I will say now is the value of this work is so great
it defies measurement. Why, because God is infinite, his love is
infinite and so must be the result of any work he puts us to.

May God forgive my doubt.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Adult Literacy Comes to Grace Village

Last night was the first adult literacy class!  Sponsors paid a onetime fee of $12 to provide 24 students with the instruction booklet you see below as well as a second booklet when they are ready.  We also have 1.5 months of the teacher's salary covered.  If you feel led to cover more of the teacher's salary, please click here to donate.  What a gift it is to be able to provide this basic dignity to these beautiful elders!
Pictured here from left to right are Antchola, Antoinette, Felicie, Pierre and Dieufort.
(Dieufort is still in need of a $40 monthly sponsor....he is such a wonderful man!)

Monday, March 4, 2013


In preparation for our trip, many friends and family members asked us why we were going to Haiti. In all honesty, we did not fully understand the answers to that question ourselves; at least I did not…until now.
While we were in Haiti we…
• Delivered 10,000 gallons of water, bucket by bucket, to the people that live in one of the poorest places on the planet: City Soliel, Haiti.
• Held, fed, played, and loved hundreds of kids in orphanages, hospitals, and city streets.
• Sang for, prayed with, and brought food and water to homebound seniors.
• Changed diapers for and spoon-fed dozens of sick or starving babies.
• Cleaned, sanitized and bandaged serious injuries for patients at a wound clinic.
• Spent an afternoon at a hospital for sick and dying adults. We massaged their dry bodies with lotion, painted fingernails and prayed for healing. Praise God, two of these men came to faith in Christ. We will be praying for you Jackson Lois and Frenal Jean-Roger.
After some amazing conversations, questions, and prayer, one of our team members rededicated her life to Christ and two of our team members decided to be baptized; it was amazing. We found a beach and baptized our friends in the beautiful turquoise waters of the Caribbean Sea. Then just when you thought things could not get any better, one of our Haitian interpreters, Pouchan, decided to be baptized, too. Seriously…only God does that!
team photoBetween serving opportunities we studied, prayed, cried, laughed, shared our stories, made videos, took photos, shared communion, drew pictures, laughed some more and openly praised God together.
So why did we come to Haiti? Our purpose was to love God and love His people. We came to serve, to be stretched beyond our comfort zone and in return, God was working in us. While we were focusing on the ‘going and doing,’ God was transforming us from the inside out. We will leave this place with much more that we came to give.
Thank you, Jesus.
Ray Z
jesus is the way

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Au Revoir Jenika Mon Amour (Goodbye Jenika My Love)

My name is Shawn Smith,
I have written the first sentence to this blog several times and then deleted it. I promise you that if you read this you will not regret it. Today was a day of days. I pray that God uses it and equips me in his calling and fills your heart moving it to action like he has mine. I will also apologize in advance for the grammar because my awesome wife is asleep and cannot proof read and correct it. I will explain the title at the end but first I will tell you about the 1st half of the day.
Experiencing God in Haiti feels like when you jump into a pool in the deep end. God is all around you and in everything you do, every person you meet and every moment including your dreams. The first half of today we went to Grace Village which is a magnificent place on the side of a Mountain that is funded and ran by Healing Haiti(amazing organization!!) We did a skit about respect with over 50 kids and spend time playing with them and doing a crafts project, playing soccer and basketball and playing. This place really reminds me of Camelot. This place is the light that shines into the darkness and is doing amazing things!
On our way back to the guest house we stopped at the mass gravesite that 3-400 thousand people were buried at after the earthquake and one of our leaders and translators lost his father and most of his school in the quake. He happened to go outside to get water when the quake happened and he fell over. When he could get up he started to run towards his school and the 3 levels collapsed killing almost everyone in his school right in front of his eyes. At the same time his father was working in a bank and the bank collapsed killing his father. There was just a deep sorrow in his voice from all of this loss. He is normally a very jovial person but I could tell all day he was struggling and was in his head and then it was clear when we went to the site that this was why his day was tough because he had to go to this site weekly to show our teams the site. But I could tell he wanted to because his pain and loss were powerful tools of change in the hearts of our team.
When we got back it was about 215 pm and we had the choice of going to either the Home for the Sick and Dying Babies or staying back to rest since we were all very mentally,emotionally, and physically depleted. Four of us and two translators decided to get dropped off at the Home for Sick and Dying Babies which was now our 3rd time here and definitely one if not the most life changing things of this entire trip. I will come back to this at the end. When our time was up we walked back to the guest house which was awesome! Just about a 20 minute walk but it was so great to just walk through the streets of Haiti and see so many nice people and say hello and have a nice day in French or Creole. We can still see Earthquake damage and there art still tent cities all around and I mean ALL AROUND. Crazy thing is everyone else is telling us how the tent cities have shrunk but there is still so many!
The night wrapped up with a great dinner and team time. We have such a passionate team and I am so thankful to God for all of them. Our host and the Haitian workers have been amazing and they are truly gifted with great hearts.
Now to explain the title of this blog. I will apologize in advance that I will not be able to fully explain somethings here because it would just take me a book to help you make it make sense. Stephanie and I have opted to go to the Home for Sick and Dying Babies 3 times on this trip. Every time we go God breaks our hearts more. There were 3 baby girls that I particularly connected with but one in particular I am sure has changed my life forever….
The first day we came here I tried to hold as many babies as I could to spread the love around to as many of them as possible. There is just rows and rows and 4 large rooms of babies that are mostly very ill. There was one girl who was just curled up the first day in the fetal position and did not want to be held. You could tell she was running a bad fever and was miserable. I tried to connect with her but she would not respond.
On Friday we went there again and I tried to hold again as many babies as I could that were ones that seemed to not be getting held. After holding several and connecting with a few from the last time we were there that I just feel in love with I came to the girl, who was still running a fever or very ill. I again tried to connect with here but she just seemed so sad and miserable. I tried to see if she would raise her hands to be picked up and she barely could lift her arm. She was 5 and fit easily in a babies crib. She was obviously very sick, uncomfortable and sad. I brought her out into the court yard where Jeff was playing guitar and just sat with her in my lap. Her head lay in my chest. I could tell she was finding some kind of peace in my arms and was going in and our of being asleep while we listed to the music.
As she sat with me I began to study her and I noticed that his girl had be abused heavily physically for sure but you could tell psychologically, emotionally and verbally she had been abused just by her demeanor. I held her the rest of the time and just went in and out of weeping. I noticed someone had carved into her temple a X that was now a scar. And that she had many scars all over. This girl was so beautiful and I felt a pain in my heart that I had never felt before. I held her as long as I could and when I left I told her good by and I loved her in French but she did not respond. She just went back into the fetal position in her crib. I wept all the way back to the guest house, tears flowing from beneath my sunglasses. When I got back to the guest house I went to wash my face and I wept int he bathroom for awhile. I could not hold myself together. I went into my room and wept further crying out to God because my soul screamed out in pain for this girl. I was beginning to find something in my heart I didn’t know specifically was there. A calling to help children of abuse and the broken people of this world. God was stirring something in me that was making me go crazy on the inside like never before.
Now to explain the title of this blog. When we went there today I was on a mission. I wanted to find as much out about this girl as possible, I knew she was changing my life. I went in and found her out immediately. I found our her name which is Jenika. I found out she still had a fever. They were just cleaning her. Once she was clean I asked for her and she immediately recognized me. I saw a look that I had not seen from her and that was one of a little bit of peace in her spirit. I picked her up and said Bonjour Jenika Mon Amour, (hello Jenika my love) she hugged me and again cuddled up to my chest. We went back out to the court yard and sat down. She was again finding peace in my arms. Her scars again reminding me the terrible pain that must of been inflicted upon such a beautiful child….
Unfortunately she was so sick that the nurses came over and took her from me to an middle room between rooms that you could see out into the courtyard from where they began to get her ready to be put in an IV for her fever. I think she was severally dehydrated and could not hold down food. She screamed in fear like nothing I had every heard. I held her hand but it did not help. She was trembling in fear. They took a long time until they actually tried to stick her and the 1st attempt in the hand missed the vein. My heart and soul were being broken down into rubble. What ever was left was being shattered on the inside of me. I tried to hold some of the other babies and helped comfort many of them but all the meanwhile I had to listen to the screams of my dear sweet and beautiful Jenika. I was falling in love with this child as if she were my own. If I was able to I would take her home to america now without a second thought. I could tell now my wife Stephanie could see why my heart was broken and I could see hers breaking as well. We just kept coming back to her to comfort her, holding her hands and rubbing her feet and back.
Finally the nurse got the iv into her arm and then left again with her just taped up. But we had to go. I was shaking and my eyers were filled with tears just welling up inside of them. God was moving me in a more powerful way then I have ever experienced. We had to go…
I knelt down beside her and looked her in the eyes. I gave her a big hug then whispered into her ear “Au Revoir Jenika Mon Amour” Goodbye Jenika My Love, I looked into her eyes both of us crying and she said
“Au Revoir Mon Amour” Good bye my love…….

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

What Would You Say?

I was busy typing on my computer and a 5 year-old little boy, 
walked over to me and picked up my i-phone and said, 
"Mwen vle ecri Jezi" (I want to write Jesus).  I opened an 
app that was a blank notepad and he began typing as fast
 as he could.  He sat next to me for about 15 minutes, 
which is a long time for this little guy.  Here's what he wrote...
Dxnxkxkxkoxoxoxxxxjxo kxlxoxopsxolsdksllxxlxoksnxmxzkkxnck
ckxkckxlzlxkxkxkxmxkxmlckxlsaMznsmdkd snxnkdjdaksxjd
kxkkssksksjjankakskwkwkwndc bxjanxn. B no xbnnxkxnx
bxbxxbzjnanxkskzkzn n n bNznnxanjssnkZxjbxb jxjizzjuszjj
E smdkxmxkfkfkfffkfdkddeddsmckkfkxkfkkkkcvmfkkk

I wonder what he was writing to Jesus.  I wonder if he thanked 
Jesus for all of the ways Jesus has blessed him and provided
 for him. I wonder if he told Jesus how thankful he is that He died 
on the cross for him.  John 3:16 says, "For God so loved the world 
that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him 
may have eternal life".  I wonder if he asked for forgiveness 
for his sins.  

If I could write to Jesus what would I write?  What would He
 write back?  I imagine encouraging words.  I imagine Him 
telling me how much He loves me and how He is with me
 through life's joys and sorrows.  

I think about life as a journey.  Each day holds many possibilities.  
Sometimes, challenges that come my way are very difficult to
 get through, but I have a God that is with me through them.  
Sometimes, things seem impossible and that is when I need 
to trust 
God in a deep way because He is my strength.  
Philippians 4:13 says, 
"I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength." 
 I am so thankful that I know Jesus.  

Yesterday, a teenage girl asked me 
"Ki le Jezi habité nan ke ou?" (When did Jesus start living
 in your heart?).  
I told her my story about accepting Jesus as a teenager and she
 smiled and told me Jesus lives in her heart too.  
It amazes me how so many people in Haiti have so little, 
yet their hearts are rich because they know Jesus.  
They thank God for blessing them with food, for their health
 and for their family.  They truly trust God to provide 
everything for them.  They live their life in a way that encourages
 me to live mine for the Lord.  

If you wrote a letter to Jesus, what would you say?  
What would Jesus write back?

-Kathy Aslakson, Healing Haiti Long Term Missionary