Friday, December 21, 2012

Home for Christmas

My heart is so excited to return home for Christmas.  My flight arrives in Minnesota tomorrow evening.  I can't wait to hug the ones I love.  I am so blessed to be able to spend 10 days with my family.  I already planned each day with fun things to do with all of them.  We will make cookies, lefsa, and other delicious Christmas treats.  We will play games, maybe even make a snowman in the snow, do crafts together, possibly find some after Christmas deals, and enjoy one another's company.

My heart is also torn.  I have heard it is very difficult emotionally and mentally when returning to the United States after living in a third world country.  I have been living in Haiti for 6 months.  I have had many new, exciting, and challenging experiences.  I have seen extreme poverty and wonder how I will react to seeing the glitz and glamour of things in department stores.  I wonder how I will feel when I am surrounded by so many materialistic things.  Please pray that I will have a compassionate heart in America.

I have learned so much in Haiti.  The people I have met do not have much by American standards.  But, their hearts are the richest I have seen.  My Haitian friends have taught me how to love, how to build relationships, and how to share with those who have very little.  I have seen them do all of these things.  They do these things when they themselves have little.  They do it because their hearts are full of joy.  Their hearts are so thankful for the blessings the Lord has given them.  They do it because God says to love your neighbor as yourself.  They live a life that shows Christ's love.  I want to live like this.

I will miss the children dearly while I am away.  10 days may feel like an eternity away from them.  They are so precious to me and I know that I will think about them daily.  As I hugged them all good-bye this afternoon, many of them wanted to come with me.  Many of them told me they will miss me, that they will pray for me every day, and that they will wait for me to return.  I am so blessed to have so many children uplifting me in prayer.  I will be praying for them too.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Kwashiorkor

Kwashiorkor is a form of severe malnutrition that affects children living in poverty in tropical parts of the world.  It is caused by a lack of protein in the diet.  It stunts growth and causes children to have bloated bellies and thin arms and legs.

This afternoon, I met a precious 10 month old baby boy who suffers from Kwashiorkor.  His aunt brought him to our gate in hopes that we can take care of him at our orphanage.  His mother died a few months ago from a high fever and his father was shot and killed in a riot a few days ago in Port-au-Prince.

We met with the woman and tried to give the baby some formula.  It was difficult for him to suck.  He was so weak.  He wobbled when he tried to sit up.  He could not stand up in his aunts lap.  His hands and feet were swollen and filled with fluid.  He showed signs of severe malnutrition.  The clinic was closed and we didn't know how we could help this family.

Our pastor was with us and helped translate the conversation.  He asked the woman if she knew Jesus as her personal Savior.  She was desperate to know Him.  She looked as though she was about to cry and asked the pastor to help her pray to accept Jesus.  What a blessing.

We gathered some information about the baby's family and invited the woman to return tomorrow so that we can transport them to the hospital to get the medical attention the baby needs.  We sent her home with diapers, a bottle, pedialyte, dinner, and crackers.  She agreed to return tomorrow and thanked us for helping her.

It was a tough day.  I wish I knew more about helping malnourished children.  I wish I knew how to give infants IV's.  I wish I could take away this baby's pain.  His poor body was so weak.  I wish I could help them more.  But how can I help them?  I am an ordinary person.  But, I know an extraordinary God.  He brought them to our gate for a reason.  I was available to help them the best I knew how.  God has a plan and it is unfolding.  I know that God is faithful and He will provide in all circumstances.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Twas the Night Before Christmas...



Merry Christmas!  Jess and I had fun listening to Christmas music last night and got in the holiday spirit while decorating our door with lights.  We wondered about decorating the palm trees or plants with lights, but didn't have an extension chord.  It was strange preparing for Christmas wearing shorts and flip-flops, sipping lemonade, and hearing the crickets chirp under the star-lit sky.  Two teenage boys came to our door and thought the lights were beautiful!  They even started singing Christmas songs while strumming their Bible as if it was a guitar.  What fun!  It is so beautiful knowing that the children at Grace Village are so excited to celebrate the birth of our King, Jesus!  I am so thankful that their hearts rejoice in our Savior's Birth!

Twas the Night Before Christmas

Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the land,
Silence was heard by roosters and the church band.
The stars were twinkling in the open sky,
In hopes that a tap-tap soon would zip by.

The children were nestled all snug in their bunk beds,
While visions of mangos and papitas danced in their heads.
And Jess in her sweatpants, and I in my jams,
Were trying to fall asleep by counting lambs.

When off in the distance I heard a few beeps,
It must be a truck full of Healing Haiti peeps!
Away to the porch I ran with all my might,
Unlocked the door and turned on the light.

With a kind little man, so knowledgeable and wise,
I knew in a moment it must be a guesthouse surprise!
More rapid than Maxim’s driving visitors came,
And Jean whistled, and shouted, and called them by name!

“Now Junior! Now Maxim! Now Wilson! Now Nikinson!
On Brunet! On, Febrese! On, Jonas! On, Bruchon!
To the top of the hill!  To the top by the gate!
Now up the road!  Don’t be late!

They stopped at the guard shack to get the OK,
Flashed their badge and proceeded on their way.
Then they drove up the hill for a short stay.

They brought some donations and needed supplies,
I knew in a moment that God did provide.
They brought with them games for the children to play,
It was soon time to go but we wanted them to stay.

They climbed into the tap-tap and closed up the rear,
And waved good-bye as we shouted with great cheer!
We waved ‘til they drove down the hill out of sight,
Excited for them to come back another night!

I had fun changing the words to this popular poem.  If you've been to Haiti on a Healing Haiti team, you will be able to recognize the names of the people who drive the tap-tap or translate on our outings.  Maybe you even chuckled at some of the truth hidden in this poem.  Merry Christmas!




Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Baking in Haiti

I love to bake.  Today I was in the mood to make some Christmas treats, but didn't have all the ingredients I needed.  I was talking to my friend Lucette and she said, "Mwen apren fe bon bon".  Which means, "I want to learn how to make treats."  In Haiti, many people cook with coal under a metal structure that holds a large pot or they use a small propane burner.  Therefore, many people do not have ovens.  Lucette told me that she used to have an oven and enjoyed baking cakes for her children.  However, her home collapsed in the 2010 earthquake and her oven was destroyed.

I was thankful to discover that we had all of the ingredients needed to make oatmeal chocolate chip bars.  We gathered the ingredients and set them on the table.  We even had my Creole dictionary on the table so that I could explain how to make them.  Next week, we will make cut-out sugar cookies!  Those are my favorite.  I don't have a rolling pin, but plan to use an empty glass pop bottle.  :)

Lucette was eager to help me.  We measured, stirred, poured, and sang Haitian Christmas.  What a blessing it was to share this experience together.  When the bars were baking she asked me if I could write the recipe in Creole.  She told me she is saving her money so she can buy an oven.  She would love to bake again.  She said she was going to keep the recipe and bake them for her children in the future.  It may take her many years to save enough money for an oven, but I know that she will keep this recipe in a safe place and one day she will make these bars for her family.





 

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Market Day

What a fun morning!  I walked to the market in Titanyen with Jess and Loucette.  Loucette is a sweet, Haitian lady who works at our house.  We were all so happy to be going to the market together.  I told Loucette that I would need a lot of help making my purchases.  My Creole is getting better, but I still need a lot of help.  She was happy to help and wanted me to get a good deal.  We first stopped at a store to exchange my American money for goudes (photo below).


We walked on bumpy, rocky roads.  Many paths were skinny and I had to be careful where I stepped so that I didn't step on produce, that was so strategically placed and stacked on a tarp, for sale.


I also had to look ahead to duck when people walked toward me with large bags of produce on their head.  I even needed to watch out for fast moving wheel barrels and donkeys so that I was out of their way.  What an adventure!  Here's the parking lot (photo below).  Not a single car.


So many choices!  Farmers came to sell from far away.  Some traveled to the market on their donkey with large sacs full of produce.  I bought a variety of fresh produce:  carrots, green peppers, onions, tomatoes, oranges, avocado's, eggs, watermelon, plantains, and limes.  I found a metal pot that would be good to use for cooking papitas.  We even bought a special slotted spoon made out of a large tomato can to remove the papita from the oil.  What a great way to re-use one's resources.


I am so thankful for my friend, Loucette.  She is a blessing to me.  We had a special morning together.  I can't wait for tomorrow...Loucette is going to teach me how to make papitas!  I even surprised Loucette with a new apron!  I sewed it last night.  She was so thankful.








Monday, December 3, 2012

Better Than Sunset

Yesterday, as the sun was setting, I decided to bring my camera and take a few pictures.  It was breathtaking.  The clouds were beautifully painted with the most vibrant colors with the mountains silhouetted in the distance.  I like to think that God paints us beautiful sunsets each night to remind us to rest in Him and to trust in His promises.  He will continue to be with us each day no matter how difficult or joyful the days are.

As I started walking towards the sunset, a little girl ran up to me with a big smile and grabbed my hand.  She started swinging it playfully and pointed to the sunset and said, "Solèy dòmi, bèl".  Which translates into "The sun is sleeping.  Beautiful."  She had the biggest smile on her face.  I asked her if she wanted to walk with me to take a picture.  She shook her head yes and said, "Wi".  We walked up to the playground and started walking along the edge of the playground and she stopped me.  She turned to me and asked, "Ou chante ak mwen?".  Which means, "Will you sing with me?".  She pulled on my arm to sit down on the cement ledge we had been walking on.  I asked her what song she wanted to sing and her response was "Savior".  The title of the song is "Mighty To Save".  This is a song that the children sing in English during worship time.  The words to this song were so real and meaningful as I sats looking out at the mountains.  We started singing...

Savior, He can move the mountains, 
My God is mighty to save, 
He is mighty to save. 

Forever, Author of salvation, 
He rose and conquered the grave, 
Jesus conquered the grave.  

So take me as You find me,
All my fears and failures, 
Fill my life again.

I give my life to follow
Everything I believe in,
So I surrender.
I surrender

Savior, He can move the mountains,
My God is Mighty to save,
He is mighty to save.
Forever, Author of salvation,
He rose and conquered the grave,
Jesus conquered the grave.

Shine your light and let the whole world see,  
We're singing for the glory of the risen King.


This little girl, had a horrendous past before she came to our orphanage.  What a delight to sing praises to God with her.  He brought her through her hurt.  He saved her.  He is teaching her about His love and she knows Him.  How beautiful it is to know that no matter what, no matter how filthy one's past is, no matter how many times one has felt unwanted or unloved, God has always thought of you as a treasure.  He has loved you just as you are.  He longs to know you more.  This little girl knows that.

We sang holding hands and smiling.  What a gift tonight was.  We never made it to take a picture of the sunset, but the time we shared was so beautiful.  As we walked to dinner, a few girls joined us and held our hands.  One of the little girls asked if I would sing to her and tuck her in tonight.  That made my heart smile.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Baby's story

Many of you have been wondering, "What happened to the baby that was 18 days old?, Did the family return the next day for a meeting?, Does she have a new home?".  I am so thankful to tell you that story ended well.

The following day I waited for the family to return.  It was an hour past the time they were scheduled to arrive, and I hoped they were on their way.  My heart leaped for joy when I heard they were walking up our hill with the baby in their arms.

I met them, and we began our meeting together with another organization.  The night before I was calling a few surrounding orphanages that care for infants.  None of them had space.  Thankfully, one of them called me in the morning and said they can care for the baby!  I was so thankful that this little angel would have a safe, loving environment to live in.  One that would be able to provide her with formula, diapers, and comfort.


One of the girls at Grace Village crocheted the baby a bonnet.  She is wearing the bonnet in the picture above.  I am so so so thankful that this baby is being cared for.  It is devastating to know that when one lives in poverty, one often does not have the means to provide for their children.  I am so thankful that this family reached out for help.  This family desired for this baby to have a future.  When we asked the family, "What is your hope for this baby?.  The woman responded, "For her to live".

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Bourik! (Donkey!)

What a morning!  I have been wanting to ride a donkey since I moved to Haiti in July.  Well, today I did!  The saddle was hand-made out of wood hammered together.  Padding was placed between the donkey and the saddle.  The padding consisted of some old rags and clothing.  The bridle was made of a thick twine.  There were 2 giant, woven saddle bags that are typically used for produce purchases at the market.

I ventured up a road close to where I live.  The scenery was beautiful.  The mountainside was green.  I passed many people on the side of the road.  Some washed their laundry in large buckets at the well pump.  Others, carried 5 gallon buckets of water on their heads back to their home for cooking, bathing, and cleaning.  Many yelled, "Blan", which means white person as they waved and smiled.  Some giggled as I laughed and greeted them on the donkey.

Some children ran after the donkey to catch up to me.  They encouraged the donkey to keep walking by saying, "Oui" and making a clicking noise with their tongue.  They laughed as the donkey increased in it's pace.  I laughed too.  We all had so much fun.
 
 

Sunday, November 4, 2012

18 days old

I was told there was an emergency at the gate.  I didn't know what to think and wondered what kind of an emergency.  The security guard came to me with our translator and needed me to follow them to our gate's entrance.  There stood a man with the look of desperation filling his eyes as he held a tiny baby wrapped in blankets. There was a woman with him.  They told me they were the baby's aunt and uncle and that the mother could not care for the baby.  The man tried to give me the baby.  I prayed for wisdom and didn't know what to say or what to do.  I wondered if I held the baby if they would flee.  I stepped back from them and waved my hands in a way that would tell them I would not hold the baby.  (But, I wanted to hold her.) These people were desperate for help.  They didn't have the means to care for the baby that was 18 days old and hoped that I would.



When I saw her, my heart broke.  Her body was frail.  Her skin was thin against her bony limbs.  
As I walked up the hill to our house, I prayed more...and again asked God for wisdom.  Would we be able to care for an infant?  She is so weak and may be in need of an IV or medical attention...would she make it through the night?  Should I turn them away?  If God brought them to our gate, He must know how we can help them.  But how?  What does that look like?  I longed to love her and care for her.  I was ready to take her in.  To stay up with her all night.  To watch over her to be sure that she was still breathing.  Could this be her last night?  If I didn't take her in, would she be cared for at home?  Would she be left on the roadside...to die?  Many thoughts raced through my mind.       


I sent our orphanage director to buy diapers, formula, and bottles.  I asked the family to wait while I made a few phone calls.  They agreed.  They sat patiently for hours as I called a variety of people who could help guide me in making decisions.  I served the family dinner and invited them to our evening church service.  After much prayer, numerous phone calls, and counsel from other orphanages, a decision was made.  We would invite the family back to Grace tomorrow for a meeting to decide how we can be of assistance to this family.  I don't know what the outcome will be, but I need to trust God.  As I looked in the woman's eyes, I saw compassion for the child, I saw a deep love, a desire to hold onto hope, a longing for what is best for this baby.  She agreed to return to our orphanage tomorrow for a meeting.

Proverbs 3:5-6 says, "Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding, in all your ways acknowledge him and He will make our paths straight."


Saturday, November 3, 2012

Weddings in Haiti

The bride and the groom pulled up to the church in separate vehicles and waited in them until they walked down the aisle.  The sun was hot and the sweat beaded on their foreheads.  The bride was dressed in a beautiful white dress with a veil over her face.  She carried a lovely bouquet of white flowers.

The groom wore a beige suit with a white glove on his left hand (He removed the glove when it was time to exchange rings).  Music played as the bridesmaids slowly danced down the aisles.  It was beautiful.  We sang hymns and the pastor read some Bible verses.  A choir sang and a band played.  Many people were taking photos.  One man had an i-pad and was using photo booth to take pictures.  He used all kinds of special effects.  After the wedding, we drove to a building down the road for a reception.  The pastor led the guests in a prayer and we all sang a hymn.  The best man gave a speech too.  There was a delicious buffet of Haitian food including rice, beans, cabbage salad, vegetables, and fried plantains.

There was even a tall cake decorated with red flowers.  The bride and groom shared champagne and cut the cake together.

It was a beautiful celebration and I was amazed at how many similar traditions there were to an American wedding.  It was also fun to learn about Haitian wedding traditions.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Snapshots!



So much has been happening in Haiti.  Below you will see a variety of photos to let you know what is new at Grace Village!



School is open!  Every morning the children gather at the flagpole to sing Haiti’s National Anthem, pray, and sing a hymn.  Then, the children walk single file to their classroom to begin their day of learning.  Some of these children have never attended school.  Many families in Titanyen can not afford to pay for their children to attend school.  Our school is providing a free, Christ-centered education, that is empowering children to be future leaders in their country.





I have been working with the tailors to gather uniform measurements for all of our students.  It has been a big job.  The children are so excited to have new school clothes and shoes. 





The tailor pictured above is Pierre.  Healing Haiti cares for him in the eldercare program.  We have asked him to make the boys shirts for our 3 kindergarten classes.  I went to his home to deliver the fabric that he needs for the shirts. 





After school, the children have a tutoring session and then it is playtime!  Sometimes, we enjoy using chalk.  I drew a picture of Shersunny.  She was all smiles to see herself on the sidewalk.





What a joy it was to reunite 3 young brothers with their family!  I visited them in their house and they were all doing well.  Here is their new family photo!  The mom said she was so happy when she heard her youngest son praying.  He was praying for her.  She also was so thankful that the boys learned about God at Grace Village.  She hears them singing praises to God all day as they play in the yard.  She also said the boys ask to go to church everyday.  What a blessing it is for them to be together again.





Our church baptized 6 people in the ocean last week.  What a beautiful experience to witness.  Above is a photo of the people who were baptized with the pastors.





I will be moving into a new home!  How exciting!  Currently, a clinic is being built at Grace Village.  My friend Jess (another long-term missionary at Grace) and I will be moving into the bottom floor of the clinic.  I am looking forward to having a small kitchen.  I can cook on a stove (no more microwaves) and I can wash my dishes in a sink!  This is great news!!! 

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Home

Squeals of excitement!  Children running with arms open wide!  Smiles stretching from ear to ear!  Laughter!  Jumping!  Joyful hearts!  This was my welcome from 61 children when I returned to Grace Village.  I was in the Dominican Republic for 5 nights.  I needed to get my passport stamped and also needed rest and relaxation.  It was a refreshing time away, but I was ready to come home.

 
My favorite memory of staying in Boca Chica was kayaking in the bay.  The ocean water was crystal clear and a beautiful turquoise color.  I paddled out in a little kayak a few of the mornings.  One morning, Jess and I shared a tandem kayak and ventured to the island.  We brought snorkeling equipment...even flippers!  We were both a little nervous about jumping in, but wanted to see the fish.  So, we each leaned over opposites sides of the kayak and stuck our heads under water.  Everything was so clear.  We saw some beautiful fish, old shells, and sea urchins.  Jess started getting eager to jump in the water.  I was a little nervous.  I have a fear that the fish are going to eat me.  It is a silly fear, but the water makes me a little scared.  I can swim and I had a life vest, so I decided to face my fears and jump right in!  We parked our boat, in the roots of the trees on the island, and started exploring the beauty that God has created in the ocean!  I saw Dorree (Regal Tang fish) from Finding Nemo!  I saw some other colorful fish that I have only seen in ocean life storybooks.  I am so thankful that I decided to jump right in the water!

 
Check out my new hair do!  I had my hair braided in the Domincan on the beach.  The children at Grace have been asking to braid my hair like theirs.  So, I thought it would be a fun surprise to return home with lots of braids!  The children thought I was so very beautiful.  I kept them in for about a week.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Surrender



Surrender

I arrived in Haiti on July 2nd.  When I look back over the past 3 months, I am amazed at how much I have learned.  I speak some Creole, I wash my own clothes by hand, I know how to treat a variety of medical ailments, I am a mother to 61 children, and I am continuing to learn more about Haitian culture each day.  I am amazed at how much the Lord has taught me.  I have learned that I need to trust God to use me to love and serve the people in Haiti.  God has shown me the importance of completely relying on Him.  The song “Have Your Way” by Elizabeth Hunnicutt has been a great reminder to allow the Lord to use me.  I listen to it every morning.  Below you will see some of the lyrics.

Open hearts and open hands
Open up our minds to you
We are longing, we are searching
Guide us in the way of truth

We are listening…
We are listening…

Have your way
Have your way
Holy Spirit, come and have your way
Have your way
Have your way,
Holy Spirit come and have your way

We surrender,
To your power
We surrender,
To your whisper

I am so thankful that God called me to Haiti.  My heart beats so strong for the Haitian people.  I have now been in Haiti for about 90 days.  In order for me to continue living in Haiti, I need to leave the country and get my passport stamped.  Then, I may return for another 90 days. I am so thankful that I was blessed with the finances to leave the country.  I did not know where the needed $600 would come from, but prayed that the Lord would provide for me.  God is so faithful and an anonymous donation of exactly $600 appeared in my missionary donation account!  Can you believe it?  The exact amount that was needed appeared!  Wow, God provides for all of my needs and blesses me richly.  Tomorrow, Jess and I will leave for the Dominican Republic.  We plan to take a coach bus, about an 8 hour ride, to Santo Domingo.  We will be taking a taxi to our hotel in Boca Chica.  It will be a beautiful week of rest, relaxation, exploring, and experiencing the other side of this beautiful island.  I will blog when I return to let you know about my adventures. 

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Serving Haiti

Loving the children in Cite Soleil.  We sang songs, talked in Creole, and danced.

What a beautiful week!  God has stretched me and challenged me in many ways.  I often thought, "What is God trying to teach me?".  I was blessed with the opportunity to join the Healing Haiti Team of short-term missionaries from my home church in Minnesota.  In January of 2012, I experienced being a part of one of these teams and the week was life-changing.  During that trip, the Lord called me into ministry in Haiti.
Waiting in line for clean water.



I have so many stories to share.  It was difficult to decide what moments to highlight.  Two days we delivered clean water in Cite Soleil.  Cite Soleil is considered the slums of Haiti and is the poorest part of Haiti.  The adults and children ran after our truck carrying 5 gallon buckets racing to get to the font of the line.  Hundreds of people waited for clean water.  This water is used to cook, do laundry, drink, and bathe.  Water is a source of life and this community depends on it to survive.  




We also went to the Home of Sick and Dying Children.  It is similar to a children's hospital.  It is a new, beautiful facility.  There are about 25 cribs in each room.  Families are encouraged to visit their children every day.  Some families live in the country and it is impossible to get transportation to the hospital.  If families are unable to visit their children, there are many people who care for them.  Their ages range from 3 months to about 8 years old.  

While we were at the hospital we held children, sang to them, and prayed for them.  They are all so precious.  Many of the children have a variety of illnesses, but most are malnourished.  I was so thankful to see the baby (3 months old) I held  3 days ago no longer needed an I.V.  I sat on a stool holding her.  I noticed that a one year old boy (who was so frail he looked as though he was about 12 pounds) had inched his way up the slope in his crib to get as close as he could to me.  He reached between the metal bars of his crib and grabbed my finger.  We made silly faces at each other and made funny noises with our tongues.  We smiled and laughed together.  There was another boy who brought me such sadness.  His crib was in the corner.  He wore a loose fitting top with no pants or diaper.  It looked as though he had burns all over his body.  His hands were bundled and were tied to the edge of the crib.  He whimpered.  Then, would give a loud yell.  When I looked at him and talked in Creole to him he would look at me with the biggest, deep, brown eyes.  I sang to him a lullaby and gently stroked his forehead.  I could see a peace about him.  He was in pain, but needed someone to be next to him.  To be there.  This boy reminded me of the difficult times in life.  Throughout life, there is much heartache and pain.  There is illness and disappointment.  I am so thankful that through all of life's ups and downs I can depend on the Lord.  He is my comfort, my savior, and my peace.  He will never leave me.  No matter what I am going through, the Lord is with me.  He will walk me through the storms of life.  Holding my hand every step of the way.   



Saturday, September 8, 2012

Birthday Celebration

Last night, we all gathered in the Feeding Center (cafeteria) and celebrated 2 birthdays.  What a fun celebration!  The birthday boys stood up in front and shared what they were thankful for in their life.  Both boys thanked Jesus for providing for them and loving them.  We sang songs as one boy played the drum.  He has great rhythm.  Then, the children were asked to share a special story about the boys or a song.  Many children sang a song to the boys.  They took turns singing into the microphone.  We even sang Happy Birthday Haitian style!  We all danced and clapped.  The children love to see me dance.  I dance "the pigeon".  Many of you may know this dance.  I bend my knees and flap them together as I wave my hands in front of them.  They love to dance this dance with me.  Many children have expanded on my dance moves and now move their arms in all kinds of directions as they flap their knees together.  Some children even bend down to the floor as they keep flapping their knees.  This takes much more muscle than I have.  Sometimes, the boys pretend to hold a camera and videotape me dancing.  Sometimes, they pretend to hold a remote control and point it at me to tell me to keep dancing.  We have so much fun!

Before bed, one little girl was crying.  She was sad because she didn't know her birthday.  It broke my heart.  Never in her life has she celebrated a birthday.  There are a few handfuls of children who do not know their birthday.  Hopefully, we will be able to help them find out when their birthday is and celebrate their life with them!  

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Contact Lenses

The other night my eyes were so dry that my contact lens flipped out of my eye.  The children were so surprised.  I tried to explain to them I have glasses that I wear on my eyeballs.  They thought this was so strange.  They were curious, yet puzzled.  They wanted to see my contacts.  So, I told them they could watch me take them out in the evening.  It was hilarious!  About 15 children huddled around me as close as they could get and watched me remove my contacts.  In unison, they said, "whoa!" as I took out the first contact.  I explained that the eye doctor gave me a prescription for my eyes.  Instead of wearing glasses, I wear contacts.  They couldn't believe that a little, clear circle was placed on my eye to help me see.  I tried to explain all of this in Creole the best I could.  Later, I saw some of them talking with other children that didn't watch me take out my contacts.  The other children thought I removed my eyeballs when I slept and put them back in each morning.  I explained to them that I did not remove my eyeballs.  I removed my contacts.  Each morning I put new contacts on my eyes.  They were very excited to watch me put my contacts in the next day.  They are intrigued by my contacts.  Throughout the day, they mimic me taking out my contacts and as they pretend to remove them they say, "Bloop, bloop".  They giggle and think it is so funny.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Support Needed

Family and Friends,
  I write to you to please consider making a financial donation to my Healing Haiti missionary account.  I am required to leave the country every 90 days since I am not obtaining a VISA while I am in Haiti.  In my research, I have discovered that roundtrip airfare, hotel stay, possibly car rental, and food costs are approximately $600.  I did not plan for this in my budget.  Please pray about what you can give.  If you would like to contribute to this need, please visit
http://healinghaiti.org/pages/SupportKathrynAslakson  Thank you for your continued support.  You have all blessed me in many ways.  I love you and miss you all!  Love, Kathy

Tropical Storm Isaac


We spent the day preparing the best we knew how.  We packed snacks, water, medications, first aid kits, flashlights, and a bag of activities for children to do in their rooms.  It started to rain in the afternoon on Friday and the wind started to blow.  It was unusually cool outside.  We talked with the children and told them a big storm was coming.  We instructed them to put on their pajamas, brush their teeth, and stay in their rooms through the afternoon and night.  We told them we would check on them and make sure they were ok.  After our meeting, the children went to their rooms and stayed in them until the storm calmed.  In the morning, the guardians braved the storm and went to the kitchen to cook some food for the children.  They brought them breakfast in bed (spaghetti, avocado, and hard boiled eggs).  The children giggled about eating in their beds.  We also brought them lunch in their rooms.  The wind howled as the rain pounded on the roof.  Our ceilings leaked.  We set buckets out to catch the drips.  The structure of our dormitories had been built strong and kept us all safe.  The people of Titanyen and other cities in Haiti were less fortunate.  My heart breaks for the destruction they faced.  Many homes are made of tarps and sticks.  Some are made of cardboard or tin nailed together.  Some of these homes were not strong enough.  Some roofs blew off, others had their homes flooded.  When heavy rains come, churches and schools open their doors for families to go for safety.  Many families fear leaving their home because of theft.  On Sunday, I went to church in Port-Au-Prince and saw some of the destruction.  I have captured some images below.  Thank you for your prayers.  Please continue to pray for the people of Haiti and for the rebuilding that will now take place.

(Above) This is a picture of a town a few miles away from Titanyen.  Many of the homes were made from tarps and collapsed in the storm.


(Above) This is a picture of a billboard on one of the main roads in Port-Au-Prince.  The wind bent it in half.  The other billboards were in decent condition.  This photo shows the power of the wind.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Beautiful Jacmel

I traveled to Jacmel with a friend for a day.  It was so beautiful.  I would love to go back and see more of the countryside.  The road was windy through the mountains and the air was so fresh.  I heard Jacmel has a beautiful waterfall too.  We did not have time to explore, so in the future I will go back for more adventures. 



We stopped at a few roadside markets.  The produce looked delicious.  We purchased some bananas, avocados, grenadas (small fruit used to make juice), and shadaques (fruit like a grapefruit, but very sweet).



I experienced many new things.  I used a machete for the first time.  They are very sharp and dangerous.  I was careful as I chopped down some plantains.  I hope to learn how to make fried plantains.  They are so delicious!


I went to the ocean too.  The beach was sandy and the waves rolled into the shore.  I jumped some of the ocean waves and enjoyed feeling the sand between my toes.


We also stopped by a food stand across the road.  It reminded me of a large old-fashioned wooden lemonade stand.  They had a large bowl of fresh fish and another bowl of beef.  They cooked in a large kettle on a propane powered burner.  We ordered our food and they brought it to a small table next to the ocean for us to eat when it was prepared.  I tried the red snapper (The entire fish was prepared.  Did you notice the fish jaw in the photo?)  It was pretty good, but I preferred to eat the beef.  Our meals came with a spicy cabbage slaw and fried plantains.  What a treat to have fresh food at the shore of the ocean.  Delicious!

Haiti is a beautiful country.  I hope to explore more cities and experience more of Haitian culture.

   


Changes in my Role

God is working in a mighty way in Haiti.  Each day, I am learning more about Haitian culture and am experiencing Haiti in a new way.  I am beginning to learn how Haitians live and am starting to speak Creole more.  The Haitians get so excited to hear me talk in Creole.  We laugh when I say things incorrectly, and they help me pronounce new words.  They accept me and think of me as part of their family.  They protect me, they love me, and they laugh with me.  Sometimes, they say, "Ou se Haitian konya.", which means "You are Haitian now".  I am honored to be a part of the community/family of Titanyen.  The elders call me sweetie.  The adults call me professor.  The children call me mother.

My role at Grace Village has been evolving and changing.  I came to Haiti to teach English in the school that is being built.  However, now that I am here, my eyes have been opened to the needs at Grace Village.  I have been stretched and challenged in ways that I never imagined.  Some of you know that I often pass out when I have blood drawn and that I get light headed in hospitals and at the sight of medical related things.  In Haiti, my role has been caring for the medical needs of the children.  This has included hospital visits, holding children as they cry in the dental chair, bandaging wounds, holding children as their blood is drawn for labs, etc.  In my past, these are all things that I couldn't do.    In Haiti, I am called to do these things.  I have been the one who has filled the role in helping with the medical needs.  I am learning each day.  I also wake each morning and pray that God is my strength for that day.  I can't do these medical things on my own.  God uses me to help these children.  At times, the children call me Mis Katy (Nurse Kathy) or Doctor Katy.  As I care for their owie's, I try to give them extra love and attention.  Many of them need hugs or to be held.  Some need to be sang to, others just want me to look at them and say, "Mwen konen ou malad.  Mwen vle ou byen.", which translates into, "I know you don't feel well.  I hope you feel better.".  Sometimes, we are silly together and I make silly faces and they make silly faces and we giggle.  Each moment with the children is so precious.  I enjoy being challenged in my new role of caring for the children's medical needs.
 

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

More Doctor Visits

Today I brought 5 more children to see the doctor.  The drive is about 30 minutes.  Imagine 3 adults (a driver, a translator, and myself)  and 5 children ages 5-16 squished into the cab of a Nissan truck.  It was an adventure.  I had 2 children sitting in my lap in the back of the cab with 2 more children sitting next to us.  We sat on 2 seats that folded down on the sides of the cab.  Our translator also held a small child in her lap in the passenger seat.  It was strange not having booster seats, seat belts, or a spot for all of the children to sit.  We arrived safely and the doctor was able to see us fairly quickly.  He partners with our orphanage and considers us VIP.  When we arrive he sees us as soon as possible.  All of the children needed medication.  I'm glad we were able to get his medical expertise in order to help these children feel better.  Some of the children get sick because they have poor hygiene.  This week I plan to teach the children about proper hygiene.  This includes hand washing and tooth brushing.  When I taught kindergarten in Minnesota, I had my students sing the ABC song when they washed their hands.  I hope to think of a song that is popular in Haiti for the children to sing.  Please continue to pray for the health of the children.  Some of the workers at Grace tell me that I am a nurse and that I know a lot about caring for sick children.  Actually, I know nothing.  I know how to put on a band-aid and I know how to bring comfort to those who feel sick.  Now that I am getting to know each child, I am beginning to recognize when they don't feel well and am able to respond to their needs.  I am learning about various medications and dosages.  I need to trust that God will give me wisdom on how to care for these children and when I need to seek further medical attention.  Today we were blessed by getting a diagnosis for each child.  Tomorrow will be  brand new day!

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Laundry Galore!


I have been adjusting to life in Haiti.  A Haitian friend of mine taught me how to wash by hand.  I have built up a few calluses and my muscles get tired, but I think I am slowly getting the hang of it.  Every 3 days I wash about 25 pieces of clothing.  It takes me about 3 hours.  I'm hoping I will get faster as I get better at hand-washing.  Each time I wash cloths, I bring 2 large tubs to the shower and fill them with cold water (we do not have hot water...there is no electricity during the day).  First, I soak my clothes in the water.  My clothes get very dusty from the powdery dirt that constantly blows.  So, it is crucial to remove as much of the dust as I can before washing.  Otherwise, my water is brown before I start scrubbing.  I sit on a little stool and hold portions of the material as I rub the fabric together.  Then, it's time to wring them out and transfer them to a new bucket of water that also has some laundry detergent.  I again hold the material and rub it forcefully together.  My friend taught me to concentrate on the neckline and armpits of shirts.  That is where the clothing gets the dirtiest.  I have yet to master the "squishing" sound when washing properly.  I hope to hear that sound soon.  Then, I wring them out and put them in a new bucket of water with a little bleach.  I again scrub and rub, wring out, and transfer them to a new bucket of water.  If my water is still bubbly from the soap or smells too much like bleach, I rinse again and wring out.  It is a long process.  It is a true workout.  I then hang my clothes on a clothesline to dry.  They dry quickly (a few hours).  When they are dry I fold them and put them away.  I am so thankful for friends who take the time to teach me how to wash my clothes.  Household chores take time, but it is so wonderful to know that as time goes on, I will get better.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Sick Little Boy

In America, if you have a child that is sick in the night, the emergency room is available.  When urgent care is needed in Haiti, it is not available.  The drive is far and the wait is long.  Sunday night a little boy was having difficulty breathing, and his heart rate was incredibly fast.  We did not know how to care for Him.  We were able to bring him to a Doctors Without Borders Hospital in hopes that they would be able to care for him and monitor him through the night.  I will refer to him as CC in this blog entry.  CC is a typical 4-year old boy.  He's full of energy, loves to laugh, run, play, and drive matchbox cars while making the car noise that all boys seem to do very well.  He is the little one who puts his hands on my cheeks to pull me down close to him and tells me "I wuv oo." (I love you) when I tuck him in at night.  What a cutie.  The night he was ill broke my heart.  He was limp, had labored breathing, and a high temperature.  I watched him struggle for air as his heart looked as though it was beating out of his chest.  It is so hard to see the children sick.  He spent a night in the hospital.  The doctors ran some tests, took a chest x-ray, and gave him some medication.  On Monday, I was able to go to the hospital to bring him some food, since he was refusing to eat the hospital food.  The security was tight at the hospital.  After waiting about an hour to go to his pediatric cottage, the guards let me go see him.  I was so thankful.  I was the only one allowed to enter the facility.  The cottage had about 20 small beds.  Most filled with frail, sick children.  I spotted him laying on his bed.  He noticed me as I walked to his bed.  He sprang up and shouted "Kah-tee" with a huge smile on his face.  He gave me a big hug and was so joyful!  I told him, "Mwen manke ou." (I miss you).  He told me, "Mwen manke ou." (I miss you) and "Mwen reman ou." (I love you).  We spent part of the afternoon laughing together, singing songs, and playing together.  He sat in my lap as I bounced my knees.  We made up a game a few weeks ago.  He says an animal in Creole (cochon=pig, kabuit=goat, chwal=horse, etc.  Then I make the animal noise as I bounce him on my knees in different rhythms.  He wanted to play that game at the hospital.  I was so happy to see him smiling.  God is our ultimate healer and this little boy was feeling much better.  He needed to stay one more night since he wasn't eating and his chest was still filled with some fluid.  The following day I was able to go back to hospital to bring him home.  When he arrived at Grace Village he was full of smiles as people greeted him and welcomed him home.  Each day I pray for continued health of the children.  Thank you for your prayers too!

Monday, July 23, 2012

Beach Day

Last week, we went to the beach.  It was gorgeous!  The children enjoyed playing in the water.  Some of them are learning how to swim.  I carried the young children in the water.  They liked to splash and float on their backs.  We even ate a picnic lunch.  We had peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, cheese puffs, cookies, and juice.  It was quite tasty.  After lunch we played in the water.  I applied lots of sunscreen and re-applied often.  But, I still got burned.  Thankfully I had aloe and have been healing over the past few days.

Bon Nwit Cheri Mwen (Good night My Sweetheart)


Each evening I go to all of the children’s rooms and tuck them in.  I tell each one that I love them in Creole.  I say, “Mwen remen ou.”.  Then I give them each a kiss.  Last night one little girl said to me, “I love you, Jesus”.  It touched my heart.  I was reminded how Jesus tells us to be like Him:  to love the hurting, to comfort the sick, to accept one another.  She is a little girl who needs a lot of comfort.  She enjoys climbing into my lap and resting in my arms.  She is 8 years old, but very small for her age.  She looks as though she is 5 years old.   

I made up a song in Creole that uses a familiar American tune.  At bedtime, I sing “Bon nwit cheri mwen, Bon nwit cheri mwen, Bon nwit cheri mwen, Ke Bondye Beni Ou”.  It translates into “Good night sweatheart, Goodnight Sweetheart, Goodnight sweetheart, May the Lord bless you.”.  Some of the girls ask me to sing it to them each night.  One room of girls asks me to sing it over and over.  They say, “Encore!”.  They now sing with me and asked if I can sing it in English too.  Sometimes we change the words and keep the same tune.  Last night we danced as we sang.  We were smiling and laughing.  What a beautiful evening.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Clinic Visits


This week has been busy with bringing children to the clinic for lab tests and dental work.  No appointment necessary, but you may wait all day in an outdoor waiting room in hopes to see the doctor.  Both days we were able to see the medical professionals we needed, but we were there many long hours.  I was pleasantly surprised at how well the children waited patiently for their turn.  As we waited, I taught them how to play tic-tac-toe and the dot game.  I also used a pad of paper to draw pictures of animals for a small english lesson.  Thankfully, I had packed a backpack with snacks, water, and a few things to do.  The children were brave for their lab tests as their blood was drawn.  Seeing the dentist was terrifying for some.  It is scary for children to see dentists wearing masks and lights on their head to see inside their mouth.  Also, the dentists did not speak Creole, so it was a little tricky finding a translator to help calm their fears.  I held a few in my lap as they had dental work done as they cried and fought the hygienist. My heart broke for them.  Each time I see these children scared, sad, or hurting my heart wants all of their pain to go away.  I love them all so much and don't want to see them hurting.  I try to comfort them the best I can.  One little girl had 2 rotten teeth pulled.  When we returned home, she wanted to curl up in my lap and rest her head on my shoulder.  I gave her some tylenol to help with the pain, but she needed to be held.  I carried her to a cement wall and sat with her as she screamed.  I decided to sing to her.  So, I just started making up a song about her.  I sang some in Creole and some in English.  As soon as I started singing she stopped crying.  She calmed down but still clung to me tightly.  Each day, I want to learn more about these children.  They are so precious.    

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Preparing for Church

Last night the children spent many hours preparing for church.  They wear their very best clothes to church.  The older children helped the younger children iron their clothes.  The girls had their hair braided and many of them had colorful barrettes at the ends of their braids.  They were so beautiful.  One girl wanted to braid my hair too.  When the ironing was finished, the children went to bed.  This morning, we all dressed our best for church.  The feeding center (cafeteria) was filled with people who had come from Titanyen.  Many of them may have walked a long ways to church.  We all sat like sardines on the benches.  Many people held children in their lap.  As people worshipped they gave thanks to God for all they have.  Many of them have so little.  But, I am in awe at how rich their hearts are for the Lord.  I pray that my heart has a faith that is as pure as that of a child's.  As the songs were sung, people danced, raised their hands, and praised God.  Right now it is playtime and the children are playing soccer, singing songs, and playing checkers.  They seem to get along well.  They are family.  I am thankful that they have accepted me as part of their family.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

God gives us what we can handle


On July 6th, I woke up ready to be the hands and feet of Christ.  I did not know what the day would hold, but I knew that God would use me.  It began as a typical day at Grace Village.  I tended to the children’s health needs, held them, and sang to them.  In the afternoon, I washed dishes using a bucket in the shower.  I sat on a little stool and first washed with cold water and dish soap.  Then, I used another bucket to rinse the dishes in bleach water.  After I washed dishes, I organized my suitcases.  I do not have a place to store my belongings, so I use my suitcases for a dresser. 

Then, the unexpected happened.  Haley, a summer intern was in her room cleaning.  I was startled when I heard her yell my name.  I ran to her to find streams of blood following her every step.  I quickly grabbed a chair and had her sit down.  A glass pop bottle broke and she had stepped on it.   I did not know what to do, but God gave me strength to be in charge and stay calm.  We wrapped her foot tightly in a towel, and kept the children away.  We carried her into the bed of a truck and drove to the nearest clinic.  She was crying in pain and was terrified.  I tried to comfort her.  I prayed with her and cried with her.  How scary it was to know that she needed to go to an emergency room, yet there was not one nearby.  We drove to a clinic and it was closed when we arrived.  I held her in my arms and continued to pray.  I helped her stay calm with slow, deep breaths.  We called another clinic and drove farther away down the dusty, bumpy road.  A young man elevated her foot as our bodies jostled in the back of the truck.  I anxiously anticipated our arrival at the clinic.  I kept praying.  Lord, please help us.  We arrived at the clinic and were greeted by a dentist and nurse.  They took a look at Haley’s foot and needed to do stitches.  We entered the exam room.  It was a room the size of a bedroom.  We laid her on the old, padded exam table.  Everything inside the room was stacked in piles on rickety shelves inside Ziploc baggies.  She held my hand a screamed as the dentist prepared her for stitches.  Novocain was injected into her foot and before surgery began we all prayed together.  We sang worship songs as the dentist stitched her foot.  God was our strength and provider.  We were blessed with a vehicle to get to the clinic, a translator, and a dentist who knew how to do stitches.  Today I was reminded that God only gives us what we can handle.  This experience deepened my faith. 

Days later, Haley is doing well.  She is recovering and is staying at the Guesthouse in Port-au-Prince until her foot heals.  I have been spending the past few days with her.  Today, I returned to Grace Village and was very happy to see the children.  Please continue to pray for Haley’s foot to heal.  She is such a sweetie and she is like a sister to me.  I am thankful she is in Haiti.