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 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.