Friday, June 14, 2013

Blessings!


Tonight was a beautiful night.  My heart was filled with sweet words from the children.  So many times, God speaks to me through them.  I had a special meeting with them to show them the photo DVD that I made and share home-made cookies with them. Before the video started I reminded them that I am leaving Grace Village on Saturday.  I told them that I was going to pray for them and miss them so much.  One of our guardians asked the children if they would like to come up to the microphone to tell me something special.  The children took turns thanking me or blessing me with kind words.

The first young boy that came up said, "I will pray that God brings you back fast!".  One of the older boys said, "Thank you for letting us watch football on your computer.  You are so kind.  May God bless you for your service in Haiti.  Bon voyage!".  A few of the girls thanked me for teaching them how to make necklaces, for playing with them, and for taking care of them when they were sick.  They said, "Thank you for being God's servant and for coming to Haiti.  We will miss you and will pray for you every day.".  One of the older girls said, "You are so kind to us and have patience with us.  You have wisdom.  I don't want you to go.  You have given so much to us and have been an example of God's love.  God says in Luke 6:38 that when you give, God will bless you.  I will pray for you every day."  Their kind words will forever be imprinted on my heart.

As we watched the DVD, their eyes lit up and immediately they had smiles from ear to ear!  They loved seeing themselves and their friends projected on the cafeteria wall.  It was uplifting to look back over the year and see some of the memories we all shared together.  They laughed and squealed at times.  The room was filled with the joy and laughter of the children!  Beautiful!

I tucked all 56 children in bed tonight...hugs, kisses, and I love you's!  As I went to each of their rooms they told me more sweet things.  Many of them told me not to leave.  But many more said they would pray for me, will miss me sooooo much, and will always remember me.  Some of them shared Bible verses with me or told me to read a specific verse tonight.  Seeing their faith in the Lord has been such an encouragement to me.  I am so thankful for how these children have come into my life and have poured out blessings on me this year!  The children will forever have a special place in my heart.       

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Tears



I thought I was doing well dealing with the emotions of saying good-bye to my friends in Haiti and have been getting ready to move back to Minnesota.  I started packing, I read a book about re-integration, I’ve been processing my thoughts and feelings, I started saying good-byes, I have tried to complete projects I am working on and have been organizing things for the next missionary to take over, and I have invested extra time with the children. I even made a special photo DVD for the kids of our memories over the year.  My emotions have been a variety of sadness to leave and excitement to go home.  A lot of change is coming, and I really don’t know how I will adjust to life back in Minnesota.  One thing is constant.  God is with me through everything!

Well, yesterday the tears wouldn’t stop.  In the morning, one of our elders who comes to Grace 3 times a week to get his bandages changed by our nurse, came to my window and sang, “Tiiiii Kaaaa!”  numerous times.  He came to pay Dominos, our favorite game to play together.  Sometimes he walks to Grace extra days of the week just to play more Dominos.  He has been like a grandpa to me.  Last Monday, I told him that I was moving back to Minnesota to teach next year.  I explained to him that I wouldn’t be living in Haiti, and that I planned to visit him.  He told me not to go and asked when I was coming back.  I didn’t have a ticket to visit my friends in Haiti, but I know I will come back.  The relationships I have built are too deep to not come back to visit. 


I brought my tin of Dominos to the front porch, we sat on my chairs made of banana leaves, and we emptied out the box of Dominos.  Ofane looked at me, with his big blue eyes, and he said, “Don’t go.  Live in Haiti.  I am sad and I love you.  No one can replace you.  You are very special to me.  I want you to stay here.  When you go my heart will break and I will miss you too much.”  When he told me his feelings and opened his heart to me, I was flooded with emotions because I knew it would be so difficult to say good-bye.  Tears flooded my eyes and he reached out and put his hand on my shoulder and said, “Pa kriye, cheri (Don’t cry, sweetheart).” I told him that I love him too and will miss him so much.  After more sharing and comforting me, we played Dominos.  Lots of Dominos.  He said I need to come back and play Dominos, see his goats, and talk with him.  I can’t wait for that day to come soon enough!

Tonight we are going to watch the photo DVD I made for the children.  It is a surprise for them!  I’m even baking them cookies for a special treat.  This year, we have made so many memories.  I feel as though I am a mother to all of them, but one boy has captured my heart.  The love I have for him is abundant.  I truly didn’t know I could love someone so much.  He has been spending extra time sitting with me, listening to and singing worship music with me, and talking with me.  We have a special bond.  He told me he will miss me so much and will cry every night when I am gone.  It is so difficult to say good-bye to all the children, but especially him.  My heart breaks as I think about it.  It makes me even sadder when I know that his heart is breaking too.

The children and I have been busy making beaded necklaces before I leave on Saturday.  It has been so fun seeing how their artistic creations are all so unique and beautiful…just like each of them.  It is beautiful to see their smiles as they look at themselves in the mirror with their necklace on them for the first time.  Some squeal with excitement and others say thank you and feel so proud of their work.  They said it was their first time making them and they also said they could make hundreds!  So, maybe I should plan a trip back to Grace to have jewelry making class with the kids.  I think we all would have so much fun and it would be a great way to stay connected with the children that I have loved all year.  

It will be so hard to say good-bye.   

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Chicken Pox!

Oh dear!  Oh my!  Can you imagine 56 children exposed to chicken pox?  Well, we had one case a few weeks ago, 6 more cases two weeks ago, 3 cases yesterday, and one more case today.  Yikes...that's 10 children who have had chicken pox!  We have purchased lots of calamine lotion at the pharmacy and will probably need to purchase more.  Please pray that the children will continue to heal and get healthy.  They are so itchy and are sad they can't go to school.  Two of our younger boys were eager to have their picture taken this morning.  They are covered in Calamine lotion from head to toe!  Thank you to our nurse for helping the boys be less itchy!
Chicken Pox!

Funeral

One of our sweet elders passed away last Saturday from heart failure.  She was home bound and unable to use her legs.  Now, she is dancing with Jesus!  The funeral was scheduled for today and a time was yet to be determined.  I received a phone call this morning from a friend of mine saying the funeral is in session and that I should meet them at the burial site.  I walked with Semy, one of our translators up and down rocky, hilly, shrubby paths.  We passed goats, people carrying water from the well back to their house, and people sitting by the side of the road washing their clothes.  We continued walking  to the top of another hill where our elder was being buried.  When we arrived, we greeted her family and friends, who were dressed in their best clothes.
Kathy and Carolle (nurse for our elderly)
The casket was carried to the deep hole that had been dug and they lowered it down.  It got wedged on a rock and they had to be creative in figuring out a way to lower it all the way down in the hole.  With human strength and shovels they were able to position the casket so it was flat.


Many who attended the funeral stood close to the pit and grabbed a handful of dirt and tossed it into the pit.  Some men picked up shovels and picks and began scooping dirt and rocks into the pit.  The men worked quickly while people silently watched them work.  After the burial, family and friends were going to gather to sing songs and enjoy each other's company.

Our elder's family saying good-bye
Carolle, the nurse for our elders, had her chauffeur pick us up at the funeral and drive us back to Grace Village.  We rode on a motorcycle together.  All three of us!  I was sandwiched in the middle.  It was a little tricky to get on the motorcycle in a dress, but the ride was nice.  It cooled us off, since we were hot from standing in the sun at the burial ceremony.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Stitches!

Oh my!  There was a knock on the door and Jess yells, "Kathy!  There's a medical emergency!".  I quickly went to see what was going on.  Little Mayck had blood dripping down his face.  I was so thankful that I keep a cabinet full of first aid supplies in our living room.  I quickly put on some gloves and applied pressure to the gaping cut above his eye.  Thankfully, our doctor was on site and we walked to the nurse's room.  Dr. Sem took a look and said, "He needs stitches.".  I wondered if we had the supplies.  We had never done stitches at Grace before.  After a little looking, we found everything we needed...including lidocaine.  He was a brave little boy.

He sat in a chair and held my hands as the doctor prepared him for stitches.  The worst part was the shot of lidocaine in the wound.  He squeezed my hands so tight as he cried.  I kept talking with him and telling him how brave he was and reminded him to close his eyes.  Dr. Sem covered his face with a special cloth and had cut a small hole out where he would be doing the stitches.  He only needed one stitch and Dr. Sem did a fine job of sewing up the wound.  The photo below shoes Mayck all done with stitches and ready for his bandage.
 

Mayck came over to my house to rest and relax while watching a movie on my computer.  He loved it and was back to himself in no time!


Helping with one head wound was a rush of adrenaline for all of us involved.  Well, there was another knock on the door and the man told me, "Dr. Sem needs you.  There is another head injury.".  I thought ...Oh my!  What a day!  Ok, I am on my way!  I arrived to the nurse's room and the doctor needed my help.  The nurse had already gone home, so it was up to me to assist.  Good thing God prepared me earlier this afternoon.

One of our construction workers was hit in the back of his head by a cement block.  His wound was quite a bit bigger and he needed a few more stitches.  Well, we found all of the needed materials and we were ready to stitch him up.  I was a true nurse.  I opened all of the sterile materials and handed the needed items to the doctor as he asked for them.  At the same time, I tried to distract the injured man's brother since his eyes were growing big and he looked a little woozy at the sight of the blood.  I brought him a bench to sit on and talked with him in Creole to distract him.  He was very concerned about his brother.  Dr Sem loves to teach and so he kept showing me what we was doing.  He wanted me to see where to give the shots of lidocaine, how to grab the skin with the special needle to sew, and how to tie the knots with the needle and clamp.  He showed me his every move.  After the stitches, I helped clean up the area and medical supplies.  I assisted with packaging the medications for pain and infection and explained how to take the medications in Creole.

What a day!  I am so thankful that we have trained professionals at Grace Village to help in medical emergencies.  I am extra thankful that Dr. Sem was still here at Grace Village when the construction worker got hurt.  The doctor was supposed to leave 10 minutes earlier, but he stayed a little late.  God had a plan.  I think God knew I would need help.    

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Let's Fly a Kite

Last night, I was talking with one of the boys and he was telling me that he knows how to make a kite.  He told me he uses sticks, a plastic bag, and string.  I asked him if he could show me how to make one tomorrow.  He instantly lit up with a big smile and said "yes!".  This morning there was a knock at my door around 7:30 with a boy holding some skinny sticks and asking if I had yarn.  I went to get a ball of yarn and followed him to the patio of the boys dormitories.  We sat together and soon a dozen boys were gathered around wanting to make kites.  They ran off and found skinny sticks, old plastic garbage bags, and small pieces of string.  They ran back to the picnic table where I was sitting and laid all of their supplies on the table.  We helped each other by holding the sticks a certain way while someone else tied them together with string.




Soon, the "trash" turned into a kite!  They even trimmed the edges of the plastic bag to make it look fancy and added a tail using scraps of fabric.  They showed me how to tie the plastic to the little sticks.  So carefully and slowly they wrapped the thread so that the sticks wouldn't rip the plastic.


They also showed me how to wind the yarn around a small stick.  This yarn was tied to the middle of the kite and the person flying the kite would hold the stick of yarn as the kite flew to extend the kite higher into the sky.

The children are so resourceful.  It amazes me how they can take "garbage" and turn it into a treasure!  That reminds me of Jesus.  He sees all of the garbage in our lives, he loves us and accepts us just as we are.  When we choose to follow Him, He takes the sins in our life, and cleanses us.  He makes us a new creation (2 Corinthians 5:17).  He turns us into treasures.  He delights in us when we live a life that glorifies Him.  We are precious in His sight.  You are a prince or princess because you are the daughter of the King!       

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

I Can See!

I heard there was an eye doctor coming to Titanyen and knew it would be a great opportunity for our children and elders to get a check-up.  The doctor was going to be at the clinic next to our orphanage for 5 hours.  It was free to see the doctor and free to get glasses.

We had some children and elderly that had been complaining about their eyes, so I brought them to the eye doctor. We waited 1 ½ hours to be seen by the doctor.  In Haiti, you don't make an appointment.  You show up, wait, and when it is your turn you are seen.  Some people may wait literally all day to find out that the doctor's work is done for the day and they cannot be seen.


I was amazed at how their eyes were checked.  There was a special eye chart called an "E chart" that hung on the wall.  It had many E's turned to the left, to the right, and upside down.  The illiteracy rate in Haiti is so high.  Many people are not able to write their name or read.  I have seen many people write an "X" in place of a signature.  So, they are not able to use the kind of eye chart we use in America.  They would tell the eye doctor which direction the E was facing by pointing with their fingers up, down, left, or right.  Wow!  The E's got smaller as they progressed their way down the chart until they could not read them accurately.


If they had difficulty reading the chart, the eye doctor would use a special computerized machine that would give him more information.  In the photo below, one of our children is using the special machine and you can see the image of his eye.


One of our elderly needed bifocals.  When the doctor put them on his face he shouted, "Mwen ka we!" (which means, "I can see!").  He was so thankful to be able to see.  It was precious! I am so thankful that there are organizations that can help our children and elders.  What a blessing it is when people give of their time and expertise to help those in need.


Friday, April 26, 2013

High Fever


Last night, one of our new little girls had a very high fever!  At 6:00 pm it was at 104.1  Yikes!  I have never seen a child with such a high temperature.  She felt burning to the touch.  I knew we had to get her temperature down and racked my brain for ideas.  We bathed her, put a cold washcloth on her belly, put an icepack on her forehead, then on her back and in her armpit.  We gave her acetaminophen every 4 hours.  

Many Haitians use plants to cook soups that have healing properties.  I told Lynoue about her fever and asked if there was a special soup people made in Haiti for fevers.  Haitians know a lot of herbal remedies for ailments.  Lynoue said she knew what to do.  I went to check on Betline and Lynoue came in the room.  She brought her into the bathroom and held Betline in her lap.  She undressed Betline, put a clothes washing tub on the floor between her legs, and used a bar of lye soap to wash Betline’s hair.  She lathered it up, rinsed it out, and repeated this 3 times.  She rubbed the soap on her belly too.  Betline was saying she was scared that she was going to fall down and Lynoue kept reassuring her that she was holding her safely.  After the 3rd lathering, Lynoue did not rinse out the soap.  She left it in her hair and Betline slept like that through the night.  This morning her fever was at 100.4.  Thank goodness it had gone down some.  Poor little girl.  She’s 3 years old and malnourished. 

I picked up her test results at Mission of Hope to discover she is negative for malaria and typhoid.  These are the most common ailments in Haiti when someone has a fever.  In America, one may just have a fever.  In Haiti, a fever is a sign of something worse.  Maybe her body is fighting an infection?  We will keep researching to try to find out what is causing her high fever.  This afternoon, she broke out in a rash all over her body.  We are pumping fluids and trying to get her fever down.  Please pray for this sweetie.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Morning with my Gran Papi


I saw Ofane sitting on the patio waiting for Noty to clean and change his foot dressings.  I sat with him and we talked together.  He was telling me he needed a few things for his house.  He needed a lock for his toilet because he went to use it and it was dirty.  (In Haiti, one’s toilet is not in the house.  It is outside and others may use it and not keep it as clean as you would like.  Many people cover their toilet and put a lock on it so others don’t use it.)  I gave him a padlock for his toilet and he was so thankful. He also said he needed some Fab (laundry detergent powder) and soap to wash his clothes by hand.  I told him that I had more macaroni (Ramen noodles) for him and he asked for more powdered juice packets.  I love Ofane.  I call him my Papi.  He is like a grandpa to me.  He brings a smile to my face every time I see him.  



I watched Noty re-bandaged his foot and saw how Ofane helped her.  He would open the packages of gauze, squirt the wound cleaner on the gauze, and squeeze the antibiotic cream tube.  What a little helper!  Every once in a while he would look at me and make a silly face!

After getting all bandaged up, Ofane needed to wait for Jonas to come back in the Kubota in order to get a ride home.  I asked if he wanted to come sit on my porch with me.  He was grinning ear to ear and loved that idea.  He was a little hungry, so I brought him a peanut butter sandwich and a freshly blended mango-banana smoothie.  Yummy!  We sat outside together in our hand-made chairs.  They are made out of banana tree leaves. 

I asked Ofane if he knew how to play Dominoes.  He said, “Mwen remen!”.  He loves to play Dominoes.  I brought out a tin of Double 6 Dominoes and we arranged our bench in front of us like a table.  We each took 7 dominoes and started playing.  Playing games with him reminded me of playing games with my grandparents.  Ofane is like a Gran Papi (Grandfather) to me.  We sing together, talk together, dance together, and make goofy faces together.  We are both looking forward to playing more games of Dominoes.




Ofane is the kind of man who brings joy to others.  People light up around him.  He is expressive, smiley, and full of energy!  In his presence, one feels special.  He loves people for who they are.  Ofane is one special man.  He has taught me so many lessons about what it means to live in each moment…to cherish those around me…to love.  

Monday, April 22, 2013

Blood Draws

Those of you who know me, know that I pass out when I have my blood drawn.  I can't watch the needle pierce my skin when I get a shot.  I even get light-headed when I visit those who are sick in the hospital.  Despite all of this, I love to care for those who are sick.  I enjoy tending to their needs.  But, never imagined myself overseeing the medical care of 59 orphans.

I have seen more than I could have ever imagined in Haiti.  I have witnessed children pooping worms, getting their teeth pulled due to deep concave holes from cavities, vomiting, heads covered in fungus, gaping wounds, infected eyes, cracked open heads, and all kinds of ailments from tonsillitis, scabies, skin infections, ear infections, typhoid, malaria, and the common cold.  I have seen past the ailments and have been able to care for the child who is sick.  I hug them, love them, talk to them, and tell them they will be ok.  I make silly faces, I hold them when they are scared, and I try to make them laugh.

Recently, I brought some of our new children to a nearby clinic to have some lab tests done.  The lab tests tell us more about the child's health.  Often we do not know the quality of life the child has had prior to coming to live at our orphanage, so we don't know what kind of health conditions they may have.

The lab technicians are my friends since I frequently go to the lab with our children.  I knock on the wooden door to the lab and open it.  I say, "Bonjou!" (hello) and Younelle and Geurda turn and look at me with a big smile on their face and say, "Bonjou Kati!" (Hello Kathy).  I talk with them briefly about what lab tests need to be done and I sit with the children on the old fashioned vinyl blue chairs that are lined up by the wall.  Last time, I held a little girl who didn't want to have her blood drawn.  A friend of mine showed me how to hold a child so they can't wiggle during a shot/blood draw.  I'm so glad I know how to help the little ones now.


It's amazing to me how God gives me the strength I need to help these children.  I still can't believe I hold them and calm them when they are getting pricked by a needle.  I can't believe I look in the toilet and when I see a worm, I can identify what kind of parasite it is and can give the child the proper medication.  I am not afraid to give a child a scabies treatment.  I can examine a child's throat with a tongue depressor and know if the child has tonsillitis or an infection.  I pierce clues (kind of like a huge puss-filled zits) and drain the puss before applying antibiotic cream and a band-aid.  I clean wounds and bandage kids up.  The children call me their nurse and sometimes call me a doctor.  

Some have come to me with an owie and have said they want to be the nurse, to clean it and bandage it all by themselves.  I sit with them, give them a pair of gloves, and ask them if they know how to clean their owie.  They tell me "Wi, ou te montre mwen" (Yes, you showed me).  It's so cute to watch them play nurse, as they clean their wound, put the antibiotic cream on the band-aid before putting it on their owie, and carefully remove their gloves the "nurse" way with one inside the other.  They watch me closely!  We smile and I tell them they are a good nurse.  I love helping them.  I can't imagine a better way that God has used me in Haiti.  He has shown me how to trust Him.  In everything...even the things that I didn't think I could do.  It is during the most challenging moments that God reminds me that I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me (Phillipians 4:13).  


Friday, April 19, 2013

Sometimes all I hear is a whisper

Life is complex.  Full of choices.  How do I know that what I am choosing is the path that I should take?  How do I know if I am living a life in God's will?  When I feel a tug on my heart, is it God's voice?

The song Oceans Will Part by Hillsong has been a great reminder for me to trust God.  This song has carried me through some challenging times while I have lived in Haiti.  God has a plan in everything.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j7Uj_B0KNgU

Sometimes it is difficult to discern God's voice.  Especially, in the midst of chaos and questions.  While I have been in Haiti, I have questioned so many times what to do in a specific situation:  when a family comes to the gate and wants to give us their child to care for, when a child is sick, or when I am thinking about my future.  So often, I wonder, Lord what should I do?  How should I help?  What is your will?  Why can't I hear your voice?

God has been teaching me that I need to trust Him in all circumstances (proverbs 3:5-6).  When a situation arises that is complex and new to me, I need to pray.  I need to open my heart to the work that the Lord will do.  I need to pray for wisdom and guidance.  I pray for a peace that only God can give (Philippians 4:7).  I have learned how to trust.  Sometimes that means being patient.  God has led me through so many challenges.

We have a God that is all knowing, omniscient (Psalm 147:5).  A God who works all things together for our good (Romans 8:28).  Even if at times, we don't understand why certain things happen to us or others, God knows.  He is our healer (Psalm 103:1-3) and savior (John 3:16).  He pulls us through the storm.  Even if the storm seems impossible.  He gives us hope and faith in what is to come (Jeremiah 29:11).  He is victorious!  I am so thankful that he knows my every thought (Psalm 139).  He knows my heart and gives me the desires of my heart (Psalm 37:4).  My heart is to love.  I pray that the Lord continues to show me how to love and serve those around me.

Friday, April 12, 2013

Zingo!


A couple of weeks ago my mom, sister, and I taught the children how to play Bingo!  My niece purchased the game for the children with her own money and was so excited for my sister to bring it to Grace Village.  The children at Grace Village call it "Zingo!".  It was a new game to all of them.  I was surprised that they had never played it before.  We had about a dozen children playing at a time.  My sister and I were the bingo callers and my mom helped some little boys find the numbers.  They sat against the wall on my front porch as they eagerly waited for us to read the next number.  What a blast!  They were so excited when they noticed they had 4 numbers covered in a row.   Their eyes would grow big, some wiggled their bodies with anticipation, many snapped their hands (the Haitian snap), and many screamed with excitement.  When someone had "Zingo" they were ecstatic!  We played many games together.  At the end, they asked when we could play again!  I told them we could play more when I returned from Minnesota.



Last week, I returned from Minnesota.  The children ran to greet me with hugs and kisses.  They were so excited to see me!  Then, they asked, "Can we play Zingo?".  I knew a lot of children wanted to play so I invited them in small groups to play with me.  They were so excited!  I printed a checklist that included each child’s name.  I wanted to be sure I knew who had played and who still needed a turn.  I called them over in groups of 6 or 7 at a time.  Children gathered around the picnic table waiting for their turn.  They would peer over the shoulder of someone playing and get excited when they noticed that their friend had the number that was called.  Some of the older boys helped the younger boys and pointed to the number if they had it.  Each group played 2 games.  I was the caller for the first game and the winner was the caller for the second game.  I had a lot of fun playing with the children. 



Today I was reminded of the importance of spending quality time with the ones I love.  So, often I forget how important it is to live in each moment.  To cherish today.  I get distracted by the business of life and forget how important it is to slow down.  When I slow down, I am reminded of what is the most important.  Bil Keane wrote, “Yesterday's the past.  Tomorrow's the future.  But today is a gift.  That's why it's called the present.”.   

Remember to cherish today! 

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Treasures?

On April 4th, I flew back to Haiti.  I had been home in Minnesota for Easter.  What a blessing to spend time with my family and friends.  I was even able to surprise my kindergarten teacher colleagues for lunch on April Fool's Day!

As I flew back to Haiti, I remember looking out my plane window over Florida and saw many large homes with pools and hot tubs in their backyard.  I began thinking about how expensive it would be to live a luxurious life and wondered why someone would think they need so many things to live comfortably.  Then, I thought it would be nice to have luxurious things.  It felt like my mind and heart were in a war with one another.  I am being tugged by the Lord, reminded that sharing His love and truth with others is what is the most important.  Worldly possessions are not important.  But then I get greedy and think I would like to have those nice things.  I want to live comfortably, I want to plan, and to save money.  I want to buy nice things, quality things, so they last a lifetime.  Where is the balance?

In Matthew 6:19-21, the Lord says, "Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal.  But store up for yourselves treasures in Heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal.  For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.".

I am being challenged to think about what I value.  What do I consider my treasures?  Are my treasures things I can purchase, things that I hold onto in a box, or things that are worth a lot of money?  Or, do I treasure building relationships, time with my family, or sharing the love of Christ with others?  So, often there is pressure from the world on having 'it all'.  To live life to the fullest!  But, then I think if I had everything, and I didn't have Jesus, I would have nothing.  What would life be like without knowing there is a heaven, where I will live for eternity?  Without knowing that I have been created by a King, creator of the all things?  Without knowing that Christ died and rose again for my sins, and the sins of the world?  I am so thankful for knowing that I have a savior that is with me every day...through the good and the bad.  I am so thankful for the grace that He gives me and the unconditional love He provides.    

Below is a picture of the most beautiful rainbow!  It's hard to see in this photo, but it encircles the sun!  When I saw it, I was amazed by it's beauty!  It filled a large expanse in the sky!  It was a reminder to me of all of God's promises and His love for me.  I believe a planet is to the left of the sun too.  Glorious!  

Friday, March 15, 2013

Gross Story

I received a phone call informing me that another orphanage we support has 2 very ill children.  The broken translation suggested that these 2 children were "pooping animals".  I immediately thought they probably have parasites.  This illness is very common in Haiti.  It is severely contagious and needs to be treated immediately.

After a few more phone calls we had a plan.  I spoke with our nurse at Grace Village and asked her to go to the other orphanage, get stool samples, and bring the children to the laboratory.  She sprang into action.  Grabbed her first aid kit and gloves and was ready to go!  She jumped into our truck and our driver brought her to the other orphanage to help out with this medical situation.

In life, we are asked to do things...sometimes we are excited about the opportunity, sometimes we may feel inadequate, and sometimes we may want to run in the other direction.  Today, I was so proud of our staff in the way they helped take care of these 2 children, how they quickly responded, and gave them the medical attention they needed.  Each time I am stretched and challenged, I am reminded of how I am not alone in life's adventure.  I have a mighty God with me through everything.  Even the gross and ugly parts of life.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Hot Pink Glasses

I brought one of our older boys, named Junior, to see the doctor and he brought his scratched pair of glasses with him.  He hoped the doctor could give him medicine for his ailment and give him a new pair of glasses.  Few people wear glasses in Haiti (and many are amazed at how contacts work...I wrote about this in a previous blog) and I didn't know if this doctor had glasses, but we were hopeful.  We visited with the doctor, he prescribed medications, and then Junior asked if the doctor can fix his glasses?  To my surprise, the doctor said we needed to talk to a different man at the clinic named "Big Samiel".  So, we walked to a different room and I asked, "Ki kote, Samiel gwo?" (which means, "Where is big Samiel?").  A man asked me to wait for him.  I told him, "Mwen pa konnen li." (which means "I do not know him.").  The man told me in broken english, "He has big head.".  I said, "OK." and we waited for Big Samiel.  Soon, we saw him walking towards us and he asked us to come in a room that already had about 5 other people in it.  He asked for the Junior's glasses prescription and we didn't have one.  He had never seen an eye doctor.  He was given a pair of glasses to help him read in school and they were perfect for him.  Big Samiel told us he was very busy today helping people, but he could look for a pair of glasses for a little bit.  I thought to myself, that is great news...he can read the lens strength on the glasses frame that we have, and go into an organized storage room to find the exact same prescription.  Instead, he grabbed a huge duffel bag (see photo below), plopped it on the desk, and began digging through it.



Each used pair of glasses was in a plastic baggie with a small piece of paper that had the prescription written or typed on it.  There must of been thousands of glasses in the duffel bags.  I asked if I could help him look and he showed me how to read the paper with the prescription.  We both were digging through the duffel bags while Junior stood close by, peering over our shoulders, in hopes for a new pair of glasses.  Big Samiel found a pair and Junior tried them on.  They were the right prescription, but the wrong style.  This young man wanted something cool and with small frames...possibly rectangular in shape.  So, we kept digging.  I reached to the bottom and pulled out a pair of hot pink, large circle, plastic frames and noticed they were his prescription.  I said, "Gade li!" (which means "Look at these!") and Junior's eyes lit up and he had a huge smile on his face as he said, "Mwen remen anpil!" (which means "I love them so much!").  He is so thankful to have new glasses and especially loves his pink frames!  He is a trendsetter!  




Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Emotional Roller Coaster!

I thank God for giving me patience today during a difficult, stressful, medical situation.  Today was an emotional roller coaster.  One of my dear friends, an elderly in our ElderCare program, was brought to Mission of Hope, a clinic to the west of Grace Village, in our Kubota.  He has leprosy and has no feeling in his left foot.  The disease has eaten half of his foot, leaving it exposed.  He gets it bandaged every other day by our nurse.  He is full of joy and walks his goats in the field every day.  I have been told he is a living miracle.

This afternoon, I received a text message from Jess.  It was a miracle that I received the text, and many more to follow, because I do not have a phone plan that allows me to receive texts right now.  The text said Ofane, one of our elderly, is at Mission of Hope and needs prayer.  She didn't know what happened to him, but his foot was bleeding excessively, he was passing out, and vomiting.  Mission of Hope is a clinic and was not able to give him the medical care he needed, so we needed to bring him to another hospital.  He was so weak.

During Ofane's emergency, our truck was at another hospital with one of our boys who needed a cast.  Our driver and I left the hospital and traveled swiftly to Mission of Hope.  When I arrived, I saw Ofane slumped in a wheelchair.  He was breathing slowly, his eyes were droopy and closing, and his blood pressure was dangerously low.  We needed to transport him to the other hospital, but the nurses at Mission of Hope said he is too fragile to travel and they need to get an IV in him before he leaves.  They were having great difficulty getting his IV in a vain.  They tried for 45 minutes, with no success.  During this time, he kept drifting off and we were afraid we would lose him.  He was so weak and when he talked he told us he needs to sleep.  We told him "No, pa domi!" (which means, "No sleeping!").  I tried all of my tricks to keep him awake.  I did silly dances, I made goofy animal noises, I told stories about his goats, and I sang to him.  (I noticed the receptionist was laughing at my silly behaviors.  I was quite entertaining!)  Every once in a while his eyes would open and look at me.  He reached out for my hand and said, "Kati".  I told him that I was here with him and that Jesus loved him.  I told him I loved him too.  He slowly started to come back to us.  He started to smile at my silliness.  At this point, we removed his vomit covered shirt.  He sat in the wheelchair still slumped over, but was much more responsive.  The nurses asked us to give him something salty and all we had was a little packet of goldfish crackers.  He ate some.  The nurse asked him if he had Jesus in his heart.  He said, "Poco" (which means "Almost").  He then asked Jesus to live in His heart.  He prayed with Jess and the nurses.

I truly believe Jesus gave him another chance to live.  He was so close to death.  His blood pressure began to rise and we could transport him in the back of our pickup truck.  We wheeled him to our truck.  When he got in the truck bed, he said he didn't have a shirt and needed a shirt if he was going to see the doctor.  In Haiti, one always wears their best clothes to see the doctor.  We didn't have a clean shirt for him, so I gave him mine since I had an extra jacket I could wear.  His brother and our nurse brought him to a different doctor.  The doctor was able to get the IV started and stop his foot from bleeding.

This evening, Ofane was brought back to Grace Village.  I was so happy to see him!  He was walking and singing!  Ofane amazes me!  He was so happy to have Jesus in his heart.  I helped him change his clothes and prepared a bed for him to sleep in.  Our nurse is going to stay with him tonight and monitor him.

When I sat with him tonight (photo below was taken tonight), he was back to his joy-filled self.  He called me, "Ti Ka", which is the nickname he gave me.  He moved his arms in a dancing motion with me.  He sang and praised God for healing him and providing doctors and nurses to care for him.  He sat with alert eyes and a bright spirit.


Lord, thank you for Ofane and for sparing his life 
so his story can be shared to bring you glory.


Sunday, March 3, 2013

Foutbòl (Soccer) Game

Yesterday morning our older boys were invited to another orphanage in Titanyen to play a soccer game.  They love to play soccer and were eager to get to the field.  The boys put on their blue jerseys, cleats, and soccer socks with shin guards, and climbed into the Kubota.  The boys held on tight as the Kubota drove down one hill and up another to the soccer field.  



All of the other children piled into our pick-up truck and were driven to the soccer field.  We sat on the sidelines in the tall, dried up grass.  I led the children in some simple cheers.  We shouted, "Alle, alle, alle, vit!", (which means, "Go, go, go fast") and "Bon, bon, bon travay!", (which means "good, good, good job!".  We even had a drummer boy on the sidelines.  He found a big metal can and a large plastic jug and used 2 sticks to drum to the rhythm of our cheers.


The players were good sports and used different strategies to take the ball from their opponents.  It was amazing to see them kick the ball with their feet above their head.  One boy did an backwards cartwheel.  They seemed to keep the ball up in the air a lot and would bonk it with their head or kick their feet high.


What a great game!  We won 4-0!  The kids had a great time and it was fun to connect with other children in the community and build new friendships.  On the way home, I piled into the Kubota with a few of our children to head back to Grace Village.  Well, we didn't get far when we realized our tire was flat and the gears were not shifting.  So, we decided to walk back to Grace.  The Kubota driver stayed with the Kubota and waited for the mechanic to come and fix it.  One of the male guardians and I decided to run up the hill.  Woohoo!  What great exercise!  Today was a blessing to all of us!





Monday, February 25, 2013

LeLe

3 weeks ago, I felt burdened by the many changes that were whirling around me.  I knew God would pull me through, but I felt alone.  I wanted to feel God's presence.  I know God promises to always be with us, through life's trials and joys.  I needed to trust in that truth.  I was going to church and my heart felt so heavy.  When I arrived the church was packed.  Every pew was filled.  In Haiti, people sit close together, packed like sardines.  Some sit in the aisles and others stand on the sides and back of the church.  I squeezed next to a man on one of the benches.  To my surprise a young boy, followed me to the pew.  As I started singing the worship songs, he looked up at me with big brown eyes, reached for me hand and held it.  He smiled and sang with me.  When we sat down, he continued to hold my hand and rest his head on my shoulder.  This boy was a blessing to me.  He showed me Christ's love.  When I am going through a difficult time, Christ is with me.  He is holding my hand.  He is giving me rest and comfort.  This boy was a beautiful reminder of Christ's love.

2 weeks ago, the same little boy found me in church and squeezed next me.  He again reached for my hand.  When we sat down, he climbed into my lap.

Last week, the same little boy found me in church again.  He sat in my lap and looked so comfortable and peaceful in my arms.  He is a constant reminder that in the midst of a storm God is with me.  This boy has shown me such great love.  After church he asked me, "Ki jan ou rele?" (What is your name?).  I asked him the same.  His name is LeLe.  After church he continued to hold my hand and walked with me everywhere I needed to go.  All of the families had left church, but he was still holding my hand.  I asked him, "Pou ki sa ou la?" (Why are you still at church?).  He told me he wants to stay with me and hold my hand.


Yesterday, I went to church wondering if I would see LeLe.  I walked in the church and didn't see him.  I started singing worship songs.  We prayed and I bowed my head.  After the prayer, we sat down and I reached for my Bible that I put on the bench.  It wasn't there.  I looked around, and there was LeLe.  Holding my Bible next to his heart.  He smiled and handed it to me.  When it was time to read a scripture, I opened it to the correct place and handed it to him.  He took his pointer finger and slid it under the English words as the pastor read the scripture in Creole.

I wonder if he will find me in church next Sunday.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Mini Blogs



Visiting Another Orphanage 
Last Saturday, 14 of our children went on an adventure to another orphanage.  We rode in the tap-tap and sang worship songs on our way to La Plan.  It was about a 20-minute ride.  When we arrived the children greeted us with a welcome song and were so excited to see us.  We all sang worship songs together and learned about the importance of reading the Bible.  Pastor Wesley shared with the children that the Bible gives us wisdom.  To our surprise, the orphanage did not have any Bibles and the children had never read from the Bible.  Yet, they believed Jesus died for their sins and that God will provide for all of their needs.  It was beautiful to give them 7 Bibles when we left.  The director of the orphanage was so thankful for the Bibles and was eager to read the stories to his children.  Friendships developed between the children.  On the way home, many of the children asked when they can go back to visit their new friends.   





Painting Creativity
I invited two boys that have been great listeners and very respectful to come to my house for a special activity.  They walked through the door with wide eyes and anticipation.  I had watercolor paints and paper on the table.  They quickly sat down and started painting.  They used all of the colors and had big smiles on their faces.  It was so fun to spend quality time with them.  We drank juice and ate pretzels as we painted together.  What fun! 





Little house

Two boys came running over to me and said they wanted me to come see their house.  I followed them across our soccer field and behind an old water truck.  At the rear of the truck was a small wooden structure that was about 7” tall.  These boys are so creative.  They found wood scraps on the ground at Grace Village and built the wooden house that is pictured above.  One of the boys said that when he grows up he wants to build a house that he can live in…just like this one.  He even showed me how the small wooden piece on the right side opens.  This is the door.  In Haiti, it is common to see homes built just like this smaller version.  Often people use many small pieces of wood and piece them together to form a shelter from the wind and rain.  





Vini! (Come!)
One afternoon Junior, one of our older boys, came running to me and with a smile on his face said, “Katy, vini.”.  Which means, “Kathy, come”.  He continued to explain to me that he has a surprise for me that will make me very happy.  He led me to the flagpole and flying high at the top of the pole was a silk handkerchief of the American flag.  He put one hand on his heart and his other hand in a salute, while I sang the Star Spangled Banner.  He tried to sing along too.  Other children joined us with their hands on their hearts and we all hugged and cheered at the end of the song.  I am thankful for all of the people who have protected our country and fought for our freedom.





Mountain Climb
Shortly after sunrise, we brought some of our teenagers on a hike up the mountain.  The children walked two by two in the rocky gravel on the side of the road.  Some chose to jog and others walked.  We climbed all the way to the top!  What a beautiful view!  As we looked down into the valley we saw rolling hills, people riding donkeys, people carrying their produce to the market, farmers walking with their machetes ready to cut down plaintains, children with large buckets going to get water at the well, and ladies carrying baskets of clean laundry home.  We had a beautiful hike.  What a great way to start the day!    




Saturday, January 26, 2013

Grace Village


This morning our team went to Grace Village.  I have been living here for 6 months and call Grace my home.  There are 56 children that live at Grace.  There are many ministries at Grace Village…orphanage, church, school, aquaponic farm, ElderCare program, and soon to be clinic and dental building.  God has blessed Grace Village with the funds to keep growing and serving the people in the community.  All employees of Grace Village are Haitians.  There are 4 missionaries that live at Grace and we have been blessed with family and friends who have given donations to support us in our ministry.




When we arrived at Grace, we gathered all of the children in the feeding center and we all sang praise and worship songs together.  The children sing beautifully.  They lift their hands in praise, and sing with all of their heart to the Lord.  They are passionate about loving and serving God.     




We divided the children into 2 groups…boys and girls.  First, the girls went out to play on the playground, to jump rope, engage in a game of basketball, and play with a deck of cards.  The boys had their faith lesson.  They learned about 2 Corinthians 5:17, “If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation;  the old has gone and the new has come.”.  It was a beautiful lesson on how we are made new in Christ.  Christ died for our sins and loves us as we are.  We were made in the image of Christ and are born again when we choose to follow Him.  When the boys finished their faith lesson and craft the children switched activities.



 
We shared a wonderful time together this morning.  It was a morning full of smiles and laughter.  The children at Grace are inspiring.  Many have come from difficult pasts.  At Grace Village they feel safe and loved.  They trust that their needs will be provided for.  They believe in one true God…a God who loves them unconditionally.  Their faith is so great.  The Lord’s love is so deep and wide.