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.     

Friday, January 25, 2013

Paradise on the Island

My mom and I were able to spend a night together at a resort called Club Indigo.  It was gorgeous!  The scenery was unbelievable.  It's hard to believe we are in a third world country.  As we sat at the ocean, we could see the mountains behind us.  We walked along the shore of the Caribbean as the waves gently rolled in.  As dusk approached, we relaxed as the sun set.  Fluorescent hues filled the sky as the sun sank into the ocean.  It was a beautiful evening. 

In the morning, we enjoyed a delicious brunch.  A chef prepared our omelets right in front of our eyes!  The fresh fruit was so sweet.  We ate pineapple and mangos.  After breakfast we headed back to the beach and swam in the waves and enjoyed the sun.  What a beautiful day!


Yesterday we visited the elderly in Titanyen.  Healing Haiti takes care of about 30 elderly in the community.  They provide them with medical care, clean water, and meals.  Each week different Healing Haiti teams visit specific elderly and bring them care packages, pray with them, and sing worship songs with them.  It is such a precious time to share with them.

Ofane is in our ElderCare program.  He is a man filled with so much joy and gratitude.  When I told him my mom was coming to visit Haiti, he started dancing.  He was so excited to meet her.  Yesterday, we got to meet him.  Our team arrived at his house and he came out to greet us.  He shook our hands and hugged us.  He was so happy to see us.  He is a living miracle.  He has leprosy.  He has lost most of his foot to the disease, yet that does not hinder him.  He walks his goats daily, comes to Grace Village to get a new bandage on his foot every other day, dances, jokes, and is so thankful to Jesus for the blessings that God has poured out on him.  What a way to embrace each moment and to be thankful for all that the Lord has blessed him with.  To see each day as a new day!  A day to love and serve the Lord!  A day to be a living example of loving others the way Christ does.       

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Roselind and Tiny Baby

We traveled to Gertrude’s orphanage today.  Gertrude is an amazing woman who has an orphanage with 46 children.  ⅓ of the children go to school and ⅔ of the children have special needs and do not attend school.  Gertrude (pictured below) is one of the few people in Haiti who loves all children no matter what their abilities.  She values each person as a child of God.  If a family member is unable to care for their child, if the child is abandoned, or if the child’s family is deceased, she helps out.

My heart was so excited to see Roselind today.  I met her in 2009, when I came to Haiti for the first time.  She lives at Gertrude’s orphanage in Port-au-Prince.  She is wheelchair bound and does not speak.  She loves to hold my hand and look into my eyes.

Today I sat next to her and she smiled as she reached out her hand to grab mine.  I said, “Ou sonje mwen?” (which means…do you remember me?).  She smiled as she began shaking my hand and joyfully kicking her legs.  She was filled with excitement.  I started singing a few worship songs in Creole and she continued to smile. 

She is about 16 years old.  I picked her up and carried her to a large mat on the floor.  We sat together as we clapped our hands, smiled at each other, and sang to the worship music my friend played on his guitar.  She had so much joy!  Her joy overflowed from her heart and jumped right into mine.

Tiny Baby
This morning and evening we also went to Sisters of Charity.  It is a hospital for sick and dying children.  Many infants and young children are brought to this hospital by their families for help in nurturing the children back to health.  So many of the children are so malnourished their skin appears to be hanging off of their limbs.  The cribs are lined up in rows.  As I entered one room, I saw infants stretching out their arms to be picked up as they cried.  Sometimes crying from pain, other times crying because they craved to be held and loved, sung to, prayed for, or fed.  The children wore ID bracelets on their legs with their name, age, and date of admission.  It was surprising to read the bracelet and find out that the child was actually 4 when they looked as though they were 18 months. 

I fell in love with a sweet baby.  He was 5 months old.  He was quite malnourished and so cuddly.  I held him and sang to him.  He was quite alert and enjoyed watching me and other people who walked by.  He had an IV in his foot.  He was having trouble keeping his formula down and he spit up on me.  I cleaned him up and changed his clothes and held him longer.  He was so precious.     

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

5 Gallon Buckets

Yesterday, I met the Healing Haiti team at the airport.  I am so excited to be a part of the short-term team this week.  My mom is on this team and I am so blessed to share new experiences with her.  Healing Haiti teams spend each day serving the people of Haiti in a variety of ways.

Today we went to 3 districts (kind of like small cities) in Cite Soleil to deliver clean water.  Cite Soleil is considered the slums of Haiti.  The people who live there are the poorest of the poor.  Their homes are made of tin pieces hammered together.  Garbage is pilled along the side of the road.  You will see children running bare-footed and some of them are naked.  Many children are not able to attend school since their families can’t afford to send them.  Many children have the responsibility of getting water for washing clothes, cooking, drinking, and bathing.  The Haitians carry their 5 gallon buckets to the water truck and wait in a long line to get clean water.  Some come running with their buckets.  

Their buckets are empty…in hopes of getting them filled before the water runs out.  It made me think about my “bucket”.  What do I fill my bucket with?  Do I allow God to fill it and meet all my needs?  Do I allow Him to fill it with love and compassion so that I may use the gifts He has given me to bless others?  What is in your bucket?  Do you allow your bucket to spill over to be blessings to others? 

At our third water stop, I noticed a girl who had a large cut on her arm.  I was able to clean it, apply some antibiotic cream and bandage it.  She was a little scared and cried.  I’m sure it was painful to get her wound cleaned out.  But, it had started to get infected and needed to be cleaned.  When I finished cleaning her wound, I used a wipe to clean her arms, legs, and feet.  She calmed down some as I washed her.  Her grandma approached me and told me about her other granddaughter who had an infection on her ear.  She brought her to me and wanted me to help.  I did not know what was on her ear, but it looked infected.  So, I cleaned it and applied antibiotic cream.  Cleaning a wound and applying antibiotic cream sounds so easy…but in Haiti, caring for small wounds is challenging because the water is not clean and the children sit on the ground (which is dirt) when they play.  I was thankful that I was able to help these children today. 

I started singing “Tootie Ta”, it’s a fun children’s song that is kind of silly too.  It was a big hit with all of the children.  They eagerly joined in and we were all laughing as we moved our bodies to the song.  The little girl who had the cut on her arm joined in the song.  She was full of smiles and grabbed my arm and didn’t let go.   

If you are interested in learning more about Healing Haiti and short-term mission trips go to

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

What would you say?

I was busy typing on my computer and a 5 year-old little boy, walked over to me and picked up my i-hone and said, "Mwen vle ecri Jezi" (I want to write Jesus).  I opened an app that was a blank notepad and he began typing as fast as he could.  He sat next to me for about 15 minutes, which is a long time for this little guy.  Here's what he wrote...

Dxnxkxkxkoxoxoxxxxjxo kxlxoxopsxolsdksllxxlxoksnxmxzkkxnckckxkckxlzlxkxkxkxmxkxmlckxlsaMznsmdkd snxnkdjdaksxjdkxkkssksksjjankakskwkwkwndc bxjanxn. B no xbnnxkxnxbxbxxbzjnanxkskzkzn n n bNznnxanjssnkZxjbxb jxjizzjuszjjdksjssidiussodjsieiissoksudidysjdjjducbishvd.



E smdkxmxkfkfkfffkfdkddeddsmckkfkxkfkkkkcvmfkkkekiidjkjjfjfjcvokfkcfkkfkfkfkdfjdjkfvjkkfkffkdkkkoooow

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

"My Teacher"

Etienne is our driver at Grace Village.  He brings us to our children's appointments, the market, and runs errands with us.  We go to the pharmacy to pick up prescriptions, to the clinic, the dentist, to buy clean water, gas, etc.  I met him in August.  He is a patient, kind man.  When I first saw him, he was holding a small book about 4" tall and 2 ½" thick.  It was an English dictionary.  The cover was torn and the pages were tattered.  He would sit on a bench and study English as he waited to drive us somewhere.  He practiced his English continuously.  I would sit with him and sing the ABC song and practice letter sounds with him.    

I enjoyed practicing with him.  He would call me, "My Teacher".  I would help him pronounce words correctly.  We would take turns sharing the English and Creole word.  I was learning from him as he learned from me.  We enjoyed being each others teacher.  He always said, "I want to speak good English, not bad English.  I want everyone to understand my English.".  We would practice the tough sounds: th, and rrr.  I would correct him on sentence structure and he would repeat words or phrases after me.  He always had a smile on his face when we practiced.  We would laugh together when words were tricky to say.  He welcomed every chance he could practice his English.

It's been about 5 months since I met Etienne.  He has been diligently practicing his English.  Yesterday, he was carrying a different book.  It was a children's Bible storybook.  On one page there was an illustration and on the other page was the story.  The cover was missing and pages were torn.  He told me a friend lent it to him so he could practice his English.  He was so excited to read.  I asked him which story he was going to read first.  He said he would start at the beginning and read to the end.  I pointed to the first sentence in the first story and asked him, "Do you know these words?".  He immediately began reading slowly the entire sentence.  What determination!  I told him he should practice reading the first story and then he can read it to me.  He was so appreciative and said, "Then, you can see what I comprehend.  I need My Teacher to help me."  I am so proud of him for his diligence in learning English and for his patience.  It is such a joy and honor to be his teacher.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Back to Haiti Life

I arrived in Haiti on January 1st.  I found myself talking with customs workers in Creole and even met a famous Haitian body builder on the plane.  I was "home".  I have been trying to get back into Haiti life.  Each day in Haiti is a different day.  I don't have a specific routine that I follow.  Things just come up and I help out.  Every day is an adventure.  I wake up and know that God will prepare me for what happens each day.

Last week, Dr. Sem came to Grace Village and I worked closely with him.  Dr. Sem is a Haitian doctor and speaks English quite well.  We were a great team.  We set up a mini clinic in one of our bedrooms.  We had a little desk for Dr. Sem to take notes in the children's medical files, a bench for the patient, an ear flushing station, and I set up a pharmacy with all of the prescription medications on the bottom bunk bed.  We were ready to see all 56 children.  The children have check-ups quarterly.  

One by one the children came into the "doctor's office".  He checked their eyes, ears, throat, stomach, and skin.  The children shared with him how their health was and he prescribed the needed medications.  I was his secretary/pharmacist.  I handed him the medical files, wrote the ailments and medication dosages in English on additional medical files, filled prescriptions (counted pills and wrote the dosages in Creole on Ziploc baggies), wrote prescriptions, and assisted with any needed minor medical procedures (ear flushings, wound cleanings, etc).  I loved working with Dr. Sem.  He enjoys mentoring me since my background is not in health care.  Who knows, maybe I will decide to go back to school to pursue a future in medicine.  The possibilities are endless!

Minnesota Adventures

What a beautiful Christmas in Minnesota.  I felt like I was in a dream.  I couldn't believe I was really heading home.  I had a lot of time to think on the plane and in Miami when I had a layover.  I knew life in Minnesota was going to be different than life in Haiti.  

I was welcomed by my family and Ken at the airport.  It was strange riding in a car on a smooth road.  In Haiti, the pot holes are like craters and one's body is jostled about in the vehicle as the driver tries to navigate around the huge potholes.  I often found myself comparing my experiences in Haiti with life in Minnesota.  I was amazed to open the refrigerator to find a plethora of food...even milk!  I loved being able to sit on the carpet and play games with my nieces and nephew.  I loved seeing the beautiful Christmas lights and snow (I couldn't believe how cold it was in teeth were clickity-clacking whenever I went outside, even though I was bundled up.).  I loved baking Christmas treats and eating so many that the children in Haiti said, "Katy, ou gwo! Ou te mange anpil nan Minnesota.  Bondye te beni ou!" (which means, Kathy you are big! You ate a lot in Minnesota! God blessed you!). They view a healthy weight as being blessed by God because God has provided you with food.  I also loved lounging on the couch, talking in English with my family, and relaxing.  My family and Ken took such good care of me while I was home.  I missed my "family" in Haiti, but felt so blessed to spend time in Minnesota and Iowa.  I even enjoyed the luxury of eating dinner at the Olive Garden and Angeno's.  Delicious!

I had time to think about my values and how they are starting to change.  God has been teaching me about the importance of loving your neighbor.  I believe that means loving those around me, my family, my friends, and showing compassion to those who struggle in life.  God has taught me to be a prayer warrior.  To pray all the time.  When someone comes to my mind, I say a prayer for them.  My heart is thankful for the blessings God has shown me.  I want to continue living a life that serves others.  I want to encourage others to live a life that glorifies God.  I want the Lord to continue to shape me in a way that brings Him praise.

Life in Minnesota is so different than in Haiti.  I found myself comparing how I used to live my life in Minnesota to how I live now in Haiti.  Before I moved to Haiti, I was less appreciative for the things I had.  I was a loving person, who trusted God, but also enjoyed buying new things and now realize that I had begun to believe that the things I wanted were the things I needed.  I used to pray, but mostly for things I wanted.  While living in Haiti, God has changed me.  I see the world in a new way.  I know that He will continue to change how I think about things and perceive the world and I am excited to become more like Christ.  He walked the earth and lived among us.  He knows our struggles and He knows sin.  By His blood, I am cleansed.  He died for every one of my selfish desires.  He died for every hurt I have caused.  He died for me...and He died for you.  I am so thankful to have a God that loves me that much.  I am blessed.