Thursday, November 19, 2009

A Visit HOME

We made it to Passe Catabois. What a beautiful place with such beautiful smiles. On Friday we walked to a market with our Haitian family, four of our favorite Haitian children. We walked for what felt like hours. Arrived at the market, it was like being at the mall with your children for the day. So much fun to just be with the children and see the culture. On the walk to the market had interesting conversation about what it means to be a godly person. Talked about loving others, raising a family. It was such a sweet conversation on a dirt road into the mountains. It was a sweet trip home. Spent time visiting homes and seeing families. We had the opportunity to name two babies, which was a neat blessing. They were newborns, one month old without names. The families asked us for help, we got Ester and Immanuel. You never know what you are going to get in Haiti.

Someday a DESIRABLE Land

This is life for so many children.

Thinking how could this be....still thinking.

Taking a shower. How beautiful is the flow of water.

Flying a kite. This was so hard for me to watch. Thought back to my childhood. The joy of grass between my toes, the joy of running in a open field with my ma or pa, happiness of school. I looked at this land and was without words.

It has truly been an experience that my heart and eyes will never forget. We left Cite Soleil on Wednesday and before we left we got to go to Mounge, probably one of the most poorest, devastated areas my eyes have even seen. We delivered water. We rolled into the town and as soon as people saw us they came running with buckets. One never knows how precious water is until it is not there. It was a hard day as my eyes have never seen so much garbage and poverty, the extreme. Mounds and mounds of it, pigs where children walk, shacks, hardly life. In the distance i could see the Atlantic where all of it led. As I watched the children play my heart could feel nothing but a deep sadness and the need to weep for this land. It took all of me to hold it together as I watched children not much more than 5 years old standing in the garbage flying kites. I thought back to when I was 5, what was I doing, where was I playing, did I have family, was I in school? How is it that I got so blessed to have the life I have?

Reading a verse in Psalms, it stated I will turn this once devastated, desolate land into a desirable land. My prayer for this place, Haiti, Cite Soleil, Mounge, is that one day it becomes a desirable land where children can feel the warmth of love from family, the feel of grass beneath there feet as they run, the joy of having running was a hard day, but my hard day can not even compare to their hard days. We left with the team and my heart knew in so many ways that Cite Soleil and Mounge are not done with me yet, I will be back.

Dancing in the Street

I have completely lost control of myself as my sister has decided to dance up a storm with the children in the streets. It was our last day there and the band started to play. Pure joy to just dance with the people and children. It was like everything else around us disappeared. It was beautiful.

We ended the day rolling up to the car to hear the "band." hahah, what a show, but loved it. A couple horns, drums, and, and white tubes and they were jamming like you would not believe. People dancing, laughing, children singing, it was a perfect finish to the day. Seeing laughter and family in the hardship of the streets. It was for that hour that many forget about everything that surronded them. It was JOY! Made my heart smile to just share that with them and have them want to give us the gift of music and friendship.

Isaiah 61 and a SMILE

A sister and a brother.

We are here for another two days, the mural is coming to an end. It has been quite a trip. Today came a conversation that was all to hard to hear, but at the same time an eye opener for the reality of Cite Soleil. Today I climbed up on the water tower to escape the countless questions of the men, children, and everyone else. Got to the top and just looked out over the countless shacks, tin roofs, people walking, and garbage. The scent of the garbage permeates your noise, makes you sick to your stomach. Taking it all in, thinking about the countless children that walk the roads daily looking for food, the countless people looking for jobs, countless people that are in search of love and family, it became this image of shacks beyond shacks. In about five minutes one of our young boys came up to the top of the water tower to join me. He is 16 and not in school. In that next 15 minutes we shared some conversation about his life. His family is him. He lost his mother, his father is nowhere, lost his sister at age 4, and he lives with his friend. The next question out of his mouth made my heart sink and feel this sense of guilt with how blessed I have been. His next question and look in his face made my heart so heavy. Looking into the eyes of a boy that lost his parents before he was even 15, he asked, "Are any of your parents still alive?" Like they should not be here, or at least one of them. With a simple yes I didn't think anything of it. His face displayed this emotion of, wow, how did you get so lucky? Almost left me with a sense of guilt in all that I have been blessed with, my grandparents, aunts, uncles, sister, brother, parents., Broke my heart to look at this young boy and see that he was completely by himself, but still he embraced me and smiled with such friendship. One of those conversations that will never leave my heart. I had to look at this boy and communicate to him that his strength, faith, and courage was far greater than mine. With that statement he respond, "You think." Like it was question. I thought about if I could ever survive one night of Cite Soleil.

By the end of 8 hours I am freaking out with being dirty, not wanting to use their "toilet" and pushing my "hunger." This boy had not eaten all day, sat next to me, holding my hand, sharing a smile and laughing and saying that he thought I had more courage and faith. Crushed my heart to see how he saw himself. It was my sweetest, but hardest moment today to have him open up his heart with me on the top of that water tower today. Before we left Cite Soleil I told him that he now had two sister, me and my sister, with that comment the grin on his face broke out into a full on smile. It was a sweet sight.

Came home to read a neat verse, "Peace and righteousness will be our leaders. Violence will disappear from the land; the desolation and destruction of war will end. Salvation will surround you like city walls, and praise will be on the lips of all who enter there. Isaiah 61:17-19
Isaiah 62: 1 Because I love Zion, because my heart yearns for Jerusalem, I cannot remain silent, I will not stop praying for her until her righteousness shines like the dawn, and her salvation blazes like a burning torch.
Those two verses just really captured my heart for Cite Soleil. A place that has been so devastated by war and violence, a desolate, destructed land that will one day be a place that is a desirable land that shines like the dawn because her righteousness is so marvelous. The days continue to be hard, but God's beauty and love have been in each one.

A Sweet DAY

Soccer in the streets. One of my favorite days.

Visited a project in another part of Port-au-Prince. It was a home for 10 children. Such a beautiful place with beauitful children. My heart could not help but think where they might be if God did not rescue them into this home.

Went to bed not even having it on my mind, thinking more about the thickness of our day. Woke up the next morning hearing in my heart and head, "Go to Mouge." It was the neatest thing, have never experienced something like that. So clear that I lied there for a bit and just prayed that God would pave a way for us to go. It is hard for us now, as half our team got a scare the other day, so we are walking lightly in other parts of Cite Soleil. Using wisdom and trying to determine what is best, so please pray that this area would quiet down and we would get to Mouge. I just feel like the Lord has something there for me to see or hear.

Today we visited a place an hour from here. We went with an American man, he helped establish something called, "A Servants Heart." It is a home that houses 10 boys and girls. A Haitian woman is running it with the help of his support. The neatest place. Big blue house, children greeted us with English asking us what our names were. It was precious. So neat to look into these children's eyes and see them have life and in full. Had to stop and look at these children and think about where they might have been without this HOME. They were precious, so neat to see how God is using people here to not only love on the people, but empower them to serve their country and God.Left there with a feeling of this is something I would want to do, feel like God has put young boys on my heart. Men are the majority of the voice here in Haiti I feel like I see and hear about adultery and unfaithfulness in so many ways. Been thinking more and more lately how it would be neat to work with street boys, bring them into a home, send them to school, share the gospel and display the love of Christ, and RAISE LEADERS. In turn they someday raise their families with the same strength they learned. Been a neat couple of days, praying that the Lord continues to reveal things while we are here.

The sweetest moment from the last couple of days was playing ball in the streets. End of the day and the elder men were setting up a match for us to watch. They just scrapped up the slop, sewer, trash for us to play on this paved area. One of our friends asked if I wanted to play, :) why not! 4 on 4 in the middle of slum. Crazy. People surrounded the "field" and it was so neat to see how the play of soccer brought a town together. So much fun to just laugh with these men. They kicked my butt, but I tell you I would play again. I was a little thankful that I stopped before the ball went flying into the sewer. hahaha, so nasty. The had a little boy fetch the ball. He took his shoes off before he went in.(good he did that, would not want to get dirty:) Rolled the ball through the stream line of crap, garbage, all that goodness and threw it back up! You better believe I left that ball chilling in cite soleil for the night. Been so amazing to embrace this place and the people, falling more and more in love with Haiti.

God's AMAZING Hand

Our beautiful crew.

The mural. It was 20 feet tall. It was so neat to see how the people took ownership as they were picking out words to paint on the mural. Viv~Life~Lape~Peace~Lamou~LOVE~Volonte~

This word, "JWA," (Joy) helped me sing my heart out and see the beauty of God's REDEMPTION.

Today was a day with many experiences. As we geared up to do the wall today I found myself lazy and sitting on the side with some of the guys. Had to laugh with some of the sweet conversations we were having. One man was reading my dictionary and I saw that the word in creole for JOY was jwa. I started saying it over and over and before you know it, the once gang member was teaching me, "I have the joy, joy, joy, joy, down in my heart." It was precious. Together we sang, I decided to get up and make the 50 year old dance with me. One of my favorite parts of this trip has been talking creole with these guys. Many of them know English, but have had fun talking Creole with me and teaching me more words.

Been a blessing to my language and experience in the city.. The mural is coming along. The guys have been so helpful and every stroke with their brushes is with grace, so neat to watch how therapeutic is seems to be. Caitlin shines so beautifully here. I love sitting back and just watching here at work here in Haiti. Such a blessing to walk along side her and embrace these experiences together. Today the garbage smelled awful. As we walked to the water tank I could not help but notice the crap on the side of the wall of the open sewer tunnel. NASTY, is all I got to say. My gratefulness has expanded dramatically. I have been praying that ring worm and scabies does not come to know me:) as I am letting the children climb all over me:) I might regret this, but today it was whole lots of fun to laugh and sing with them. The day came to an end that left us full of thankfulness.

Three of our five went out to another part of Cite Soleil today. With them they took security while we stayed at the tank with another 4 guys of security. They were going to go give medical care, walking the streets. They went to go treat a baby and upon walking in the house one of our gals said she had this weird feeling about a guy when they walked in. Within five minutes they received a call to inform them that a gang was on their way to the house, not more than a half a block away. They got out of there and made it back to our area. After we chatted tonight, Caitlin and I had the chance to sit down and talk about the amazing hand of God both before us, behind us, and hovering over us. His amazing hand leading us into this city, guiding us through the days, surrounding us with his heavenly host. It has been nothing, but God's favor and protection and LOVE. It was one woman that informed our guy what was about to happen. This woman did not know our guys, she could have gotten herself into trouble, but today she allowed God to use her and bring us such thankfulness.

God's heavenly host have been hovering over us. It has been a blessed trip so far.

Cite Soleil: Because HIS Love Reigns

May God's LOVE capture ALL His children.

Sharing a prayer.

Cari and Tammy at work.

Our last trip to Haiti was in November. We had been praying about this trip for two years. Cite Soleil is a hard city to get into. Well, it is easy to get into, but it is advised not to go into without connections and security due to the high rate of kidnappings and gang circulation. We met Tammy Babcock about a year ago and she has done extensive work in Cite Soleil. After meeting her in Haiti, we came home and about a year later decided to try and find her. WE FOUND HER! Under her work, her security we were able to go in and work in Cite Soleil. My sister painted the recently built water tower. It was God's favor that got our paint to Haiti in the first place and it was even more God's favor as we stepped back and were able to look at the amazing piece of artwork that Caitlin completed. It was two weeks before we were to leave for Haiti that I finally got a very direct answer that we could not personally carry the paint on the plane. After many phone calls, prayer, God figured a way to get the paint there three days before we showed up in Haiti. It was amazing to see how he paved the way in making this happen. The mural was such an amazing ministry as we were able to have so many interactions with the people and relationships with the workers. Children were constantly present and we always had helping hands to pour into this piece of artwork. The neatest part was seeing how they took ownership over the tower and really took it upon themselves to participate in the painting.