Friday, June 29, 2012

Haiti 2012

Today was my fourth day here and honestly by the first day, I had already learned a lot of things about myself.  Walking around in Haiti made me realize that I take the gifts of life for granted.  Back home I am so spoiled, yet I never really noticed it.  Not only that, but I feel like we spend so much time worrying about the simple things in life. By being here, I realize that the people in Haiti aren't ashamed of anything.  As a matter of fact, they seem quite happy with the way that they live.  Not to mention, they seem to appreciate everything that others have to offer "without" complaining. 

For the past couple of mornings during bible devotions we've talked about hope.  Some people think that the people here in Haiti have no hope, while others seem to think otherwise.  In my opinion, I think that when we look around we let our emotions get in the way of everything.  They have hope; however, it's hard for us to believe that.  When we looked around we see little hope only because we are used to living in a certain way.  To them every year they get a little bit stronger.  Without hope I don't think that they would've came as far as they have already. 

We also were fortunate enough to go and visit a few orphanages and tour some villages.  It's amazing how much love is found here.  The children all run up and hold your hands and they just crave for attention.  Not to mention, they love taking pictures.  When I look around I see so many ways one could help; but at the same time, I feel so helpless.  It's quite a culture shock when you notice that children don't even own a  pair of shoes; however, my closet is so full I can't figure out which pair to wear.  I just pray that when I go back into America I'll be able to show others how big of an eye opener this trip has been to me.  I also pray that I'll learn to appreciate the things of this world without worrying about tomorrow.  Being here has taught me many things and it has been a great experience.  I encourage others to experience it as well, because you never know what you may learn about yourself that never slipped your mind before.

Destiny Key; Kentucky

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Today was our second day here in Haiti for Children's Lifeline.  Our day started out at prayer rock with a devotion by David speaking about obeying God's authority with the verses found in John 10:27-31.  Shortly after that, Spring took us on a tour through La Digue, the local village.  We walked around the village with local children flocking to us almost immediately.  The first thing that stole me was the lack of shoes that these children had.  For those unfamiliar, the terrain here is mountainous and not extremely conducive for bare feet.  Many children, in fact, asked for the shoes on my feet.  We walked around and looked at the dam where many children went for a swim in the water.  After that we were taken to look at one of the houses that was recently built.

After lunch we went to two orphanages with Mark, Richard, and Sylvio as our translators.  At the first orphanage we provided a bible school for the children including singing led by Hilary and Julie, a lesson by Josh over John 3:16, crafts, and activities.  The children sang for us in their native language, which was one of the highlights of the day for me.  At the second orphanage, we did another bible school with them.  Before we left the second orphanage we passed out 17 love bundles to the children.  This was the second highlight of my day. 

The children were in pure joy over what little they received from us today.  It made me question my life and what I am used to having on daily basis; sounds kind of cliché but this is my first, in person, experience with extreme poverty.  This first day could be summed up into one word: surreal.  I’ve heard stories, of course, about what it was like here, and also saw pictures from previous trips, but seeing it in person is completely different.  At prayer rock this morning we were asked to share what impacted us the most.  The thing that impacted me the most was the normalcy of this country compared to where I come from.  We come from spoiled, energy wasting America, and the norm down here is shacks and tents.  I’m praying for God to use our group to do whatever it is that He has intended for us to do down here for the next several days, and that the kids and Haitians that we come into contact with each day have open hearts to hear what God wants us to say.

-Reagan Summers from Illinois

Friday, June 8, 2012

Yesterday was a holiday. It was God's birthday in Haiti. Happy birthday, God. I have no idea what the significance of the holiday is, and the Haitians didn't seem to know either... :)

It was a day of contrast (and so has been the whole trip really). We saw two extreme sides of Haiti: the ugliness of poverty and sickness and the suffering of children; but we also enjoyed the stunning beauty of Haiti's coastline. It was the experience of two worlds, really. And we Christians know the whole two worlds thing, don't we? The already and not yet. The city of God and the city of Man. 

The morning was spent with the children at a local school, Bois Neuf. Lifeline coordinates sponsorships for these children. Even though it was a holiday, many students showed up to update their height and weight, so that Lifeline can provide a general report to share with their sponsor families. While the kids waited, we played soccer, sang songs, distributed coloring books and crayons, and had lots of fun with the kids.

This is what is so amazing about children in Haiti (I've experienced this in India and Kenya as well): despite the sickness, pain and lack they experience, their spirits are high. That is an important distinction to make... even within the ugliness of such extreme poverty, there is beauty in a stalwart and courageous human spirit, no doubt because the love of God is present in their lives.

In the afternoon, Lifeline team also took us to a nearby beach. I can't say it was as beautiful as those children, but you must know: Haiti is no wasteland! There are parts that are entirely destroyed, ravaged by years of abuse and poverty, and of course the earthquake. But the clear, warm Caribbean water and imposing mountains put so many U.S. beaches to shame! It was a relaxing afternoon to end the week's work, but it was more than vacating. I found it very important to realize what Haiti could be. God's creation is wonderful - the people and places of Haiti are good examples of that. But humanity has failed to steward God's creation in many ways, and the Haitians are no exception on that point. It may take years and years, but there is a strong vision among Haitians and those doing relief and restorative work here to return Haiti to its natural beauty and wipe away the destruction of disease and suffering.

We are people of contrast, living in two worlds, struggling with a real and often disparaging tension. Yesterday was a day to celebrate the good in that tension, and obtain a clearer vision of what pursuing that good really is.


Wednesday, June 6, 2012

The day started out with an early morning breakfast followed by a devotion lead by Katheline. Afterwards, we packed sack lunches and headed out to a nearby orphanage to deliver "love bundles". The bundles are made by friends in america and contain snacks, school supplies, a toy, and a towel all appropriate according to age and gender. Handing out bundles at the orphanage was a remarkable experience to say the least. Everyone was so appreciative, gracious, and kind. We sang songs with the children and shared the Gospel with them. It was incredible to see the way that Christ is working in this place. Although poverty coats the village, there is so much hope evident in the eyes of each child, and it was encouraging to see their somber faces taken over by a smile as they were handed gifts. From there we packed up the school bus and headed off to the banana basket market place.We pulled over and ate our sack lunches under a tree in hopes to find some shade. Across the street at the market the women were super excited to have customers and the banana leaf baskets were beautiful. After purchasing baskets we went on our way to a Haitian market. We sipped on cokes and walked along the market streets admiring all the different things for sale. The market was quite a sight. When we passed through the fresh produce and meat section, a stench filled the air. The meat was covered in flies. After the market, we headed back to the mission. Once here, we went out into the village and delivered shoes to an elderly women whose home recently burned down. Once the shoes were on her feet, she began to dance and then proceeded to give hugs to everyone. The day ended with a local soccer game, dinner, and then card games back at the main house.
It was an incredible day to say the least. Our eyes are being opened, hearts are being broken, and understanding deepened. Jesus is teaching each of us more and more each day about His love for this country and His love for His children.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Haiti- Day 2- June 5, 2012
By: Madeline Chilton

Day 2 in our trip to Haiti was unforgettable. We woke up bright and early, had breakfast and then headed to the "Prayer Rock" for a group devotional. The "Prayer Rock" is a meeting place for devotionals, which is also where the Director also decided to keep as a memorial for the land they were given. The devotion of the day was about being servants in Christ. Afterwards, we took a forty minute walk to a nearby to a school and feeding center called Barben-Court. While we were on our walk, we stopped by a local Voo-Doo Priest's house where we saw their place of worship and learned more about the Haitian culture.  Then he allowed us to pray over him, that he will come to know Jesus. When we arrived we were put to work doing anything from re-organizing wood and pipes to helping with the construction of a new orphanage. Once again, when walking by the school we were joyfully greeted by all the school children. After a couple hours of hard work, we took a quick lunch break and then headed over to the Feeding Center. We had the awesome opportunity to help feed 300 school and some local children their lunch. That day, they were serving white rice, beans with some sauce and noodles. It was a cool to see all the children, and the difference between the school children and the local children. The school children were dressed nicely in the khaki and green uniforms, while the local children came in ragged and dirty clothes. Then, we took the bus to another local orphanage. This was a small orphanage with about thirty kids, ranging all ages from just three months to eleven years old. We handed out blankets and sang "Jesus Loves You". Afterwards, we headed back to Lifeline and had time to relax and rewind.
After landing in Haiti around noon, the Camp Kivu team made our way through immigration and the Port Au Prince airport. Many Haitians welcomed us, some by playing music and others by trying to grab our bags and carry them for us. We then took a bus through Port Au Prince and north up the coast of Haiti to Archaie. As we drove through the outskirts of Port Au Prince, we saw a lot of small crammed tents with plastic-like tarps as roofs, the homes of people who were pushed off the streets of Port Au Prince after the earthquake. Many strong stenches came from this area, called tent city. When we arrived at Children's Lifeline, we had lunch and we went on a tour of their facilities, which include a school, a cantine (kitchen/cafeteria), a church, a soccer field, a medical clinic and a warehouse that holds all the donations. The volunteers live on the second floor of Lifeline's school. We also took a short walk to the top of a hill where a glow-in-the-dark cross stands overlooking Lifeline. Then one of the Lifeline leaders, Spring, showed us the village that surrounds their ministry. The children in the village immediately and excitedly ran to us, holding our hands and smiling, most of them with bare feet and some of them without any clothes on at all. The children were swimming in canals, like man-made streams, which are used for their bath and cooking water and also act as an irrigation system for some people's farming. It was amazing to see how willingly and confidently the children came to you just wanting to hold your hand and hang out with you. That night, we ate a great dinner cooked by two Haitian women, and some of the girls got pedicures and manicures by two other Haitian ladies.

Friday, June 1, 2012

River Oaks First Mission Trip to Haiti

Our team was blessed with a safe and uneventful trip to Haiti.The roller coaster of emotions we experienced on the drive from the airport had us both laughing and crying.  The hour and a half ride in the mission bus had us all kissing the ground when it was over.

Each morning starts with breakfast followed by devotions at the mission prayer rock, a large boulder with a thatch roof hut built around it.  Today's devotion was "unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.  Therefore, whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. What is child like humility?  It's not the lack of intelligence, but the lack of guile. The lack of an agenda.

After devotions, we set out to do HIS work among the children for miles around us.  Haitian time is not measured in minutes and hours, it is in relationships.  The more hungry children we can feed, the more smiles and laughter we can share, the more hope HIS SPIRIT passes on to these these people through us, the more timeless we realize each day is.

HIS work has consisted of feeding children in the schools and orphanages, framing a new guest house for  future mission teams, building benches for the schools, painting bookshelves and most important, trying to be light in a very dark world.  

One of the highlights was hearing the children sing 'HE'S GOT THE WHOLE WORLD IN HIS HANDS" in English at one of the orphanages. The children love our attention and we love giving it back.

The River Oaks Mission Team