Haiti Missions Trip 2018

Our next team leaves for Haiti on February 3, 2018! Watch this space for daily updates from the team!

Sunday February 4 – Ali Gottfried

Saturday was a super long day. Our group was basically on the go from 2:30am to 8:30 pm, which is super long time. I know it may sound weird but when I came out of the airport I finally realized that I was no longer questioning my decision on coming on this trip but embarking on an amazing journey along with others to do God’s work. The first thing that got me was the driving. Basically, no road signs/lights or lanes it works “smoothly” for the most part. The ride in the truck was eventful because we worked on core and balance skills to stay in ours seats and also attempting not to crash into one another.

 

Waking up, this Sunday am felt amazing being rested but I could actually process everything that happened the night before. The new experiences to come are exciting as well as overwhelming that are still to come (as the building, & VBS). The church service we attended today was amazing. The Haitians love for the Lord and seeing 2 people except Christ was truly a blessing to witness. We ate a what I would consider a Haitian café today and the food was delicious. The smell of fresh bread was my personally favorite as nothing beats that smell (at least in my opinion). The best parts so far on Sunday has been Allie believing she was engaged/married because she took pictures with some men after the church service. The new experiences to come are exciting as well as overwhelming that are still to come.
 

Sunday February 4 – Adelyn Belsterling

I don’t think there was anything I could have done to prepare for what happened Saturday. Being someone who likes control over things, traveling by air does a number on my nerves. I have no control over how the plane takes off, nor do I have a say where and how it lands. I can only buckle up and go along for the ride. After a long day of travel, tired, uncertain, and we left the airport in Port Au Prince and loaded into cage trucks to head to Greg and Cathy’s. There was no bracing for it as we rumbled through tight, dusty streets with traffic zipping around us – we weren’t in America anymore. Everything familiar was left behind. It felt like I’d been dropped into really authentic B-roll footage of an action move staring Vin Diesel, but no amount of videos or pictures can prepare you for the people, the cars, the sounds, the smells, and the poverty. It was more than my tired mind was capable of taking in, but I expect to remember that long ride from the airport for all my life.

 

By the end of the day, I was overwhelmed. As I lay in bed, I had a laugh with God when the first words of my prayer were “what have I got myself into.” A part of me wondered if I would ever start to feel comfortable or if I’d feel like a nervous wreck all week long, but, I woke up Sunday feeling fully refreshed and ready to confront whatever this week holds. We went to church, and I found myself awash with peace as the worship team ushered us into worship. I get a fluttering feeling of joy high in my chest when I worship with fellow believers. To my surprise, I felt it just the same in a church a world away from home, even when I didn’t speak enough of the language to know what we were singing. I felt the Holy Spirit here and it felt just like being home.
 

Monday February 5- Allie Smith

Waking up, I didn’t have many expectations because I had no idea what it would be like. First regular working day and I was beyond excited to experience new things. Once on the truck, the excitement ran through me. The biggest eye opening things came from just observing the Haitian everyday life. From the rubble of destroyed buildings to tap-taps driving in every direction to trash on the sides of the streets like I’ve never seen before, Haiti is like no where I have known.  Once we arrived at the village where the construction and VBS would take place, it became clear to me that this area was unlike any place I had seen in Haiti yet. Poverty. Extreme poverty. With the little they had, there was still a hope and essence of joy in the community. People talked and conversed with each other freely and constantly in contrast to the “mind my own business” American mentality. I adore this sense of community and long to strive to create a friendlier community once back in America. The day’s events came and went with God providing amazing miracles such as a translator who saved our lives; Alexander.

The strongest thing that tugged on my heart today was seeing a girl with a gash on her toe that was bleeding and oozing pus as we were doing the VBS. Observing more, I saw gnats on and flying around the open cut. My heart broke and tears filled my eyes to see this poor Haitian girl sitting there with no one tending to her wound. She continued to smile and talk with the kids around her and live as if it wasn’t a bother to her at all. Unconditional joy. I have never seen anything like this. Ever. God continues to open my mind and eyes to many aspects I take for granted in my easy, rich American life. Perspective is changing and God is moving in my heart every moment here.
 

Tuesday, February 6- Sara Addeche (Catherine Richter’s friend from Foxboro.)

In my opinion, today was the most exciting day I’ve experienced so far. All of the children and the people were just starting to become extremely comfortable with everyone. People began to tease me, but I knew it was only because they were comfortable with me and wanted to have a good time. Random little children, some with no pants on, would come running up to me and scream my name then jump into to my arms and snuggle up next to me. They all loved playing hand games and making fun of me trying to speak creole. Not only the children, but the teenagers and parents also all loved making fun of my creole but I knew that it was only because I was truly awful at it because it’s only the beginning of the week. I am so incredibly thankful for Fan-Fan, Alexander, and David for always being there to translate for me. By the end of the week I hope to be able to have learned enough to have at least somewhat of a conversation with people and be able to understand and make jokes with the kids. Although there was a huge language barrier between me and everyone I met today, the connections I was able to make just by making the kids smile and playing games with them were amazing! It really touched my heart when the kids that I had met yesterday came running up to me at VBS this morning remembering my name because it meant I had done enough to make them remember me. It is still so early on in the week but I have already fallen in love with this beautiful country and all of its people and I hope to be able to come back soon, I really don’t want to have to leave!
 

Wednesday, February 7- Jim Jameson

            This has been my first everything in terms of a trip.  My first plane ride, first time out of the country, and first mission’s trip.  I am sure I will fall short of fully explaining how much God has given me on this trip already, but I will try.  Today I was on the “build team” for both houses.  While I was nowhere near a competent construction worker before this week, it has been amazing learning while I am serving with my brothers and sisters, being God’s hands for our Haitian brothers and sisters.  In between working and getting drinks of water, I was surrounded by so many loving children.  Pure love from a bunch of kids simply for being me and being there.  Very few things in life make you feel this good!  A little guy about 7 years old has been hanging with me, calling me “Papa Jims”, always excited for a few seconds of my time and attention.  I also have a buddy, who I think is about 18 or 20, that comes up to me several times each day to say “Hi”, and attempt to help me with my Creole (and somehow my Spanish).  Whenever I am really lost in the conversation, and have no clue what is being said, I simply put my arm around him and we hug it out.  Love for our brothers and sisters can truly transcend any worldly barrier, even language. 

            Easily the most impactful moment for me this trip was this afternoon, when we completed the second house of the day.  I was blessed to give the keys of the house to the family that at this very moment is sleeping off of the ground for perhaps the first time ever.  God chose us to show His awesome power and love to these people, and chose me to pray over the family and house.  While I know I will continue to do great things for God in the future, it is hard for me to imagine anything that can have more of an immediate impact on the life of others as what I was a part of today.  How is their love for God going to grow because of this house?  How much brighter will their light to the world going to be?  Questions like these are the biggest reasons for going on a mission’s trip.

  I have done my best to explain in words what cannot be explain through anything but experience.  My hope is that anyone who reads this prays and meditates about going on a mission’s trip as soon as possible.  It will change your relationship with your teammates, total strangers, and God forever. Haiti would be a great place to start.  God Bless!

 

Wednesday, February 7- Rebekah Fietz

     Today, I had the opportunity to be with the children in the community where we have been building houses. We did a short VBS program with the kids, then played games, blew bubbles, jumped rope, and played soccer. The second half of the day I was able to share a story about when I was young and fell down the stairs, and how my dad looked so silly running and sliding through the house to make sure I was safe. I told them that this story reminded me of how Jesus loves me and went so far as to die for me, take all my sins, and forgive them—just because He loves me and wants the best for my life. It was an honor to have 30 or so children sit and listen to the good news of Jesus, and it was just as amazing to be in a crowded huddle of children holding my arms and hands, and being able to love on them to show them how much Jesus loves them. It’s been an amazing blessing to serve the people here in Haiti, and I am grateful for the lessons of trust, faith, humility and joy that the Lord has been teaching me! I am looking forward to coming home and sharing all my stories with you in person! God Bless!

 

Wednesday, February 7- Toby Banks

            Today was our first day of medical clinic.  Four ED nurses, one ED doctor, one man of all trades husband (Tim), three people on the reading glasses team, one Haitian doctor and two translators were blessed with the opportunity to care for members of the Village of Grace.  The patients we saw today had relatively minor complaints and illnesses so rather than focusing on the task of healing, we were able to focus on relationship.  It was humbling to recognize that a few doses of Tylenol are a luxury that most cannot afford.  The nurses had a great time trying some basic Creole phrases while reviewing the medications prescribed.  They were blessed by the grace of the people we served today as they stumbled through pronunciation and their patients smiled and encouraged them.  Amber reports that she was able to lay a hand of comfort and community on more shoulders today that she ever has in her ED role.   Bridgett says that she was surprised by the signs of chronic malnutrition we saw today as children who appeared to be “healthy” were actually much smaller than their birthdays would indicate.  Anna was a trooper keeping us organized and managing meds while offering smiles and comfort along with prescriptions and assessments.  Our doctor had to rely more on building relationship and communication than on lab tests and x-rays to best treat our patients.  Our man of all trades did a bit of everything from driving us to the site, translating, pulling meds and helping with the eye glasses team, he organized the patients as they arrived and kept order while they waited.  We definitely can’t forget to mention our Haitian partners who worked alongside us and shared their wisdom and knowledge of the culture with our team.  We were able to care for 76 patients today and look forward to serving the people that God brings to us tomorrow.  As Drew (point man of the eye glasses team) pointed out, he, Steve and Starr may have given out a few pairs of glasses to people who didn’t need them, but they KNOW they gave out glasses to everyone that needed them today.  This is our prayer as we finish out our week: that when in doubt, we err on the side of generosity and provide not only medications, but serve with generous grace, humility and love.
 

Thursday, February 8- Starr Kessler 

            Today was Pastor Dan’s Birthday (They had a cake for him.)  We went to work sites, some to VBS, others worked on a house  and I went with the medical team and doing the reading glasses.  I worked with two guys from Florida (Drew and Steve). I worked two days with them. Yesterday, one young girl came (she had the biggest brown eyes that I have ever seen) and I thought she was blind .   She never blinked her eyes, one was jerking a little. Drew tested her and put a pair of glasses on and the biggest smile came on her face. They were just reading glasses, but it worked for now. I am sure she needs to see a real eye doctor but who knows when that will happen.  I also helped with the medical staff. I wrote down meds when they handed them out. They served about 150 people from you to old and every age in between. One Lady was in a wheelchair.  She had something wrong with her legs. There has been beautiful weather so you will see that some people will have sun burns and others tan skin. Thank you for praying for us as a team and thank Pastor for allowing our church to be involved like this. It has been a joy to get to know everyone including Pastor Dan.

 

Thursday, February 8- Leah Smith

            Today I had a lot of fun building a house especially with Sara and Cate. I have never been on a missions trip and so far I absolutely love it. The feeling of excitement to spread the love of Christ and serve those in a deprived community is something I want to carry back with me to the States and show to those I interact with daily.  I have bonded with so many people on the team and the Haitian kids. I have never seen so many kids solely want to hug you and hold your hand- it warms my heart. The kids have amazing memory and I loved watching them learn a Bible verse. The lack of fear and trust displayed by the kids always seems to surprise me every day. At the beginning of the week, however, I thought that I would see a visible change in the lives of the children but when I stand back and look at the duration of the trip the greater change is the one God has made in me. I have realized that spreading the love of Jesus can come simply through your actions. Loving on the people and children of the community and showing them that there is no difference in the value of our lives and we are connected as one through Christ. Today I watched as a kid who was only wearing a shirt went about his day with the biggest smile I have seen. In my mind I am thinking ‘how can one be so happy with nothing?’ But Christ has given him all he needs and he does not complain. Joy does not come easy in situations of poverty or hardships but to recognize the blessings the lord our God has given us is the most important. As many have pointed out during our nightly devotions it seems easy to pour out our love to those in visible need, but the true challenge is showing it in our lives at home. God has opened my eyes to seeing the world in whole different way using my weaknesses and strengths in His desired ways. Building houses or sitting in the cafeteria at school- I will use God’s love to drive my actions. I thank Him for this amazing opportunity and the changes He is making in me.