Saturday, June 30, 2012

Saturday - Traveing Home

Okay, so, I’m sitting in the PAP airport...my luggage has been checked...guess that means I’m coming home. It was not easy leaving this morning. I want to go home because AC would be nice, but I’m already missing the people of Neply and the children. Oh how I miss the children.

It’s amazing to me that Haiti is less than 2 hours away from the States and yet one of the poorest places in the western hemisphere. How can that be? Why is it like this? I’m don’t understand. My heart breaks for the children. When I see the kids with orange-red hair and pop bellies my heart is crushed. They deserve better. They deserve more. They  should be taken care of. They should be given the proper nutrition and care.

I have loved every moment of this trip. I’ve loved getting to know the hearts of my Haitian family and hearing their stories. They are precious people. I am sure that this won’t be my last time in Haiti.

It’s interesting to hear what everyone from the team is walking away with this week.

We ran into a guy who in currently a NFL player. He is on the board of an orphanage in Haiti. He goes down to Haiti twice a year...for the past 5 years. It was great to hear how grounded he was and his hopes for what the platform he has being in the NFL will give him to help with spreading the word about the need in Haiti. I think it’s pretty cool when God allows us to encourage and inspire each other with our stories of what He’s called us to do. He also told me I’ve made a mistake for liking the Jets...I’ll forgive him because of the great work he’s doing in Haiti.

I’m too tired to process  and I didn’t have coffee today so I’m struggling. Ha! So...you’ll have to wait for more later.

Much love!

Friday, June 29, 2012

Friday

Augh...it’s Friday. That means I’ve supposed to leave tomorrow. I’m having serious doubts about leaving. I just want to stay. One week is definitely not enough. Yes, I miss everyone, but I sure do love my new family here.

Once I get home and settled I will upload the pictures and short videos I have. I just haven’t had a strong enough signal for long enough to upload them.

Today was a great day of more painting. We started another room today and got the majority of it done...thankfully. It was again a great time to connect with some of the staff here. I got to hear their stories and what brought them to work with myLIFEspeaks. I love hearing the stories...they always encourage me and inspire me.

I’ve got so much on my heart and mind, but not enough words to put to them. I’ll update more information in the coming weeks.

For now I’ll just say that I’m blessed and so thankful for this past week.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Thursday

It was another beautiful day here in Neply. We started out our morning with breakfast at 8am and then went straight into our projects. Today’s project was for me and another team member was to finish painting one of the staff member’s rooms. We opened the new paint can and well, it was green, but not the right shade of green. It was much lighter than what it was supposed to be. That means our project had to change. So we ended up being asked to clean the room up. Cleaning the room would only entail taking all the paint supplies out and then get paint off the tile floor...from three paint jobs previously as well. We pulled out what we were told was turpentine and started scrapping away. We got about half way through when our hands started burning. It got worse and worse, but we just kept washing our hands and pushing forward...for at least 3 hours. We had sponges, turpentine and scrapers. Lots of fumes were inhaled I’m sure, but we really wanted to do an excellent job. When we finished we again washed our hands only to determine that we had slight chemical burn on our hands. We got plenty of lotion and aloe vera on it. The red and swelling started to disappear and thankfully the pain subsided. I will say though that it was completely worth it. The floor looked really clean and probably better than it has looked in a really long time. I’m sad that we didn’t get to finish the painting, but the team coming in next week can get it done.

After lunch we moved on to another painting job. The one that was started earlier in the week. And for the next few hours a few of the team members painted away. The room is still not done and we’ll finish it up tomorrow, but it’s looking fabulous. I’m so glad that we are able to do a job with excellence and show them our love by doing so. The room is used as a classroom where there are English classes every week day. There are a whole lot of people from the village learning English for free. It’s amazing. They are really excited about learning.

We then cleaned up a little bit...mostly those who were painting and were covered in paint got cleaned up. And we headed on a moto ride. About 12 of us hopped on the back of a motorcycle and we took a 30 minute ride about the surrounding area. We stopped at the beach for 15 minutes and just enjoyed the beauty of the day. The ride was so much fun. Even with the holes in the dirt paths and gravel, the ponds in the middle of the pathway, the speedbumps...even with all that...it was so much fun! And it was great to see the beautiful scenery that is all around this amazing country. I’m pretty sure my bottom was off the seat half the time. Ha!

After that we went back to the shops. Oh the things you hear at the shops. Today’s favorite phrase was “You bless me by buying something”. The trick is walk in with the amount you’re willing to spend and no more. And have correct change. I am okay at saying no, so it wasn’t that hard for me to walk through and not get anything. But they definitely do their best to try to get you to buy from them. It started to rain so they started packing up. And by the way, what I mean by started to rain is that it rained 12 raindrops. It couldn’t even be called a shower or sprinkling...it was a couple rain drops.

We headed back to the campus. On the way back...I asked a teammate to stop at the store next door and purchase me a Sprite. That wouldn’t be that big of a deal other than the fact that it was a cold drink. Something that isn’t readily available here. In fact, yesterday we had ice in our drinks at the Headys and before leaving each of us filled our water bottles with ice...haha! It’s hot here and a cold drink can do wonders for you. So today I’m thankful for a cold Sprite! I will probably be stopping at Sonic on the way from the airport on Saturday night...even if it’s going to be around 11pm.  Anyone wanna pick me up from the airport at 11pm?

Tonight during our devo time we had one of the top guys of the mentor program that is run by myLIFEspeaks. He gave his testimony and it floored me. Again, you would never know he was a slave for 5 years, badly beaten all the time just by looking at him. He is now a lawyer and back in Neply ministering when all his peers went to the US for a better life with their degree. What a powerful testimony of overcoming your past. I really enjoy hearing the stories of the people here. It’s been so wonderful!

The humidity is pretty strong right now and I’m thankful for the fans. I’m amazed at how only 10% of the village have electricity...and even then it’s spliced from the main roads so it’s free. And certain places like the church and this campus have generators. I’m not sure I could like in this type of heat without fans or electricity. I feel selfish saying that, but I am being honest. Even the water supply is something we have been careful about. We’ve been taking what the staff here call Haitian Showers. You get in, turn the water on, get wet, turn the water off, put shampoo in your hair, put body wash on, turn the water back on, rinse the body and hair off, turn the water off, put conditioner in your hair, turn the water back on, rinse it out and turn the water off. And if you have to shave...make sure it’s the quickest shave of your life. The water is always really cold and the first 20 seconds it takes your breath away, but then it’s refreshing. Although, once you’re out of the shower, you can be sweaty before you even leave the bathroom. We are most definitely spoiled in America. We have more than we need. And many times that’s not enough. I feel so blessed to be a part of trips like this where I’m reminded of the lifestyles many people endure. It definitely reminds me where happiness and joy really comes from. It’s not all the stuff, that’s for sure. Just feeling really blessed.

PS - The soccer game today didn’t turn out how I expected, but that’s okay. It doesn’t change too much for me as I still am rooting for Spain to win the whole thing. We’ll see how it goes.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Wednesday

Another incredible day here in Haiti. But before I go on to tell you about today...I forgot to mention a couple things from yesterday that are worth mentioning.

Last night was Dave and Nick’s last night. They were the video crew that came down to get footage for a myLIFEspeaks video. Dave also happens to be an illusionist. I’ve had the privilege of seeing him perform last November while he was working on a video for the company I work with in Grundy, VA. He’s really funny and a great illusionist. He also is a wonderful “shuffler”...yes, like...everyday I’m shuffling. So, he asked me if I thought it would be a good idea for him to do a couple tricks. I emphatically agreed. He started the show with a little shuffle. The white boy can dance. Then he started his tricks. As he’s doing the first one everyone seemed pretty impressed as he was doing it, but then when he revealed the card...the 4 gentleman in the back all stood up at the same time with looks of amazement on their faces. They were amazed. Dave went on to impress them for a few more tricks. They were confounded and in wonder. What fun!

There are only a few places  that the wifi works on the campus. One of the places is on the stairwell and hallway on the second floor. Throughout the day you will see any of us there on our phones, ipads or macs. It’s usually the last stop of the night before bed for many of us. Last night was no exception. At one point there were 7 of us sitting around chatting while using the wifi. And though I had to get up early, I stayed later than I should have. I can only attribute that to loving my family time. I have really enjoyed spending time with teams members. I’ve learned a lot about them and got to hear their hearts.

Now on to today...

It was an early morning. We had to leave BY 6am. I was not going to waste precious sleep time, so I showered the night before and set the alarm for 5:40am. 7 of us jumped into the minivan and we were on the road by 6:10ish. We headed to Global Ministries in Titanyen. It is about 60 miles away, but that means it was going to be 90-150 minutes away depending on traffic and road conditions. Global Ministries is run by a couple name David and Judy Heady. Many of us have have ties to the Headys through Christ Church Nashville. They are also close friends of the family of one of our team members. They are amazing people. We had a great drive there with only a couple places of traffic/detours. We were there around 8am. We got a tour of the facilities...which is HUGE and has been used by Compassion International, Samaritan’s Purse, and many more. The ministry has some many aspects to it and Judy told us the story of how they started out doing what they do. I have to admit that I teared up several time because of how powerful the story is and the love that overflows from the Headys. We then had moved on to talking about the involvement of our team member’s family and his sister that passed away. I definitely couldn’t hold the tears back on that conversation.

The tears were not sad tears....they were of joy and of the beauty of life, life remembered and the hope of future. Today was a celebration of what the Lord has done and the obedience of His children. Truly beautiful!

I also had the privilege of hearing the life story’s of two Haitians that work for myLIFEspeaks. They both have incredible stories that I would never have imagined by looking at them. From being poisoned to being kicked out of their house as a child. These men are really amazing and to hear about where they came from and to see where they are now. I’m so blessed to see them live the life that God has called them to and can’t wait to hear the stories of all that God is going to do in their lives.

By the way...the fried plantains at the Headys were by far the best I’ve ever had. I’m trying to figure out how to cook them at my house. Delicious.

We left mid-afternoon and the drive back to the campus started with one of our team members sitting in the driver’s seat. Oh my! Haitian driving is very unlike that of the States. But, don’t tell him I said this but he did a great job. The roads at times are treacherous and the other drivers are pretty crazy. About 10mins in they gave up the driver’s seat back to the Haitian. Probably the best idea.

After dinner we did our usual devo time as a whole team and myLIFEspeaks staff. These times have been so great. Tonight again followed suit. We got to spend a little time in prayer for the Founders and staff and Neply. Each staff, volunteer, and supporter are sowing seeds that will be multiplied. What an amazing team they have here. It was such a blessing for the staff here to allow us to take a day to be with the Headys. They didn’t have to do that, but their hearts are so generous and full of love they graciously allowed us the opportunity to see a place that definitely will forever be in my heart.

I have so many thoughts I need to process, but it may take me some time to do that. I’m just feeling blessed to be part of this right now.

PS - Spain won over Portugal today and that makes me very happy. Why? Just check out my Euro2012 blog for details. For all the haters...I'm not really sorry that Spain won.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Tuesday

Each day is better than the day before. It amazes me. The Haitians amaze me. The myLIFEspeaks family amazes me. I’m blown away.

Today we started with our normal morning routine. Breakfast at 8am. After breakfast we split into groups. There were four groups. We went into the village and each group went to someone’s house to help them with whatever chores they wanted. My group met at the house were the feeding program originated. Wow, they fit all those kids in this courtyard was went kept going through my mind when they told us about it. There were two translators for all the groups. They would come and check on each of us throughout their time. The translator that was checking in on us was name Willy. Oh my...he is an incredible man! What a beautiful heart that is full of love and joy. Willy spoke English really well, but even more surprisingly he spoke Spanish really well as well! I got to speak with him in Spanish and it was so much fun! I asked a lot of questions and he graciously entertained them.

I learned a lot about Willy and the Haitian culture today. I also learned how to hand wash 2 loads of laundry without a washer or even a washboard. Full knuckle scrub. I’ve got some sore digits right now. We hung the clothes to dry. We also did a little bit of sweeping and mopping. While my group members were helping with some cooking I got to talk to some of the “on-lookers”. We have many of those being that we are the “blancs”. I can not confirm or deny that there may have been some shuffling and dougie-ing going on. There were definitely some laughs.

I enjoyed my time with them...in fact, it just made me fall more in love with the Haitians. We returned for lunch on the campus. After lunch we helped out with the Infant Feeding program. They have 25 mothers that participate in the program. Basically, the mothers come and get lessons on providing the best for their infants. They also get a can of formula, a bag of diapers and a couple ounces of formula placed into their bottle that they bring for feeding their child during the lesson. This is just another way that the myLIFEspeaks family promotes healthy lifestyles in the community...without it being a handout. They are help them progress and not just survive. Amazing!

Then we headed to the basketball courts and spent a couple hours just playing and chatting with the people of Neply. I love hearing their stories. I love hearing them tell me whatever it is they want to talk about. I love just being family with them. I may not like the sun burn on my neck tonight, but it was fun being out there. Ooops.

After some time out in the village we gathered and headed to the “shops”. Uhm, shops doesn’t mean stores or even market. It means blankets laid out in a persons front yard. On these blankets are all kinds of items made or purchased from the vendor. The vendors use all the car sales man tricks. The one that I heard from everyone of them was “It’s free to touch” or “you can touch whatever you want”. I had one do the whole compliment trick and another the guilt trip of “I do this to feed my children”. Luckily, we were prepared and heard that these were things that were going to be said.

After dinner we some of the folks went to the community soccer game while others stayed behind.  I stayed behind so that I could have some quiet time. But before that I had some playing that needed to be done with Evens, Jay and Stevens. I’m in love with these boys. Quiet time is almost impossible on the campus, but I was able to sit in my room for a bit and just process.

I had a conversation today with someone who is on the trip. She had never been on a missions trip. I got to tell her a little bit of how I grew up and the ethnic background that I came from. I am so blessed that I’ve had the opportunity to go share the love of God in so many places. I have had the opportunity to be taught the love of God by so many.

I am beyond blessed to be partnered with the team I am with. I can honestly say that each of them walks in so much love and humbleness. It’s incredible to be able to do life with them even in another country.

Tomorrow we’re headed to see another missionary couple that our team knows. It’s gonna be an incredible day and we’re in for a little treat...I’ll explain more tomorrow.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Monday

Woah! What a day! It's been incredible.

Today we started with breakfast and immediately moved into some of our projects. We had guys building screen doors, fixing electrical things (that's the technical term, I'm sure of it), and lots of painting. I got to paint a classroom. I may be dreaming in orange tonight because that's all I stared at for hours. The room is really coming along. We have some more painting to do in there but it looks fantastic!

We had lunch and then did some more of our project again. Until it was time for the feeding program. We got the run down of what would be most helpful...it was basically as easy as give them a bowl of food and cup of water and then have some fun with them. Those are directions I can follow! Oh my goodness...I may have just met 100 of the most adorable children on the planet. Between the couple words in Creole that I've learned and the few words they knew in English we some how made it work. The kids were so full of joy. It was just incredible!

After the feeding time, we did some dishes...and by some, I mean...a whole lot! Ha! Pots, pans, bowls, plates, spoons, cups...they didn't seem to end. It was fun though because it was a group of us chatting away and getting to connect. Sitting in the middle of the patio doing dishes we were family.

After some playing with kids we had dinner and then went to the soccer game. It's a community soccer game. It was so great to see them get so into it. I can't remember who won, skins or shirts, but it was just fun to be a part of the community. I spent the majority of the time on the blankets being jumped on, told to take a photo of them, and just loving on these wonderful children.

I think each of us has melted with we've been called Mama Blanc or Papa Blanc. Blanc meaning white person in this case. I have about 12 children I want to just adopt. I may need to find me a house here.

Yes, it is hot. Hot and humid. But it hasn't been a focus so our team which is so telling of their hearts. They have just jumped in and done whatever it takes with a willingness and openness. There are a couple guys here who are doing video and photography that came down on Sunday and will be leaving on Wednesday...one of which whom I know and one who I have mutual friends..talk about an awesome blessing! One of them said today how they loved how they saw all the team members actively engaged in projects or with kids all day today and that really was cool to see. I loved hearing that because I know that's been our goal. So amazing!

Well...tomorrow is going to be another day of serving, but this time it will be in the village. Pray that the Lord can use us in those homes to spread His love!

Much love!

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Sunday

It's Sunday afternoon and we're getting ready to go to the village. After the long day of traveling yesterday we were happy to go to sleep. Some of us were out right away and some of us, not so much.

We went to Love Mission church this morning. We were prepped last night that it would a very long service. Much to everyones surprise it was only a few hours long. And even more to our surprise there was another group of missionaries there, including Alvin Slaughter. If you don't know Alvin, he's a pretty big deal in the gospel worship scene. He's anointed. He sang a couple songs in English. And the woman who spoke, spoke in English with Creole translation. It was a great time of worship with the Haitians.

When we returned from church we had some lunch and then had a quick Creole lesson. I definitely did not catch on as much as I wanted to. I'll have to keep practicing.

We're waiting on a couple more people to arrive from the airport and we're headed to the village.

Here's a little info on the home here at myLIFEspeaks...
They currently have 5 children living in the home. 4 of the 5 precious children have special needs. They have all stolen our hearts. Amazing. Malachi, who they don't know his real age, is approximately 3 and was so malnourished. He came to the home in February and has made quite a recovery. He still is gaining strength in his legs and they are doing all that they can do to help him walk.
Three days a week they feed 108 kids. And have 25 mothers that come once a week to learn infant care.

Okay...i'll give you more info later but we are rounding up to get out of here.

Much love to you all!

Saturday - Travel Day


We’re here! The team has made it to Haiti and we’re settling in for bed.

Most of us have been up since 3:30am today and it’s now 11pm and we’re unwinding. The airport call was 4:30am at Nashville International Airport. We have a team of six and there is another three that have joined us. Our team was so blessed to be in First Class on the flight from Nashville to Miami. We had a five hour layover in Miami, but a couple hours were taken up by a game of Phase 10. Again, we were in First Class on the way from Miami to Port-au-Prince. All but one piece of 12 bags of luggage made the trip. Unfortunately, it was a supply bag that had baby formula and diapers in it. It was about a two hour drive to the myLIFEspeaks campus. We arrived, sat down for an incredible dinner, unloaded the suitcases and had a quick meeting that gave us instructions for the week. We then broke off into our rooms and started getting settled into our home for the next week.

The team is so great and there is such a sense of family. We all have the same heart and goal for the week...to love on people however that looks.

Okay...I need to sleep now...I was one of those up at 3:30am.

Thanks for the continued prayers. We are expecting amazing things to happen this week!

Much love to you all!

PS - Spain won over France today 2-0 in Euro2012! YAY! Thanks to Will I am able to at least stay in the know about the games. He’s a superstar...that's what his write bio says.