Tag Archives: orphanage

Haiti Day 5: We Said Goodbye

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Instead of going to a traditional church on Sunday, we took church to the Myan orphanage. We sang a couple of songs in English and then did one in Haitian Creole. Some children got up and recited memory verses and others sang a song they had learned. A few members from our team shared scriptures and short messages for each child. We then stood in a large circle around the room and went one by one telling one thing we are thankful to God for. The answers from some of the children were clothes, a bed, food, a beautiful house, someone to wash their clothes and one just thanked Him for everything that’s been done for her.

After we said our tearful goodbyes, we went back to the guesthouse to put our work clothes on. We headed to the Gonaives orphanage to finish the job. The children loved the warm yellow that we painted it. The old gray didn’t have a happy feel to it. It’s amazing how a little paint can transform not just a house, but a child’s outlook on life. Every new orphan that walks through the freshly painted gates will be greeted with a heart to show them love and a beautiful house to welcome them home.

The words “home” and “family” mean so much when you see the world through an orphan’s life. They don’t have a mother or father that they can go to for advice. They don’t have a safe place they can go when it storms. There are no family reunions that they can go to in order to connect with their roots. They aren’t even guaranteed their next meal or clothes when they grow. They miss the chance to be children when they have to grow up so fast in order to survive. That’s why orphan care is so important.

We may not be able to help every orphan in the world, but we can make a difference in the lives of a few. At our nightly devotional, we each shared the name of an orphan who changed our lives or touched our heart. We collectively smiled as each name was called out. It was the smile that says, “I know that kid! They touched my life too.” These team members may not have known the name of an orphan before they came. As we are leaving, I can tell you they don’t just know the name of an orphan, they know one personally.

I often think I would like to have known James in the Bible. He was hard nosed and didn’t pull any punches. His book in the Bible is short, but power packed. In the first chapter verse 27, he said, “Pure and genuine religion in the sight of God the Father means caring for orphans and widows in their distress.” This week, each member of our team got to experience what pure and genuine religion feels like. My hope is that what was born in Haiti will carry on with each of them for the rest of their lives. May they never stop giving what God has placed in their hands or serving Him faithfully.

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Haiti Day 3: God Refreshes Us

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Exhausted. Tired. Wore out. These words aren’t strong enough to describe how this team felt at the end of yesterday. Have you heard the saying, “Leaving it all out on the field”? That’s what this team did yesterday. They worked their hearts out in the hot, Haitian sun. They gave everything that was in them to these orphans and God has rewarded them. When they were tired, they kept going. When they wanted to take a break, the kids kept coming up for love. At the end of the day, everyone was talking about an early bedtime.

We started by eating an early breakfast. We separated into three teams who each had a different purpose and team leads. We loaded the trucks with the supplies we needed for the day’s work and then headed to the Gonaives orphanage. As we pulled up, you could hear the excitement in the children on the other side of the gate. We went over the plan one more time before the gates were opened. As we walked in, the kids grabbed our hands and asked to be held. We sat down with them and then explained we had a surprise for them.

On my last trip, we took many of these children out to Myan to see the new orphanage and to play with them. They’ve heard stories about that orphanage so we thought we’d introduce them. As they walked around it, many kept talking about how nice it was. One even asked if they had TV’s. They began comparing it to their home. So on this trip, we decided we would paint their home and make it look nice. They cheered when they heard the news. We told them that they were going to go play with one team while the other two painted.

After painting the window frames and trim all day, I met with the missionaries and we decided to take the team to the ocean to swim and cliff dive. We made the drive winding down a dirt road through the beautiful scenery. It took about an hour to get there. We unloaded and then had to walk down a beach and over a half mile of boulders with jagged edges. Our knees and hands were skinned up. Our bodies were covered in paint. As hard as it was to get there, we all made it to the cliff. People who were tired became exhausted. The ocean waves became more difficult to swim in as the tide came in.

Jumping off the cliff into the water was fun though. It was an exhilarating reward for the work it took to get there. I jumped off with my sister in law. We were among the last to jump. We counted to three and over the side we went. It seemed like forever until we hit the water. When we did, we must have gone under around 20 feet. It took a while to come back up. When we did, I grabbed her and we decided to try to swim around a big rock and head for shore. The more we tried, the harder it got. Fear set in. Hopelessness started to creep up. Our exhaustion was beginning to overpower us. The waves and current were stronger than we could manage and the group had already moved on.

We made our way to a rock. The edges cut our hands as we tried to hold onto it. The waves hot us and pushed us into it time and time again. We stopped and prayed for peace, wisdom and safety. She said, “We have to get on this rock.” I made my way up it and pulled her up too. We then started to make our way back to the rocks that would lead us to the group. We got the attention of one of them and he stayed back to help us navigate through the boulders. She said, “Jumping was the easy part.” If you’ve ever stood on a 30 foot cliff and thought about jumping, you know the first time isn’t easy.

We arrived home, changed clothes and went to dinner. The team was beginning to ask if we could just have our nightly devotion at the restaurant. We toyed with it, but decided it was best to keep the routine. We arrived home and headed for the balcony. As we began to sing the first song, I recognized there was something different about this service. During the second song, one of the missionaries spoke what God told him. We began to push into God’s presence despite our exhaustion. We sang louder than before. Our hearts opened wider to receive from God. People stood in the street and watched as we worshiped corporately.

Mike Reizner spoke up and shared how in Acts 4 it talks about the disciples praying and being filled with the Holy Spirit. They had already been filled in Acts 2. Why did it mention that they were filled again? It was because when you give out what is in you, you need to be filled again and again. We had given everything in us and all needed to be filled up again. We were on empty. One by one people walked into the middle and we prayed over them. The presence of God was thick and refreshing. We could have stayed on that balcony all night singing and praying.

As I spoke to them, I remembered what Isaiah 40:31. It reads, “He energizes those who get tired, gives fresh strength to dropouts. For even young people tire and drop out, young folk in their prime stumble and fall. But those who wait upon GOD get fresh strength. They spread their wings and soar like eagles, They run and don’t get tired, they walk and don’t lag behind (MSG).” I recited it to them and reminded them how tired we all were. No one wanted to go to bed at that point. Everyone was energized by God’s presence. We refreshed and renewed. We’ll need it because we are only half way done.

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Haiti Day 1: Called To Do Something

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The first day in Haiti is always a long one. We arrived at the church at 3:30 in the morning to head for the airport. We had a quick layover in Miami before boarding another plan to Port au Prince. We were delayed for what seemed like hours before take off. In reality, it was only about 30 minutes. We were so excited to get here. When the plane finally took off, there was a sense of relief. We arrived safely and got through customs with no problems. After stopping for a quick lunch, we headed to Miss Dorothy’s Faith, Hope, Love Infant Rescue center.

She and her team care for children with medical conditions that cost more than their parents can afford. Our team got right to work loving on each of these kids and began to play with them. It started off with the orphans coming up and sitting with our team. It quickly turned into chasing, soccer, swinging and a lot of laughing. One team member was playing with four boys and wooden swords that were there. The kids were “attacking” him and he fended them off. It was an incredible moment to watch.

After everyone had their fill of fun, we headed back to the guesthouse for dinner and our nightly devotions. The prevailing message was simple: each of us are called to do something. There’s no where in the Bible where is God ok with anyone doing nothing. We were each created with a purpose. If you don’t know what it is, it isn’t an excuse to do nothing. We need to be about our Father’s business. There’s always someone we can help. There’s always someone we can pray for. There’s always someone who needs to be shown God’s love.

As we all shared our story last night, I looked up and saw a tree across the street. It was taller than all the other trees and it’s growing at an angle. I wondered when it was planted and by whom. I wondered what caused it to grow at an angle. Was it the earthquake? Was it poorly planted? Was the ground bad? I looked at the other trees and saw all different shapes, sizes and types of trees. Each one was growing in its own way and at its own rate. Each one served a specific purpose. If that tree compared itself to other trees growth, it could think it was better. If it compared itself to their straightness, it would think it’s a failure.

The problem with comparisons is that we are all different. We’ve all been planted in different soil and come from different seeds. Each one of us grow at our own rate, produce different fruit and have our own purpose. When we compare ourselves to others, we lose sight of who God made us to be. We each are called to do something that only we can do. We have been planted where God wants us. It’s up to us to grow and produce what He wants us to. It’s up to us to keep our eyes on Him and to stretch ourselves as high as we can so we can get more of the Son. When we do that, we will be success by God’s standard.

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Jesus Is In The Details

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We got up early yesterday ready for a day full of work. We loaded the trucks and headed for the white, dirt road that leads to Myan. It’s a slow, bumpy ride that takes us out of the city, over the mountain side and into the quiet life of the country. As we got closer to the orphanage in Myan, my heart began to beat faster. On my first trip here, the foundation was being poured. On my second trip here, we stained and varnished beds as well as built shelving units. But on this trip, I’d get to see the first children who were brought in last week. I could hardly wait.

As is the custom when we get to Myan, we get out of the trucks, meet the locals who followed us and head up Prayer Mountain. When we got to the top, for the first time there were orphans running around on the property. We then heard all of the miracles that have taken place over the last 2 years that made this orphanage possible. We tried to balance the poverty we saw against the beauty of the country side. Your mind wants to figure out how you can be surrounded by such beauty, yet have so many who survive on less than $2 a day. We began to pray over the orphanage, the community of Myan, the staff, future children and the stewards of Coreluv.org.

We made our way down the hillside hand in hand with the local children who followed us up. As we approached the gates to the orphanage, Epoli opened them to us with a smile on his face. The girls went to the girls house and the boys went to the boys house. We looked through the rooms and began playing with the kids. It didn’t take long for most of these newly orphaned children to put down their defenses and to allow this team of American students to embrace them. Laughter begs to fill the air. Games of chase started up. Kids were being kids.

We brought the kids into the cafeteria and sat them on benches. Courtney, one of our students, had prepared Vacation Bible School for the kids. When she finished, a pastor from Port au Prince came and shared a message with the kids too. We’ll repeat that each day as part of giving our students the opportunity to minister and so we can plant the seeds of God’s love in the hearts of children. They will know what true love is by the time they’re grown up because we believe in loving them unconditionally and because they will know their Father in Heaven loves them as well.

After the lessons, we broke into three teams. One team set up the medical cabinets at the orphanage and prepared it to have a pharmacy in the future. Another team went room to room on the boy’s side and stained the newly installed bed rails. The third team painted the cafeteria a pastel green. We had someone use a paint gun, some used rollers and some cut the edges where rollers and paint guns can’t get. It took all afternoon and we only got about half way done.

As I helped paint the baseboards, ceiling crease and corners, I couldn’t help but think that God is in the details. We like to try to find him in the broad strokes of a roller. Those are quick, easy and cover a lot of ground. While He is there too, I found that He does His work in our lives in the creases and in the slow, tedious details. He is patient and kind with us. He takes His time and does the work the right way because He knows it’s when you take care of the details, the larger things are possible.

We capped off our day with a soccer game at the Gonaives orphanage. Many of our team members were among the crowd of kids running back and forth on the dirt field. The rest were loving on orphans and kids from the community. There is great ministry in just loving on people. When you give love, you give more than just your time and talents. You give a piece of your heart and that’s what changes lives.

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Saying Goodbye

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Saying goodbye in Haiti is always the hardest part in coming here. I know it’s coming on every trip. When I start to think about it, I start to cry. Fortunately, as you’ve read, we’re usually so busy, I rarely have time to think about it. At each passing day though, it looms and I’m made more aware of it. Day 6 on this trip was that day. It would be the last time we visit Myan and the last time we play with the children in Gonaives. I have to force myself to get in the truck so they can drive me away.

We started the day off in Myan. We wanted to go back and help those who didn’t get into the clinic the day before. Word spread quickly that we had returned. People would dress their absolute best to be seen by the nurse. They would come and patiently wait to get in. We had told them we were leaving at 12:30. When that time came, we had two pregnant ladies and two elderly people in line, plus all the kids who wanted to be around us. I couldn’t leave them sitting there. No one could. We stayed an extra hour in order to help them.

The kids were all running around playing, throwing balls and being kids. I got a couple of the older ones and pulled out my phone. I played a video of a few of them who had sung on my last trip. When that started playing, they yelled out names. Before I knew it, there were twenty kids piled around me wanting to see it. I then asked for an encore. The boys sang again and others joined in stomping feet, banging Toro bottles and lending their voices. I don’t know what they were singing, but it was beautiful. Afterthought song was over, they sang “The is the Day that The Lord Has Made” in their native Creole. I couldn’t help but to be overcome by the situation.

As we loaded up and drove off, I took one last look at the orphanage. The next time I come back, there will be orphans there, the buildings will be completed and generations of families will be changed because people give their time, money and talents. I tried hard not to look at anyone on our team because I knew I’d break down. Instead, I prayed over the future of Myan. I prayed for those who have yet to be born and abandoned that will call this place home. I prayed for those who have a hand in helping to make this dream possible.

We made our way to the orphanage in Gonaives. When the gates were opened, the kid who chose each one of us on our other visit came running through the gate to find us. The team grabbed their child or children and began playing. Soon, we headed off to the soccer field. Choosing teams was hilarious with kids running back and forth. I had no idea who was on my team, I only knew our direction. A kid pointed at me and then at the goal. I was nominated to play goalie. I picked up a Nelson, a small child who is HIV positive and is deaf, and kept him on my hip while we played. With every blocked shot, he gave me a fist bump. Every time we scored he made a sign of celebration.

As the sun set, it was clear that it was time to leave. The kids had to go to bed and we had to get back to the guest house. Fortunately, we were able to delay the goodbye until we leave for the States. When we got the guest house, dinner was ready. During dinner, the missionary asked if we’d like to have service at Myan. The team agreed. We quickly finished dinner and headed out there. Even though it was dark and late for this community, several locals showed up for our service. They came and dispersed among us as we stood in a circle on a cloudless night lit only by the moon.

God came down and met us there. As we stood in a circle, we prayed for the locals and then each other. We shared what changes we plan to make when we go back. It was a very intimate setting with a very real God. The locals left one by one as we continued to pray. At the end of the service, there was this quiet presence of God. We rested in that moment and then loaded the truck. The ride back to the guest house was like being in a bubble of peace knowing that God was happy with what we accomplished and who we accomplished it for.

Today, we make the long journey back. We have a four hour ride in the back of the truck sitting on suitcase. We’ll load a plane and fly home. It will be after midnight when we’re finally with our families. For some, their journey will continue until sun up. We can’t wait to get back to our churches and friends so we can share how God met us in Haiti. Our challenge is to continue having Him meet us when we’re back. It’s also to find what He wants us to do for Him over there. God’s desire is that we live daily in His presence and show others who He is by how we live our lives wherever we are.

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Free From Excuses

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It’s Free Friday! What are you going to let go of today so that you are free? What’s holding you back from being who God called you to be? Every Friday is an opportunity to get yourself free. This week’s Free Friday is different from others. I’m in Haiti and recounting our trip day by day. There won’t be a giveaway today, but there will be an opportunity to be free.

As we move into the second part of this trip, our spirits are high and we are energized because of the people of Haiti. Our bodies are sore and tired because the work we are doing combined with the heat. Day 5 was a very productive day for our team. We planned this work weeks before our trip. It started with me emailing the team members that I didn’t know or hadn’t seen in a while. I asked what skills they had that they felt God could use on this trip. I wasn’t sure what all we could do with the diversity of the skills, but God knew and placed each person on this team to do what only they could do.

Two of the skills came from a couple. One of them is a nurse and the other can do carpentry. The orphanages and communities where we work here need both badly. When we first arrived at Myan on Monday, we told all the local kids we would have a clinic on Thursday. We asked them to spread the word throughout the community. Just because the orphanage isn’t open, it doesn’t mean we can’t start impacting the community around it now. We explained the process and that was all that was said about it.

When the clinic opened yesterday, it was slow going with only a few people. These ladies brought their children dressed in the best clothes they had and had shoes on their feet. They were so excited to be seeing a medical professional. We treated them, gave them medicine and sent them on. Word really spread after that. Our team treated families from 10:00 to 5:30 without taking a break. We had to turn people away because it was getting dark and we had to get back to the guesthouse. We told them to come back tomorrow so we could help them.

Another team was finishing up staining the beds for the orphanage while another team was putting varnish on the finished ones. They worked until the beds were finished being stained and the varnish ran out. When they finished up, they began to entertain the kids in line. We gave each person a number so they didn’t have to stand there or lose their place to see a nurse. One person, began teaching the kids how to do cartwheels while another introduced baseball to them. Our freshly leveled courtyard made a great baseball field. The children had a stick and an old, beat up tennis ball. Perfect for baseball.

Our other team finished up two full walls of shelving units for storage and medical supplies for the orphanage. We also build a tabletop desk for the administrator to be able to sit at and do work. The local workers kept coming in to look at what and how we were doing things. By the end of the project, we had turned it over to two men who are on Coreluv staff. It was amazing to watch them pick it up after watching us and to complete the project. The shelves are sturdy and beautiful. We’ll finish them up by placing doors on the medical side.

This trip has reminded me of something that Mike Reizner, the founder of coreluv.org, told me once. He said, “You shouldn’t pray and ask God for permission to go on a missions trip. He’s already commanded us to go into all the world. The real thing you should ask Him is if He is ok with you not going.” It’s time to free yourself of the excuses that keep you from doing what God wants you to do. Free yourself from the things that hold you back from His will for your life, whatever that may be. Don’t let another excuse keep you away from a missions trip. If you’d like to go to Haiti, email missions@coreluv.org to find out how.

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On A Dirt Road In Haiti

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As day four dawned in Haiti, the team was very energetic. We got up, had a good breakfast, a great devotional and then packed for the day. We piled up in the back of the truck and headed for Myan. The long dusty road there is full of bumps. All along the way, people smile and give us a thumbs up. It’s clear that Coreluv has built good relationships in the community and the people are excited to see the teams who come down their road. They know that we’re there to help not just the orphans, but the community at large.

When we arrived at the orphanage in Myan, we unpacked and began to prepare for our projects. Kids arrived slowly for some reason. As I went from room to room to check on the teams, I went into one where some ladies were staining the beds the orphans will sleep on. Just inside the door, a three year old boy was sitting on the floor with just a shirt on. He was covered in the white dirt that is everywhere out there. He looked up and you could see he was sad and something was wrong.

One of our team members, who has been on several trips, said, “He told me he didn’t sleep well.” I held his hand, but he would barely look at me or grip my fingers. After sitting with him a few minutes, I moved on to walk the property and see where future projects would be. I checked on the other team who were building shelving in our storage room. They were measuring, cutting and determining what order to do things in with the limited tools and weak generator. Each person was doing their part to make this project a success.

As I walked into the bed staining room, I saw our team member giving this boy water and then some food. He’d ask for more water and she’d give it to him. Then he’d ask for another bite of food. Slowly his demeanor began to change. My heart was touched as I watched her compassion for this little boy. As she gave it to him, Matthew 10:42 came to mind, “And if you give a cup of cold water to one of these little ones who is my disciple, truly I tell you, that person will certainly not lose their reward.” I was blessed to be able to watch that moment take place.

As the teams kept working on their projects, the missionary, a girl on the team and I got in the truck and headed back towards Gonaives. After we got over the part of the mountain the puts Myan in a valley, we pulled over. On a dirt road in Haiti, we used the hot spot feature on his iPhone to connect his iPad. We then used Skype to call Lifestyle Christian School where she attends and were patched into their chapel service. They’re bring a team of students next year and the principal wanted to have the student on this trip to be able to share her experiences.

As we finished speaking to chapel, we all kind of looked at each other and talked about how cool it was to be pulled over on the side of a mountain, on this dirt road, and to be able to do a video feed thousands of miles away to be able to share what we were doing. In a country where many of the technological advances that we enjoy daily have yet to make it, we were able to do that. The concept of video calling hasn’t reached here and would be as foreign to them as a truck of American sitting on the side of their road.

After coming back to town for supplies to get the more powerful generator working, we returned to Myan. The teams had made huge progress. The generator fired up after several minutes of the locals working on it. The saws started buzzing, drills started humming and the work began to move quickly. The 90 degree heat and no air conditioning began to take it’s toll on everyone. One of the guys looked at me and asked what time it was. When I told him it was almost 3:00, his face showed that he thought it was much later. We worked a little bit more when a couple of kids showed up in the middle of the buildings and started throwing a tennis ball.

One guy looked and asked, “Where’s our soccer ball?” I pointed it out and he ran out there with them. It didn’t take long until all of us were out there kicking the ball in a circle. Soon after, it became a free for all running after the person who had the ball. The goal was simply to be the one kicking it. Laughter filled the air in Myan (and dirt!). For an hour we played and loved these kids as the Haitian workers watched us. There was a renewed purpose for the work and our energy levels increased. It was just the boost we needed to get through three more days of work.

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