Monday, March 28, 2011

Beautiful Haiti

While we have traveled around all week in the back of pick-up truck, my eyes have been wide open. I've tried to take it all in, to open my heart and allow God to show me something... and He has. I have seen garbage strewn everywhere (literally everywhere). I have felt roads barely drivable for even the most extreme off-road vehicle (my back is still sore). I have smelled the kind of sewage that burns your nostrils when you breathe it in, and it runs through the streets. (this is the stuff Kristin stepped in a couple days back--see blog entry entitled Blessed) In the midst of all of this, people live!

And you may be asking, why did he title this entry "Beautiful Haiti"? What is beautiful about Haiti? This place is in an unbelievable setting, nestled between picturesque mountains and the green-blue hues of the Caribbean Sea. Last night we took a drive up one of these mountains, and from the top you begin to see the "Jewel of the Caribbean"... Haiti! From up on the mountain, you cannot see any garbage, or smell any sewage. The road was still a little bumpy, but it was worth it! It was truly a breathtaking panorama! I did not pass up the opportunity to get a quick snapshot with my wife!

BUT... the thing that is most beautiful about Haiti, is it's people, especially the children!!
Their Dark weathered skin, calloused feet, and deep brown eyes draw you in... And with a simple, bon' jure (good morning), smiles emerge that could light up anyone's day. The sound of kids voices yelling the only english they know,
"HEY YOU" has become a term of endearment for us all. The faith, the joy, and the way they find sufficiency in God is just plain good to see. We should all be better off to trust God like this! This place, Haiti, is beautiful. But more
importantly it is filled with the most beautiful people I have ever seen! Glory to God!


Saturday, March 26, 2011

Let the music begin....

Well yesterday we started our music tour. To begin, Jeff brought us to a school in Cite Soleil (where we delivered water). Type Cite Soleil into Wikipedia to learn more about the area. We set up on the third floor of this school open air to all the surroundings, turned it up loud and just started playing. They brought about 300 kids up and we crammed into the space we had. The sweat was pouring, the kids were energetic and we began to see the passion and love that many in Haiti have for God. The glory of God revealed to us.

We then headed to one little house of a more rural area and crammed into the bedroom of Jude Jean Paul, a young man who has been a quadriplegic since he was 7. He is now 17. So as a couple of the girls rubbed lotion on his arms and legs, we sat and played music for him. It sounded so beautiful in his room, inspiring, and the Spirit of God moving! Before we left we laid our hands on Jude Jean Paul and through tear filled eyes we prayed. We prayed for healing, we prayed for God to show Himself and then we quietly left so his mother could continue to care for him. So simple, so good, and again the glory of God revealed.

Somewhere along the way we stopped at Saint Christophe, a mass burial site from the earthquake. (See the blog below)…

Then we made a stop at Grace Village, where Healing Haiti is building an orphanage, stay tuned on that as well…

We wrapped up our day at Guillaume’s orphanage. Again we set up our whole rig on a little platform surrounded by the area where the kids play. While we set up, the girls played head and shoulders, knees and toes with the kids. It’s so fun to see the kids in utter delight.
We began to play and this group of kids loved to sing and worship the Lord. As Jeremy began the song Agnus Dei, it became clear that they knew this song.
Arms raised, voices singing LOUD and at times drowning out the volume of our system, these kids lead us in worship. Then as the sun began setting upon our day and we were wrapping up, God again revealed Himself to us. Julie with her camera captured this moment perfectly. God just shining down upon Haiti!!

We've had some difficulty connecting to the internet today... so be patient and we'll get more stuff up as soon as we can.

St. Christophe’s Mass Graves

We stopped at the mass graves from the earth quake that rocked Port Au Prince on January 12, 2010 – about 15 months ago. It is estimated that half of the victims recovered from the earthquake are buried here. 300,000 are estimated to have perished that day.

After the earthquake family members wrapped their deceased loved ones in sheets and set them on the curb. The bodies were loaded by frontend loaders in garbage trucks and dumped in the massive pit.

On January 12th of this year they had a memorial service at St. Christophe’s mass grave. Hundreds of crosses were placed in the ground to represent the thousands upon thousands buried. Now, just a few months later, dozens of the crosses had fallen over. Palm trees surrounded the grave for the memorial service, but they were left neglected and were now withered and laying on the ground. My heart broke as God revealed his sorrow and pain for those who grieve each mother, father, sister, brother, husband, daughter, son that was lost that tragic day. I raged with anger as I felt the injustice for the way these lives were memorialized. Mass graves. Fallen crosses.

I bent over to “replant” a fallen cross. I wanted to restore the symbol that represents the immeasurable love God feels for each life. The soil was like cement, so I dug with my fingernails to loosen the soil. My fellow teammate Kenny picked up the cross as I dug and together we restored the cross. One by one, each fallen cross was restored.
-Karen Moen
Healing Haiti Team Member

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Day 3 - The Water Truck Day

Hi Friends,

This is Brad. A friend of Jeff's... and now the EBC Worship Team. I have no musical talents, so when I met the team, I told them the best I could do hum. They laughed, but have accepted me anyway. I am so thankful for the opportunity to finally do what God has asked from each of us.

So what is the water truck day all about?

From a practical standpoint, it is delivering clean drinking water to people who need it to live. It is hard work, coupled with organized chaos. From a spiritual standpoint, it is God showing his power in a very small way.

From a spiritual standpoint, water truck day is so much more: We arrived in Cite Solei early this morning. One of the poorest of slums in the world. Garbage and sewage smells everywhere. We roll the 2,500 gallon truck of water down the smallest of alleys, between homes that are little more than shanties. As we approach, the locals who live within that area know we're coming and they come running,

What I didn't understand is how much fun we would have. The kids smiled and played. With the help of our team, the women filled the buckets and brought the water back to their homes (?). They appreciated the generosity and help, and you could feel the power of God swirling amongst us. What hit me most is how much they would bless me. Their simple life with the hope for only the most basic things. I was simply there for them and them for me.

Why did it take me so long to act and do what God wants us to do? It's so much easier to say, "I don't have time",  "Mission work is not my calling", "I'll just write a check". These are all things that I have done. My being here in Haiti has opened my eyes to how little I have listened to the Holy Spirit and allowed God's will into my heart. God wants us to choose Him. He awaits patiently for us.  We distract ourselves and never let His power live inside of us. Here, in Haiti, all they have is Him and they live it out so fervently, that it is contagious. 

For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.' (Matthew Chapter 25: 35-36)

More to come. I hope you enjoy the photos below... but understand that, it is so much better just to come....

-Brad Ledvina
Healing Haiti Team Member

Water Truck Day 3 in photos


Kristin here, with a little story from our day:

At the second water truck stop, I found myself surrounded by a few older girls, aged 10 or so. One of them was a beautiful girl named Samantha, and she loved to make sure I was looking nice by pulling my straggly ponytail out from the back of my shirt and smoothing it with her fingers (saying "belle cheve," beautiful hair) and rubbing dirt off my face and clothes anytime I smudged it up playing with the kids. She stuck by my side and held my hand as we walked through the shanties, teaching me words and phrases as we went, helping me with my pronunciation of "ke bondye bon'ju" (God bless you).

As we were turning back toward the area of our water truck, I found myself particularly occupied with a few children trying to climb up in my arms and hold my hands and forgot to watch my step for a moment. I felt a squish under my left foot and wetness ankle deep and knew I was in trouble -- I had stepped into the muck that runs between the shanties. Essentially a sewer, with some trash thrown in for good measure. A collective gasp of genuinely sympathetic "oooOOOOoooohhhh!"rose up from the children around me (along with a few giggles from the little boys). They were so sad for me, with my thick layer of muck around my foot.

Samantha and another girl went running ahead and came back, gesturing me toward a shanty with an old woman sitting in front washing her clothes. They took of my shoe and rubbed my feet while the woman poured out the entire basin of water on my feet. They rinsed my shoe and fastened it back on my foot. It all happened so fast that all I could think to say was "Merci, merci, merci" to the woman and the girls and then, as she finished pouring all of the water she had just collected from our truck to last her perhaps for days onto my FOOT and sat back with a grin (it probably made her day to laugh at this silly white girl who stepped in their sewer), I remembered what Samantha had taught me "ke bondye bon'je" and looked her in the eyes and wished her the blessings of God with all of my heart.

I could not say thank you enough to her for pouring out her limited water into the ground for me, for my comfort! For my comfort! They live in those sewers, with them outside the doors of their dirt floor tents and shanties with no lights, no comforts. And they were so concerned for my comfort, to wash MY feet when half of those kids don't even own shoes. I just cannot explain enough how moved I was in that moment. It was a moment I will never forget and forever cherish as a feeling of being so blessed. So blessed and humbled and moved by these incredible people. It brings tears to my eyes to think about and honestly I hope it always will.

ke bondye beni'ou my friends!

Kristin Hicks
Healing Haiti Mission Team Member


I met her 4 months ago on my first trip to Haiti. We went to her Water Truck stop in City Soliel two different days - and both times she wrapped her arms around my neck, sometimes gently lay her head to rest on my shoulder, shyly look into my eyes. This little four year old has tugged at my heart strings from the moment I first saw her. CeeCee is one of a few faces that haunts me and often I wonder about her life. Three weeks ago my husband Jeff came down to Haiti. I sent a photo with him of CeeCee and me, hoping that somehow he would get a chance to meet her. She stayed with him for the duration of their water stop - he made a special connection with her knowing the connection I had made a few months earlier. Today I brought a photo Jeff holding CeeCee and the photo I gave him. As we pulled into her water truck stop I could not find her - I showed it to the other children and they ran off to find her. To my delight, she was as excited to see me as I was to see her. We spent the hour in struggled English/Spanish conversation. I had the chance to meet her "mother" (she was very old - so my guess is that it was not her birth mom). Her friends continually asked me if I would take CeeCee home as my daughter. They were very persistent but I continually said no. When we were about to leave there was a bigger than normal gathering. CeeCee was still in my arms when I said my goodbyes and told her that I would be back. When I set her down the other children began to say "No, no, no." They were passionately waving their hands motioning for me to take CeeCee with me. It was then I understood that the children were there to give CeeCee away! They expected that if they gave her to me that I would be convinced to take her. Brad saw the interaction and ran to get FanFan our interpreter. He confirmed what they were saying . My heart was broken as I had FanFan tell them that I was not able to take her.
What must life be like for them to willingly send one of their own away with someone they do not know? Please God, be with CeeCee and the rest of the children in whatever circumstance they are in - make Yourself known to them in tangible ways.

Karen Moen
Healing Haiti Mission Team Member

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Day 2: Mother Theresa's and Gertrude's orphanage

Hey Everyone! Julie here. If you didn't know I'm on this trip as the photographer and videographer, so I get to experience this trip not only through my own eyes, but through the experiences of others as I capture their moments and emotions. Pretty sweet.

Today, however, we went to 2 orphanage's. One where I wasn't allowed to shoot anything, per the request of the orphanage staff. So I was able to just hold the sick babies, and play with the children.

It was quite the experience seeing actual sick and dying children. Personally, I've been on mission trips before but I've never actually experienced holding a child that could die today or tomorrow. It really was heart wrenching, and their faces, were just beautiful.

The second orphanage was Gertrude's for the mentally handicapped orphans. We had an incredible opportunity to play music for the children. And by 'we', I mean the guys. HA. The kids went crazy they LOVED it! And so did the rest of the team.

There are great things in store for the rest of the week, God is going to rock this team and change us all from the inside out. I'm so excited for the stories we will return with.

If you have never been on a missions trip, what the heck are you waiting for. DO IT NOW.

Julie Salzmann
Healing Haiti Mission Team Member

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

We've Arrived Safely!

We had a fairly seamless day of travel. Before we left Minneapolis I tried to convince airport security that Jeremy was a sketchy character, but they turned on me and began giving me a hard time (all in fun though). After a quick stop in Miami we arrived with all our bags and gear accounted for. We only lost Levi for a little while--J/K. We are all here and safe.

We were able to get to the house, settle in, and enjoy a wonderful Haitian dinner at the house. Feeling pretty good after dinner we decided to walk down to a nearby tent city... our first real Haiti experience!! We brought a couple soccer balls and the kids came out of the woodwork. All vying for one of the balls. Brad and I felt like NFL running backs trying to get to the small play area. Each of us had 10-12 kids draped on us and we were just trying not to fumble. We crossed the end-zone dragging many of them with us.

Then we truly began to experience what some of this is all about. Children everywhere simply wanting you to pick them up and hold them. So we did! We just hold them in our arms and love all these little ones. We tickle, bounce, spin around and they respond with absolute delight and laughter. What incredible joy in such simple things. My little buddy for the night was Samuel (see above). But as you can see, there were so many, we could hardly give each one a bit of attention and love! God is good and he proves that through the joy of these children!

We've only just begun, we're sleep deprived from the early flight, but completely energized to face into this week with open hearts to what our great God will show us and how He will shape our hearts through this trip.

Love you all,

Monday, March 7, 2011

God's Journey

Welcome to our Eagle Brook Church--White Bear Lake Campus--Worship Team in Haiti blog!  We are traveling with Healing Haiti, March 22-29.  During our trip we will be visiting orphanages, bringing clean water to the poorest areas in our world, and we will be playing music/worshipping at various locations around Port-Au-Prince.  We are very excited for this opportunity to go and serve and to be able to share our gifts of music as well.  Please pray for us as we prepare and as we travel to Haiti... And also huge Thanks for all of you who gave financial gifts in response to our letters, those dollars will be a direct blessing to the people of Haiti!!

This blog is also where you can find updates while we are in Haiti.  So be sure to check back daily for updates, and pictures while we are in Haiti!  And again please be in prayer for us as we go as we really have no idea what we’re in for.  We simply go with open hearts for God to shape and mold.  May He direct our steps as we go, and may we be affected, changed, and transformed just as God wants.   

-Kenny Bristol
Healing Haiti Team Member
EBC Worship Pastor