Saturday, April 28, 2012

Life to the full

Hello Everyone!
It’s Kari Bristol again. It is almost 10 pm and we just finished up our team time for the day. It was a long and fulfilling day!
Today our team was blessed to be able to participate in baptisms up at Healing Haiti’s Grace Village orphanage. There ended up being 2 team members (Tiffany & Shane Speltz), one Healing Haiti staff member, Gretchen the current American orphanage director, many Grace Village orphans, and a handful of kids from the town near the orphanage for a total of 37.

Shane & Tiffany getting baptized!

My husband, Kenny, had the privilege along with the spiritual director at Grace Village, Fan Fan, to baptize everyone.
Gretchen with the girls. 

When we arrived the kids were already dressed (all in white) and worshiping. The music team set up the sound system right on the edge of the playground and we worshiped together for a while before the baptisms and then after them we passed out rhythm sticks and egg shakers and the kids went wild. It was a sight and sound to behold!
FanFan doing his thing for God. 
My “word” of the day was “connections”.  I had the privilege to make many one-on-one connections with so many different children today. It was such a huge blessing to feel God’s grace just being poured out on me time and time again today.
My first connection was shortly after we got there. It was with a little 5-year-old boy named Joseph who just came to the orphanage a few weeks ago. I scooped him up and he snuggled right in. It wasn’t long before he laid down on my lap and fell sound asleep as the kids around him belted out worship songs and prayers.
Lyika, Idammae, and Me loving on Joseph as he fell asleep. 
My next connection was with one of the orphans that I had connected with on my last trip. Her name is Gernadette. She is 14 years old and was one of the kids that got baptized today. She had written me a lovely letter saying how she prays for me each day and she drew me a beautiful flower. It was great to spend some time talking with her and loving on her.
Gernadette getting baptized!
Next it was one of the kids from the town at the bottom of the hill from the orphanage. She was 8 years old and wearing a tattered but beautiful green dress. I offered to push her on the swing and for the next 2 hours she was stuck like glue to my side. We cuddled, hugged, exchanged lots of smiles, and danced during the music.

Then came the most memorable connection of the day.  Hopefully Karen or Jeff Moen, our team leaders, will give all the glorious details of God’s supernatural synchronicity (Karen’s words of the day) that went behind getting Grace Village’s newest orphan, Yolencia, brought up to Grace Village today. She is a 12 year old beauty whose parents have both died. She has lived in poorest slum of Haiti called Cite Soleil her entire life. A place where there is no running water, no electricity, no toilets, no garbage pick-up, and where many kids run the streets all day because their parents can’t afford the tuition of public school.
So it was the middle of a hot afternoon and I could tell she was getting tired. I grabbed her and sang with her for a while and I could feel her get heavy. I went to sit down with her and I had Gretchen as her if she was tired. She said yes and so I brought her to her new bed in the girls dormitory and she laid down and immediately fell asleep.
Yolencia on her first day at Grace Village. 
Lastly, I made a connection with a girl that I met on my last trip. She is 14 years old and as beautiful as a flower. She was given away by her parents, didn’t get to go to school, and forced to do all of the work in the house where she was staying. She was brutally abused and is now going through a rehabilitation process. We sat together for a while. When it was time for her to leave she said to me “I would like to go stay with you”. I told her that I would love that but that I live in America. Then she said “I would like you to come stay with me”. Again, I said that I would love to but that I have 2 small children at home that I have to go back and take care of. We exchanged hugs and kisses and lots of smiles and waved goodbye.
It was such a full day!

In John 10:10 Jesus says “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.”
If you have never experienced “life to the full” come to Haiti and prepare to be filled to overflowing! 


Becky Sommars here! 
The day started early for some of the team.  A group got up early to attend a church service at Morning Star tent church.  The service started at 6:00 am and some had not gone to bed until late the night before.  I was not one of the ones who got up early.  Those who went described the service as amazing.
We then headed to Elder’s School for a worship concert on the roof.  We packed the team and 200+ students on the roof.  The experience was unforgettable.  Hopefully we will be able to post a small portion of the worship concert online for everyone to see.  Those of us who were not in the band danced and sang with the kids.  Kari B and I each had a little girl who danced with us, hugging us tight, as we danced.  At one time we each had two girls glued to us.  It was hot on the roof “a sauna” as Kenny B described it.  This was his “word of the day”.   Elder was so appreciative and stated at the end of the concert, “music is for rich people, and today we are rich!”

We then headed back to the guesthouse to drop of instruments, change clothes, and were off to the water truck.  We did two runs today.  It was a difficult day delivering water for various reasons.  Most of the band was drained from the emotional worship session at Elder’s school. However for myself, it was a day I described as “engaged”.   Today I felt connected with what we were doing, had energy, and was motivated to serve.
The team has been having so much fun together.  The rides in the tap tap and time at the guesthouse has been filled with tears and plenty of laughter.  Brett is hilarious and is a running commentary throughout the day.  Kenny sets up the joke and Brett will knock it out of the park!  Some times I am laughing so hard my stomach hurts.  I feel so blessed that I have gotten to know each of these people.  We are looking  forward to the day tomorrow at Grace Village and all that God will be doing.  

Thursday, April 26, 2012

my moment

  Hey everyone!
Julie here…..I have the high honor of capturing the moments the team is having this week and then being able to bring the message and emotions back to the world.
As a videographer/photog, when you are on a trip for the specific purpose of capturing the trip, it’s very hard to fully submerge yourself into the full emotion of the trip because you are constantly looking for the ‘moments’ that other people are having, to capture them. So unfortunately, I don’t have much opportunity for my own moments….until today.
We visited some of the elderly. As we walked up and brought Edmund out of his little shack (he was carried by one of the HH staff because he cant walk..), I couldn’t help but smile at this precious man. As the guys started to play worship music for him, I started to notice him start to worship right there in his chair. What an amazing experience to see this man who has nothing in the world, lift his hands in worship. The SAME GOD that we worship in the States, this little blind, lame, practically deaf (and completely toothless!) man, worships that same God, and is loved JUST as much by our God as we are.
We then visited a woman who is also unable to walk. She is stuck to her mat, and so we gathered around her in her hut that has a blue cast to it, due to the blue plastic tarp that have become the walls of her 8x8 ‘home’. The guys started to play again, and as soon as they did, she had her arms up (see Kenny’s picture in the blog post below) and was singing along like crazy and just loving this break in her life.
But then something happened. As I walked around shooting, getting the guys playing, getting the woman on the floor responding, it hit me: We are singing for her in her hot, stuffy hut. We will leave this place in about 5 minutes and go chug cold water, and eat Nature Valley Granola bars and beef jerky in the taptap because we are a little hungry. Then we’ll sing songs in the taptap all the way back to the guest house where we will eat pizza and debrief about our day in a beautiful guest house and sleep with air conditioning. And the WHOLE TIME, this woman will STILL be on the floor. Unable to move. Unable to feed herself. Going day to day with very few, if any, visitors, but yet, still loving and praying that same God that I am praying too. It’s amazing how we come one these trips expecting to pour blessing onto people and then realize that as we watch them, live their lives that to us, would be absolutely impossible, our perspective changes, our eyes are readjusted to the priorities in the world. And what are those priorities? To SERVE GOD. That’s all. That is why we’re here on earth. If I could live my life to serve my God with absolute full abandon, it still wouldn’t be enough. He is SO BIG and SO POWERFUL and SO MIGHTY! He deserves to be served with full, happy hearts. So that’s what I will continue to do. Hand over my life to God and allow him to mold me into the woman HE wants me to be. Nothing else matters.

Sweet Antonia

Well we’ve played some music now the last couple days and had some pretty great worship times but nothing prepared us for what we would experience today.  We went on a mini tour today, each gig being for 1 person.  We were able to play for 4 of the people who are part of Healing Haiti’s Elder Care program.  All were great times of worship but one stop in particular at an older paralyzed women’s house quickly became memorable for me.

Antonia was here name and she was stricken to a mat on the floor.  We all huddled into her little shack and began to play worship songs.  A few songs in, we broke into Glory To God, singing the chorus in Creole, Glwa Pou Bondye.  Her toothless little mouth began to move along with the words and soon she was in full song with us… so good to see, absolutely inspiring.

Following our time of worship, as everyone was leaving, I was waiting for Julie (our videographer) to come back for a short video shoot for a project we’re bringing back to Eagle Brook.  Julie seemed to be taking her time so I nestled down beside Antonia and held her hand.  In her raspy tone she began saying, “Mesi” (Thank You) over and over and over and over.  For almost two minutes she was thanking me.  I whispered, “Ke Bondye Beni’ou (God bless you) and she said, “Amen, Amen, Amen…  you get the idea.  As we cuddled while waiting for Julie my eyes filled with tears and I was struck that we had completely made her day. 

I don’t say this to toot my own horn but to say that I was very humbled by this experience.  Playing gigs for 1 person at a time in a place like Haiti is not at all glamorous, but truly one of the most inspiring times of worship I’ve ever experienced.  Sweet Antonia, God used you to break my heart today, but He also used you to put it all back together as you whispered, “Mesi, mesi, mesi, mesi…”

Just before Julie and I left, I gave sweet Antonia a big Smooch on the cheek.  Her response, “Glwa Pou Bondye”

--Kenny Bristol

More pics

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Water Truck Day - Cite Soleil

Broken. My word of the day today is broken.  Yesterday before we left for Cite Soleil (one of the poorest slums in the western hemisphere), Jeff Gacek told us that God was going to break our hearts into a million little  pieces, but that God always puts our broken hearts back together and that if we allow Him, He will reshape our broken hearts to the form that He wants them to be.  Yesterday my heart was ripped wide open.  

At one of our water truck stops, I picked up a sweet little boy with just a ragged, dirty onesie on (no diaper) and I held this little boy as we walked through the streets of a city that you have to see up close to believe.  When it was time to leave I tried to give my new little friend back to his mother, but when I let go of him, he cried and cried and reached and grabbed for me as his mother tried to restrain him and hold onto him.  

It was heartbreaking...heartbreaking to know that the love I gave to this little boy was probably the most love and attention he would receive for the day. Most of the little ones just wander around the streets with no one playing with them, no one paying attention to them or showing them much love.  So different from the way we live here, where we watch over our little ones and pick them up the moment they begin to cry.  

The hardest part of Haiti is leaving…leaving these sweet little children who so desperately want to come with us.  Leaving and wondering if they’ll make it, and if they do, what their life will look like as they grow up.  But as Jeff Moen reminded us this morning, our job isn’t to ask “why”.  God doesn’t want us to try to figure it all out, that was not His purpose by showing us this part of the world unseen by so many…all He asks us to do is respond.  Respond with a hug, respond with a prayer, respond with a smile, respond with a song, respond with love…
“The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me, because the Lord has anointed me to preach good news to the poor.  He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners…” ~Isaiah 61:1    

~Leah Rose 

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

We made it!  After a long but smooth day of travel yesterday, we arrived in Haiti.  Once again the Haitian staff is amazing and had everything set for us.  The evening was highlighted by an "acoustic rehearsal session" by the band in the living room (which was awesome) and a quick trip down to the tent-city down the street.  Cite Soleil/Watertruck tomorrow.  Can't wait for that and to see how lives are changed this week.  Stay Tuned!

Jeff M

Tent city

Hey Everyone!

It's Kari Bristol. We arrived safely yesterday in Haiti and got to the guesthouse around 2:30 just as it started raining. The newbies to Haiti were amazed at their first taste of Haiti during the short trip from the airport to the guesthouse. We all couldn't wait to get out and experience more of Haiti.

Unfortunately the rain got harder and harder and we couldn't venture out.
So the music guys rehearsed and the rest of us sang along until the sound of the rain on the tin roof drowned us all out.

After dinner the rain let up a bit so we were able to go down to the tent city at the end of the block. Jean insisted on driving us even though it is a very short walk because the rain turns the roads to mud here. So we loaded up in his truck.

We took some candy to hand out as we walked through the tight spaces between tents.
I saw one lady wearing a bright purple shirt that said "WOW". The shirt came from my church and it was in the care package that my team in February handed out.
Chris, Jeff, Kenny, Tiffany, Leah, and Becky

We all agreed after this "taste" of Haiti that we couldn't wait to get out there again the next day.

Leah and Tiffany with some kids that have been living in these tents since the earthquake 2 1/2 years ago. 

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Serendiptious - "come upon or found by accident"

Our team is made up of a variety of goers: some first-timers, some who have been there a few times, and one who will be on his 40th trip!

This will be my 5th trip.  My prayer, as it has been each trip,  is for God to use me to be a light in a dark and desperate place.  I pray that the people I meet don't see me, instead they feel the love of their Creator.  A serendipitous discovery has happened each time I've been in Haiti.  God has used the Haitian people to shine a light into dark areas of my heart: materialism and control.  These things distract me from His Purposes and love.  The bonds of fear and materialism fade away as I witness the passionate faith of the Haitian people as they worship our Good Father.  It is amazing to hear Him honored, praised and adored from those who have experienced abandonment, hunger, death, and destruction.  Humbling and inspiring.

My seven year old daughter asked me tonight, "Why doesn't God just fix Haiti?"  God is fixing Haiti and He is using us to do it!  What I will share with her later, because I didn't think of it then, is that not only is God using us to fix Haiti, God is using Haiti to fix me!  I just LOVE how He works.  He is so GOOD!

Please join me in praying that God's love will be revealed in a new way in Haiti -  to the people we meet and for those on our team, whether it's their 1st time or their 40th!

-Karen Moen

Back to Haiti April 23-30, 2012

Hello Friends, and Family,

Just wanted to get a quick note up to say if you have found this page you're in the right place to follow our trip during this next week (April 23-30, 2012).  Check back each day for updates and new blog posts from our team members!

Please keep us in your prayers!