Friday, July 28, 2017

On the ground at DTW

Can't deplane yet as they seem to be caught by surprise at our arrival ???
Really... this has been a crazy trip as far as air travel has been concerned.

However, I suppose that we will see you soon!

On our way (with wireless)

It has been so long since I have had wireless, that it feels funny to connect.  But... here we are back in FLL (Although, we really spent enough time here the first time.) 

We are at the gate and are going to make our connection. 

See you soon

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Let’s Stay Longer - Gabby Linker
Hello everyone!               
As this mission trip comes to an end, the days feel as if they are getting shorter and our relationships are getting closer, making it harder and harder to think about saying goodbye. A lot of us have made connections and friendships with the Haitians in the villages, orphanages, and even among our fellow classmates. We all have been through so much together during this trip from being thrown up on and repeatedly asking them if they threw up on you to being peed on because someone got stung by a sea urchin. We have become annoyed with each other but as soon as someone asks if they can get some help there are 12 right by their side asking what they need help with. When we were at the airport that was our very first day of being a group and we all seemed very overwhelmed by the unconnected relationship between us all, but after 5 flights and 2 detours a connection was made. I am so grateful to have gone on such a big trip with people that have such great big hearts.
Relationships, along with service work (of course) have become a huge part of this trip for all of us. Some of us have found ways to make it easy to communicate with the people here when we return home which might make saying goodbye a little easier. The service work has also made saying goodbye hard in my eyes because as soon as I get home I will feel as if I should be here instead of there. That was one of my biggest hardships about leaving the last time I was in Haiti. After being here and constantly doing work and playing with the children who just want all the love in the world every day, it makes it difficult to be at home and know that there are children not only here in Haiti but all over the world that want love and affection from someone.
The first time I was in Haiti I was just a little freshman and did not really take in everything that was going on around me. Now that I am going to be a senior and this is my second time here, I am more emotionally attached to the people and the work we are doing every day.

Monday, July 24, 2017

July 24, 2017, Monday: Reflections from Mallori

July 24, 2017
Religion Reflections (Mallori)
Today I was given the opportunity to experience the blending of the Catholic cultures. While at St. Luke Foundation's children hospital, I saw the similarities and differences between Catholic and Haitian masses. The preparation of the mass included the gathering of all the children that died in the middle of the night, to give them one final blessing. This experience filled me with emotions that are difficult to express in just a few words. Each child was laid in a casket (similar to a cardboard box) in front of the alter. As mass began, we started with a prayer for the dead; a prayer for the innocent children that were not given enough time for a full experience of freedom and youth. The priest went around to each casket with incense and blessed the children. The actual mass was said mainly in Kreyol; however I was able to keep up with the use of hand gestures and beautiful tunes of worship. Although there were a few alterations, it still felt like Mass at home. I know the Catholic church has always been described as universal but it wasn't until this trip that I truly understood what that meant- its not about the place, language, traditions, or cultures, it's about being united under one faith, worshipping together as one. We joined hands to pray the Our Father, creating a circle around the children that had passed. I was completely connected. Moved by the losses, but more moved by the sense of community it created. American, Haitian, it didn't matter. Our only concern was being present with God. How often do we let our differences keep us from truly "seeing" each other? 

Friday, July 21, 2017

Water Delivery - Friday 7/21

It was a good day today, but hard.   Another long hot day in Haiti, so we went up to the village of St Christopher's to make a water delivery.   In Haiti, water is life.  And the people of St. Christopher's don't have any.

Prior to the earthquake in 2010, Port Au Prince was home to about 3,000,000 people -- nearly one in three Haitians lived in Port Au Prince area.  As a result of the earthquake, nearly everyone in Port Au Prince was left homeless.  It was impossible for that many homeless people to survive in the wrecked city; disease was starting to spread; and there were not enough resources for that many people to survive... so many of them just started walking.  When they stopped, they set up shelters, and that is how St. Christopher’s came about.  It is a barren hillside, where people stopped because there was no where else to go.   

They scraped together shacks out of what they could find and have been living there in exile from Port Au Prince since then. For seven years, they have survived on this is a sunbaked, dusty slope.  There is no infrastructure -- no roads, no power, and no water source. This means people are thirsty, and dirty.  It means that they can't grow gardens.   They can't wash clothes, or clean cuts.   The people were walking miles to a dirty river to fetch water in buckets every day.  Which also means that they were spending a lot of time on that which could have been used in better ways.    IYF Ministries found out about it and set up a clean-water program about a year ago.  For $165 a sponsor can pay for a week of water. This covers 10,500 gallons per week and is used by 500-600 people   

This is such an important thing. We were so happy to be able to fund raise to be able to pay for the water truck for both weeks that we are here!   

This morning we helped with the water distribution. This is how it goes: 

There are about ten large 100gallon rain barrels lined up.  And the villagers begin to gather.  Young and old, they come, carrying 5-gallon buckets, and 1-gallon pails.   The crooked grandmothers, they come.   And the tiny toddlers, barely taller than the buckets they carry.   They form lines clutching containers whose labels testify to their past lives: laundry soap...vegetable litter...paint.... Anything that will hold the water that will sustain life for another week under the hot Haitian sun.  

And, so they gather, bearing their old bleach bottles and grasping their gasoline cans. And they form lines. And they wait. 
Today, the truck was late.  

There was no grumbling, no outward signs of impatience, just waiting.  But when the truck arrived, the mood started to change.  As ten or twelve 100-gallon plastic rain barrels were quickly lined up, the village stood, still in line, watching. There was no visible change that I can point to, so it is hard to describe, but there was a... tension. The air was just a little bit charged with the palpable tension of unanswered questions: Will I get enough water for the week?  Will there still be water by the time I get to the front of the line?  Will there be enough water for everyone? For me? Will there be any problems?  

A large fire hose was laid out. A valve turned.  The hose grew plump and a man wrestled its end to the farthest plastic barrel.  As the barrel filled, he grasped the hose with both arms and used his torso as leverage to flop the end to the neighboring barrel. A wave splashed out onto the front of the line.  They remained impassive in manner, showing neither interest nor concern about their now soaked clothes. (I may have imagined this, but it seemed that they were deliberately impassive -- and I  had a flash of both pain at their situation and admiration for their response; it is not my forte to bear wrongs patiently.)   The filling of barrels continued with the fire hose being directed at each for as long as it took to fill it and then moved immediately to the next, and up and down the line.   In the meanwhile, we had smaller buckets and as soon as each barrel was filled, we were to fill the buckets of the villagers by scooping water from the barrel into their containers.  This is where the jostling began, as each person hastened to the front of the line, anxious to ensure that they received the water to sustain them until the truck returns again.  The kids scooped water as fast as they could into the buckets.   And as each bucket was filled, a new one was presented.  

 It is hot hard work. The kids did a good job.  They helped deliver water to people for whom water means everything.  And that is a big deal. But, as is so often the case in Haiti, I think today was another day where we actually received far more than we gave.  I think that the biggest gift here was in the opportunity our kids had as a result of this experience.  It is hard to have a day like today, without it resulting in some real growth, mentally and spiritually. I think it was great for the kids to be in a situation to reflect a little on how we live.  This was a chance to reflect a little on just what access to clean water means. On the ways in which we sometimes take the simple things for granted.  On what it means to have. have not.  And, on how things that are "simple" for us - like serving water - are actually far more nuanced when we view them through the lens of solidarity.  

So, as I said... 

It was a good day today.  

But, hard. 

Some Bench Building Action!

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Thoughts on our work day: Thursday (7/20) from Lily's view

Hey ya'all it's Lily again and I cannot wait to share my thoughts with you on my amazing day!!! Today started at 7:30 A.M with a delicious breakfast of  eggs, toast, and bacon. Then it was off to the church to help paint and build benches.

One of the greatest things that I have learned the last couple days was that Haitians can be some of the hardest workers you may ever meet. There were young men at the church who came to see what we were doing, and they were so intrigued by the benches we were building.  These young men were willing to listen to and help some high school kids complete the projects. Just think: where in America do you ever see grown men joyfully and willingly taking gentle "orders" from kids at least ten or fifteen years younger then them? Also. you don't always expect people to go completely out of their way just to make sure they do their jobs right. But this afternoon, not only all of these boys and men go completely out of their way just to do a job right, they did the job with a smile.  Not a single complaint came from anyone.   The benches were beautiful and these men truly know what the word "pride" truly means.

After an exciting, long morning we sat down and enjoyed an amazing meal that God had blessed us with. I, for the first time, got to enjoy the taste of real fresh mangoes. They were so delicious!!!!! Throughout the morning we also were able to hold and play with so many Haitian kids! I once again go to hold so many babies from the moment we drove up to the church to the moment we drove away. It made my heart truly melt!! These Haitian kids are so easily entertained by the simplest game such as hand games. It truly made me realize that sometimes with the amount of material items we have, we still are not satisfied, unlike these kids. For instance, how many times in America have we talked about how bored we are? In Haiti, these kids have an imagination! I truly believe that the word bored will never leave the mouth of any Haitian!

Then in mid-afternoon we headed back to the guest house to relax for a while and once again enjoy a nice meal made by our amazing cooks. These women are so amazing and always have a smile on their face. While after dinner, the boys from Tom's home came and we got celebrate Dickie's birthday. It was so neat because we were able to learn his story and how he ended up at Tom's home which was so sweet. We also got to hear them sing "Happy Birthday" in both French and Creole. It was such a treat!!

I honestly cant believe it's going to be our fifth day in Haiti. Everyday is an eye-opening adventure that causes my life to be impacted more and more each day. The people down here not only have a big hearts, they truly know how live everyday to the fullest finding hope in every situation good or bad. My life has been changed forever and I truly see Haitians as a role model in my life. These Haitians are truly are examples as followers on Christ, whether they know it or not. I truly and will always treasure Haiti in my heart for ever and ever.