Monday, February 25, 2013

Juno's and Isaiah's

What a wonderful time we had working and playing with the kids at Juno's and Isaiah's orphanages.  The kids were amazing and very intrigued with our craft projects.

We spent time making bead crosses, coloring and puzzles.  Even the Healing Haiti staff got in the fun!!

We also found multiple purposes for the frisbees that we brought.  They functioned as a crayon holder, a bead holder, a plate for their orange and nut snacks and finally as a toy.  The kids loved to sticker them up and then off to the court yard for a little fitness fun!!

We were blessed with a song from the children upon our departure!!

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Gertrude's Little Miracles

Have you ever experience pure uninhibited joy?  That is how our Thursday was when we walked into Gertrude's orphanage for the disabled children of Haiti.  It was a joy to see the wonderful progress that has been made to the facility with a new play area in the back yard that included a wheel chair swing.

But the pure uninhibited joy came from the smiles and laugher of the children as we pushed them in wheel chair races across the playground, played with the amazing tactile wall and had the children laughing while chasing the bubbles. 

I was especially touched by the little miracle boy that I fell in love with.  He was sitting in the front courtyard away from all of the other children with an eye mask on.  I felt bad that he was so isolated from all of the other fun that was happening.   I found out that he has been blind since birth and just had eye surgery only a week or two ago.  He was just started to actually see. They allowed me to take him back and I placed him on my lap on the swing.  What joy on his face as he felt the soft wind on his face.  As one of my team members singing the Barney I Love You song.  As I joined her in song the boy sang along and gave me a big kiss on the cheek.  It broke my heart to experience is pure joy in the simplicity of the moment.

It was one of the best days for the team, not only did we wear out the children, they also wore us out, but left us with a heart full of pure uninhibited joy of feeling like a child again!

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Water Truck Day

Water truck day in Cite Solei, Haiti, is an experience like no other.  Healing Haiti is the only free water truck to make its way into the poorest slums in the world and we had the good fortune to be able to ride along and help fill bucket after bucket. It is always so very heartbreaking to see the desolate conditions, but rewarding to see their gratitude through their beautiful smiles and the joy in the children's laughter.

Today was all about HANDS

Surrounded by small hands waiting patiently to grab and hold our hands as we jumped from the Tap Tap. Quickly children engulfed us their hands entwined with ours - holding tightly - not wanting to ever let us go.

Hands on each end of a simple jump rope that brought children of all shape and sizes to us.  The joy on their faces making us oblivious to their rags and nakedness.

Hands busy with the service task of the day - delivering water.  Team hands in unison working the bucket chain, holding and filling, splashing and lifting.  Hands in assistance as the heavy buckets are lifted onto the heads of the Haitian women to carry home.

Hands engaged in play with simple rocks dug from the gravel at the water station.  A shared language is not needed when there is a fun game to play.

Healing restorative hands tending to wounds and sickness of others.  The strength of one on display for all - doing more good and making a moving sacrifice that none of us could have attempted.

Hands at the end of the day to touch and care for each other - as we shared a tear and more importantly shared a laugh (or ten).

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Humbling Day in Haiti

I am so grateful and humbled to be here in Haiti once again with another amazing team!!

Today was our first full day serving the people of Haiti and what a welcome we received.  We set off for the new hospital that treats sick and dying babies for those that can not afford medical care.  When we arrived the smaller babies were all laid out on a play mat.  A tiny girl about the same size as my beautiful grand-daughter saw us coming and quickly crawled off the mat towards the door to my feet and raised her sweet little hands up for me to cradle and hold her.  My heart broke along with the team and we ended up having an amazing morning playing and loving up the babies at the new Hospital.  They have a nice new courtyard and even a playground for the children.  It was fun to blow bubbles with the kids and have them chase after them as well as see the small smiles on the kids too lethargic with mal-nutrition to play.  While it is always hard to let a cuddly little child back down in their crib, there is another set of hands just down the isle lifting up for your love and attention. A little angel decided to join me on my rounds and gently rocked, swayed, and sang with me while holding on to my skirt as I held baby after baby.  I was humbled to look around and see the wonderful staff caring for so gently for the children and for my team who took the courage to step outside their comfort zone and lead with their hearts!!

The afternoon was the dichotomy of the morning.  We went trepidatiously to the Hospital for the Sick and Dying Adults.  Rather than the crying, laughing and screaming that accompanied our morning, we were welcomed to the sound of the patients saying the Rosary in Creole.  We were welcomed with smiles and quickly went to work pampering and loving up the patients.  It is such a humbling experience for someone who does not work in the medical field to show the compassion and love so very needed by those who are ill.  But it did not take us long to dig in and spend 5-10 minutes making every one individually feel special; for the women especially to be pampered with powder and a leg or foot massage to ease some of their pain and be a princess in the moment.  As we worked our way through each ward, we witnessed the severity of their conditions.  Many suffered from severe mal-nutrition, tuberculosis, cancer and AIDS. 

As we got to the end of the corridor there were several small little heads peering out the doorway waiting for their turn to be pampered.  The girls were only about 7 or 8.  One little girl at the door way grabbed my hand and quickly led me down an isle of hospital beds until she got to hers.  She jumped down, smiled and waited for me to start the was precious to see that when her turn was up and everything was "c'est bon", she would round up the next girl until every one of them had their turn.  For some reason the thought I could sing and kept repeating "chante, chante, chante"  meaning sing.  Thanks to Mr. Cepress, my french teacher for 4 years in high school some 30 years ago, I was able to join them in a couple of rounds of Frair Jacque and Sir Lopone:-)  It was heart breaking to know why they were there, but so very grateful for the loving staff that care for them each and every day.

It is always humbling to witness such joy in those that have so little and wonder if there is something to this idea of simplifying one's life rather than chasing the American style dream.  I will have to give this idea some serious thought!!

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Change of Pace

After spending 6 weeks at Grace Village in Haiti, I am looking forward to a week "vacation" to spend with the Healing Haiti team engaging in different ministries throughout Haiti. These past few weeks (month.. year...) have been busy working to advance the nutritional intake (and overall health) of the children (and staff) at Grace Village. It will be a great "break" from my daily routine to see how the Haitian kitchen staff and Feeding Center Director do without my physical presence. I am looking forward to seeing other opportunities to dive deeper in Haiti... to impact more people than just those in our community here in Titanyen.
I am a registered dietitian-- "serving" up a whole new perspective on food for our Haitian community.  

Market in Titanyen. I love market days!! 

Eating dinner with the kids at Grace Village. 

I love my "apprentice" (the lady on the right). She is the Feeding Center Director at Grace Village... the woman I work with the most. She has learned so much about nutrition and has developed so many wonderful skills over the past few months. I am so proud of her.

Just fixing up a black bean salsa for the kids. For many of the Haitians, this was a first time experience eating salsa. 

I am anticipating our trip to Cite Soleil with hopes to see some familiar faces, excited to see the new building at The Home for Sick and Dying, and to witness, firsthand, the work my friend has been doing at Gertrudes (home for those with handicaps and disabilities). I will be eager to show the team (and my mom) my home at Grace Village and to share with them a glimpse of life in Haiti.

Sunset view from my home at Grace Village. 

Above all, I am just eager to see my mom...and spend the week serving beside her. It will be refreshing to catch-up and to talk face-to-face (rather than through brief e-mails/facebook messages...and sketchy skype-calls). I can't imagine a more refreshing "vacation" than serving in my second home with my best friend.. 

I love skype-dates with my mom and baby niece... the internet has been down for the past 2.5 weeks, so we haven't been able to talk much. 

See you in less than 24 hours, team! :) 

Friday, February 8, 2013

Meet our February 2013 Team Members

I am proud to introduce our great team...
Jennifer Eaton - Jennifer is my cousin and is a HH Alumni from my April 2012 trip.  Jennifer is married to Bob and has 2 beautiful daughters, a great son-inlaw and wonderful show dogs. Jennifer brings a wonderful sense of humor and endless compassion.  It is a nice balance that you will all come to love!

Michael Bonner - Michael is a good friend of Jennifer and is also a  HH Alumni from my April 2012 trip.  Michael will also surprise you with is unsuspecting humor and is a fantastic salsa dancer!! Michael lives in California and is currently relocating from San Francisco to San Diego and adores his little pouch.

Syam Yellamraju - Syam is a good friend and vendor partner of mine through Ameriprise.  Syam is also a HH Alumni from my April 2012 trip.  Syam is the gentle giant and lives in Atlanta with his wife Lalitha and has two beautiful daughters.  He told me he would be coming back but we had to go during the cooler months.  Let's hope that February brings a little more relief!

Lalitha Yellamraju - Lalitha is Syam's wife.  I am so excited that Lalitha is able to join us.  She had planned on going with my team last April, but due to unfortunate circumstances was not able to join us, so this will be her first mission trip. I look forward to meeting and sharing this experience with her.
Patrick Todd - Patrick is friend of mine from High School.  Patrick and his wife have 3 girls and live in Minneapolis.  Patrick took a leap of faith to attend this year's Healing Haiti Sweetheart ball with my husband and I and is now ready to take the next step in his faith journey to serve the poor. Patrick positive outlook on life and willingness to try new things will be a great addition to our team.

Brenda Vale - Brenda and I became friends when our two boys were just little Mites with the local hockey association and further bonded by the anxiety we shared as being goalie moms!  Brenda has two sons, one at Iowa State and the second son a senior in high school.  This will be Brenda's first mission trip.  Brenda's organizational and leadership skills along with her sense of adventure and fun will be a great addition to our team.

Lisa Berndt - Lisa rounds out the hockey mom trio.  Brenda, Lisa and I quickly all became bleacher buddies and the coach's biggest critics:-) when our boys made the high school hockey team together.  Lisa and Brenda's sons' are also roommates at Iowa state.  Lisa is a Nurse at Hennepin County Medical Center.  Lisa's humor and personality compliment the compassion that is required by her job and will be greatly appreciated by all as she ventures into her first mission trip experience as well.

Kristina DeMuth - Team Leader.  Kristina is my daughter, beautiful beyond words both inside and out!! Kristina is a registered dietician doing full time mission work at Grace Village in Haiti.  She will be taking the week off to co-lead the team with me.  She is planning on attending grad school for Public Health next fall.

Laurene DeMuth - Team Leader.  I am a mother of four wonderful grown children and a new grandmother to a beautiful baby girl. My husband Tim and I have been married for 27 years.  I also work full time for Ameriprise Financial.  I am so excited to be co-leading the February trip with my awesome daughter - Kristina

We ask for your prayers as for our mission team as we go forward to do God's work.

10 Days and Counting......

I am so excited to be returing back to Haiti with the most awesome team on Monday, February 18 - 25.
We have a nice mix of returning alumni from our April trip last year along with several new team members who have been called to join us on this amazing journey of servitude!!

It is through the support of all of our family, friends, donors and the grace of God that gives us the strength, courage and motivation to step out of our comfort zone and spend a week to serve those in need and to witness true faith in action.

We ask for your continued prayers for a safe and fulfilling trip.  We also invite you to follow our journey as we blog our experiences throughout the week.

Bondje beni ou!
(God Bless You!)