CSI/AYC Haiti 2012- July 9

Today is the day that came all too fast. Our last morning in Haiti. We enjoy one more breakfast. The Brians have been such gracious hosts. They treated us like family and I know we will all miss them.  Lots of picture taking today. Hard to believe we came as strangers but are leaving more like a family.  We are sad to say good bye to Elsie, JiJi and Jenny. They have done such a fantastic job of taking care of us and feeding us delicious meals. We have to say goodbye to Bella too. She is such a sweet dog. Lots of smiles and tears at the same time.

All too soon it is time to load up the truck. One last ride in the cage truck. We arrive at the airport and it is time to say goodbye. Thanks to email, texting and of course facebook we all promise to keep in touch. Although we are sad to leave Haiti we are anxious to see our families. I know I can’t wait to hug my husband and daughter. I am flying to St. Louis tonight. The rest of the team is heading to New York and then flying to their homes tomorrow. We drop off the group and then I get dropped off at my terminal. The Brians are not allowed to accompany us inside so this is it. We say goodbye and I start the process of getting home. I am praying that my trip home is smoother than my trip down here.

My flight leaves on time and I make it to Miami. So far so good. I make it through customs and am able to call my family. It is nice to talk to them and equally nice to know I will see them in a few hours. My flight to St. Louis leaves on time. Looks like I am making it home on time tonight. I end up sitting next to a guy named Christian who was raised in Haiti. He now lives in the U.S. but has family in Haiti. We have a great conversation during the flight and it helps pass the time. Once we land I am anxious to get to the baggage area to see my family. I finally see them. They are holding a sign that says, Welcome Home Mommy and my husband has a Diet Coke in his hand. I am a blessed lady. Tears flood my eyes as I see them. I have missed them more than I realized. Finally the embrace I have missed for the last 10 days is around me. I know a piece of my heart is still in Haiti and I do hope to go back someday. But here in the embrace of my husband and child I know I am where I am supposed to be. God is so good and has blessed me with a wonderful life. I have a loving family and I have a job that allows me the experience of helping those in need around the world. We get into our car and my husband turns on the air-conditioner. It almost feels foreign to me now but it feels so good. We get home and my house feels cool. My bed is comfortable and I sleep soundly with dreams filled of Haiti. I am so thankful for the opportunity I had to travel to Haiti. My life is forever changed.

 

 

CSI/AYC Haiti 2012- July 8

I wake up today and I can’t believe today is my last full day in Haiti. Tomorrow we all fly out; so today is it. We are leaving at 7:00a.m. and will be visiting three churches. I am excited to have one last opportunity to worship with the people of Haiti. I am amazed at how despite the heat and lack of modern facilities the people worship with such enthusiasm. There services run longer than most U.S. services I have been a part of and yet no one seems to be watching the clock.  I think with the heat wave most of the U.S. is experiencing this summer most churches would cancel if their air-conditioning went out. But in Haiti the heat doesn’t interfere with their time in the House of God. The excitement they show for worshiping God is contagious. I am anxious to be a part of it again today.

We are told to wear comfortable shoes. We will only be able to drive so far and then we will walk the rest of the way to each of the churches. The street we walk down is crowded with people and some wondering livestock. It is very bumpy and dirty. We find a little boy who is playing with a toy made out of a can. Missionary Brian and I go over to him. I want to know if he made the toy. He says that  he did. Missionary Brian offers to buy it from him so that I can take it home to my daughter. The boy gladly accepts our offer. I think most of the people watching the exchange are thinking; crazy American. I am extremely happy with my purchase.

We arrive at the first church and the worship is in full swing. The team has the chance to share testimonies and to sing for the congregation. They are so gracious in allowing us to share in their service. You get the feeling that the people in attendance live for this time of worship and fellowship.

It is time to walk to the second church. This is another small structure but the people seem to know they are worshiping a big God. So many times I find myself worried about the aesthetics of the church. How the music sounds and if it is loud enough or too loud. I can’t worship if the temperature isn’t  just right. I feel a wave of conviction come over me. How shallow I feel in my worship. I ask myself if my worship is about God or about my comfort.? I begin to feel God really work in my heart and I am thankful for what the people of Haiti are teaching me.

We arrive at our third and final service for this morning. This is the church where we held our first clinic. The building is packed. People are outside on the steps and on the  roof. I have never seen anything like it. They have placed chairs on the platform for people to sit in. Once again the service is powerful. Some of the team share testimonies and Danny Hamm preaches. It is getting later in the day and the heat is rising and I can’t believe that the people don’t seem to be in a hurry.

After service we load into the truck and head to the Hotel Visa Lodge. We are able to secure their air-conditioned room. The buffet offers pizza and once again Diet Coke. The team is hot and tired but exhilarated after the three services. It has been a great morning. We are trying not to focus on the fact that the trip is quickly drawing to an end.

We pull into the compound and I realize this is the last time I will pull into this place. The next time we load the truck we will be heading to the airport. I will not focus on that. We have a little time before our evening service. Our last service will be held with just the team here on the compound. We get to hear from the Brian’s. It is nice to be together and sing and worship together one last time.

After service we head up to the roof for one last meal at the compound. We all take the opportunity to share with the group what this trip has meant to us. Tears are flowing as we recall the stories of the last 10 days that have touched us so deeply. We all agree we are changed and we are sad to be leaving Haiti. We end the night on a lighter note by giving out some Most Likely Awards. There are lots of laughs. We have really gotten to know each other well. It is a great night of reflecting on all that we have experienced and talking,  laughing, signing each others shirts and taking pictures with our new forever friends.

We head to bed for one last sleep in Haiti. Morning will come quickly and then it will be time to say good-bye to one of the greatest experiences of my life. I know I will be returning home better for having been here. Haiti is in my heart forever now. I feel like I have gained a new family in the Brians and the great team that accompanied me on this trip.

CSI/AYC Haiti 2012- July 7

Today is our last clinic. The trip is quickly coming to an end. It has been a long and exhausting week. But the team is ready for this one last opportunity to serve the people of Haiti. After breakfast we load up in the truck and head out to Turbe. This church is a CSI project and it will be nice to be inside an actual building today. Even though there isn’t any air conditioning it helps to be out of the blazing sun and have some shelter.  We get busy setting up  the pharmacy and preparing the food bags. Those are not piles of garbage. We have given out so many bags that we have resorted to using these black plastic bags. I don’t think the recipients are concerned with the packaging. The team is tired but we are still smiling.

We notice the clinic is starting to fill up and within minutes we are full. We begin taking vitals and administering the worming medication. The doctors and nurses begin seeing patients. Dr. Cobb and Jeremy have to leave today. They came to help us set up and Dr. Cobb has to treat one woman before he leaves. She has something lodged in her ear.  He is finally successful and the woman is happy to have the pain in her ear alleviated. Team members continue to pass out food bags as patients exit the clinic. Once again the team helps with the young children. Many of them enjoy getting their picture taken so I have a whole row of kids and I just snap away. They love to pose and then look at the camera screen to see themselves. The simple things bring them such joy. Savannah takes on the task of lunch lady and begins preparing sandwiches so that whenever anyone has a chance they can eat quickly. There isn’t time for us to actually break for lunch. Dr. Cobb and Jeremy prepare to leave. They have been such a great asset to the team. We will miss them.

The day draws to a close. I snap this picture of Rachelle LaPorte. She has been assisting us with getting the patient forms filled out and keeping everything orderly in each of our clinics. She has had a long week. This is how we feel today.

It is time to head home. The team has mixed emotions as we pack up and head home. This is it. Our last clinic. We feel a great sense of accomplishment. We are happy to be here and we are sad that it has come to an end. When we get back to the compound it is time to say good-bye to our security/translator team. We decide instead of good- bye to say see ya later. We all want to come back to Haiti. The guys have been such a great asset to us. They have kept us safe and helped bridge the gap between us and the people of Haiti. They joined in during clinics and helped with not only translating but administering medication and handing out food bags. At the orphanages they joined right in playing with and loving on the kids. We will miss them. It is nice to know we have new friends in Haiti. Below are some pictures of them with the team and in action.

After dinner and devotions we head to bed. Tomorrow is our last church experience in Haiti. We will be leaving at 7:00a.m. and visiting three churches. We have another full day ahead of us.

CSI/AYC Haiti 2012-July 6

Today the team will be heading to the Capitol. We will be doing a prayer walk around their palace/white house. When we arrive I can’t believe that the palace is still in ruins. Their president doesn’t even live here because of the damage. I keep thinking it is 2 1/2 years after the earthquake and their capitol is still in need of major clean up. I think of the United States and how quickly we would react if our White House was damaged so badly the president couldn’t live in it. I don’t think it would take 2 1/2 years to repair it. I wonder if this affects the morale of the people? I would think it would have to. We begin to pray that God would make a way for Haiti to be able to repair its capitol. We pray that God would provide for their needs of proper housing and for the basic necessities we so oft times take for granted. We pray that God would reach down and lead people to a relationship with Him. That the people of Haiti would turn to God. That they would cry out to Him to heal their land.

As the team continues praying.  People approach us asking for money. It felt like the story in Acts when the lame man asked for alms and Peter said, “I don’t have a nickel to my name, but what I do have, I give you: In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, walk!”The Message. The team offered to pray for people and some accepted. We didn’t have money to offer but we had the Spirit of God and love. It was an amazing thing to witness.

We continued walking around the area near the palace/white house. There was trash piled on the sidewalks and people still living in shacks and tents right across from the palace. Even after being in Haiti for 7 days I still have a hard time believing that this is normal every day life for so many here. I am overcome with thankfulness for what God has blessed me with. Our prayers for the people of Haiti continue. We continue on and see more buildings still in ruins and the back of a shopping area. There are still piles of debris and trash everywhere. It certainly doesn’t look like Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington D.C.

After the prayer walk we head to the Iron Market. This will be our last chance to do any shopping during our trip. We carve out an hour before heading to our last orphanage visit. The team really wants to go back to Trudy’s Kids and take toys and play with the kids before we leave.

After our shopping hour we load back into the truck and head for home to pack for the orphanage. After 7 days I find my eyes still drawn to the traffic, the trash filled streets and the tents and shacks that so many call home. I haven’t gotten used to it yet. Sometimes when I am riding in the back of this truck taking in the sights, smells and sounds I feel like I am part of a movie. It is like my mind is saying this can’t be real. People can’t really live like this but then I quickly realize it isn’t a movie it is real life for so many in Haiti.

We get back home and quickly pack for Trudy’s Kids. We are anxious to spend time with these precious kids. When we arrive the kids are outside. They seem to have more energy today and are ready to interact with us. Missionary Brian tells us that during our first visit the kids were waiting to eat and had not eaten an actual meal since the previous day so they were more interested in getting food than interacting with us. This breaks my heart. I can hardly get my daughter to quit playing to come and eat. Here these kids who don’t get the chance to get new toys or play with people very often couldn’t focus on that because of their hunger. But, today they have eaten and they are ready to receive toys, love and attention and the team is ready to give it to them. It is time for hugs, jumping rope, balloon animals, piggy back rides, princess crowns and blowing bubbles.

Some of the team members have brought diapers and clothes for the kids. Once again we find children completely naked. The team begins to put diapers on the kids who need them and dressing the children with no clothes. It is such a sweet sight to see the transformation. This little girl looks like a little princess.

 

We come prepared to give the kids vitamins and worming medication. They line up on a wall and we begin giving out the medication. We have also brought supplies to help treat other minor conditions. The team finds a little boy with a significant condition on his ear. He sits so quietly as Karla Hamm begins to examine him. I look down and notice he is only wearing one shoe. I reach out my hand and he puts his little hand in mine. I am fighting the tears. I am glad I am wearing sunglasses. I think of all the times I have held my daughter’s hand at the doctor’s office. I think, this poor little boy doesn’t usually have anyone’s hand to hold. In that moment I am so grateful to be the one who is holding his hand. Adam Ruiz and Ashley Beckham also begin treating kids with skin conditions. Unfortunately it can’t all be fun and games. I see the little boy who has the skin condition over most of his body who was eating alone the other day. Today he is smiling and playing and I smile. Today is a good day.

Our remaining time is spent playing with the children. It is so wonderful to see them smile and to hear them laugh. They are so happy with what seems so small. Kids are so great at focusing on the moment and living in the moment. As adults we tend to worry about what is coming. It amazes me that these kids, who have to live a daily existence without loving parents, in deplorable living conditions and without proper nutrition, are focusing on the fun at hand. They are not focused on what tonight will bring or what tomorrow may hold. They have joy, happiness and love right now so they are choosing to savor it and to enjoy it. So thankful for the lessons these kids are reminding me of. The Bible tells us in Matthew6:25-34 NIV-

25 “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? 26 Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? 27 Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life[a]?

28 “And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. 29 Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. 30 If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? 31 So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. 33 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. 34 Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.”

Surely if these precious orphans can find joy in their day I can find joy in my day. If they can set aside worry then so can I. I certainly hope when I return home the above verses become my daily life. Be encouraged. God loves us and He cares for us. He has everything in control.

It is time for us to return home so that we can pack and prepare for our clinic tomorrow. This will be our last clinic. I can’t believe the trip is almost over.

 

 

CSI/AYC Haiti 2012- July 5

Today is another clinic day. We are heading to a church in Leogane. Once we arrive we realize that this clinic will be in our most rustic area yet. We have to cross a rather rickety bridge to get to the road that leads to the church. We unload the truck and begin to carefully carry our supplies across the bridge. A few of the team decide to carry their supplies like the locals. I have to say,  I am impressed by their ability.

We make it across the bridge and continue down a dirt road. We reach the church. The structure is badly damaged. There are beams holding up tarps that add some shelter from the elements. There is a small building that we are able to use. It is very small and because of the heat and lack of ventilation we decide it will be better to just set up outside. Everyone pitches in moving tables and setting up the pharmacy and area for deworming and vitals to be done.  We decide to use the small building to assemble the food bags. One little boy decided to join in and help the team pack the bags. He was so cute and so excited to help. Within minutes we are ready to begin seeing those who have come.

Set up is complete and the clinic gets into full swing. We see many similar ailments today as in prior clinics. Children running fevers, stomach problems, coughing and congestion. As one man is being examined he complains of headaches. The doctor has him try reading from a sheet of paper. It becomes obvious that he has a vision impairment and probably needs glasses. I look around the clinic and notice that not one person waiting to be seen is wearing glasses. We find out that not only are regular doctor visits rare but regular eye doctor visits are more rare. Upon examining one woman the doctor locates a mass in one of her breasts. She is told she really needs to see a specialist or go to a hospital. She needs further care. As she leaves I can only pray she gets the care she needs. Once again several of us take on the task of helping tend to the children. The wait can be long and it is hard for their parents to talk to the medical staff with a squirming child. None of us mind loving on these precious children. It is the highlight of my day. It makes me think of my little one at home. I miss her so much and getting to love on these kids helps fill the void in this mom’s heart.

As the day progresses it begins to rain. It is so humid it actually feels like steam is coming up from the ground. Much of the team is still battling sickness and that coupled with the intense heat is causing our productivity to slow. Dehydration becomes a concern but we make sure to drink lots of water and the team pushes ahead. Again, I am in awe of how great the team is working together and pushing their comfort aside to help those in need. Out of nowhere this woman shows up offering us fresh coconuts. We happily accept her offer. She pulls out a machete and goes to town. Her knife skills would put many Iron Chefs to shame.

The rain has stopped and the day comes to an end. It is time to head back to the compound. When we arrive we are greeted by the familiar sounds of the children playing. Some of the girls decide to get their hair braided. After play time we have dinner and call it a night. It was a long and hot day. The team needs to get a good nights sleep tonight. As I drift to sleep I think of how fast this trip is going. We leave in 4 days. I know I will miss Haiti.

CSI At Work In India

If you have been reading our blog the last few days you have been reading about the recent trip CSI took to Haiti. We wanted to also share some exciting news from India. Darjeeling is an area in India that is known for tea and also a center for education. It is a conducive atmosphere for learning because the climate allows a better study environment than other areas in India. A new Bible School is being built in the area of  Darjeeling. However, recent earthquake damage had halted construction. Through the generosity of donors like you, CSI was able to send needed funding to repair a necessary wall for construction to continue. Because of the repairs made to the wall the construction of the school can now continue. CSI is excited to be a part of this project that will offer a place where a Christ centered education can be offered to the people of India. Thank you for your continued support. Because of you we are able to answer the calls for help when they come. If you would like to give so that further progress can be made please visit http://www.compassionservices.org. Together we are reaching out and helping a world that is in need.

CSI/AYC Haiti 2012-July 4

Happy 4th of July! This will not be a typical holiday. The team is heading to the mountain town of Kenscoff to conduct a medical clinic. Unfortunately it looks like a wave of sickness has hit the team. This should be fun. It seems like over half the team ate something at the hotel that has made us sick. Yours truly included. But no rest for the weary. I am so proud of the team. They press on and try to push the sickness out-of-the-way so that we can do the work we came to do. Jesus help us!

We are departing at 7:00a.m. We are told we have to leave so early because the traffic can be so bad and there is only one road that leads up and down the mountain. As we begin our journey I see the truth in this. There are people and cars everywhere. There seems to be no rules to the road. Everyone just seems to be focused on where they need to go and you had better not get in their way. It is complete chaos. We are fortunate to have a driver that is comfortable in this mess. Jean Paul has some mad driving skills. I have already said this before but I will say it again, if you have road rage you do not need to drive in Haiti. We make it through town and get to the road that will take us up the mountain. The road becomes very narrow and is no longer pavement. We are driving up a very narrow dirt road. We are getting higher and higher. In most places there are no walls or guard rails. I begin to see my life flash before my eyes. I have visions of this cage truck toppling over the side of this mountain. But, I have to believe that God is with us and He will get us to the church where we will be having the clinic safely. As I let go of my fear I take in the beauty of Haiti. It truly is amazing!

 

We arrive at the church and begin setting up and preparing the food bags. The church fills quickly. There are many people who are waiting outside hoping that there is something left over for them. It is so hard to not be able to treat everyone. We try to focus on the fact that we are helping many and if we were not here how many would not receive help. There are just so many here who are in need. It is heartbreaking that they don’t have access or the means to get basic medications.

This woman came with a swollen abdomen. Dr. Cobb and Danny Hamm examined her and were able to locate a rather large mass. She was told that she needed to see a specialist or visit a hospital and would probably need some type of surgery or procedure that we were not equipped to handle. In cases like these you just have to pray that they will be able to find the way and means to go.

This little girl came with her father. She has been running a fever for the past 7 days. I think how sad it is that her father doesn’t have a way to get her the care she needs. I have a Wal Greens less than 5 minutes from my house. If my daughter is sick and I don’t happen to have any medication in the house I just hop in my car and go get some. This poor father was just waiting for someone to come and offer help. I am so glad CSI/AYC is here. The team is able to offer her a snack, some water and some medication. Her father then heads to the pharmacy area and is given medication with instructions to take home with him. Karla Hamm also gives him some other ideas of how he can relieve fever. It feels good to be able to offer this precious child some relief.

The clinic continues and the team is plugging along. Vitals are being taken, worming medication is being given and exams are being performed. Again, I am so thankful for the team that is here with me. We were strangers when we arrived but we have quickly become a family.

Many of us enjoy helping with the children at the clinics. While the parents talk to the medical staff we can help entertain the kids or simply hold them. This little guy was under the weather. I was able to wrangle him away from Tamra. He was so precious and only 20 days old. I had a hard time giving him back. It has been a while since my little girl was this little.

We are finally making progress. We eat lunch in shifts. Finally the last patient is seen and the team sits back to finish lunch and relax for a few minutes before heading down the mountain.

It is time to load back into the truck and head down the mountain. We made it up so surely we can make it back down. When we arrive home the kids are back for some more play time. They can’t seem to get enough. After a wonderful dinner of grilled chicken and potato salad (we did get our 4th of July BBQ) we pack up for tomorrow’s clinic. We will be heading to Leogane. We get to sleep in a little. We don’t leave until 8:00a.m.