Home again

We touched down at MSP around 12:30am after a 5 hour layover that turned into closer to 7 after several delays.   But minus a few upset stomachs, sunburns, and one sea urchin incident, everyone is doing well and in good spirits. It’s time to sleep in, do some laundry, and start uploading photos.

Thank you so much for caring about and following our team for the last 10 days. Most of us probably need a few days to process our experience. But after the dust settles from the suitcases each one of us would love to share stories, learnings, and highlights.

Last night at our final debrief meeting one of our students reflected on the fact that despite the privilege we as American’s enjoy, we are often selfish and unsatisfied. Meanwhile, our friends at the M-house in Haiti have so little yet seem to have the contagious joy that we all crave.

This is just one example of what we learned this week. If you are involved in the life of someone on our team I encourage you to ask. Ask us what we learned, how we have changed, or how God showed up on our trip.

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Smiles and Tears

Last night we had a party. Ice cream, dancing, music, glow sticks and a lot of smiles. Just 12 hours later the scene was very different as we said our goodbyes to the kids and staff at the M-house that we have gotten to know so well over the last week. Smiles turned to tears and hugs as we did our best to express our love  and appreciation for our new found friends.

Then the quiet ride to Kaliko Beach for a short break before we head north. Right now the team is hanging by the beach and planning a late afternoon volleyball game.

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Tonight we will share highlights as a group and talk about what we have learned on our trip and tomorrow we travel home.

Please pray for safety as we travel and that out team will let the lessons from this trip sink in.

The “Lasts” Have Begun

There’s a somber undertone to our team this afternoon as everyone prepares to say goodbye to this wonderful place we’ve called home for past nine days. We’re all filled to the brim with stories of joy, friendship, adventure, diaper-leaks, pick-up trucks, bartering, waterfalls, and love. No one is excited to hug our friends at the M house tomorrow morning for the last time.

Yesterday after breakfast we headed out to do some sight-seeing in Port-au-Prince and beyond. We first drove to the top of one of Haiti’s tallest mountains and smiled with exhilaration at the breath-taking view of the city below. Steve summed up the scene perfectly stating that from a far, Haiti is beautiful. When you get closer it looks a little dirty or broken, but then when you get even closer and experience the people, you the see the true beauty of this place.

IMG_381211The lookout was lined with many street vendors and we were both anxious and excited to haggle for some souvenirs. While it was slightly overwhelming to be incessantly pursued to spend our cash, the team was able to laugh and enjoy this new experience. On the way back we stopped at a restaurant for some pizza and relaxation.

IMG_38161When we got back to the M house, we immediately filled hundreds of water balloons while the kids were eating lunch in preparation for our second epic water fight. The kids squealed with anticipation as we split them up into teams and prepared for battle. Hours melted away in the 90 degree heat as water guns and 5 gallon buckets joined the onslaught. When all was said and done, no man, woman or child was left with a dry inch to speak of.

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This morning the entire team piled in two vehicles to make our last trip to Mother Theresa’s orphanage for sick and dying babies. In our team discussions we have all been sharing where we have seen God and felt fully alive. Many team members have shared the impact “Mama T’s” (as we call it) has had on their faith and heart.

Tonight we are having a final celebration with our M house friends. Music, dancing, and ice cream are just a few of the wonderful things we have in store for this party. Tomorrow morning we will say our farewells as we head to a resort for team fun and debriefing before flying home on Thursday.

Thank you for all your prayers and support on this wonderful God adventure. Blessings and love from Haiti.

Time To Finish Strong

It’s been a jam-packed weekend over here!  Saturday morning the whole team headed to Santo village one last time. Once the word was out we arrived, the kids came running to the gazebo.  We filled the morning with activities of all kinds. Delaney and Jesse got a soccer match started right away. Jordan continued to perfect his balloon animals. A few others painted nails. Dio told about Joseph and his amazing technicolor dreamcoat and the kids got to make one of their own.  Finally, we ended with another rousing round of “Duck, Duck, Goose.”

DSC_0459Next up was team time at the double waterfall.  After a couple hours in the truck and lots of speed bumps (or as Dave calls them “speed jumps” if Steve is driving) we got to our destination in the mountains.  What an incredible display of God’s beauty!DSC_0533DSC_0558On Sunday morning, some of us stuck around here for church at the M House and a few others headed to Ebenezer (Dio’s church).  It was awesome to see the M House kids worship their hearts out with song and dance.  We sang and prayed together as a group and a couple kids put on a solo performance.  At the end of the night, this came up multiple times as a highlight of the day.

Another highlight was the evening service at Ebenezer where our very own Dave got to give the message with Dio’s translation.  He spoke of what it means to become fully alive in Christ and related this to Jesus’ teaching in the Sermon on the Mount. Sam, Delaney, and Brendan (and Tanner on the tambourine!) also led two worship songs.  When everyone started singing along to “Bless the Lord, O My Soul” in Creole, it was a chill-worthy moment.  At the end of the service, Dio brought us up front and the whole congregation raised their hands in prayer for us.  Just one week ago today the same thing was happening back home at Open Door.  We all feel so encouraged by God’s great love.

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We have two more full days here at the M House and one more visit to Mama T’s.  Tonight, Dave challenged us all to share how we plan to finish strong.  It was a great discussion and everyone is clearly excited to make the most of our time as we continue to build relationships with these kids.

Back at it

After a  successful day at the beach yesterday we were back at it today. Five of us stayed at the M-House to continue painting the school building and the rest headed back to Mother Teresa’s. Then, after a lunch complete with fresh mango and unknown fancy cheese (impulse purchase,) we did a bunch of activities with the kids at the M-house in the afternoon.

Here’ a look at our day by the numbers.

  • 12 sunburned white people
  • 3 hour long nap for Jordan.
  • 8 water guns used for an epic water fight
  • 2 mangy dogs barking each time the gates open.
  • 10 minutes before the surface you just cleaned fills with dust again
  • 17 articles of wet clothing hanging from the bars on the windows
  • 5 people on our team got peed on today
  • 4 Frisbees that had the kids smiling for over an hour
  • 9 inch screen on the only TV at the entire complex
  • 3 songs we sang together before our team time on the roof

And tomorrow we start all over again.

Let’s go, Kaliko!

      Today was the day of the year for the kids. It was the day that all the kids plus staff and friends went to Kaliko Beach. The team went down for breakfast and the kids immediately greeted us with swimsuits on and towels in hand. We quickly ate breakfast and then loaded up the bus for a two and a half hour ride to our destination. One cool moment for me was when Madame Dio led us in a song and prayer on the bus before we left. I just never thought of praying before getting in my car before but it was the perfect way to start the trip.

     When we arrived at Kaliko the kids were delighted, to say the least. The team quickly took action changing kids into their swimsuits, blowing up floatie toys, and figuring out how to be a lifeguard for a day. I was with Sarah for a good portion of the day; even though her legs don’t work well walking, she would kick and paddle and ended up swimming!

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  After we swam for three hours, we had an extravagant lunch that looked and tasted delightful. I sat with Junior and another friend. I loaded my plate with a little bit of everything but I would have to say the plantains were the bomb-diggity. I did notice that Junior just had rice and beans for his first plate but for his second and third plate he tried some mac and cheese, pork, plantains, and beef stew. DSC_0260

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After lunch it was time to take the kids down to the beach. I helped a few kids down and then went back up to help Manou. He knew right away that he wanted floaties. Since we can’t communicate with words Manou pointed to the floatation devices until he had one round inner tube and two arm floaties. Some of the kids sat on chairs to feel the ocean waves come on shore while others excitedly reached for someone on the team to go for a swim.

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     After a very successful day, we loaded up the kids to head back to the bus. I was so proud of Dadou because even though he hobbles, he was determined to get on the bus with no help. By the time he was on the bus he was breathing pretty heavily.  After I said, “way to go, Dadou,” he smiled, nodded, and just continued on to find his spot on the bus. Everyone was pooped and most of the kids including myself fell asleep. Overall, it was a fun, flamboyant, and fancy day!

With love from Haiti,

Delaney

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Day 3 – Finding Beauty in the Good and Challenging

Last night, the men awoke to screaming coming out of the girls’ room. We soon learned that a tiny and friendly gecko had wandered in to join them, much to their dismay.

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After a long day, we began our nightly team meeting on the roof by singing a few worship songs and enjoying the cool breeze. Andrea asked our students to share a wonderful or challenging moment from their day. One student shared how difficult it was to hold a baby at Mother Theresa’s clinic knowing that she might not live another week.

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Another team member talked about how fun it is to shoot the basketball from the roof with our M House friends. We discussed  the presence of God in the good and the challenging moments being so far from home.

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Another highlight of our day was getting to Skype with our friends from Next Gen during their summer kick off!

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We closed the night by hearing Steve talk about his many years in Haiti working with Pastor Dio as well as their long history with Open Door. We read the story of Mephibosheth in our Haiti journals and also were enthralled to hear how the M house came to be.

Thank you for your continued prayers for our team. So far we are all feeling well and getting along great. Tomorrow we are taking the M house kids to the beach, which we hear is one of their favorite days of the whole year!

Blessings from Haiti!