Friday, January 12, 2018

13 Servants in Haiti

We're back!  The internet was back up this morning and while slow, has stayed on today.  We'll start with yesterday's

We had our second VBS of the week.  This was held in the town of Ganthier which is the town that the students at Village of Hope primarily come from. They are the village that the health center mainly serves.  The church was on a very small plot of land and the structure was a tin building with some benches inside for the congregation.  They managed to fit about 120 kids into this space.  Our interpreters spent the first 20 minutes getting the kids excited by playing games and singing songs.  We did our skit, The Three Wisemen, which was received well. Different this time was that the children then re-enacted the skit.  They seemed to be excited to do it and showed us up!  We followed up with arts and crafts, as well as sports ministry, much like Tuesday.  We would like to thank Greer's wife, Nilah, for all the work she put into preparing items for the goodie bags, and costumes and props for our skit. The camel was a huge hit!

After serving them lunch and passing out goodie bags, we headed back to VoH for our own lunch after which we went back to our tasks.  At the end of the day, we were 90% complete. When we returned to Hope House, we had our usual happy hour. Some of us played card games and others relaxed with a book.

Today we rose earlier than we had been in order to get to VoH for the kindergarten opening. This is always a highlight for the team! Today at opening they remembered the earthquake which was eight years ago today.  They were encouraged to remember those they lost and look forward to a better future.  After opening, the kindergarteners had play time with duplos, blocks, and other toys. Some of us enjoyed sitting down and interacting with them.  For the first time, we did VBS at the school, this time with 3rd and 4th graders.  We followed the same program - we are getting really good at this!  With every performance, we get better! The kids again reenacted the skit, not once but twice, and did a fantastic job!  Again, we were outshined!  Adding VBS into the servant program has been a great addition to our week. It has really enriched our servant week and given us a nice balance of doing projects and interacting with the Haitians especially those who aren't part of the Village of Hope.  Village of Hope no longer conducts church services on Sundays so they have incorporated it into the daily schedule of the students (a few grades attend each day). We sat in the back and as always, are amazed at their beautiful singing voices.

Following the mid-morning service, the principal, Clovis, gathered up the children that are sponsored by St. John's congregational members and members of the team.  We were able to take a group picture and thankfully had the interpreters there to help us talk with the kids.  After lunch, we finished our projects. The band room was complete with all painting and staining done and instruments delivered to the room.  And the Village of Hope had one happy music teacher!  The painting of the science lab was also completed, as well as the delivery of a few materials for that room. To top it off, all fourteen benches have been built, stained, and drilled into place.  Some of us also took the annual climb up to the water tower/plant.

We returned to Hope House and experienced some fellowship, as usual.  Tonight at devotionals, we closed with communion which has become a tradition for SJLC teams.  We wanted to mention again that we are very thankful to Pat for the great devotions she wrote for our team. You may not have been here in person but you were in here in spirit!

As we look back on the week, we all feel privileged to have been able to travel to Haiti and to serve at the Village of Hope and in the Haitian community.  We are very grateful to SJLC and others for all the support you have provided to our team and to all our fans out there who follow us on the blog! Please pray for safe travels tomorrow as we return to the states.

 VBS on Thursday

 play time this morning

 skit re-enactment at VoH

skit re-enactment at VBS on Thursday 

playtime with kindergarteners 

 raising the Haitian flag (half-mast for remembrance of the earthquake)

 re-enactment at VBS on Thursday

 church in Ganthier where we did VBS

 our team - everyone who pitched in this week with the music teacher!

 sponsors and their children!

the benches

Quick Update

This is just a quick update to let you know we didn't have internet yesterday.  We will do a longer update tonight!  We are off (early) to the school!

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Center for the Infants of Jesus (aka Little Children of Jesus)

Today's mission started with a visit to Center for the Infants of Jesus (formerly known as Little Children of Jesus). This has been a highlight for St. John's servant teams for 10 years, but is also one of the more spiritually, mentally, and emotionally demanding of all the activities we do.  As the first director told us ten years ago, their bodies might be broken but their spirits are not.  The orphanage, run by the monks of Missionaries of the Poor, care for residents ages 5 to over 40, all with different levels of mental and physical disabilities.  We spent about four hours there today which included communicating and touching those who are immobile, as well as playing balloon games and wheelchair races with those who are mobile.  Stimulation is good for them and for us. Some of the team also spent time feeding those who could not feed themselves.  Jim Haugan had a power struggle with a stubborn, smart five-year-old who wanted to change locations after every few bites (he lost)!  The five of us who visited Haiti ten years ago are amazed at how much the physical location of the orphanage has improved their life as well as how great the level of care is that these residents receive.  It's exponential - as it should be!  The monks, in addition to improving the living conditions for the kids, have also set up a housing arrangement for visiting teams to come and work with the kids, as well as planting gardens, raising livestock, a water purification system, and so on.  It's quite impressive!  We all continue to pray for these kids and those who care for them, as well as those who donate their time, talents, and treasures.

We returned to Hope House for a leftovers lunch - very American!  Then we headed to the metal works where we all joyfully put money in the Haitian economy.  It's always an experience to see these artisans at work. 

Following the metal works, we came back to Hope House and worked on another task that we all enjoy doing - preparing meds for mobile med teams. We packed heart medicine, penicillin, antacids, and motrin.  Our dinner was a delicious Haitian stew of beef and potatoes. Now we are getting ready for devotions and then we'll make the sandwiches for tomorrow's VBS.  More to come tomorrow!

 water filtration system at the orphanage

 The kids were happy to see us!

 Sarah hanging out with Kiki

 Jana and Sophia were fast friends!

Balloon time! Who knew Elisabeth was such a balloon artist!

Jim H. and a friend

 Wheelchair races!

Wheelchair train

This was the caboose

 Metal works - what to buy? What to buy?

Artisans making metal art 

 Artisans making metal art

 packing pills

packing pills

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

VBS - Awesome!

It's been three years since the Village of Hope has incorporated VBS as part of our program of serving here in Haiti.  This outreach to the community is serving VOH, as well as the community, well.  We have been very excited about this addition to our service in Haiti.  As part of this outreach, we include interpreters as part of our team.  Today we had five interpreters who are young and passionate and really get the kids excited about our visit and about our faith.  Our team lead off today with a skit, The Three Wiseman.  Our performance may not have been Oscar material, but the feedback from our director and the local pastor was very positive! Everyone got something out of our skit!  Following the skit, we separated boys and girls.  The boys participated in various sports ministry programs lead by our interpreters and supported by our team members.  The girls started out with the arts and crafts. They decorated crowns and colored pictures of the Wiseman at the manger.  After a while, the two groups switched.  An interesting difference between boys and girls, was the girls when they received the crown, were quick to want to decorate it while the boys were quick to place it on their heads.  You make your own interpretation of what that means.  A highlight for our team is then providing a meal of peanut butter sandwiches and kool-aid to the participants and a goodie bag at the conclusion of the program. It was an awesome morning!

Following VBS, we returned to Village of Hope and had our traditional meal - peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and Pringles.  Then we scattered to work on our various tasks - staining, benches, and painting.  While it was much warmer today, there was low humidity and a great breeze that kept us cool enough. We are happy to report that we are 90% done with our projects.  The plan is to complete them Thursday and Friday.  As we headed back to the truck to leave Village of Hope, Saron was summoned by Yvette and Christine.  They had found a goat tangled in its leash and it needed freeing.  Saron saved the day and got the goat freed!

We returned to Hope House, tired and sore and joyfully enjoyed fellowship which included Prestige, peanuts, and reflection on the day.  Oh, yeah, let's not forget showers!  During devotions, which is always a time of enrichment, we were surprised to realize it's day four of our trip!  Thank you for keeping up with our blog.  We enjoy sharing our adventures with you!

Monday, January 8, 2018

Hands and Feet

Today we were the hands and feet of Jesus.  Our main tasks today were cutting and prepping fourteen-foot benches, painting, and staining.  The benches will be used for parents or relatives in the waiting area so they have a safe and secure place to wait for their children after school.  The staining was done for all the cabinets that will house the musical instruments in the new band room.  The painting was done in the new music room as well as what will be the science lab room which will cover chemistry, earth sciences, and biology. Needless to say, those who stained and painted today are feeling the joys of their labor.  Between Prestige, Motrin, and ice, we will be back and ready for more tomorrow.  Interestingly enough for those of us that have been to Haiti, this was a cool, cloudy, and windy day.  It was out of character for Haiti but very conducive to the tasks of the day.  The guys who were working on the benches had a lot of spectators. School started back after the break, and they were curious to see what was going on.  Several Haitians helped the bench crew, which was good for the kids to see the collaboration between locals and mission team members - one team.

Following dinner, we did our nightly devotions followed by a couple dry runs of the skit for tomorrow which we are all looking forward to... lol.  The story is the story of the Three Kings, but as usual, the highlight for the team is making the peanut butter sandwiches, the goodie bags (which are top-notch), and Kool-aid. These will be distributed to the children at the VBS tomorrow. 

Thank you for your continued prayers and support.  Enjoy the pictures!


Cutting wood




Skit practice

 Goodie bag assembly

Peanut butter sandwich time

Sunday, January 7, 2018

R & R

Our day started with attending church at Port-au-Prince Fellowship, the church Rob and Trish (field directors) attend. If you think we stand a lot at St. John's Lutheran, we spent the first 40 minutes standing and singing praises to the Lord. We were lead by a Haitian praise band which included seven band members.  Unlike Haitian churches we've attended, this service was kept to the standards of what we're used to at St. John's. The sermon really drew an insightful lesson comparing the physical heart to the spiritual heart. One little thing goes wrong in either and complications arise.  The three things that we can do to battle spiritual disease is first, see ourselves how God sees us. Two, be sensitive to the Spirit's influence. And finally, stay in touch with the Holy Spirit. As always, our church experience was spiritually uplifting and we really enjoyed the praise music.

As is the tradition for all servant teams, we went out for lunch, this time to a restaurant called La Fouchet. Its menu rivaled the Cheesecake Factory's and the tv was showing American football!  This is where a lot of UN, USAid, and state department folks stay. The food and service were excellent, but true to form, it took awhile to get our food.  Following lunch, we stopped at Giant Food, which is another tradition. We bought coffee, vanilla, plantain chips, and other Haitian goodies.  Dave treated us to ice cream which was delicious on a hot day!

After some time to relax this afternoon, we enjoyed a delicious taco dinner. The clean-up team serenaded us with songs from the Sound of Music.  The new Jim is no longer a rookie. He has volunteered to serve as the lead for the staining team and lead devotions tomorrow night. 

While today was a rest and relaxation day, the next five days are packed with work! Tomorrow we will go to Village of Hope school where we will paint, stain, and build. 

Our group - (l to r): Dave, Jim H., Jim L., Elisabeth, Sarah, Ken, Jana, Richard,  Christine, Scott, Saron, Greer, and Yvette.

PAP Fellowship is held at a private school.

The crowd after church


Giant Supermarket

Tap tap (taxi)

The clean-up crew

Saturday, January 6, 2018

Day 1: We Have Arrived Safely!

Our day started out before dawn as we convened at the airport at about 5:00 a.m.  Thanks to Greer's leadership and planning, check-in of 17 suitcases, three wheelchairs, and a screen went smoothly.  Despite our flight to Miami being delayed about 30 minutes, we arrived in Miami in time to make our next flight. A few of us were able to grab a quick snack.  We have two rookies on our team this year. Elisabeth Auld has already proved her worth by finding the 17th suitcase, which was missing, at the Haiti airport.  We're still waiting on Jim Haugan to contribute but we're a forgiving crowd. He's got six more days to do it!

Walking out the airport doors into the heat of Haiti was a shock for us. It was about an 80-degree difference from what we left in Virginia. Another shock was not having full sunshine; it was a cloudy day in Haiti!  We did our usual unpacking of the suitcases and repacking of items to take to Little Children of Jesus and the Medical Clinic.

It wouldn't be a complete day in Haiti without us sitting around, enjoying some fellowship time by drinking a Prestige, eating some peanuts, and telling stories.  We do this well!  We even enjoyed some rain sprinkles while we enjoyed our fellowship time.

Our first meal in Haiti was very un-Haitian.  We had chili with Fritos and lemon cake for dessert.  It was a great meal after a day of traveling and getting sustenance from granola bars!

As usual, we ended our day with devotions provided by Pat Eichhorst who was unable to come this year.  After some technical difficulties, we sang the very traditional Lutheran hymn, "The Church's One Foundation." This is a great way to start off our week together!  We look forward to a terrific week of sharing this experience with one another and those we meet.
Descent into Haiti

 Van selfie!