We arrived safely home in Miami, late yesterday afternoon! It was a long day of traveling...getting up and on the bus at 3:30am Saturday morning and driving back to Port-au-Prince. The airport was not extremely full, except at the door to enter the airport itself! We trickled in with the rest of the crowds and then waited while the Christ Covenant Group checked in for their flight which was a couple of hours before ours.
After everything was checked in and we had our boarding passes, we went to enjoy some sandwiches (and pizza?) and drinks before going through a third security screening to get to the gate. There was a slight delay in boarding because the flight was overbooked, but thankfully we all got on and got home smoothly and safely.
It is much too soon to even begin to share everything our team experienced in Haiti. I am certain things will begin to process now...even waking up this morning, I felt the heavy exhaustion that was kept at bay while in Haiti, but now that we are home, washed over me. And sharing pictures and stories with my husband yesterday was still very emotional.
I am not sure if the trip is planned with this in mind, but the fact that our first morning back is a time of worship together with the Granada family is such a blessing! We are all looking forward to seeing each other from the team again, as well as being back among our community. We hope to continue blogging here throughout the year as we look ahead to when we can return to Haiti again!
We had an INCREDIBLE day today! The team had great energy, and we headed out early for a full day of visiting orphanages. We ended up visiting FOUR different sites, one of which is new as of a week ago. It is awesome to be here and see the continued progress of the ministry here. We were able to teach the Prodigal Son skit, as well as add the story of the walls of Jericho. The kids really loved watching the marching around the human "walls" of Jericho with "trumpets" (kazoos, to be exact). There was a large donation of toiletry bags and toothbrushes and toothpaste (thank you, Granada VBS!!), so we were able to personalize toiletry bags for each orphan at one of the sites and give them each one to keep. Afterwards, we introduced the children of Haiti to the fun that is pipecleaners! They made pipecleaner people and also got creative...we saw bumblebees and glasses and bracelets. So much fun! Our leader, Frank, said we must be an extra-spiritual group because Pastor Louis decided to take us for a quick lunch break on another gorgeous beach...where the schoolbus got stuck in the sand. It took the entirety of the men in our group and some savvy bus-driving from Pastor Louis to get the bus out. We have experienced some "firsts" here in Haiti which also continues to encourage us regarding the progress being made here. While we have been here, we have seen the first traffic light go up in Les Cayes, as well as saw the first motor boat. There have been some very distinct moments of spiritual warfare...from flat tires, to power outages, illness, a close call with getting our vehicle "confiscated", getting stuck in the sand. But, all of that has given us opportunity after opportunity to see how God is present with us and protecting us and BLESSING the ministry here. All in all, it was very full day, but everyone is very energized and extremely joyful! We are eager to share stories, pictures, and songs about the beauty of Haiti, both the land and the people. As they say in Haiti, bondye beni ou (God bless you)...
Thank you so much for your prayers! The team has completely and fully recovered...apparently, it was a 24-hour bug. And apparently, that's pretty common. We got a slightly later start this morning to allow everyone a little bit of extra rest. But we got on the road and took the hour or so drive to Port Salut to visit the orphanage there. This area is a little bit nicer, with well-paved roads. The reason for this is that it is a nicer area due to its proximity to the ocean, and it was also the hometown of Aristide. We had a wonderful time of trading songs in English and Creole with the kids there, and then pulled together a VBS story and skit of The Prodigal Son. They really enjoyed that...especially the team acting out the part of the story with the pigs. :) After the visit to the orphanage, the team continued on the beach at Port Salut. The beauty of this area is difficult to put into words, and we aren't able to put pictures up just yet. But even those would probably not do it justice. There was time in the water, and then a lunch of freshly-caught, freshly-grilled fish and lobster beachside. Following that, the team relaxed and had some good time together and also good time in worship. This was a good reminder of the universal power of music, as that drew lots of attention. Each night we have been spending some time debriefing the day together with worship, some reflection and sharing, and prayer. It is difficult to believe we are over halfway done...but we are already looking forward to sharing more with you face to face when we get home. Much love from Haiti!
It's great to get a chance to post a quick update! One thing we are definitely learning here is that nothing is ever as expected or planned. Saturday we arrived safely in Port-au-Prince to discover that instead of taking a commuter flight from there to Les Cayes, we were jumping on a bus to make the four-hour drive. This was the first time GCA was trying this, so we were the guinea pigs. But it was actually a great ride, pretty adventurous considering all of our luggage was piled on top of the bus and tied down with a tarp. We lost a couple of bags along the way but were able to retrieve them quickly. The bus ride was a great way to see Haiti first-hand and experience driving where there no lanes, traffic lights, or right-of-way...we were grateful for our skillful driver; we only hit someone once! The other thing that was obvious as we drove through Haiti was that the Haitians either love us or hate us. The drive on Saturday took the bulk of the day, and we arrived at the guest house, got settled in, and had spaghetti for our first meal. After a bit of rest, we visited our first orphanage site, the original site called Cambry. A soccer game quickly ensued, along with lots of hugs and spending time with the orphans. Saturday night we enjoyed our first helping of rice and beans and chicken with onions and peppers. Sunday was an amazing day of worship. In the morning, the first service begins at 6am, so we got ourselves up and out for an incredible time of worship at the "main church". We had an opportunity to share a couple of worship songs with their congregation, and William preached on David & Goliath. It was incredible to experience worship with our Haitian brothers and sisters! After pancakes for breakfast, Sunday was definitely the sabbath as we rested the entire afternoon, took a walk around the neighborhood of the guest house, had a yummy lunch of more rice and beans and a "mystery meat". There was a great deal of speculation about the meat because it tasted much like beef...turns out it was fried turkey! Lunch also included potato salad! After lunch and the walk, we prepared to attend another worship service that evening. This worship service was much smaller and located at the Cambry orphanage where we had been the day before. It was great to return to a familiar place and already recognize some of the kids. That night we had a simple dinner/snack of corn and potato soup. It was SO delicious! Monday was our first full day at the orphanages. Transportation for the whole group required a van and an open pick-up truck. Those riding in the pick-up truck rode Haitian style, sitting in the back...taking every bump as it came. But it turned out, the van was much more sketchy...we almost flipped over taking on a mudslide! We were scheduled to visit two orphanages, and at each site we taught a VBS story with accompanying skit, followed by coloring sheets related to the story. After that, we engaged in what is affectionately called "organized chaos" with the kids, including soccer, jumprope, bubbles, frisbees, and general running around. We took some time to see where the kids live, as well as see the bakery operation they have on site. Following this and a quick lunch out of the back of the pick-up truck, we went to a smaller orphanage and repeated the same process there. This orphanage is one that grows corn , and the fields were freshly plowed and ready for seeding. One our way home from this second orphanage, the van got a flat tire, and we also found out the spare tire had a leak. Pastor Louis took us back to Cambry while the tire was fixed, and we were able to spend more time with kids who are now close friends. We ask for your continued prayers, as last night most of the team got sick. The symptoms were varied, and most of us spent today (Tuesday) sleeping. We are slowly recovering and are hopeful that means we will remain healthly for the remainder of the week. If we have a chance to send more updates...we will! Thank you for keeping us in your hearts, minds, and prayers...
We are packed and ready to go! Tonight we met to pack all the donated items and supplies for crafts and games. Wow...we have a SO MUCH luggage!
We are headed to the Ft. Lauderdale airport at 4:30am tomorrow. If there is electricity and the internet is working, we hope to be updating this throughout our time in Haiti. If not, well, be back soon!
It is our final day of preparation and packing before leaving for Haiti! Each morning this week, we have met for prayer together and are all very excited to be part of what God has planned for this week in Les Cayes, Haiti. Tonight we are holding a "packing party" to pack up donated items and supplies for crafts and games. First thing tomorrow morning, we meet up with the college team from Christ Covenant Church at the airport, and the 22 of us will be working together this week.
Please keep us in your prayers:
PRAY FOR HAITI
*for the land, suffering from deforestation and soil erosion
*for racial and socio-economic reconciliation, 85% of the total population lives in absolute poverty, while 0.5% are wealthy and control 45% of the national revenue
*70% of adults are unemployed, and those that are employed have an average individual income of US$250 per year
*60% of adults cannot read or write / more than 50% of children do not go to school
*Haiti imports more than 50% of the food that they consume / more than 25% of children suffer from malnutrition
*50% of the population has NO healthcare
*13% of children die before the age of 5
*25% of Haitians die before the age of 40
*for practical needs to be met
*for spiritual needs to be met: hearts to be changed through the bringing of God's word, worship, and love
PRAY FOR OUR TEAM: Janell Benzaquen / Katherine Benzaquen / Emily Binnie / Carl Crumbliss / Janna Fuccillo / Peggy Gasior / Victor Labrada / Sarah Rodriguez / Joanna Sabater / William Sofield / Valerie Warfel
*safety while traveling
*physical and emotional health
*team relationships, unity with the Christ Covenant team
*hearts focused outward and on our mission
*heightened awareness and wisdom in interacting with a different culture
*protection against spiritual warfare
*for the ways in which God will change each of us, personal growth
After fasting on Monday, our team gathered to break the fast together over dinner.
Afterwards, we had a great time of fellowship...going over last-minute details, talking about crafts and games we were planning, and learning songs together for worship and songs to teach to the kids in Haiti.
Of course, you know the best songs are ones you cannot sit still for.....so we also "exercised" together!
We are in our final week of preparations for the trip to Haiti! Over the weekend, we sorted through donations received from the Granada Presbyterian Church family and organized them to take with us.
Our team will be fasting today and breaking fast together with dinner tonight, where we will discuss final details and last-minute preparations that need to be done this week.
Each morning this week, from 8-9am, our team will also be praying together. Thank you so much for all the overwhelming support in the form of prayer, financial support, and donations! It is a great comfort to know that the 11 of us going to Haiti this Saturday are the hands and feet of all of you who are supporting and sending us!