Friday, July 24, 2015

Walk by Faith, Embrace the Unknown

Manouchka, the third member of our 40 Day Immersion Team, shares her reflections on the first half of her trip:

I was really nervous at first to join the team, because I didn’t know the place I was going to and I
didn’t  know what kind of people I was going to come across (if they are nice people); I was scared of not feeling welcomed.  The place I went to before I didn’t feel welcomed.  I was nervous about the kids not liking me.  It’s completely the opposite of my thoughts.  I feel like I am home.  I can tell you this is my second home.  I love everyone here they are amazing.
I love the friendships I have built here with both the girls and the boys.  I feel like they are not just my friends but my family as well.  I love every single moment I spend with them, whether it be playing soccer or watching a movie or listening to their stories.  I love how I can relate to their stories.   
I love the way they care for the kids at “One Family.”   I love how they treat the kids and love them as their own children.  I love how they live as one family.  The children are not viewed as orphans and they care for the kids’ education.  The way that everything is in one place, the church, the school and the children’s home including the pastor and his wife don’t have a special home they go to but they lived in the same campus with the children.

I’m happy I had the courage to leave everything and my home to step into the unknown and spend 40 days at One Family.  

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Entering the mystery

Another in-depth look at life in Haiti from our 40 Day Immersion Team.  This time, from aspiring nurse, Bailie:

I am a fourth of the way through this immersion trip! I already have learned a lot about myself and life and culture in Haiti. Life in Haiti is slower and the days seem longer- there are no pressures of time, and it truly forces you to slow down and take in your surroundings- the good, the bad, the beautiful, and the ugly. I have made friendships that already are strong and I know will be life-long. I have fallen in love even more with the people of Haiti and their hearts for each other and for the furthering of the Kingdom. It has been an INTENSE ten days and has been filled with ups and downs and I have learned way more and way quicker than I expected to!
Bailie and Nurse Magdalene
As an aspiring nurse and a person with a heart and desire to make Haiti my future, I have the unique opportunity to see what medical care is like in Haiti. I am thankful that just across the street from the compound, there is a clinic that serves both the Foundation inhabitants and the surrounding community and is ran by Haitians. I have been taking simple vital signs (pulse, blood pressure, etc.) of patients that come into the clinic and then observing as the nurse treats the ailment at hand in various ways. Although there is still a significant language barrier, it is really cool for me to be able to learn what Haitians believe about medicine, see what my future could involve, and to begin to figure out what role I can play here. I have also been checking in on the children who currently live at the orphanage- we had a few sick babies (who, thanks to a couple great nurses on a team that stayed at One Family this week, were given antibiotics and are doing much better!) and want to ensure it will not spread more. The kids LOVE hearing their own breath sounds and heartbeats through a stethoscope- perhaps there are a few future doctors and nurses in our midst!  
Marc, With his hand-made 'stethoscope.'
During my time in Haiti so far, I have been reading and studying the book of Job. A man of privilege and opportunity, he is suddenly plagued with “unnecessary” and “undeserved” suffering. He cries out to God and is direct and persistent in his questions to Him. There is much to learn from Job and his life, but The Message version of the Bible has a passage in the introduction that I feel accurately sums up my personal purpose of this trip.
“So, instead of continuing to focus on preventing suffering- which we simply won’t be very successful at anyway- perhaps we should begin entering the suffering, participating insofar as we are able- entering the mystery and looking around for God. In other words, we need to quit feeling sorry for people and instead look up to them, learn from them, and- if they will let us- join them in protest and prayer. Pity can be nearsighted and condescending; shared suffering can be dignifying and life-changing.”

I am not here to “fix” Haiti- I could not and will not do that on my own. But to enter their suffering, to live life the way they do for a period of time and support them on their journey to and with Jesus…that is how one intricately learns about the people and place they have a desire to serve. It is only after we have entered into that suffering and understand (as much as my American experiences will allow me to) that suffering and becoming part of the community can we even begin to do the work that is planned for us. I knew that coming into the experience, but actually attempting to live it out has made me believe in the mission my team and I are on. I am grateful to be part of this immersion trip and to have the opportunity to learn about this place and the people I love so much!

Saturday, July 11, 2015

Oh, the things you learn in only seven days!

Our 40 Day Immersion team has completed the first quarter of their time in Haiti.  Here are some reflections on that time from team leader Jack Arellano....

We’ve been here for only seven days and they have felt like seven weeks. We have witnessed so much of Haiti’s beauty and mess. A beautiful mess. She has gorgeous mountains, the most amazing cloud formations, crystal clear water beaches and breathtaking sunsets. She has chaotic traffic, skin- burning heat, flying ants that bite burning stinging itchiness, and heartbreaking inequality.  She has beautiful white as snow smiles and tears. She has freedom and oppression. She has joy and sorrow. Haiti is a collision of beauty and mess. We’ve had a front row seat the past seven days to all of it.

Days in Haiti start with the sunrise. The hustle and bustle in the streets of women carrying their goods to set up their spot in the streets of Croix Des Bouquets to sit in the sun all day to make their living selling whatever goods they have. The women up early getting breakfast started atop of their fire burning stoves and cleaning the never-ending dust off their tables, chairs and the floors that never seem to be clean – the amount of dirt is unbelievable. The 5:00 a.m. bell rings and all 65 children and staff of One Family stop what they are doing and get together to pray inside the compound. The motorcycles on the dirt road whirl around people, cars, and cows to get people to their destinations. It’s amazing how it all orchestrates so well to make the morning hustle a sort of beautiful beginning to the day. The sounds of children singing, chairs clanging, motorcycles whizzing by, roosters crowing, goats baying and cows mooing a beautiful song of a new day start- then a pig screams and the hairs on your neck stand up. Then the day starts and you step out of your room into sensory overload! The breeze greets you; the smells of breakfast and the trash burning across the streets come whirling past you! Oh Haiti, you’re such a beautiful mess. Much like me.  

Days in One Family are spent mostly working in the foundation in whatever needs to be done from tending children to cleaning to cooking to maintaining the place. There is much to do here, there are 65 kids that eat, make a mess and play. Much like children back home except instead of 1 to 3 kids per household we have 65!!! There is also a church here so there are services DAILY. Yep, daily. That is a big part of people’s lives here. In the states work is a big part of peoples lives here it’s church. It takes some adjusting for us as we’re use to a 1 hour service per week but we are loving all we get to experience and see in services here. Thankfully school isn’t in session or else we’d have another 350 kids running around here too. 

At night when things quiet down (a little) we enjoy breezes, the mountain view, the evening prayers, the twinkling lights on the mountainside of Port Au Prince in the distance and hanging out with the very hard working teen girls that have ended their long day doing what they love, cooking. Yes, cooking, they love cooking food. Cooking food for over 80 people that live in the foundation including staff and the pastoral family (and the “occasional” visitor or hungry person) must be quite the task but they love being part of the cooking team here. Sometimes they sing, sometimes they gather around one of our computer screams and watch movies, sometimes we do a puzzle or just laugh. Whoever brought the Jenga game here, thank you! It’s been a joy to play that game with many people here. 

We have experienced a lot in our first seven days and we will share more in the upcoming days after we process and are able to put them in to words, so stay tuned. J We love you friends and family and we surely miss you lots and we’re very happy we are here learning, immersing in this beautiful messy life as messy beautiful beings.