Monday, July 17, 2017

Impact

It is impossible to volunteer in Haiti without being impacted in a deep, personal way. The level of suffering here is so apparent, and the needs are so great. Yet amid this suffering, the Haitian people find ways to display love and joy, which radiates through their friendly charisma and beautiful culture. Don’t get me wrong – Haitians are fully aware of their misfortune. It is truly incredible that their faith and trust in God remains strong despite this.

Mission trips are an important “first step” for many. They force people to step out of their comfort zones to serve those on the fringes of society with unconditional love. Whether working with the nuns at the elderly home in Leogane, hosting vacation bible school for the children at Reiser Heights, or visiting the sick in Titanyen, every member of the Reiser Relief team was challenged immensely.

We also got to see the importance of working with local communities on mission projects. Reiser Relief works together with religious nuns on the ground in Haiti to determine the needs of local communities before advancing their projects. Likewise, we witnessed the potential for Haiti’s future by learning about new small business ventures in Port-au-Prince and surrounding areas.

Our team bonded enormously over the past week. However, this mission is only a first step. We must now determine the next step that God is asking each one of us to take.


Will Jude

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Bright

Today started as many of our mornings here, with a brilliant blue sky.  It energizes our team with the brightness and hopefulness that a new day can bring.  A new beginning.  A new chance to help someone. A great way to start out a new day of service.

After a wonderful breakfast, we left to visit Rebo coffee.  It was great to grab a fresh latte while supporting a local business. Many of our friends who have visited Haiti before asked us to buy them some coffee here. As a result, we left with several bags of coffee beans.

Our next stop was the Haitian History Museum. Our guide led us through the museum and showed us some incredible artifacts, including; the anchor of the Santa Maria (a ship sailed by Christopher Columbus) and the bell from the first Catholic church that was built in Haiti.

After a brief tap-tap ride we visited the mass grave in Titanyen from the 2010 earthquake.  In this quiet memorial, we heard from one of our interpreters about his experience of that day.  Because he only went to school on Monday-Wednesday-Friday, he was not in the basement classroom when the building collapsed.  Other people, who knew nothing about earthquakes, ran into buildings when the first tremors hit believing they would be safer there.  We have memorials in the US to mark when we have tragedies have happened.  But truly imagine losing 3% of the countries’ population in a single day. That would equate to over 7 million people in the US. There was no one in the city of Port-au-Price that was not grieving in the days following.  The beauty and quietness of this memorial was truly moving.

Nearby is a group of elderly people that we visited in their homes.  We washed their feet, spreading lotion on their hands and feet and painted a few nails.  It was wonderful to visit and pray with these people in their homes.

After our full day, the team ended our traveling at Fleri Pizza.  Fleri Pizza / Bakery was created to support the local people, giving them jobs and a sense of community.  The pizza was delicious as well as the plantain chips and salsa.

The day ended as most do here, with a thunderstorm and a tired group. We look forward to a new day of bright and hopeful skies tomorrow.

Kevin Tollefson

 

Saturday, July 15, 2017

Bringing Joy

Our day began at the crack of dawn as many of us woke up to attend Tent Church, a unique experience here in Haiti. The worship is different from what we are used to in the U.S. Many people walk up and down the aisles with their hands raised. It’s a moving thing to see; and a great way to start our day.

After enjoying the delicious breakfast prepared by our amazing staff, we headed to Leogane to spend the day serving at the Village of Jesus, a home for elderly abandoned women cared for by Catholic sisters. When we arrived, the elderly women showered us with hugs & kisses (and the occasional lick). Before the music had even started, our friend Anita was up on her feet dancing and laughing; bringing joy to everyone around. Much of our time was spent singing hymns with the ladies, treating them to massages, painting their nails, and preparing their lunch.

A time to dance


Cow at Bethleem Farm, run by the sisters

Touring the farm
We were also fortunate enough to see the farm that the sisters run. It is a beautiful area that is full of vegetables, livestock, and colorful flowers around every corner. We left with joyful hearts as we bid our goodbyes to the ladies to start our long trek back in the tap-tap.




Tap Tap Time
Everyone can agree that tap-tap rides are truly one of a kind. Our time spent on the tap-tap today was full of laughter; whether we were sitting in silence as we gazed out at the streets of Haiti, having competitive song battles, or cheering on Maxim to get us through the crazy roads in one piece. We could kick back and relax for a short time but were pulled up to the balcony to end our day learning salsa dances from Jean!

God shined through every soul that we met eyes with today.


Erin Olson & Alyssa Akenson