Monday, January 14, 2013

All God's People

“We have no right to judge the rich.  What we desire is not a class struggle but a class encounter, in which the rich save the poor and the poor save the rich.”
                                                                Mother Teresa

We spent our last day in Haiti at Grace Village in Titanyen.  Grace Village, being built by Healing Haiti, is a beautiful, sprawling complex that sits atop of hills of Titanyen and is home to an orphanage, school, tilapia farm, guesthouse, a nearly completed medical building, and a feeding center that Reiser Relief helped to fund.   It is also where Reiser Relief will be funding the completion of an eldercare center to be named in Father Reiser’s memory.   What an upbeat way to spend our last day in Haiti--playing with the orphans, and helping to wash the feet, shower, do craft projects, and feed the local elderly people that were there for their quarterly medical visits.  While interacting with both the young and the old, I was reminded of Father Reiser’s dedication to providing dignity to the lives all God’s children from cradle to grave, and I was proud to see our team helping to carry on his wishes in Haiti. 


Our last day here was also significant as it was the three-year anniversary of the devastating earthquake that struck Haiti in 2010.   One of our Haitian staff members led us in a beautiful prayer remembering the over 250,000 people who had died in the earthquake, the largest tragedy of our lifetime.   As one of our Haitian staff shared his story with me about the day of the earthquake and the horrific things he witnessed, I was overcome with the incredible resiliency of the Haitian people and their steadfast faith in God throughout all their suffering.  I was also amazed at the progress that has been in returning normalcy to their country in the three short years since the earthquake.

                            Many Haitians who died in the earthquake are buried in mass graves.

Tomorrow our team heads back to what we know as reality.  We came together in wonderful ways as a group this past week, but yet, we will all take different things home with us.   I am honored and privileged to have had the opportunity to be witness once again to the lives of the Haitian people.  We came to give to them, but they gave to us, too.  They shared their happiness for life and their deep faith, we were given smiles of welcome and hugs of gratitude, and they welcomed us to join them in their prayer and worship.  But we also witnessed the extreme poverty, and the looks of desperation in many of their faces are impossible to ignore.  In spite of what has been done, there is so much more to do.  The continued suffering of so many of their people is unfair and so unnecessary.  Thus, my desire to continue to help this country grows stronger. 

                                             Packing food to deliver to a nearby "tent city."

Bondye Beni’ou,

Saturday, January 12, 2013

An Oasis

Our team set off early again today for another crazy, chaotic, and confusing ride through the city of Port au Prince on our way to the Village of Jesus in Leogane, Haiti, a home for over 30 abandoned women. And just as we were treated to spectacular views of the mountains yesterday as we left the city, today we were we humbled by views of the ocean in every array of blue on God’s magnificent pallet of colors.

It wasn’t until after Father Reiser’s death that we learned about the Village of Jesus and discovered that a great part of it was built by the beloved founder of our organization, Father Reiser. In as much as the ocean was an oasis of hues of blue, the Village of Jesus was an oasis of peace, love and tranquility to these women. It was located on a side road nearly hidden by greenery and was a complex of well-kept buildings and perfectly manicured grounds.

We were greeted by Sister Alta who runs the home, and within a short amount of time, the women who live there also welcomed us. We treated them to peanut butter sandwiches and cookies, lotion rubs, foot washings, and massages, and they treated us to their music, their smiles, and their love. It was rewarding to see a group of women who had been rescued from abandonment now living in a loving community and being given such great care. We were even served a delicious lunch by Sister Alta before we left, with one of the entrees being goat—which she raises on their small farm in Leogane!

While we were at Village of Jesus, I studied a collage of photos hanging on a wall that included pictures of Father Reiser and of the building process in Leogane. I wondered how he could possibly have envisioned the results of his efforts as he set forth to transform that downtrodden piece of land. Without doubt, it had to be his tremendous faith in God that gave him the strength and direction to move forward with the project.

And I also think he may have been inspired by the aqua colors of the ocean!

Blessings, Ann

Thursday, January 10, 2013


It’s hard to imagine a larger contrast between what our Reiser Relief team experienced yesterday to what we saw today.  Yesterday was the most brutal side of Haiti—the deepest poverty, the most dismal living conditions, and the smell of hopelessness in the air.

Today we drove up the mountain to Reiser Heights, a school only 20 miles outside of Port au Prince, but, because of the lack of good roads, it was a two-hour drive in our tap-tap.  The view from our vehicle was probably as breathtaking as you could see anywhere in the world.  Lush greenery, fresh air, tiny hand-tilled plots of farmland, and homes nestled into the side of the mountains.  Throughout our drive, we went through small Haitian-style villages with dilapidated buildings, goats, pigs and cattle along the sides of the roads, and people selling their wares along the way.  But behind each of these villages, there was a most spectacular mountain backdrop.

Just beyond the last batch of cattle, we made our final steep ascent into Reiser Heights, one of the schools Reiser Relief supports.  Although school was not in session, we were met by the director of the school, his wife, and countless smiling children.  We handed out part of our 500 donated toys we’d brought with us, we delivered Feed My Starving Children food, and we presented local people with five live goats that had been purchased and donated by various team members.  It was such an uplifting visit.

Our long drive back down the mountain gave me plenty of time to ponder the contradictions between what we’d seen yesterday and what we saw today.   But as we neared “home,” I realized there was no point in me trying to understand or make sense of these contradictions.   They are all part of God’s glorious master plan.   Maybe I never will totally understand the reason for HIS plan, and why he gave me a role in it.  But I do know there is a reason I have been called to Haiti, and I will go forth continuing to my best to answer that call.

God bless Haiti.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

The Smiling Face of Poverty

Here in Haiti each morning before breakfast, one person in our group shares a reading with everybody.  Today’s shared reading, Romans 8:31, said, “Do not expect an easy path as you journey hand in hand with Me, but do remember that I, your very present Helper, am omnipotent.”

What a perfect reading to prepare us for our day.  After a 6 a.m. tent worship service, we headed out on our tap-tap.  Our first stop was at Terre Promise School in Cite Soleil.  We delivered nearly 30 boxes of Feed My Starving Children food to the school, which was such a rewarding experience for me after the complicated process of getting the food TO Haiti.

                                                                                                From there, we set off to do our daily water delivery to the slums of Cite Soleil.  Due to government demonstrations in the city today, there were more obstacles delivering the water than usual.   I’d like to say things have changed in Cite Soleil since my May trip, but they have not.  The smell of poverty still hangs heavy, children still run dirty and naked in the streets, babies and children with unattended medical disabilities are seen everywhere, dirty shacks, no toilets or sanitation systems, no running water, children walking shoeless on raw sewage and glass, and no garbage pickup are still the norm.  And yet, as we stood in the most poverty stricken part of Port au Prince, I was happy to be there.  I was happy to be holding babies, carrying water, moving water buckets, and taking photos of all the smiling children. 

These children know God.  They accept the fact that God has not dealt them an easy lot in life.  And as difficult as it is for me to comprehend, they seem okay with that.  In fact, they stood with our group today among the garbage and filth singing glory to God.  Their total and complete faith is almost difficult to grasp, yet it’s so simple.  Just as this morning’s reading reminds us, they  are walking their journey hand n hand with God—and smiling all the way.


Tuesday, January 8, 2013

God's Children

“The weaker you are, the more gently I approach you.”
                                                Psalm  46: 1: Romans 12

Some say Haiti is not for the weak of heart.  Many of the things we see are so far out of our realm of comfort that they are difficult for us to wrap our minds around.

This morning, we set off to a home for sick and dying children, but there was a change of plans and instead, we ended up going to Gertrude’s Orphanage, home to about 50 orphans in Port au Prince.  Some of the orphans appeared to be normal, healthy children while others had different ranges of physical and mental disabilities.  God’s loving presence helped every person in our group know just what we needed to do for these children.  In the afternoon at the home for sick and dying children, God’s gentle hand again played a part as we held precious babies and small children in our arms.

Both visits were a quandary for me.  I know how orphans are carefully protected and placed in loving homes in the United States, and I’m well aware of the many programs that are available for children with every sort of disability in our country.  One part of me could say God is being unfair to the Haitian children.  But yet, there was a sense of peace in both of the places where we visited and interacted.  I realized that sense of peace was coming from God.  Our Father was telling them, “The weaker you are, the more gently I approach you.”

Haiti IS a difficult country to understand.  It IS a difficult country to walk away from after each visit without a sense of guilt.  And it IS a country God holds gently in his arms.


Monday, January 7, 2013

We arrived!

We arrived!  How exciting it was for our group to walk through the airports sporting our new REISER RELIEF tee shirts! 

It is such a difference coming to Haiti for the second time.  The chaos at the airport seemed ordinary.  Driving in our tap-tap from the airport to the guesthouse, the streets were lined with adults and children just as they were on my May visit.  But this time, instead of feeling uncertain about smiling and waving at them, it was almost as though I knew them.  I found myself looking for faces I might recognize.   I felt so much more connected to Haiti. 

But just as last time, I’m in the country that stopped our founder, Father Reiser, in his tracks.  The country that broke his heart as he witnessed the daily suffering of the Haitian people.  The country that he could not forget even after he got back home.   And the country that, despite its desperate poverty, is so filled with the love of God. 

So that is the reason I’m here.  With my wonderful mission group with me, we are committed to carrying on Father’s dream of improving the lives of these people as he would have wanted us to do.  And that is also why, in his name, on the back of the new tee shirts we wearing during this trip, we also proclaim the words of his favorite song, “Ala ou gran!”  (“How great thou art!).

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Oct. 30th, 2012: Mold Me

My closing thoughts on our week in Haiti...

On a personal level, Haiti once again touched my heart in a nearly indescribable way. Our team was blessed with talented bloggers who witnessed beautifully to the personal transformation inherent in mission work. And we were blessed with outstanding photographers who captured with great skill the plight and joy of Haiti.

As a team leader I was able to experience Haiti through the eyes of our team members. What an honor it is to see God changing hearts and converting souls. And how beautiful it is to see friendships formed and strengthened, both between our team members and with our Haitian brothers and sisters.

As a Reiser Relief representative I did my best to remain open to what God was putting in our path this week. What cries did he want us to hear? What devastation did he want us to see? What hands did he want us to hold?

It was fitting to end our week in the mountains at Reiser Heights school. Education gives us hope in a brighter future for Haiti; that through their own potential, brought to life by education and opportunity, Haiti will build back better. I was able, with the help of a wonderful interpreter, to better understand the needs of Reiser Heights and how we can better support the 380 children who receive an education there.

Thank you, God, for allowing me to listen. Help me, God, to hear what you want me to hear. Mold me, and Reiser Relief, and use us for Your Glory.

God bless Haiti.

That's Mialta, the director of Reiser Heights, behind me explaining the needs of the school

On top of Reiser Heights
My sister Sue, cousins Lisa and Kim at Reiser Heights

9 videos playlist from our trip

Oct. 29th, 2012: Higher Heights

Haiti Day 7: Reiser Heights

We landed softly after a bumpy two-hour mountain ride; the children don't overrun you at such an altitude. I would imagine the school had once been as beautiful as Grace Village appeared yesterday. And one can't call it neglect as I surmise corralling 380 students in those small rooms sucks every last drop of the staff's energy. TLC with paintbrushes and patchwork are badly needed for goodness' sake. And how sad is it that their kitchen is empty? Providing spiral notebooks and a basketball is a start, but so much more is required. Required of all of us. We must help if we can. And can't we?

This trip redefines your vocabulary. It puts "un" in a completely new category when you describe unbelievable people, unfathomable poverty or the uncanny faith in Jesus found surrounding Port-Au-Prince. Superlatives used in your world before arriving just don't fit here. The "over" in overwhelming, if used to describe the emotional experience in Haiti, will reach too high if used back home. Should someone describe anything using "incomprehensible" or "inconvenient" how much discipline will it take not to interrupt with a Haitian comparison? So please give me a moment if eyes appear distant. I'll ask for your patience with my inability to adequately answer questions.


Oct. 28th, 2012: Michelle's word of the day...change

Our morning started out with a Change of plans from attending Mass at Missionaries of Charity becuse the service was moved to then walking to a tent service that could be found purely by sound.  We then loaded into our TapTap bus for a 2 hour bumpy, winding road up to Reiser Heights, a school supported by Reiser Relief, located in the farm village of Les Pinnese. It was incredible to watch our surroundings Change from the noise & chaos of the city to beautiful lush green rolling hills with hibiscus blooms hanging over the rocky, dirt road/path. There were times when we actually seemed to be above the clouds and actually in them as the fog clouds would suddenly Change the stunning view from the mountaintop .

Seeing the exchange between the schoolmaster who knew & loved Fr. Reiser as he met 4 of Father's nieces was priceless!  Although we weren't able to see the school in action since it was Sunday, it was clear to see what they saw as their "needs" was quite different from what we judged to be their "needs"! The school has no electricity, flushing toilets or running water, computers or internet access. All they said they "needed" would be continued support for teachers and fabric to make school uniforms and some simple school supplies.

Listening to their list of what they "needed" was a good reminder to me that we must respectfully listen to their needs and Not try to Change who they are or their culture by trying to impose what we think they Need Changed.

Oct. 28th, 2012: No person is an island.

Our 'rambling' from Fr. Reiser last night reminded us that no person is an island. We need one another to get through life and will all experience moments of dependence. "What do you have that you have not received and if you have received it, why do you glory as if you have received it not?" 1 Corinthians 4:7

It was fitting for me as I spent my day struggling with a case of "Haitian Happiness" (aka food poisoning) and had to depend on my team for all things. As Fr. Reiser gently reminded me, my moments of discomfort are nothing compared to a lifetime of discomfort faced by too many Haitians.

Fr. Reiser wrote, "Can you imagine living in grinding poverty day after day, facing the daily menu of rice with bean sauce on top of it, without any hope for change or a different menu? Living where sanitation is often nearly unheard of and having water means carrying it in five-gallon pails? A poverty with no hope of alleviation and a future that holds nothing but the same grinding sufferings of today?"

And in spite of this, as our team reflected last night, the Haitians persevere. After earthquake, flood, medical catastrophes, and food and water shortages, they dust themselves off, praise God to be alive, and continue to live in the moment.

We have so much to learn from the Haitians.


Oct. 28th, 2012: Haiti Day 6: Joy filled day!

Haiti Day 6: Joy filled day!

How much better joy feels following days of such trying times! Grace Village, in a beautiful setting overlooking the city and the ocean, personifies such joy. The buildings are spacious and colorfully painted and surround a children's jungle gym and basketball court and space to play. Today we helped bathe and feed the elderly. We witnessed a clinic being built on the grounds. And we got a glimpse of a hopeful future with brick ovens for bread making and a Tilapia farm. In the near future they will bake bread and harvest fish for themselves and their community, with enough leftover to sell.

After dinner and sharing some thoughts on the day, many of us were privileged to be taught the Salsa. Jean could be called the Fred Astaire of the Caribbean, and he's an even better teacher with endless patience for left feet! We danced and we danced. After a little rum we danced some more! And what was particularly special (and surreal being in Haiti) is that we were able to share it with home via FaceTime on the iPad...although my son James will deny it I'm sure! To bed late with big smiles.

Oct. 27th, 2012: Michelle's word of the day, Renewed

This morning we were greeted by sunshine & blue skies which Renewed our spirits after 3 long days of rain. As we drove to Grace Village, in Titanyen, the flooded bridge which closed the road just days before, was open again. The water had receded and the people had their freshly laundered clothes hanging on clotheslines, over fences & from bushes. They were setting up their markets again with Renewed hope.

Our mission at Grace Village was to help the elders with showers who had come to be seen by the doctor. Many had never taken a shower prior to the elder care program. They soaked in the attention and loved to give hugs & sing songs of praise, accompanied by our driver, Junior's guitar while they waited.

The children who live at the orphanage at Grace village, helped serve the elders a sandwich & juice. It was beautiful to see the spectrum of ages gathered together.  Multiple trips, with the elders loaded in the back of the Kubota and when all were returned safely to their Tarp homes, we set off to the village to attend to several homebound elders. It was evident that the fresh water & a snack along with songs & prayers, did wonders with both their bodies and spirits being Renewed. They are a people with amazing Faith & Trust in God's providence.

It was a reminder to me that I must Not let my own Faith become complacent! I need to Listen and be sure that both my body & spirit be Renewed.

Oct. 26th, 2012: Uncomfortable

Thank you Lord for making me uncomfortable this week. For never being dry, for not seeing the sun, for changing plans, for seeing things unimaginable, for breaking my heart.
Now I know a very tiny part of how the Haitians might feel everyday. Hungry, sleeping in mud, flooded houses, no charcoal to cook the food they have, sick, dying, lonely.

Oct. 26th, 2012: Michelle's word of the day, Touch

Today we traveled to Leogane which was the epicenter of the Earthquake of 2010. We visited the Village of Jesus where Fr Reiser helped support a home for abandoned women. It was a privilege to be with some of Father Reiser's nieces as they saw the place and the people who were dear to his heart.

They met several nuns, who run the home, who actually knew and loved Fr. Reiser.They had a picture of him in their entry hall and a beautiful tribute plaque in their courtyard.

Our team spent some special time of sharing candy we had broughtfor them. Their thirsty skin soaked in our gentle Touch as we massaged their hands,arms,legs & feet with lotion.

We were Touched by the gratitude in their smiles which sparkled as brightly as their freshly painted pink, purple, red & green fingernails & for some their toes too! Their songs & for one lady nearly nonstop dancing.

(see video on the is priceless! ) were further ways we were touched by their appreciation.

In the afternoon we felt further evidence of the power of Touch as we were able to go back to visit the home for sick children in Prot Au Prince and witness the response as children melted into our arms& hearts upon Touch!

Don't ever underestimate the amazing power of a simple, loving Touch!

Oct. 26th, 2012: Mwen pa konnen!

It was a truly excellent day! We visited the Village of Jesus in Leogane, Fr. Reiser's first major project in Haiti. This is home to 27 delightful elderly women who would otherwise be abandoned and on their own. Their joy is contagious. Their spirits are uplifting. I was absolutely overwhelmed when I walked into the feeding center and saw their 27 beaming faces.

One petite lively woman got us all dancing and singing. When I asked her how old she was, she broke into a huge grin and said "Mwen pa konnen!" Translation: I don't know! Can you imagine not knowing your age, and not finding it important? How liberating.

The nuns and workers who care for these women are efficient and loving, and the whole place was immaculate. The donors who gave to this project over 10 years ago can be assured that their generosity is making a significant impact.

This afternoon we returned to the home for sick and dying babies to lend a hand in holding and comforting the little ones. It was a perfect ending to an excellent day.

p.s. It's still raining.

Oct. 25th, 2012: Water

I've had a water day, please let me explain. I started reflecting about the water from my cold shower. Then the thought of how lucky I am to take a shower in Haiti- where some people never get the opportunity to shower.

Last night we went to sleep last night while it was raining outside. Well, it was more than rain.. it was tropical storm Sandy. We woke up to rain again. Our wonderful leaders, Shelley and Joyce, had to replan our day since the road was not accessible to our original plan. At that point I really didn't understand what the problem was but within the hour I realized how challenging our day would be due to the storm. We departed in our top top and I was lucky to sit in front and see the view. The water was so high and rushing down the sides of the street. It had been raining for over 24 hours now and when the roads are mud/sand and filled with garbage there is no place for the excess water to go. We then made it to a bridge that was only a few feet above the river. We headed over it like no problem but now looking back, I realize we were the only vehicle to cross it during our 15 minutes there. Going through the towns I started to see how high the water was.. it was half way up the tents and shacks. It almost covered a truck! I then thought about how the people of Haiti, standing on the side of the road, still waved to me even though they probably lost most of their belongings. The thought of losing all my things in my house is too much to comprehend. I'm sure they had worked very hard since the last storm for their new belongings. How lucky am I to have never lost anything in a storm.

We then made it to the orphanage where the kids were so happy happy to see us. I got to pass out candy and was amazed by how the kids would not accept two peices until everyone had at least one. We then made a few more stops to elderly people to ensure they were dry from all the new rain (they were :)).
On our way home we ran into a roadblock.. the bridge was under water. I thought how lucky we were to have made it passed the bridge two hours before.

As we got back to the guesthouse using a detour we then dropped off food from Feed My Starving Children to nearby tents. I happened to pick a section that was very orderly and everyone was very appreciative and even showed me inside their tents. It was another sight of water. Water on the floor of their "home" with some bricks to hold up a mattress.

The evening is now ending after some team member bonding (catchphrase) to more pouring rain.
I appreciate water. We were able to see water in many ways in 4 days-- how it gives life (water truck delivery) but how it can take it all away.

Lisa (p.s. it's still raining out)

Orphans and Elderly Video-Click Here

Oct. 25th, 2012: Michelle's word of the day...Redirecting

....'.You can make your Plans but God has All the Answers!'
Ironically one of the things that drew me back to Haiti was the way people live in the moment here yet I found myself and other team members continuing to say "What are Our plans for today?!?"
Today we were blest with the needed reminder that God was in charge of what we were going to do! Our plans to go deliver supplies to Reiser Heights, a mountain village school, were diverted by roads washed out by the torrential rains.

God was clearly "ReDirecting" us to where HE needed us to go! His plan led us to an orphanage with puddles there were no way around. They welcomed our unexpected visit saying we have nothing to offer you but our prayers & song. We enjoyed a creative craft time with pipe cleaners and beads which turned into colorful eyeglasses, bracelets, necklaces and headbands.

Along the road leading away from the orphanage lived several of the village elders who we had planned to see when we helped them shower before their doctor visit at Grace Village on Saturday. Again God planned for us to check on them today. Marie greeted us with her 103 year old nearly toothless smile, expressing gratitude for an unexpected visit. She had not slept because of the water coming through her leaking roof.

We gave her the Tarp from our taptap bus along with some bottled water and a fruit roll-up...she said our visit "saved her life"! A couple other stops for elders were met with the same gratitude.

When we got back "home" the rain slowed down so we were able to bring some Feed My Starving Children food into the tent city near us. You could see the desperation on the faces of people of the people who hurried back to their tarp houses, set up on uneven ground that was washing away from all the rain, in hopes of receiving a bag of food. Our team's excitement to bring needed relief was quickly replaced by a flood of emotions as we held the last bag of food in our hands as many hands still needing reached from their tent homes.

Yes...God had much to teach us today about who was in control!


Oct. 25th, 2012: Nature speaks to the power of God

I read my favorite 'ramblings' from the book "Reiser's Ramblings" to the team every night. This book is a collection of columns by my uncle, Fr. Reiser. Somehow, (even from his Heavenly home) Fr. Reiser comes up with the perfect words every night to start off our group discussion time. Tonight I read "Nature speaks to the power of God" in which Fr. Reiser reflects on God's mighty power as displayed in acts of nature. This reminds us who is really in charge and how "it is rather amusing how we strut and glory over the little ant hills we erect in our brief passage of earthly journeying."

God was in charge today! Our plans to visit Reiser Heights, one of two schools supported by Reiser Relief, were washed away by torrential rains. Our back up plans to visit Grace Village were dashed by a rushing river threatening to overtake a bridge. Instead, God sent us on a series of mad cap adventures; an orphanage, homes of elderly, Ecko Depot, Deli Mart and distributing Feed My Starving Children food packets in a tent city. All while getting steadily more water logged and interspersed with many moments of laughter and joy. Surely God has a terrific sense of humor.

What is God trying to teach me in all of this? Humility? Patience? Compassion? Justice? Tenderness?

Teach me. I want to learn.


Haiti Flood Video-Click Here

Oct. 25th, 2012: Haiti day 3

Haiti Day 3

Reflecting on yesterday's water day, I don't understand why, with the billions of dollars pledged to Haiti, a field sits empty next to the Commercial Well. We drive past it to get to slums where masses await fresh water.
Is it too complicated to buy the land, equip it with some plumbing and basic necessities and fill the new space with people?

After my first blog yesterday, I didn't think there was anything in me for this today, but here goes:

Chasing Bacon
I started the day getting winded; it's quite a workout to escort a bounding dog halfway around the block. Bacon escaped as we walked to church early this morning. And he's an expert at avoiding recapture. He marked territory hurriedly as we chased and tried to corral him.
Church was unforgettable. The hoarsely shouted Creole sounds of what I thought was a political dictator turned out to be the pastor shouting praises under a large navy blue tent. Exultation was a leading candidate for word of the day. Shouts of joy turned to a chorus of hymns before the pastor began his sermon. Exultations. Hallelujah was one of very few words I could pick up, but it was easy to understand how much the people love Jesus. One woman was so moved she had to dance, and she danced with Jim.

Hospital for Sick and Dying Children
It's surreal from the moment you arrive as you remove shoes to enter the hospital barefoot and douse your hands with bleach and water. It must be comforting for the parents arriving, and bleaching their hands, simultaneously to know that volunteers care to visit too--for days they cannot attend themselves.
After being able to let go of the first "Hey you!" who bounded into my arms, I fed the girl in bed#2 who didn't have the strength to hold up her own head. I noticed Charlene sat on the floor to help with the balancing act, and I did the same. Incredibly she ate the whole bowl of food and I was grateful for my experience of keeping baby food off four chubby cheeks years ago. The weak whimpers tug at your heart as you try to move to another needy child. I feel badly for not being able to comfort with a lullaby, but I can manage a hum now and then without breaking down.
A few of us moved to the very-sick ward and tried to decide who to hold or help. In the end I picked up a girl whose only sign of life were her beautiful eyes. That's what threw me off--I couldn't believe there was so little strength in that body since there was such beauty in those eyes. But I'll never forget how no life flowed from her tiny, thin arm. The grasp reflex in her hand was completely absent, no matter how much I stroked her palm. As I put her down before we left the ward I prayed: please, please let some of my love replace the energy she'll lose with whimpering as I leave her. Please?
Such a dichotomy; so draining and so fulfilling at the same time. And I think that's what tears you up inside...there's so much moving within you. You could ask: Is the Net zero (or love, as they say in tennis)? ABSOLUTELY NOT.

When we returned to the regular ward, the bell indicated visiting parents had to leave, So I calmed one of the abandoned boys. He was so tired. As I put him down it calmed him simply dry the tear that welled up in his eye.

Incredibly lunch was being prepared. Hadn't breakfast just finished? I was instructed to feed crib#9 as the nurse gave me yellow bib, spoon and aluminum bowl of rice, gravy and chicken. She is beautiful. And it was as if the chicken, which she clearly favored with her eyes as I fed her, awakened something within her. My father talks of "personality plus" to describe rare gems and this girl has it. When she finished her bowl i enjoyed taking extra care cleaning her with a wet-wipe packet.

Taking nurse instruction again, I hurried to feed the boy in the neighboring crib before we had to leave. And as I bibbed him, Miss PP reached over and latched on to my forearm, with a gorgeous smile. A smile that I'll never forget. Just as I'll never forget that near-lifeless whimper. But the net is much more than love.

Gertrude's Home for Special Needs Children

Special Needs is a good way to describe the way I feel about these children: I think they're special too. This is a great example of "Net-More-Than-Love" concept for me. And how appropriate that one of the most beautiful buildings I've seen in Haiti will house these people! Looks like they'll have ample space. That is so exciting!

Day 3 Video Click Here

Oct. 24th, 2012: Michelle's word of the day

 Haiti has a way of grabbing "Hold" of your Heart!
Our morning began at a "Sunrise" Worship service under overcast skies & drizzle but it did not dampen the Spirits of the Faith -filled Haitian people who so openly welcomed us and grabbed Hold of our hands as they sang songs of praise.
After a hearty Haiti breakfast we spent the morning at a Childrens home for sick & dying. Cribs and toddler rooms were filled with children whose eyes and arms reached out saying "Hold" me!
We came back to our guest house for some needed time of decompression before we set out for our afternoon. 2 of our team members went to help at a wound clinic and the other 9 of us headed for one of the few orphanages that takes in disabled children. Again we were greeted with smiling children who longed to be held and played with as they would take "Hold" of your hand and lead you to the swings, the special hand peddled tricycles or to the end of the jumprope.
Holding was the easy part of the day....Letting go was Heartwrenching!


Oct. 24th, 2012: Bel

The word in Creole for beautiful is bel.

As a hurricane / tropical storm tears through the Caribbean, as poverty rages on in Haiti, why am I writing about beauty? What is beautiful about watching parents bring their children to a home to be treated for malnutrition and preventable diseases, or spending your afternoon with disabled children receiving few of the interventions and adaptations that could make their lives easier?

Here are the beautiful things I saw today:

-Haitians worshipping with great joy and enthusiasm at sunrise.
-Our team consoling crying babies, changing diapers and loving sick babies (yes, the men changed diapers too!)
-The Haitian parents who love their children so much that they leave them in the care of others because they do not have the means to care for them on their own.
-The loving care these babies received as they are nursed back to health.
-Beautiful Haitians everywhere I turned (how do they stay so well groomed coming out of tents and shacks?)
-Smiles and laughter from the disabled children who allowed us to play with them in the afternoon.
-The signs of faith everywhere I turn in Haiti. "Thank you Jesus!" signs on trucks and buildings, unabashed praise and joy from the Haitians.
-Hearts of team members breaking for the same things that break the heart of Jesus.
-The pride, determination and hope I see in the eyes of the Haitians.

Beautiful. Bel.