Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Going Home

Sitting at the PAP airport...looking around at all the people, I  want to know their story too. It wasn't just the ladies we sang to, brought sandwiches to, painted nails and loved ones, but all I see. What is their story? 

As Tim and I end our 2nd trip that we have led, and out 10th combined together, I know it's time...what is our next chapter going to look like, what is God whispering to us to do next?  Traveling on a mission trip is one of the most rewarding things you can do. But it doesn't have to be out of state or even out of country. A mission can be in your back yard. 

As we closed with our team, many had desires to return, and some spoke about how excited they were to share their experience with their youth group... and others were looking for ways to connect back with Haiti, while in the states. Hmm, mission accomplished? I pray so. 

We did water truck and Hope church, Grace Village with instruments and elder visits, understanding purpose and growth. Dancing, snacks with elderly ladies who have no one left to care for them, newly painted nails, and the smiles and hugs, until we meet again. Challenges with sick babies, who can't be with their family, refreshing, clean, laundry to help with, creating sticky messes while trying to feed wee ones. And then the real challenge working with physically and mentally challenged young people. We stretched and we grew and we cried. Each day, sometimes each moment, was a new chapter. Our last day, the children with the sisters, how calm, serene, and happy were they. We taught about being kind like a lady bug, and not to bite like mosquitos. We shared a story of a little girl in MN struggling to beat cancer, and how she was Laney bug. Then we made lady bugs, and necklaces, and played basketball and soccer. There were guitar lessons, and time spent with special ones. 

What a God filled way to end our story. Does it end there? I know it doesn't, and I am listening for a God whisper or nudge to move on. Each day as I continue to write a new page, I pray God will help me remember my gifts, and to use them, to dig deep when I am tired, to be patience when I am frustrated, to be thankful each day. 

Christine Davis

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Compassion for Everyone

Every day needs to be like today.
Every day needs to be a day where we do Christ's work.
This could mean different things to lots of different people but in general, we all need to show love and compassion for EVERYONE we encounter.

I did that today.
We did that today.
Mission accomplished.

Here's the but....
It was hard.

Today in Haiti we spent a few hours at a hospital for sick and dying babies.
I hate that name.   But that is exactly what it is.
Our team went into a room with forty cribs.  Each crib had a baby in it.
Each baby needed someone to love them.

So we did.

We held skinny little babies who needed food.   We fed skinny little babies.
We (and I use the term loosely because I just held babies) changed bedding, washed diapers and walked and rocked and cooed and sang and it was beautiful.

The babies have parents around, but they are not able to be there 24/7 and the fantastic nuns and their helpers can not care for each of the multiple identical rooms with 40 babies in them.
So we helped.   Was it a drop in the bucket?  Probably.   But we made a difference, albeit temporary, for the babies we did love.

The other part of our day was spent at a missionary for children and teens with physical and mental disabilities.
Again, the brothers and priest who run the mission do a great job with what they have.   
And again, the work is not easy.

The team jumped into action and interacted with and showed love and attention for a group of kids who need it like you and I can not begin to fathom.
Since coming to Haiti, I think I have mastered two to three words in Haitian Creole that I can readily communicate with.  And for the most part a language barrier is a non-issue. 
There are so very many things that need to be addressed before we could begin an open dialog.  
This afternoon was no exception as we befriended adolescents who for the many cases weren't equipped to speak their own language.
Universals in the world prevailed.
You don't need words to smile, laugh, hold hands, walk, play soccer, or massage the hands and feet of crippled children who are confined to wheelchairs and cribs. 
Music was the other universal.   When I brought out my guitar, some of the kids screamed with glee.   When I let them strum the guitar, you could hear the face-melting solos they were 
shredding in their minds, for the very first time.  
At the end of our visit, most of us were emotionally spent and wrecked.
I packed up my guitar and took my own tour of the facility.
There were four large common dorm rooms for the kids to sleep in, an admin building, kitchen and two sheltered common areas.  
Within the compound (again, walls all t
he way around, razor wire at the top and armed guard) the brothers had created a calm, sanctuary where boys and girls could spend their days in
as much comfort as could be afforded.   One of the commons had cribs and beds where some of the more physically disabled kids laid.   
I walked around to them, held their hands, looked them in the eye and gave thanks that they had found someone to love them.   I feigned a smile for each of them.

Every day should be like today.
Every day we need to love those around us.
Every day has challenges.

Give thanks for the parts of the day that aren't hard!

Dave Livermore

Do as I have done for you

We travelled 90 long, hot, dusty, sweaty minutes up the coast to Leogane to visit a home for abandoned elderly women. Our mission for the day was basically to give love and attention to these women who have all outlived their families and now  spend their days in this peaceful sanctuary that was founded by Father Reiser.    We are not here to do profound things.   But what we do is quite profound.  It is work that just doesn't get done as much as it should here or at home.  In the case of today it is work that I hope people do for me when I am unable to care for myself anymore.   

We arrived at the home at lunch time, so the ladies moved to the dining room for their meal. Typically, they eat rice and beans.  The meat sandwiches, Pringles, and Oreo cookies and fruit snacks we brought them were a treat.  Seeing them squirrel away the fruit snacks and chips so they could enjoy them later was evidence of the treasure we had brought for them.   The plan after lunch was unstructured, so what do you do to show love and attention to 50 or so elderly ladies?  We pampered them, of course! The lotion and nail polish was rolled out, the ladies took their places, and our team members (even the guys) moved among the women, giving personal attention to each one.   There was much dancing, laughter, and singing.   

In John 13:14-15 Jesus gave us a command: "Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet. I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you."   Yep, we got this.    

Laura Livermore

So, yes, we sweat when we're in Haiti.  But we also sing, and dance and laugh and love.

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Change, Love, Diva

Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable, and perfect. Romans 12:2. 

Haiti, yes transforming happens. This is my 6th trip to the country. When we flew in Monday, I wasn't fazed, been here seen this. The airport was chaos. Have I become used to this place?  Did God really even have a plan for me? 

Of course. Cite Soleil. it's never the same. It changes as we do too. 3 different water stops. 17, the one with hope, Hope Church. Where 200+ adults go to school in the evening. Their children will start in the fall. That is change. The Reiser truck, delivering water 6 days a week. Free. That is love. A team of 14, 7 first timers, and 7 return trip goers. Tears as we enter, a look of disbelief, a smile. We're here! Hey you! I pick you, do you pick me? 

As a leader i was trying to capture the moment for each of our team. I was doing my job. Then God whispered in my ear, "Look, he needs you." The camera went into my pocket. And I held him, we sang, I prayed, he held tighter, I felt a rattle in his chest. I cried. I am not harder.

There was love, my love, his love, God's love. I saw the smiles from the team, and the smiles and laughter from the children. I saw hand games, children being held, water, buckets being lifted and carried. I had seen this all, but what I saw was different. It was new, and fresh. 

Stop 19. It to was calmer, quieter, brighter, but more kids to hold to play with, to love on. I hadn't been here, it too was new. 

Our last stop, 26. My favorite. This is where in October of 2013, my first trip I connected with a little girl. Her face and dimples, her smile and sassiness...Diva. For the next 2 trips to Haiti I would find her, or maybe she found me. Whatever the case we connected. Last year in July, I didn't find her. I was heartbroken. This year I was prepared to not see her, and would do what I was called to do. I carried buckets, a long way. It was hot! I didn't mind the water sloshing out onto my legs and feet. I felt alive. I had a chance to walk alone back for more buckets, and just observe.  It was amazing. 

The water was done and we headed to the pier; fishy smells, naked swimmers, boats, nets, shrimp, so much to take in. And then, in an instant, there she was. Diva. I could tell immediately it was her. She had a missing tooth, one new one growing in. Why hadn't I ever noticed other kids with missing teeth? Her dimples weren't as deep, but her smile and laughter was what I had in my heart. We sang and snuggled. Again, I saw the change and growth that only God can provide. I can only imagine more transforming that will happen to me, but also to 13 others. 

Blessings from Haiti! 

Christine Davis 

Excitement & Joy

The thought of waking up at 2:00 AM on an average day would have most people hitting snooze on their alarm, but I was flying out of bed. Today was the day our team would begin a week of service in Haiti, for myself personally the first time. Half of us were coming with previous trip experiences and the other complete rookies. After the initial adrenaline wore off, we groggily were off to a start to Miami by 5:30.

After landing, we faced our first slight bump in the road (and very literally, far from our last), as our group was split. Three of our newbies, one being myself, and a fourth timer for Haiti would be boarding a flight to Port-au-Prince and landing an hour prior to the rest of our group. We hit the line, and the three musketeers of newbies turned around in the plane aisle only to notice our fearless leader was nowhere in sight. That was until her name popped up on my phone screen only to tell me she was on the next flight. I don't know exactly how Haley and Lynn were feeling when I relayed the news over, but I just kept telling myself "We're fine! Maybe. Oh no.".

My nerves only dissipated as the tropics appeared below us: rolling hills, aqua blue waters, and finally Haiti. Before we knew it we had arrived! Customs, baggage and locating two of our other team members from Florida was much easier than anticipated, and soon our team was one again.
As we headed toward the exit and the security of the airport, I had no idea what to expect. We were immediately swarmed by men offering to help with our luggage as we tried to bust through the crowds. The humidity and noise hit like a tidal wave as we anxiously awaited for the arrival of our tap-tap. As we handed off luggage to load on top, I looked at the blue vehicle dressed in colorful paints, Bible verses, and Haitian phrases. I was encouraged to hop up in shotgun as we
made our way to the guesthouse. I couldn't take my eyes off the window even through the hectic traffic, and as mentioned before bump two, three, ninety-two?

We took time to settle into the guest house and enjoy dinner together. We spent the rest of the night having our first group talk and enjoying guest house #2's view over the city. Below in the lot, a few of us ran down to join in a game of soccer. Our moves were no match for their skills, the only reason I was ever able to score was a boy kicking the ball to a stop at the goal border and exclaiming, "Shoot Superstar, shoot!".

As dark had finally arrived and we all gave into the reality of sleep at 8 PM, I among everyone else began to reflect on our first day. From my perspective thus far for my first trip to Haiti, any expectation one can try and mold before arriving will be completely dismissed. All the pictures on social media are a way to get a glimpse of where you'll go, but the emotions while here can't be replicated.

Excitement and joy has filled our team's hearts and we are ready to share it with the people here in Haiti. The phrase at the very back of the tap-tap reads, "Working to be the hands and feet of God" is something I will look at and hold close to my heart each time we exit into the field. Bonswa from Port-au-Prince, more updates are to come!

Paige Aschenbrener

Tuesday, July 12, 2016


Last year at this time I was writing much differently about the same experience.

I was serving on a mission trip and the day's activity was bringing water to the poorest slum in the hemisphere.

This year my perspective is much different.

The first time I was here I wanted to save the country myself and quickly learned that any efforts I made would have amounted to nothing more than a drop in the ocean.

So today, as our team ventured into Cite Soleil I could only hope that my time, manpower, smile and dad skills brought a little joy and relief to the lives of the people I encountered.

I smiled a lot, filled water buckets from the tanker truck, carried buckets, hoisted them onto the heads of children and women, played games, held babies, and hugged a thousand kids.

Last year I was afraid I didn't do enough.   This time I realize I did so much.

One command.


Can. Do.

Dave Livermore

Monday, July 11, 2016


I recently spent a week in Haiti with my daughter Elena, age 15, and other youth.  After over a dozen trips of leaving my kids home, it made this one unique.

Raw pride swelled at seeing my child and others embrace and relate to people of different culture, language and skin color than their own.

I was overwhelmed with joy seeing Elena lead our team sing-alongs with enthusiasm on the tambourine.

I felt disoriented watching over our team serve and being momentarily surprised to see my daughter in their midst.

I was comforted when Elena tenderly cared for my when I was ill.

Few people return from Haiti and make instant radical life choices. More commonly, a mission trip, a week of wading through God’s grace and mercy, results in subtle shifts. A fresh perspective in daily decisions, leaning into meaningful relationships, longing to spend more time in God’s presence, Holy discontent with human suffering, deeper empathy, a more open heart, a sharper ear for the whispering of the Holy Spirit, yearning for justice and mercy, and a deeper appreciation of our human frailties and God’s mighty power.

Many ask “How was your trip?” I watch Elena struggle to answer. “I held a sweet baby who shared my name…. It was hot and intense…. It was raw.”

Words are inadequate, experiences too profound.

So I end with hope. Hope that Elena and the others joined in mission, who witnessed profound injustice and suffering, use that knowledge for good. To pray, to witness, and to lead by example. We all have the gifts needed to tell the story, little by little, again and again. We choose daily to act in love. When words and our human limitations fail us, we invite others to share in our journey and to hold us accountable. If not Haiti, then in Falcon Heights, Dallas, anywhere humanity is crying out in our bountiful and broken world.