Sunday, October 22, 2017

Moving Forward

October 22, 2017

People often ask me how many times I’ve been to Haiti.  I’ve never taken the time to sit down and figure out the answer to that question.  It seems like I’ve touched down at the Port au Prince airport hundreds of times, watched endless numbers of children heading to school in their colorful school uniforms as I walked home from morning chapel, and sat right here at the table outside the guesthouse in the cool pre-dawn light time and time again sending notes or writing blogs as the roosters crowed in the backgroun.  

I made my first trip to Haiti with my sister Joyce in May 2012—just months after our beloved founder, Father Bernard Reiser, passed away, leaving his family and friends to carry on his legacy in the beautiful country of Haiti.  My first trip had an incredibly huge impact on me.  I spent months processing it after I got home.  I was devastated by what I’d seen here, but also amazed at the beauty of the country, the faith and resilience of the Haitian people, and the powerful presence of God everywhere I turned. 

My multiple trips have allowed me to experience these same feelings over and over again, and also to see the positive changes that are happening in Haiti.  Tent cities are gone, streets are being improved, garbage trucks and recycling programs are becoming a more common sight all around the city of Port au Prince, the new president of Haiti is focusing on improving agriculture in the country, and more emphasis is being put on education.  We work alongside countless ministry partners that are also dedicated to the Haitian people and their country.  And thankfully, the powerful presence of God remains.

I am blessed to be able to serve as a trip leader allowing me to continue to see Haiti through the eyes of first-time trip goers—to watch them process and transform in so many different ways throughout their trips, and giving me a chance to relive that “first trip” experience over and over again.  I am honored to be able to be a part of carrying on Father Reiser's legacy in Haiti.   I thank him, our founder and my uncle,
for having enriched my life—even after his death—by placing Haiti in my arms and heart over five years ago.

Ann Brau
Reiser Relief

Saturday, October 21, 2017

Serving together

Today in Haiti was exactly what our team needed. After jumping right into the heart of Port-au-
Prince and seeing the suffering so many people endure daily, we got to visit Reiser Heights school. The long journey up the mountain gave our team the chance to converse and get to know each other much better. We talked about what we’ve experienced so far in Haiti, discussed family back home, and embraced the lovely country side.

When finely arriving to Reiser Heights, it was nice to see smiling children as we gave them sunglasses and candy. The children are clearly well taken care of, and it’s great to know that they are receiving an education that would otherwise not be available to most of them. It’s almost as if God knew we needed a break from the chaos and gave us chance to hang out with the playful children and listen to them sing.

While the experience today was not as grueling as the others so far, it seems to have the largest effect on our team. I’m not sure if it’s the extra time spent together. Maybe it’s because we’ve had time to reflect on the other days. Perhaps it’s because we feel more relaxed after a less exhausting day physically and mentally. One thing is for sure, we are definitely a stronger team after today. I look forward to the days to come and thank God for a strong and supportive team.

Jake Behrendt