Friday, January 27, 2017

The gift of returning to Haiti

When I came to Haiti on my first mission trip last year, it had a significant impact on my life. I had a difficult time adjusting to every day life after my return home because all of my problems in America seemed so insignificant in comparison to Haiti's problems. All of the issues I deal with day to day suddenly seemed so petty. Some of the places we had visited in Haiti left me sad because all I could think of is what they were lacking.

I wasn't sure what to expect on my return to Haiti.  I started noticing the changes immediately. At our first stop delivering water to Cite Soleil, instead of noticing poverty, I saw that Hope Church had been finished and school was in session. There were between 160-200 young students in the newly formed Kindergarten class, including children between the ages of 3-7. So instead of holding two or three children while watching buckets being filled with water and hauled to homes, I handled the water truck hose. There were noticeably fewer children hanging around the water truck that day because they were in school!

Last year when we visited an organization that temporarily takes care of sick infants and toddlers, I saw lots of sick or malnourished children who were crying in the cribs, sometimes with very wet diapers. This year, visiting that same place, I saw tireless workers changing diapers, changing bedding, preparing meals, feeding children, doing endless laundry, while knowing the likes and dislikes of each child and laughing at their antics. I also watched as many mothers and some fathers lined up at the door to see their children during visiting hours, sitting with them, cuddling them, doing their hair, loving them.

Last year when we visited a home for disabled children and adults, some of them severely disabled, I cried. I cried for the children so disabled they could move nothing but their eyes. I cried because some were nearly unresponsive, laying in their cribs with flies buzzing everywhere. This year while visiting these same precious children, I nearly cried with tears of joy. Again, the changes were significant. These same children acknowledged me when I approached them. They waved their arms and audibly laughed when they heard my voice. They were obviously well cared for. The walls were painted with Disney characters; reinforced metal screens had been installed to keep the flies off the children; a pharmacy had been set up in a separate room, which was incredibly clean and organized. The same children that made me cry last year had me laughing this year!

So, are these changes actual physical changes for the better? Absolutely. But the way I "see" things also changed. I see the hard work, the caring hands, the love of God in every place I visit. So yes, Haiti has changed, but so have I. I see the promise in Haiti's future, despite the hardships. I see the drive of the Haitians to be self-sustaining and the tenacity to carry it out. I see God's hand in everything.

By: Wendy Haagenson

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Trust the Lord

Today was an important day as it reinforced what I’ve been trying to accomplish this past year, and I think it’s important that each us strive to find. We each are given talents from the Lord that is far ranging for many reasons. Some know their talents at a young age and I know from experience that it can take some time to find. It was difficult to know and realize we are given these talents with a plan in mind to make each of us the best we can be. Through today’s gospel at mass, team meetings and bible verses confirmed this lesson, but simplified the meaning for me that talents are wide-ranging for reasons we don’t need to know the ‘why’ to; rather trust in the Lord’s plan and adhere to the gift/s he has given you.

The gifts that I’ve been given have been in front of me the whole time and perhaps I tried to ignore them either in fear or hope there would be a better one ahead. Trust in the Lord’s plan and I believe it will provide the opportunities he wants you to have. It’s alright to want things for yourself, but understand this life is to serve by using those talents given to you. I am blessed to be surrounded by so many on this trip who aim to serve those less fortunate. We are all here to serve and to listen to our calling and to do what is asked without question.

Embrace the Lord who is good and do good in his name.

By: Anthony Wilder

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Just go!

As I get ready to leave for Haiti tomorrow, I reflect on my journey to mission work.....
In spring of 2013, I was asked to donate a family photography session for a benefit to help support a couple wanting to adopt a little boy from Haiti (he is still in Haiti). The family who purchased the session are friends of the couple. The family I was photographing was very involved with Haiti missionary work. During the 2 hour session, we had plenty of time to talk about their faith journey in Haiti. They invited me to go to Haiti with their organization, Healing Haiti. In the back of my mind, I thought "yeah, someday that'd be cool" maybe in 5-10 years. I had envisioned doing mission work in Africa since I was a teenager. Later that year, my good friend Eileen signed-up with Reiser Relief for her first to Haiti January 2014. After her return, I made the decision not to wait, it was my time. Fast forward...

Tomorrow, Jamie & I will be taking Alex with us on our 4th mission trip in a little over 2 years to Haiti with Reiser Relief, my first trip as a co-leader with Eileen. I feel extremely blessed that I listened to my call to Haiti. I have learned so much from the people there. My only regret is that I didn't go when I was younger/sooner. I have several friends and family with a genuine desire to go somewhere to serve others. My advice is, don't wait, just "go!". If you don't have money, raise it. If you don't have time off work, ask for it. If you're not sure it's your time, pray about it. Some people go once and that's enough for them. Others have a seed that plants inside of them. That seed can grow depths of roots in each person. If you want to learn more about trips to Haiti let me know. If you or your friends/family are doing mission work somewhere else, I would love to hear about it.