Our trip has finally come to an end.

(Note: Our team arrived home past midnight, so this blog is a day late!)

We woke up this morning feeling saddened at the fact that our time in Haiti was coming to an end. We had one more opportunity to serve at the Lord’s Kitchen before we left, so for one last time, our team went to help the ladies in the Lord’s Kitchen.

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Today’s meal was very special! By cleaning out the remaining funds from our donation, not only did the meal consist of rice and beans with sauce, but potatoes, carrots, onions and chicken, too! Plus, the ladies worked hard all morning long to make an additional huge pot of food in order for all of the students that arrived to be able to eat.

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The ladies of the kitchen wanted the entire team to try a sample in order to see what the food being served to the children was like, so they prepared us a plate to share…and holy moley it was DELICIOUS. The children were in for a serious treat today, and we went back to work to get it ready for them.

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Once we got all 3 giant bowls filled with the food, we brought them over to where the students would line up once more to receive a free, hot and hearty meal.

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Due to the size of the place where we served the children, we could only feed about 85 children at a time before we cleaned their plates and got ready to feed the next group of children. The line formed outside full of excited and joyful students, looking forward to their meal.

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Due to our impending flight that we had to catch, we worked all the way up to the last minute before our coordinator whisked us away and brought other volunteers to feed the remaining children. This time, we were able to walk away from the building with a smile on our face, as we knew that we had enough food to feed them all.

Before we headed back to our rooms to grab our bags, we had a young visitor, who traveled all the way from her school outside of Grace International in order to see her sponsor.

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Chike’s beautiful little girl came to see him during her school break. We learned from the staff that she was ranked top of her class and excelled in her schooling. Had it not been for sponsors like Chike, she may not have ever realized her potential, and the world would have missed out on such a bright young lady rising up.

The best thing that most of these children could ever receive is a chance to get an education, and so many are still waiting for that opportunity.

After we folded and donated all of our clothes and shoes, we packed our bags onto the blue truck for one last time and headed back to the airport.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAs a random aside, what was hilarious to me was that on the way TO Grace International, the first timers were super tense as our driver weaved us in and out of a lawless highway filled with people, cars, goats, bikes, motorcycles and rubble. By the time we were on the way OUT of Grace International, everyone was completely relaxed, taking photos and cracking jokes as we whizzed through the streets. 

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Once we got off of the bus, we gave our friends (and Grace International Boys’ Home “graduates”-turned-employees) Chris and Davidson one more hug good-bye and we made our way into Haiti’s airport once again. Davidson in particular said that he felt like he gained a mother during this trip, and I know Regina felt like she gained a son.

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But once we got through the security gates into our terminal…that’s when things got hectic. Our flight out of Haiti was an hour late, cutting our once reasonable 2 hour layover in Miami’s Airport into a super rushed, barely-gonna-make-it 1 hour to clear customs, re-check in our bags, and go through security all over again.

We encountered some truly unpleasant people working at the airport, some who seemed to intentionally want us to miss our flight, some who confiscated gifts that we purchased legally in a duty-free shop in the Haiti airport, and some that refused to help us at all. Our team did our best to prayerfully keep it together as all nine of us rushed to catch our final flight.

Just like our trip on the way to Haiti, we barely made it as the doors closed, praise God! Unfortunately, when we landed in DC, 2 out of our 3 bags did not make it with us, and it took the group almost an hour to get the Lost and Found agents to confirm that they would find and ship our bags back. When we finally walked into the cold night air in our shorts and t-shirts, it was almost midnight, and we still had some traveling to do to get back to our homes in Maryland.

Despite the chaos at the end of the trip, with such an incredible journey that we had behind us, we truly had nothing to be upset about. We met a girl on our flight from Haiti who had a shirt that made me both laugh and reminded me that no matter what happens, all we have to do is…

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We would like to thank every single person who supported us financially, through donations, in prayer, and with their services. Your giving has not gone in vain, and has change the lives of so many in Haiti!

We would like to thank our drivers, Cara’s sister, Troy Harris, Chris Adornetto, and my parents for driving us at 4 in the morning to send us safely to the airport, and for picking us up and driving us home near midnight last night. We (literally) could not have made it without you!

We would like to thank Whitney Hamilton, the resident missionary staying at Grace International, who coordinated all of our travels and events while on the ground in Haiti. Thank you for helping us settle in and feel at home (even making us late night Haitian pizza)!

We would like to thank Jennifer Gifford and Amy Simms for coordinating our trip from on the ground in Maryland, and for being a support to us when we needed them. We look forward to many more trips, with even greater success in the future.

We would like to thank the Jeune family for their incredible service to an entire nation, and for giving us both hospitality and the opportunity to serve alongside of you. We pray that God will multiply the funds that come through you a million-fold, and that every endeavor you take part in will succeed in excess.

Finally, but most importantly, we would like to thank God for being so good to us and for allowing us to not only be safe and healthy, but changed and better due to this opportunity. We pray that this fire to help our brothers and sisters in Haiti and beyond will continue to burn bright for generations to come, in Jesus’ name.

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This is a long post! Brace yourselves & hang in there!

Last night, I think the enemy was trying to have a field day with us. Someone decided to host a street party directly outside of the Grace International walls, blasting club music at maxed-out speaker volume from 9 pm all the way to 4 in the morning. We all fell asleep praying, and God granted us sweet sleep nevertheless.

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We woke up and watched the sun rise this morning at around 5 am to get ready for church. We had the pleasure of sitting in on a special worship service where choirs, youth groups, and worship teams from all over Haiti had traveled to Grace International’s Church to minister to the congregation with their gifts.

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We were invited to give our greetings from Maryland on stage in front of over a thousand Haitians, who send their love and prayers to everyone back home. (PS: Thank you to Corinne Heiliger for making us beautiful head covers for the ladies in our group to use at church!)

After a few hours into the service, our team got out of our seats to make room for the out-of-town visitors (some who had traveled on foot and by Tap Tap bus for 7 hours) and sat at the church’s outer walls with a bunch of the children from the Boys’ and Girls’ Home.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

We had a ton of fun and fellowship with one another! (Plus, any extra time spent with those kids was a huge bonus in our books!)

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Before we knew it, it was already 1:00 pm and we jumped back onto a van back to Grace Village.

After lunch, our team split up once again to serve in different ways: the women went back to the Girls’ Home to draw with the young ladies and the men went above and beyond in fixing the rest of the toilets and showers in the staff’s bathrooms as well. In addition, they catalogued all of the medical supplies and donations for Grace International! What a haul!

Once we gathered back as a group, Madame Jeune took Stradine and I aside and shared with us a very exciting opportunity for the Haiti Team to partake in: next year, our team has been invited to join Grace International for their annual Christmas event. This is a HUGE deal. This event ministers to 20,000+ children in providing them a Christmas meal, gift, and time to learn about Christ.

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Madame Jeune herself explained her history being a byproduct of missionaries investing in her life. As a child, a missionary from the States would visit Haiti every year during Christmas and (due to the size limitations of the largest gathering space at the time) would invite 10 orphans out of every local orphanage to participate in a Christmas Banquet, complete with food and a Christmas gift. When her time came (being one of 80 at her orphanage) to go to the banquet, she prayed to God that (if He would only provide) she would host a Christmas banquet that all orphans would be able to attend.

And since the mid-90′s, she has hosted a banquet every single Christmas, where no child would be turned away. What started as 5,000 children gathering grew exponentially to 20,000 since last year. Children from orphanages all over Haiti were invited, and would receive a catered dinner (full of chicken, rice and beans, salad, dessert and a drink) and a box with a toy and toiletries for them to have…

…and those children would open their boxes of food, sit down, and cry with relief, joy, and gratitude.

Some of these children would have never seen so much food in one sitting in their lives. Some would ask the volunteers in disbelief if the food was just for them, or if they had to share with the children around them. And many came to know Christ because of the love that had been shown to them by Grace International and the volunteers that helped make it happen.

Next year, our charge and goal is to fund the 20,000 toys for these kids. Fortunately, there is a church (state-side) that annually donates whatever it takes to feed every single child that attends. Last year, they wrote a check for $100,000 to cover the 20,000 meals, and I pray that our church can one day be generous enough to make a difference in those many lives!

After dinner, we gathered as a team to worship one more night together in Haiti. Colin and Angel led the group to share in a time of testimonies of what they experienced, and here are each member’s takeaways from our trip:

Angel – God’s Call to Action

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Angel simply had two powerful Scriptures to share with the group:

Psalms 82: 3-4

“Defend the weak and the fatherless; uphold the cause of the poor and the oppressed. Rescue the weak and the needy; deliver them from the hand of the wicked.”

Proverbs 31: 8-9

“Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves; ensure justice for those being crushed. Yes, speak up for the poor and helpless, and see that they get justice.”

These words clearly lay out God’s call to action on our lives as followers of Christ. As a church, it is time we rise up to be more than just a church that helps ourselves, and instead becomes a defender and provider for those in need.

Colin – A Father’s Heart

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While searching for a Word, Colin found a copy of his daughters footprints from when she was born, tucked in between the sheets of his Bible. It immediately made him think of all of the children in Haiti who did not have those kinds of mementos, baby books, or even parents to call their own. He felt incredibly blessed to have all of these things, and to have been able to give them to his own children…and it also challenged him to do something in order to pass that blessing onto the children in Haiti. He said that he would be unable go home and look at his own possessions and needs the same way again, and shared that he would not waste this trip. Though he originally did not want to go to Haiti, he saw God move in ways here that were supernatural in terms of the opportunities God provided for us to serve. Colin knew that God was in this trip, and that he was called to go. “Wherever you see God move, you need to run in that direction.”

Stephania – Thirsty for Change

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Tearfully, Stephania thanked God wholeheartedly for the opportunity and experience to be able to love on and feed the children in Haiti. It was a charge that she had felt on her life for 10 years, but only recently felt released to pursue. She shared that she had her 3-year-old daughter in mind during the trip, and that she could not imagine her little girl fighting for food every day and not knowing where her next meal would come from: it was not right for these kids to have to live this way, and something had be done. She prayed that the team and the church could continue working together for many years to come, and that God would continue to keep this thirst and hunger to help the Haitian people alive.

Cara – A Messenger for the Children

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It was Cara’s first time down in Haiti and her first time witnessing the depth of poverty that exists there. For her, it was heartbreaking to see people living in sheet metal shacks with garbage at every turn: simply put, she had a hard time imagining how people could even stay alive in Haiti. “People take so much for granted,” while there are so many children that can not even eat every day. She has been praying for God to move her to action and not let her become complacent or comfortable in the busyness of life. Cara expressed her desire to keep that fire of passion burning inside of her, and she does not want to fall into the temptation of making excuses or going back to any old ways. She had initially thought that God would use her through her background in audiology, but after what she had experienced, she wants to be able to use this trip to tell others about what she saw in order to turn their hearts towards Haiti. She understands the importance of being the hands and feet of Jesus Christ, and wants this to happen again.

Stradine – Emboldened to Ask

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Proverbs 16:9

“In their hearts humans plan their course, but the LORD establishes their steps.”

For Stradine, this was her second year doing this missions trip. And after this year’s trip, God has pushed her to lose her fear of asking. Due to differences in religious backgrounds at her school, she had harbored a fear of asking those she knew for funds/supplies, despite them knowing her faith and background. Now, God did not want her standing in the back in fear, and has pushed her to move forward in faith and boldness in asking. In addition, Stradine witnessed how the people in Haiti were very content with their life, despite their situation, and how they continue to be a very strong people. Meanwhile, she commented on how those of us in the States are so discontent, despite having so much. The kids just wanted to be loved and touched and shown the fact that they existed. Humility and dignity: all these children want and need is to be respected and treated with dignity. They just need 3 meals a day and clothes on their back. Stradine noticed that so many people had a negative reactions towards missions trips, but concluded that they will never truly understand how important missions work is until they witness the work that is being done here first-hand.

Regina – Saving the World

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When Regina was called to do missions, she was in the middle of fasting in 2013. She had always volunteered and done what God had called her to do through community service and work. But when she heard God call her to missions, she was very confused: she thought she was doing a lot already back at home, but did not realize that there was a bigger need elsewhere. Tearfully, she explained that she had never imagined being here in Haiti. Once her daughter went to college, her only thought in the beginning was traveling the world. But now she understood that her desire to travel around the world is to be used for a different goal. Her desire for vacation transformed into a desire for vocation in her life, and she was filled with joy with what God has called her to do. Simultaneously, her heart was heavy because she had no idea how much we all took for granted. In the village yesterday, two of the kids she had bonded with had gone to get their bowls and stand in line for the Lord’s Kitchen. When she realized that they had gone, she felt a mother’s heart for them and kept an extra eye out for them, concerned when there was uncertainty there being enough food. She was so thankful that on that day, even adults got to be fed. She was not ready to leave, and wished she could pack up all of the kids and bring them home. For Regina, it was important not to just get involved, but to get family and children involved in order to carry on and continue blessing those who are not as fortunate. Though people have told her that “You can’t save the world,” she declared that she would die trying to save as many as she could, one by one if necessary. If she was not sure before, she is 100% sure now, and can not wait an entire year. “Haiti has my heart.”

Chike – Bringing One’s All

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As a second-timer, Chike clearly identified with what everyone had shared that night. It was so overwhelming, and he was overjoyed to see the transformation and changes he laid witness to since his last trip. He wanted to be engaged and was amped up to see God moving while the team was there. He had even bought and brought specific items in faith, and God had arranged for specific children who had wanted and needed those items to cross his path. Haiti was on his heart, and he was moved to see some of the kids remember him by face and name. One of the older kids even approached him separately to sincerely thank him for what he was doing, and it moved him to put in his best with everything he did for Haiti. “Praise God and all glory to Jesus!”

Justin – God’s Hands and Feet

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Justin was very thankful that he could come on this trip for a second time. Lots of things had been going on in October, so he was worried about having to potentially cancel his ticket. For him, it was great being able to see a difference in the Hospital, the Church, and the campus compared to what he had seen last year. God visibly chose to do something here in Haiti and it truly blessed him. While this was not his first country that he had performed missions for, it was very different: In Japan, the people were wealthy, but spiritually dead. In Ecuador, it was impoverished, but nowhere near as extreme as Haiti. Justin did not want to come just because he felt bad for the kids, or off of an emotion, but because God wanted him to be His hands and feet there. While the team could have just sent money, money was not the same as being able to love on people first-hand. Even though he had always felt “not really good” with kids and did not know how to play with them, kids would flock to him nonetheless just to be with him and hold his hand. And he wants to continue: not only with Haiti, but around the world. As someone not ruled by emotions, Justin confidently sensed that God had placed a mission on his heart to love on His children. He prophecised that even if changes (which are not always bad) come in the future with the team, that things will still be great because God is in it.

Grace – Encouraged and Expectant

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Simply put, I was very happy to see how God has taken Grace International from glory to glory with every single trip. It had been a pleasure traveling with this particular team, especially alongside of my amazing husband! I prayed that God would continue to bring people with hearts to serve the orphans to Haiti, and that a spirit of generosity, love, and a desire to serve the under-served would come upon every person we meet. Next year’s trip is one that will make history for the glory of God! If you can, you should get involved and be a blessing for these kids before the opportunity passes you by!

It’s not too late to DONATE! If you give now, you can take part in helping our team support this year’s Christmas Banquet!

Though I had a couple more things to write, another black-out happened and the power just came back on, so I’m posting this ASAP. There’s also a gigantic flying cockroach staring at me from across the room, and I’m trying very hard not to gag as I type this. I’ve never seen a 2″ long cockroach in person before, and it’s not very pleasant.

Anyways, please pray for our safe return tomorrow! Love you all!

Time is flying by!

Today was exhausting, but incredibly victorious! What a blessing this whole day has been!

Due to our late night yesterday, we ended up holding worship service this morning amongst our group. Cara and Stradine did a beautiful job taking us through the book of Esther and sharing 4 major themes/takeaways with us:

  1. The Preparation of God’s Servants (Esther 2)
  2. The Favor of God (Esther 5, 7)
  3. The Importance of God’s Timing (Esther 4)
  4. God being the Father of Compassion (Esther 4)

We have certainly seen all of these things be true in our lives, especially while being in Haiti. With the mindset of trust in our God for His favor, timing, and compassion, we went into our day with boldness and much expectation.

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The women were back in the kitchen getting ready to provide meals for the children at the neighboring Lambi campus. While Stephania, Stradine, Cara, Regina and I spent the morning cleaning the rice and doing dishes for the incredible women at Grace International’s Kitchen, Colin, Justin, Chike, and Angel were hard at work in the main hospital building, fixing all of the toilets and showers!

Time flew by quickly, and before we knew it, we found ourselves piled (squished) into a Tap Tap and jetted off to serve Lambi!

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When we arrived on the Grace VIllage Lambi campus, we were welcomed with the sight of beautifully constructed buildings and gardens. The village, which was once full of tents and construction sites was now a thriving and complete neighborhood.

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The patriarch and matriarch of the village gathered all of the Village’s children into the new Community Center building for a time of fun and play while we waited for the Tap Tap to return with the cooked food.

The kids were so hungry…not only for food, but for love and attention. We had a blast getting to know them, and they wore us out! :) Chike was able to meet with his sponsor child and meet her brother, who is a staff member at Grace International!

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When the food finally arrived, the children of the entire village lined up to get a large meal. Hundreds arrived en masse!

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And this time, every single person was fed! What an amazing blessing! All of the children were able to leave the community center with a packed meal, and with the food left over, we were able to distribute them to the young ladies/mothers of the Village.

Right after Lambi, we jumped into the Tap Tap again to head on over to the Boys’ Home. We hit a flat tire halfway through our trip and experienced (literally) the fastest tire change any of us have ever seen. Less than 3 minutes, the tire was changed, and we were off again!

Once we arrived at the Boys’ Home, let me tell you…what a difference it was from the Girls’ Home!

At the Girls’ Home, we quietly drew, did puzzles, played with dolls, and jump roped just a little bit. At the Boys’ Home, we played basketball, football, cars, jacks, rough housed, hugged, and ran around like crazy the whole entire time.

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It was so much fun! (And yes, that is Wilkens next to me. I missed him so much, and it was so awesome to see him face-to-face again!!!)

When we got home to our rooms, we pretty much all just collapsed in a heap. We were sweaty, smelly, exhausted, but incredibly happy. After a thorough military shower (in the newly fixed bathrooms, compliments of the men in our group), we all enjoyed a super delicious Haitian dinner and ended the night in worship and a Word, shared by Stephania and Regina.

The focus on tonight’s message was centered around Romans 8 and Isaiah 58. As a group, we are incredibly blessed to have this experience in Haiti, and we have the amazing opportunity to be able to serve the children in need. In Romans, the Word speaks on being “transformed,” which means “to leave ourselves behind.”

After you visit and serve in Haiti, you simply cannot return the same way you came in. This experience truly allows you to become transformed from the inside and out, and taken to a greater level. God’s plan is greater and bigger than anything we could ever imagine…and all we need to do is surrender to His Will.

We are heading to bed early tonight, as we have a 6:00 am church service to attend! Thank you again for your prayers and support! Tomorrow is another new day full of opportunities, and we can’t wait to tell you all about it!

Today was a roller coaster.

We began the day with a tour around the campus, and praise God, we were witness to seeing that all +20,000 tents that were once covering the entire campus were now gone and cleared from Grace Village! This was a miracle in itself, and we were so happy to see that God’s protection over Grace International had moved so powerfully.

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During the tour, we were fortunate enough to visit Grace International’s schools, and were given the opportunity to speak in classrooms ranging from Pre-School all the way up to High School. Having Stradine and Stephania there as native Haitian Creole speakers was a huge blessing, and we enjoyed getting to meet the bright future of Haiti’s next generation first-hand.

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After the tour, we jumped straight into the Lord’s Kitchen to help prepare the meals that would be distributed the local children, and today’s focus was on the students. We were so excited to serve!!!

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As we helped prepare the meal, we were informed that the students had a daily dilemma that they suffered from: while they were fortunate enough to have their education provided for (either through sponsors or parents), that was all they had. Their providers could either afford them a meal or education, and not both. So for most of the students, the meal that we were giving them today was the only hot meal they would get that day.

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And they were all very hungry.

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Simply put, the reason why this day was such a roller coaster was because the amount of money we were able to donate was not a lot…and it was not enough.

Compared to our earlier trips (where ~$10,000-$14,000 was raised), this year’s overall donation from the church was under $2,500, half of which was shared with our other Haiti partners at Beyond All Boundaries.

Fortunately, each team member had also fundraised individually, and by the grace of God, were able to raise ~$5,000 from wonderful friends, family members, mentors, co-workers, and even random strangers who felt inclined to donate to feed the children in Haiti!!! And had it not been for the generosity of those incredible donors, today’s and tomorrow’s Lord’s Kitchens would not have even been possible.

THANK YOU TO EVERYONE WHO GAVE.

Every child who was able to eat today was because of your loving donations, and they will sleep full tonight because of you.

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In the past, we did not have to turn anyone away. But with our donations being half of the norm, sadly a large crowd of hungry and waiting students were sent home without a meal when the food eventually ran out.

Our team left incredibly discouraged. Despite this year’s theme being “Bless the World,” we knew that so much more could have been done and so much more support could of been provided…we cried together as a team and prayed that future trips would not happen this way ever again.

In the early evening, the ladies in our group had the pleasure of going to the Girls’ Home, where we played with and enjoyed lovely one-on-one time with the wonderful girls that Bishop and Madame Jeune took in as their own.

We saw that many new girls had joined the group, and we were informed that when the owner of a partnered orphanage in Haiti had tragically passed away, the Jeune’s personally invited all of the children into their Homes.

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It was a party! And even more-so, it was a great encouragement for us as we bonded with the sweet young ladies of Grace International~

We even got to meet a very special little girl named CiCi, who had been dropped off at Grace International at  1 year of age, near death. According to volunteers, she was emaciated, with worms literally coming out of her mouth. Even after they had nursed her back to health, she had an immense distrust of people and would not open up to anyone…

…but just one year later, she is now a living, (fast) talking, healthy 2-year-old with the biggest smile and the warmest hugs you will ever feel. Grace International is truly doing incredible things in the lives of these children!

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While we were at the Girl’s Home, the men had dutifully unpacked the ~1,000 lbs of donations and sorted them for Grace International. When they had finished, the entire team stood back in shock and awe: the men were able to line the entire perimeter of the donation room in piles of donations. Again, we want to thank all of those who gave and gave in abundance to bless the people here in Haiti!!!

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After dinner, we were invited to sit in on a Pastoral Conference that was hosted by Grace International. We were able to hear a message provided by guest speakers, were honored to be invited by Bishop Jeune to speak and sing in front of the 1,000+ people that had traveled long and far to partake in the event. The worship service went long into the night, and as we piled into the van, the skies opened up and a torrent of rain came down, flooding the streets. We made it back to the campus safe and sound, and despite a few rolling black-outs, were able to close the night in prayer and a time of bonding with one another.

Tomorrow is a new day, full of new opportunities, and we pray that God will use the seeds that have been sown to bless the Grace Village in Lambi via the Lord’s Kitchen, as well as the Boys’ Home, which the entire group will be able to visit!

Please continue to keep our group in your prayers. If we have power tomorrow, I’ll be sure to update again!

We made it!

The team left Bridgeway’s parking lot at 4:30 am to catch our flights over to Port-au-Prince. The day progressed quite eventfully during our very brief layover connecting our flights between Miami and Port-au-Prince: half of our team almost didn’t make it! But between praying our heads off, pleading with the American Airlines stewards, and lots and lots of running, all nine of us made it on the flight, just as they were closing the gates.

As we were pulling into Port-au-Prince’s airport, we all opened our windows and looked outside to see the most beautiful rainbow greet us. It was a humbling reminder of God’s promise, and His hands on us as we were traveling.

Haiti Rainbow

Though the airport situation was still chaotic, by the grace of God, our team gathered all 18 bags of donations swiftly, and exited the airport without incident! It was wonderful seeing friendly Grace International faces greeting us at the door, and as we climbed onto the clanky metal blue bus, we all breathed our first sigh of relief! God is good!

When we pulled into Grace International’s campus, we managed to settle in just before the sun set. As the sky grew darker, we saw with great pleasure that the once over-crowded tent city that had taken over Grace Village was now completely removed! 100% of the tent city’s occupants have been moved into homes, and are no longer living on the grounds in tents! Praise God again!

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After a delicious dinner served by the wonderful women at Grace International’s campus, our team gathered for a night of thanksgiving and worship, led by Angel and Colin. Afterwards, Justin shared Mark 14:3-9 (the woman preparing Jesus for burial by anointing His head with very expensive perfume) and Chike shared Esther 4:14 (Esther being prepared as queen “for such a time as this”).

In both verses, both women were being called to prepare for particular events, for the glory of God. In the same way, our team was being called and prepared for our time here in Haiti.

We are all here for a purpose, and in the same fearless way as the woman with the perfume and Queen Esther pursued, we will not miss out on this opportunity by backing away from what God has called us to do. We will not hold back on blessing the world :)

We worshipped the Lord and expressed our thanksgiving for us all arriving here so safely with all of our luggage and donations. We thank all those who had covered us in prayer. Truly, we were blessed and shown incredible amounts of favor because of the seeds that have been sown into this team.

Tomorrow, we will serve the Lord’s Kitchen and the Girl’s Home (orphanage)! We can’t wait to share with you what we will experience tomorrow!

Here we go!

In 8 hours, this year’s Haiti Team will be heading off to serve Grace International in Port-Au-Prince!

Haiti Team 2014!

Stay tuned for our daily updates! Thank you for your prayers and support, and we look forward to sharing our journey with you all back at home!

What a wonderful trip!

It’s been a week since our last Haiti trip, and the team’s hearts are still left in Carrafour with Grace International.

For a complete gallery to our photos, click on the photo below!

The trip was a huge success, and many lives in Haiti were blessed by the people in the States who donated both items and funds generously!

See the video below to see exactly how your donations made a difference in their lives.

Thank you again for all who supported our team and the children in Haiti!

NOTE: We lost Internet access the other night and weren’t able to update the blog until we got on the plane ride home. We are all fine, tired, but incredibly blessed by the trip we were fortunate enough to experience. Here’s what happened yesterday and today!

Day 4

It’s our last day! And it was a busy one~

We got up at the rooster’s crow and had a delicious breakfast before splitting up into three groups. The first group (Tamia, Jennifer and I) headed off to help the wonderful ladies of the Lord’s Kitchen…

The second group (Peter, Angel and Ronald) went to wheel-barrow supplies back and forth from the office to furnace disposal area…

And the third (Corinne and Sandy) went to serve at the medical clinic.

Everyone had a blast serving: it was hard but rewarding work. The Lord’s Kitchen crew started by cleaning every pot, pan, and utensil in the kitchen. After everything was prepared, we peeled, chopped, and prepared vegetables and got ready to serve heaping servings of homemade spaghetti. The kitchen “mothers” prayed over the meals they made, made us laugh and were nothing short of fantastic. Today, the Kitchen was geared to feed the sponsored children of Grace International (and the rest of the week was paid for and dedicated to feed the rest of the children in the neighboring villages).

Meanwhile, in the Clinic, Sandy and Corinne performed routine check-ups on local families, and helped children battling fevers and sicknesses. After the line of people from the Clinic were all served, they moved on to organize, update, and restock the Pharmacy with all of the donated medical supplies that were sent with our team.

And finally, the men were sent to perform some hard labor out in the field. They wheel-barrowed boxes of supplies in the sweltering heat, to safely dispose of potentially hazardous materials. By the end of the session, they had soaked through their clothes with sweat and dust, but they finished what they started and did amazing work.

After lunch, it was time for the Lord’s Kitchen. Some of us focused on giving away the rest of the donated Crocs to the students and the staff’s children while others entertained and got to know the children that came through the gates.

We began to run low on food as the last 50 children arrived, and the women who work the Kitchen put in their own food (which they were saving for their children/families) to make sure that everyone got fed. When we saw their sacrifice, the team pooled together funds and gifted what we had in our pockets for each of the 5 mothers, in thanks for what they did.

The children were bright, grateful, and full of potential and it was a blessing to serve them.

After we washed up, we jumped onto an open truck and held on for dear life as we whizzed through the streets of Haiti to visit Grace International’s new Grace Village. When we arrived, we were greeted by a swarm of children, who grabbed our hands, climbed onto our backs, and proudly escorted us through their neighborhood.

Grace Village is a rural campus that Bishop Jeune purchased in an effort to relocate and better families that used to live in the tent communities at Grace International’s medical campus.

These 70+ families are hand picked to live there. They have jobs, families, and are taught how to build the houses they live in. As we toured the campus, residents proudly showed off the humble homes they lived in, and we were humbled by their hospitality and bright demeanors. At first glance, all we saw were tiny, over-heated homes, with very few belongings…but when we saw their joy at having their own place to call home, we felt at home as well.

After the tour, we were given the opportunity to play with the children and hand out the hundreds of candies we brought with us. Children were overjoyed, but desperate to collect as many as possible, and many of the members were overwhelmed by the helplessness they felt at what they saw. The children had tattered clothes, most were shoeless, but all were full of love and joy. It broke our hearts.

As we boarded our truck to head on back, the children asked if we could take them with us…and that’s when several of our team members broke down. We quickly drove away, and the feelings that welled up in the hearts of the team burst. On our way home, tears were shed, people were heartbroken, and when we got back to the campus, we had a serious discussion on what we just saw.

The sadness we felt was righteous sadness. The poverty that we saw broke our hearts because it broke God’s heart. The anger we felt was righteous anger because children SHOULD NOT STARVE.

It was a painful but eye-opening experience for everybody, and we are all better for it.

Day 5:

Before we left the campus, we had the opportunity to visit the schools at Grace International and give a little speech to the children. Bishop and Madame Jeune prayed over us and we were on the road home!

The ride to the airport was certainly bittersweet. Everyone left with a child on their heart and a mission in their spirit. Several of our members were even able to sponsor a child that they met. What a blessing it was to leave our hearts in Haiti!

Thank you to all that prayed and financially supported us! We can’t wait to organize the videos and photos we took and post them for all to see~

Love your faces. Bon nwit!

Worship worship worship!

Today was full of it~ And it was so good.

I almost forgot to mention, but yesterday, at the crack of dawn (5 am), Peter held a seminar for the Grace International Security Personell. He gave them an hour long session where he taught Tae Kwon Do and self-defense techniques for hand-to-hand combat, and they had a great time learning.

Despite one incident where a security guard got accidentally punched in his face by a partner, everyone was all smiles at the end. (The funniest part was when one of the security guards asked Peter if martial arts fights went down just like the Bruce Lee movies, and Peter had to gently dispel that myth.)

This morning, we got up around 5 am to the sound of roosters crowing. After a flashlight-illuminated breakfast, we hopped onto our bus and headed over to visit two churches with Grace International as Bishop Jeune’s guests.

During both services, we were able to sing and lead worship in Creole (the congregation was very gracious in our butchered version of their language), and we had a great time hearing the testimonies of the church.

One woman came up to the pulpit with her husband and shared her story. She was pregnant with her first child when she experience incredibly painful birth pangs. She was rushed to a nurse, but the doctor wasn’t anywhere to be found. After pushing for what seemed like a pain-filled eternity, she completely ran out of energy once she heard from the nurse that the child was dead in her womb.

She cried out to Jesus for mercy and prayed that He could save her life, even if her child was already gone. And at that moment, she gained unexpected energy to push and the baby came out. To the nurses’ surprise the baby was alive! And the mother was fine as well.

When the doctor finally arrived, he was speechless. When he assessed the situation, he let the woman know that the baby had been dead in her womb for two days, which sparked the birth pangs and prevented her from pushing. And she should have been dead. But God answered her cry for help and saved her and her child.

We led worship at both churches, and left with hugs, smiles, and kisses from the elderly ladies and children of the congregation. It was a wonderful experience, and we were blessed to have been there.

After church, we freshened up (the boys were drenched from having to wear long-sleeved button ups with ties) and then headed on over back to the church to hold a evening worship seminar.

Ronald and Angel did a beautiful job sharing their knowledge and experience in worship ministry and also gave the bright young worship leaders/musicians practical application points to use in their own day-to-day ministries.

At the end of the night, we met up with two other groups visiting Grace International (EMI – Engineering Ministries International) and Solid Rock’s Forward Edge and shared dinner and one last worship session before heading off to bed.

Tomorrow’s a big day! We’ll be working at the Medical Clinic, doing some good ol’ fashioned hard labor, and serving at the Lord’s Kitchen!

Thank you for your prayers and support!

To be continued.

Today was awesome!

We had the opportunity to visit the boys’ and girls’ home today and it was a wonderful experience. We were so blessed!

The boys’ home was the first place we drove to, and they were so full of energy and love! We spent hours listening to them sing, watching them dance, and playing with them. The shoes that were donated were a huge blessing and almost every boy left with a new pair!

What blessed us even more was seeing the wonderful character of these young boys: the older children, whose feet were too large for the donated shoes, were so kind and gracious. They didn’t even blink an eye at the fact that they couldn’t have their own pair, and instead made sure the little ones had theirs.

I got to see Wilkens and Chris again, and it was a happy reunion! We bonded with several new boys, like Andres (the class clown and “big brother” of the group), met with the widows and toured the campus. We fell in love with the boys, and had a really really hard time leaving. And when the time came for us to go, every single team member left with a certain child on their heart to continue supporting and praying over.

After a delicious lunch, we headed out to visit the girls’ home. The girls were much more demure, and the little ladies took their time choosing the color and right size shoe to leave with.

They played with the donated jump ropes, stickers, markers and paper, and sang for us. They made us laugh, cry with joy, and the second goodbye was even harder than the first.

We will continue to support these children, and ask that if you feel in your heart to support a very bright child with lots of potential, to go to Grace International’s Website and sponsor a child!

Love your faces! Thank you for your support and prayers!

A Cartoon Stuck in a Real Girl’s Body

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