Saturday, July 16, 2016

Haiti - July 16-23, 2016 - Teacher Seminar and VBS

July 17, 2016

Happy Sunday, everyone! :)

We started out our morning feeling refreshed and ready to take on a new day! Our morning started out at Saint Marc church where we got the priviledge of worshiping with our Haitian brothers and sisters and also spent some time playing with the kids!  Some of us got to reunite with old friends, which was also a lot of fun!

After church, we went to MPCA to watch our first class of students graduate from the Mission Possible Teacher School! The ceremony was very well attended- there were many proud family members and friends who were there with their cameras and phones to capture the exciting moments! Tracy and Pastor Moise both gave speeches, a group of young men performed a dance, a young boy sang a song, and a lot of other special performance were given which made for a very high-energy event!

This afternoon we have gotten the chance to swim in the ocean and just hang out with each other. We're excited for a big week ahead and are looking forward to seeing what God has in store for all of us!!

July 18, 2016

 I have so much to say yet don’t have any idea where to begin, so I apologize ahead of time for any rambling. ;) There have been so many emotions coming into this trip for second time, both similar and new. We have been able to experience some eye-opening things and build many beautiful relationships, while also re-kindling some old on this trip already, even though it has only been the first official day of working with the kids. After a nice day of church and hanging out with the team yesterday, today we headed out with eager hearts to our first school, Chardene. There were five different stations and I was placed into the music/instrument group with Mallory and Kaitlyn. Woah, the kids sure do love their music! The energy they have and their passion for praising the Lord overwhelmed me; they were so passionate that we ended up with a few broken instruments (wooden sticks and wooden desks is not a good idea). This passion and love just forced me to take a step back from dancing and just take it in. God is so good. His love can be expressed in everything that happens around you and through the people that He gives you. After the school we ended up at MPCA school and painted chalkboards in four different rooms and just fellowshipped with each other. Last but not least we had the very much-anticipated Haiti vs. America soccer game. We were able to wear team shorts and look like an actual team, and according to the guys we were not allowed to lose… but we all know how that ended ;) After the game it poured down rain and instead of taking cover we all ran out on the field and took advantage of the moment to cool down and play some mud soccer in the middle of the mountains. So simple, yet so memorable. Thank you, Jesus, for delighting in giving us little things like that to enjoy. Overall, I am so so excited to watch how God chases after hearts and showers us in love the rest of the week and I appreciate all of the prayers! 
-- Erin

Hi everyone! It’s Claudia! This trip has been so amazing and it’s only day two! Yesterday we went to church, then came back and rested in God’s great ocean! The people and the ocean definitely made yesterday very beautiful! My heart was overwhelmed. Today was a day stuffed with blessings! We went to the school, Chardene, and had day camp with the kids, which consisted of crafts, games, soccer, Bible story skit time, and music! As we walked into the school, we saw these six kids playing soccer with a nut/small fruit.  Two of the boys were even wearing pink shoes. Wow. My thought was that we are so selfish. We think if we don’t have a “real” soccer ball that is blown up all the way, that we can’t even play a game, but they find a way! It truly inspires me! During camp, it’s amazing how much the kids love you, even though they just met you. They would want on your back, play some games, or even just a hug. They were so awesome and so beautiful! When camp was finished, we went to paint some chalkboards, then to play some “football” (soccer) against the Haitians! After we got creamed, the rain came down right after the final whistle.  Some of the team and I played some soccer in the rain and it was a blast! Definitely a moment I will never forget or even experience again! God is so good! I’m ready for the rest of the week and can’t wait to see what God has in store! -- Claud!

July 19, 2016

Today is our 4th day in Haiti and of course another beautiful day. We traveled to the school of Dupin. To get to the school we had to take about a 40-minute hike up mountains, past rivers, and through banana trees. Although very slippery and wet on the way there, it was one of the best hikes I have been on. Once at the school, we started our usual routine of day camp with the kids. Today I was assigned to be a leader of a group of about 15 kids. My group was very diverse in age from 1 year old to about 11 years old. The majority of my group was girls but included two guys.  As a group leader I was in charge of making sure the kids stuck together and got to visit each station. There were five stations each having a different activity. Activities included soccer, bible skit, crafts, music, and games. My kids had the most fun in the music station, which Drake and Chase did an awesome job with. Overall the camp was a great experience and opportunity to share the word of God with young children.  In the afternoon we traveled to the MPCA to paint their chalkboards new again. After painting we came back to the mission center and took a swim in the ocean.  So far this week has been a very eye opening experience. One of the things that really hit me was Sunday at church when offerings were collected.  It was awesome many people who struggle to get through with daily life are giving to the cause of God. Another thing is that the fact that we can’t use our phones on the trip-- it has been a really good thing when it comes to building relationships. On this trip I have had some of the deepest conversations, arguments, and most fun with a group of people than I ever have had. I have grown so close to these people and without distractions, people interact so much better. Hopefully the second half of the trip goes as well as the first half did.  God has blessed this mission team and continues to by giving us the chance to share His word. The people here have been very friendly and although I do not understand their language, it is fun to interact with them. 
-- Corey

It is nearly impossible to put into words the joy I am experiencing, and have been experiencing, here. I can honestly say I have never smiled as much as I have been smiling these past few days. My cheeks actually hurt, because of how much I have smiled. The kids are so amazing. The hardest part is leaving the schools each day and I am dreading leaving Haiti already. I feel so broken knowing how they have so little yet they are so, so happy. They are some of the best people I have ever met. I am so blessed to be able to come here and serve with the people on this team. I am already building so many great friendships. It is pretty funny because everyone on this team is mostly from Ohio and I am the only one from Minnesota. They tease me on how I have an accent and say things differently than they do. I don’t mind at all though, haha! I got involved in this trip from my cousin Erin. She asked me a while back if I would like to come. Of course I did not hesitate, and next thing you know, here I am having the time of my life serving God and others. It is absolutely the most rewarding feeling seeing the kids here smile and laugh. In my picture you will see a few of the girls I met today. They are such sweethearts and have the cutest smiles! I know little to none of their language, and same with them for English. But it is easier than I thought to communicate whether it is through words or actions of love and kindness. I am so in love with the people and this place. It just feels so right to be here with people who love Jesus and want to serve others as well as I do. I have always wanted to go on a mission trip and my dream has come true. Here in Haiti is my first mission trip and it is better than I ever imagined.
-       -- Mallory

It is great to be back in Haiti training the Haitian teachers at their annual Teachers’ Seminar.  As the “grandma” of the group, I would like to take a moment to brag on my kids…and your kids.  Though I have not been with the youth during their morning sessions, I have been able to watch them work without complaining in the afternoon to paint chalkboards at the MPCA school.  I was so excited to know that our group would be painting the chalkboards, as it is a primary tool that the teachers use.  The typical classroom has a map and a chalkboard.  In one room I noticed that the map had been worn and torn and a resourceful Haitian mathematics teacher had used even that space to draw the graph of the algebraic equation of a hyperbole.   Isn’t Algebra difficult enough to learn and teach, let alone if you are limited on space, paper and chalk?
     It has also been a pleasure to see our teenagers independently studying the Word of God, journaling, praising and praying.  Many truly have a heart for service and I am praying that God will continue His good work in each one as most are at a time of their life when they are seeking God’s will in their education and subsequent careers. 

 -- Jeanette

July 20, 2016

Saturday night was my first night in Haiti.  I’ll admit my first impression wasn’t quite what I expected. It’s now Wednesday night, and I’ve completely fallen in love with this beautiful country and it’s kind, passionate people.  Vacation Bible School has been an amazing experience filled with incredible joy. The children are so ready to accept the love we offer and to learn more about their Father in heaven. As a complete stranger in this land, I have been continuously astounded by all of the welcoming smiles, hands to hold, and hugs to give wherever I am.  Today we took a bumpy ride to LaHatte… a very bumpy ride. We walked through the community in order to find enough children to have the Bible School session. The day was exhausting yet so rewarding. After the last session, a young girl grabbed my hand and we walked over to the water station. While waiting in line, I ended up asking her whether she knew of Jesus or not. (Yes, I have picked up a few Creole phrases… thank goodness.) And when she nodded yes, I bent down to eye level with her and told her that Jesus loves her and that I love her. She fell into my arms with a huge smile, and I praise God for my experience with this one little girl from the small community of LaHatte.  This is a wonderfully simple example of how God shows us that even when there is such great need, loving just one person is enough. 
-- Lauren

Today we traveled to LaHatte. The children in LaHatte are unlike any of the children we have had the opportunity to spread God’s love to. Many of these children were extremely malnourished and unwilling to participate because of it. This made everything more difficult and frustrating, which caused me to forget that I am not here for me and my wants and needs, but I am here for them. Today I was a leader at the station where we act out stories of the Bible with the kids. It was the last group to go through the station and we had gotten done with all of our skits early, so me and a 12-year-old girl were playing a hand shake game that they taught me. Unlike the other kids she was extremely willing to listen to everything I had to say and participate. After the station was over our group went back into the meeting area and on the way back we were holding hands and laughing and she said something to me, (but I couldn’t understand because it was in Creole) so I had a translator help me understand what she said. She said that she wants to be just like me, and this is not what I was expecting. I was shocked actually, I asked why and she said because she wants to have the opportunity to share God’s love with people everywhere just like I am. That conversation made me realize just how important what we are doing here in Haiti is. We are impacting and changing the lives of so many people around us. Her saying that made everything worth it, and made me understand just how happy and blessed I am to be here sharing God’s love within the Haitian communities. 

-- Eve

July 21, 2016

This morning part of our team did VBS with the kids at Degeance (and hiked up the mountain even further to see some incredible views!), while the other part of the team finished up their Teacher Seminar at MPCA!  Later this afternoon, we got the unique opportunity to get together with some Haitian young adults. We spent time eating popcorn, sharing testimonies and asking/answering questions that we had about each others' culture. Our team was totally surprised when we were each given a hand-made bracelet that had our name personalized on it! So thoughtful and kind!! We are constantly overwhelmed with the selflessness of the people here and the love that we are shown. Below, Griffin and Abbey shared about why this day in particular was extra special for them! Thank you for continuing to pray for our team; we can feel them all the way here in hot Haiti! :) 

Unbelievably, since my first trip to this beautiful country last July/August, I am now on my 4th trip here.  The amount of opportunity that God has provided me in past year in regards to opening doors and affirming His plan are truly, and denotatively, awesome. I’ve been blessed with a future career path that fits both my passion for missions, and my desire to create. The most miraculous of these opportunities has been my involvement with the upcoming change occurring with the school in Degeance. Although I have only had one year of architecture schooling, I was handed the responsibility of designing a new school compound for this community. Considering the current school we visited today is high up a mountain, and consists of banana leaf huts, being able to be apart of the process of giving these kids and staff a new, expansive facility to work with brings me overwhelming joy. Additionally, this trip in particular has allowed me to notice how much spiritual growth I have developed in just the better part of a year. I have been able to have theological discussions, and advise people on many varying topics, things that I could not have previously done.  In closing, I love this country and I love this team. God’s will is, at this very moment, being done here on Earth as it is in Heaven.
-- Griffin

Bonjour Mama! (oh yeah, look at me using some Creole).  Nothing that I write will do this day justice, but I’ll give it a shot! Today we hiked up to Deagance, my favorite school in all of Haiti.  The school is in the middle of the trees, on a mountain, in the middle of nearly nowhere.  The kids traveled from all over the hills in order to come to VBS, walking up with nothing but a smile on their face, ready to learn about Jesus. 
                               I’m so in love with the fact that I can be sitting next to a Haitian child, nearly completely incapable of engaging in an actual conversation with them, and yet am able to smile, giggle, and play together! In January when I came to Haiti, I met a little boy at this school that I fell head over heals in love with. Coming into this trip, I wasn’t expecting to see the little guy because I had heard he was really sick. To the delight of my heart, he was there! I got to take pictures with him, and run with him as we played ring around the rosy. I was so incredibly happy to simply see my little boy. This week, we’ve taught the kids that we are all children of the one true King, making us all siblings in Christ. I feel so loved knowing that I get to have these kids as my brothers in sisters. Being a hand for God to love and encourage them to grow closer to Him is the best thing I’ve ever been able to do. 
                               I’ve learned that when we are truly serving Jesus, it often won’t make much sense to the rest of the world. Does it make sense that a group of young adults would give up a week of their summer to come to Haiti, willingly, in order to work? Does it make sense that young kids will let a stranger pick them up, or will sing and dance with no limitations together? Furthermore, does it make sense that when I expected to be serving God beyond the point of exhaustion, I actually feel more alive for God, and exceptionally loved by Him this week? He provides for us; He loves us; He delights in our hearts.  The idea of taking a missions trip, and coming home feeling like you received more from God than you were able to give to Him, is not something you’d expect. Glory to God, because without Him, I would not have been able to stand in the middle of the forest, on the top of a mountain, holding the same little boy I met months ago, spreading the love of Jesus!

-- Abbey

July 22, 2016

Today was our last full day in Haiti, and boy was it a good one!! We did our final VBS camp at Saint Marc and had a great turnout from the kids! One of the best things about this group was watching how well everyone worked together. The morning was a little bit different than the other VBS camps have been and we had to figure out details at the last minute, but our team rolled with it and was super flexible! We finished up painting chalkboards at MPCA this afternoon and then had some free time to swim and just be together. We even had a special event later on in the afternoon! Our teacher group also had a good day, joining us at Saint Marc for a while in the morning and then visiting a few other schools!

Tonight as we gathered for devos one final time, some of us took turns sharing where we have seen God working throughout the week. It was neat to hear different things that we'd experienced, conversations that we'd had, and areas that we've seen ourselves be stretched. Thank you for covering us in prayer this week; we all look forward to sharing stories once we get home! :)