Shoes

Through the eyes of a 14 year old

My son, Jason, loved our trip to Haiti.  He had a great time getting to know the people and experiencing the culture.  As a mom, it was such a blessing to see how God blessed him during this trip and also how God has used the experience to stretch and grow him for His glory!  Here is the video Jason created, chronicling our adventure:

Posted by Wendy

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Categories: Children, Haiti, Missions, Shoes, Teachers | Leave a comment

A Different Perspective

In my last post, I talked about some of my first thoughts on returning from Haiti, and how I was having some difficulty processing my feelings. After a week at home I was able to sort out some of my feelings, and in the end, had a very different perspective on our trip to Carrefour Poy, Haiti.

Here are a few of the things I was feeling during the trip.

  • Frustration. I can’t solve this problem. EVEN OPRAH WINFRY CAN’T SOLVE THIS PROBLEM. (I actually thought that…) I also get frustrated at “rich Americans” who can seemingly turn a blind eye to the problems of the poor and needy in our world. I call it flipping the channel. We all see it–the devastation that poverty and injustice brings to people all over the world– on television. But if you can’t stand looking at it, you can always just flip the channel.I read a story about a little boy who had an ant farm. He watched them working together, building homes and gathering food, and he grew to love them. And then he was devastated as he saw his friends stomping on some ants. His mother explained that you cannot love what you do not know. I think this is one of the biggest reasons for personally visiting third world countries. Those people you see on the news become friends, and you can no longer “flip the channel.”
  • Disconnect. I felt  a little disconnected from the process. I even felt disconnected from God, which was VERY irritating. I didn’t have the passion that Wendy was feeling. When we ran out of shoes, Wendy was VERY upset about that. I was just pragmatic. I had hoped we would have enough, but the common sense side of me knew we didn’t have quite enough shoes with us, even if every pair had fit every child. Like I told Wendy, “there are 200 kids here, we would have had to have about 400 pairs of shoes to ensure we had exactly the right size for every kid.” That said, I have to admit that I was wrong before we left–those kids have big feet! They are not very big people, so I thought we needed more smaller sized shoes. We will be sending another suitcase soon with larger shoes.

So. The frustration I can get over. I even wrote about it here. You know, that old starfish story. I can’t help everyone, but I can help this one that I see.

The disconnect, that took a little longer to work through. Its funny the ways God chooses to speak to you. Well, at least the ways He chooses to speak to me… a friend called who had actually been to both the places that I have been (Nairobi and Haiti) so she knew in person what I had seen. That helped a little. A sermon by David Platt that I watched on video gave me a few more insights. Then, Saturday night, I watched a YOU TUBE video (and I cannot recommend this video to you highly enough–it was amazing) and I found a different perspective.

The youtube video was an amazing one-man play called C.S. Lewis: My Life’s Journey. It was so well done. The actor portrayed C.S. Lewis sitting and and actually talking to a group of writing students. When he talked about his wife, and the short time they had together, and how mad he was (at God) at her death, he said he finally realized that the three years they had together (she was expected to die in a few weeks and instead had a 3 year remission from bone cancer,) was a gift.

And that changed my perspective. The trip to Haiti was a gift. It went unbelievably smoothly. The difficult physical aspects (no electricity, sketchy running water, ? food) were all easy for me. None of us got sick. I saw one mosquito the whole time I was there, and NO spiders. (well, okay, I saw one small daddy long legs. I see more spiders than that in my own home in a couple of hours.) And this morning I finally put a couple of other things together. That personality trait that served me so well as a nurse, the ability to disconnect, was still in play. As a nurse I always credited that as a gift, as I was able to be truly compassionate to my patients and their parents, and yet I could go home and not think about them on my days off. I believe that this is what allowed me to minister more whole heartedly to my patients without ‘burning out.’ So that hasn’t changed about me. Its not likely to change. That’s how God made me. And that is why, by Saturday morning, on my weekly talk with my brother, we could talk about making plans to return to Haiti.

I can’t leave the subject of Haiti without sharing my favorite memory with you. One of the little girls I sponsor is Elvena. Her mother is dead, and her dad is, well, just plain crazy (I’m quoting one of the locals.) So when I met her on Thursday, she was very shy, not too many smiles. On Friday, we walked around the village, and visited some of the sponsored kids in their homes. Out came Elvena, dressed in her new hot pink and coral Old Navy outfit! And by Sunday, when we went back to Carrefour Poy for church and our last visit, Elvena just kept hanging around me. Big smiles. Not wanting hugging or touching, just being around. And as we left Carrefour Poy (in the only car that even goes to that village!) it was just like a scene from a movie. There was Elvena, still in her colorful outfit, running along behind, laughing and smiling and waving. And as we went on, she came to her road, and turned and ran on back to her home. I didn’t get my camera out for a picture, but I will never forget that. It was a gift.

 posted by debby

Categories: Child sponsorship, Haiti, Missions, Shoes | Leave a comment

Haiti Trip Overview

Our trip to Haiti was an amazing experience.  I have been home now for several days and my heart and mind are still so full of emotions and excitement, that I am having a difficult time figuring out what to share.  If I told every story and every instance where God showed His graciousness to us, this blog post would be so long that no one would read it!

Our team: Debby, Wendy and Jason, checking our luggage in San Francisco, all fresh and ready for adventure.

Our team: Debby, Wendy and Jason, checking our luggage in San Francisco, all fresh and ready for adventure.

I didn’t know quite what to expect going into this trip, but we had certain things that we did want to accomplish while we were there.  We wanted to meet all of the sponsored children, get updated information and pictures of them and have them write letters to their sponsors.  We also hoped to meet the children who have not yet been sponsored.  We wanted to meet all the teachers and see the school in action, and learn about life in the village.  We also wanted to establish stronger relationships with the people who we are working with on this project, specifically, Gilbert and Claudel and others who work at the school.   Although we did not have time to meet every one of the unsponsored children, we did meet many of them and we accomplished all of the other things on our list and then some!

Claudel took us to all the classrooms so we could meet the teachers and children.

Claudel took us to all the classrooms so we could meet the teachers and children.

We also got to bless the school staff with a luncheon in their honor, small gifts to help them as they teach and care for the children, and a small monetary bonus to show them how much we value and appreciate the work they do, thanks to the generosity of our church family.

The teachers looked through the little gifts we brought them while Debby shared a short message of encouragement from Colossians 3:16,17

The teachers looked through the little gifts we brought them while Debby shared a short message of encouragement from Colossians 3:16,17

We brought three duffle bags and a large suitcase full of shoes and socks for the children.  Even with so many, we sadly ran out of shoes before we ran out of feet to wear them. We do have a few more pairs that we just could not squeeze into our luggage, plus quite a few pairs were donated by Debby’s brother’s church in Texas!  We will get the rest of the shoes to Carrefour Poy as soon as we are able.  We also brought gifts from sponsors to their children & little toys for all the kids.

Debby and Gilmine helping a student find a pair of shoes in our little shoe shop

Debby and Gilmine helping a student find a pair of shoes in our little shoe shop

One of the things that made this trip so amazing is that we had the privilege of seeing so many different aspects of Haiti.  We stayed at Pastor Gilbert’s humble but comfortable home in Port-au-Prince.  We spent several days at the school in Carrefour Poy and one afternoon visiting families in the village, walking past several voodoo temples and seeing a little of what daily life is like for these children.

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We drove through tent cities in Port-au-Prince, both the newer & slightly “cleaner” ones and the original, extremely cramped, dirty & disorganized one.

One of many tent cities in Port-au-Prince

One of many tent cities in Port-au-Prince

Pastor Gilbert took us up into the beautiful lush hills to the south of Port-au-Prince where he said the “big shots” live and showed us a beautiful view looking down on the city and the bay.

Port-au-Prince from above

Port-au-Prince from above

Then we headed back down into the hot, crowded streets of downtown Port-au-Prince where you can still see earthquake damage that has not been cleaned up after 3 years.

Damage from the January 2010 earthquake

Damage from the January 2010 earthquake

We visited street vendors and a regular grocery store called “The Eagle”.   We witnessed a baptism in a river near a little rural village,  and spent an afternoon enjoying the hot sands and clear, blue water at the beach.

A beautiful beach in Haiti

A beautiful beach in Haiti

I feel incredibly blessed to have experienced so much in one week in Haiti and to have the privilege of investing in the lives of these beautiful children.  This overview could not possibly cover everything we did. We will be posting a few other blogs with some more specifics about our trip in the near future.

Until then… “Orevwa!”

Posted by Wendy

Categories: Children, Haiti, Missions, Shoes, Teachers | 3 Comments

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