Beth in Haiti

Please join me as we bring hope to a nation in need!

Sunday, April 25, 2010

First Weekend

Wow, it has been a crazy three days and they have gone by like a whirlwind!!! Friday night was movie night with the children- something they look forward to all week and something I will be in charge of while Rachel is in Austin. You can tell which movies have been playing recently at the Hope House because all you hear when nearing the orphanage are High School Musical tunes being sung and it is not out of the ordinary to see kids in the courtyard practicing their karate moves since they have recently seen The Karate Kid.

On Saturday night, we had a Christmas party with the Hope House kids. For three years now, a team from Canada has been filling up a backpack for each child and delivering them during their very own Christmas party. All of the kids call one man Papa Noel (Santa Claus) because he has a white beard, so he was dressed up in a full Santa suit, allowing each of the kids a turn to sit on his lap and receive their backpack. Each child was so excited to get their gifts and two of the older children, Jean Marc and Nicole, thanked the Canadian team with a beautiful song at the end.

Today was my first Sunday in Haiti and my first experience at the Church of Hope. It was beautiful to see all of the Haitian families from miles around come into the packed church to sing and dance as if nobody else was around. After church, I had my first experience riding on a Tap Tap- the Haitian version of a taxi- which is basically an old pickup truck with a canopy built over the bed that people tap when they want the driver to stop. We ate lunch in a town call Source Matla at a restuarant call Gwapapa Poul- Big Daddy Chicken. It was a great experience to see the people in the town and have the children following us yelling some of the only English words they know- "hey you, bring me candy!!" :-)

I have been doing a lot of preparation this weekend because tomorrow is my first day of English classes with the kids!!! I will have four separate classes in the afternoons of Monday, Wednesday and Friday which will include all of the kids ranging in their different skill levels from 2-4:30pm. On Tuesdays and Thursdays, I will have volleyball lessons with the kids. They are all very excited as we are having volleyball poles permanently cemented into the ground at the Hope House tomorrow morning and will have a big volleyball tournament the weekend before I return home. It is precious to see the kids run up and yell "Bef, bump!!!" whenever they see me because they hope that I have brought a volleyball. In addition to all of my classes with the children, the "mommies" (women who take care of the kids at the orphanage) have asked if I would be willing to do a short class with them as well. I will be teaching them in the mornings while the kids are at school and they are very eager to learn.

I have many pictures and videos to share with all of you that might have to wait until I am back home to load- the lack of speed of the internet here has been a problem but I cannot wait for y'all to see these precious children!! Also, please pray for a young man here on a Kansas City team who broke his ankle tonight. He is getting an emergency flight back home tomorrow to surgically fix his leg as it was broken in three places. As always, thank you all for your love and support! I will post pictures as soon as I can :-)

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

First Day Back In Haiti

Today was my first full day back in Haiti and I cannot believe how much better everything already looks after only a month- everyone's efforts are definitely making a difference. I arrived in Port-au-Prince yesterday and walked into an actual airport; not outside benches placed randomely on the cement with people hoping to get a flight, a real airport!!! When I walked into the Church of Hope yesterday, all of the kids turned and smiled and I could hear them whispering "Bef is back!!" It was so heartwarming that they still remembered me after all this time and I cannot wait to get started with my English classes on Monday.

For the rest of the week, I am helping with school in the mornings. God is so good!!!- the first thing the children of the missionaries do in the morning is recite their memory verse for the week before starting their lessons. Ana and Mina, twin girls who are in the process of being adopted and are learning English, got up in front of the class and perfectly recited Jeremiah 29:11, my favorite verse that has helped me through so much this past year. I could not believe it!

I have had such interesting experiences already! I drove an ambulance around the mission for the first time last night because they needed someone who can drive a standard. :-) I am also helping Rachel (who runs the orphanage) plan their "Christmas in July" party for the Hope House orphans on Friday afternoon.

Thank you all so very much for your love and support. All of you have been such a critical part in this journey and I would not be here without all of your prayers!!!

Monday, April 5, 2010

A Miracle For Job

Job in Haiti

While in Haiti, I met a wonderful little boy named Job. Although he is very small and weighs only 36 pounds, his dental records say that he is somewhere around 11 years old. This boy was born with a rare and unforunate disease; an allergy to the sun. Unfortunately, life in Haiti does not accomodate for this sort of misfortune as most Haitians do not have sufficient shelter and spend a majority of the year in over 90 degree weather. On top of his sickness, Job also contracted a harsh staph infection in his eye, eventually causing the loss of the eye and many painful surgeries and procedures.

The pain that Job had to endure in Haiti was almost unbearable to watch as you could hear him weeping throughout the night, crying out for some kind of relief. While the doctors in Haiti did everything they could, they just didn't have the tools necessary to give Job the treatment he needed. After weeks of pain, he was finally given the opportunity of a lifetime! Dell Children's Hospital offered to fly Job to Austin, give him the medical treatment he needed and help save his life.

Job in Austin

Throughout my time in Haiti, I never saw Job smile. When I visited him today, he lept from his bed, greeting me with a hug, a fist pound and the biggest smile I had ever seen. With his infection under control and his nutrition steadily improving, Job was literally dancing for joy when I saw him today. Job's story is nothing short of miraculous. This little boy who would have suffered through a short and painful life in Haiti without proper medical attention is not spreading his contagious laugh throughout the entire hospital and thriving in his new situation. Thank you everyone at Dell Children's Hospital!!!

Initial Trip to Haiti

My first trip to Haiti was one of the craziest experiences of my life. Getting the call asking me to leave for Haiti only a day before departure and flying on a private jet to a third world country are definitely not conventional practices for missions trips. I was warned of the destruction that this nation suffered; but I honestly did not fully understand until I saw it with my own eyes- people sleeping under bedsheets as their only shelter, government buildings crumbled to the ground and mile after mile of rubble piled on the side of the road.

The first day was definitely overwhelming. I felt out of my element in a culture that I did not understand surrounded by people speaking a language that I could not comprehend; but almost overnight I felt a transformation. Without clean water to bathe or air conditioning, I experienced a sense of joy from these Haitian people that I had never known. Not only are the children at the Hope House orphans, but they have also recently felt extreme loss and fear in their community from the earthquake. While they cannot go back to school because their buildings have been cracked and they have lost many loved ones, they are still more joyful than any child I have met. Whether they are playing jacks with pebbles or basketball with an crushed up can, they are constantly smiling and laughing. Although these children had only known me for a few days, they displayed an unconditional love for me: moving me to the shade when the sun became too extreme, looking after my personal belongings if I was busy with a task and taking time to ask me about my life.

I fell in love not only with the Mission of Hope, but also with the children. At this point, I was able to accept an invitation to return on April 20 without hesitation to teach English at the Hope House orphanage and coordinate activities with the children. I am currently anxiously awaiting my return to Haiti but have much to prepare in the meantime. Please continue to pray for me, these children and the Mission of Hope as it continues to bring hope to a nation in need!

The Mission of Hope in Haiti

Mission of Hope has been in Haiti since 1988. It is a 100-acre compound just a few miles down the road from where a mass grave was dug for over 40,000 Haitians who lost their lives during the earthquake. On the compound there is an orphanage, school, medical clinic, nutritional/health aid, church, etc. Before the earthquake, the Mission of Hope fed almost 40,000 people daily... after the earthquake, those numbers leaped to 400,000 and are steadily at around 100,000 still today. Every morning, Haitians from the surrounding villages rush into the gates of the Mission of Hope to receive free treatment for fatal illnesses and injuries that occured during the earthquake (2 months after the fact, some people are just now arriving to get help).

Around 1,200 children come from the villages to attend the school at the Mission of Hope.... These kids are sponsored by Americans who give them an opportunity to receive free schooling, a nutritious lunch and a stable background. Approximately 50 children live in the Hope House orphanage on site and also receive the same schooling. The orphanage suffered a lot of damage during the earthquake, causing the boy's side of the building to becoming unliveable, forcing them to move into the school for the time being.

To learn more about the Mission of Hope organization, what they are doing to bring help to this nation, and how to sponsor a child, please visit their website.