Port au Prince

Port au Prince
"He drew me up from the pit of destruction, out of the miry bog, and set my feet upon a rock, making my steps secure." Psalm 40:2

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Haiti and Kings Garden....you've got a friend in me.

We're back!  We went from Port-au-Prince to Miami to Boston over the course of 11 hours on Saturday. I'm exhausted.  The traveling was tiring enough but the experience of "re-entering" from a third world country to the United States takes the meaning of exhaustion to another level.  Going from what American citizens experience as chaos and unsanitary conditions back to a level of order and sanitation became sliiiiightly preoccupying.

I was not day dreaming about a Whopper or Tall Cappuchino or sleeping in my own bed or getting back into the swing of things, which tends to be my train of thought when returning from a week away. What was running through my mind this time was the undeniable and vast differences between cultures that exist at every turn between Haiti and the United States.  Feelings of sadness and guilt became prominent as I am now aware of the stark contrast between the two cultures.  For example, sadness in that the sanitary conditions of Port-au-Prince are way beyond that of telling everyone to get a bag and pick up the trash on the side of the road.  Living amongst the refuse and debris is "normal".  That saddens me.

Guilt in that many of the things that I am afforded, or want,  or do are indulgent comparatively.  For example, on no effort or cost of our own, a few of us on the team were assigned first class seats on the way home from Haiti.  The power adjusting seats which had a control panel that would move my chair into 20 different positions and did everything except pour my drink.....was just indulgent. So you bet I felt poorly after leaving 30 children who live under "less than ideal" circumstances (my understatement of the year) at night.  And that was simply the beginning of my trip back to Boston.

It is hard to know where to start explaining why things are the-way-they-are in Haiti.  The issues of poverty, sanitation, organization, education, gender differences, corruption, infrastructure and etc ..... are all wrapped together in a more confused fashion than the string inside a baseball.

So I'd rather end my blog by pointing out what was THE strongest impression of the trip.  It was pointed out in a team meeting on our last night in Haiti, that while we experienced difficult issues on this trip, that it would be an injustice to overlook the strength, beauty and joy of the people we saw, met and served while there.  The love, generosity and sheer "life" of the hosts, orphanage children and the people of Haiti truly took center stage on this visit as God was shared through us and to us. What joy and hope still exists!

May my adventure as a follower of Christ continue,

"To infinity and beyond!" -B.L.
Tom Newell ;-)

Worth It

"Do you love me?" This passage from John 21 has often confounded me. Jesus asks the question to Peter three times despite the fact that Peter always has the right answer--"Yes, Lord!" It is almost painful to read, dialogue sounding like a broken record. Why does Jesus ask three times?

This week, I may have discovered the reason. In preparing for this trip to Haiti, I had many fears. Thoughts about all the calamities that could befall us--whether from heat, illness, or safety concerns--at times overwhelmed me. There were moments when I desperately wanted to back out. But I am so glad I didn't. 

God's question to me has continually been "Lianna, do you trust me?" Whenever I face a new, intimidating experience that is the question: "Do you trust that I will take care of you? Do you trust that I will be there with you?" And each time, my answer is "Of course!" I always know--on some level--that He is faithful, that He will bring me through, and that my worst fears will not come true.

Yet in spite of knowing the right answer, the doubts and fears still ring through. Each time I come up against an unknown, I tremble. Then, each time I persevere through the challenges, I see God's provision in even greater ways. I need to be asked "Do you trust me?" repeatedly because through the process, God is growing me so that each time my answer resonates on a deeper level. Maybe it was the same for Peter. 

Having returned in one piece, I am in awe. In awe of how God answered my every fear and made this trip the smoothest our team leaders have ever experienced. In awe of that I was actually, physically in Haiti with people who have been on my heart for so many years. That I got to hold their hands, hug them, make them laugh, see them make me laugh, and have meaningful conversations. 

One such conversation I will never forget. Noel, one of the older boys who spoke English, sat down and talked with me for a long time. I got the chance to ask him whether he thought was worth it for the American teams to come down for such short periods of time. All week I had wondered, "Are we only making it harder by coming into their lives for such a short time and then leaving?" So I asked: "Is it worth it for us to come?" The confidence in his answer surprised me: an emphatic "Yes!" It was hard to say goodbye but absolutely worth it, he said, because if it weren't for the teams coming down the kids would be hanging around all summer with nothing to do. Plus, he wouldn't have gotten the chance to learn English! 

I feel like we did so little this week and the kids did so much for us. But Noel's words will forever echo in my heart. Yes, it was worth it. It was worth it for my sake, to persevere through my fears and see God's faithfulness in new ways. It was worth it to receive love, laughter, and joy from the kids. And it was worth it for their sake, because it made their summer a little more exciting, a little less boring; because they received a little more love, laughter, and joy. 

I am truly grateful and humbled to have been a part of this experience. Thank you to our leaders for making it a flawless trip, to our teammates for creating an incredible week of bonding, and to all our supporters back home who helped make this possible. God is good!


Re-entry, missing routines

We arrived back in the states yesterday with a smooth day of travel.  It was difficult to say goodbye to our friends and hosts and will take a little time to adjust back to life at home.  I woke up on a Haiti schedule this morning, it was around 6am and I missed the stillness of Dr Morqutte's home.  Usually that time found me writing in the semi-dark of the empty living room with Evelyn starting breakfast.  As I wrote, I'd listen for signs that she was ready for help setting the table or signs that the first pot of espresso was ready.  I liked watching the house wake up, the bustle of getting 20 people ready to sit down to breakfast together and Dr Morquette calling us down to breakfast with a song.  There was a song he sang with us before every meal, once to get us gathered and then repeated with us.  It's a sweet song of blessing and we butchered the French ever time but I enjoyed the ritual of it.  I filmed our last meal together and it's posted below, don't judge us too harshly for our singing, it was early and we'd been up late packing.  The translation is, "Lord, You who give pasture to the little, little birds come and bless our food and purify our water.  Amen, amen." -Leslie

Saturday, July 20, 2013


Each time I come to Haiti, I experience a complex array of emotions.  From pure joy to deep sorrow, I pretty much cover them all when it comes to processing everything I experience here.  This year was no exception.

Upon arriving in Haiti, which I shared earlier in the week, I was struck with pleasant surprise at the progress that has been made from last year.  From driving through the city daily to travelling to the beach on Thursday, there has definitely been visible progress that is very encouraging.  But throughout the week, interacting with & observing the kids has reminded me of the complexities of this beautiful land that are very present.  

Last year I got to know a boy at the orphanage who was just genuinely sweet.  He has a wonderful demeanor, and just seems like a great kid.  I might have mentioned him in one of my posts last year because he also played guitar, so we spent a lot of time together just hanging out and playing guitar.  One memory from last year is him bringing up his guitar which was missing several strings, but he still played it as passionately as any regular guitar player.  Fortunately I had an extra pack of strings, so we spent a few minutes changing his guitar strings.  For the rest of the week I showed him a few chords, and we just bonded over the guitar.  Now, at the beginning of this week, I was on the soccer field with the kids when he came around the corner and motioned me over.  He then presented me with a beautiful piece of art that he painted...one side had the Haitian flag, the other had a mickey mouse picture with a to & from section painted on it.  I was taken aback by his kindness and the fact that he took the time to make this for me, and also very humbled.

We found out this year that, since he is 18, the time has come for him to leave the orphanage & head out into the world.  It deeply hurts my heart to think about this.  It is something that was inevitable and had to happen eventually, but it wasn't something that was at the forefront of my mind going into this week.  It's difficult to wrap my head around the fact that, if I am able to return next year, I will more than likely not see him again.  In fact, I may never see him again, and yesterday could have been my last ever interaction with him.  At this point, the only thing I can do is regularly lift him up to God, and trust that He has a greater plan for him.  I have grown in my ability to trust in God during my Christian walk, but this just seems different.  When it's me & my life, it's easier because I at least feel that I can consistently listen to what He is telling me & guiding me to do.  But when it's someone else's life, it's on a different level.  I will pray for him, and I will ask that God will be with him to encourage and protect him on the difficult road that lies ahead.  God knows this boy down to his soul, and has a plan for him.  Going back, I will pray that this plan is able to come to fruition and that he does not stray from the very real faith that he holds in Jesus.

I ask that you keep him and the other orphanage children in your thoughts and prayers in the coming weeks, months, and even years.  They are the future of Haiti, and I believe they have the ability to make this beautiful country into something amazing.

Also, thank you for all of your kind thoughts, prayers, and comments throughout the week.  I think I can speak for everyone and say that out time in Haiti was truly blessed, and we are so grateful to have had the opportunity to serve.


July 19th 10:30pm
Today was our last day at the orphanage/hospital.  I came into today with a bittersweet mixture of emotions that I still am not quite sure how to begin processing it all.  It has been an absolute joy to see the unreserved and sincere love and joy that these children express.  We were able to engage every child from the youngest to the oldest in our soccer tournament, whether that meant watching from the sidelines, cheering for their friends (who might as well be family), or even playing as part of a team.  We even had cheerleaders!  It’s so easy for us to think that this as simple, close to nothing, but for these children, each and every single part meant the world to them.  It meant that they could participate in something, find some meaningful activity for them to be a part of that they otherwise wouldn’t have the opportunity to do, and engage in an activity with people who would actually love them/make them feel loved (something else that is not a common feeling for them).  Throughout the rest of the day, I could tell that all the children kept close to us, willing came to us to hug us and talk to us in as much as we could attempt to communicate with each other, given the language barrier.  I personally loved connecting with 2 of the younger girls.  Even one of the youngest warmed up to me at the very end, coming over to me and trying to physically direct me (one who has shied away from engaging with any of us).  Yet, I knew the time was coming to an end.  I could see pain slowly starting to come through even underneath some of the smiles, laughter, and reserved responses when I told some that I would miss them.  It was hard for me to leave them, but it gives me hope that ultimately it is God who holds them in His hands.  He says to each of these children at the orphanage: “I will give up whole nations to save your life, because you are precious to me and because I love you and give you honor.  Do not be afraid – I am with you!” Isaiah 43:4-5.

July 19, 2013,1050 am
Today is our last day at with the children at the King’s Garden Orphanage, which culminates with a soccer tournament, the concluding portion of the VBS, a pizza party to celebrate all the children’s accomplishments and a goodbye time.  Looking back, we have been very tired upon our return each evening to Dr. Morquette’s home, yet have all been filled with a mixture of joy and groaning.  The joy comes naturally from seeing the enthusiasm of the kids inviting us into their play, worshipping together and having the kids share their hopes and dreams with us.  Groaning comes also during these times though.  One beautiful thirteen-year-old girl shared with one of us that she has friends at the orphanage when they notice that she has candy to share, but her real friends are the foreigners who visit that she can share her heart with.  She shared that her highest desire though was to have a family, and that she prayed every day for this.  We also feel burdened by the everywhere-you-look poverty in the streets of Port au Prince as we drive home: homes consisting of broken cement walls covered by US Aid tarps, three boys kicking a soda bottle around in a small circle, a baby being held on the lap of a motorcycle taxi passenger, a woman sitting on the side of the road with her head buried in her hands. 

The times of sharing that we have each evening help us as we sort out both the joyful and junky things that are in our hearts.  After a time of connecting with God through prayer and worship, we have been privileged to hear the testimonies of how God has worked in each of our lives.  The vulnerable nature of what has been shared and the unmistakable interventions of God in each person have been so faith building and have really knit our hearts together.  We have also benefitted from simply sharing with each other the things that we are feeling.  Also, the ministry of the Scriptures through team members sharing a devotional has been key to keeping our perspective and persevering. 

The theme of the VBS times with the kids have centered on facing challenges by keeping our eyes on God.  Monday’s verse was Joshua 1:9 which encourages us to “be strong and courageous,” knowing that God is with us.  On Tues, we were encouraged to “fix our eyes on Jesus” in order to overcome obstacles in the race of life (Hebrews 12:1-3) and Wednesday’s lesson exhorted us to run our race with everything we’ve got, like a runner who really wants to win (1 Corinthians 9:24).  A heart-stirring song the kids sang for us captures this idea really well:  “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, with all------ your strength."

Today’s lesson (which I will lead momentarily) uses Acts 20:24: “However, I consider my life worth nothing to me; my only aim is to finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me- the task of testifying to the good news of God’s grace.”  Please pray for us as we finish this week, that we would complete the tasks God has for us here, and also that His work is completed in each of our lives for His glory. 

Thank you all for the prayers, financial support and encouragement that is enabling us to do this.  Remember to fix your eyes on Jesus in every circumstance (joyful or junky) so that you too can experience the confidence of knowing that He is with you as you strive to complete your race. 

Friday, July 19, 2013

Crow it like a Rooster

Every morning around 4 AM , even before the sun is up, we have here on our property at the mission---two roosters. One stays on one side of the house (it seems) and one struts around the other side.  Around four AM, one will start their "Cock-a doodle-doing"...and then....the other rooster will answer back with even a  louder "cock a doodle doo." This goes back and forth for about an hour  or so. They only stop when the sun is blAZING  in the sky.  During the course of the day, they sometimes even let out a          screeching "cock a doodle" for no apparent reason at all.

I was thinking this morning that their "LOUD JOYFUL" proclamations of joy, should be exactly what we each do every morning when we wake up--we should wake up not singing "cock a doodle do"  but something along the lines of Psalm 100:
                     "Shout for joy to the LORD all the earth!
                      Worship the LORD with gladness!!!
                      Come !  before Him with joyful  singing...(cock a doodling)
                      Acknowledge thay the LORD  is GOD!
                      He made us, and we are His......HIS!!!!!
                     Enter His gates with thanksgiving,
                     Come into His courtrooms with praise
                          Give THANKS to Him and PRAISE Him!
                  for the LORD is good,
                      His love is eternal
                His faithfulness lasts  forever.

Let us awaken each morning, praising God like the roosters.    Let us break out in song at random times of the day.                                  Judy Mattson

A country of "contrasts"...

Haiti, like many other places in the world, is a country of "contrasts." When we landed on Saturday and passed through the new terminal, immigration checkpoint, and customs at the airport, I was utterly amazed at the progress that has been made in just one year. Since our last visit, the airport was transformed into a fairly modern building with a much smoother running arrival process. It was noticeably improved just since last year, but it is astonishingly improved from when I made my first trip to Haiti in 1998. Fifteen years ago, there was virtually no 'system' for arrival, no conveyor belt for luggage, and a huge warehouse building for a terminal. There is also progress this year on the streets of Haiti. For the first time, I've seen construction workers building sidewalks on the sides of the roads and two days ago I even saw a playground with some children playing on brightly colored swings and slides. Even that seemed hopeful to me- somehow just building a playground conveys a message that "kids matter" and a recognition that it is important to care for children because they are the future of this country.

But, then there days here when everywhere I look I see stark "contrasts" to the hopeful side of Haiti. Wednesday was that day for me - it was a tough, hard, and heartbreaking day. Any signs of hope and joy were simply overshadowed by the hardships of the day. In the morning, an unresponsive man was brought to the hospital  lying amidst gasoline containers in the flatbed of a truck. In the U.S. we use the flatbeds of trucks to carry debris and tires - here in Haiti is was an 'ambulance' carrying a man to the hospital. As I stood there with about 10 other people (including his brother and many doctors and nurses) staring at this roughly 35 year old man in the back of a truck, I was overcome with sadness and helplessness. Things move sllllllowly in Haiti - it is incredibly challenging and difficult to get things done because supplies are scarce, resources are few, and organization and efficiency is extremely hard to achieve for many reasons. So, I stood and watched and waited  with hopeful anticipation to see a man's life saved. And I waited...for things to happen quickly (because my only point of reference is the U.S. where within seconds of arriving at a hospital in an emergency you are swarmed by doctors, nurses, technology...but things didn't happen quickly and they couldn't...and the man lay lifeless in the back of the truck. I walked away because I couldn't stand to watch any longer and I felt like my heart was going to literally break in half watching. Eventually, one of our doctors was able to perform CPR on the man and tried to revive him but it was simply too late.

In Haiti, as in the rest of the countries of the world, there are many, MANY contrasts - in Sociology we refer to many of these as "signs of global inequality" - whatever you want to call them, they are obvious. And, no matter what you call them, the end results are often the same. I think with Haiti though the contrasts are a bit more obvious and stark than in some other places in the world. Here, the line between life and death is very, VERY thin as daily existence is difficult for some and help (getting to the hospital in time, having enough food to eat, etc.) is just not available for the vast majority of people. The line between rich and poor is very, VERY wide as thousands and THOUSANDS of people here do not have enough food to eat more than once or twice a day - and some, barely at all... yet others (a VERY small few) live in large houses and drive fancy cars. And, parts of Port-au-Prince are mind-bogglingly crowded and chaotic yet yesterday was drove for an hour and a half and saw a beautiful beach with palm trees and crashing waves - the difference is, the Haitians weren't at that beach, only foreigner because you have to pay to get in. Contrasts...so many contrasts that it makes my head spin. Despite this being my 8th trip to Haiti there is still so much to process each time I am here and I learn more and more each time I come.

I love this place - I love this country - I love these people- and I love this culture - and I love these orphanage children. Haiti has undoubtedly become "a part of me" over the past 15 years and I am forever changed and thankful because of it. Today will be a VERY hard day for me as well. A day of contrasts as we will hold a soccer tournament and play and laugh with the children for hours and then end the day with a "fete" (party) for them to say our good-byes. Good-byes here are never easy - there are tears, sadness, guilt feelings when we leave, but today is especially hard for me as I don't know when I will return to this place and people I love. I am recently married and our life is in transition and truly only God knows when and if my husband and I will return. The joy I feel to be here and being a part of the children's lives is overwhelming - but, the sadness I feel today about leaving is overwhelming as well. I hold on to a verse that has helped me through difficult times in my life - "For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, to prosper you and not to harm you and to give you a hope and a future." I know that is true because it is a promise from God that he wants what is best for us. I hold on to that promise today and going forward knowing that God loves Haiti, He loves the people of Haiti, He loves the orphans of Haiti, and the poor of Haiti and He wants what is best for them. And today, I hold on and try to trust that He also wants what is best for me...and for you - whatever that may be...
Janese Free Newell
Today is our last day at the orphanage, it is difficult to believe we fly home tomorrow.  Earlier in the week I was walking from the soccer field down to the room at the orphanage where we rest and eat our meals and was amazed by the beautiful mountains in the background.  I don't remember noticing them from last year, either it was hotter and the haze hid them or I simply never looked up.  My view of Haiti has expanded this trip, it's not as overwhelming as it was last year but it isn't any less heartbreaking.  The folks we work with are insistent that we see some of the beautiful parts of Haiti to balance what we see here in the city, so yesterday we drove to a beach for some time to process everything we have seen so far.  It was nice to get out into the country and past the areas where the 2010 earthquake caused physical damage, but it was also unsettling.  There were farms, and soccer areas and bustling markets and busy tap taps and fields of bananas but the homes don't get much larger or any sturdier.  Raw plywood and corrugated tin, but more space in between them.  It looks like so many other places I've visited but that doesn't make it any easier to see or any better.

There has also been so much joy this trip.  Highlights have been watching Judy encourage the children to finger paint her when they were done with their crafts.  Clothing is precious here and the children take pains to keep clean.  They were hesitant at first, and then were completely delighted with their new canvas.  Judy urged them on saying she was too clean, she needed stickers on her face and they gently moved from her clothes to her face.  She finished covered from nose to feet and dried off in about five minutes.  The kids typically come out of their shells during game and craft time but that was the most unrestrained joy I've ever seen from them.

I brought many pictures from last year's trip and got to give those out on a day when it was too hot to move. I was amazed at how totally enthralled the kids were.  They weren't just interested in their own pictures, they passed them all around as if they were precious and they all got back to the right people.  No mocking of how people looked, just enjoying and sharing.

On Wednesday, we were greeted by Noel, one of the leaders of the kids, who told us they all had a surprise for us before soccer.  They had made a beautiful card for two of our team members who were celebrating their second wedding anniversary.  They read a note and had a procession to present the card.  It was a great way to start the day before soccer and annual physical exams on the kids.

I was up late last night sorting through photos, we are making a slideshow for the kids to show them at lunch today.  It's a hard balance of emotions, there has been so much improvement to the city since we were here last July, and yet there are still so many thing where the only response I have is 'this is not okay.'  The sorrow is too overwhelming to be any more articulate than that.  The more I grow to care about these children as individuals, rather than a group the worse it gets.  Below are pictures of some of those joyous moments, I hope you can sense a little of the love we feel for this place and the hopes we have for these people.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Night Sounds

I realized  in my morning devotion time, that last night was a night of many sounds for me.

At various   times , while attempting to sleep, I heard:

           Voices chanting to a  rhythmic beat  and accompanying drumbeats........ men's voices shouting......a woman's screech..............power surges..... the hum  of the fan.......a cat fight....dogs crying and barking and then barking some more...... my loud gasp when I ran into a very large unidentified bug of some sort in the  bathroom.... my expletive as I hit my foot on the ladder climbing to my   upper bunk......a persistent singing  rooster when the dawn was coming up......oh yes! I almost forgot...... mosquitoes buzzing in my ears.

Now  if I woke up in the States, after a night such as this, there is no doubt I would COMPLAIN and groan.
But I realized as I am sitting here that God's promises ARE true for those who believe, name

".I have learned to be content with whatever I have. I know how to live on almost nothing or with everything. II have learned the secret of of living in every situation, whether it be  with a full stomach or empty, with plenty or little. For I can do everything through Christ Who gives me strength....Phil:4"

For as I sit here, even after the night of sleep I  experienced last night, I am NOT tired, or worn out. II am excited, and refreshed (sweating, but refreshed), and excited to be starting another day in Haiti.

This morning I learned the true meaning of "This s the day that the LORD ahs made, let us REJOICE and be glad in it!                  Judy
Greetings from The Mountain in the Sea! The natives here on Hispaniola were exterminated within a few decades of Christopher Columbus's arrival in 1492, but their name for the island was reinstated when the French colony gained independence in 1804. In the language of the Tainos, "Ayiti" (Haiti) means Land of the High Mountains or The Mountain in the Sea.

I think about that as we drive through Port-au-Prince. In the distance I can see the verdant rounded mountains. They seem to form the edges of a bowl, with the city inside. The buildings are all of concrete, and they extend to the edges of the mountains, up, up the side, grasping, claiming a bit more, until in deference to the gradient of the slope they give way to trees. Inside, the city is filled with goats and people and trash and dirt.

Since I've been here, I have been drawn to the older children in the orphanage, since I am able to communicate with them through French. When I talk to the older kids, I want very much to be able to show them beauty and creativity and all the stuff in life that I find amazing. It would be cool to build a quad-copter with them.

Today I led the Bible lesson for the kids. The verse was 1 Corinthians 9:24: "Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it."

It was a great adventure to lead. God was blessing us. At the start, I had a live demonstration: 3 of the older boys ran a race. One of them I had instructed to completely ignore the race and wander aimlessly. The other two were trying to run, but they both tripped and fell down. One got up and finished the race (my young actor was really emphasizing the agony that he was going through in getting up and continuing). The other stayed on the ground.

During the lesson, I was able to talk to the kids directly in French without using a translator. It was like totally awesome!! I was able to convey sincerity and excitement that would have been lost in translation. The kids answered my questions, and a few of them were listening intently. Happy happy Ashley. Pray to God that he will work in their lives and hearts. It is his Holy Spirit that they need more than anything, and it is he alone who makes our work effective.

I had a very interesting conversation with Dr. Junie at dinner last night. She told me that a major problem in Haitian hospitals is their inability to find qualified repairmen when their equipment breaks. Most of the equipment in the hospitals is donated used, and there just aren't people in Haiti with the know-how to fix it. Therefore, they aren't able to use the equipment they have. Dr. Junie sees the need to start a school here to train people in equipment repair. As a mechanical engineer, I was struck by this need.

Demain on va a la plage!


Wednesday, July 17, 2013

It's the middle of a very busy day and I'm taking a quick break from the heat.  Here are a few pictures of this morning's soccer activities with the older children and the goal posts under construction.  The kids are excited by the project and interested in the engineering and construction methods, it's been fun to watch the cooperation between them and our team members.  -Leslie

Woke up at 6 this morning to a persistent  rooster . The thing about roosters in Haiti is that they seem to be strolling  all around. They also  insist on ""screaming" most any time of the day, and not just when the sun comes up. I stay away from them because my mom got chased and bit by one a long time ago.

A pen.  That's what I wanted this morning when I woke. I wanted to write in my journal, and had lost my pen. None were  to be found. A pen is a precious commodity (or pencil) in Haiti.. You lose "YOUR" pen and it may be a day or two until you can get your hands on another one.

Anyway, i couldn't find a pen. It got me thinking. Do you know how many PENS I have on my desk at home? Sometimes so many that I just gather them together and throw a bunch of the "not so pretty ones" out in the trash. I'd give anythng for one of them now, but it is not to be. (unless I i borrow someone else's pen and then I better be SURE I return it.)

The moral of this little reflection  is that I realized today, that as an American, HOW MUCH I WASTE, and take  for granted in my day to day luxurious American  life................a  lousy  PEN...clean water, a flushing toilet, a NON- bumpy bumpy-pot holed studded road----(yes, friends, these roads are even worse than Boston) air conditioning, electricity when you need it..............on and on and on.

This trip is creating n my such a sense of GRATITUDE. I am so grateful for the little thngs that the things I once thought "important" ...are not so to me any more.  I no longer "need" things....God provides for me what I  need at the time I need it.  Life has become much more "God" focused and much less ME focused.......

Thank you all for praying for our team......we are so GRATEFUL....   Judy Mattson
p.s. sorry for the typing errors

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

And so today is Tuesday. Yesterday was amazing day for me. Although in a constant state of wonder and awe that lasted throughout the day,  my moods and mind vacillated between states of  extreme joy and extreme sadness. I laughed and smiled a lot- but then -at one point I retreated to the apartment and wept.
               The children are so appreciative of any attention I/we  show. Be it a "conversation" , a play activity or just holding them in my arms  is so rewarding --more for me then them, I think.  . We have one  set of   one year old twins, Emanuelle and Emanuella, who  toddle around the crowd  throughout the day, who sometimes fall, sometimes cry and usually get picked up and comforted at least once   by everyone during the course of the day. God's face is evident in the faces of all these beautiful children.
                I believed for so long that this trip to Haiti was God's directive for me. There is no doubt in my mind, after being here for three days, that I heard His voice loudly and clearly asking me  to come to Haiti...I am so so grateful I    "did not fear"    and came...... I will never be the same person after this trip, even if I were to go home today.              Judy Mattson

Monday, July 15, 2013

Just a few images from our first full day with the kids. - Leslie

Today was my first day working in the hospital. After seeing a few routine patients, a woman burst into the exam room, holding her limp, one year old daughter. Through tears and terror she explained her daughter fell from the second story of a building onto the concrete below. A quick exam revealed she had a severe skull fracture and possibly bleeding in the brain. In order to diagnosis a brain hemorrhage she needed a more sophisticated hospital with a CT scanner and a neurosurgeon.  I assisted in the transfer and spent the trip praying the child would not stop breathing on the way. After a very nerve wracking drive we arrived at the other hospital, who refused to see the patient because they did not have a neurosurgeon or a trauma surgeon. Even more desperate, we left for another hospital with both a CT scanner and a neurosurgeon. The whole ride the only thing that baby’s mother said was “Jesus”. When we arrived at the second hospital, we were met by an EMT who agreed that an emergent head CT and likely neurosurgery were needed. While the child lie limp and pale in her mother’s arms, the EMT explained that you could not see the neurosurgeon unless you had had a head CT. In order to have a head CT (emergent or not) you needed to pay $200 up front. This was more money than the child’s mother likely makes in a year.  I was absolutely overwhelmed by the injustice of the whole situation. After some negotiation, the hospital agreed to admit the baby and both the Haitian physician and myself promised to do what we could to offset the cost of treatment. Both the Haitian doctor and I left that baby feeling defeated and helpless. The Haitian doctor explained that she often feels this way. That she can easily diagnose disease and make the right recommendation, but more often than not, the family cannot afford treatment. She asked me, “What good is my knowledge and training is if it helps no one?”  I am oppressed by the same thoughts. The poverty here is so oppressive and seems insurmountable. I will, like the child’s mother, put my faith in God.


Day 1: Here we go!

The paper's been set, the stickers in place, and plans for our soccer goalposts set and ready to go! Our first couple of days have been a whirlwind of getting to know Haiti, the Morquettes, the orphans, and our fellow team members. Through bumpy car rides, delicious Haitian meals, and nightly team times, our team is starting to build friendships, and it's been a huge blessing and encouargement to learn pieces of each member's story. But, now that we've settled in, rested, and prepared as much as we can, it's go time!

Today will be our first day at the orphanage and the hospital. The VBS team has plans in place for soccer camp in the morning (led by Coach Tom), then crafts, singing, and a Bible story. And the hospital team? We're not really sure yet- we'll keep you updated! Flexibility is the word of the week, apparently. Anyways, for those of us who have not been to Haiti before, this morning is full of nervous excitement about the unknown (or maybe it's just me). It's been a constant reminder that, though we may never be fully prepared, God has a plan for us here and all we can do is trust in that. Excited to see what He has in store!


Sunday, July 14, 2013


We have arrived!  We got here at around 3pm yesterday and those of us who have been here before were pleasantly surprised by the construction that has happened in the past year since we have last been here.   One part of the training that we have our team attend prior to serving in Haiti is preparing them for the airport as it is not usually the same as our airports here in the states. 

There has been some wonderful progress since last year and this was definitely our easiest airport experience yet!  We were met by Dr Morquette and his driver & then we stopped by the orphanage for a little bit to hang with the kids.  It was wonderful to see their smiling, joyful faces again, and we are ready and prepared for the week ahead.

Today we had a delicious breakfast and then headed to the Morquette’s church, where the picture above was taken.  Then, we were driven around Port au Prince and given a tour by Dr Morquette’s driver.  It was amazing, and encouraging, to witness just how far Haiti has come even from last year.  New roads, construction, etc…very encouraging!  

Just in case you are not already aware, we will be running a soccer camp & vacation bible school program for the kids at the orphanage this week, and we have two medical team members who will be serving in the hospital.  So to make sure we are prepared for the week, we then went back to the orphanage to hang with the kids & get things ready.  There are a few of us who have embarked on a mission to build goal posts for the soccer field we will be using for this week….and they are currently brainstorming & drafting up plans right across from me.  Stay tuned for the pictures & stories concerning these goals!  And the big group picture from the end of the week in front of the shiny new goal posts.  :)

Today and yesterday have both been great relaxation days to get us ready for the week to come.  We will be blogging as much as we can, but we are having intermittent internet issues so you may see several blogs posted at once!

Please keep us in your prayers as we embark on the week ahead, and pray that we continue to listen to God as he guides our words and actions while here in Haiti.


Saturday, July 13, 2013

Almost there...

It's 2am and I have finally given up on sleep.  Our flight to Miami and then onto Haiti is at 5:30am, so we have to be at the airport at 3:30.  Our alarm is set for 3am but I'm creeping around the house trying not to wake my husband.  I feel foolishly like a little kid on Christmas morning, waiting to open presents.  I feel like shouting, "It's here, it's here, I'm finally going back!"  It's no secret to my friends and family that once I've decided something I am not very good about waiting for it.  Patience is not my strong suit.  I don't want to spend hours on planes, I just want to drive straight to King's Garden, see Dr. Morquette and dive into spending time with the kids.

Fortunately God values our journeys and our goals, not just the destinations.  He uses the time to prepare our hearts and minds and bodies for what He has in store for us.  A few months ago I spent time with my cousins and their toddlers.  I'm remember watching them try to move so much faster than their little bodies were capable of, and that's how I feel right now.  I'm trying to quiet myself, to listen to the whispers rather than the shouts, to simple trust.  I stumbled across a photo of the child I wrote about in my blog entry last year.  I'm looking forward to seeing him and wondering if he still clamors to be held or if this year he'll be running around with the older ones.  Until that moment of reunion, I'll continue surrendering the excitement, allowing space for the work I know God is still doing in my heart, work that won't stop when I arrive but will continue after we leave.  Now, it's 2:30am...inching closer to departure!