Tuesday, August 27, 2013

All Dough Flies in Haiti

Although the team left yesterday, I've stayed on to concentrate on bread and the wonderful bread oven that we began to use this week at Grace Village.  It is hard to find words adequate to describe this experience. Serving here has been like nothing I have ever done. At the end of the day it seems to me that all our work and perhaps our whole life comes down to relationship.

First our relationship to God. The cross has two directions and the first I think is vertical. Perhaps we can think of it as up toward heaven or perhaps we think of it as that which is so fully grounded. God can. Time and time this week, things worked out that could not have if only facts were considered. Things worked out that should not have. We arrived at the oven to bake for the first time and it had not been lit. A team member used a hair dryer as a bellows and in 90 minutes the oven was 400F. Another day we made 80 pizzas with the children at Grace Village, enough communion bread for 300, and bread  to share with the other team and the long term missionaries; then left to go move elders into better, more stable housing. Yes, one day. We worked delivering water at two sites one day and at the second site the line was so long it seemed no one of us thought there could be enough water for everyone. There was enough. Time and time again it seemed surely we would run out or just get too tired. Time and time again God showed up in the form of a song or a smile or a hug.

It is all about relationship and our meeting the desperate poverty of "things" in Haiti with enough openness to see the vast "richness" of spirit and joy. It's all about relationship and digging in with people you didn't know who become friends and who become a family in an extraordinarily
short time. It's about relationship to the land of Haiti by seeing it's beauty through the veil of poverty. The land is beautiful and I wonder if Haiti is more broken than my own country or just broken differently?

I am a baker. My hands have developed a relationship with the process of coaxing food from grain, water, salt and yeast. My familiarity with bread was changed through the Haitian climate and the ingredients and I am still learning.  There is a process in baking called a pre-ferment; a way to start a dough early and get it's flavor to be deep and rich. One such ferment is called a poolish and you can speed it up and create a "flying poolish"  (no kidding i'm not making this up)...but I found that with Haiti's heat and humidity, all of dough I've made have been "flying" :).  And so we start again developing a  relationship with what we thought we knew so well. We do not come to Haiti with answers.  We come to serve and to learn.

Strangely we come to Haiti for our own healing too or perhaps that just happens when we allow ourselves to be open and transparent. We find that when we strip away the ball games and malls and all our petty insecurities there is a Love that really does transcend all we can imagine. 

God bless,

Saturday, August 24, 2013

A Day I've Been Dreaming Of

Often when I’m in Haiti, I pray for the time in the day to be multiplied.  Especially on a day that required hundreds of volunteer hours, multiple training sessions and thousands of dollars in donations to pull off.  God delivered!
To back up a bit…..since my first trip to Haiti, my holy discontent has been that there are not enough opportunities for people to support themselves….to have the dignity of paying rent on time, having enough food each day or even paying for school for their children or grandchildren.  Then when I became ElderCare Advocate, I fell in love with each of the elders in our program.  So many of them are perfectly capable of working and every time I visited they asked for the only things they knew of….goats, chickens, candy to sell, etc.  Some of those things have been tried in the past, and I knew it wasn’t the answer.  Slowly, God provided the answer through people He put in my path, donations that came in and an amazing team that came together for our trip this week.
The day started with a talk about poverty….not just their poverty of material possession but that every person in the world has poverty of some kind.  My first trip revealed that I had poverty in my hunger and thirst for God….it was nothing compared to that of every Haitian I encountered.  So we talked about this verse:
"Know the hope to which God has called you....and His incomparably great power for us who believe.  That power is like the working of His mighty strength, which he exerted in Christ when He raised Him from the dead."  Ephesians 1:18-20
We talked about how Gods power was in each of us to change poverty throughout the world.  That I could help them with their poverty as they have helped me with mine.  That God can move mountains and that we can overcome!  We talked about the crafts and bread that we were going to teach them how to make.  While they started out unsure that they would be able to make these items, Brunet convinced them that while it would be difficult at first, they needed to persevere and learn from all the “blans” that had come to teach them. 
And so away we went….each elder (and some of the daughters that live with them) picked which craft they wanted to learn and we got to work:
Laura teaching Lauramise how to make rings.
Here, Michaela and Amy (and Emmanuel) taught beading…..this was the most popular craft…..and they made some beautiful pieces!

Marcy and Pouchan teaching Camisane how to make baskets.

Amy teaching Elie's daughter how to make a crocheted tshirt bag.
An unexpected surprise that God provided was that some of the older children at Grace Village were amazingly good at creating these pieces.  They jumped in as translators and helpers to our elders.  We hope to continue this in the future as a way for the older kids at Grace to have a job and serve the members of Titanyen. Here, MarieTerez is learning how to make bottle caps (recycled from the guesthouse) into earrings and keychains.

MarieDeloude, who can only use one arm because of a stroke, was able to make stamped notecards.
Meanwhile, out at the pizza oven, Ross, Calvin & Tim were teaching Pierre & Ofhane how to make bread to sell at the market.  They were amazing students and each had at lease 2 dozen pieces to sell!  (although Ofhane was trying to give away some of his, we quickly taught him that he must charge money!)

Pierre with some of his finished loaves.
At the end of the day, the elders who made crafts were paid for the pieces they made.  (And the pieces are now for sale in the new gift shop at the guesthouse!)  Some were speechless and almost in tears.  Others, like MarieDeloude, who has not been able to send her girls to school…..can now do so!  We even provided them lockboxes that will be kept safe at Grace Village, so that they can safely save their money for school or rent.  Some chose to save it all, some saved a little and some needed it right away.  The only thing we didn’t pay for was the bread, which the elders took to sell at market today.  I haven’t heard the outcome yet, but am excited to see if they sold everything!
We had time at the end of the day to deliver one more income producing item to Lindor, a man who had shined shoes in his younger days.  We brought him a brand new shoe shine kit with polishes, brushes and rags.  He was speechless and had tears in his eyes.  It melted my heart.  He invited us into his home where we got to see his old shoeshine box that he could no longer use.  What a heart melting moment.
We had heard that Marie was worried about the cracks in her home and that snakes would come in.  We brought spray foam insulation and sealed up the cracks.  Calvin even saw a baby snake in one of the cracks!
Theft has been a big problem for our elders.  Tim on our team is an industrial designer and designed a lock for their talking bibles.  He used a cable to attach Marie’s bible to the metal frame of her bed.  All the custom brackets and cables (over $1000 value) were donated by a company he works with!  Praise God for brilliant designs and generous donors!!!

And lastly, we were able to bring a wheelchair (big thank you to Ross for getting it through the airports!) to Haiti for Meme, a man who is blind and who is having more and more difficulties getting around.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Update & Prayer Request

Bonjou ElderCare Followers!  I have to first start with an apology for not blogging for so long…..life has been a bit crazy lately as I prepared for a very exciting trip to Haiti, but it has all been worth it.  I am now sitting on the front porch of the guesthouse, hearing the roosters crow, the generator buzz and the occasional dog bark.  In the distance, I can hear the singing from tent church.  I love Haiti!

 There have been a couple big happenings with ElderCare that I should have shared long ago.  First, our beloved Angeline passed away because of heart failure.  One of the last times I saw her, she had been getting some physical therapy and told me that one day she would again walk around Titanyen telling everyone about Jesus.  But God had even better plans for her.  She now gets to walk around heaven, not telling people about Jesus, but actually being WITH Jesus.  How great that her suffering is gone and she can walk and dance!

 Second, a new long term missionary, Hannah Romanik, has joined the staff at Grace Village to help with ElderCare.  Hannah is a nurse and an amazing young woman of God.  She is quickly learning the program, meeting all of the elders, and ensuring that they receive the best care possible.  I am excited to see the improvements over the next year with her oversight!

While in Haiti this week, we will be launching a new program for the elders that has been in the works for almost a year.  Tomorrow, this amazing team I am with will be teaching the elders how to make crafts that will be sold as souvenirs to the 800 or so short term missionaries that come to Haiti through Healing Haiti each year.  They will be learning how to make beautiful bags out of old tshirts, jewelry with photos of Haiti, earring and keychains from old bottle caps, notecards, baskets and more.  We also have a master breadmaker on our team who will be using the pizza oven at Grace Village to teach elders how to make bread that they will be able to sell at the market.  All of this is in the hope that we can allow these elders to have the opportunity and dignity to provide for themselves and even help other in their family or community.

If you would, please join me in praying for our team tomorrow.  Please pray for each elders gifts to be utilized in the right craft, that our team would be able to teach well, that the elders would have the dexterity and comprehension to learn quickly, that they will feel hope for their future and dignity in producing something beautiful.  Thank you so much for your prayers!  I will post pictures late tomorrow or Friday!!!