Sunday, May 22, 2011


On Sunday, when we were playing at the church with all the kids, I met a sweet boy with a beautiful smile named Peterson. He told me he was 11 years old. He spoke a little English, I spoke a little Creole, and we taught each other a few words. He called me his sister, his mama. I told him I was his sister in “Jezi” and he nodded and smiled. He told me he knew Jesus. We hung out for a while until it was time to walk the kids back to the boys home. As we walked back, he didn’t go with the others. With our communication barrier, I found out that he wasn’t one of the MDL kids, he lived in a nearby tent city. I tried to ask who he lived with, but I never found out. One of our team members had brought candy for the kids in the orphanage. We are not supposed to give anything to any of the street kids, and Peterson hadn’t received any candy. I asked our pastor if I could give him some and he gave me a couple of pieces and said I could give them to him only right when we got to the gate of the guesthouse and only if no one else was around. As we walked through the streets, Peterson eventually just walked away, before I had a chance to give him his candy. As I held that candy in my hand, I cried the whole way back to the guesthouse. I didn’t know if I’d ever see him again, I didn’t know what kind of a life he was going back to, and I was very very sad.

I did some investigating (and crying) at the guest house with some of the nurses that were there. They told me that they think his parents died in the earthquake (more crying), but that he has clean clothes and looks like he is taken care of by someone. They also said that I would see him again, he hangs out around the houses and waits. I asked if he was in the feeding program—he’s not (more crying), but he waits outside the gates and when there is enough food they let more kids in to eat.

Well…I did see him again. Actually almost every day we were there, he was waiting for us outside the guest house and he would walk with us to wherever we were going. He would call out “Sister!” and I would reply “Brother!” and we would walk and talk together. On Monday they had extra food and so he got to come in to eat at the feeding program. I was very glad to see him and gave him hugs and told him so. He wanted me to take a picture of him eating. On Wednesday, I saw him at the feeding program again. This time he got to be one of the helpers. They have older kids and kids who aren’t in the program who are trustworthy and good helpers be table leaders. They are responsible to help set up the tables and benches, serve the food to the kids at their table, and keep order at their table. Then they help clean up afterwards, and in return they get to be a part of the feeding program and enjoy a meal. After the program was over for the day I asked him if I could pray for him. He smiled and said yes. So I asked him “What would you like me to pray for?” His answer broke my heart: “I want to go to school.” I prayed for him right there. Later as I was praying by myself I asked God to help me find a way to make that happen. As I started asking people about how to do that, it seemed that God opened a door. I talked to the principal of the school about it, and he agreed to evaluate Peterson and see what level he was at. Then he could tutor him for the summer so that when school starts again in the fall he’ll be ready.

Me and Peterson, the day he was able to be a table leader at the Feeding Program

On Friday, the principal brought me Peterson’s evaluation—he tested at a third grade level, and with tutoring he thought he could be ready for fourth grade in the fall! I was so proud of my little friend! I was saddened too though—testing at a third grade level means that he probably used to go to school. I am guessing that he was in school until the earthquake happened, and hadn’t been able to go since then. But it is a good thing too, because there is more room in the higher grades and it is more likely that he’ll be able to go to school. I made arrangements with the principal to tutor Peterson and get him supplies(backpack, books, pencils). Sometime this summer we’ll talk about a plan for the new school year. If you are interested in helping a Port au Prince neighborhood child go to school, please visit this link:

UPDATE: Peterson has been admitted to the MDL school! Myself and some friends from church are sponsoring him and paying his tuition. I am so excited about this! In Haiti, school is very important. In a country where there is 80% unemployment, it will surely help him to be able to get a job and support himself later. But it also means that he will be in a safe environment for the 7 hours that he is at school, and it means that he will have at least two meals a day at school. Please join me in praying for Peterson.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Haiti-Feeding Program

One of the things I was looking forward to doing while were at Child Hope, was helping with the Feeding Program. Three days a week the staff and older kids from Child Hope put on a feeding program for the children from the surrounding neighborhood. Over 100 kids come to the program each Monday, Wednesday and Friday. The kids have an hour to play games in a safe environment, sing worship songs in Creole and in English, hear a Bible lesson and enjoy a big meal and clean water. Unfortunately for many of these kids, this is the only meal they eat that day, or maybe until the next day of the feeding program.

100+ kids at the Feeding Program
The food is prepared for the kids-this day was rice with beans, bean sauce and a piece of sausage
Every child gets a glass of clean water to drink-something that is hard to come by in Haiti
About 10-12 kids are seated per table

Our team participated all three days, but Monday had the biggest impact on us. Going in, we knew that we were going to be with hungry, maybe even starving children. But seeing them in person—seeing the visible signs of their malnutrition, and holding their frail bodies in our arms—was powerfully heartbreaking. There was one little girl in particular who climbed into a team member’s arms and immediately fell asleep, she was so exhausted. She woke up a few times having bad dreams, but otherwise completely missed the games and the songs. When it was time to eat we tried to wake her and had a very difficult time doing so. When we finally got her awake, she was too weak to feed herself. Julie helped feed her and she couldn’t even finish half of what was on her plate. This poor little girl was starving. I’m so glad that the Child Hope feeding program is in place—they are actually saving lives. But I also know that this one child represents many others just like her, some that aren’t being taken care of in a feeding program.

The kids in the program line up outside and are led in by older helpers
First they play games
The younger kids color
Many of the kids want to be picked up and loved on
Dafka wanted Julie to pick her up, then she fell asleep in her arms
Moise, one of the helpers I got to know
Julie helping to feed Dafka--after I took this picture I had to stop to pray for these children.
Rose playing games with the girls
Our clean-up crew: the dishes get cleaner as they go down the line
Memos, one of the feeding program cooks, and her son

On Wednesday I had another powerful experience there. I had learned a little bit of Haitian Creole before our trip and sometimes other team members asked me to translate (funny, because I didn’t really know that much!). Anyway, there was another little girl who kept saying “dlo, dlo” during playtime. Rose asked me to listen to see what she was saying. She was saying water. She was very thirsty. It wasn’t time for food yet, so I asked one of the staff if I could get her some water. She went over to talk to her and asked her if she could wait until it was time for the meal. The little girl just looked at her sweetly, and then said it again. The staff member said she should wait if she could. I know there are reasons why things are done in a certain way, but it was so hard for me not to give this thirsty little girl water. I felt so helpless, all I could do was pray. She got distracted when the singing and lesson started and she was able to wait…but this image was burned into my mind and will stay with me forever. There are so many things that I take for granted in my life. What an incredible reminder that I should be thankful for something as simple as clean, cold drinking water available from the faucet whenever I might want it.

This is the little girl who was thirsty, coloring with Rose
Erick plays games with the kids
Another little one falls asleep on Julie
One of the older girls from the girls home helps to feed a hungry child
Julie and Emily helping Dafka to eat her meal

Sunday, May 15, 2011


Sunday, was probably my favorite day in Haiti. We got to attend church with the Manassero Family and all the kids at Port au Prince Fellowship. The church was packed with people and there was no air conditioning, but a few fans blew air through the building. We sat up front, in the first two rows. After we all sat down, we were excited to see all the MDL kids coming up to sit in the front with us. We got to sing worship songs with them. It was the most amazing experience. I don’t think I can describe it. We were singing praises to God with children who had incredibly difficult life experiences—and they sang out with all their hearts, really worshipping God. I spent much of our worship time in tears, so grateful to be there among them and experiencing such genuine, authentic faith, even in the face of intense suffering.

It's not a great picture, but the only one I have of church

The pastor preached a challenging sermon that morning as well. He talked about how good it was for us to help others. He said if we give someone rice, or build them a house, we are doing something good. But there is something better: Sharing the gospel. If we do those things without sharing our hope in Jesus, we are not doing the best thing. It was very good for us to hear as a team.

After church, the sweet Manasseros had us and all their staff over for lunch at their house as they do each Sunday. They had a full house and they filled our bellies with delicious Haitian dishes. We had great conversations with them, their staff and each other.

After lunch and some rest time, we went with all the kids over to a big church in the neighborhood with large open spaces for playing. We brought jumpropes and bubbles to play with the smaller kids, the older girls played soccer and the older boys played basketball. It was such a fun afternoon spent playing and loving on the kids and getting to know them better.

Seriously my favorite day!

My friend Adnaika remembered me. Isn't she the cutest!
Dave talking Schneider (Ti-Schi) to the church to play
Rob gives Emmanuel a ride and David gives Wilson a ride
Ti-you and Stanely on the swings
A lot of little boys on an ATV (this would never fly in the US)
Ti-Schi blowing bubbles
Sweet Richard playing guess who with Rose
Some jump rope action
Some of the guys playing basketball
Some soccer
Jim and Wilson blowing bubbles
Peterson and Dawnelle

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Haiti-Arrival and First Impressions

We made it! We all met at the airport early on Friday morning to get the whole team and all of our bags checked in. We flew from Sacramento to LAX to Miami. We spent a very short night in Miami and then got on a very early flight to Port Au Prince. I was kind of nervous about making it out of the airport with all of our bags after reading all the specifics in our manual. It made it sound very chaotic! It was, but not nearly as bad as I thought. We made it through security and customs, got all of our bags and found Big, our airport guide. Then we went outside to wait for our ride to Child Hope. It was very hot and humid, even early in the morning. And there were lots of people walking around.

Ready to go--at the Sacramento Airport
Early morning at Miami Airport
We're going to Port au Prince!
Made it! At PAP Airport
We've got all our stuff and all our people, just waiting for the truck to pick us up!

When Bill and Susette arrived to pick us up in the cage truck we were all excited that it was really happening!

Right away as we drove through the major city, the poverty was apparent. We drove by huge tent cities that have been around since the earthquake a year and a half ago. To me it looked like little had been done since then. There were many collapsing buildings, rubble and lots of trash in the streets. But our pastor, who had been there right after the earthquake happened, said things looked much better than he remembered.

Ann, Pam, Erick, Jim and Chuck inside the cage truck
A view of one of the tent cities from the truck

When we arrived at the guest house (which was just finished and looked beautiful) the armed guard had to open the gate and let us in. It was a reminder that we were in a dangerous place and needed to be careful.

Armed guard-There was a guard at each building

After we got all of our bags unloaded and into the house, we had our team orientation meeting. Then we got to tour the programs/buildings of Child Hope. Child Hope has a girls home, a boys home, a primary school, a medical clinic and a transition house as well as the guest house. We got to visit each place and meet some of the kids for the first time. We spent a good amount of time playing with the little boys at the boys home. I got to meet Wilson, Ti-You, Schneider, Fan-Fan and Lukenson—we played Frisbee.

A house right next door to the girls home that collapsed during the earthquake
Anderson with some of his artwork.
Sweet Wilson
Schneider-he is a great soccer player!
I got to play frisbee with Wilson and Fan-Fan
Lukenson played with us too
Emmanuel-love his smile!
Some of the boys playing drip, drip, drench (a variation of duck, duck, goose)

I got to read with Adnaika at the girls home

Around 6 o’clock it was time to head back to the guest house for dinner. One of our rules was not to be out after dark, and it gets dark about 6:30. We had a delicious meal prepared for us by our wonderful cooks, Venice and Janette, followed by a debrief meeting and early bed time. We were all very tired and looking forward to our week in Port au Prince.