A One Way Ticket.

Alex and I went on our first trip to Haiti together last summer in 2012. Deep down somehow I knew that first trip wouldn’t be her last. Your time, talent, and treasures will send give Alex and her multiple teams they need to make this world a better place, and what’s more, shine Jesus’s light in one of the world’s darkest places.

By faith Abraham, when called to go to a place he would later receive as his inheritance obeyed and went, even though he did not know where he was going. by faith he made his home in the promised land like a stranger in a foreign country; he lived in tents, as did Isaac and Jacob, who were heirs with him of the same promise. For he was looking forward to the city with foundations, whose architect and builder is God.

Hebrews 11: 8-10

From Home to Haiti

Dear family and friends,

A few years ago I was having a conversation with a friend when she asked me, “What kind of person do you want to be when you’re older?” and I surprised myself by answering with, “I just want to be someone in love with Jesus.” It’s a simple concept really, for me to be someone in love with the man who bled and died for me specifically, the man who in constantly seeking to spend time with me and loves me no matter how many times I fail Him. The tough part is trusting, trusting that He knows His plans for me and that I need not worry what tomorrow holds or where I will be in 10 years (or one to be completely honest here). We as a fallen people try so hard to hold on tightly to the control and direction of our lives…

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Ayiti Ap Dekole: Final Days

Day 8 Saturday, July 28

Today we had the privilege of visiting Haiti’s most elite trauma hospital, Medishare. Medishare is considered the Harbor view of Haiti. Most of Jeff and Terry’s first connections in Haiti worked here. Thankfully, we took Pierre’s–EMPACT Haiti worker–advice and visited on the day we did. I’ll a little bit more about EMPACT as I discuss the next couple of days.

Medishare is so unlike any hospital I’ve ever visited in the States. Based on information I’ve received previously, improvements seem to have been made to the complex. The hospital is very large and we were able to view a lot.

We interacted with patients suffering from all sorts of impairments. In the Spinal Injury Unit, we visited paraplegics and quadriplegics. The smiles on their faces by our simply being there were so rewarding. The director or PIC of the clinic said they hardly ever receive visitors because many feel intimidated. The place is intimidating. It arouses a sort of helplessness.

Scott, the PIC who showed us around the Spinal Injuries rooms is super neat. He does more than just his job. He helps patients learn basic life skills and encourages those who will eventually be able to go back into their communities. It’s hard enough finding a job in Haiti-especially with an unemployment rate of %80. When you add a handicap to that, it makes SURVIVAL even more difficult to achieve. The Spinal Unit began a sewing program so that once patients recovered they would have some means of supporting themselves. Jeff arranged for Jehovah Nissi School uniforms to be made by the unit!

Spinal Unit
@Kayla Nicole “Spinal Unit”

From the Spinal Unit, we went on to see the place where prosthetic limbs are mad are made. The place is super cool. The hospital is really blessed to have this at their immediate disposal. The captain of a soccer team for disabled guys helps oversee things! Team Zaryen is funded by Knights of Columbus and Medishare. The rules for this soccer league is very interesting. For example, one of the requirements for goalie position is that both of your arms must be missing! None of the players are allowed to play with a prosthetic and all must use crutches. Touching the ball with either crutch equals a hand-ball. I cannot even fathom how hard that sort of play must be.

My favorite part of our tour would have to be visiting the pediatric triage (ICU). One child, whom I was unable to see, had actually been hit by the president’s car. When I heard this, I was horrified. Seeing the preemie babies was a very precious and also heartbreaking.  They were so, so, so tiny, yet perfectly formed (at least by external appearance). The youngest baby there had been born five months early. He had so many IV’s, masks, and tubes all over him that his body was hardly visible. I think there were five preemies total. All but one baby were in incubators. Pierre, another guide of ours, said that some are orphans. I pray that God heals them fully and restores them to their families. Nothing is more comforting that they all have a Heavenly Father who is constantly watching over them.

Last but certainly not least, we scoped out the room reserved exclusively for patients recovering from surgery and/or having a known disease. To say this place is somber would be quite an understatement.

After visiting the Medishare project, we went out to lunch. Mr. Clark (Jeff) discussed different locations, he finally decided on the Pizza Garden. Mr. Clark had previously taken a group of EMT’s there. One man cried over the cost of water. I want you to think about that for a moment. How often does our gratitude bring us to tears? This is a question I must ask myself constantly. Because I know, that while these trips provide me with a deeper perspective into my life, nothing is more easy than falling back into my normal routine after arriving home.

This place is no Pizza Hut. The restaurant is pretty ritzy. Most of the seating is outdoors and in the cool shade. Mr. Clark went in ahead of time–not because we were expecting a long wait–but because filling an order actually takes awhile. Our team is a good size too. While eating AMAZING food, we quickly debriefed our day thus far and discussed plans to drive to Rodney’s orphanage directly after lunch. Rodney said his place is “only fifteen minutes,” away from Port-Au-Prince. Hahaha, just a s midge farther my friend. I miss my Haiti team already, and we haven’t even headed back to the  States yet! Rodney’s orphanage is in the mountains. A place considered “cold” by Port-Au-Prince residents. The cooler air was indeed a relief, but I didn’t go so far as to put on a sweatshirt just as Windy decided to do!

Rodney’s kids  were all ready for us and dressed in their Sunday best. They are adorable. At first, when I first saw them I thought “wow!! They all look so healthy!” And some of them were, no doubt, but then I looked more closely. Many of the kids’ bellies were protruding. And not because they’d been eating well.

Rodney’s kids definitely inherited his gentleness and warm smiles. He is very organized. He has a lady working as a “director” who I guess manages everything and some friends who help to pitch in. Rodney has about the same amount of help as Pastor Silar, only Rodney only has 21 kids. Both are eager to welcome more into their care.

While visiting, I held a little baby girl named Kristy. Kristy had a twin sister, but she passed away. I am a little worried about her. She has pink scars all over her head and little hair. Rodney didn’t say what condition he found her in. Terry said the scars looked as if they could be from rat bites. Just thinking about it sends shivers through my body.

At long last, we finally drove home. BUT, before we left, we handed out Ayiti Ap Dekole shirts and all the kids sang for us–in their best English– our national anthem while holding the American flag. Culture shock causes me to think excessively. Both during a trip and long afterwards. Does America really live up to everything we say we are? Land of the free, home of the brave? No doubt. The real question I think is this: what are we doing to help others achieve the American dream? Personally, I think we’re a little lacking there.

Our team chilled back at the guest house before eating, debriefing, making our nightly stargazing trip, and sleeping.

Twas a great end to a great day!

Day 9 Sunday, July 29

Today, our team decided to attend Port-Au-Prince Fellowship’s church service. I felt somewhat disappointed that we did not attend Windy’s church, but it is in Cite Soleil so that option was out of the question. Port-Au-Prince Fellowship is a church serving missionaries and English-speaking Haitians. So we encountered quite a mix of people.

I felt poorly physically today. I think many people did. I’ll spare you the details. Thank God for two team leaders who work in the medical field! Given my condition, Terry told me to just start chugging water. I think everyone’s water intake has slowly declined as our trip has progressed. It hit me today how disgusting the water at Heartline is. While I am thankful it is safe to drink–most of the time–the water is so chlorinated it fills you up, causing you to desire a smaller amount.

Terry was concerned because she thought something might be wrong with my kidneys. I shamefully admitted that I most likely hadn’t been drinking enough and wasn’t needing to use the restroom often. She talked to Jeff and told  him we needed to go to the Deli Mart on the way to church and buy more fluids. So, we stopped at a grocery and I stepped out of the car. For some stupid reason I chose to buy a ‘Naked.’ The last thing I needed to ingest was more sugar. I ate some Cheez-It party mix which helped some. Terry said the salt would help me retain more of the water I drank.

I drank a Limonade and some water. By the time we finally arrived at the church, my bladder was near exploding. I basically shoved all my water bottles at Gomez [Samuel] and booked it to the restroom.

The message spoken at the church was very edifying. It would have been more enjoyable of course if I hadn’t been so exhausted. Nonetheless, I needed a spiritual uplift.

God’s Grace (Sermon Notes)

  • Because of his grace we are loved and accepted.
  • We try to get people to behave instead of letting them belong.
  • The grace of God cost him his son.
  • Jesus did not deserve to die, but he did, and we do not deserve to live but we do.<—I love this!
  • God loves us just the way we are, but he loves us too much to let us stay that way.
  • We need to be patient for God to change others.

I continued chugging water and made a second trip to the bathroom. I started feeling shaky and faint.  I finally asked for something to eat–my blood sugar tends to swing like a pendulum.  It always seems to be high or low. Jeff gave me a granola bar and a bag of dried apple slices. I scarfed everything down quickly.

After church, our team went to go visit T-Papi’s neighborhood. Also home to EMPACT. EMPACT is the team that Pierre from Medishare trains. It was started by some EMT’s from Tacoma, Washington. Mr. and Mrs. Clark met practically everyone they know now–and more– through this growing group of people.

Apparently, the house is under reconstruction. So far everything looks really beautiful. After a really quick tour we sat outside and listened to Pierre’s life story. Don’t get me wrong. I’m all for testimonies, life stories, and what-not, but today, all i really wanted to do was take a nap.

After listening to Pierre we all changed out of our church clothes. T-Papi, Pierre, and Esther took us on a hike. This was a hike to a place that your average tourist to Haiti is unable to see. The hike was pretty strenuous. We hiked up two sides of a large stream/creek. The incline was steep, wet, and rocky. The water was very dirty and there were people bathing out in the open and washing their clothes. Esther, being the sweet girl that she is, held my hand and guided me all the way and showed me the best places to step. I probably wouldn’t have made it without her. I had been very lethargic since church that morning. The humidity today felt incredibly high.  We saw one of three waterfalls when we reached our destination.  The view? Outstanding.

Not only were we able to visit EMPACT, but we were also in T-Papi and Esther’s neighborhood. T-Papi coaches a soccer team and we handed out soccer balls. While the boys played the girls held babies and painted nails. Girls don’t play soccer. Humph. No comprehendo!

Everyone was tired and hungry coming “home.” More tired though than anything else though I think. We followed our usual end-of-the-day schedule. Rest, eat, debrief, rooftop, and freshen up.

Day 10 Monday, July 30

Today, we dedicated to Windy. We talked to and visited Windy’s mother, brother, sister, and nephew. Windy’s mother is a very quiet woman. However, we were able to receive a little glimpse of what life in Jamel was like when she was a little girl. She said “life was a lot better then than it is now.” Something many elderly people say–only because it is quite true.

We met briefly Windy’s other brother. Not Wendell, the Jehovah Nissi school director. His name has escaped my memory. We also met Wendell’s son, Windy’s nephew. He’s such a cutie!

I have not ceased to be amazed at the protection and shade one fruit tree can provide. We walked up the road from Windy’s mother’s house to his sister’s house. As far as I can understand she is letting him stay for a few more months before he must leave. Anyways, the fruit tree! We gathered around under its outstretched branches where the air is much cooler and a strong breeze rushes through.

Windy proceeded to tell us about his book. It is very interesting, but somewhat scary as well. His book is only two chapters long. If I can understand correctly, his first chapter is about creation with a focus on the three different types of angels. The second chapter is all about the voodoo in Haiti. It is very creepy.

I helped Windy’s nephew ride his bike in the gravel. Claire and I ventured to the toilet in the backyard. That thing is pretty creepy too 😉

@Kayla Nicole

Our team discussed various places to eat out. We had a meeting scheduled with Medical Teams International. Jeff and Terry wanted to eat at a restaurant that is part of the U.S. Embassy, outside of Port-Au-Prince. Unfortunately, this didn’t work out. The political festival happening in Port-Au-Prince shut down a multitude of restaurants in the area. We ended up going to Deli Mart and buying everything needed to make PB&J.  Our meeting place ended up being Heartline. Jeff and Terry were finally able to pass on to the MTI agent, Windy’s precious medical records. The last doctor Windy saw diagnosed him with Lymphoma and told him “go away Windy, and don’t come back.” Today Jeff and Terry were given the task of telling Windy that Lymphoma is indeed a type of cancer. Sadly, no one had ever taken the time to explain this cancer connection to him. With this new information, the reality of his possible fate became very real.

In some strange way, Windy is a lot like myself. I felt at least, that he is someone I could relate easily with. Although his health issues are more extreme than mine, we both kinda stick out. The doctors don’t know why I have [epilepsy] and I know what how it feels to wait on a prognosis. People call me strong. Windy is more than just strong. He is a fighter. I took away many things from Windy, but the most important thing I learned is to value life. To value every second of every day. I was convicted strongly when I thought of all the HOURS I’ve spent worrying instead of doing. Even during this time of sickness he [Windy] refused to be anxious. He is writing a book and learning his fourth language–Portuguese. I know this sounds cliche, but his life really is the definition of YOLO…with a twist. Windy will only live once…on earth. However, Windy is a believer so he knows he’ll be reunited with Christ whenever God so chooses to take him.

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.”

Philippians 4:6

Windy’s favorite Bible verse is Exodus 14:14. I am so glad I was given the opportunity to ask him what this was. The verse reads “The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still.” 

After eating a simple lunch of of PB&J we faced our helplessness. We no longer maintain any control over Windy’s situation. In fact, we never did.  Jeff, Terry, and Mr. Wilson, from MTI, didn’t really need any of our skills. Jeff talked with Geoff #2 and the two of them decided that we would go back once more to Pastor Silar’s orphanage to hand out the promised T-Shirts. Jeff told us not to be at the orphanage for more than fifteen minutes or so. The longer we linger, the more difficult goodbye become.

On our way back to Heartline, Rodney told Jonas to stop the Tap Tap. He stepped out of the car and asked us if we could by a stalk of sugar cane. We said “sure why not?” The local immediately took up his machete and cut the “skin” off and then divided it up into pieces about five inches long. Rodney educated us in the art of tastefully eating sugar cane. It’s meant to be a simple process, but I tend to complicate many small endeavors. One must take a bite and suck all the sugar out and then spit out whatever is left. It’s really sticky, but pretty tasty;one should expect sugar in its purest for to be so. The Haitians enjoy it because the price is right and easily satisfies hunger pains. In a sore attempt to spit a mouthful of cane off the back of the Tap Tap, I completely failed and ended up spewing my mouthful all over Geoff.

Tonight’s evening debrief was more painful and emotional compared to all of the rest combined. The one thing on everyone’s mind was Windy. The last thing we felt called to discuss was leaving. By the end of our talk, half of us were in tears.  Everyone except for myself went on the roof. I took a shower and then went on Facebook to ask for my friends’ prayers. Typically, I am very against the use of social networking during a trip–I feel as if distracts me easily from my purpose I am striving to achieve. I joined the team later on the roof and listened to Emily’s sweet words and guitar music fill the air all around us. Precious air. How often do we take advantage of breathing you in?

On our final night here, God blessed us incredibly with yet  another amazing lightning storm. Almost as if he knew we needed a reminder of his incredible healing powers.

Ayiti Ap Dekole: Part 2

Day 6 Thursday, July 26: Debrief

Praise: somehow, I managed to acquire at LEAST three hours of sleep!

I took a cold shower before going to bed, and I firmly believe clean sheets played a huge part in helping me relax more. Praise Jesus for prayers answered!

Image taken from http://www.abovetopsecret.com

Today, was a very refreshing day. Although we were all very sad to have ended Vacation Bible School at the orphanage in Port-au-Prince, we looked forward to whatever plans God had in store. On our “day off,” we celebrated two birthdays on our team. Luke turned 19, and one of our leaders turned fifty-something. In the morning, four of our team members went to the Jehovah Nissi School in Cite Soleil. It was unfortunate that the entire team couldn’t go, but our team leaders Jeff and Terry promised our parents and team leaders to keep us safe. Anywhere we go, we tend to stick out like a sore thumb. Taking such a huge risk with our first youth team just didn’t seem to be a wise idea.

Ti- Papi arrived late with our rental and so all of our plans were delayed, but not really changed. We had a lot of time in the morning before our day really started.

We ended up leaving around 10:00 am to go to Club Indigo in Montrouis. A.K.A the Caribbean!!! Since we weren’t sure how long our team members in Cite Soleil would be delayed, we decided to take a head start to our beach destination.

The two-hour drive in the Tap-Tap was just plain fun. We have seen so much in a mere four full days. It’s pretty incredible. As we inch ed closer to the beach, “houses” became few and far between. The land was still poor, but at long last, on this lonely road, we found two distinct lanes on the road!

First things first at Club Indigo: Food. The system they have set up is really confusing. You tell the person taking orders what you want to eat–simple enough. Then, you pay. Each order bought equals a certain number of tickets. So instead of just buying food, or a drink from the snack bar, you must make sure you have the correct number of tickets. Due to the lengthy process, we weren’t able to eat right away.

We basically found the closest shade and beach chairs and ran to the water. I dove straight in. This was a poor decision on my part. The water, though  cold and refreshing, was by far the saltiest water my poor eyes had ever made contact with. Once I had recovered from my hasty immersion, I gazed out across the waters. The cloudless sky and transparent water almost melted together.

I love trying new things. Fresh coconut was an awesome “first.”412515_4272218093429_1651764971_o (1)

After we had all absorbed our first views, we trekked a little farther down the beach to satisfy our hunger. After much more confusion, we presented our tickets at the snack bar and retrieved meals for everyone on our team.  I ate a very interesting sandwich. It was satisfying, but very peculiar compared to every other ham sandwich I had previously consumed.

We sang the happy birthday song to Luke and Terry. I love Windy. He is just so adorable. He calls Terry his mom. After much convincing, he went all the way into the water. He blew bubbles and attempted to swim. He did so well!! He ate French fries, a hamburger, and a chicken nugget. All for the first time. H e really loved that chicken nugget though. 🙂 Every time I think of Windy, he reminds me to be thankful and value EVERY SINGLE SECOND of every minute, every hour, every morning, every evening, every night, seven days a week of all the twelve months that make up a year.

After eating, we moved even farther down to find some umbrella shade. The sand was far to hot to lay on, even with a towel. This one of many problems Washingtonians never face.  Despite the brief shade, I burned, but in the moment, it felt incredible.

Our ride home was delayed by a blown tire in the Tap-Tap. Windy handles these little incidents so well. While our drivers sorted through the situation and we figured out who would ride where, Windy was found dancing in the street, head phones on,seemingly oblivious to the world, and listening to Imagine Me by Kirk Franklin.

The team arrived home–Heartline very quickly became home to me. Rachel found a dead gecko on her bed. First we thought  it was fake, then we discovered it felt and looked pretty legit. It crawled up on Rachel’s bed and just died. Alex picked it up and put it in a cup. From then on we didn’t really know what to do with it. I took it and thought about how to dispose of it ceremoniously. Claire came out of our room and we made eye contact. At exactly the same moment we thought of something brilliant. “PUT IT ON LUKE’S BED!” We started laughing to hard and made a failed attempt to prank him. We were too loud and then we worried we had put it on the wrong bed–not a risk we wanted to take with a complete stranger. Luke took it and put it out on outside railing. We told Melissa about it later and she said “Is it still there? It’s kinda gross, but my cat loves geckos and lizards.

We ate dinner, ate some delicious cake homemade by Melissa, chilled out, and then slept.

The best part about today was blessing our drivers and translators with this trip. None of them had been to this beach! It is a luxury they would not have otherwise been able to indulge in. To enjoy bonding with Ti-Papi, Jonas, Esther, and Rodney have fun with us was awesome. There are so many things–both big and small– that can impact a person’s life forever.

Day 7 Friday, July 27

Today was busy, busy, busy! Our first destination: a visit through the heart of Port-au-Prince to see Jo Jo the artist. On our way to Jo Jo’s, we had originally planned to stop by the presidential palace in the heart of Port-au-Prince. However, not even our drivers, locals, felt comfortable taking us close enough to climb out and take pictures. If my research is correct, there was a festival called the Carnival of Flowers occurring. If I HEARD correctly, the last time this festival occurs there was a shooting. All that being said, we decided to avoid the masses.

Ever new person I encounter here in Haiti has a unique story. Jo Jo is a very inspiring person. His testimony is outstanding. Jo Jo was born with no arms and no legs. His mother dropped him off at an orphanage. The lady who cared for him FORCED him to persevere and find a purpose. His journey began when he started painting with a brush strapped firmly to his stump of an arm.

Jo Jo grew up in a home for disabled persons where he now works on staff. He speaks nearly perfect English and has been to the States multiple times as a motivational speaker. Jo Jo has personally met the president of Haiti and his wife and presented them with one of his paintings. He is a Haitian celebrity.

There are roughly 1,500 in and out patients at the home. The patients’ disabilities are so varied. Some are quadriplegics, paraplegics, blind, deaf, mentally ill, and have had limbs amputated.

We brought Jo Jo a whole pile of art supplies. Canvases, water colors, brushes, water-color paper, and acrylic paints. Being given the opportunity to paint in the same room with him was truly incredible. To save paper, the team members wanting to paint shared pieces of paper. My partner chose to observe rather than participate. This meant I had an entire, empty piece of paper all to myself.

I struggled long and hard to decide what I would attempt to paint. For inspiration I began searching through pictures on my camera. I began with a picture I had snapped at Indigo Beach– a single palm tree. Going off of this as my focus point, I painted a picture of me holding Louisa’s hand. Louisa is a young girl–about six– from Pastor Silar’s orphanage who stuck close to my side for all three days of VBS. In this picture–see my previous post–I successfully indicated to her that Jesus loves her so much, and so do I. No words were used. Just a simple action of joining my hand with hers to form a heart. Because of my poor painting skills, I filled the inside of the heart with red to emphasize that it was a heart. To finish my work, I painted the Haitian and American flag side by side–a symbol that two vastly different countries may indeed work together.

I felt gratified with my finished product, regardless of all its imperfections. Sure, I’m no artist, but at least it means something to me. I titled my picture “Beauty in the Broken.” There is beauty even in a place as broken as Haiti!

Jo Jo’s pictures are incredible! If I had brought more money–a LOT more money, I totally would have bought one. One painting in particular caught my eye because of its intricate details. Jeff inquired how long the painting took to start and finish. Jo Jo answered nonchalantly, “three days.”

We brought Jo Jo a whole pile of art supplies. Canvases, water colors, brushes, water-color paper, and acrylic paints. Being given the opportunity to paint in the same room with him was truly incredible. To save paper, the team members wanting to paint shared pieces of paper. My partner chose to observe rather than participate. This meant I had an entire, empty piece of paper all to myself.

I struggled long and hard to decide what I would attempt to paint. For inspiration I began searching through pictures on my camera. I began with a picture I had snapped at Indigo Beach– a single palm tree. Going off of this as my focus point, I painted a picture of me holding Louisa’s hand. Louisa is a young girl–about six– from Pastor Silar’s orphanage who stuck close to my side for all three days of VBS. In this picture–see my previous post–I successfully indicated to her that Jesus loves her so much, and so do I. No words were used. Just a simple action of joining my hand with hers to form a heart. Because of my poor painting skills, I filled the inside of the heart with red to emphasize that it was a heart. To finish my work, I painted the Haitian and American flag side by side–a symbol that two vastly different countries may indeed work together.

Jo Jo and I
Jo Jo and I

I felt gratified with my finished product, regardless of all its imperfections. Sure, I’m no artist, but at least it means something to me. I titled my picture “Beauty in the Broken.” There is beauty even in a place as broken as Haiti!

Jo Jo’s pictures are incredible! If I had brought more money–a LOT more money, I totally would have bought one. One painting in particular caught my eye because of its intricate details. Jeff inquired how long the painting took to start and finish. Jo Jo answered nonchalantly, “three days.”

The Inspiration of a Left Gifted Hand

@ Luke White Photography
@ Luke White Photography

This is what reads on Carlot “Carl” Dorve’s business card. As we were about to leave the disabilities center, Carl meandered his our way playing his beautiful trumpet. Carl studied at the most esteemed music school in Haiti–I have yet to learn the name of this school. He now studies at Michigan state university. Carlot “Carl” Dorve. As we were about to leave, Carl meandered his our way playing his beautiful trumpet. Carl studied at the most esteemed music school in Haiti–I have yet to learn the name of this school. He now studies at Michigan State University. I watched a You Tube video to learn a little more about him. Seeing that at the time this picture was taken, I knew nothing more than his name. What stood out to me the most, is that Carl lost his arm when he was five. He started playing the trumpet AFTER he lost his arm. I took a double take at my notes to make sure I didn’t mess up the order of events.

I gained some wise words from his video: “Making progress, or being able to do something is a state of mind.”

Next Stop

From Port-au-Prince, our final destination was Grand Goave. Grand Goave is located in a more mountainous part of Haiti. Our business there was to visit an orphanage in the making. It’s name is Be Like Brit (BLB) Orphanage. The story behind BLB is long, but I’ll attempt to summarize without leaving out any important details.

Brit Gengel died in the earthquake. She was visiting with her school, Lynn University. According to her mother, she had been in Haiti only one full day before the earthquake submerged the country into chaos. Brit’s body was missing for 33 days before her remains were uncovered. Brit fell in love with the country and told her parents she wants to start an orphanage. In a call to her parents just three hours before the earthquake occurred, she said

“They love us so much and everyone is so happy. They love what they have and the work so hard to go nowhere, yet they are all so appreciative. I want to mover here and start an orphanage myself.”

I’m going to be completely honest, this made me feel quite conflicted. According to American standards, this may be true. Haitians aren’t going anywhere. However, their value’s: faith, trust, joy, and hope for a seemingly unsolvable wreck of a country, get’s them a lot farther in the big scheme of things. With these virtues and with God, anything is possible!

Brit’s parents, CherylAnn and Len Genegal are building a $1.2 million dollar orphanage. The finished product will be 19,000 square feet. [The building is now complete]. Throughout the layout of the orphanage there are a lot of interesting symbols. The building is in the shape of a “B.” Even with all of this space, they will only house 66 children-33 boys and 33 girls.  This symbolizes the days it took to recover Brit’s body. Throughout the building CherylAnn spoke of flat screen TV’s and advance medical technology. While there is ABSOLUTELY NOTHING wrong with any of these revolutionary features and the Genegal’s intentions are pure, Americanizing Haitian children does not do much for them in the long run. There are no distinct social classes except these: poor, poorer, and poorest. Leaving Haiti is practically impossible. In order to be eligible for a green card t the states, you must either be engaged to someone there or be in possession of legit medical and legal documents.  Considering applying for a green card is pretty much the only reason you might need any of these things, most don’t have them.

What frustrated me the most–what didn’t seem fair, is that the resources and space they have is unlimited. Pastor Silar has more than 66 kids in his home. In fact there are so many kids that he and his wife cannot even sleep in their own house! Instead, if they do indeed sleep, they sleep in a tent. My prayer for BLB is that the Lord’s will would be done. I send out my condolences to the Genegal family. Their influence in Haiti has the power to to amazing things in Haiti.

After we finished touring the construction site, we traveled even higher in the mountains to absorb the breathtaking view. It was incredible. No picture could ever capture the feeling of looking out across this beautiful city. After a long day, we headed “home” to Heartline. More to come on Haiti! I thought simply two posts could cover my trip–I was very wrong. One day in Haiti equals a few days in the States.

@Kayla Nicole
@Kayla Nicole

More to come on my extraORDINARY trip to Haiti in 2012!


Ayiti Ap Dekole: Part 1

Ayiti Ap Dekole: Haiti Moving Forward.

In addition to supporting me prayerfully and financially, before leaving to Haiti, my Great Aunt Lela gave me one of the best gifts: a brown leather sketchbook/journal. On the very first page, she wrote these words: “Have a Great Trip–go safely– Kayla Koala

  • Pencil it
  • Ink it
  • Sketch it
  • Doodle it
  • Scribe it
  • Paste it
  • Tape it
  • Stuff it
  • A place to record your fine history”

I feel as if my work in Haiti is not finished. I left the empty pages in hopes that through me, God will fill them with new adventures.

The Team

Jeff, Geoff, Luke, Samuel,Terry, Brianna, Kenzie, Kaki, Claire, Emily, Rachel,  Alex, and myself.

The Team
The Team

Date of Departure: Saturday July 21st, 2012

I don’t bother going to bed earlier than usual the night before a trip. I figure I’ll either be too excited to sleep or I won’t sleep at all because of my sleep insomnia.

Thankfully, I slept last night. I am glad I didn’t try going to bed early. I wouldn’t have slept at all! I woke up at 7:30 am this morning–I set an alarm. I passed time doing as much as I could. I took a walk with mom, did my chores, took a shower, did random stuff in my room, ate lunch etc. Spent a lot of time on Facebook [what a time waster]. 

I really wanted to Skype with my best friend Ashlie before I left. At the time she was in Newcastle, Australia studying at the Creative DTS YWAM. YWAM stands for Youth With A Mission. However, when you’re roughly 7,686 miles apart, communication can be challenging. Facebook and Skype are convenient, but they don’t replace face-to-face interaction. We had previously appointed a time for this day to log onto Skype. Although she hadn’t answered my Facebook message, at the allotted time I logged onto Skype hoping she would be there. Instead of hearing her sweet voice, I wrote her an extended e-mail of a letter I could not figure out how to send. 

I ate an early dinner with the twins. My brother and sister, Mason and Mackenzie were turning thirteen the next day (Sunday) and so we tried to arrange an early celebration. Mom wanted dinner to be ready by 4:30 pm, but dad put the Kabobs on the grill a little late. I had to leave the party a little early. I was nervous about arriving to the church on time. Thank-fully, we made it. (Somehow we always do). 

I gave Terry my affidavit and then we prayed with Pastor Hilario and all the family members who came to say goodbye.  Usually the trip to the airport takes forever, but this trip went by pretty fast. Dr. Bob was our shuttle driver. It was pretty convenient for him. His daughter Cassie was coming home from England later that evening after we took off so he was just gonna chill out. 

I remember on the SERVE MEXICO trip to Tijuana, the airport was packed–we took a morning flight to LAX. Tonight, we checked our luggage and received our tickets pretty quickly. Thankfully, I didn’t have any trouble going through security. My VNS* is always a concern. The only thing they had to confiscate out of my bag was a Kirkland water bottle I forgot to drink it beforehand. They asked about my magnet, but as soon as I asked them what it was, they didn’t ask anymore questions.

We found our terminal and then went to go get food. I had already eaten dinner, but I caved and bought chocolate milk. It wasn’t long before loading time came around. After switching seats with Samuel, my original seat partner, I ended up squished against a window with a nice couple who brought their rat–sorry, dog– along with them. Not the greatest exchange, but I lived. Unfortunately, rather than packing Tylenol PM, I packed Melatonin. I was counting on the former to help knock me out. 

Sleep wasn’t an option, I ended up watching most of the movie “A Thousand Words” starring Eddie Murphy. Had he not been the main character, the movie would have been a COMPLETE flop and not just a flop. I also took this sleepless time to read my bible and journal a little bit.

VNS- Vegas Nerve Stimulator, it’s like a pace maker for the brain.

Day 2–Sunday, July 22nd: Miami-Port-au-Prince

Well, we arrived in Miami on time. At least I think we did. I don’t have a watch–or a phone for that matter, so all I know that Florida is three hours ahead of Washington time and Haiti is only two hours ahead of Washington time<—I find this strange because when looking on a map, Haiti seems to be out past Florida a ways. 

I spent $12.00 on a huge breakfast and I wasn’t even hungry! However, I knew I needed to fill up because we wouldn’t be eating anything on the plane from Miami to Port-au-Prince. We kind of just wandered around until boarding time. The layover didn’t seem very long. Alex almost lost her backpack. This was a major problem. Considering it contained her passport and money. She thought she had left it in the bathroom, where we had attempted to freshen up. Thankfully, I found it just under a seat where we were waiting at our terminal. 

I was expecting that the minute we arrived  at Sea-Tac i would start getting the butterflies. I guess God answered my prayer for peace.

Thankfully, I didn’t have to sit alone. Oh, I kind of freaked out because the airline attendant forced me to check my bag. He said there was not anymore room in the overhead compartments, but that was a blatant lie. When we boarded there was plenty of room. As you can imagine, a plane to Haiti isn’t exactly one packed like sardines. 

I sat in-between Luke and Jeff. For me, the plane ride was pretty reflective. I wasn’t sure what my reaction to landing would look like. Culture shock is unpredictable. The plane ride passed by fairly quickly. I didn’t have a window seat–we had the center three seats–but I went across the aisle to look out the window as we closed in on the islands.

There was a lot of turbulence  on the plane. I almost became sick to my stomach.

At immigration (customs) we had a band welcoming us. I had my visa stamped for the first time 🙂The airport  itself was COMPLETE MADNESS.  I can’t quite explain it. Picture the baggage claim at Sea-Tac, without the baggage carousels. Imagine piles of luggage that all looks the same and attendants who don’t speak English.   

I kind of had a minor panic attack when I didn’t find my checked bag. I didn’t know where else to look and I didn’t want to wander far from my team. On the other hand, I had ten days of clothing in one carry-on sized bag. Jeff and Terry told me to sit and drink water. The guys found my bag. We finally collected all of our luggage and walked outside to the crazy parking lot. We found  the infamous Windy with a little truck. He’s so cool. While Jeff and Terry went to go get the rental car we waited with him. We stood around and he asked us all which languages we spoke. Man I wish I could speak French! That is the second best option to Creole.

We waited about an hour in the scorching hot sun for our rental. When it came at last we were finally on our way to Heartline Ministries. The boys drove in the back of the truck with our luggage. They were crammed!! Eleven girls crammed into a small SUV. The streets of Haiti are so crazy. All dirt roads, no lanes, a lot of honking and motor bikes weaving in and out of cars. I am glad we have awesome drivers who know their way around.

We had to stop at the Deli Mart to get water, Cokes, cheese, bread, peanut butter, and Jelly. The doors were armed with  three guards with rifles. I was intimidated  and very fearful.  As you can imagine we stuck out like a sore thumb wherever we went. Most of the group stayed outside. No one with back packs were allowed in. Luke, Geoff, Jeff, Esther (a translator), and I went in.

(At this point I had been in much need of a restroom for about two hours). 

Thanks to our skilled drivers we made it to Heartline Guest House. We were greeted  first by “Larry” the huge saint Bernard/Mastiff dog.  The place is very nice. The entrance contains a little gift shop and a small office with a phone available for us to use if we want to call home. From the office there is an open foyer with a kitchen off to the left and the dining room on the right. There are two rooms behind the kitchen and up the stairs is a sitting room, two bunk rooms, a bathroom, and a door that leads to the patio and roof. Each bunk room is named a Fruit of the Spirit. The girls bedroom is appropriately name ‘self-control.’

We dropped our stuff off in our rooms and then had a little snack of PB+J sandwiches on rolls. This was around 4:30 pm. Before dinner at 6:00 pm Melissa, one of the people who runs the house, gave us a little orientation. She gave us the whole shebang: Dinner at 6:00 pm, breakfast at 7:00 am, don’t leave the fans on when you are not in your room because electricity isn’t cheap. Feel free to use the phone, buy something in the gift shop, laundry can be done for $5 etc.

Dinner was amazing! Fettucini Alfredo, salad, bread, and ice-cold water!<–a special treat. I definitely have a new appreciation for ice. It is precious here. Heartline is pretty packed right now. there were forty people for dinner. Our group claimed the balcony/deck.

Oh! before dinner we went on the roof. Gorgeous view! Banana trees, sugar cane, and mountains/jungle for as far as the eye can see. We are already making plans to get up early one day and watch the sunrise. 

We ate dinner and then had a meeting. We discussed exactly what supplies we will need at our first day of VBS tomorrows and practiced our Noah Skit, and worship. 

Day 3 Monday, July 23rd: First Day of Vacation Bible School

Even if there were one-hundred fans in our room. I don’t think it could get down to [a bearable] room temperature. I am  sleeping on the top of one of the bunk beds. I should have claimed a bottom bunk. I forgot that heat rises. Heat, flannel sheets, and a stuffy room make for a hot sticky, and uncomfortable night. The way my fan is positioned, whenever it is on and I  am  laying down, my mosquito net blows over me. I didn’t sleep at all, even with the sleeping aid. 

I am really enjoying the food. Breakfast tasted AMAZING! Pineapple, PB+J, oatmeal, and mango juice. Even though I don’t normally, I went for it at Luke’s suggestion. It tasted soo good! We had to hurry up and eat because our drivers came to pick us  up around 7:20 am. Luke, Emily, Samuel, Jeff Clark, and I rode in the back of the truck with our supplies. Windy was right. Sunday the Haitians are not out much, but Monday, wow! The streets are crazy! Horns honking, colorful tap-taps pack streets to the max and motorcycles weaving in and out everywhere. Every street corner sidewalk is full of stands selling everything from motor parts to bananas.

Arriving at the orphanage was pretty orphanage was pretty awesome. I knew it would be. But I didn’t know what to expect. The place is small, but the hearts of everyone there are huge. We unloaded our stuff and the truck drivers went off to pick up the kids from Cite Soleil.

The first thing we did was pass out the yellow, green, and purple visors. We chose different colors so that we could [attempt to] separate them by age groups, but once the city kids arrived it became [even more] hectic. Everyone was handed whatever color was available. 

I helped draw a rainbow and rain clouds to help illustrate the story of Noah for the drama. I grabbed a translator to help me write forty days and forty nights in Creole.

A little bit after 8:15 am Emily, Samuel and I started worship. It went really well. We did every song twice. Once in English and once in Creole. Then, when the kids from Cite Soleil  arrived, we sang again. After worship was finished, we began skits. These went OK. Rachel played Noah, Luke played God, CLaire, Kaki, Alex and Kenzie played the sinful people. Luke also chose eight kids from the audience to wear foam animal masks and go ‘on’ the boat. (Our large drawing of the ark.

After our drama we ate a late breakfast/snack with the kids. Their snacks and breakfast treats are interesting. We ate noodles for our “snack.” For lunch we ate a full plate of spaghetti noodles with onions and a little bit of what I imagined to be tomato paste–this is also known as ‘Haitian Spaghetti.’ The Clarks are paying for all the food for the three days we are doing VBS at the orphanage in Port-au-Prince: Orphelinat de l’Organisation d’Aide aux Enfants en Difficulte en Haiti(ORORAEDH).  It is so sad to know that normally they may not even have one meal a day. 

When you see those big eyes and those skinny limbs, your heart wrenches and you never quite see things the same. You think twice about pouring water down the drain and throwing away food because you’re SO full.  “Starving” is a word thrown around way too loosely. Starving is not knowing where your next meal is coming from–or if there is one coming at all. You become grateful for basic needs being met. You feel guilty when worrying over things that really don’t matter in the big picture. After returning home, one thing I struggled to learn–and am still learning–is that, God doesn’t want us to feel guilty about pleasures– big or small. Instead, we should count them as blessings.

“[Gratitude] turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos into order, confusion into clarity…it makes sense of our past, brings peace for today, and creates a vision for tomorrow.”

~Melody Beattie

No one proved this quote to be more true than the Haitians.

Random dance parties were always a hit. I’m so glad we allowed room in our agenda for things to go haywire. The kids taught us more than we ever planned to teach them.

Sometime during the day we did our crafts. Because we decided not to do rotations and the amount of kids we only did one of the three animal crafts we had prepared for today. It was pretty chaotic. We ran out of paper plates for the lions and so I had to cut out circles from the big roll of paper in place of paper plates. It was really fun for the kids even if it was a little stressful for us.

The kids colored animals they thought should be on the ark. The beach balls Luke and Kenzie brought were fun, but they didn’t last long. A couple of kids from Cite Soleil deflated them and tried to put them under their clothes to steal away from the other kids. Pastor Silar intervened and we received them back.

I loved the kids clinging to me all day. They are so precious. all the Haitians that I have met so far have such a sense of community and passion for their people. I wish the U.S was more like that.


Around 2:00ish we ate lunch. I wasn’t super hungry. However, I felt like it was rude to refuse Windy and Pastor Silar’s offer. After Madame Silar had been slaving in the kitchen to prepare a meal for well over 100 people, it was impossible to decline such delicious food. Luke and I split a delicious plate of rice, beans, and chicken. As a special treat they went out and bought several flats of soda. Luke said it tasted like cough syrup.

It is really weird, even though on this trip we have gone long periods of time in between meals, hardly once have I felt super hungry. I wish there was a way to provide plenty of food daily for everyone. The children’s arms and legs are so thin and knobby. Some are bloated. Terry said some of them surely have worms.

After arriving back to Heartline back from the orphanage, we changed clothes, rested, ate dinner, and debriefed after dinner.

Day 4-Tuesday, July 24th 2013

I am guessing I only received 1-2 hours of sleep during the night. It stinks, but somehow I made it through the day, just like I did Sunday and Monday.

Ti Papi, our driver, (related in some way to Windy) was delayed because his alarm didn’t go off. He came up to Mr. Clark apparently and apologized. Music+Laughter+closeness= many fun car rides. I am enjoying living on the edge. It is funny how we’ve had really close shaves with other drivers on the road, but have yet to witness an accident. The Haitians sure love to use their car horns. 

Once again when we arrived at Pastor Silar’s orphanage we were greeted by all 60+ kids at once. I was greeted by Clifford in an interesting way. He came up to me, placed his hand over my face and held it there for a few seconds and let a smile spread across his face. Clifford is sixteen years old, loves to dance, sing, and take pictures with his pals and all of the girls on the team. He is learning English and French in school and it was nice being able to chat with him. He knew just enough that we could ask each other more than ‘what is your name?’

Emily, Samuel and I didn’t do worship today. The kids sang a little bit with Pastor Silar. We went to a “soccer field” A.K.A an empty lot down the street and handed out some cleats and equipment to the older kids. All of them play like pros. Except the girls and some of the younger children. I am so glad we were able to give them soccer balls to keep. Some kids who weren’t from the orphanage wandered in off the street as well. They wanted to play Haitians vs. Americans, and with only seven or so people on each team.I side-swiped someone and took a nasty tumble. I scraped up my knee pretty bad. Well, just enough that it bled a little. The kids acted extremely concerned about it and Terry cleaned it up for me immediately. Infections are always a risk, no matter how small the cut. 

Another long day finished. The day doesn’t end after VBS.

Day 5 Wednesday, July 25th- Final Day of VBS at ORORAEDH

I now love passion fruit juice, oatmeal, and fresh mango.


The game was long. It might have lasted even longer. However, some random guy on a motorcycle rode onto the field pretty fast and within a split second everyone involved in the soccer game began yelling. David, one of our translators took control and said we need to get everyone off the field now. Nobody questioned him. I took hold of the little girls huddled around me and we shuffled off the field. Before everything was interrupted, the girls on our team were painted fingernails. I think they were more delighted with the opportunity to paint OURS. I had braced myself for nail polish to be chaotic. For the most part, it went pretty smoothly.

We walked back to the orphanage and began what we’d been doing the past two days: sing songs until the Cite Soleil kids arrived with Windy, Wendell, on of the drivers, and the new school teacher.

Near the end of our time, Cliff and Peter decided to put on a hilarious skit for us all. Peter came out in an awesome costume consisting of face paint, a straw hat, shorts, and a checkered shirt. he started talking in Creole and French. Clifford Joined him later. They soon had everyone laughing hysterically. I never really figured out what they were saying, but the way they played their characters made it very funny.

We came home, showered, sprawled out all over, ate dinner, debriefed, hung out more, and then went to bed.

Today I realized that actions speak louder than words. The language barrier must be broken down by finding new ways to communicate.

“I’m showing them how I feel cuz love is more than a noun or a verb it’s absurd”-Ready or Not                               Britt Nicole/Lecrae

If I speak in tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging symbol, If I have the gift of prophesy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain NOTHING.

1st Corinthians 13: 1-3

27 Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.

James 1:27

26 Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? 27 Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?

Matthew 6:26-27

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