Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Home again, home again, jiggity pig...

Well, it's official... I'm back in Iowa. We had a WONDERFUL trip, to say the least. I'm way too tired to do an extensive blog tonight, but I did want to let everyone know that we did make it home. I will spend most of tomorrow going through pictures. I will really try and get them up ASAP. Before I say goodnight to you all, I want to give you a HUGE "Thank You" for your continued support and prayers. There were so many wonderful experiences I had and so many friends I was blessed enough to gain! Please try and set me down sometime (in person or on the phone or any other means of conversation) talk with me about my trip. I have taken away so much from my time in Haiti, and I would love to share it all with each of you! Please continue to pray for my team, that they will continue to seek and grow in the Lord the way they are now. Also, please pray for the Haitian people and their country as a whole. There is so much need there, and I truly believe education and sustainable projects are the answer. In case you are wondering, YES, I am planning to return back to Haiti again in another year (or sooner). The country and the people have truly changed me for the better, and I can't help but want to return ASAP. Thank you all again, and know that you all were in our prayers each day. Lots of love to you all! ~Paige

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

The Final Days...

Hey All,
   Sorry I didn't get to write last night. The generator ran out of gas... HA! No electricity for us! Anyway, yesterday was a great day. We spent all day at the orphanage with everyone in our group. We got a LOT accomplished including: setting sinks, painting walls, painting murals, and loving on the children. We had a long day, but it was well worth it! After dinner, our team leader, Brian, informed us that he was in need of prayer. His 12 year old daughter is quite sick and having to have some heart testing done. As you can imagine, his wife was feeling very alone and scared. As a result, Brian made some calls and was able to get on a plane this morning and head back to Florida to be with his family. We are all praying for his family, specifically his daughter Bre. After saying goodbye to Brian this morning, we were able to see all of the orphanage children go to their first day of school. After giving the kids some hugs, our group all headed back to the orphanage to get the finishing touches done. One of the big projects of the week at the orphanage was a hand print flower mural. Lee Olsen got her creative mind rolling and headed the project. Each of the orphans got to put their hand print on the wall, and Lee made the hand prints into a flower mural. The children's hand prints were put at their height, so they can watch themselves grow! What a neat idea. My card reader isn't working so I can't attach any of the pictures, but I will when I get home. When the kids got done with school today, they came back to the orphanage and saw the finished mural. They loved walking up to the wall and finding their hand prints! It was a very special moment for everyone. I even shed a few tears... So touching! The orphanage grew today, as two new orphans were dropped off. We got to meet and love on them, then got to see them later at the orphanage. It was quite clear that the two new girls were settling in well, as they were already playing and wrestling with the other kids. It's GREAT to see the kids happy and smiling! Anyway, after our work at the orphanage was finished, we got to take a hike to the mountain top. It was a BEAUTIFUL hike and it was a great time of reflection for us all. When we got home from the mountain top and had supper, we were interrupted by a lady (followed by two small children) walking into our eating area to speak with Pastor Wiljean. The lady quickly left, but the two kids stayed with Pastor. We soon found out that earlier in the evening Pastor got a call from a lady who was asking if her niece and nephew could be admitted to the orphanage. Her sister in law (the lady that stopped by) was pregnant with twins, and her husband had just died of cholera. I couldn't believe that the lady just left her children. There were no hugs or kisses or tears. I can't imagine. As you can guess, I quickly grabbed one of the kids and rocked her while she inhaled a HUGE plate of food. After eating, the kids were taken to the orphanage. What a heartbreaking situation to see, but it made me so thankful for the work we've done in the orphanage. That place really does make a difference and gives those kids a chance at a good life. After dinner, we had to say goodbye to many of our Haitien friends. It was sad, but I'm so thankful that I got to return to Haiti to see them again. It's now time for team time, so I had better sign off. Sorry for the long email, but I missed out on last night's letter. So much has happened today and this week, so I have many more stories to tell. Please continue to pray for our group and for safe travels tomorrow. Love to you all! ~Paige

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Day 3 in Haiti



Bonjour everyone,
  Today began with me waking to the sound of the Haiten women practicing their singing for church. What a beautiful way to wake up! We had  a quick breakfast, then we went to church. I have never had such a wonderful experience rocking out in a language I don't know! HA These people know how to sing, and we had a wonderful time singing our hearts out. It was neat to hear the message in Creole and have it translated to us. The congregation was very welcoming to us all and we had a fantastic two and a half hour service! The message was about the Holy Spirit and how much you can accomplish when you let it work in you. What an appropriate message for what we are doing here in Haiti! After church we ate lunch then headed into downtown Cap Haiten. It was awesome to be downtown... It's such a different world there! The town wasn't very busy, so traffic wasn't bad. I guess that's a good thing, but I really wanted to have heavy traffic just to show everyone how scary it was last time! (Last time it was payday, so town was PACKED with people waiting to get their paychecks!) Even though traffic wasn't busy, town was certainly bustling with people. We had a great time at the market, bartering with the locals to get some souvenirs. On the way home, we got to stop at a local bakery. As you can guess, we were all more than willing to stop and try the food! The prices were AMAZING, so we got our fill and headed home. When we got home, we all ate a quick meal, then got ready for another church service. While waiting for church to get started, I hopped on the computer because the generator came on and ended up spending over an hour chatting with family. Now that everyone is back from church, we have two different card games going! It's so fun to get to relax and get to know some of the Haiten people on a more personal level. Earlier, Samson (one of our Haitien friends) got out his guitar and played and sang for us. We quickly joined in, as he was singing in English this time, so we spent a long time singing worship songs. What a great way to fellowship. I could do that all day...! Anyway, tomorrow is going to be an early morning, as we are taking a hiking trip to the mountaintop. We will start our hike at 6am so we can be back in time for breakfast. After breakfast, we will divide up and get some projects accomplished. Stacey and I are going to be spending most of our time in the ODH School, observing and gathering ideas for how to help the teachers and students. Some of the others in the group will be working on the chicken house and finishing up some projects at the orphanage. It is sure to be a busy and tiring day, so I'm hoping to get to bed fairly soon! Thanks again to you all for your continued prayers and support. A HUGE thanks to those of you replying to my emails/blog. I love hearing feedback and encouragement!
Until tomorrow,
~Paige

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Day 2 in Haiti


Hello All,
   Today was another fabulous day here in Haiti. The day started with a piping hot cup of my most favorite thing... fresh Haitien coffee. It was even better than I remembered it being. YUM! Dad quickly got to work mid-breakfast with the cattle that the local villagers brought in. There were a total of 20ish cows that were brought in, all of which got vaccinated and looked over. It was great to see Dad work... He was totally in his element and was like a little kid in a candy store! After he finished, we all went to the orphanage. We all had different odd jobs that included painting, working with the children, putting in the sinks, and putting on counter tops. Everyone was able to stay busy all day, so we were definitely exhausted when we got home for supper. I was so dirty and hot, I actually looked forward to taking a cold shower. That feeling quickly left when I first stepped into the water. YIKES... I forgot how incredibly cold that is! After getting cleaned up we had my favorite meal in Haiti, pasta! Tonight we had a great team meeting. It was so great, in fact, that it ended up being almost two hours long! We all got to talking and sharing the things that God is showing us through this trip... It was great to hear, and I feel like I have grown already. What a blessing! Tomorrow is church day, so I'm really excited to see the church service. Last year, I was sick during church, so I wasn't able to experience it. Thankfully, we have a translator, so we will be able to know what they say during the service. We are also supposed to go to downtown Cap Haitien after church, so that will also be an experience! I can't wait for the newbies in the group to see downtown Cap. I'm sure it is different than anything they have ever seen before. I'm hoping the traffic is busy so I can get pictures of their terrified faces! HA! Anyway, a game of Spades is breaking out, so I'd better join in the fun. Thanks again to everyone for your support and prayers. We prayed for you all back home today! Thinking of you all!
With love,
Paige

Friday, January 6, 2012

Day 1 in Haiti

Hey everyone,
   WE MADE IT! We are safe and sound in Bois de Lance, Haiti! I'm so excited! We met all of our old friends and all of them remembered us by name! It's so great to know that we did make an impact last time and they remember us! When we landed in Cap Haitien, we were lucky enough to have some of our luggage there. We weren't expecting any of it to be on the plane, so having some of it there was awesome! We made the 20 minute drive to the Open Door Haiti (ODH) complex in Bois de Lance, and were greeted right away by lots of our old friends. The first person I saw had a Lighthouse Community Church shirt on that my dad had left here last time. It's so great to see them using the things we left behind! We got to take a tour of the complex next, including a visit to the site of the chicken coop. There is one coop already standing, that was donated by a church in Florida. Our chicken coop is already being built, but is only in the beginning stages (footings down, but not much more). I'm trying to attach a picture that has our group in front of the new chicken coop with the finished coop in the background. Hopefully you will be able to see it! Next we took a tour of the ODH Orphanage that we helped build last time. I CANNOT believe how much progress there has been. The orphanage is complete, with the exception of a few things like hanging cabinets and putting in counters in the kitchen/bathroom. There are 15 children currently living in the orphanage. We are the first visitors ever to visit, since the orphanage is so new, so the kids went crazy getting to see us "white folks." We giggled and played with the kids for quite a while, and ended up going back for a second visit later on tonight. We ate a delicious lunch and then spent a lot of time catching up with old friends, making new friends, and soaking up the culture. One thing that was extremely new to us all was watching a group of women butcher a cow. The women worked literally all day cleaning and using every bit of the cow in a pot of food that they were preparing for a celebration tomorrow. When I say EVERY bit, I mean EVERY bit. Just to give you some perspective, one of the steps of the process included boiling the hoofs of the cow to get the small piece of meat that can be found under the hard part of the hoof. Talk about being resourceful! Anyway, we had a fantastic supper and really enjoyed getting to chat with each other. We also had some team time to discuss the happenings of the day, which was really neat. It was interesting to get different perspectives of our experiences, from both the newbies and veterans of Haiti. What a trip it has been already! On behalf of the Haitian people, I want to thank everyone again for their support of our mission trip and of the chicken project. When talking to one Haitian men working on the new chicken house, he mentioned how this chicken house isn't just about having chickens for food. Having the opportunity to build the chicken coop has given him a job, which will prevent him from having to travel to the Dominican Republic for work. This means he can stay in Bois de Lance with his family and be the father that his children need him to be. I never would have thought of that perspective if he had not told us. You are not just changing people's nutrition and health through supporting this chicken project, you are also helping make a positive impact in the lives of the Haitian people and their families. And for that, I thank you immensely! Anyway, I really should be getting some sleep. I want to thank you all again for your support on this mission and for your continued prayers through this process. I am so blessed to be back in Haiti, and I am having and absolutely WONDERFUL time!  I'll try and get more posted tomorrow! Love to you all!

Ft. Lauderdale Airport

Hey All,
   I'm going to write a SUPER-FAST post while waiting to weigh my luggage (and myself) to balance out the plane! HA! Anyway, we had a great night last night. I didn't sleep as much as I'd wanted to, but the sleep was much-needed. We got to chat with Brian, our US chaperone who will accompany us on our trip. Hearing him talk about the massive amounts of change underway in Haiti makes me excited. There is lots of change happening in Cap Haitien and nearby. I've finally gotten my email list going, and I'm hoping that helps keep everyone updated on my trip. We are currently sitting in the basement of the Ft. Lauderdale Airport, drinking some coffee and awaiting our IBC Airways flight. While waiting in line at Dunkin Donuts, my dad got his dog fix, as a German Shepherd police dog in training was in need of some attention! It was too funny! Anyway, I'm not sure what else to report so I'll sign off for now. Hopefully I'll be able to post more tonight, but no guarantees with the patchy internet. Please continue to pray for us all! Today we need specific prayers for safe travels and for our luggage to get to Cap Haitien quickly (it is coming on a separate plane). Love to you all! ~Paige

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Countdown...

It's officially 9 days until Taylor, my dad, and I leave for Haiti! I absolutely CANNOT wait until our trip gets here! Thankfully, these next few days will be busy (I will be caring for Margaret around the clock for 5 days while her parents are on vacation), so hopefully this week will fly by! I'm doing lots of last minute preparations, getting my packing list completed and preparing for our group meeting. This Friday, the whole Haiti group will be getting together to chat and prepare for our trip. I'm hoping to share my last trip's experiences with those in the group that have not been to Haiti before. Although it'll be good to share stories, nothing I say will truly prepare them for what they will soon experience. Haiti is inexplicably beautiful, despite the disparity there. If I can make one request before I sign off, I'd love to ask for continued prayers. First of all, I need prayers that Taylor and I can get the last $1,115 we need to pay for our trip. Second, I need prayers for our whole group, that we can all have a safe and meaningful trip in Haiti. Even those of us who have been to Haiti before will have much to learn, so we all will need God's courage and strength to do the work He has us set out to do. Thank you all for your continued support. I'm so excited for the coming days... Love to you all!