Tuesday, April 14, 2009
Thursday, April 09, 2009
Hi! It’s the Courtneys’!!!! (Courtney squared)
It’s also Thursday and our week is coming to a close. It’s bittersweet because we’ve all fallen in love with Haiti and the wonderful people and relationships here. But, we are stoked to share all our experiences and the ways God has worked through us and taught us so much in these few short days. Anyway, you may be wondering why we’re blogging together. Well, it has a purpose. It’s a metaphor for our unity as a team and body of Christ.
When we first came together about six months ago, we were all pretty hesitant and unsure about all the differences between the people in our group…. So many different personality types…how in the world could we mesh?!??! Well, this week has disproved that theory. We are all such a huge family now. God couldn’t have planned a better team for this trip! We all encourage and build up everyone. It’s splendid because one of our goals was to work together as a team.
“As a prisoner for the lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the spirit through the bond of peace” (Ephesians 4: 1-3).
As you already know, we have had a lot of trouble getting here and we really felt Satan working against our plan and pushing us away from our destination. However, we also could feel God working through it all and in the end, the enemy was defeated. Without each other, our joy and our successes this week would not have been possible.
God has used our team’s unity this week to help us unite this culture in Jacmel, Haiti through a soccer camp. And hopefully, people here will continue to unite in Christ.
-Courtney Shepard and Courtney Stoner
Wednesday, April 08, 2009
As another day goes by, I find myself falling in love with this place more and more. The people, the culture, the food (which I love J) but there are these two things I can’t stop thinking about. Their names are Vania and Tina Pye; they are the kids of Danny and Leanne Pye. These two beautiful girls happen to be the kids my family sponsors from the Haitian Children’s Home. Back at home on my piano I have their pictures sitting on top of it with all their info, so every time I would go to play the piano I would see their faces and read about them. I never would have thought in my lifetime that I would be here in Haiti playing with these two young gals. I always looked at those pictures and wondered how they are doing and how I could always help, it never hit me when I signed up for this Haiti mission trip I would be seeing them and meeting them but as it got closer I realized that I would be seeing them. When I first got to see these two girls the first thing I did was show them the pictures I had of then, I don’t speak their language but I sure did know how to say “YOU”. Tina’s reaction was her hands going over her face and laughing, and then walking away. She probably was thinking “why does that “Haitian” have a picture of me.” Vania’s reaction happened to be the same. As my trip went on I got to spend more time with them I feel God had called me to meet these girls and make a little dent in their lives. I have only been here for three days and I feel like Tina, Vania and I have known each other forever. Today after we finished at the Soccer Outreach it was the Pye kids and our team cleaning up the fields. Tina, Vania and I decided that we wanted to play and not work, so we did. We ran and threw water on each other and it felt like it was just us. I mean you couldn’t tell me anything, I felt God all around us watching over us and it just felt so right. Tina and Vania have been blessings in my life and have made a big impact in my life. Just to see a picture become reality is a blessing in its self.
Living To Make Him Famous
-ken a. marshall
So our week in Haiti is coming to a close. Unfortunately, it has gone by way to fast. But it has been another eye-opening experience I will never forget. Over the past few weeks, God has been teaching me the importance of trusting him fully with everything in my life and showing that He is the one that I need to rely on in any situation.
When we started our journey, there were so many roadblocks along the way that were keeping us from making our way to Jacmel. Our flight was delayed a whole day. Once we reached Miami, our flight to Haiti was delayed 3 hours. And when we got to Haiti, the roads were literally blocked to Jacmel (another night away from where we believed we were supposed to be). It was so hard for me at first to comprehend everything that was going on. Why was God keeping us from Jacmel? Why was Satin interfering with this great opportunity? It was frustrating. But I realized that in every situation we were put in, the only thing our team could do, at that time, was pray and trust that God had everything under control. His plan was not our plan and we had to understand that those are not always the same.
Every soccer season, each player on my team memorizes a verse that pertains to their life at the moment - a verse that demonstrates what God is teaching them. I chose Psalm 63. The beginning of it says, “God, you are my God. Earnestly I seek you. My soul thirsts for you. My body longs for you in a dry and weary land where there is no water”. It goes on to talk about the rest of the body and that without God, it is like living without water: impossible.
So it was amazing to see how God was preparing me for my trip to Haiti. Nothing made sense at the beginning. But, I realized how trusting in God can be difficult, but rewarding at the same time. I have enjoyed coming back and spending another week in Haiti. Even though it was short, it has been a blast. I love the team I get to be apart of. And this trip has been another unforgettable experience that will always stick with me.
- Kelsey Stoner
April 8th is not just another day in Haiti, but it also happens to be my birthday. Before this trip I was kind of disappointed I wouldn’t be able to be at home with my friends and family and basically a day all about me. I didn’t really know what to expect, but to be honest I had a very unexpected birthday.
This week has been amazing on so many different levels. But I also think that since today was my birthday it made me think about things differently. This whole week is about serving God and giving to the Haitian community. Each day at the soccer outreach we serve the players and other community members a meal with juice. Yesterday everyone sat down and somewhat waited patiently for their food. Once they got it though they pretty much ate it soooo quickly. Since today there was more people it made things a little bit more difficult. I was on water duty today which meant when each game was over Valarie and I passed out the small water bags. We were bombarded after each game. It was amazing to see that almost half of the people would stand around and try and snag another one. I got so frustrated because I couldn’t speak the language and couldn’t tell them to sit down and that they could only have one. These people don’t get very much water throughout their everyday lives and when they get the opportunity to get free water they take advantage of that.
I didn’t really think about the fact that it was my birthday today. The only times I actually remember thinking about it was when Stephen randomly came up. to me and would say “Happy Birthday!” I was simply too busy to think about myself and I think that’s what this week is about for me. I consider myself a very selfish person and complain when I don’t get what I want. Going back to when we gave out lunches, that’s when I realized how selfish I was. After we gave out food many would continue to get closer and closer just to get more food. I watched them somewhat beg and say they hadn’t already had food when they really did. It kind of made me sad because we have it so good and pretty much get what we want when we want it, but this is sometimes the only meal of the day for the Haitians.
Overall this week I think I have done pretty well on not complaining and being selfish. I just realized that in this country it’s not all about you. One last thing that struck me today was we went to the pool with the HCH kids. At one point we had French fries and drinks. We let the kids get what they wanted first before we ate. Two of the girls got their food and still came over to me and another girl and offered us a fry before they even had one. Just something about that made my heart jump even though I’m not quite sure what it is. These kids are so loving and so caring for everyone but themselves. It pretty much made my birthday and I’m looking forward to the rest of the week. :]
***Editor's note: Breanna doesn't know it yet, but in a few hours she will celebrate her birthday Haitian Children's Home style with a cake made by Sandra and some cards from home!
Thanks so much for praying for us. Please continue to pray as we have another day at the open field. The sun is hot, we aren't quite used to it, and it is also intense and a few of us are learning lessons in re-applying sunscreen! Nobody got burnt badly yesterday but some of us definitely came back to the home a little pink. Today is the first day of the soccer outreach, and we are looking into the possibility of treating the HCH kids to a dip in the pool, some fries and cokes at the end of the day. Who would have known that serving and blessing could be so much fun!
Tuesday, April 07, 2009
So, each day Pam has one of us led devotion, either in the morning or at night. This morning I was awarded the duty of leading. Honestly I had no idea what I was going to talk about or anything. I prayed for a while about it last night, and the only thing I kept thinking was about how blessed I am to be here. Seriously I had no idea how amazing this trip would be, and I feel extremely lucky to be here.
Not only am I blessed to be in a group like ours, but also just to be able to here at all. About two months before we left Eddie came to me and told me that I hadn’t raised enough money, as a matter of fact I wasn’t even close. I was scared that I wouldn’t be able to come, and since I didn’t know what to do I turned to God and a few good friends of mine.
That week I received multiple checks from friends, and even some anonymous checks. That was my first real feeling of blessing on this trip.
But, what does it mean to be blessed. According to my Bible, the definition of bless is when God makes things go well for a person. As you probably know things didn’t necessarily go well for our group at the beginning (or so we thought.)
Throughout all the layovers and delays we had the opportunity to grow as a strong group, and we have agreeably been blessed with this time together. As God has blessed us, it is our duty to bless others, whether it is others in the group, our leaders, or the kids we are here to impact. While ‘researching’ last night for my devotion, I ran across Deuteronomy chapter 30. It says “See, I set before you today life and prosperity, death and destruction. For I command you today to love the LORD your God, to walk in his ways, and to keep his commands, decrees and laws; then you will live and increase and the LORD your God will bless you in the land you are entering to posses.” (Verses 15-16) That really motivated me to do whatever it takes to bless those around me. To help when asked, or not asked. And to be a blessing to the wonderful kids here. I didn’t know who or how to bless, but I found the answer in Romans 12: 14-21. It opened my eyes and encouraged me to be a blessing, while I am being blessed.
Thank you all for your thoughts and prayers as we travel further in our journey. Knowing that there are people supporting us back home helps us in more ways than you could imagine. Among all of the blessings God has given us, family and friends seems to be one of the greatest.
Monday, April 06, 2009
These past few days have not only been long and stressful, but also enlightening. With all of our traveling issues and delays I was sure that we’d never arrive in Jacmel, but we did! Before this trip, I had never really considered praying a daily part of my routine. Sure, I prayed right
before a big exam or when a family member was sick but it really wasn’t a big priority in my life. Not until this past weekend, that is. This is my first trip out of the United States, and I admit that I’ve been a little bit nervous and apprehensive. I’m not typically a shy person but for some reason I didn’t feel like I was myself. Today, when we went to Danny and Leanne’s place, the Haitian Children’s Home, I felt lost. There were so many kids and it was overwhelming! I couldn’t understand them because they all spoke Creole and even though many knew English they felt more comfortable in their own language. The language barrier really stressed me out and while I wanted to talk to those kids, I had a hard time picking up key words and phrases (I speak Spanish, not Creole!). For the first hour I meandered throughout the house trying to figure out what I should do. My other teammates were absorbed in hand clapping games and futbol (soccer), and I didn’t have a clue as to what I should have been doing. So I did what I had learned to do best during this trip: I prayed. I asked God to give me an overwhelming excitement for the kids in the Haitian
Children’s Home, and I prayed that he would somehow use the language barrier for good. I spent 5 minutes asking God for guidance and afterwards I actually felt a lot better.
After that it was as if God had transformed me into a completely different person. I was happy and even a little excited about getting to know these kids. While we were at the beach, without sharks of course, I even met a little girl who actually talked to me in English! Throughout these past few days I’ve learned that patience is key and prayer is life. If you don’t pray, you won’t go anywhere. If people hadn’t been praying for us last night it’s possible that we could have been stranded on the way to Jacmel still 3 hours out. Even though I’ve been frustrated and disappointed, I know that God always has a plan. We just have to know how to ask what it is.