Today was our second water truck day. We made two stops and both were signs of being refreshed. We refreshed the children and families in the streets with clean water, but they also refreshed us. They refreshed us with their love and smiles.
I was completely and utterly blown away by the children at the second stop. They were showering in the streets; they were so happy to have this clean water. Their faces just spoke to me saying, "Ahhh, I'm refreshed." But what they did to me was what really blew me away. I had a small amount of dirt on my legs and the small children wanted to use the last of their water in their bucket on ME! I told them "No, merci! No merci!" They are so beautiful and selfless that it brought tears to my eyes.
I cannot be more thankful and blessed that I am experiencing Haiti. There is no place I'd rather be right now.
Thursday, June 7, 2012
Wednesday, June 6, 2012
This blog entry is probably going to be one of the hardest to write. My emotions remain high as I try to hold back my tears. I find comfort in the verse below...
As your name deserves, O God,
you will be praised to the ends of the earth.
Your strong right hand is filled with victory. (Psalm 48:10 NLT)
Through every sickness, His name will be praised. Through every malnourished little body, His name will be praised. Through every voice that cries, His name will be praised!! Through the heaviness of my heart and the tears, I praise the sweet name of my Jesus. I know He is faithful. I know He cares and I know He feels what these people feel. Jesus may your name be praised in all the earth! Your hands are filled with VICTORY!!
This is My commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. -John 15:12 NKJV
This morning we visited the home for sick and dying. This is a home where mothers bring their very sick infants when they can't afford to go to the hospital because of the expense and they realize that the sickness of their child is way more than they can handle. This was my second time to go and while I couldn't wait to go love on these sick babies, I was so anxious about the overwhelming sights I was about to see. My experience last year with the baby that died in my hands, still remains vivid in my mind. As I walked through the doors of this home, I knew I was right in the arms of my savior and that through Him I was ready to share his beautiful love with every sick baby and give hope to every broken mom. I know my God is a healer and no sickness is too big for Him. "The Lord nurses them when they are sick and restores them to health." -Psalm 41:3. I prayed over my hands and asked the Lord to work through them. We drove up to this home and as we got off the tap-tap, I noticed mothers and their sick children sitting outside the gate. As we entered, I realized it must have been food distribution day for these moms. We passed by a station where they stood in line and waited for their bag of rice and cooking oil. Past the line we entered a room full of moms holding their malnourished, dehydrated, and critically ill infants. The feeling of hopelessness was so strong in the room I had to fight tears. I smiled at every mom I saw and made it a point to touch their shoulder to let them know Jesus loves them. I could see the helplessness in their eyes as they knew this was the last hope for their sick baby. They could not feed their children or care for them and they were trying to ignore the fact that their sweet infant was dying in their arms. They were screaming out for help, but so afraid of the reality before them. I kept hearing the Lord say, "Walk in boldness my child. These babies need your love. Love on them and pray over them. I am with you. I have invested my power within you." The Lord's peace is so amazing and the minute you just surrender your emotions to Him, He is your greatest comforter.
In this home the bottom floor is full of very sick and dying babies laying in crib after crib. The cribs line the walls and each baby has a number on their band around their wrist. When you finished holding them you replace them back in the crib that matches their number. This part of it all is so hard for me. I know that this is necessary to keep track of all the babies but it still just breaks my heart. I wanted to tell every sweet baby "your identity is in Christ and you are highly valued and favored!! You are not an accident but chosen!" The second floor of this home has sick toddlers but they are getting stronger everyday by the power of Jesus! I picked up a tiny little girl who was 3 years old and appeared to be not even a year. She was so thin and frail I was almost afraid to pick her up. I reached my hands in to get her, brought her to my chest, and the heat from her body revealed she had a high fever. The nanny's gave me some food and I sat down to feed her. After three bites she puked everything she had just eaten up. She couldn't hold any sort of food down and her body desperately needed the nutrition. I gave her a sip of water and she puked even more. She couldn't even hold down a drop of water. She was weak and frail. I have never seen a baby so malnourished.
Most of the morning I remained on the bottom floor. Now that I am a Neonatal Intensive Care Nurse, I felt myself being able to think critically and process the sickness of these children. I scanned these children and infection goes through my mind. There is NO sterile technique about caring for these children. I began to observe the IV's and the majority of them were infiltrated and backed up. Very few of the children were on fluids just to help with dehydration when inside my heart I knew there was so much more wrong. In the corner of the room a very sick baby laid in the corner with her mother sitting right beside her holding her sweet hand. She was about one year old and weight 4 pounds (if that). I could see every bone in her body, her eyes were sunken in from dehydration, and her belly was protruding. She was so sick. She was sweating profusely and was so lethargic she didn't even have the energy to turn her head. She was severely retracting and her breathing was fast and heavy. My heart broke. She was on minimal oxygen (a very old oxygen machine that looked like something you blow up balloons with Helium) and the machine kept beeping because of LOW oxygen and all they did was turn it off and back on to fix the problem for the next five minutes. As a nurse, I wanted to jump in there and fight for the life of this child and then reality hit me; I don't have the means to help this child, only the healing power of my Savior could restore her body. Back home, we are so incredibly blessed to have what we have in a hospital NICU to save the life's of so many premature and sick infants. It is unbelievable at what we have and here I am in the midst of a country that has next to nothing. I can't not acknowledge the fact that this home is doing is all they can and all they know to do. It is actually beautiful because they are trying their very best to save the lives of these infants and toddlers. I looked at this sweet baby, took her tiny little hand into mine, and prayed for her life. I claimed her destiny knowing that God has her right in the palm of His hand.
A few minutes later I walked away to a room full of crying infants. As I walked down the aisle of cribs, hand after hand reached out screaming for my attentions. Every infant wanted to be held. Every infant wanted to be loved. And in my heart I know that as hard as this was for my MY JESUS cares for every single one of their lives. Their live matters and they were NOT an accident. Yes, they may have AIDS or a product of rape or cancer may be destroying their bodies, but GOD cares. I held two little girls close to my chest that were severely underweight and cried and prayed as they buried their head into my chest. And then I began to sing, "Be near O God, be near O God..." And their cries settled.
Later into the morning I noticed the room where the moms were waiting with their children started to get very congested. I jumped in and helped triage babies and get their IVs and fluids going. This was hard for me because it was so different from what I was used to. Very limited stuff to work with and these babies were so dehydrated; to get an IV was very challenging. The first baby I had was a very sick little baby girl and every time I had to stick her for an IV I prayed God would guide the needle because she was SO dehydrated and lethargic, she needed fluid FAST!! I finally got the IV and we got her fluid going! Praise Jesus. It was also difficult to watch the way they do things. There is no sterile environment whatsoever and the conditions aren't very clean at all! Infection kept running through my mind and all I could do was pray. There was so much education that was needed.
Tonight we had "Word of the day" with our team and my word today was broken. Working in a NICU back home and being "broken" for my babies there, it was magnified at the home for the sick and dying. The hardest part was that the majority of the problems are treatable but the infants and children will die because they don't have the resources to help them get better. The majority of their sickness starts with malnutrition and dehydration; breaks my heart into pieces. I do have to say that the Lord has made me so much more grateful in many areas of my life.
Tomorrow we have another water truck day in Cite Soleil and then tomorrow night we are going to visit the tent cities in Haiti. We will set up a medical clinic in the back of our tap-tap. Keep our team in your prayers as we are the hands and feet of our Jesus. Pray that the Lord would prepare our hearts for what we are going to see there. Every step that we take, we want to exalt Him in ALL we do :)
Love you all so very much and thanks for ALL your prayers and support !!! To God be the glory!!!
Tuesday, June 5, 2012
For he satisfies the thirsty and fills the hungry with good things. (Psalm 107:9 NLT)
The drops of water the little boys would catch.
Well I made it to Haiti!! Where do I even begin? Today was not only physically exhausting but emotionally exhausting as well. As I sit here, trying to process all that I saw, my heart is broken beyond words. The vivid images that remain in my mind have changed me forever. God truly showed me the things that break His heart and the things He feels through a bucket of water.
My day began with making french toast with our sweet haitian cooks and Jean!! Making french toast turned into Jean telling me I wasn't beating the eggs right and that I needed to put a little more strength into it!! LOL! He is definitely a pro! I LOVED getting up, having a cup of coffee, a little quiet time with my Jesus, and making breakfast with the most AMAZING and sweet-spirited ladies! They are truly beautiful on the inside and out! They work so hard and I am truly grateful for all they do for us as a team.
We left the house at about 9am and headed out to Cite Soleil, the poorest slum in the Western Hemisphere, to deliver 10,000 gallons of water. Kayleen and I decided to be CRAZY and ride on the outside of the water truck. I do have to say, I about had a heart attack when we almost ran over a cow, I would have been traumatized for the rest of the trip! But the cow made it out from in front of the truck...ALIVE!!! Thank you Jesus!! As I rode on the outside of the massive truck, I observed the poverty around me. The smell of Cite Soleil was overwhelming. It was a mixture of urine, feces, sewage, trash, and disease. The smell hit me hard. It is very distinct and hard to forget. It was so heavy you could almost see the thickness of it in the air. We drove a little ways down the street and then backed to water tuck down into a little alley/street. The driver blows the horn and Hundreds of haitians come running carrying as many empty buckets as they can hold. The sight was overwhelming. Tiny little malnourished bodies knew the routine and carried the empty buckets with the little energy that they had left. It took every calorie within them to make it to that line because a "place" in that line meant water for the next few days; water that they would cook with, bathe with, drink, and every drop they would cherish! We attached the hose to the truck and the water began to flow.The people in line fought for their place and all they could focus on was getting their empty bucket "filled." We began to fill bucket after bucket after bucket. One thing I noticed is that they valued EVERY drop and would beg us to fill it to the very top. If it was one inch short of the rim, they begged for more. Nathan and I worked hard at managing the hose at the first stop and as physically exhausting as it was, it was so rewarding. Our backs became tired but our spirits grew stronger. We had the opportunity to see hearts filled with hope walk away with a "full" bucket. But as they walked away, they were still empty and trapped in their circumstances. My heart screamed inside of me, "Lord, these are your people! They are your cherished and most prized possession! You love them so much. Your word says that they will have everything they need in you!" And as they walked away I began to intercede for every heart and every soul, trusting that they are in the father's hands. As I filled the buckets, a few sweet little boys caught my attention from behind. I could not believe what I was seeing. The place where the water hose was attached to the truck had a slightly loose seal and was "dripping" water. These sweet little boys were so thirsty they had crawled up under the truck to catch every drop in their tiny little water bottle and then they would drink every last drop. They were so thirsty and their malnourished little bodies revealed their severe dehydration. Back in the states we don't even think about a "drop" of water when here in Haiti, this "drop" of water is what is keeping these people alive. I was torn and broken. I was sick to my stomach and began to thank the Lord for the clean water I have everyday. Children would come up to me and look at me with their tired and broken eyes, put their hand to their mouth begging me for a drink of water. I have never felt so powerless. I cried as this sweet little girl buried her head into my stomach. I could feel every bone in her body and her chest was so congested it felt like bubble wrap as I laid my hand on it. Her belly was protruding from worms and her hair was a yellow color from malnutrition. I wanted to take her home, feed her, comfort her, and love on her. But all I could do was pray and look at her and tell her, "Jesus loves you my sweet girl!!" We started to leave and a little boy attached to my leg. I quickly gave him my attention and he was pulling at his ear. I turned his head to the side to have a look and green pus was oozing out. My heart fell into my stomach. His ear was severely infected. I wanted so much to take him to the doctor and get him help. In the states this would not happen because an earache would so easily be treated with medicine. The conditions this little boy lived in were beyond me. He kept pulling at his ear as it oozed with green pus and I laid my hand on it and prayed.
We made two more truck stops that day. After the second stop we took a break and walked through Cite Soleil out close to the ocean. Every step I took I claimed the Nation of Haiti for Jesus. Children attached to us and we trudged through mud, trash, feces, urine, and disease. Our shoes sunk deep into the mess and at one point I was literally sick. Sick from the smell, but mostly sick from the fact that people live in this. How does this happen?? How is it that I live in luxury back home and these people live in filth? I don't understand? And then all I could think was BLESSED; I am beyond blessed to live where I do and God began to speak to my heart, "Lauren I have blessed you so you can bless others. Be a blessing! Give HOPE. Show love!!" And then I remember that is what I have come to do; to be HIS hands an feet!
Monday, June 4, 2012
WOW! What an incredible mix of people God has placed in my mist.... it was so exciting to watch this team bond today as they traveled through the airports and settled into the guest house in Haiti. I am excited to continue watching them experience Haiti...
Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith and in purity. - 1 Timothy 4:12
|MN TEAM READY TO ROLL AT 4 AM!|
|WONDERFUL TEAM (JUST MISSING Ms. TEXAS.. LAUREN!!!)|
|So excited to share this experience with my best friend...|
|God's hand-picked team!!|
|Welcoming in the new addition!!|
|New Puppies at the Guest House!|
I would use the word Appreciation and Relationship to describe the first day. Appreciation for the opportunity we've been given to serve on this mission, as well as the appreciation for the Haitian staff that contribute to our experience. The word relationship for the relationships that have already cultivated between old and new friends; the relationships that we are able to build with the people of Haiti. Most importantly, the relationship we are strengthening with God.
Sunday, June 3, 2012
Look not to earthly things for fulfillment,
But look to the heavens for the greatest reward,
For it is in the hands and feet of Christ that our gaze may be shifted from an earthy promise of artificiality to that which really matters,
Take glance at that which surrounds you and witness the need for love and generosity among the most vulnerable of people,
Set down your possessions and free yourself of the binding act of selfishness,
Extend your arms outward and reach out to those who yearn for your heart.
May you be broken by those who you encounter,
May you be encouraged by the humbling of your heart
May you hear God's call in your life to serve his people through prayer, compassion, and commitment.
Saturday, June 2, 2012
|Our Team ... just missing Anthony and Lauren!|
As I sit here thinking about the next week ahead, tears began to fill up in my eyes. God has blessed me so incredibly much...and I could NOT be any more thankful!! He has blessed me with a wonderful team of young adults and a supportive network of friends and family. I am absolutely blown away by the number of people who have stepped up to support this team with financial donations, with in-kind donations, and with countless prayers and words of encouragement. Thank you so much to EVERYONE that has blessed this team..... you can be assured that these blessings will flow right through us and bless the lives of the people we will be serving this coming week in Haiti.
God has been preparing me for the past year and half for leading this team to Haiti. He has allowed me the opportunity to grow as an individual through my own personal trials, through observation of other mission leaders on my countless trips to Haiti, and through development of my leadership style as a faith formation leader for 9th graders at my church. I often times feel "unprepared"... "undeserving" to be called to lead, but God's calling for me to lead a young adult group to Haiti is not by accident. He has chosen me to lead... He has put full confidence in me, and I must TRUST these plans He has for me. By His grace alone, I know He will give me the strength, confidence, and guidance I need to lead... and to lead in a way that will ONLY BRING HIM GLORY.
As I keep telling my team, I am so blessed to have each and everyone of them be apart of this experience. I am blessed that they have taken up the calling to serve with me... and I look forward to sharing with them the place that has BROKEN my heart WIDE open... the place that has changed the lenses I see through... the place that has become my home away from home... and the place that has put me back on track with the PLANS the LORD has for my life.
Please continue to keep our team in your thoughts and prayers throughout the next week. Pray that the Lord will provide us with His grace and protection.. that He will use us in many incredible ways... and that HE BREAKS EACH OF US OPEN TO BE USED AS HIS VESSEL.
We are prepared to BE HIS HANDS AND FEET to reach out to those living in absolute poverty.
THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU for all that YOU have given to us! Thank you for writing this week in Haiti on all of our hearts!! Continue to prepare our hearts and our minds for the incredible plans you have for us during our experience in Haiti. Provide us with your grace and protection while we serve our brothers and sisters living in absolute poverty. Let us see your face in every child that we hold, every person we encounter, every mouth that we feed.... give us the courage to serve YOU through every opportunity that arises. Help us to lay our fears, anxieties, and negative self-esteem at your feet.... so that YOU can turn them into courage, strength, and confidence. Never let us become too complacent or too comfortable... we don't want to lose sight of YOU and the PURPOSE YOU have for us. And may we ALWAYS seek to bring YOU the glory!!!!!
GOD BLESS YOU ALL,
|Ladies working on packing donations|
|WOW! LOOK AT ALL THIS!!!|
|Plenty of Underwear for the kiddios!|
|Taking care of business.|
|Our fearless weigher!!! --- Looking great with a pink suitcase!|
|And everything is in the bags.... We are ready to GO!!!!|