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Planting Trees in Haiti

It is our final day in Haiti. We went back to Williamson today to plant trees in the village. We had 6 trees, one per each of the six families. We had the 12 people from In Focus Church, our interpreters, and the MOH leaders. Our supplies consisted of 6 trees, 4 shovels, 2 pick axes, and one wheelbarrow. The first family lived in a tiny house. The woman lived with her siblings and helped to provide for them. Many times there is an older sister or cousin that helps to support the children. It's not uncommon for one adult to support 8-10 children and the fathers aren't always present. Many of the interpreters we worked with this week lived in similar villages, maybe with a little better conditions since they are working. Again, we are so thankful for their willingness to communicate for us. They have been a blessing to each of us this week! They've answered many questions and helped us to understand so much of this culture.

You know the pictures you see on TV of poverty? It's nothing compared to seeing it in person. It's not necessarily sad, but a little disheartening. We don't want to feel sorry for them, but we do have empathy for them. It is just so hot. It certainly makes me appreciate having a bed and running water. If they have beds, they are dirty and multiple people sleep in a single bed. One guy told us he sleeps in a bed with 6 other people. Water can come out of a well or they may have to buy it from a vendor. Even if they have a well, they should be boiling their water, but they don't. Boiling their water is way more work and then they have to wait for it to cool. Poor hygiene was such a frequent problem and they just live in dirty conditions. It's not because they want to, but they don't know anything different. In Haiti, it's simply a cultural norm. I mean, there are donkeys carrying supplies and goods to sell. These people earn money through business at the market. There are farm animals all over the place and the people live amongst them. There is a small amount of wealth in Haiti. I spoke to a man about the price of water. $1.00 is equal to 64 goudes. A bottle of water is 25 goudes so about 40 cents and a small car driven by an air traffic controller is $55,000 dollars! We have a ton of pictures from the markets and the streets. They are so neat. These people know what pain is. They know what hard work is, especially in unfavorable conditions. You know when you have the flu you just want to cuddle up. You go get medicine and relax. Here, they must work. There is no relief from the discomfort. There is no 74 degree room for them. They must work and carry stuff, fetch water and travel across the village to use the toilet (hole in the ground) if they don't have one. Its hot and humid and they are working with sickness and a fever.  We are praying the people we served will be impacted more and more each month they receive care. We believe Haiti can be transformed through people who go as the hands and feet of Jesus!

The first place we planted the tree was in a small area in between a house and a fence. It smelled like feces there and there were shells everywhere. The human nature inside tells us this tree may not survive. But what can faith do? We prayed over each and every tree we planted. We did it for God's glory. We asked that God would bless the work we did through Him and prayed with each family. As the week ends we question what kind of impact we had on this Nation. We don't have to leave wondering, though. We will leave with prayers for each of the people we met and each of the trees we planted. We have faith that the trees will continue to grow and bear fruit for each family.

It was a little bit uncomfortable at the beginning of the day. The idea of being deep into the personal space of this culture is intimidating. Sometimes the people are hard to read. You can't always tell what they are thinking and they don't usually look happy. Though, being uncomfortable and vulnerable allowed some things to be pruned from each of us. This whole team worked so hard to serve with everything they had left today. Each of us came with different struggles, sin and hesitations. This trip has challenged us to reach deep within ourselves. Thanks so much to Mission of Hope, Haiti and In Focus Church for making this trip possible. We are thankful for the opportunity. We are thankful for each and every person who has supported this mission trip and prayed for us. We thank you who will GO next! We love you guys, see you soon!

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Last Clinic day :( Onaville

Today was the last day we will get to treat patients on this trip to Haiti! It seems like the week has flown by. We are so thankful to have been able to serve an extra day. Typically, teams arrive on Saturday, go to church on Sunday and then serve two days on one day off until they depart. We will get to serve a total of SIX days out of the seven we are here. This team is so thankful for new housing compared to last year so we are able to be fully rested and recovered every night. We give MOH, Haiti so much thanks for being so flexible and allowing us the opportunity to serve more. Tomorrow we will actually be going back into the village of Williamson to plant trees and spend some time with the people to see how they really live. This place is amazing. It's beautiful, yet cluttered with trash. Its rich, yet filled with poverty. It's full of people who are struggling yet there is JOY! 

Since we arrived in Haiti, we have treated 735 patients, had 59 dental patients, and 27 people accepted Jesus as their savior. On average we started around 10 am and treated patients until 2:30pm. Talk about efficiency! Set up and breakdown are a big part of the mission as well. We get up around 5:30-6 am and get back around 4:30 or so. It's essentially like we work a normal work day, but in Haiti and it's super hot...and humid. We have time to spend with friends talking about the day and worship together as well as encourage each other. If you're reading this blog, I hope there is something inside of you that wants to give back to this place! Come to Haiti next year, send a few dollars, commit to sponsoring an orphan, or mail the home office some of your old clothes. If there is anything inside of you saying GO, then I urge you to act. This place will change you and the people need you, and God may be telling you!

Today was a pretty calm day. The patients were a little healthier than our last group but the children are still so fragile. The babies hair turns a burnt orange color as they become malnourished. Most of these children had black hair growth coming in behind the orange. This is just a sign they are finally getting enough nutrients. The best part about treating these people is getting them to smile. It doesn't take much. They seem to look forward to this day. Some people are in desperate need of clinic day so they can be treated and saved. The simplest illness gone untreated can be deadly. Many of the patients had such illnesses. Of course, the children are so tough too. One thing is for sure, we are so blessed to have so many options available. If our child is sick, we can go to the store and get five different fever medications and electrolytes no problem. These people have nothing like that. They can't just make a doctors appointment and most of them can't phone their closest friend who is in the medical field for advice. They don't have phones and most people are unemployed or have jobs related to agriculture or business. At least the ones I've spoken to. The children have skin infections that are purely related to poor hygiene. This stuff has to be taught and reinforced to the Haitian people we see. We are excited about the day tomorrow and look forward to the future endeavors with MOH, Haiti and this amazing culture.

Thanks again for keeping up with us!

 

 

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Minnow Tree Day 2

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Minnow Tree Day 2

We have been rocking these mobile clinics. It has been so amazing to be in this environment and be challenged mentally, physically, and emotionally. The conditions are harsh. It's so hot. We are hustling and loving on these people. God is giving us grace and supernatural strength. Im pretty sure some how he is slowing down the time for us as well. We treated 182 patients, an additional 14 dental patients and 7 people gave their life to Christ. What a blessing! We are all so thankful to have been part of their special day. Apparently, we have seen more patients than MOH, Haiti typically sees in TWO WEEKS and we're not even finished! How amazing is that!?

Ready for some real life stuff from the mouths of the Haitians? "I already live in hell, there's nothing worse than this." OUCH. Can you imagine the hopelessness and heartache? There is more sweet people. We made a connection tonight. We know the truth. We know our mission here is to share it. The goal for MOH is to treat each village once per month. This means every single month these people are served with the love of Christ! They get to see what selfless love is. We are the hands and feet of Jesus, right? So thats who they see when they see us. There is a certain progression to salvation and growing faith. The people who reside in these villages get to enjoy the company of on fire Christians there to serve them wholeheartedly. They each have 3-4 people asking them if they know Jesus and how they can be prayed for each clinic day. They also have an evangelist who sits with them and prays over each child and person who will accept prayer. Again, the goal isn't to treat as many patients as possible, but to "reach" them, right In Focus?! we reach them every single time. Ultimately the more patients we see total, the more opportunity to share the love and truth of Christ. 

Many of the people do consider theirselves Christian. In this culture it's often assumed (if you're a Christian) you will attend church every Sunday and that is what makes you a Christian. Some Haitians believe there is shame in what they have, or how they look. Unfortunately, that prevents them from attending church at times, It doesn't matter what we've done. The sin that separates us from Christ will be forgiven the instant we ask. There is freedom in sharing our sin with someone and allowing friends to challenge us in viewing our own sin. There is nothing you can do to get to Heaven. We are saved by grace through FAITH! We are sharing that very message with the Haitian people and they are challenging us so much.

A few of us stepped out of our comfort zone today. The different stations in the clinic are challenging. We have a height and weight section, triage, doctors, pharmacy, and education. We are switching roles a bit and are excited to try the next thing. Thank God for the translators in making this more possible for us.! The entire team has really worked so well together. Everyone is healthy and we are praying for a great few days with the next set of patients.

Today, we did a tour of Mission of Hope, Haiti. The facility is huge, with so much potential for growth. It will be so exciting to see what comes next for the MOH, Haiti. They feed 90,000 kids per day! They are also trying to integrate the population into their health programs to provide jobs and allow them to be self sufficient. Please check out www.mohhaiti.org and see if there is a way you may want to get involved. Thanks for keeping up with us. We love you and miss you all. We can't wait for a great day tomorrow.

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Minnow Tree - Day 1

Today was another amazing day. We served in a new village a little closer to the city with easier access to resources.  The people seemed more comfortable around us and so appreciative for what we were doing.  We saw 113 patients today. It was calm and there were several patients who needed quick interventions to prevent further complications.  One particular patient had an abscessed tooth. It was so bad that the entire right side of his face was swollen up to his temple and his tongue had even gotten infected. It was obvious from across the room. What if we weren't there today? We are so thankful to have seen him today. The children and elderly are so fragile in this harsh environment. When they get sick they loose their appetite and drink less water. Their bodies are dehydrated and stripped of nutrients so quickly. Surprisingly, there were several patients today with elevated blood pressure. Some needed meds to lower it as quickly as possible to prevent stroke. Simple hygiene like washing "hot spots" and brushing their teeth could totally change their health. Oh, and of course drinking more water. We totally take for granted having clean water to drink. I mean come on. Water ranges from free to $5 a bottle. Its ridiculous. Next time, drink it from the tap and send that $3 to Haiti, or to an inner city foundation. The patients said they were so thankful for the way we served them. They just have no clue what they are doing for us also. God, continue to break our heart for what breaks yours.

So many of what we treat could be avoided with simple hygiene. And what is it about the children that break our heart? There is poverty in many areas of the world, even in America. It is hard. We know a God that created the universe could change this in an instant.  BUT, we know he is good. The bible says that we were orphans, but God rescued us from that. The orphans and young children here in Haiti are so innocent. They don't know to put their trash in one spot rather than throwing it on the ground. They don't know the feeling of fullness. They don't know they could be sitting in a nice house playing with toys. But, does all of that even matter? Do they even care about it? My guess is no. They are happy. They can show love and play jokes. And when they are saved and get to heaven they won't remember a second of the pain and suffering they experienced in this life, and neither will you. God will adopt all of them as well. There is no such thing as fair. There is just what is. We can impact and help if we are obedient. All that to say, God loves the people in Haiti. He loves them enough to allow suffering, so that we may come to them, serve them, and share the light of Jesus with them! He wants them in Heaven and he wants us to show them He is a treasure and He is good. Worldly treasures are kept close and not often shared.. Jesus Christ isn't that treasure, but sometimes we treat him as such.  

Remember what He did for you when he saved your life from chaos and destruction. Remember one single answered prayer. Let it be your motivation to ask if your coworker or neighbor is a Christian. Let it be enough for you, even in the midst of total darkness. The light of Jesus never stops shining. Did you ever ponder that when it is night here, the opposite side of the world is full of light? The light and the darkness can't exist without one another. Don't be afraid to be the light! 

We have really discovered a lot about ourselves this week. We continue to work together and challenge ourselves to address our sin and grow. We have a few team members who may have picked up a stomach bug and we ask you to pray for their healing. We are excited to serve the people in Minnow Tree again tomorrow. The are blessing us every step of the way.

I think the issue with the wifi is too many people on at night. I will have to post pictures tomorrow. Sorry guys! 

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Day 2- Williamson

Today was our second and final day in the village of Williamson.  It was nice to see these people again and perfect our efforts. I'm going to start out by telling you about the patients.  We saw 180 patients which included 13 dental patients and there were 4 salvations today as well.  One of them was in the dental chair! Dental hygiene is definitely neglected in Haiti. Many people don't have the resources to take care of their teeth or they neglect to clean their children's teeth out of ignorance.  My heart was breaking for the scared little girl getting a tooth extracted today.  She screamed her head off. She didn't understand what was happening to her. Teeth are only pulled if its absolutely necessary.  Cavities are common and they ultimately lead to infection, which can subsequently lead to sepsis or death. 

We worked so well as a team today!  Again, we worked with many people from Mission of Hope, Haiti (MOH). Some of the people and translators were new.  We started the day asking to change the setup compared to yesterday.  Sometimes requesting a change can be challenging amongst the Chiefs and Indians, if you know what I mean.  However, Lauren (the MOH leader) was receptive and had the best interests of the patients and the crew she was in leadership over.  Our entire team was so flexible. There was no complaining or bickering. We are serving other's and considering each other.  It was so helpful to start the day off with a devotional over breakfast  related to humility.  According to Philippians 2:3-8 we are supposed to "Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross." The reason we were able to implement change, challenge the way of yesterday and serve even more patients was because of this. God lead the conversations and by His grace and strength we were able to consider others more than having things our way. TEAMWORK!!

We all just finished a debrief about todays work in Williamson.  We sang songs together,  told stories, and shared some of our struggles with this day.  How amazing is that?! When is the last time you told a friend you struggled with something? Here's an example: feeling frustrated with the very people you're serving. Well, when the walls of pride are broken down, we can experience growth! We had to step back and consider the reason for their behavior and stop judging them. This is refreshing. Overall, we believe wholeheartedly that an impact was made on this village. We left with confidence that we did the very best we could.  

In America, we have children and we expect them to live long healthy lives. In Haiti, babies aren't necessarily expected to live. Some of these people were really sick. Though, many were experiencing minor complications of their circumstances, but you could see the insecurity of their livelihood all over them. There were a few patients that came back today seeking medical care.  They took extra supplies and had different complaints this time around. It's easy to look at them with the assumption they are being selfish. That's not the full picture, however. They are struggling. They are scared and they need our support! They live in the dirt. Their children eat dirt because they have no other food and their bodies are craving nutrients. It's heartbreaking. What's worse is the people think it's normal. Women give their children (most of them girls) to families who have more money as a trade for their labor. The children become servants and in return the new family will feed and raise them. The children are often abused in a variety of ways. Poverty leads to desperate actions and crimes at times. We need to be bold and serve, no matter how small.

We hope you enjoy the beautiful pictures of them. The team thoroughly enjoyed spending time with each patient and hope to do more the next time around.. We prayed with them, blew bubbles, played soccer, supported their business, played hand clapping games, empowered them with education, and made them smile. We did this only through God's strength and love. Oh, shout out to our interpreters, by the way! We are so very blessed to have them helping us. Without their communication we would be lost. 

The people in Haiti are changing us and changing you! Don't be afraid to listen to the Holy Spirit in doing something that makes you uncomfortable. Thank you so much for praying with and for us! We love you!

Technical difficulties tonight with the blog so pictures will be up tomorrow. Thank you!

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Clinic day 1

This day was so fulfilling!  We were fed, refreshed and ready to take on what Haiti had waiting for us. We ate breakfast together and prioritized praying and having some group devotional time before we got on the truck to Williamson.  This village is in Ouest, Haiti not far from where we are sleeping.  This team worked so well together today.  Have you ever done a project with 12 people? If you can imagine the difficulty, and then add 12-15 more people you don't know and 120 people who don't speak your language, you may assume there was no hope for success.  BUT, God moves mountains. All of the personality, sweat, and barriers didn't negatively impact the mission for the day whatsoever! The small trials combined with our belief in God's purpose in those moments allowed us to look within ourselves for solutions and unity.

The first goal upon arriving to the village was to set up our clinic. There was a station for height and weight, triage, doctors and PA's, a dental station, pharmacy, prayers teams, and patient education. We served hard today. It was a taste of what the rest of the week may be like. I would venture to say each of us did a few things we weren't 100% comfortable with. Though, it was as if our "comfort zone" didn't exist.  Thank God for that! Here's the thing... People need us to be that bold.  What impact can we have if we sit back and consider ourselves more than others?  How different would this world be if every person did one thing to serve another person per day? Just one thing! Would that be hard for you? No, this is not a rhetorical question. Would that be hard for you? You don't have to come to Haiti...But could you bring your neighbor a meal? Could you buy a stranger lunch? Could you just ask how someone is doing with the expectation they may not say "everything in fine?"  Heck, you could simply invite someone to church. Then, you'd have to take time away from your goals and priorities for them. I promise, this is what will happen. As Jesus softens our heart and convicts us of our selfishness, he will grow the desire to do more.  We will soon see that taking 5 minutes away from watching our favorite TV show or sporting event, could totally change another life and perspective.  I imagine them remembering it "Oh yea, there is one person who cares about me. I remember when..."  Did you come to know Christ because someone asked you?  Did you go to church because you were invited or your parents or a friend loved you enough to encourage you to go? It's time to step it up, church!  People you don't know half way around the world are counting on you and me to be uncomfortable, so they may be led to accept Jesus Christ's invitation for salvation and freedom! There is a progression with faith just as there is with poor choices. One always leads to another, often bigger, choice.  It will grow either way.  The direction of the growth is our choice.

The people in the village were so thankful for us. There were many infections and illnesses treated today.  The education alone could save their lives. Many of the medical problems in this area are related to lack of education and resources. Women's health was a huge problem today.  We treated many gynecological infections. Though, treatment is a bandaid considering the bigger problem. They need someone to see their beauty and worth and sacrifice in order to bless them with resources, but most of all Jesus.  These conditions are terrible, but one day they can be in the same paradise as us and it will all be worth it.

The largest majority of Haitians we saw today were young. There were only a handful of people over 60.  There we so many young people.  There is a high birth rate and subsequent high death rate in Haiti. Babies die from simple infections here.  If Mission of Hope, Haiti wasn't in that village today, some of the babies could have died from their illness. Unfortunately, they still may.  It is our prayer that each patient treated will remember their education and be able to take their medication as prescribed.  We pray they have the energy to fetch water and remember to boil it or treat it as needed.  We will see more patients in this same village tomorrow.  They need us, and we need them. In serving others we are blessed beyond measure. It will change us.  It will change them. Finally, a cycle we don't have to classify as vicious or destructive.

Results: Cared for 103 medical patients, 12 dental patients and witnessed 8 salvations today! BOOM!

One final thought. A song we sang tonight as we worshiped together around the table said basically we know God can move the unmovable, but if he doesn't, our faith is still in Him alone. It's so hard to have faith like that.  I pray we can all gain a little more of that as we grow closer to Christ.  See you tomorrow! Thank you for praying for us and staying in touch!  

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Busy streets, tiny houses and trash heaps.

Wow! Our flight was practically seamless.  We arrived in Haiti right on time under the most beautiful circumstances. The weather was perfect. It was sunny with beautiful puffy clouds all around us, warm and a little humid, but perfect.  We were quickly greeted by Naomi's Haitian Aunt Gracieuse (means gracious in Creole) after we landed. She was such a blessing to us as she helped us though security,  lead us to our baggage and then to the bus.  We did realize we were one important bag short as we reached our final destination for the day.  Please join us in praying for that bag to turn up.  

Have you ever heard that saying "beauty is in the eye of the beholder?" Well, if you look at the photos with the right perspective, you will see such beauty.  The trash scattered about and the tiny houses with dirt floors and metal roofs aren't bigger than their JOY. That is beautiful. These conditions are terrible to our standard, but here it's normal.  The children are still playing, the people are working, and they are even serving. Joy and happiness are a choice. We may not be able to control our environment, but we can surely control our attitudes.  On the other side of the coin we see a nation who is struggling. Many are lost. Babies And children are dying from starvation and women and men are suffering...  

 Michelle helped us get from the airport to the destination safely. She was just 19; an orphan who grew up in the Mission of Hope orphanage.  She said her favorite part of her job was getting to meet people like us.  She was engaged and even quick to point out something I would like.  People see us..they notice.  Do we see them?  A daughter, sister, brother, or friend?  When we listen to that little voice inside (The Holy Spirit) telling us to do something challenging, we are blessed.  We are blessed and humbled because we are allowing God to do work through us, rather than trying to work for God, as Dr B so eloquently said tonight.  

After dinner we sang a few worship songs around a table together and IT WAS POWERFUL.  If I said it felt comfortable at first, I'd be lying. There is a level of discomfort when you are trying to maintain control or when you are guarded because of previous wounds or pride. BUT, Jesus breaks those things down overtime and it is amazing! The mission: Share the ways Jesus has transformed our life in giving us salvation.  Share the hope that other lives may be transformed as well.  There is no hurt, no choice, no situation, no shame, no crime too large for Jesus to redeem.  He makes a way when we can't if we will only rely on Him to do it.  As we provide medical care for these people we have been encouraged to spend time with them.  We will do for one what we wish we could do for many. The goal is to get to know them rather than see as many patients as possible.  Dr Akers said it this way: "medicine is the conduit to spread the gospel." We believe this trip will change the lives of the people we reach.  We also believe this trip will break down wall inside us and change us forever.  Thank God!  Please pray with us for resilience, courage, safety, and for the light of Jesus to shine through us! 

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And we're off!! ✈️

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And we're off!! ✈️

We have been waiting and praying for this day and it's finally here! This morning, we are on our way to the airport to meet up with the rest of our team and catch our flight to Haiti 🇭🇹. Please keep us in your prayers as we serve on behalf of In Focus Church, Mission of Hope and you! Thank you all for the support and prayers you've provided thus far. We pray that God would keep us in His perfect will, give us strength, grace, and help us to be resilient as our hearts are supernaturally transformed by this experience.  To the family and friends who are caring for our children, pets and other responsibilities while we are gone, THANK YOU! Check out the blog tomorrow for more info on what we are getting accomplished :)

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10 days away...

Hey y'all!  I am thrilled to introduce you to our 2017 Haiti Medical Mission team.  We have already seen God provide for this team in awesome ways, and we are excited to see all that he has in store for them as they travel in just 10 short days.  Please be praying for these team members by name.

MB

Front Row L to R, Kellie Collins, Mary Blevins, Shelby Deem, Imoni Egberi, Miranda Klockenga. Middle Row L to R, Tony Micklon, Naomie Jules, Adam Deem, Kimberly Thomas.  Back Row L to R, Keith Blevins, Troy Akers (team leader). Not Pictured: Natalie Bien-Aime

Front Row L to R, Kellie Collins, Mary Blevins, Shelby Deem, Imoni Egberi, Miranda Klockenga. Middle Row L to R, Tony Micklon, Naomie Jules, Adam Deem, Kimberly Thomas.  Back Row L to R, Keith Blevins, Troy Akers (team leader). Not Pictured: Natalie Bien-Aime

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