Tag Archives: Haiti

Leaving My Comfort Zone

21 Sep

Blog post by Emily B., Team Haiti 2012

My journey to the point of going on this trip to Haiti really began when I first learned about the new job my dear friend Emily Hilburn took. It’s been such a blessing to see how God’s used her in this ministry, to pray for her and to support her.

A little over a year ago, my office got a flyer from OATH (Oklahomans Against Trafficking Humans). Since then, I’ve done research on human trafficking right here in Oklahoma City and have seen first-hand what the local Church is doing to help this sad and heart-breaking situation. I had no idea it was so prevalent! Anyway, while this isn’t an orphan issue per se, we’ve been learning in our Journey 117 conference calls that it is an ‘orphan causing issue.’ Through all this, I can see how the Lord’s been preparing my heart for going on this particular trip to Haiti.

My final decision to actually go on this trip was through God totally opening the door wide (and through Emily’s suggestion and hinting that I should go). Work schedule worked out, Emily will be leading our team, and the day I decided to go, I happened to read that day’s Operation World email about a country to pray for – Haiti!

For me, this is a step of obedience. This is very much out of my comfort zone – but since when is the Christian life supposed to be comfortable? The Bible says Jesus cares for the orphans…so I should too! He’s challenging me in new ways, and I’m seeing His heart for orphans pretty much daily now…we haven’t even gone on the trip! I have no idea what He has planned after this trip, but I trust Him and know He’ll use this. It will be hard to go for only a week, but I hope and pray there will be life-long changes while we’re there (for the Haitians we meet and for the members on our team)…or at least seeds planted. I’m thankful we’ll be helping existing ministries that will still be there after we leave.

These little ones we’ll come in contact with are precious in God’s sight…He loves them more than any of us can ever imagine!

Emily resides in Oklahoma City and will be serving with Journey 117 in October on Team Haiti.

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Pondering the Word ‘Orphan’

19 Sep

Blog post by Katy P., Team Haiti 2012

When I think of the word ‘orphan’, there are a lot of words that come to mind. Two of the dominate words are: starving and parent-less. There are a lot of orphans that are starving and have no parents, but there are also orphans who have to deal with much more terrifying and deadly things than that. Poverty, child labor, HIV/AIDS, sex trafficking, etc. are not the first things that come to mind when I think of orphans….but they should be.

Knowing that children all over the world face these kinds of terrible things makes me want to help them in any way possible. One of the reasons I am going on this trip to Haiti is to see firsthand what these kids go through on a regular basis. I want to be able to come back with a better understanding and know how to tell others what is going on and how they can help. I not only want to help with their everyday needs of clothing, food, and supplies, I want them to know that there is a loving, caring God who loves them unconditionally. He will be there no matter what happens in their lives.

On my first trip to Russia, I got to work with orphans. At one of the orphanages there were rooms with babies who never got held; they were fed by their bottles being propped up by pillows and they lay in their cribs all day staring at the ceiling. There was another room with kids that were disabled; they had all kinds of toys, but they were not allowed  to go anywhere because of their disability. In that room there was one little girl who had no legs, so she would scoot to me using her arms.  She was so happy. Another boy had no arms or legs, so he would roll to me. Still there were other rooms I could not go into because those were the rooms with the “sick” kids. I was never told what the symptoms were; all they could tell me was that the kids were very “sick.” Seeing and hearing all they went through really got to me and broke my heart. It got me thinking of what I could do and how I could tell others about how they could also help.

I realized that I am happiest when I am helping someone else. Whether it be somewhere in another country or right next door, I love working with kids. I can walk into a restaurant, store, church and anywhere else, and have a child smile or wave to me and it makes my day. I love to smile or wave back and to know that my smile or wave has made their day. It is one of the best feelings in the world.

A lot of people ask me “Why Haiti” and I honestly don’t know how to answer them. God has opened this door for me and I am going to step through it. Although I don’t know what is going to happen on this trip, I know that God has it under control, and I can’t wait to see how God is going to use me for His glory.

Katy resides in Oneida, KY and will be serving with Journey 117 in October on Team Haiti.

Aligning Paths for Service in Haiti

15 Sep

Blog post by Amanda F., Team Haiti 2012

If someone asked me a year ago where I would be today, I would have never dreamed that this would be the answer. I am so thankful for the series of events that have lead me to the most exciting and rewarding experience of my life. The road to this place in life has been rocky and broken in places but, in the end, God has always shown himself.

I was raised in a Christian family and grew up going to church every Sunday. It was the norm for our family and I went because it’s just what we did. Throughout life I had the basic foundations of Christianity instilled in me, but I never had a real relationship with God. Around June 2011, six months after graduating college, I kept hitting roadblock after roadblock as I was trying to get jobs and move onto the next step of my life. I finally realized I couldn’t do life alone.  My brother and sister-in-law, whom I was living with at the time, are very strong Christians and sat me down one day to stress how badly God wanted me. For once, I listened. I began going to The Rock shortly after and have been growing more and more in my faith ever since.

Shortly after I started attending The Rock, I decided to start the Foundations courses to learn more about the faith I had claimed for so long. I had been praying and praying for God to make this giant church seem smaller and to help me gain strong Christian friends. It was the final day of the four-week course and, although I learned a lot, I hadn’t yet found the answer to that prayer. At the end of class a girl my age came up to me and introduced herself. She said that she held a small group at her house and, after hearing part of my testimony, she felt God urge her to invite me. She felt we had a lot in common. I was elated! After joining the group and becoming closer to this girl, she revealed to me that talking to a complete stranger was completely out of her comfort zone and the only reason she had the guts to talk to me was because she felt lead by God. Continue reading

What Will You Do?

28 Jun

Blog post by Saundra P., Team Ethiopia 2012

Many years ago I sponsored a dear, orphaned child named Adeline who lived in an orphanage in Haiti. Adeline was 15 years old. But she looked to be much younger as she was so small. As a result of the sponsorship, Adeline received food, clothing, shelter, healthcare and went to school. I exchanged letters often with Adeline and I was also allowed to send her a small gift package. One day I received a photo in the mail of Adeline pictured with the gift of a Barbie, shoes, and hygiene items. Adeline had the biggest grin on her face. It touched me to see how much God loved her. That was my first experience with an orphaned child.

Adeline from Haiti

“Happy is the generous man, the one who feeds the poor.” – Proverbs 22:9  

Since that sponsorship, I always wanted to go to Haiti and I never went until last year with Journey 117 Team Haiti. My second experience with orphans was while serving in Haiti with children and families who were living in extreme poverty and in such suffering that no person should ever have to witness. Starving children. Lack of clean drinking water. Poor living conditions. Sickness and death from easily prevented diseases. The lack of concern by a government that does not care about the wellbeing of its citizens. In spite of the terrible conditions in Haiti, orphans flourished when placed in loving homes or orphanages. The children had access to food, clothing, shelter, medical care and received a Christian education. Since returning from Haiti, not a day goes by that I don’t remember the smiles and laughter of those happy kids. The kids that are our future; a future made possible because God opened the heart of someone for the fatherless and the widow. Continue reading

Recent J117’er and Photographer Shares Haiti Story Through Pictures

27 Mar

Keren Chookaszian recently served with Journey 117 on a trip to Haiti with others from her church in Evanston, IL. Keren is a photographer, mother and wife, and advocate for the orphan. Check out her blog to see pictures from her trip as she highlights the story of how God captured their hearts through the beautiful people of Haiti.

http://www.kerensaraiblog.com/

 

AIDS Orphans: Overwhelming Statistics

23 Feb

Blog post by Wendy K, Team Haiti 2012

Looking through the lens of my mind’s eye, I see two children.
Two children separated by continents.

One sitting pretty clothed in family,
A backdrop of abundance….
A broad smile…
Eyes of hope…
A triumphant shout…
A life of promise.

The other –
Utterly alone.
A backdrop of empty…
A vacant look…
Eyes of misery…
A silent scream…
A life lost.

Two children made in God’s image, precious in His eyes, worthy of respect, dignity and a opportunity.  Two lives- one full of hope, the other hanging in the balance.  I ask myself what I would do if this was the plight of one of my children.  One life lost is tragic enough, but over 16 million children have been orphaned by AIDS.  14.8 million of these children live in Sub-Saharan Africa. Continue reading

My Busy Bubble

6 Feb

Blog post by  Jane L., Team Haiti 2012

As a college student living on campus, it’s so easy to be wrapped up in a bubble of classes, friends, and on-campus fellowship; it’s so natural to turn a blind eye to all the injustices taking place in the world in the midst of all my busyness. But this summer, I realized that I have only a very short time left in college and that there is a bigger world out there. I didn’t know what to do with that until, one Sunday morning, I heard a sermon about serving those in need, during which this opportunity to work with orphans [with Journey 117] was presented. This was it.

As I prayed over the trip, I felt God really encouraging me to go. I felt uneasy because I wasn’t too familiar with a lot of people at church and didn’t know who I would be going with, but I still felt so excited about the trip that I decided to apply.

So, why does God want me to go on this trip?

As a pre-med student who is seriously considering the field of pediatrics, I think that this mission trip is an ideal preview of what I can do in the future. As a doctor, I’d imagine that I would be even busier than I am now and would be prone to being apathetic toward things that don’t affect my life directly. But I don’t want to be that way, and I don’t think God wants me to be that way either. Preparing for this mission is helping me vaguely visualize how to engage in the community in which I will be placed in the future.

I’m excited to continue to discover what God has in store through the preparation process and during/after the trip!

Jane L. will be serving on the Haiti Journey 117 Team leaving in March 2012 along with and others from her church in Evanston, IL.