Giving Tuesday ~ Hurricane Matthew ~ A Visit with Haiti

Unless you live under a rock I’m pretty sure you have heard about the hurricane that hit Haiti this past October.  As you can see by this video the effects of the storm were devastating.

Arial Footage Shows Destruction in Haiti After Hurrican Matthew

Many homes, schools, and businesses were damaged or are completely gone.

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Livestock and crops were wiped out.

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Cholera is on the rise again and people are in need of food, clean water, and medical attention.

Many families lost their homes and are still in need of temporary shelter.

This is Rose

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Rose is my sponsor child.

Rose and her family live on an island in one of the hardest hit areas of Haiti. My husband and I met Rose 3 years ago when we were on a trip with Compassion international.

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Rose is the little girl in the lime green dress

While on that trip, we visited the island where Rose lives.  We also visited the child development center she attends and we also became Rose’s sponsors that day.

The day I met Rose was a really awesome day and also is a pretty cool story. If you would like to read it you can go here and check it out -> Stepping Into the Boat .

Every since the Hurricane, we have been waiting for word from Compassion and praying for Rose and her family.

A few weeks ago we finally received this email.

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I am so thankful that Rose and her family are okay but at the same time, my heart is breaking for them because it looks as if they have lost almost everything.

Even though they lost everything I am very relieved to know that because Rose is in Compassion’s sponsorship program that Compassion is working very hard to make sure she and her family are taken care of.

There were over 3100 children and their families in Compassion’s program who were affected by Hurricane Mathew. Compassion is working hard to help all of them but they can’t do it without people like you to help support their efforts.

Did you know that today is Giving Tuesday?  Giving Tuesday is an international day of giving created to unite people around the world to make a difference in the world.

On this Giving Tuesday in honor of Rose and I would like to share with you an opportunity to help children in Hait who have been affected by the storm.

By clicking these links you can help

Click HERE if you would like to donate to give support to children and their families in Haiti

or

You can click HERE to sponsor a child in Haiti.

And most important of all… Don’t forget that your prayers are always needed.

Will you please consider joining others all around the world on this #GivingTuesday and helping children in Haiti?

What better way to start off this holiday season of giving than by making a difference in someone’s life.

Even though the Hurricane has ended the storm still continues for many families.

YOU can be a blessing in someone’s life today.

Thank you so much for your help and have a wonderful day!

Terri Siebert

 

 

Here is an inspiring story of how a young woman survived Hurricane Matthew…

#GivingTuesday #CompassionBloggers

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Her Clothes Were Not Good Enough For Church

“rad mwen yo pa bon ase pou legliz” (My clothes are not good enough for church)

I have been thinking about those words for over a month now, words spoken by a young woman in Haiti  just moments after giving her life to Christ.

This past April I went to Haiti on a mission trip with a group from my church. Several days of our trip we traveled to a church in a small village called Babaco.  To get to Babaco we had to travel down a road which we found out used to be a river.

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The road to Babaco aka dry riverbed

We were told that during a Hurricane the river had somehow just disappeared.  Nobody knows exactly where the river went but its completely dried up now and the church in Babaco is perched along what used to be its bank.

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Climbing the bank to the church

While at the church one of the things that our team did was we had a Bible study for the ladies of the village.  Our pastor’s wife, Ellie, along with another lady from our church, Judy, taught the class while the rest of us would sit with the ladies who were attending.

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Ellie & Judy teaching ladies Bible study

The first day of the class I was sitting in the back of the church when about 10 minutes into the class a woman with a baby came in the back door of the church. I happened to look up at her as she was walking in the door and we caught eyes.  I smiled at her and she returned my smile with a big giant smile of her own and then she came over and sat down beside me.

When I say she sat beside me that is actually a bit of an understatement because she didn’t just sit by me like a normal stranger would sit beside someone. Even though half of the wooden bench I was sitting on was empty she still sat just about as close to me as a person could sit to someone without actually sitting in their lap.  She sat right up against me.

As she sat down beside she spoke in Creole and even though I didn’t know her language or her mine we still understand each other.  She told me her name and she asked me what my name was.  She was very friendly and even though I do not usually like it when people to sit close to me, for some reason I felt immediately comfortable around her.

Her baby was a boy and he looked to be a little over a year old.  He was at the age where babies are just starting to toddle around and he was keeping his momma very busy that day.  To me it looked as if for most of the class she wasn’t paying much attention to anything the teachers were saying, but then the teachers handed out pink index cards with the words of the Bible verse Ephesians 1:13 written on them.Ephesians 1:13

The minute she was handed a card she started reading it out loud –

And you also were included in Christ when you heard the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation. When you believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit.

Once the cards were all handed out Judy read the verse to the ladies and she began explaining it to them, telling them that when a person asks Jesus into their life they become sealed, forever belonging to Him.  As Judy spoke I noticed that the woman sitting next to me was now listening very intently and the more Judy talked about salvation I could feel that the woman was filling with excitement. Judy then told the ladies that they could write their names on the pink cards as a reminder.  Right away the woman next to me wrote her name on her card.

Judy talked a little more about salvation and told the ladies that she was going to be inviting anyone to the front of the room who would like to ask Jesus to come into their lives. By this point I could feel the woman’s emotion and could tell that she was really really excited and just about ready to spring out of her seat.

When the invite to come up was finally given she immediately got up and went to the front of the room. Myself along with the rest of our team went up with her and we all prayed with her as she gave her life to Christ.

She was the only lady who went up that day.

I have seen people give their lives to Jesus before but for some reason this time it was very emotional.  I am not sure if it was because we were on a mission trip or if it was just that I had never been involved in this sort of way before.  Whatever it was I couldn’t contain my tears of joy, and from the sounds of the other ladies sniffing I knew I wasn’t the only one who felt that joy.

After we were done praying we talked with her for a while and she told us that she usually didn’t come to church and she said the reason she didn’t come was because her clothes were not ‘good’ enough for church.

Really?!?

Hearing that really bothered me a whole lot and it made my heart ache. Here was a woman who had not know about the salvation she could have had in Jesus because she couldn’t come into church because of what she wore.  This church had a dirt floor and there was no electricity or running water and yet her clothing was not good enough for her to come in 🙁

I was stunned.

And the story does not end here.

Later that evening when we went back to our guest house, we told the missionaries we were staying with about the woman who was saved that day.  When we told them her name they seemed really surprised at who it was.  They told us that she was known as mean woman and that she was also known as a troublemaker in the village.

Wow…. I found that so hard to believe because from the second I met her all I ever saw was a smiling, very sweet, and very friendly lady.

I just can’t imagine her being a truly mean person and  I wondered if maybe she was a troublemaker because she felt left out and maybe what was really going on was that she was hurting inside and maybe she behaved badly to cover for the hurt.

I don’t really know her story but since I have came back home I have thought a lot about her and this has sparked me to think more about the people who are in my own neighborhood.

Is it possible to that we could maybe be doing the same thing here? Could we also be keeping people out of church and ultimately God’s kingdom because of our attitudes? Do we have ideas about how people should behave or how they should dress for church? Do we label people with words like troublemaker and then let them keep that label forever?

Who decided that it’s up to anybody to decide anything about anybody else anyway?

What would you do if a known troublemaker walked into your church?

What if his clothing were ratty or dirty?

Better yet, what if his breath smelled of alcohol?

Okay so you’ve let him in, but would you smile at him? Would you go sit by him? Would you be his friend?

The answer is yes right?

The truth is none of us were ever good enough, but then we were sent a Savior,

Jesus.

And in order for others to know Him we have to invite and truly welcome everyone in.

Jesus would.

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Sealed in Christ and sitting on the front row

The next day we went back to the church in Babaco for another ladies Bible study. That day the woman came to class on time and she seemed different that day.  This time she didn’t sit in the back, instead she walked straight up to the front row and sat down. I could tell by the way she held herself she felt confident that she belonged in the church and she also knew she belonged in the front row.  She didn’t belong the troublemaker label anymore and she knew the clothing she wore was perfect because now… She was included in Christ when she heard the message of truth, the gospel of her salvation. When she believed, she was marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit.

She now belongs to Jesus.

Haiti Movie

I went on a mission trip with my church to Haiti April 11 – 19th. While there we stayed with Carl and Maya Gilles who are missionary’s who live in Port au Prince.The first day of our trip we visited a small church in a village called Babaco where we had worship service and then we went to Hotel Montana for the afternoon.  Hotel Montana was demolished in the 2010 Earthquake, but it now looks to be up and running again.  I know it sounds odd to start the trip with a day of rest, but our first day in Haiti was a Sunday and that is the activity our hosts had planned for us and by the end of the week I was really very glad that we had that day of resting, because I was exhausted.

While in Haiti we visited, The Apparent Project, Outside the Bowl, The City Hospital, Mother Teresa’s Children’s Hospital and also spent the week with the people of Bobaco, in a church there nestled on the bank of a dried up river bed. While there we had ladies Bible studies, youth Bible Studies, children’s Bible School, and much, much more.

Getting to know these wonderful Haitian people and learn more about them and their culture was such a blessing. This video though very loooong (27 min) is still only a small portion of the time we shared and the pictures that our group took while in Haiti.

I hope you enjoy it.

Have a wonderful day,

Terri

A Picture Forever Etched in My Mind

Our van rushed through the crowded streets of Port au Prince. We were trying to get to our destination of Mother Teresa’s Children’s Hospital by 3:00. We had been told that if we didn’t arrive by 3:00 we would not be able to get inside. A new driver and a wrong turn pushed us past our desired arrival time and now  we were pulling in front of the building, our arrival time 15 minutes late. Maya our guide got out of the van and knocked at the door I held my breath while at the same time saying a silent prayer, ‘Father, if this is your will today, please get us in,” that instant Maya began waving for us to come inside,  prayer answered our group climbed out of the van and headed through the door.

We had been told we were going to be helping with the malnourished babies today and that our job would be changing their diapers and feeding them. I was excited about this because I love babies and in my mind I envisioned us cuddling a cute little baby as it happily drank a bottle. What I didn’t know yet was that it was not going to be anything at all like I thought it would be and nothing could have ever prepared me for the helpless feeling that was waiting for me on the other side of the door.

We entered the room and the first thing I noticed was the white metal baby beds that were lined up head to foot in rows, and each one had a baby about the size of a newborn in it. In the first bed we were met by a cute little smiling faced baby boy. His little smiling face just warmed my heart and took a bit of the edge off my shock at what I was seeing beyond him in the other beds.

To me this hospital looked out of date and not at all like any hospital I had ever been in in my life.  There had to be over 60 babies here and though I never actually counted babies, there were two full rooms of babies each with at least 25 or 30 babies per room. There room was all white with nothing in it that showed that this room was for children, other than there were baby beds. The baby beds were very small and they seemed really unsafe.  They had metal bars and there were no bumper pads to block the the baby’s heads from being bumped. I also noticed that the babies who were able stand were much taller than the sides of the beds, and the first thing that went through my head was how easy it would be for one of these little ones to fall out head first onto the concrete floor below.  Another thing I noticed was that the babies didn’t have blankets though I am not really sure a blanket was needed because there wasn’t any air conditioning or even a fan to stir the hot muggy air.

There was one nurse in the room and she was busy mixing cereal and filling baby bottles with milk. We were given the task of changing each baby’s diaper and then to feed them. We spread out and began going down the rows almost in an assembly line fashion. I began checking diapers and eventually reached a bed with a baby boy sitting in it. He lifted his arms up to me, I reached in and picked him up, his tiny little body seemed  to mold to me as he pressed in close seeming to almost melt into my arms.  I was unprepared for the panicky feeling that washed over me as I suddenly felt shocked at how feather light and tiny he felt in my arms. I was frozen in disbelief as I stood there holding him in my arms, unable to let him go, and I also got the feeling that he did not want to let go of me either. Another silent prayer went up, “God, he’s so tiny, so precious, and so sick, please do something!’ Only a few minutes ago I was looking forward to coming here and now I felt sick to my stomach wondering how could this be possible that a child could be so small and so sick?! And right now this somehow made me I feel really small too.

Holding back the tears that wanted to spring forth, I held on to that precious boy as long as I could but I also knew there were other babies waiting to be changed and fed too.  I finally peeled him off my body, laid him down and began to change his diaper. I gently took his tiny cloth diaper off and once again I was in shock at what I was seeing. his tiny legs were like fragile sticks,  his tummy looked somehow bloated and to big for his body that was nothing but skin stretched over a tiny skeleton. I was smacked in the face by the fact that this baby was one of those children I have seen on the television commercials, the ones who are starving.  I wanted to close me eyes to what was before me right now, oh how I did not want to see this!!

So many times I have I prayed for God to open my eyes and let me see what he sees and now he had my eyes fully open wide and all I wanted to do was shut them tightly back up again.  I wanted to go back and live in my happy bubble of a life where all babies were cute and cuddly and full of life. My mind kept saying this can’t be true, you must be dreaming, but unfortunately this was not a dream, this was the harsh reality right here in front of me and it hurt my heart. Tears wanted to come but I would not let them out and I finished changing his diaper and fed him a bottle.  I sent prayer after prayer up for him and as I fed him he fell asleep in my arms.

 Just as I lay him down in his bed the nurse handed me a tiny little baby girl. To my surprise she felt even tinier than the boy had been and she just lay in my arms listless and gazing off at nothing. The nurse then handed me a bowl of cereal that resembled thick gloppy white paste and motioned for me to feed the cereal to her. As soon as I realized she wanted me to spoon feed a listless baby I was once again uncomfortable. This baby looked as if she was barely able to keep her eyes open, much less eat from a spoon. What if she were to choke?

I had no choice but to do what I was told so I did it even thought my motherly instincts were telling me this was not possible and also not safe for the baby.  I was worried she would choke as I put the first spoonful of food in her mouth…. I fearfully watched as she began slowly sucking the cereal off the spoon and to my surprise she was able to swallow it!

For the next 10 minutes I fed her tiny spoonfuls of cereal. When she seemed to be finished I told the nurse she was done eating. The nurse lifted up the baby’s shirt, felt her tummy and pointed at the bowl motioning for me to feed her more. More?!? I am a mother I know when a baby is full and this baby sure seemed to me to be full! I was not the one in charge here today so reluctantly I gave her another spoonful of cereal.  She held it in her mouth for a long time and I kept thinking to myself that at any second she would spit it out or start to choke, but instead she eventually swallowed it down. This went on for another 10 minutes or so and I began to realize with each spoonful she was beginning to become more aware of her surroundings and she was starting to eat a little faster.  Eventually she finished the whole bowl of cereal and I lay her down to change her diaper. While I was changing her she began playing with a small pink stuffed animal that was tied to the rail of her bed and she even began to smile.  While I was changing her diaper I noticed that she had a cloth bracelet on her leg with her age written on it and it said she was 8 months old!! How could this be possible? I knew she cold not weigh more than 8 pounds because she was the size of a newborn! I thought I knew what poverty was before today, but now here I was once again still having my eyes opened even further, WAY much further than I ever wanted them to be open and once again my heart was hurting.

When I finished changing her diaper I started to move away from her and on to the next baby, but just as I started to walk away she raised her arms stretching them up to me, I reached down and touched her precious little face and said goodbye because I knew I had to move on.  As I started to walk away I looked over and  her hands were still up and now she stuck her bottom lip out and began to cry. That was the end of me, I could not take it, the next thing I knew I had scooped her up and I held her in my arms rocking her telling her it was going to be okay.

As I rocked her she kept looking me right in the eyes, and in turn I could not tear my eyes off hers. Her little brown eyes were mesmerizing and I wondered what she was thinking about just as she reached out her tiny hand and placed it on my mouth. Once again my heart was melted to mush. There was no way I could put that precious girl down now, so I found a stool and sat down on it and just held her until she finally went to sleep, the whole time she continued to look right into my eyes

I am not sure how but somehow fell in love with that little girl as I sat there holding her.  After she fell asleep and I lay her down in her bed to move on to the next baby I realized that each baby in here needed someone to love on them.  I felt an overwhelming feeling of love for each one of them. that day and there were so many babies and so few of us. My heart was tearing into shreds and at the same time the feeling love was almost overwhelming as I gazed around the room and realized that all of the ladies who were here  today were all loving up on these small little babies. At one point I caught eyes with another of the ladies in our group and I could tell by the look on her face she was also feeling the same heartbreak I was feeling and I also knew she loved them too.  I am pretty sure her eyes spoke for the way the whole group was feeling inside.

We had been told that these babies were malnourished.  I don’t know a thing about malnutrition but as our time went on that day I realized that many of the babies had fevers, runny noses, and diarrhea. I am not sure if that is part of being malnourished or if they were also sick with something else too. Either way these were the sickest children I had ever seen in my life.

As I was sitting there in that room I remembered that I had read on Compassion International’s website that 9 million Children never make it to their fifth birthday. I wondered how many of the babies in that hospital room would not make it to their fifth birthday. After I came home I looked up the facts on Haiti and found out that 76 out of every 1000 children in Haiti do not live to see their fifth birthday. It breaks my heart knowing that a lot of the babies in that room may become one of the children in those statistics.

As I left the hospital that day I felt heartbroken and I will admit I was a little upset with God that he didn’t just snap his fingers and fix these babies but then later that evening God reminded me of my last visit to Haiti. On that visit I had visited one of Compassion International’s Child Survival Programs (CSP). Mothers can come to the CSP and while there they are taught how to take care of themselves during pregnancy and they are also taught how to take care of their babies after they are born. At the CSP the moms learn about proper nutrition, and are given a safe place for their children to learn and grow. Their children also receive medical care and immunizations. Most of all at the CSP the mom’s and children learn about Jesus and they have the opportunity receive the hope that only He can give them.
You can watch the video below to find out more about the CSP

That day we were not allowed to bring cameras or take pictures in the hospital, but even though we were not allowed to do that, a picture will be forever etched in my mind of what I saw that day.

If you would like to sponsor a child in Haiti or  do something to help you can click this link – Haiti and get more information.

Thanks for reading and have a blessed day,

Terri

Even Though I didn’t Understand, I Think I still Understood

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Today I went to church.  I usually go to church every Sunday but this Sunday church was different. The reason church was different today was because today I attended a little church in Babaco, Haiti and the service was in Kreyol.  During the sermon portion of the service an interpreter helped, but during the songs I couldn’t understand a word but for some reason it felt to me as if I still could understand.  And most of all I could still feel the worship in the words.  I have thought about this a lot today and I still can’t explain why, but I felt as if I I knew the words even though I really didn’t.  DSCN1245 After the service I felt really blessed by what I had experienced, I got the feeling that the others who came with me did not experience the same thing as I did, I could be wrong maybe they did and just they just didn’t say anything or maybe they didn’t and maybe I am just weird or something.

Sometimes the God stuff still confuses me but the more I experience Him the more I realize it doesn’t matter if I understand the whys.  All that really matters is that to me it felt so right and so good and I am really glad I got to experience it.

Today was a really good day.

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Journal entry April 13, 2015