Friday, March 4, 2016

To be a servant

Nothing could prepare me for the impact of delivering water into the worst slum in the western hemisphere. Cite Soleil is only 8 square miles but is packed with 300,000 people. The density is shocking. 

The children hear the water truck honking and come running to greet us. They run along side the truck yelling “Hey you! Hey you!” As we get out of the truck, we are greeted with what can only be described as pure love and joy. For a moment I am no longer aware of the extreme poverty as these little angels jump into our arms and wrap themselves around us as if we are beloved family, but we are not, we are total strangers. We hug them back with the same abandon, as if they are our own loved ones. To have only two arms suddenly feels inadequate as we scoop up these beautiful smiling faces holding 2 children at a time with several more clinging to our legs and waists. It is then that we gaze around. We are not in a sea of love. We are in unimaginable poverty. Garbage was everywhere growing unchecked as if it was a malignant cancer.  Piling up higher and higher and reaching further and further into the small community infecting the water and dwarfing the already small huts. I can’t fathom surviving in conditions like these. Suddenly, I stagger a bit and my world cracks.

I focused that day on being the person who held the water hose. I took my job seriously. Wasting as little water as possible. The Haitians lined up with their buckets, often fighting as everyone is desperate to get water first. We fill and fill and fill small water buckets. I focused on my job, aware of the smells and continuous loud noise and commotion in the streets. I was also aware of my own sweat, which would have to be replaced with clean water. When we finished the first stop I thought we had worked through lunch and into mid-afternoon. It was 11am. The rest of the day was a blur. 

A few days later we returned to distribute water again. For this I am very grateful. I felt more acclimated to this new environment and experience. This time I knew I had an opportunity to open my lens wider and to see and do more. I focused more on the people and surroundings. I spend most of that day holding children and helping them bring their water buckets to their huts. For the moment, I felt a part of this community. The streets were filled with people bringing their small buckets back to their huts and returning back to the truck quickly to get as much clean water as possible. I have never felt a greater sense of accomplishment. And I have never felt so fulfilled. The Haitians got clean water and were seen and loved that day. I also received clean water, was seen and loved that day… and a lot more. 

Healing Haiti is the only organization that delivers clean water to the people of Cite Soleil free. 

-Lisa Illies

Friday, February 26, 2016

The Elders

Visiting the Elders today was not what I thought it was going to be. I don’t know what I expected it to be, maybe like volunteering in my nursing home back at home is what I can most compare my expectations too, but I certainly didn’t expect what I felt today.
I had lost my grandparents at younger age, and so what memories I have of them are truly special and such a blessing. The advice i give to those who I see get annoyed or find the elders in their lives a burden is “Don’t take the elders in your life for granted, cherish every moment you have with them because you truly never know when you have to say Goodbye.” I can not emphasize it enough, and today was just a reminder of all of the good I had with my grandparents.
Today had really hit home for me when we visited the Elders because of loosing mine at a younger age, and today I really saw the light of my grandparents in the sprits of the Elders today. The first elder, Ofan, he reminded me much of my my Abuelo, he was the first of the grandparents I had lost as a child, he had spirit, heart, hope and passion even though he had his leg amputated. To see the spirit he had when he was playful bantering with my mission brother, Paul, like they had been friends for years, to see the light in his eyes when he spoke of his goats, the hope that he was going to see his goats again and the heart of the lord, because no matter what he had been through, his heart was still full of the lord and he knew his lord was there watching over him and it gave him the hope that it was all going to be okay. 
The second elder we had visited was Marie, she reminded me so much of my grandmother, I saw the same light and spirit today in Marie’s eyes that I had seen in my grandmothers eyes even at the end of her life. Just like my grandmother, Marie knew and believed in the lord that he was going to watch over her and love her, the light and love in her eyes even though she was sleeping in a tin hut and had out lived most of her family, and the thanks and just joy that she had when I was washing her feet, hands and face. 
It’s just truly amazing that all we gave them was 15 minutes of our time, some love, song and prayer and they were just so thankful. It truly broke my heart to see that these people are here and that they have nothing but they still love and are thankful. I believe that today I found part of an answer to a question I had asked before I went on this trip and even now while i’m on this trip, Why am I here? Why did you send me here? and today was all about love, that was it. Even though these people had close to nothing and that the floor of there home was dirt, they still had so much love. 
Today all sorts of boundaries were broken, I saw two men who were literally polar opposites, came from two different sides of the human spectrum, converse like they were long time friends and had no cultural or language limitations. I saw a women who couldn’t come out of her tin hut because he had fallen and had to lounge on her dirt floor, show so much thankfulness and worship and love because we sat there and sang with her.
So on this day, from what I had witnessed, I end it with one message.. just love and cherish the time with the ones you love. 
Glwa pou Bondye, Glory to God. 
Thank you for reading, 


Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Slumberland Serving in Haiti February 22-29, 2016

Slumberland is sending another team to serve in Haiti.  This is the 4th team and it happens to coincide with dedication and opening of Hope Church in Cite Soleil located in the poorest slum in the Western Hemisphere.  The first year we visited Cite Soleil and the new site of Hope Church, it was nothing more than a garbage dump.  Our team will be in Haiti serving from February 22-29.  Watch the blog frequently, we will try to update it each day (providing we have internet) with stories and photos of our week.