Sunday, August 16, 2015

Haiti--end of the week

On Friday we finished up our time in the clinic in the morning. We got to the church and there was a full waiting area ready for us! We were able to see all the patients of that morning including some follow-up patients from earlier in the week and previous trips. It's been very encouraging and exciting to work with some of the same patients throughout the week as well as see patients from previous trips and carry forth some sustainable rehab efforts in this community. We were encouraged to see some of those patients getting better! 

Friday afternoon we were able to visit the orphanage/school for the disabled that we got connected with earlier this week. The team met the principal, Francois, and enjoyed taking a tour of their space and hearing his heart for the disabled community. That afternoon Francois was also hosting a bi-monthly meeting for the disability association of that region. There were 150-200 people with disabilities or families of those with disabilities in attendance. It was truly remarkable to see this group of people coming together in one place to encourage and support one another- mentally, emotionally, spiritually, and physically. We had the opportunity to measure 6 individuals (2 boys, 2 teenage girls, and 2 adult males with CP) for wheelchairs that we will seek to acquire back in the States. We also were able to measure for orthotics for a few of the individuals as well as treating musculoskeletal pain with the caregivers and provide simple education about safe transfer technique and proper stretching activities. The whole team loved our brief time with this community and we are very excited and encouraged for our partnership going forward.  
Saturday was a great day of relaxing together as a team and getting to reflect on our week! We enjoyed a day and night at Villa Ormiso tucked in the hillside of Carrefour with its lovely pool and lounging area. We spent time in the evening sharing our favorite stories and memories from the week and speaking the new truths of this faith journey the Lord has taught us throughout our time in Haiti. It was a beautiful night of enjoying each other and being strengthened by one another's reflections. Unfortunately we had to say goodbye to two of our teammates on Sunday morning as they had to get back to the U.S. while the rest of the team travelled to The Dominican Republic. 

Even on our travel day (Sunday) we saw the Lord's hand so evidently over our journey and conversations. We ended up missing the original bus that we were planning to take due to misunderstanding bus schedules and had to drive another twenty minutes in the tap-tap to a different city. But we were relieved to see a bus waiting in the parking lot when we arrived! 
As we checked in and rushed to get on the bus, we headed to the back where there were open seats. There was one Haitian man near us and we struck up a conversation with him. He ended up being extremely helpful throughout our trip and helped us translate to exchange our currency and get through immigration/customs without any problems at all! It was actually easy- imagine that! We were so thankful for his help and thankful that the Lord had provided someone to translate for us and to walk us through everything! But THEN, it got even better!! 
At this point we had been on the bus for a couple hours when all of a sudden our friend looked at us and asked, "Were you guys in Carrefour?" We were surprised by his question but answered yes. He then said, " I've seen you before... were you at the school? The school for the disabled?"  It turns out he had been at the SAME school that we visited on Friday at the SAME time!! He also knows Francois personally (he is Francois's son's godfather!) and has been working with him and his family to raise money to provide food for the disabled community for the last 7 years or so. We were able to exchange contact information to be able to work together for the benefit of this community in Carrefour. It was such an awesome moment sharing this vision and love for the same people as well as experiencing the irony of the situation! We all couldn't stop rejoicing over how amazing this moment was! 
We have seen the Lord working through relationships ALL week and have constantly experienced His divine appointments for the advancement of His Kingdom, and this was surely no exception. To think of all the bits and pieces that had to line up just right for us to be connected with this new friend is mind blowing! We missed our original bus and by the grace of God we caught another one just before it left- but our friend had to also get on that bus on this day at this time. And then the only open seats were by him and we needed to bridge the relational gap by conversing with him early on. And so on and so forth! It's amazing to see the Lord's provision and protection over us and the clear evidence that He is here, working in, around, and through us in Haiti and now, the DR. 

We are now in the DR and enjoying our exploration of a new country and new people. So far our experience has been very pleasant! But we all have voiced missing the Haitian people, our friends in Carrefour, the delicious food, and speaking creole. (So we speak it with each other instead!)

Thank you all for your prayers and support! We have a few days to spend in Northern DR and then we start the journey back to the states on Thursday. 

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Haiti Clinic Day 4

Our team finished up clinic on Friday after a week full of amazing stories! Here is one of those stories as told by April: 

Thursday was an incredible day! Three people accepted Christ as their Savior!! During our debrief on Tuesday night, Tori had reminded us that    physical therapy was our way in, but our true mission was to share the Gospel. She challenged us to get out of our comfort zone and invite our patients to accept Jesus Christ as their Savior. 

For the majority of the week, I had been working with Watson as a translator. Not only is he a translator, but he is also a pastor at a church in the countryside. For years, he has been preaching to his mother, Margarette, about the Gospel, yet she refused to accept Jesus. She frequently responded with, "I am a good person. The bible says not to kill people and I do not kill people."  On Wednesday, Watson's mother, Margarette, came in for back, knee, and ankle pain. Just like Tori had challenged us, we had that difficult conversation and I asked her, "Do you accept Jesus Christ as your Savior?" Just like she had told Watson many times before, she said no. I had explained to her that nothing I do to help her is guaranteed and the only guarantee that I could ever provide her is that accepting Jesus Christ is the only way to eternal life, free of pain and suffering.  I invited her to come to church the next day to worship and pray with me. She accepted the invitation and promised to be there. I challenged her to think about what Watson and I had said and that I would revisit the conversation again on Thursday at church. 

On Thursday, my first patient did not accept Jesus and despite my efforts, she just flat out refused. I was feeling discouraged and shared with Tori my frustrations and told Tori, I just want a patient that can declare their love for God.  When I went to get my next patient, to my surprise Margarette showed up at the clinic and stated that she wanted me to look at her knee again. I began to evaluate her knee and continued our conversation from the previous day. I said, "I will ask you 5 times throughout this session if you will accept Jesus Christ as your Savior." The first time I asked, she said "Yes." I was in shock and had her repeat her response I squeezed her as we both cried. Then  I left to get Tori and cried tears of joy. It was a beautiful moment. Watson, Tori, Margarette, and I prayed together as we wept and rejoiced in union with our sister in Christ. God is so good and His love is ever so present here in Haiti!! 

That night I had the privilege of sitting beside Maragarette at church listening to the sermon Sam shared of Peter getting out of the boat and- by faith that Keaus is who He says He is- walking on water  and worshiping together. This day was so amazing because our God is so amazing! 

Finishing Strong in El Salvador


Today we went to a beautiful location in the mountains, and our clinic was held in a school called "Montreal". Due to safety, it wasn't appropriate for us to have our fancy "American-ized" phones out, so while we may not have as many physical pictures to share,  we have mental pictures of these beautiful people and the scenery to last forever. We were able to remove some cysts, gave a patient with an amputation a wheelchair, prescribed and gave many glasses, and once again pulled many teeth! To wrap up the evening we of course had to experience the famous "pupusa" or El Salvador pizza as Jimmy likes to call it, which was delicious! Today we served between 700 and 800 people, with 106 accepting Christ! God is soooo good! 


     Today was our last day in the clinic. Over the course of this week we have counted seeing at least 1,800 patients with 376 of those professing their faith. To say God is a sovereign God and can reign in the hearts of people in the United States AND El Salvador just seems like such an understatement after this week.
    Some of you may be familiar with the current activity in El Salvador, while others may not. For those of you who are not,  San Salvador, at this time,  is considered to be pretty high up on the list for most dangerous places to be. The gang activity is unreal,  and multiple people are getting killed daily here. We don't share that to scare you, and while thankfully we have been protected strictly and never felt in danger,  gang violence is very much so a part of these people's everyday lives. 
     Today in the clinic we saw a patient with a gun shot wound. We saw another patient who was having pain and just happened to have her son with her. (Notice the picture of the shoes below) These shoes were on this little boys feet.  After providing the little boy with some new tennis shoes we had brought with us, you couldn't help but notice the tears streaming down the mom's face as we placed the shoes on his feet.  She went on to tell us that she had been trying to save up for some new shoes,  but because of the gangs she could no longer work and didn't know how she would be able to afford new shoes for him.
     This week we have heard story after story about how gangs affect people's daily lives here,  and especially children. It wasn't long into our church service tonight that we soon realized we have not only been blessed with the opportunity to show these people love this week,  but to remind them of the hope that is found in Jesus Christ,  and that no matter what the circumstances our countries may be facing, we serve a sovereign God who's faithfulness will always prevail.
     As we pack up to leave tomorrow, we leave with heavy hearts for the people here in El Salvador. There's a sense of sadness going back to the comfort we find in the U.S. after getting a tiny glimpse of what people go through daily here.  However, we know seeds have been planted and we look forward to hearing how God is watering those seeds in the future as we stay connected with Jimmy,  his church, and the people of San Salvador!
      We fly back to the States tomorrow (Saturday) and we ask that you please be praying for ease of traveling and safety.  Please also continue to pray for the people of El Salvador. We ask for you to pray for their protection and for the people here to hold unswerving to the faith they have in our BIG God! We also ask that you thank God for hearing our prayers and for the work He has done in El Salvador this week!

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Wednesday at Haiti Clinic: A Well-Oiled Machine

Day three in the clinic went very smoothly and the team was extremely cohesive. Everyone was working together to care for each patients physical and spiritual being. The theme of the day was weaving the gospel into each treatment session and building relationships. It was a day filled with multiple therapists working together on one patient to brainstorm and come up with the best way to meet the need. Tori and Sam worked together to make repairs to a wheelchair for a lady that was a bilateral amputee. They also taught her ways to transfer herself in and out of her wheelchair to be more independent. April, Meghain, and Amanda saw an adorable older gentleman who had fallen out of a coconut tree and has become a quadriplegic. They educated his family in proper ways to stretch him and how to care for him to improve his quality of life. With these two patients it was extremely encouraging to see how well they were being taken care of. In Haiti most of the time the disabled are not well cared for because there is a lack of knowledge about quality of life. Back school was a success again today. Sam took the opportunity to share the gospel with all that attended. Tonight we were able to worship with another group that is putting on a camp for youth in the community. It was an amazing time of encouraging each other and speaking out loud our hopes for Haiti as a country and Carrefour as a community.

Days 3 & 4 in El Salvador

Day 3 - BIGGEST day yet!

Whew what a day today! Lots of hard work, filled with lots of people, lots of love, and lots of servant hearts! We were estimated to have seen about 1,000 patients today at our clinic that was held at Jimmy's church. The PT students participated in a rotation once again, where they got to experience many different professions. In fact, Rachel, Clancy, and Devin pulled a patient's tooth for the first time! We have been providing treatment for many patients who are suffering from after effects of chicungundia, a virus that has spread through El Salvador and killed many people. All the patients here are extremely grateful and happy to receive services, we can't help but smile as we work with them. We also got to pray with patients more today. God is still moving and present here in El Salvador! Evident in the fact that 119 people accepted Jesus as their Lord and Savior today!!

Thank you for the continued prayers and please keep them coming! We ask that you pray for rest and recovery tomorrow as we recover and prepare for the rest of the week during our day off. Please pray for protection and good health. Please also pray for those that accepted Christ today. That they would continue to have a growing passion to grow closer and closer to the Lord.

Day 4 - Beach Day!!

The picture with this day is of the cool professor we like to call the Herbinator. This pic about sums up our day today! Lots of relaxation and fun. We went to the market and did a little shopping, went to the beach that had black sand (from the volcanoes) and HUGE waves, and headed back to the hotel driving on the wrong side of the road with our police escorts leading the way so we could get ready for church. Tonight we will be singing some music at the church in English and Spanish for their congregation. Between our host Jimmy and his family, the translators, the police, and the extra helping hands everyone has been so generous and kind to us here.

Today we ask that you pray over the remainder of the week as we prepare for our last 2 clinics, and please pray for the country of El Salvador, as I'm sure most have heard there are quite a few sad events going on here! Thank you for your prayers, we love you all and can't wait to share more about the trip soon! 

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Monday in Carrefour, Haiti

All team members are here, safe and sound! Tori was able to get into the airport herself this time to pick up the last two arrivals on Monday, Diana and Amanda. That was awesome!

The first day of clinic went well - there weren't too many patients at the very start so it was slow and simple at first.  We saw a couple of patients with strokes and gave out one wheelchair.  We also saw many people with orthopedic pain. We will launch our back school tomorrow afternoon, and we are looking forward to seeing how that will go!  We were able to connect with a school/community for the disabled in Carrefour through Wendel (associate pastor at the church).  We plan to go back there to measure some people for wheelchairs to hopefully bring back next trip.  They have a disabled association that meets every other Friday and we are thinking of attending as a team this week!  The principal of the school is a beautiful man who is so grateful we met and thankful for any help we can provide.  Most of the patients who live there (more adults than children) were abandoned by their families or lost their families in the earthquake.  We are excited about working with them in whatever way the Lord allows us.  Everyone on the team is well - just a couple of digestive issues.  We had two days of rain this weekend which has been refreshing for the hot days.  We have yet to have power, but we do have running water and are grateful for the cold showers!

Please continue to pray for our health, our energy levels, and for the spreading of the Gospel.

Monday at the El Salvador Extravaganza!

Today was our first day in the clinic, which was held at a school called Saint Peter's School, connected to Jimmy's father's church. We saw hundreds of patients (will have a grand total at the end of the week) among the dentist, the doctors, the optometrist, the pharmacists, and physical therapists. The dentist performed many many extractions, which was a new and exciting experience for us PT students to be a part of!

There is a variety of medical needs present here in El Salvador. Ranging from patients needing glasses, to teeth being pulled, to needing education and exercises from other areas. In the PT department, there was a patient who had been hit by a car and was in need of crutches. We were able to give them these in order to help them walk. We also worked with a man who had been living with a severely subluxed shoulder for 8 years! Despite attempting to meet the many medical needs there are here, we know that even more so we are here to spread the love and Word of Jesus Christ. So, the biggest celebration of all is that 50 people came to know the Lord today!! God is good, and present, and faithful here in El Salvador!

Please continue praying for God to move here in El Salvador! Please pray for our team to be His hands and feet and that He would be glorified through our services. We also ask for prayer for endurance and strength as we will be facing our busiest day tomorrow (Tuesday)! Muchas gracias! (Thank you very much!)

Monday, August 10, 2015

First report from El Salvador team

Traveling went well and we arrived to our destination safely! Just had to wait a few hours to get the meds and medical equipment through customs, making for a late night and late stop at Wendy's on the way to the hotel.

We went to a neighborhood called The Red Sun which Jimmy (our contact in El Salvador) said was equivalent to The Bronx. This was where Jimmy's church is located. The church houses a school during the week which currently has 220 kids enrolled. After worshiping there, we traveled to Jimmy's father's church where we sang for the congregation. Pastor Duteal gave a sermon translated through Jimmy over 1 Peter regarding being called to holiness. After the message we broke for lunch. At 3:30 we left for an evening service at the Bolivar church. This church was built using money donated by First Baptist Bolivar and was located in a more remote part of town in the mountains. We sang and Pastor Duteal spoke once again before we headed home for the evening. Once we finished dinner, we sorted all the medicine for the week.

The pics attached are Herb talking at the second church we visited (notice the banner behind saying welcome missionary brothers), almost the whole team at the Bolivar church, and the crew sorting meds.

Pray for our week of ministry ahead, that God will show Himself through us to the people we serve.

Sunday, August 9, 2015

The first wave of Haiti team members arrived safely

All scheduled arrivals into Haiti for Saturday happened without a hitch.  The team is safe and sound in Carrefour. Everyone survived the airport experience and all arrived with their luggage!

The rest of the team is scheduled to arrive in waves on Monday.  They are all packed and ready to hit the ground running. Pray for their safe arrivals and for the week of ministry ahead.

Friday, August 7, 2015

Team Haiti begins the Journey!

It's bright and early here in Miami as Sam and I are getting ready to board the plane after as restful a night as you can get sleeping in an airport! We are "chipper" (with some caffeine in tow) and excited to get on the ground, see our Haitian friends, and be united with our team! 

Here are the prayers we are praying:
We are believing The Lord has great plans in store for our team and this community! Healing will flow from His hands through ours and from His heart through ours. It's sure to be a beautiful week for the Kingdom, for this team, and for our friends in Carrefour. 

Please pray for us throughout this week with each aspect The Lord has ordained. That we would all have increased sensitivity to the Spirit to hear what He's saying, to follow where He's leading, and to love as He loves. Pray that each person is met in deeper ways by The Lord and comes to know more of Him and his heart. Pray for us leaders as we stay in tune with the Lords leadership to lead our team well moment by moment. Pray for the Haitian people we will interact with, serve, and attempt to help with our physical therapy skills and most importantly, The Gospel. 

Believing for deep passion to ignite in the hearts of each person on our team. It's going to be a beautiful week. 
Our team arrives in waves today and Monday. Please continue to cover us as we all travel into the country and are united with each other. 

We plan to get settled today, go to church and spend time in the community tomorrow, and begin clinic Monday morning. 

We will do our best to update when we have wifi! 

To Him who is able to do immeasurably more than we can ask or imagine, 
To Him who is worthy, 
Team Haiti!