#HopeForHaïti

I had the privilege to close 2013 by spending Christmas in Haiti with a group of amazing missionaries. The 10 days spent with them in the beautiful Caribbean country of Haiti, were truly transformational. Words still fail me in an attempt to describe my experiences. But as they say “A picture is worth a thousand words”, so I pray that this photo journal of my experience will somewhat tell you the story. These are only a few pictures, which captured only a glimpse of all we experienced in Haiti. 

IMG_0137This was our view from the roof of the church/missions base: “Light for Living International Ministries”, in which we stayed. We had wonderful hosts and a team of people of who really served and loved on us during our entire stay. Haitian Hospitality is beautiful. I am eternally grateful for Pastor Reginald Celestine, his wife Johanne and the their ENTIRE loving church, who became like

our family during our stay.

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 Day 2 – We sorted through tons of donations: clothes, vitamins, medicines, sandals, and toys. Pictured from left to right; Steve, Jodie, Carmella, Paul and Aaron.

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Having fun while sorting… who says serving is no fun!

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BT Sorting through the toys, what a joy she is!
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Worship in Haiti was amazing. God truly responds to the hunger and thirst in the souls of man!
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Adam Livecchi of We see Jesus Ministries and Pastor Reginal Celestin did a great job tag teaming and bringing a message of hope and faith. That night several people received physical and emotional healing. I saw a girls right ear open instantly at the name of Jesus Christ!
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This little girl slept on that roof…. She was trying to keep it some what clean, this image broke my heart.
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Taking on the Streets of Carrefour for some street evangelism. Not only did we share the gospel message and pray others. But we gave out sandals, clothes and vitamins…
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Paul, Sarah and Andrea enjoying a tight squeeze…
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The sights and sounds of Haiti are captured perfectly while riding on the Tap Tap…

Things get a little crazy in Haiti, so we had our own security guards courtesy of Pastor Reginald. These young men work for the church.  Left to right: Oge, Paul (from our team) and Elie.

Things get a little crazy in Haiti, so we had our own security guards courtesy of Pastor Reginald. These young men work for the church.
Left to right: Oge, Paul (from our team) and Elie aka “Bang-Bang”.

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Tap Tap; “There is always room for one more.”
Photo Credit: Adam Livecchi of We See Jesus Ministries.

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Adam praying for a beautiful little girl, as the team became acquainted with the kids at the orphanage. 
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The children singing for us as we entered into the orphanage… It’s safe to say we all cried. These faces are painted into my heart and mind. Those loving children need to receive the love of the Father, but who will give it to them, if we don’t?? Who will go to serve them, if we don’t? 
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The moments I spent praying for this precious little man changed my heart… William, one of our translators praying with me. 

 

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Jodie; the kids loved her and she loved them, deeply.
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Carmella, sharing her testimony on Sunday morning as Pastor Ricardo Francois translated… if you haven’t, you want to hear this woman’s story! Ex Muslim, who is now a fiery woman of God!

 

 

 

It is so important to do everything we do, IN LOVE. I saw what love looks like through this wonderful woman, everyday in Haiti. Andrea.  Photo Credit: Adam Livecchi of We See Jesus Ministries.

It is so important to do everything we do, IN LOVE. I saw what love looks like through this wonderful woman, everyday in Haiti. Andrea.
Photo Credit: Adam Livecchi of We See Jesus Ministries.

BT and a young woman we met while doing some street ministry. This girl invited us up to her home, where we prayed to bless their household. BT proceeded to pray prayers of blessing over all of the children, it was beautiful.

BT and a young woman we met while doing some street ministry. After praying for her brother, she invited us up to her home. There BT prayed, prayers of blessing over her, her siblings and her cousins, it was beautiful.

Leaders and Pastors conference in Haiti. They all received solid teaching, a new leadership book from Adam and a good meal.

Leaders and Pastors conference in Haiti. They all received solid teaching, a newly translated leadership book from Adam and a good meal, because they are worth the investment. Photo Credit: Adam Livecchi of We See Jesus Ministries

Steve, surrounded by kids who were intrigued by his camera. He did such a wonderful job, engaging them and showing them their curiosity was valuable and appreciated.

Steve, surrounded by kids who were intrigued by his camera. He did such a wonderful job, engaging them and showing them their curiosity was valuable and appreciated.

 

 

Here I was a leading a young woman to the Lord. She'd heard my testimony that morning and Jesus captured her heart. It was a true honor to lead her in prayer and watch and the Holy Spirit made her new. Thank you Pastor Ricardo for this honor and Adam for trusting us to represent you and the Kingdom of God well.

Here, I was a leading a young woman to the Lord. She heard my testimony and Jesus captured her heart. God sometimes sends us for the one. After all he is the good shepherd who will leave the 99 to find the 1… It was a true honor to lead her in prayer and watch as the Holy Spirit made her new. Thank you Pastor Ricardo for this honor and Adam for trusting us to represent you and the Kingdom of God well.

 

 

Buying some sugar cane. One US dollar got us 3 canes.

Buying some sugar cane. One US dollar got us 3 canes.

We brought pampers and a couple of other items to this momma who had none for her new baby. Earlier in the day she met with a couple of our team members who prayed for her. In Haiti I quickly learned it is never enough to just pray, one must also serve, give and sacrifice...

We brought pampers and a couple of other items to this momma who had none for her baby. Earlier in the day she met with a couple of our team members who prayed for her. In Haiti I quickly learned it is never enough to just pray, one MUST also go, serve, give and sacrifice for others.

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This little boy was walking around naked, so Jodie and Nadine proceeded to clothe him.
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Luckner of We See Jesus Ministries Haiti, dropping off clothes and shoes to this woman in need. Though not smiling here, her joy and gratitude was inexplicable, she hugged us all.
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“Big Momma” as we affectionately called her, is raising her grandchildren, on her own. Something about her reminded me of my grandmother. Perhaps it was her strength and love. She was so happy when we came by with toys and clothes for her little ones… Earlier in the day the team had prayed with her and then prayer for her granddaughter who for the first time WALKED!
The kingdom of God is in the miracles and in the sacrificial giving/serving of the saints.
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Luckner helping Jodie and Nadine make it down this rocky hill safely. After making our rounds he took us on a mini tour which led to a mountain top, where we could see all of  Carrefour from the highest point. It was beautiful. 
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And here she is! After the team prayed, this little girl walked for the very first time! Here we see Luckner and Adam leading her, in her first steps.
Photo Credit: Carmella Ayaad of We See Jesus Ministries.

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         May I always see what God sees when He looks at Haiti…IMG_0448

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This is how we got our water to shower and use the restroom. I was grateful for the efforts they made to ensure we had water everyday. 
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We were very well fed everyday thanks to our wonderful kitchen team lead by Johanne Celestin! Haitian Food is delicious! 

 

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The view on our way to Jacmel on Christmas Eve.
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The Nazarene church in Haiti, in which we served that morning and afternoon. These children did not make it inside of the church because we only had enough gifts for a 100 kids. However, thankfully we had enough shoes, vitamins and coloring books to bless them as well.
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Adam and Pastor Reggie giving a word of blessing and instruction.
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Some of the women who did not make it inside with us. There was such hope in their eyes, mainly because that day, the people of Jacmel knew that they were not forgotten. 
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A little boy was walking around in these sandals that were falling apart.
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Paul fitting this boy with new shoes, his joy is evident.
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He did not care that his new shoes were pink, he was happy that his feet were covered and protected.
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We attempted to go to a water fall in Jacmel, but because of time we were unable to. Instead Adam preached the gospel to the tour guides,the leader as pictured above came forth to accept Christ. A little while later the rest would follow…

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Carmella shared her testimony while Nadine translated and the rest of the tour guides decided to accept Christ… Here we see BT leading them in prayer to the Lord.
Photo Credit: We See Jesus Ministries.
This little had a 1 month old wound, which was continuously bleeding and surely infected. Aaron and Jodie took the time to clean her up, apply medicine and bandage her up. That is the gospel.

This little girl had a 1 month old wound, which was continuously bleeding and surely infected. Aaron and Jodie took the time to clean her up, apply medicine and bandage her up. That is the gospel. Photo Credit: Adam Livecchi of We See Jesus Ministries

 

riding in the back of a cop car
On Christmas day we went to a boys prison in Delmas. YES, Prison. The boys behind those bars have committed all sorts of crimes. We had the privilege to share the gospel with them. A few of us shared our testimonies including myself. We led 10 of them to the Lord for the very first time. A bunch were physically healed. They all sung, ate well and received brand new sneakers ( thanks to donations collected the night before!) and toothbrushes and toothpaste. It was a very Merry Christmas indeed.
Photo Credit: Sarah Livecchi of We See Jesus Ministries.

the Haiti Team
The Haiti dream team left to right: Nadine, Alan, Myself, Andrea, Aaron, Sarah & Justice, Adam, Carmella, Paul, BT, Steve and Jodie. Out side of the boys prison in Delmas. #Christmas in Haiti!

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<—Took a ride on this water taxi! If you look closely Adam is enjoy an iced coffee while relaxing in the Caribean ocean, that’s the life.

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Photo Credit: Jodie Garcia

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Absolutely gorgeous!

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Mountains on 1 side, the ocean and it’s unending beauty in the other, a perfect way to end a perfect trip at Kaliko Beach.

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Check the video! The team describes the trip in 1 Word!

To Adam and Sarah Livecchi, I just want to say thank you for the opportunity to serve under your leadership yet again. I am grateful for you both and all I’ve learned on our trips together! Words can’t express how blessed I am to be a part of your family… I look forward to traveling and ministering with you again!

If you want to go on a short-term missions trip that will change your life, check out We See Jesus Ministries

Alan standing on a wooden plank to hug Oge goodbye. I think it's safe to say none of us wanted to say bye. But it isn't "goodbye", it's " see you soon, Haiti!"

Alan standing on a wooden plank to hug Oge goodbye. I think it’s safe to say none of us wanted to say bye. But it isn’t “goodbye”, it’s ” see you soon, Haiti!”

Esperança

For a week now, many of my ATS and NYACK college friends have asked about the mission trip to Brazil.  I have attempted to put into words the dramatic life change I experienced and honestly, words still absolutely fail me. Which is rather unusual, seeing as how I am someone who is quite talkative and verbally descriptive. It’s like no matter how much I think about it or how hard I try to explain it, I truly cannot fully put my experience in Recife, into words. And yet here I am writing this blog for you all to read and join in my experience. (And if you have not; do check out the Brazil photo blog)

Out of all the many life altering moments I encountered in Brazil, if there is one that truly changed me, it’s the following:

editedworship2On Wednesday night, the girls from the rescue home “Betania”, along with the “Shores of Grace” staff and our team got together for a time of worship. We gathered together in a room, and we sat around on the floor, on chairs and mattresses, and sang our hearts out as some of the kids colored and made drawings for us. The brokenness, weariness, hunger and thirst in the room was so thick, I am nearly positive you could cut it with a knife. There was an unspoken desperation for God, in me, in all of us. And as the minutes went by I could begin to feel the love and grace of God begin to satisfy our deepest longings for Him.  In a rather unusual scene, I began to sense the presence and pleasure of God, like I never had before.

CTA button for Blog ATSAnd then I saw her. A beautiful, young, 13-year-old girl. She sat quietly against the wall, crying. She cried and cried through nearly every song. And I could not help but stare. Something about her, caught my attention. Finally I asked God to make a space for me next to her ( as she was surrounded by others), so that I could join her, if it was His desire. Instantly the girl to her right got up, and began to color at a different spot in the room. She looked at me and noticed me staring, I got up, sat down next to her and grabbed her hand. For the next 20 or so minutes I held her hand as she cried. I cried with her. As I held her hand, I could feel her immense pain. I could feel the shame and the hopelessness she carried. My heart broke. How could someone so young, know such deep heartache? I knew she’d been prostituted and devalued, her tears spoke of the abuse she’d identified as her identity for as long as she could remember.

Yet in the midst of this hopelessness, I felt the depth of God’s love. I thought I had truly encountered this love, and I shared my personal experience in my post “Pierced by Love”. But honestly, what I saw and felt as I held this little girl’s hand was unlike anything I’d ever experienced before. I was caught in the middle of two realities. The reality of her pain and her past, and the reality of a hope and a future in Christ.

Despite all of my own personal experiences and lessons learned at the Alliance Theological Seminary, nothing could have prepared me for this moment. The moment in which the veil of my perception was torn down, and for the first time, in my entire life, I could see what God saw. Worship ended far too quickly for me. And I knew I had only but a couple of moments to share this love, and hope with her. I shared a few words with her. I gave her something tangible to hold on to. And then I asked her if I could pray for her. She said yes. (I, of course had a translator for this.)

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A special thanks to Adam LiVecchi ( from We See Jesus Ministries) for capturing this life changing moment for me.

I placed my hand on her shoulder and instantly I felt the Lord’s desire to redeem and make ALL things new in her life. I saw how He planned to use everything that was meant to destroy her, for her good and for His glory. I knew that no matter what horrible thing she’d gone through, He really had  “a hope and a future” for her. That her past was covered fully by the blood of Christ shed on the cross, and all God the Father was concerned with, was creating something deeply beautiful and profound out of her life.  I spoke deep words of life, that were not only for her, but for me. Words that let the both of us know, that regardless of what we’ve been through, we look like our Daddy and He soooooo delights in us.

She cried. I hugged her. We parted ways. When I was asked by Adam ( from We See Jesus Ministries), what I experienced while praying for her, because he could see how powerful the moment was, I could not speak. I cried. I sat on a mattress on the floor and cried. Because  that night I’d been given an eternal glimpse at” how wide, how deep and how long God’s love” is for us.

My perception has been changed forever. It’s like I got an upgrade on the prescription of my spiritual contact lenses. I understand in my very being, that with the same hope God looked at that girl, He looks at EVERY SINGLE HUMAN BEING on the planet.

There is not one person who is hopeless in the sight of God…

amazing people

Our team and some of the amazing ” Shores of Grace” Staff at the base. ( Left to right) Evan, me, Aaron, Caleb, Aline, Gi, Jonathan , Glaucia and Stephen.

Taken to “Shores of Grace” and ended up floating in an ocean of endless love…

worship-sunday I put this picture first, because this was a defining moment for me. It was during this time of worship on the Sunday night of my trip, at a conference at ” Living Waters” Church in the favela of Olinda, that God challenged me to leave the comfortable for the unknown. To trust Him, when He calls me into the scary things that make NO sense. And to truly say “YES” to Him, with all of me. A lesson I’ve been learning since I started at the Alliance Theological Seminary.
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Worship with the “Shores of Grace” staff and Betania girls who were rescued off of the streets of Recife. There is nothing like being in a room filled with children and people who are broken and longing for the love of God. It moves God’s heart and He truly does respond to the praises of His people.

foot washer ” He [Jesus] had been given all things, all authority and what did He do? He took off his garments of a rabbi and he put on the garments of a servant. He got to the lowest place in the room and washed the feet of his disciples… No, you don’t need a microphone, if you’ve been given that much authority, you need a towel and a basin of water. This is what we do with the authority we have been given. We position ourselves to the lowest place so that we could lift others up to their proper place… we bring our best to the lowest places and we wash the feet of the people who serve us or of our enemies or of the people who are so broken that they need the cleansing of the Father…” – Nic Billman, Shores of Grace. ( photograph taken by Adam LiVecchi of We See Jesus Ministries)

love through hugs Sometimes a simple hug is all it takes to set a captive free… ( photograph taken by Adam LiVecchi of We See Jesus Ministries).

brokem by God's love Or a heartfelt gift and that truly shows how much someone is really worth… This young woman was taken off of the streets and now lives in the Bethany House. During our worship night, she cried and cried as I held her hand and she perhaps for the first time learned how much God loves her and how deeply he desires to make all things new in her life… street church

Street Church: This was one of the most surreal experiences of my life. We were worshiping and praying and serving those men, women and children, while most of them got high off glue, had condoms falling out of their pockets and laid on dirty, naked mattresses. And yet God was in the midst, pouring out His love, because He LONGS for the least of these… ( photograph taken by Adam LiVecchi of We See Jesus Ministries).

getting high on glue during the service Young man getting high off glue… ( photograph taken by Adam LiVecchi of We See Jesus Ministries).

off of the streets

And that night in the midst of all that was going on, this little boy and 3 others, were rescued off of the streets and placed in homes. That night hope was restored! ( photograph taken by Adam LiVecchi of We See Jesus Ministries).

 

bringing love and pizza to the prostitutes Bringing Pizza and presence to the prostitutes on the streets of Recife. Most of these women, wanted out, and if they only fully understood that freedom is found in Christ! ( photograph taken by Adam LiVecchi of We See Jesus Ministries).

aaron no shoes My dear friend Aaron, gave his shoes away to an older woman whose home we visited. She had no shoes she could fit into and rather than pray and wish her well, he took his shoes off and walked around the dirty and muddy streets of Favela the rest of the day. Because LOVE is an ACTION.

beach!! And then we had a day at the beach and it was AMAZING.

A feast

 

We had a FEAST on the beach. Kinda like fathers table, the food kept coming out, there was plenty to eat and drink and we could take as much as we want!

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And I did zipline into the ocean and it also was AMAZING. zip line into ocean

 

 

 

We were all too happy to spend a day of rest at the beach. ( Pictured below: Back left to right: Aaron, Evan, Marcia, Eliana, me and Sarah).road trip to the beach!

 

 

 

 

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The convoy! Now that’s riding in style hahaha! Pictured below:Left to right: Marcia, Eliana, Aaron, Caleb, Adam.the cool kids

this is how you bbq

 

 

And so in Brazil this is the way to BBQ! Outside, in a fire pit, with a fireplace, and the food taste AMAZING. This was at the “Shores of Grace” base.

we made memories

We made memories, we laughed, we cried, we became a family and I will forever be marked by every single one of them, and the rest of the amazing people I met in Brazil. Mishpat was had in Brazil, I think my ATS buddies would be more than happy to know this. (Pictured from left to right: Caleb, Eliana, Ricardo, Aaron, Evan, me and Marcia).

 

team worship time

The team got together for worship on Tuesday Morning. And the presence and love of God in our midst was truly overwhelming. I realized that truly choosing the road that leads me to know the more of God is the best decision I could ever make. And any other choice would truly be a loss… And I will never be the same again…  ( photograph taken by Adam LiVecchi of We See Jesus Ministries).

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