Haiti 2015, Day 2, Part 1

I really thought I could just wrap up each day into a single blog post, but I think that it just won’t be possible.  There is too many things happening to surmise it all in one simple post. Let’s start with a sunrise, shall we?


Our first official day on mission begins with SVT training, also known as Strategic Village Training.  Essentially we find out what Mission of Hope is looking for when we head into the villages, specific data collection while also making a connection with the villagers that we meet.  Our team is broken up in two groups, with 3 of our members heading off to the mobile medical unit.  Each group is headed up by one MOH intern, a translator and a Village Champion.  A Village Champion is a person that lives in the community, most likely grew up in the community and has a deep sense of love for their community.  They are the eyes and the ears and the heart of the village and EVERYONE loves the Village Champions, us included!

The first person we meet is a woman named Margaret.  She has 3 or 4 children, all with different fathers and all of the fathers have passed away.  She does not work.  As we continued to talk with her, we discovered that she used to go to church and sing in the choir.  With a little coaxing we actually got her to sing for us and it was really lovely.  When she spoke of her life there was a deep sadness about her, but when she sang, her whole face changed.  Margaret’s story is not unlike many of the stories we heard from the women in the villages.  If you are the praying type, let your prayer be that these women, and all women would come to know their worth and their value and their purpose.  I think we all know the great role women play in all successful societies and for these women to recognize this in themselves and empower themselves and each other would create a ripple effect of change.

Here is a picture of Margaret and some of our group.


(Margaret is in the middle with the striped shirt.  One of our Village Champions is on the far right, his name is Ro-Ro.  More on him later!)

While some of the stories sounded like Margaret’s, there were stories that sounded like some of our own.  The woman who had been married for 30 years and asked that we would pray that she could conceive a child.  Prayers for health, protection, their children and a deeper connection and relationship with God.  The last one hits hard.  How often do we pray for that?  Usually we are screaming for it in the depths of our struggles and suffering but otherwise just coast along with an occasional “high five to Jesus” when things are going smooth.  Let’s chew on that for a bit…..

But not all is suffering and despair.  We met a young lady who made a few bad choices when she was younger but was able to bring herself out of it and into a better place.  She lived with her mother and her cousin. Her home showed us a quaint space where she had planted a flower garden, she had potted plants all around, a dog named Copper and let us not forget a kitten. A kitten !  There was no garbage lying around.  She had pride in her home and in herself.  And it was good and so evident by the gorgeous smile on her face.


With Abdias, another of our Village Champions!


After a morning of SVT’s, we headed back for lunch.  We ride back and forth in a vehicle called a “Cantor”.  Also known as a pick up truck with a cage on top. Like this:


Looks harmless enough, but what you can’t see is the hole in the floor, or the INSANE traffic.  There are no traffic laws, just guidelines that no one follows.  I will stop here and pick up after lunch.

Haiti 2015, Day 1

Last week I embarked on an adventure out of my comfort zone.  I’ve always thought I was the adventurous sort, but with limitations.  I decided to go to Haiti on a mission trip.  People said it would “wreck you”, it would “change” you, “transform” you.  But I believe all travel changes you.  If it doesn’t, you are not doing it right.  I was prepared for poverty, poverty unlike I have ever seen before.  I expected people to want things from me, my time, my money, my possessions.  But what I hoped for was a connection. And I made more than one.

I cannot express my gratitude enough to all of those that helped to support this trip, either through prayer or financial support. Each of you were on this trip with me.  And I thank you for your sacrifice.

I will be posting daily my days in Haiti.  Our fearless leader posted daily while we were there and you can get an overview of the trip from his blog:  http://haitioct2015.blogspot.com/   And of course, mine will include lots of pictures!

Our first day was spent mostly in the air and then getting acquainted with our accommodations for the week.







Patty and Paula



Because It Matters.

I know, I know, I have not posted in AGES!  But it is summer vacation and soon I will have a “What I Did on My Summer vacation” post, but right now there is something a bit more important.

As everyone knows, Detroit is bankrupt.  Financially is the proclamation for now, but bankruptcy of a different kind has taken place long before that.  The people of Detroit have suffered from a decline in self-esteem, worth, value and significance brought on by corruption, racism, poverty and neglect.  Now I am not here to step further on top of what many shout out as the hell hole of America.  Quite the opposite.  I will be the first to shout out about all the beautiful places in Detroit.  The smaller, magical spots that people overlook and the grander more obvious places.  One of those places is my favorite place in Detroit.  A place I take others, or get lost in all by myself.  A place that fills my eyes with delight and in a turn brings tears to my eyes.  Good tears.  The DIA.  Never been there?  My header is looking out onto Woodward from the front steps, just look around “Le Penseurs” buttocks.

You don’t have to be an artist to appreciate all the beauty and mastery dating from primitive times until now.  There is something there for everyone, every age, every mood, every heart.  because of that, it is in integral place in the heart of Detroit.  Its architecture alone is a gem in a neglected mine that is being dusted off and re cultivated.  A bright spot in the gray matter.

It hurts my heart in a way that no metaphor can mimic to think that any of these valuable pieces of history could be sold to pay for someone elses mismanagement.  The DIA did not mismanage, the city did.  I’d like to say that I get it, but I don’t.  I get that if I was a retired or current city employee I would be pensive, to say the least.  But I will never “get” that the idea of taking what is great, from a city that was once GREAT to raise it to mediocre is the only option.

I am hardly an eloquent speaker of what art means, but I can tell you it must mean something since the cavemen were creating it way before our more refined versions ever arrived.  it was there before words and numbers. It was there to tell stories, to celebrate and to document history.  The DIA is an enclave of history, stories and celebrations.  it is one of the most important places to help this city to raise to GREAT again, and when things in this city are valued by the city, then people start to value the city and when that happens everyone starts valuing the city, and when I mean the city, I mean everyone in it.

Never been?  Here is what you are missing….


















Seriously, Calder, Kandinsky, Rivera, Rothko, Warhol, Van Gogh, Matisse and Detroit’s own Charles McGee…what are you waiting for?  Go, give your heart a lift, give the city a lift and for goodness sake, if art is the greatest asset to the city, make it a great asset to you.

Peeling Away the Bark.

This past weekend I was given the opportunity to experience an outreach in Pontiac, MI.  Pontiac is a blue collar area in a predominantly white collar Oakland County, the wealthiest county in Michigan.  At the heart, Pontiac has always been about factory jobs.  Those are now gone and poverty and hard living have taken over the area, sucking a lot of hope with it.  Sometimes people just need a break.

This is where Dave Shuman and Kensington Community Church come in.  Although its not a new idea, its not one that was happening in Pontiac.  Dave, the leader of the Middle School group at the Lake Orion church campus, organizes a free cookout at a local park for anyone who shows up.  He does this every 3rd Saturday of the month.  And people come.

All that join him in his efforts bring food, sweets, fruits, veggies, meat…the works.  Food always encourages conversations.  And conversations always encourage relationships.  And relationships bridge gaps and gives hope.

Food can create friendships.


It can bring out the crazy in people.

It always brings out smiles!


They eat, they smile and they leave with a little more light than when they showed up.


There is this giant majestic tree that stands off center of the park.

Its bark peels off to reveal new bark underneath.  It makes for beautiful patterns on its branches and seems to invite us to peel back more bark to reveal the fresh newness of whats underneath.  To let the light on the fresh bark so it can absorb its goodness and grow.  Much like what Dave has started doing here.

I loved seeing the kids load up their pockets with fruit and going back for just one more cookie.  The idea of complete strangers tossing a football around or just talking about the tastiness of the little brownie cupcakes-which were all gone before I got one-gave it a common place.  And that’s where everything begins, at a common place.  Dave tells me that this happens every Saturday in Detroit.  People bring more than food, they bring clothes to give away.  What so many of us take for granted and toss away is so treasured and needed by our own neighbors.  It is humbling to think of so many so close in such need, but so uplifting knowing there are people so willing to take action to help those same people.  Thanks, Dave, for allowing me to document a little of what you think you do and a lot of what you are doing for others!