Grace Church Teen Interns in Haiti

In two short days, Jessica Lutz will be heading to Haiti for a 4 month long internship at Mission of Hope Haiti. We are so excited to how this experience will shape Jess’s life in the future, but we also want to acknowledge how she got to this point in the first place…

When did you first get involved with Haiti?

Two years ago, I went on my first mission trip to Haiti with my family. We did a VBS with the children at an orphanage in Cap-Haitien. Since then, we have gone back two more times to teach the kids more about God and to just love on them.

What passions has the Lord given you that has driven you to spend an extended amount of time in Haiti?

The first time that I went to Haiti, I had no idea what to expect. It was my first time outside of the United States, and I had only seen pictures and heard a few stories of what extreme poverty is and looks like. While driving five minutes through the streets after getting off the plane, all I could see was beauty and amazing people. I didn’t even pay attention to the trash all over the ground or the strong smells of polluted water. During that first trip, my heart was broken for the people of Haiti that have absolutely nothing, and yet they would give you the shirt off their back (which is probably their only shirt), just because you showed kindness and love to them. The Lord has allowed me to see the beauty in a country that has been written off by most of the world. He has also shown me the dark areas of voodoo and how much the Haitian people need to hear about what God promises them.

Why is it important for people to be “on mission”? Do you have to go to Haiti to be “on mission”?

God has called us to make His name known all over the world. By being “on mission”, we as followers of Christ must be constantly looking for opportunities to share the Gospel. You do not have to go to Haiti or any other country in order to be “on mission”. There are plenty of people at home in the States that have not heard the Gospel, and many of them are our own neighbors, co-workers, and friends.

What is your biggest fear for this trip?

My biggest fear is being away from home. I don’t usually get homesick, but being in a different country for a few months will definitely stretch me and pull me out of my comfort zone.

What are you most excited about?

I am so excited to be working alongside other Haitians, and I can’t wait to see people on the American mission teams experience Haiti for the first time. I’m definitely anxious to just finally get to Haiti and start settling in at Mission of Hope.

How has Haiti changed your life?

Haiti has been an amazing wake up call for me, and it has changed the way that I view many things. I don’t enjoy shopping anymore because I am reminded of all the privileges and possessions that I have here in the States. I also have started to ask myself more frequently “is this a need or a want?” My outlook on life and my priorities are now more about investing in others and not being so concerned about material possessions.

For more information about Mission of Hope, click here!

Be sure to stop by the new missions table in the lobby to pick up Jess’s prayer card!

Missions Card Lutz Jess copy

Sharing their Hearts: Haiti Reflections

Almost one month ago, a team of 11 people from Grace Church traveled to Haiti to do a Vacation Bible School at House of Hope Orphanage. They had a great trip and were able to strengthen many relationships with the Haitian people. We asked a few of the team members to write a short summary and pick a picture to describe their experience in Haiti…

Jess, Alex, Steve, Shelly, Jenna, Alison, Dorene, Boni Ryan, Tyler, Kegan
Back Row: Jess, Alex, Steve, Shelly, Jenna, Alison, Dorene, Boni
Front Row: Ryan, Tyler, Kegan

Jess: Each trip back to Haiti is like a giant family reunion for me. The highlights are getting to strengthen friendships with my Haitian siblings, and being able to grow with them spiritually. Showing them that they are loved and that they are important is necessary, because that is how they learn to not only trust in God, but to also trust in others after being unwanted for part of their life.

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Tyler: This trip was very successful because of all the lessons the kids learned from VBS. The seeds planted now will definitely benefit the kids’ walk with God as they grow up.

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Jenna: This Haiti trip felt more normal. The kids were more natural, as if it were a normal day. Haiti has a very special place in my heart and my family’s hearts too. One of the kids wrote me a note that said, “I look at the stuff you gave me but it’s you that we really want here.” I’m already looking forward to next year.

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Shelly: This trip was an extra emotional trip for me as a lot of the kids shared their hearts with us in a very personal way. I was humbled, blessed, and in awe of how much they love us and accept us as their family, which is something they just crave. We thought that we were giving to them, but in the end they gave us so much by way of washing our hands for us; lovingly and gently rubbing a sprained ankle; braiding hair; hugs and loving us. Leaving is becoming harder and harder!

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Boni: In Haiti, I  think a learned a little bit more what true, agape love is: Love is an 18 year old boy just holding a toddler because she wants to be held. Love is cradling a tiny baby with no diaper (and feeling the “warmth!”) Love is a 15 year old boy calling you his “mamma” simply because you loved on him, taught him to play UNO, and medicated and treated his injured foot. Love is having 3-4 children with dirty hands braid your hair and then you painting their dirty little toenails in return. Love is having another 3-4 children all trying to wash the paint off your hands and even cleaning under your fingernails. Although they only get 2 simple meals a day, LOVE is a group of 45 children silently watching you eat your lunch because they know that once you are re-energized… you will be ready to love on them and play with them again!

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Alex: Just a short five days with the children and staff at House of Hope orphanage completely transformed the way I saw the world around me. Though the people are living in such deep poverty, they are some of the happiest people I have ever met and spending time with them showed me that God’s love is more powerful and worth more than anything here on earth.

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Ronaldin and I used this picture to officially thank all who supported our team financially to make this trip possible. Especially for the funds to purchase French Bibles!
Ronaldin and I used this picture to officially thank all who supported our team financially to make this trip possible. Especially for the funds to purchase French Bibles!

Oh no! This is the end of the blog post?…Want to hear more?

Come out to our Missions Celebration on Sunday August 17th from 6-8pm in the cafe! Learn about the trips that our people have gone on this summer, including this Haiti team! You will also hear from one of our partners, Faa, who is visiting from Thailand, learn about opportunities for missions trips in 2015, and eat dessert! You won’t want to miss this event!

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“Orevwa” for now!

Our Haiti team arrived safely back in the United States this past Saturday. They had an incredible week of ministry, and are already looking forward to planning another trip! If you missed their last update, click here. Otherwise, enjoy the last update from the Haiti team!

Thursday 7/17

Last day of ministry at House of Hope orphanage (sigh). Started the day off once again with singing and a fun lesson & skit about Jesus walking on water. The singing was loud and fast – the best of the week! The skit was a hit as Peter got all wet (thanks to Shelly!) when his faith wavered and he fell into the ocean. We have the children volunteer to be part of the skit each day and they love this. The children made up many of the disciples today!

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Today was also a big Haiti vs America “World Cup” match. Kegan, Tyler and some of the boys took on some of the older boys. It was 7-6 going into the last minute but Haiti scored at the buzzer and it ended in a tie (no PKs!). Our translator, Kelly Joseph, made himself useful 🙂 by spraying the boys with a hose during the game! Good thing, as it was so hot in this intense Haiti sun. It is so important to keep drinking here all day long!

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Boni, Allison and Alex sat down in the exclusive House of Hope hair salon 🙂 and after an hour each had corn rows to be proud of! The girls LOVE to play with long, American hair. It is just like having a doll to play with.

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At last, the moment we (the team & the children) all dread – time to say “orevwa” (Creole for “goodbye”). Many tears were shed and many hugs exchanged between all the team members and the children. Some of the children were sobbing which just makes it that much harder to leave… We love these kids as our own family. It is so rewarding to come down here and bless them for a week each year, but it is equally difficult to say goodbye when it comes to an end. Old and new team members alike held on to hugs for as long as they could and shed many tears at the thought of saying goodbye. But in the end, we had to get back on the truck and move out.

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A blessed week to be sure…the kids were challenged in their faith and encouraged to walk with Jesus 365 days per year. We had some good testimonies of how the kids (& the orphanage) are a witness to their community. This reminds me a a story I heard for the first time this week, and I must share it with you now…

Next to the orphanage there lived a voodoo priest. (If you do not know about voodoo in Haiti, just Google it. It is very popular in Haiti and is essentially the worship of evil spirits.) One day not too long ago, the voodoo priest approached Pastor Elysee (head of our ministry in Haiti) and asked him if he wanted to buy his land to add on to the orphanage property. Pastor Elysee said “no” we do not have the money but “thank you”. The voodoo priest persisted. He said “my house has been ruined by all this praying and singing that you do at the orphanage! Please take the property! You can give me the money some day whenever you have it – but just take it!” So, the orphanage has gained a nice little piece of land with a house that now serves as a home for some of the staff. Pretty cool, huh?

Please continue to pray for the Haiti team as they transition back into “normal” life. Also please pray that they would all stay healthy, as they were exposed to many different things last week!

Check back soon to hear some testimonies (and see more pictures) from the team members!

Birthday Blessings: a Haiti team update

Do you remember the day you were born? Of course not, but you do know what year, day, and maybe even what time that event took place. I’d also guess that you have been able to celebrate that day each year with people that love and care about you. Many of the kids at House of Hope orphanage had never experienced a birthday until Grace Church decided that their birthdays were worth celebrating. Keep reading to find out more! (Missed the last update? Click here!)

Wednesday was a beautiful, HOT day in Cap Haitien!

We started today with singing, and we are all getting to know our songs better – both in English & Creole! A fun skit and lesson about Zacheus followed special sharing time led by Allison Dahl with all the team and the children (and a few tears!). Balloon games were a hit today, both balloon races and balloon battles.

Sharing time (Allison leading) with the kids
Sharing time (Allison leading) with the kids

The really big hit today was the Birthday Party held for all the children (and staff) of the orphanage. This was our second year doing this and it has quickly become a favorite tradition! Many of these kids do not know when they were born – so we celebrate one big birthday party for them all! The pavilion was decorated with streamers and balloons. A special cake and soda were purchased in town and brought to the orphanage for the party.

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Gift bags wrapped the night before were shared, by name, with each child. The gift included sunglasses, shampoo, toothbrush, toothpaste, soap, earrings for the girls, athletic headbands for the boys, and the special finale was a brand new French bible for each of the children. The team helped them each write their names in them. The children were so happy and thanked us from the bottom of their hearts. Thanks to the generosity and support of our family at Grace Church this special gift was possible!

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Tomorrow will be our last day at the orphanage. There will be many tears from all, to be sure! As this is the third time Grace Church has sent a VBS team to House of Hope orphanage, the Haitiens tell us they now regard us as family – a special honor that we treasure deeply and take very seriously. Thanks to all of you who have made this possible. We tell all about our church and God’s people there who send us here. God is clearly working down here – impacting children and adults for Christ in Haiti made possible through your love, prayers and support.

Kids wearing shirts from yesterday with Prov 3:5&6 on back
Kids wearing shirts from yesterday with Prov 3:5&6 on back

Many of our Haitien brothers and sisters tell us that they are praying for us every day – and also that they are praying for us to come back EVERY year! For some, they have told us this is the highlight of their year – a very humbling thought indeed. Thanks be to God for His grace and mercy without which none of this would amount to anything.

House of Hope - pavilion where VBS takes place
House of Hope – pavilion where VBS takes place

Friday the team will spend seeing the sites of Cap Haitien as well as visiting a local beach. The team has already put in a hard week and the down time will be welcomed (& needed!) before preparing to return home – although there will likely also be much sadness as we will miss the kids already. Then we get up very early Saturday morning for our flight back to Port au Prince then on to JFK.

Steve with Pastor Abner Joly (Director of Orphanage)
Steve with Pastor Abner Joly (Director of Orphanage)

With all the needs that our Haitien brothers and sisters have down here, it won’t surprise you to know that we have begun to think about a work team project that would likely fall sometime in January 2015. (It is not so hot in January!) Please think and pray about this possibility. Perhaps you would want to come along – or – support the team in some way. There are many needs and we want to be lead by God as to how best to help. It could be at the Grace Bible Institute (where our teams stay and local Grace Brethren church leaders are trained), one of our local churches, the House of Hope orphanage, or a combination of these. And don’t forget, VBS 2015 could very well be right around the corner! Thank you for your prayers!

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Stories, Songs, and Shaving Cream: ministry in Haiti continues

Here is a summary of the first two days of ministry in Haiti from Steve and Shelly Lutz, leaders of the Haiti team. We will try to update you as much as possible; this relies on the not-so-dependable wi-fi down in Haiti! They are accomplishing so much already; please continue to pray for this team as they continue their Vacation Bible School and ministry with the locals!

(Missed the last update? Click here!)

Monday

Great first day of VBS with kids.

Had total of 60 kids (40 house of hope) as many came in from surrounding neighborhood to join in. Fortunately we had extra supplies!

Singing, Bible stories, and a fun skit about Jesus calling his disciples made the children laugh out loud (ask Kegan & Tyler about the fish!).

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Much fun was had by the kids making their own t shirts with their names & “ap swiv Jezi” (will follow Jesus) painted on front and Prov. 3:5&6 on the back.

Karolina making her shirt
Karolina making her shirt

A beautiful banner made by team member Alex Shelley which has our theme verse in Creole – Proverbs 3:5&6 – was decorated further with paint hand prints of each of the children. This will be left at the orphanage to decorate their pavilion and remind them of VBS & this important verse throughout the year. We were thrilled to learn that they had already memorized this verse before we came!

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The day was capped with team time at dinner, planning for Tuesday’s VBS, then a soccer game in the yard of the Bible Institute.

So far all are healthy and we are praising God for his protection and blessings.

Tuesday

Thanking God for another great day of ministry in Haiti!

The day started again with special singing with the children. This was followed by a rousing interpretation (team skit) about Joshua and the battle of Jericho.

Special sharing time with the kids followed. They asked us many questions and they shared thoughts about the team coming. We were overwhelmed by the outpouring of love from the children. They commented on how the teams that have come over the last two years have made them feel loved. They said how they look forward to our coming for months in advance! One even said he forgets to eat that he is so excited to have the Lititz team come back again. Looks like we better make plans to do this again next year!

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We reviewed our theme verse, Prov 3:5&6, again with the children. This time the team was taught by the children to say the verse in Creole! We did very well – they said!

We had fun playing games with the children in the afternoon. These games included a rowdy shaving cream relay game and fun in the field with a parachute. The kids loved it! Many laughs and smiles were had by all!

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 End of day 2 and the team is already tired, but all healthy and in good spirits! We have a great team and all are getting along really well.

Thanks so much for your continued prayers. We are counting on them! You are here with us in the Spirit as we could not accomplish anything without His doing.

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VBS in Cap-Haitien: a Haiti update

Our Haiti team is into their third full day in Cap-Haitien, Haiti! They have been very busy in their first few days there, and it will be no different as they continue their long days of ministry. Today is their second day of Vacation Bible School at the House of Hope orphanage. The VBS includes music, lessons, skits, crafts, and games. Each of these activities is a special way to engage the orphans at House of Hope. After lunch each day, they are discussing the Armor of God in small groups. Please be praying that these times of teaching (and fun) would benefit the Haitiens in a lasting way!

Keeping checking back for more updates! (Missed the last update?…click here!)

Until then, enjoy these pictures from their first few days in Haiti!

Team happy to be sitting down for first meal in Cap after long day of travel. With Kelly Joseph, one of our translators
Team happy to be sitting
down for first meal in Cap after long day of travel. With Kelly Joseph, one of our translators.
Sunday am worship with children at house of hope orphanage
Sunday morning worship with children at House of Hope orphanage.
Sunday am at the orphanage. Saying hello And getting ready to sing for the kids
Sunday morning at the orphanage. Saying “Hello” and getting ready to sing for the kids.
Sunday night at Pastor Daniel's (dir of Bible institute) church. Team being Introduced. (It is hot!!!)
Sunday night at Pastor Daniel’s (Director of the Bible Institute) church. Team being introduced. (It is hot!!!)
Skit of Jesus calling his disciples. (Peter & Andrew in boat with Jesus)
Skit of Jesus calling his disciples. (Peter & Andrew in boat with Jesus)
Kids enjoying the skit!
Kids enjoying the skit!

 

Good Morning from Haiti

Grace Church’s Haiti ream arrived safely in Port-au-Prince yesterday! Below is an update from the Haiti team; sent this morning! Please continue praying for the team and check in regularly for more updates! (Didn’t know we sent a team to Haiti?… check out more details here and here!)

Good morning Grace Church!
It is beautiful and refreshingly COOLER this morning. We are all doing well and happy to be in Haiti. Yesterday was a “roll with it” day as we made it to Port-au-Prince, but we missed our flight to Cap. There was a change in the flight schedule, “a month ago”, but the airport staff didn’t let us know that when we booked our flight! So, for whatever reason, God kept us in PAP, in air conditioning, until 4. He always knows and has a reason. The team rested, bonded, and watched futbol highlights of the World Cup. Our Haitian friends were glad to see all of us once we arrived, and so the adventure begins! Playing with the kids, futbol, taking photos and just paying attention to all was the rest of our night. No air conditioning to sleep, as the generator could not handle too much last night. Sleeping was like summertime as a kid: fans, HOT, and sweaty!!  Welcome to Haiti!!! Thanks for praying and sending a team!

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