Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Looking back

I was just checking out my journals from my trip. Here are two quotes from my trip. Pretty amazing stuff.

Day 3

"I love Haiti. I don’t know what it is. Haiti changes me instantly."

Day 22

"For some reason I have such a deep love for this country. I cannot see myself abandoning Haiti. Ever."

Haiti has changed my life.

"Now that I have seen, I am responsible. Faith without deeds is dead."

Brooke Fraser- "Albertine"

Saturday, April 9, 2011


Warning: This post involves my own personal Christian beliefs. You may not agree with the words you are about to read.

This post is about a girl named Nadia, She lives in a ravine-like area with one house and multiple tents/huts in Port-au-Prince. I visit this ravine about 4 times a week. Every day they are outside playing. When I am at the top of the ravine one of the kids is bound to see me before I get down there. They start yelling Sean and come running. They longer call me blan like most Haitian children I pass. I feel welcome here. Nadia lives with parents, her 3 sisters and her 2 brothers. Nadia wears a necklace made with a bone that is wrapped with string and tape. It is very unpleasant looking. The first time I asked her about it she told me that she was sick. I immediately suspected that it was a voodoo necklace and sure enough it was. I was told by one of the older ladies that she is having trouble eating (or at least that is what I got out of her little rant in Creole).

I wanted to take it off her the first time I saw it. Voodoo is scary stuff and I don’t want a child to be messing with it. A week later I went there on a mission. I wanted to trade her my cross necklace that I have not taken off in close to two years for her voodoo one. This was quite the difficult task due to my lack of knowledge of the Haitian Creole language. I tried my hardest. Eventually they understood what I meant. Initially I went directly to her and asked her. What she told me was quite shocking, but I have heard stories similar to this before. She shook her head no and said “M’ap mouri”. Literally that means “I’m dying”, but the way she meant it was, “I’m going to die.” She literally thinks that if she takes that necklace off, she will die. 15 minutes or so later, I had an opportunity to ask her mother if I could do it. At first another lady who just wanted my necklace for herself said yes and that I should give mine first. So I did, I gave the necklace to the her and told her she had to give it to Nadia, but she ended up just giving it back to me. Nadia told me she liked mine and did not like hers, but she still could not. Her mother just said “Li malad.” She is sick. The way she said it was like saying, duh! She is sick! She obviously needs this voodoo necklace!

This family really believes that that chicken bone is going to heal her. I know my cross necklace itself wouldn’t heal her either, but I was hoping for it to be a reminder of Jesus’ love. These superstitions are so engrained into their culture that they are telling little children they must wear this voodoo idol or they will die. There are real spirits involved in voodoo, but if they are not from God they can only be from Satan. As of right now, she seems healthy, but everyone in the community seems to think she is quite sick. The reason I am posting this is because Nadia and her family need our prayers. Not just because she is sick, but pray for these people that God may work in their lives and he will shine light into the darkness. Below is a picture of her.

Sunday, March 27, 2011


It’s not that we don’t know or we’re not shown the proof of poverty. It’s not that we don’t have the tools to go to break this yoke of slavery. We quit because it’s not an easy fix and then forget that they are even there. We forget to care.

This is from a song by Jenny & Tyler. This is what I have been thinking about a lot lately.

Monday, March 21, 2011


As I am writing this post I am inside my favorite Haitian family’s house. I think my bedroom is bigger than this whole house. 11 people sleep here on 3 beds. I am dripping sweat as I write this. There is very little ventilation and no fans. This is real. I am not writing this for you to say “poor people”; they do not want your pity. I am writing this to open eyes. Many of the people that read this may have seen or even lived in a 3rd world country, so you know what I am talking about, so maybe this will be a reminder. We get caught up in the comfort of America. We start complaining about the littlest things, things that these Haitians are not even able to complain about. Keeping food on the table is enough of a struggle for them. Being in Haiti, I am constantly reminded how grateful I should be to be born in America and having a loving and supportive family.


I am teaching only one English class now because two was too much. I teach with a Haitian. We take turns teaching and I just help him out if he mispronounces something or needs help. This class is about 8-12 people ages 18-35. Some of them are almost intermediate and some are complete beginners. I teach from a book called English in a Changing World. The book is from 1970 or something. I often just improvise and make up my own lessons. It is a blast. We were supposed to have test last Friday, but there was a lot of traffic downtown due to the arrival of Jean-Bertrand Aristide. If you don’t know who that is, look it up. He’s got an interesting story. We did not have the test today because elections were yesterday. So far things seem tranquil but many people did not want to risk going out into the street. Just in case. Things may still get wild. We will see.

My hangouts

When I am not in the house, or at the office, which is also where I teach, I usually have two main hang out spots. The first is in a ravine. This ravine has one house and about 12 tents and shacks. I walked through many times without stopping, but one day some guys called me over. The guys who live in the house hang outside of it every day with their friends. At any given time there are usually 3 or 4, but sometimes 8 or 10. Three of them speak good English and the rest of them speak very broken English if any at all. These young men are 19-26 years old. They all think they are gangster and party pretty much every night. Some of them have jobs, but may only work 2 days a week. In this same place, there are about 8 regular kids that live there. They all know my name and I am learning theirs. They are adorable children. I at times find wifi there and I show the kids pictures on my facebook. They are usually all on top of me, but I could care less. I love the people in this ravine. I want to help them. They all ask me for money or food on a regular basis and I know that I could possibly feed the entire community for a day or two, but what about after?

Before I talk about my second hang out, I want to talk a little but why I am overwhelmed here at times. I have heard plenty of sermons where the pastor will talk about giving. He tells us to give that homeless man a dollar or two. That sounds great, but these pastors have never told me about what to do when I am in Haiti. I have twenty-five or more people asking me for money on a daily basis. If I gave everyone of them $1, I would be out of money in no time.

This brings me to one of my favorite analogies dealing with helping Haiti. I am not intelligent enough to come up with this, but I am not sure who did. Haiti is full of hurt. Many aid organizations and missions groups are coming here to help relieve the pain. These organizations are putting band-aids on Haiti and just keep replacing them and applying more, but the wounds will not heal if the band-aids never come off. While I was in church today I gained insight on what I may be called to do in Haiti, which is to create sustainability in Haiti possibly in the fields of youth ministry and agriculture. In order for any of this to be successful, we must remove the band-aids and let the wounds heal. This not going to happen overnight, which means I may be involved in Haiti for quite some time.

That second hangout I promised to talk about is about a 30 minute walk from my house. It is my friend Ruth’s house. Ruth is one of my best friends here and she is an amazing person. She is excellent at speaking English so I go to her house to just chat. When I am having a rough, I go over there and just play with the kids. After school there is almost always at least 8 kids from ages 3-9 playing in the street. These kids are incredibly goofy.


I am learning to relearn everything. Americans are caught up in the word success. At first when I came here and had relaxed days, I thought I cannot tell people that I wasn’t doing anything, but I really was. I am not going to come back to Wisconsin and tell you about how many houses I have built or bags of rice I distributed. I will be able to tell you about connections I made with people and relationships I have built. . I walk about 2 miles every day and often times just stop and talk with the people. It is difficult most of the time because my Kreyol is horrible, but many people are patient with me. The organization I’m with right now is really just beginning to make an impact in Haiti. What I am doing right now is blazing trails

This place is amazing. Something about Haiti sucks me in. I have yet to figure what that something is. There are some days here when I get discouraged and it is not easy to move forward, but I am blessed to be here.

I will add pictures very soon. Be on the look out.