Tuesday, August 14, 2018

August 2018 - Day 6 - Haiti Mission Trip

Final day in Haiti with our camp and team. What a week it has been!

We checked out of the guest house and loaded up like Sanford and Son in our tap tap. A final goodbye to our guest house and on the road to our final "party" day at camp.

Today was a day of showcasing everything we learned during our camp, letting the children do any special songs or dances that they had made up on their own. Oh and guess what?! Bob was back for the party! Check Bob out chasing the chicken during the showcase.

We finished the camp celebrated with a meal of chicken and rice and fruit punch. Our team got to hand out several prizes for our "superstar" students of the week and everyone left with a Taking Shape book bag full of school supplies to start the new school season. A huge thank you to Showcase Dance Studio and OBX the Studio Karma Kids program for the generous back to school donations.
Also a HUGE thank you to the amazing translators and volunteers from Cepras and their president Benson Jean. Benson is also an extremely talented photographer and captured the pure essence of our camp this week! 

We left the camp after a huge water balloon fight and many hugs and goodbyes that we will return next year.

A last hour stop at Lephare to eat lunch and pick up Greg before we left for our flight. Look what Greg completed while we were at camp all week!  A gazebo for shade and shelter for the orphanage children and a resting area for our future mission campers that will be housed at Lephare during our next camp this December. The materials for this project were donated by Leo Perez from Lee Summit, MO. 

What a week it has been. A week of growth with our team, relationships with so many wonderful people in Haiti and love in our heart! It is always hard to say goodbye but we will be back soon. Until next time in December our friends!! We learn more from you than you learn from us!

Monday, August 13, 2018

August 2018 - Day 5 - Haiti Mission Trip

Today is a day off from camp. We have scheduled a water truck delivery in the mountains of Titanyen, Haiti where after the 2010 earthquake many survivors went to the mountains to live but do not have access to running water. Many other missionaries in Haiti are part of water truck delivery where you purchase a semi tank of water and hire a driver to deliver it the area needing water. Teams meet up with the water truck and help disperse and carry water that comes out of a huge hose.

What an experience this was! The road up the mountain was gravel and dirt with several 2-3 foot holes every couple yards and our vehicles were stick shift, which even made it even more of an interesting challenge. The homes up the mountain ranged from 20 x 20 shacks made of tin to small tents made of canvas and sticks. We finally arrive at the top of the mountain to meet the water truck that hadn't made it yet. As we got out of our tap tap we saw many young Haitian kids come from their homes to greet us, they knew we were coming with water! Since the truck hadn't arrived yet we passed the time with some teenage Haitian boys from the mountain who played a round of basketball and soccer with Sammy, Ben and Davidson on a playground area that was built from another American missionary group. Alongside of the basketball game, Beana was greeted by young girls from the neighborhood who gave her some fancy hairdos!

Water truck finally arrived and things starting getting CRAZY! People came running from everywhere with their buckets for water. The water truck driver jumped out of the truck and filled big barrels with water. Many Haitian women were in a frenzy to help scoop out the water into the 5 gallon buckets for the children and other members of their family to carry to their house. Our job was to help carry them to their home. This was certainly a work out! Insanely amazed that some of these young children could carry this water further than we could.

During the water transport we also had kits of baby items such as diapers, soap, clothes and washcloths that we handed out to the families. The baby items were donated from Crystal's generous families of Showcase Dance Studio! Another set of donation were flip flops that came from Malia Casner and many ladies from Carrollton, MO. This was a sight! We decided to distribute these from the tap tap like we were setting up "shop" and the swarm quickly came. So many children needing shoes. Our tap tap van was a popular place for about 10 minutes until we ran out.

This was a gratifying day for the team as we left feeling like we really did valuable work but oh, was it heartbreaking!  Shoes and water, something we so easily take for granted, were such a scarcity among the Haitians living in these mountains.

We finished our day at the beautiful Wahoo Beach with our team!

Sunday, August 12, 2018

August 2018 - Day 4 - Haiti Mission Trip

It's Thursday and another full day at Cepras.  Our tap-tap rolled out from the guest house at 8:30 am to head to camp. The drive is one of our favorite parts. Everyone is Haiti has a purpose, they are all up and doing something. It may be to set up a couple of milk crates to sell bananas or it may be a walk across town, dodging the crazy traffic, just to visit a family member. Everyone here has a definite mission!

We arrived at camp, greeted with all of the kids who were behind the gate waiting for the entire team with hugs and high fives!  It was so fun to see them proudly wear their SDA passport lanyards and sunglasses we gave out to them the past several days.

Today our surprise activities included Sumo wrestling with inflatable inner tubes, dream catchers for arts and crafts and a group dance to Cotton Eye Joe. Oh and we can't forget the younger kids got to put on a show with some fancy costumes!

We were a little sad at the beginning of camp because we didn't see Bob today but found out that he was so wiped out from the last two camp days before that he overslept. Bob needed some rest!

After the third day of camp it was so neat to see the growth of these kids not only in their activities and skills, but the relationships and friendships they were building among each other. The children of Cepras live a good 20 minute tap -tap drive from the children of Lephare orphanage. These kids are  brought together only by our camp. Very grateful that they have had this experience together this week making friends.

We finished the day with a drive up the mountains of Haiti for a delicious dinner and incredible view over the entire country of Haiti. What a beautiful country!

Saturday, August 11, 2018

August 2018 - Day 3 - Haiti Mission Trip

Meayla on the mic!
Up and at it again for Day 3 of our week and the second day of our camp. Today we started our camp out with each child coming up to the microphone, saying their name and telling us what they wanted to be when they grew up. This was a confidence builder for many kids as some where a little shy but others had no trouble taking the mic, especially 2 year old Meayla! She can't speak clearly yet but oh boy, can she sing! As the rest of the kids took the mic, we heard a lot of aspirations to be doctors, football players (football in Haiti means soccer) and pastors. Pretty cool!

"Bob" and Beana
Have I mentioned how AWESOME our team is! Beth and Beana are rocking the crafts. So far we have made aluminum foil figurines, jeweled fish puppets to go along with Beth's bible stories and tie dye flowers from coffee filters. Kids of every age here love to create and it is amazing how detailed and focused they are in their work.

Ben, Sam and Isaac keep the sports and games going on with soccer, baseball and a team challenge of using a bed sheet. Meanwhile, Crystal continues to be a rockstar in the the gravel dance floor area teaching hip hop and a creative improvisational game where the kids made letters with their bodies.

Older boys of the camp making the letter "K"
Oh, and there is this funny little 2 year old guy here we named "Bob" who we later found out is really named Marcus. We didn't know where "Bob" came from for the first couple of days. He just showed up and wouldn't tell us his name so we named him "Bob". After a couple of days a couple kids that knew him kept telling us "no, his name Marcus." So Beth said, "Oh, Bon Jour Marcus!"  He looked at Beth and pointed to himself and said "Bob, Bob, Bob." I think he likes his new name! Bob has brought a lot of humor to this camp. He is a wild crazy kid who spends his time running around chasing the wild chickens that sometimes come through the camp.

Smore time at Lephare
We returned back to Lephare to drop the kids off and had time for a smore party with the neighborhood. This has turned into an annual event as we taught them this last year when we visited. Funny how excited the kids got when we pulled out the smore supplies. They knew exactly what we were doing!

Fritznel, our awesome dance translator, and Crystal!
Overall, another great day building relationships with these kids, this team and this community. It is so evident that these children are so hungry for organized, social and physical activity. They are creative, athletic, fun and full of energy. Ready for tomorrow!

Friday, August 10, 2018

August 2018 - Day 2 - Haiti Mission Trip

Breakfast on the deck at the guest house is always one of our most favorite parts of the trip. Juicy mangoes, fresh pineapple and bananas along with scrambled eggs and assorted peppers cut in detail to the smallest squares. Brunet’s beautiful wife is always the best cook!

Off to camp we go packed with our suitcases on top of the “tap tap” (the Haitian name for taxi).   We have 10 of us riding to camp looking a little like Sanford and Son. Tight quarters, no AC but it doesn’t matter. The liveliness of the streets of Haiti keep us totally entertained on our journey to camp. 

Taking Shapes hosts the camp for the children of Cepras, a Haitian ran organization whose mission is to grow young Haitiain children through education and Christian faith. We combine Cepras kids with the children of Lephare orphanage for the entire camp week. Total kids in the camp are 75! 

Haiti children don’t have the exposure to organized activity, sports and fine arts. We quickly saw once they were introduced to the activities, they were like sponges! We divide the kids into 3 rotations according to age and they rotate to arts/ crafts with and bible stories with Savanah and Beth, sports and games with Ben, Same and Isaac and dance with Crystal and myself. These kids love art and are so artistic! The detail and time they put into their work is so amazing.

Favorite dances are the Chicken Dance, Baby Shark and Tootie Ta! It doesn’t matter the ages of these kids, everyone is participating, laughing, enjoying time together and learning. Such a cool experience! Oh and also keep in mind it is 95 degrees and no AC. 

Meanwhile while we are busy with our kids at camp, Greg is back at Lephare Orphanage helping complete the building project at Lephare. Taking Shape will be housing it’s future summer mission campers in the expansion of the Lephare Orphanage, giving them a total immersion inside the Haitian culture. 

Thursday, August 9, 2018

August 2018 - Day 1 - Haiti Mission Trip

This is a big week for Taking Shape as we have launched our first “official” mission camp operation. Up until now our mission camps and trips have consisted of our immediate family. Greg, the construction guy and Sammy, Beana and myself as the camp counselors and Luke and Brooklynne who came in December. This summer we have added 4 very AWESOME individuals to our Taking Shape mission camp team. Crystal, a dance studio business owner from Manassas, VA and a colleague of mine in our MTJGD coaching group. Then there is Beth and 14 year old Isaac who are a mother and son team right near me in Hardin, MO. They found out about us in the church bulletin and it is crazy that both of us are from the same small town area but our paths have not crossed until this trip. Then there is Arkansas Razorback college student, Ben, my incredible nephew who wanted to be a part of the experience and help us with the camp! We are here in Port au Prince, Haiti and serving over 75 children ages 2 and up in our summer mission camp which focuses on dance, games, sports, arts and crafts, bible studies and of course LEADERSHIP!

We all made it safe and sound and I will admit I was somewhat nervous with the protests and level 4
threat level last month in Haiti. No problem though arriving, the threat level is back down to level 3 and we breezed through customs and the airport which can be a little crazy!

Our first stop was to Lephare Orphanage, the orphanage that Taking Shape has partnered
with since 2015 where we are completing an expansion and living quarters for over 23 Haitian children. The team was welcomed with open arms of the children who were excited about our arrival. Crystal, Beth, Isaac and Ben quickly became family to the children of Lephare as we spend the remaining afternoon playing, singing and dancing with the kids. We had a huge meal fixed by the hardest working ladies I know, the Haitian cooks! Our team got to experience the Haitian staple meal of chicken and rice, plantains and “french fries.” Meals are always topped off with a tall glass bottle of 7up or Coke, which I have learned is a delicacy and extra special treat.

After an afternoon of visiting the children at the orphanage we were chauffeured by the best chauffeur in all of Haiti, Brunet! Driving in Haiti is a mastered skill. There is not right or wrong, you just go. Think of it like a game of “Frogger” for those of you from the 80’s! 

A quick stop at the “Stop and Go” which is the local grocery store to stock up on bottled
water and coffee. I would like to know the labor cost for the grocery store, there must be 30 employees in the grocery store with a couple people carefully watching every aisle. Couple of men outside with machine guns too! They guard their food very carefully!

We settled into the guest house which is located in Delmas, Haiti. I little quieter place up the mountain. Tomorrow we head to camp! 

Taking Shape’s mission on the FAR front is to raise leaders who serve others. Yes, we are serving the Haitian children by hosting camps in an active, learning and healthy environment but more importantly the team that is here is truly growing in servant leadership and witnessing a bigger purpose in life. 

For those that have asked how to help please visit our donation page at takingshape.care/donate