Just One Granddaughter and Me

I have 15 grandchildren and I love each one of them! I have no favorites. Let me make that clear. Andrew, Matthew, Kaleb, Tyler, Annie, Max, Megan, Haleigh, Miller, Sydney, Elmise, Isabella, Mason, Armon, and Maddie.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA In this picture, taken two years ago, there are eleven of the fifteen. Top row from left: Matthew, Kaleb, Miller, Megan, and Haleigh. Center row from left: Annie, Me, Grandpa, and Mason. Front row from left: Armon, Bella, Elmise, and Maddie. Missing are: Andrew, Tyler, Max, and Sydney.

Haleigh lived next door to me her entire 18 years! We were at the hospital when she was born. She was a tiny preemie, weighing a little over four pounds. Haleigh Dedication  This was her dedication day. The picture is of Rob and Jessica, Tyler, Haleigh, and Pastor Dave.  I made Haleigh’s dress, as I did for some of the other granddaughters, Sydney, and Isabella. Megan and Maddie wore the dress that I had made for my daughter, Christy, when she was dedicated! So, since Haleigh lived next door, of course, we’ve been close. We have shared so much of life together. She was free to run through the woods to Grandma’s house and has confided in me.

One day Haleigh said, “Grandma, we should go on a trip together! Just you and me! My first thought was, ‘I have fifteen grandchildren, I’d have to take 15 trips! I can’t favor just one of them!’ Every now and then she’d make the same  request! Finally, I answered with, “Well, Haleigh, we can dream!”

In July of 2014, Jerry and I were at our family camp. Haleigh was with her family on a vacation. Every morning at camp we had a missions hour, which I always attended. The first morning Conference Superintendent Paul gave out slips of paper to everyone, instructing us to write our name on the paper and turn it in. Every day we were to do this. A name would be drawn at the end of the week and that person would be given a check to send them to a mission field! However, as I began writing my name on that first day, the thought came to me that I should write Haleigh’s name, not mine! So I did. Every day. Haleigh’s name!

On Friday, guess whose name was picked! Haleigh’s! She chose to go to Haiti!  I chose to go with her! Her way was mostly paid: $1000.00! Mine was not! But I felt and still feel this was of God. Excitement mounted throughout the year as we prepared for this exciting trip.

Haleigh was in her senior year of high school so it was already a special year in her young life. Haleigh grad 4 Graduation Haleigh (3)   Plans for her future were being formed for her and by her. College and then a career in early child development. She loves children!

Plans for the trip to Haiti were moving along. We chose to go with the Free Methodist General Conference Missions Trip in July. So on July 8 the team met in Orlando, Florida.

Haleigh and I hadn’t traveled together to get to Orlando so we were happy to reunite when I arrived late on July 8. We were so excited to stay in a beautiful resort in Orlando. We met in the lobby and were given the keys to our room. We took the elevator up to the ninth floor, found our room and were so excited when we opened our door! “Oh look,” I exclaimed, “It’s a suite! It’s not just a room! What a lovely living room! Look at the nice bathroom!” Then we opened the door to the bedroom and switched the light on. “Oh…no!” Someone was sleeping in one of the beds!!! We were shocked! The person, a young woman, woke up, sat up, and said, “Oh, Haleigh, you have arrived!” What?! She was expecting Haleigh! What about me? Somehow there was a mix-up in the registration. I decided and insisted that I sleep on the sofa in living room, Haleigh slept in the second bed in the bedroom.

Orientation meetings took place the next day. On July 10, 142 folks  Haleigh & Me Traveling  went by bus to Fort Lauderdale and then flew to Port-au-Prince, Haiti! We’d both been there before so we knew what to expect, however, neither of us had been there since the earthquake. Many folks on this team had never been to Haiti before this trip.

This was Haleigh’s first time to go as part of a work team. It was my third time to go with a work team. We went by bus to Providence University near Balan, Ganthier Province of Haiti .  This is a new university and is still in progress. 100_5793  100_5773  The men’s dorm. 100_5774  The women’s dorm. 100_5766  Meals were cooked and served by the Haitian staff in this pavilion.

There were several projects for us to choose from for our share of work. Eden: reforestation of trees; making desks; pouring cement; VBS; medical team, goat teams.  Haleigh chose to work with children in VBS. She also cared for the children of women who had come to the medical clinic.

I helped paint desk frames and then I joined a goat team. I left to go back to Port-au-Prince. So Haleigh and I had to say good-bye.  We would meet again  on the day we would leave to go back to Orlando, Florida.Haleigh and me parting in Haiti

I knew she would be fine and friends would watch out for her. And they did. Haleigh actually blossomed. I’m so proud of her.

Goat team #2. My new wonderful friends: Bonnie, me Lars, Linda, Ali, Marv, (sorry, I forgot the last one’s name.) Second goat team    IMG_1021  IMG_1020  Goats, belonging to Free Methodist families were treated and hooves trimmed. We traveled into the mountains to remote villages where we had a church. Folks brought their goats to us. It was quite an experience!

Haleigh loves children! Haleigh with sleeping girl  Besides working in VBS she helped care for the children of the many women who came to the health clinic.

Haleigh sponsors a little boy in Haiti Haleigh sponsored boy & family (2)  and was thrilled to get to meet him!

This trip was a trip of a lifetime!  We did it together but yet we were able to do our own thing. Haleigh blossomed as she worked and played with the children. We both made wonderful friends, Haitian and American. It was a trip and an experience for us that was meant to be! We both thank God for this trip of a lifetime!

My Great Haiti Experience Part II

There were 142 people on this trip to Haiti! That’s a lot of folks! My granddaughter, Haleigh, and I were the two in the 142! Haiti team 2015   I entered Haleigh’s name in a drawing at our family camp last summer. Her name was drawn! So her way was mostly paid for! Haleigh is the first one standing on the left! I’m not even in this group picture because it was taken after the goat team #2 left. But that’s okay, we were here in spirit!

I have so much I want to write about that I’m having trouble sorting through my mind to make this meaningful! I think I’ll start with the Haitian people. They are wonderful, by the way! I have so many great Haitian friends! But even the ones I didn’t know always had a smile for me! Way back in 1971, when Jerry and I were there, Jerry named it the Land of Smiles! And it still is that today! Haitian people have the brightest smiles, even though many are hungry, many are sick, many grieve because of losing a loved one or more than one in the earthquake, five years ago.

Speaking of the earthquake, two friends from Michigan, had gone to Haiti to work on some projects. Two hours after they arrived at the guest house the earthquake happened. They were both killed along with a missionary and a Haitian watchman. They are all buried at the mission compound. I was honored to visit their burial site and take a few pictures. 100_5798  Jeanne Munroe, Merle West, Eugene Dufour, Sr., (I have forgotten the watchman’s name, sorry.)

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We visited two orphanages. The first one is in Port-au-Prince. It’s a fine orphanage, doing good work with lots of support. 100_5815  Girls were given sewing lessons. Their first lesson was to make the cushions you can see on the chairs! They did a good job! 100_5816  This was a class outside for the older kids. When they turn 18, by law they must leave the orphanage. These kids are being well-trained! I don’t know the name of this orphanage.

The second orphanage was in the mountains. Heart of God – Haiti Orphanage. 100_5818   100_5820  They weren’t expecting us and weren’t quite sure what to think of us! But these kids are fortunate to have a place to live. They used to have to walk down the mountain on a trail and then carry pails of water up the mountain to the orphanage! How clean was the water??? Now, thanks to some generous folks, they have a water system with a faucet! Running water…clean water! 100_5822  These children lined up to sing for us! “Jesus Loves The Little Children, All The Children of The World. Red and Yellow, Black and White…” “Our God is so Great, Our God is so Good, There is Nothing Our God Cannot Do…”

We were taken into their bedrooms. 100_5825  They do have bunk beds, but little more.

I, personally, know of eight different orphanages in Haiti. There are many more, thank God. There is still so much need. As we were riding, a pastor was riding with us. His English was very good, thank goodness. We had a good visit. I told him I hadn’t seen evidence of Voodoo this trip like I had on my two previous visits. He, sadly, assured me Voodoo is still there. He pointed to a man leaning against a building and said he was a Voodoo priest. Then he smiled and said the priest’s young son is being sponsored by a family in the Free Methodist International Child Care program! That means, besides receiving financial aid, his son and probably the whole family, including the priest, is being prayed for regularly! God answers prayer! I’m now adding my prayers for this man and his family!

We drove into the mountains to treat goats owned by Free Methodist families. This was our goat team, plus our good Haitian friend, Julo, who was taking this picture! Bonnie, Anita, Lars, Linda, Ali, Marv, I can’t remember the last man’s name! I’m so ashamed! Second goat team  IMG_1021  IMG_1017  IMG_1023  This goat didn’t like his hooves being trimmed!  IMG_1028  We gave each of these girls a cloth doll!  IMG_1027  IMG_1009  The goats were brought to an area behind this Free Methodist Church. 100_5838  Inside the Free Methodist Church.100_5839  This smiling man is the pastor of this church.

There is so much more I could write about, but this is getting long so I’m going to just stop! This ends my second installment of my unforgettable trip to Haiti.