It was something different. Something that may not have been as powerful if I had not experienced such a drastic opposite only a few days prior. We all stood in the heat, sticky from the humid tropical air, anxious to enter the unknown area we were being led, hoping desperately for shade. I remember prying back the intimidatingly large steel gate, pulling hard as the jagged bottom caught on the gravel at our feet. The colorful graffiti painted on the steel caused a small fear to build in the pit of my stomach as well as some confusion. Once the gate was pulled back far enough to create a narrow pathway, shouts, laughter, and foreign squeals of excitement surrounded us. Dust filled the air as bare feet ran through the rock-filled dirt towards us. They sprinted with such a purpose, as if the soles of their feet could feel no pain, and all they had on their minds was eliminating the distance between them and us. Little shirtless brown bodies surrounded us, and as I was still processing it all, a body jumped up and clung to my hip. In that moment, the heat, along with every predetermined, complex idea of what I thought love should be, faded away, as a giant kiss landed on my cheek. This was love. Free to express itself,  pure, authentic, and unconditioned.






I turned 50 recently and on the way to my mid-life crisis, a really crazy thing happened to me.  I found Faith, Hope and Love.  It was in the most unlikely of places too.  After years of prayer asking the Lord to open my heart and my mind, a string of anomalous events had me on a flight across an ocean traveling to Haiti.  Here I met some of the most beautiful and extraordinary people of my entire life.  People who cared more about giving of themselves and helping those in need than anything else.  Their love was immeasurable and their kindness remarkable.  Here in this generation of beautiful young men and women so willing to share God's word and Love, is where I found HOPE. 

All my preconceived ideas and thoughts had been dashed to pieces.  The people I had come to help had changed my life.  They taught me more in one week than I had learned in 30 years.  How could they have so little but so much at the same time?  How could they love me knowing that I had not lived one day in their shoes?  They bore into my heart and would always remain there.  Yes, I gave them a little food and water but they gave me a fire that will live in me forever. 

...........Michael LaBella

"On Being Rich"

"When you are in the final days of your life, what will you want? Will you hug that college degree in the walnut frame? Will you ask to be carried to the garage so you can sit in your car? Will you find comfort in rereading your financial statement? Of course not. What will matter most then will be people. If relationships will matter most then, shouldn't they matter most now?"

We Americans love our money. I mean we really love that green paper. Sure, we need it to survive, but what so many of us fail to see, is that thats it. Thats all we need it for; Survival. Aside from using it for the bare necessities, does money really hold any other worth? Or does it just begin to act counterproductive, making us poorer as we stack up our bills? Slaves forever to paper. Blind to what it means to be truly rich.

When will eyes be opened, able to see clearly that we have it all wrong. 

God did not die for us so we could follow a journey all for salary, living for things that hold no meaning and no purpose, other then to pull us away from the things that actually matter. Things like love and faith. Experiences and relationships. 

Things Like Him.

During my week in Haiti, I witnessed a moment that truly opened my eyes to these two completely different examples of "rich". As I sat in the living room with the beautiful Haitian family my team and I were staying with, the entire floor ruptured beneath us, sending an enormous crack in the tile through the majority of the house. My mind immediately flashed to what any typical family's reaction might have been (including my own)-- cursing, complaints, and acting as if the world had truly came to an end in that moment-- expecting the family to be just as upset. Instead, the family squealed in fright, broke into a fit of laughter, and literally… just continued to spend time with one an other. I remember smiling and thinking they get it. 

It is our job in life to figure it out. To see that "we are not rich until we have something money can't buy."

If all we have in the end is money, we are the poorest of all. 

Being Thankful

As the day comes to an end we all finally realize that tomorrow is the day that we say goodbye to this beautiful country that treated us so well, and we also say goodbye to our team.  We started the week not knowing each other at all, and we leave tomorrow being a family. 


Many things happened this week that made us closer, and made us appreciate what God has blessed us with. 


Visiting the orphanage this week we met and played with MANY kids, but there was this one child that I connected with the most.  Nala came into my life and she brought a smile to my face every time I saw her.  Nala has special needs, which makes her different from the other kids, but she probably has the best attitude a 6 year old can have.  Nala’s mom brought her to the orphanage when she was about 1 year old, being unable to care for her as she had many other kids also.  Meeting her was Gods way of saying that I have it well, and I need to be thankful for it. 

As I was sitting there with my eyes tearing up, watching her play with a smile on her face made me understand that God is good and he wants his children to be happy. 


This week has had its ups and downs with all of the things we have seen and trying to process it all.  It made us closer as a family, and has made me personally a lot more thankful for what I have.

Matt Geurink 8/3/14

From Strangers to Family


Today we find ourselves finishing our work in Haiti; however, I believe our work has just begun. We started the week as strangers and will be leaving as family. The closest bonds among people occur in times of trial, change, and stepping into the unknown. As the week progressed, this amazing group of individuals has bonded and grown as one. Through prayer walks, orphanage visits, and VBS, the love of Jesus has stirred love inside the hearts of both Haitians and our Haiti team.  The children’s eyes glistened with joy as we approached and interacted with them; it is amazing to see what a big difference a simple smile and a sprinkle of love can do. As we return home and begin our normal routines, I pray that God continue stirring a sense of servitude in our hearts. We are forever grateful for this opportunity, God’s love, and the people of Haiti; therefore, may we continue serving with love now and forever more.


Daniel Bocanegra 7/31/14

What Truly Matters

We hear about the devastation and desperation that exists in Haiti. We know the immense need for love and God’s presence… and of course food, water, and roofs for above our heads. We see pictures and stories on the news.  We build up our own expectations on what it might be like here, but let me tell you; once you are truly here-- nothing is at all like your predictions. There is so much more here than the mind can even attempt to wrap itself around.


They will tell you about the heat, how unbearable it is and how crazy you are for going. They’ll tell you of all the risks in going; the health dangers and disease. They’ll try and frighten you out of going, believing that they know what its like here.


They don’t.


No one tells you about the amount of love that is present here. With so many hugs, cheek kisses, and hand holding that it is contagious. They don’t tell you about the incredibly prevalent sense of passion in every heart you meet. A passion for others.  A passion for giving. A passion for Jesus.


No one tells you that it will change your perspective of this world forever.


I have found that here in Haiti, families do not have the common distractions that America does.  Because of this, the things that truly matter in life; such as expressing love, giving to others, living every day for Jesus… these things are focused on with such a higher power. Such a power that you will find yourself broken down in tears for a reason you cannot fully comprehend.


This is how it should be always.


Sure, it’s hot in Haiti. Very Hot. You have to take bucket showers, eat food you aren’t accustomed to, and the hills you trek up daily will have you going home with some scrapes and bruises. These may be some harsh realities, but when you are here, immersed totally and completely with the beautiful people of the country, all of these complaints will be meaningless in comparison to what the Lord will bless you with during your time.


I strongly believe that the experiences in life that we cannot quite put words to are the ones that God Himself has personally blessed us with.


Now This…. This, is Haiti.


There is just SO much of Him with us here, that words cannot, and will not ever be enough, to justify our experience here.


Ashley LaBella 7/30/14

For the love of Haiti

When we arrived on Sunday, none of us knew what to expect.  We each came from different locations, most of us strangers, and all at once the best of friends.  We were greeted with huge smiles and immediately began helping one another with luggage and sharing jokes and the anticipation of this journey. 

Pastor John, our contact here in Haiti, brought us to his home, high in the hilly terrain of Merger.  We shared laughter over a wonderful meal of fried plantains, potato salad, turkey, and a spicy slaw.  The evening was spent watching a soccer championship game.  At the game, the children surrounded us with huge smiles and laughter. It is amazing how talented the children are here with their athletic abilities.  Although we were limited with our language barrier, we communicated with play and laughter. 

The sun was setting when we came back to Pastor John’s home.  The view from the rooftop was incredible.  The village gave way to the amazing ocean ahead.  We slept on the roof so we were able to feel the air.  Haiti is intensely hot, but we were all energized with the anticipation of the week ahead. 

This morning, (Monday), we unpacked and planned out our skits and games for the Vacation Bible School that were taking place this afternoon.  We decided on the story of Jesus meeting Simon Peter in his fishing boat, and telling him He would make him a fisher of men.  We chose the bible verse Mark1:17 as a theme for our first day with the children.

Later this morning, we split into two groups, and along with our translators, we began a prayer walk through the village.  We visited homes, prayed for any needs that the people requested prayer for.  We laughed and listened to stories about the lives of the people here.  We visited an orphanage and were surrounded by smiling faces.  The children reached out for us to hug and hold them.  We shared candy, coloring books, kisses and smiles.

On our way to VBS this afternoon, we were greeted with a hill that seemed to go straight up and never end.  The terrain in Haiti is a true test of endurance for the most athletic of individuals.  When we reached the top, we were greeted with huge smiles and hands reaching for the gifts we brought to bless them with.  Many of the children were covered in stickers and gathered around for photographs.  We played soccer, sang songs together, and played games with a parachute. 

In the evening, we made the downward trek toward the church where John would be giving a message.  When we arrived, the room was alive with the sounds of intense worship.  A small, elderly woman was dressed all in white at the front of the small room.  Her genuine enthusiasm for praising God was contagious.  The music moved us to tears.  Although most of the songs were in Creole, we understood the universal language of praise and worship.  Pastor John introduced us and invited us to speak to the congregation.  We each shared our appreciation of the hospitality and our amazement at how beautiful Haiti is.  Pastor John gave a message about Zechariah the tax collector, and how even though we may feel small, God sees each of us.  Even though we may have made unwise choices in our past, God sees our heart.  The people repeated a phrase over and over that we didn’t understand.  The man next to me grabbed my hand and spoke the words over and over to me, "pa gen anyen ki enposibak Bondye."  Pastor John looked at us and translated, “nothing is impossible with God.”  Indeed.  None of us began this journey knowing what was going to happen, but we are assured that anything is possible through Christ who gives us strength. 

Tonight, as we prepare our bedding on the rooftop, we grow closer to one another, and to our wonderful Creator, who makes the world a very small place when we see that even across the world, each of us are the same.  We carry different struggles, but we are brought together with the knowledge that we are all His children, fearfully and wonderfully made, regardless of the color of our skin, where we were born, or the way we grew up.  The week will fly by, but we’re all soaking in His marvelous glory and we’ve been brought together for His purpose.  It is well…

Amanda Williams 7/28/14

Haiti is waiting for the arrival of the team!

It has been a hot, busy couple of days here getting prepped for the arrival of our team.  Can I just say that I am SO excited for the team to join me tomorrow afternoon… We have an awesome week of ministry ahead of us!

I have spent the last few days with our contact John and his family, learning about the culture of Haiti, and deciding on our schedule.

This week, we will be partnering with John’s ministry, Success Ministries.  This ministry is a refuge for 120 kids, ages 4-16 in Merger, Haiti.  The ministry focuses on the poorest of the poor, and providing opportunities for them.  John took me on a walking tour of his community to point out some of the children Success Ministries helps- they were such beautiful children of God and it will be so great to love on them throughout this week.

Some of you may be asking… What is Success Ministries?  John started Success Ministries just over a year ago, when given the vision by God.  John said he couldn’t deny the calling, and upon being obedient to that calling, the Lord provided, and continues to provide for all of Success Ministries’ needs.

Success Ministries ensures these children are educated by providing backpacks, school supplies, books, and uniforms so they can attend school.

They also feed the children on a weekly basis, and feed their family on a monthly basis.  They capture the Haitians love for soccer; as their meeting spot is in the middle of a soccer field where the children love to play the game in a controlled environment.  Success Ministries also offers computer classes and extended learning opportunities, while they are also focusing on incorporating more learning opportunities into their ministry.

This update is more of the logistical “what we’ll be up to” blog.  Check back to see pictures, and more stories on how the Lord is moving in our team, and through Haiti!

Kim Labat 7/26/14