A smile is a smile: Written By Stephanie Aguero-Muscatine

By admin,

Thursday was our final work day. Ten of us spent the morning pouring concrete in two more homes, bringing the total to 6 homes over 3 days and 8 rooms total. This was no small feat! Remember, we didn’t just back the truck up to the house, pour the concrete, and smooth it out. We carried 5 gallon buckets of rock for the base layer. The masons then mixed concrete in the street, and we carried the concrete anywhere from 50 feet to 50 yards to the house. These concrete floors will be life changing for these families as they can prevent worms and diseases that can come from sleeping on dirt floors. The work was laborious, but every time one of us had a chance to take a standing break, a child in the community was ready, waving us to help with the next bucket. Those little ones never quit and a simple smile was enough encouragement we needed to continue.
last 2

The early afternoon was spent painting another classroom, making this three for the week. We also invited several community members to the school for rice distribution. Most families received a bag that would feed them for three days, depending on the size of the family. The families of the students who are sponsored by our team members received a bag of rice that should last almost three weeks!
last 1

Yesterday was our final day in Haiti. It doesn’t seem possible that we’ve already been here a week. The hardest part of the day for most of us was saying goodbye to the children and staff with whom we have developed relationships. We shared many hugs, along with a few tears. Several students told us, “I love you”, which was so very touching and conjured a few more tears.
last 3

After we left the school, we made our way up the coast to Kaliko Beach Club, where we had the chance to dip our toes in the ocean and spend the day relaxing after a long week of physical work. A nice reward to end the week!

Today, we leave Haiti to return to the United States, hopefully as changed people. After this experience, seeing what we have seen, knowing what the real Haiti looks like, feels like, smells like, we can only hope to impact others with our stories and encourage others to take on this endeavor.

Melody, a team member on our mission, said it best that the Haitians we worked with this week may be poor in resources, but they are rich in spirit.

We have been blessed with many things in our lives, and this week we have been a blessing to the lives of those we have helped. More than that, all of those we have been connected with have been a blessing to us.

Thank you to Silentor for being the guiding light for us on this journey. For Laza, for being the Jack-of-all-trades and helping whenever called. Thank you to Bernard, for translating for us and learning a few more English phrases from us.Thank you to the kitchen staff, Tupame and Loudna for making sure our bellies were full at each delicious meal. Thank you to Timadame for taking care of us in many ways. Lastly, thank you to all of our Starfish, who have all brightened our lives and shown us true friendship and love.

Each day, Pam has posted a Haiku about our Haiti experience. With her inspiration, here is one more:

A smile is a smile
In Creole or in English
We are one in God

Thank you for following our journey all week. We hope that each of you has the amazing opportunity to experience Haiti for yourself.
last

With love,
Stephanie

Muscatine BLOG 3: Written by BRADY

By admin,

As day six in Haiti comes to an end, we look back at all the work we have been able to accomplish, and the lives we have been blessed to impact. We were able to paint an additional two classrooms for the school and two more rooms of concrete flooring. We also continued to play and laugh with the kids, and had bracelet making sessions.
group

haiti 2

The comforts of home seem like a welcome hello, but saying goodbye with the work that still needs to be done makes it difficult. We were well received all throughout out trip with the children especially excited to see us. Teaching them new games and handshakes is a learning experience for both parties.

bike
haiti

Feeling the breeze and looking up into the sky while atop the roof, one cannot help but think of the natural beauty and serenity that can be found here. The laughter of both children and adults as they play in the courtyard below, the new greenery on the ground below. Haiti is growing, and we feel lucky to be here to have done our small part.
haiti 3

With a grateful heart,
-Brady

MUSCATINE BLOG 2: MIKE

By admin,

Hello from Haiti!
The last two days have certainly been the reason that we made this endeavor. I don’t think that any of us truly realized the impact that we were going make in the lives of these young children and the community, or the impact these children were going to make on us.

On Monday we were able to spend time in the classrooms with the children watching them prepare for their end of the year exams. They are all excited and ready to begin those on Wednesday. The Kindergarten class was exceptionally exciting. They were all very “distracted” by our presence. Most of the team was able to sit in the classroom and participate with the students. Some of us were able to take part in the lunch time feeding of the students. It was very interesting to take part in this daily routine. We started by handing out silver plates and spoons. We were followed then by the cooks who dished out equal portions of rice and beans to each student. The feeling that you get, knowing that you are able to give a child a nourishing meal for that day…… there are no words.

The students returned to the school at 3:00 for arts and crafts lead by the Muscatine Team. The kids were all able to make their very own tie-dye t shirt. They had a blast (as well as the team). The shirts were put through a process and the kids were able to take them home on Tuesday after arts and crafts time. They were so proud of these new shirts. Some of the kids put them on immediately. As I write this on Wednesday, a majority are wearing them again today. Again…… Making a Difference.

Tuesday brought about the start of the day that most people never get to experience. We started with a 6:00 AM ride in our first ever Tap-Tap. Wow!! The Tap-Tap took us into Gonaives and dropped us off at the base of a mountain, where we began an early morning hike to the top. What a way to start the day. The “younger” team members may have been a little faster, but we can say without a shadow of a doubt, that ALL 15 team members were successful and made it. What a view!! We were able to have our morning devotion a top the mountain, what a place to worship!

Tuesday after our mountain excursion, it was back to Mission Starfish to prepare for some of our community work. Today was the day that we began pouring cement floors for people in the community. Some people think this may not be a big deal, the cement truck pulls up, unloads the cement and we smooth it out……. LOL! We began by carrying a mixture of rocks, and sand to the site of the house where they were spread throughout the dirt floor. The house was close and so the walk was not that bad. When we finished, we continued the same process to the next house we were going to do. These community members lived a little farther from the rock pile, but we made it. When all the rock and sand were spread, the workers began “mixing” the cement, once they had the cement mixed, we began carrying the cement by the buckets (2 scoops, 3 scoops, or more). The cement was poured onto the rock flooring and a local mason would trowel out the floor. We made a huge impact on the lives of two families today with something as simple as a concrete floor, Again……. Making a Difference.
floorrrr

cement

We were treated to a meal in the city of Gonaives this evening. A Tap-Tap ride and we were in air conditioning, and a meal of fried chicken, french fries, fried plantains, and a drink of choice. The food was excellent, and the team was able to spend quality time together discussing the days activities and reflecting on how as a small team of 15 members from Muscatine, Iowa……. We are Making a Difference!!!!
resto

God Bless
Mike

First Blog from Dave-Muscatine Team member

By admin,

Greetings from Gonaives, Haiti! The Muscatine contingent (15 of us) from 1st Presbyterian Church made it here safely on Saturday with out 42 plus bags in tow. We were thrilled to see Silentor at the airport to greet us with some very skilled drivers to get us safely to Mission Starfish Haiti. After a delicious lunch, we had time to play with and get to know the very enthusiastic and energetic children that attend the school and live in the area. Their big smiles, energy and friendliness just overwhelmed us all!
muscatine

Silentor has many relatives helping him to make Mission Starfish a success. The food prepared by his sister and sister-in-law is wonderful and fulfilling to us all. The fresh fruit is not like any other and is so delicious, that we make trips back for more. The mango has been a popular fruit for all. The bucket showers are a truly unique experience that everyone has made the best of. Learning to open the Culligan water packets we drink has also been a challenge, but with practice we are not squirting the person beside us with as much water now.

Today we had the distinct pleasure to attend worship at the church that is on the school grounds. Everyone was so inviting and friendly with big smiles and welcoming hearts. Pastor Pam gave a short inspiring greeting to their 60 plus members, introducing all of the team members. We then helped prepare a community meal, cleaning vegetables, washing dishes, cooking chicken, placing meals for the entire congregation in styrafoam trays and making sure the trays were delivered to everyone for a delicious meal. After lunch, we sorted all of the items we brought for the school – fabric and thread, electronics, school supplies, soccer balls, dental supplies, and shoes. We were successful in filling the shelves in the community store with shoes. We then had a chance to take a walk around the area seeing where Silentor’s family lives, experiencing many children in the neighborhood and experiencing a culture that is eye opening and interesting.

We are off to a great start and we expect our loving God to work through each one of us this week demonstrating to those we encounter the tremendous love He has for each one of us as children of God. Halleluia!
–Dave

This will be the last blog of this trip.

By admin,

Written by Connie, Fulton Team Day 6

Wake up time was on the early side today as we needed to do last minute packing and pitching before starting our return trip. The pitching was leaving behind any of our clothes, supplies, etc. that we did not need to bring back to the states and which MSH could either use or add to the inventory in their resale shop.

Our transportation showed up even earlier than expected so we also arrived earlier than expected at the Kaliko Beach Club. If it seems strange to be stopping at a resort on a mission trip–it serves several purposes, both for Silentor and for us. 1–it got us to within about an hour of the Port-au-Prince airport, important because of our early flight out on Wednesday. 2–It allowed us to see a side of Haiti that is very different from what we had experienced the rest of the week. 3–It allowed us to decompress and reflect with Silentor on our week.

We were delighted when we could get into our bungalow accommodations right away instead of the normal 3PM check-in and we all pretty much rushed to change into swim suits and jump into either the ocean or the swimming pool. We all did very well during our week of cleaning off the daily sweat, dirt, and dust with a quart or gallon of water a day, but we were more than happy to have full body immersion in water today–both swimming and in the showers in our bungalows. And we’re sure that our fellow passengers tomorrow will appreciate it, too!

We lounged most of the afternoon with several in the group getting a little too much sun before enjoying a buffet dinner that each of us paid for out of our own pockets. The whole day allowed us time to reflect on our week in Haiti–so many fantastic experiences; so many beautiful, warm people we met; so much we learned about Haiti; and so many ideas about what to do to support MSH once we are back. We have all had a fantastic experience and could not be more impressed with what everyone is doing at Mission Starfish Haiti and the very conscious, soul-building philosophy that pervades everything that Silentor oversees and does.
Hope that you have enjoyed following along with us, hope you want to hear and see more either at this Sunday’s 9:30 service, at an event to be planned in May when Silentor will join us, or by catching any of us individually. We also hope that we’ve infected some of you with the desire to be part of a mission team. Thanks again to everyone who played any part in making this trip a reality.

chil