Culvers Night!

Culvers Night!

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Meet NMU Team May 2015!!!

Meet NMU TEAM MAY 2015

Kayla  an Elementary Education major at NMU, Kayla grew up in the beautiful town of Marquette, MI. She loves to dance, be outdoors, and spend time with her family and friends. She is hoping her very bubbly, easygoing personality and desire to help others will help her connect with others while in Haiti. She loves spending time with kids and hopes to someday make a difference in children's lives! Kayla is so so so excited for Haiti!

Katie - Currently, a fourth year Community Health Education Major at Northern Michigan University, Katie enjoys being outdoors, hiking, being at the beach, or just having fun outside. Her family and friends are very important to her and she loves spending time with them. This Mission to Haiti will not only help her spread her faith but also deepen her faith with God.

Melissa  - a CLS student with a concentration in laboratory medicine, health care is a very important aspect of Melissa's life and her passion in this field is very evident. She is really looking forward to  teaching about proper water safety and health precautions to the people in the mountains of Haiti. This will be Melissa's third time in Haiti, her second in the mountains!! She can't wait to re-connect with old friends and form new friendships, as well as, sing and dance with the kids!

Jenna – a senior studying elementary education at NMU, Jenna loves working with children, the outdoors and reading. Her family is the center of her life. In Haiti, she is looking forward to making a difference in the lives of young children, and experiencing a different way of life.

Elle -  an elementary education major from Zion, IL, Elle loves sports (plays hockey for NMU), music, animals, and movies. She hopes to travel the world one day!! Being that this will be Elle's 3rd time in Haiti (2nd in the mountains!) she is looking forward to reuniting with her Haitian friends while making many more! She just can't wait to be back in Haiti!!!

Monday, January 5, 2015


Karen a retired children's librarian, Karen will be on a repeat journey to Haiti.  She is hoping to visit the school library that she helped start & continues to support.  Karen is now living in northern Michigan and loving it!

Barb - a retired special education teacher and mom of 4 adult sons.  For the past 6 1/2 years, she has been the director of the Adult Literacy Council of Cadillac Area, which trains tutors to teach adults to read and write. Barb is passionate about teaching and life-long learning and is particularly interested in the Haitian schools and the Normal School that is being established. 

Tom – a retired, “Jack of all trades” and logical thinker, this will be Tom’s first trip to Haiti accompanied by his wife and daughter!  He is looking forward to learning all he can from this experience and helping out wherever he is needed.

Sharlene – a retired music teacher, Sharlene will be sharing her first experience in Haiti with her husband and daughter, too.  She is excited to use her gifts of service, listening, prayer, music, fun and playfulness on this trip and to take what she learns from this experience to apply to her life at home.

Betty – a retired social worker and music therapist, Betty is looking forward to bringing Christ’s light across the ocean, to work as a team and to see lives changed – both in our Haitian friends and in our team members.

Stacey  - a fitness instructor, personal trainer and nutritional counselor, Stacey has been to Haiti with us and her two daughters twice already.  She will traveling solo this trip and is excited to reconnect with the many friends she has made in Haiti!

Debbi - mother of 5, dream of going to Haiti became a reality in 2001. Debbi has been on every "Hands for Haiti" trip so far and is excited to be back “home.”

Friday, March 7, 2014

Beach day!!!

March 7, 2014

M’ sonj’e ou.  I remember you. 

Today marked our final day in what has come to be a majestic utopia for team March 2014.  Haiti or “Ayiti” will forever hold a place in the hearts of 10 people who arrived as individuals but left as a family.  Beyond our team family, each of us formed lasting bonds with the authentic Haitian people we were blessed to spend our week with. 

After our venture through the Haitian mountains God blessed us with a day of fun in the sun at Club Indigo Resort.  Eight of our Haitian helpers journeyed to the beach with us in the “Paddie Wagon.”  The ride in felt exhilarating as we all sat in the back of the truck singing American pop songs while the Haitians laughed and were forced to join in. 

When we arrived at the beach I was awestruck at the beauty of God’s creation.  The clearest blue diamond water of the Atlantic Ocean sparkled up at us surrounded by a majestic mountainous backdrop.  Both Haitians and Americans basked in the view before plunging into the cool water.  Everyone’s faces lit up with childlike enjoyment as we splashed and swam and laughed together.  Before we knew it, it was time to chow down at the buffet.  Authentic Haitian cuisine prepared for an all-you-can-eat feast was music to all our ears.  Who doesn’t love good food?!  We enjoy another universal characteristic of our humanity together.

The highlight of the day for all was the Haitian v. American pool basketball showdown.  Everyone competed with wide smiles and echoing laughter.  It really became more of a boys v. girls game as Talilah joined our team.  Although the girls MVP was probably Sam as he troughed through the water like an American football running back with three Haitians on his back.  This was a perfect end to our beach day as we shared our universal love of games and innocent play.

 It was a quiet ride back to the compound as we all felt the inevitable farewell approaching.  Arriving back at the guest house meant saying our final goodbyes with a very real fear of the unknown of when/ if we would see our friends again.  The vulnerability we had in this unique experience forced an unbreakable bond between our American team and our Haitian friends.  Our Haitian friends translated English to Creole and Creole to English.  They prepared all our meals for us.  They guided us on unfamiliar terrain.  They took our hands to prevent us from falling.  They sweated with us.  They sang with us.  They laughed with us.  They played with us.  They cried with us.  They shared joy in our triumphs.  And together we accomplished our feat.  We came to help build a school and we will leave having built a community that surpasses cultural barriers; a community both Haitian and American.  We are united in our humanness and when we work together and learn from one another there is nothing we can’t do with the help of our loving God. 

On this day, March 7, 2014, we will remember you.  And we will forever remember Haiti and the community we built.  This community can only to be strengthened over time as we set out back to America to advocate for Hands for Haiti.  Our Haitian friends will forever remain in our hearts.  M’ sonj’e ou.  We remember you.

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Mountain Magic

March 6, 2014


First of all, I want to apologize in advance for the very long post that I’m about to create. We have been out of touch with technology for the last four days and haven’t been able to post anything about our Haitian adventures.

As most of you know, our Hands for Haiti March 2014 Team’s mission was to work on renovating a school in the mountains. Can I just say, WOW, what an AMAZING experience! We started our trek for the mountains on Monday morning. Bursting with excitement, our team worked very hard to get us out of Borel, and on our way to the mountains. We piled into the back of a Toyota pick-up truck and the Polaris and started winding our way through the mountains. Never have I ever seen such beauty. Haiti truly is a gorgeous place. Our drive took about two hours before we stopped to eat lunch. It’s so interesting to go anywhere in Haiti because we always have a crowd that follows us. That being said, having a crowd follow us makes it very hard to do things like eat and drink. It breaks my heart eating in front of the Haitians, especially when we don’t have enough to share. Nonetheless, after stopping to eat we started our walk towards the school. Haitians came to help us carry our things. I’m still amazed at how much they can carry, and how well they walk. Some men were carrying two back-packs as well as holding our hands so that we wouldn’t fall, and trust me; those back-packs were anything but light-weight. Our walk took about two hours, and once we reached the school we had what seemed like a hundred Haitians walking with us. We set up camp that night and slept under the frame of the school. Cold and uncomfortable, it’s safe to say that none of us slept well over the next few days.

Working on the school over the next few days was amazing. As a team I think we have come to realize something, our mission isn’t to build a school, it’s to build relationships with the Haitians. We come to Haiti and work with some amazing people and create bonds that will stay with us forever. Working along-side the Haitians to create a school that is beautiful is only part of the equation. Our team had so much fun interacting with the Haitians. We sang, danced, colored, and played games with the children and we sang and danced while moving bags of dirt up to the school. While working on the school was fun and something I truly enjoyed doing, nothing brought me more joy than playing with all of the amazing Haitian children. I even made a little “Haitian buddy.” Leaving him as well as all of the other Haitian children today was heart-wrenching.

Every night Debbi asks us, “Where did you see God today?” I can tell you where I see God in the beautiful country of Haiti. He is in this amazing team that I have become so close with. He is in the people of Haiti that love us so much. He is the children of Haiti that get so excited when we bring out things like jump ropes and soccer balls. God has provided us with so many amazing opportunities on this trip, and for that I am truly grateful for.

Our climb back home to Borel today was exciting, exhilarating, and exhausting. I’m so proud of our team though, we walked the whole way without complaints. When we had to say goodbye to our Haitian helpers, it was truly heart-breaking. I can’t imagine my life without these amazing people and feel so blessed to have met them. I know our team is looking forward to an amazing day at the beach with some of our close Haitian friends. I also know that we are excited to get home to tell all of our loved ones about our adventures. Thank you for all of your prayers thus far, and continue to pray for us as we get ready to make our trip back home.


Monday, March 3, 2014

Day 2 in Haiti - Team March 2014

March 2, 2014

Today our group experienced our first full day in Haiti.  We began the week like we would have back in America, with Sunday Mass.  We traveled by truck to the town of Verrettes with the whole group plus two Haitian friends.  Roaming along the streets of Haiti in the back of a pick-up is an unforgettable adventure!  So many faces turn to watch as the “Blan” whiz by.  Children wave and chase after our vehicle while adults stare intently.  We are merely an arm’s length away from other traffic and pedestrians along the road.  The Haitians seems to enjoy “people” watching on the road as we would in a mall back home – searching for familiar faces, shouting to friends, and looking on curiously when seeing something out of the ordinary. 

When we arrived at the church I immediately felt a sense of familiarity as Catholicism knows no land barriers.  The Mass was spoken all in Creole with speckles of Latin.  I only recognized the word “Hosanna,” and yet I felt my heart understanding more through our universal Catholic rituals and gestures.  I could feel the raw emotion in the Priest’s voice and sense the honest adoration in the harmonic singing of the choir.  The first several rows of the church were occupied by school children.  They looked dashing in their matching uniforms of white and brown.  The girls all sported white bows and vibrant smiles while the boys rocked ties and wide innocent eyes.  When they departed as the Mass ended each held the hand of another in honest camaraderie. 

Later in the day we assisted with a food program benefitting some of the most in need children from the community.  The kids in the program receive food and assistance with school supplies until they graduate.  During this time I was able to interact with a few boys who spoke English!  At times it was difficult to interpret their accents on specific words, but I realized I was listening more with my heart than my ears.  Words can carry meaning, but the body can convey true emotion that exceeds cultural barriers.  At times we were laughing and at other instances I could sense feelings of passion, awkwardness, hopelessness, and joy.  One boy, John Le, confided in me his desire to become an English teacher.  This of course cut straight to my heart as a fellow educator.  He spoke of his longing to help those in his community and inspire younger children.  I identified with this passion, but was saddened when I saw the distant look in his eyes yearning for an easier way to accomplish his heart’s desire.  John Le knew there would be no easy path to this calling, but still he held tight to this dream.  He hoped to see me again as I did him when we said our goodbyes.  I became overwhelmed with emotion upon his departure as he hugged me.  So many times in life I have met children and wondered what their future holds and how I can help them to recognize their God given talents.  John Le seemed to already know his.  I hope one day I will be blessed to see him again spreading his joy and passion with the world by teaching others as he taught me on this blessed second day of March.  ~ Jacque


Saturday, March 1, 2014

Day 2 March 1st 2014.

  Most of us were not able to sleep last night at the airport. We tried, honestly we tried, but the floor was hard, the chairs were not comfortable, the lights were bright and there was some construction going on down the hall from where we were.

  When we got through security, we only had about half an hour before our plane started boarding, so we sat down to wait and about ten minutes before we could star boarding, the flight attendants said that our flight would be delayed because they had to fix something that got loose during the previous flight, so our plane now left at 7:40am instead of 7:05am. We got delayed once more until 9:00am.

  We got into Porta-Prince Haiti at 11:00am and from there was picked up by Andy, who agreed to come get us. On the way to the Guesthouse, we rode in the back of an open cattle truck, which was really cool. I’ve never done something like that before. We got stuck in traffic so instead of the two hours it should have taken us, it took four. The views that we saw coming though, were breath taking, and I don’t think any of us really minded the long ride until about the third hour rolled around. Then we just wanted out and off that truck. By the time we got to the Guesthouse, all of us girls had really snarly hair.

  For supper we had rice and a hot sauce to pour over it. We also had meat balls or chicken legs, a coleslaw and bread and plantain, which is kind of like a banana that’s pressed together and fried.  I thought it was a big flat French-fry.

  In all that we did today, everything was awesome.  The ride was amazing and eye-opening.  .  It was shocking to see how much the people have to do to survive.  Meeting the “family” at the guesthouse was really cool as was getting to know the other team members.  Today was all about smiles and waving and getting to know people.  Good night.  Margaret J

Friday, February 28, 2014


Tomorrow we will be leaving on our College Spring Break mission trip to Haiti. Then on Monday morning we will be leaving for a hike into the mountains. This is a dream come true for me. I have always wanted to take a team into the mountains and this time we will fulfill that dream. But... how did I get here? 

As I was packing this morning, I was overcome with emotion. Overcome with God’s grace being... poured all over me. I felt the strength of His Holy Spirit who will be guiding us. I felt the army of His angels that will be accompanying us. Sometimes I find myself just stopping and wondering, “How did I get here?” 

I realize that He wants me to trust Him. As simple, yet hard as that is sometimes, that is what we need to do. And if we do, we will CLIMB MOUNTAINS!! I just thank this team that has put their trust in the Lord and in me. I thank all of the people that have supported and prayed for us. I thank the people in Haiti that have been preparing for us. We will ALL climb this mountain TOGETHER!!! And God will be glorified! And God’s people will be blessed!!


Monday, October 28, 2013

Spring Break Teams Forming

SPRING BREAK ~ Teams Forming!!
Click here for our Hands for Haiti Mission Trip Packet
Team March 2014 - College Spring Break
Saturday, March 1 - Saturday March 8, 2014
Click below for costs and information:
Team April 2014 - School Spring Break
Saturday, March 29 - Saturday, April 5, 2014
Click below for costs and information
Team April 2014-Cost Detail

Future Trip ~ Fall 2014
dates yet to be determined

Never Give Up!

From my devotional reading this morning: "...It is often true that we do not persist in doing what we have begun, inwardly or outwardly." 

How does this relate to our mission at Hands for Haiti?  Sometimes I find that there are so many things I would like to help with, I get overwhelmed.  I need to constantly remind myself that a few COMPLETED projects are better than a lot of unfinished projects.  It's the same with my own life.  I need to focus on changing one thing at a time.  If I try too many at one time, I get discouraged that I have not accomplished anything. 

The Haitians have this mastered, I think.  They focus on their basic necessities first - LOVING, LIVING, GIVING - then they worry about the rest.  And why should I be surprised at this? God has been using the poor to teach us how to live for Him from the moment He gave us His Son!!  I am privileged to be among amazing people every time I am in Haiti!! 

God bless your day today!! 

~ Debbi

Friday, September 6, 2013

We need a TEAM for DECEMBER!!

We are accepting applications 
for our next
Hands for Haiti Trip!!!
~ Team December 2013  ~

Wed., December 4 - Wed., December 11, 2013
If you are interested or know anyone who is, 
please click on the link below to download and read through our 
Informational Packet/Application and Cost Detail Sheet.

Library project - May 2013

Look at our amazing before and after photos from our
Cool Kids Haiti Trip
May 2013

Our finished project!!!

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

New email address!!

Please change my email address to:

Thank you and have a blessed day!!



"Not all of us can do great things. But we can do small things with great
love." Mother Teresa

Monday, August 5, 2013

We are busy planning our next trips!!!  
Check back for upcoming dates!!!

Saturday, May 4, 2013

Friday, May 3rd!!!!

Today’s blog from Justen:  Ok today we cleaned out the food storage room and helped install a new ceiling to protect  the kids school books.  We learned how to build Haitian style!  We played soccer with school kids on their recess, tried to catch lizards with some boys and celebrated Debbi’s birthday. We went to the river to cool down and after that we went to a bar for some cold pop.  Then we went to another missionary’s house and met his family.  After that, we came back to the compound to eat dinner.  It was very good.  After that we had our group chat and talked about how our day went well.  One thing we noticed about today was that the kids we played with were excited to be with us and actually remembered our names.  That was really cool and made us feel welcome.  Tomorrow we will have tons of fun delivering fruit trees and helping build the shelves for the school.  Thanks to everyone that help us get here!