samedi 23 août 2014

Visit to Haitian orphanage provides enduring inspiration

HOMASSIN, Haiti — About an hour’s drive from the Toussaint Louverture International Airport in Port-au-Prince is an oasis for children that is saving and changing lives. It is God’s Littlest Angels (GLA) orphanage.
Its origins actually go back to 1994, when U.S. missionaries John and Dixie Bickel, while in Haiti, were led to care for one very small, premature baby. That tiny baby girl was expected to die due to a lack of medical facilities in the area. But the Bickels rigged up a makeshift incubator and cared for the child, who was returned to good health and eventually went home.
The attention that the local community gave this event was so great that other mothers (and fathers) began bringing their sick and premature babies to the Bickels, asking for help. That was just the beginning.
Three years later, the Bickels ventured into international adoption and have been placing Haitian infants and toddlers with forever families in places such as the Twin Cities in Minnesota and Paris.
GLA is a Christian organization that partners with churches as well as faithful individuals for financial support and hands-on ministry.
I spent a week at GLA in late July during my own personal mission trip to Haiti. Many who take mission trips help build schools, or dig wells; I, on the other hand, have not been gifted with construction skills. Giving me a hammer or power tool could lead to someone getting hurt. Usually, that someone is me.
God has, however, blessed me with a sense of vision and the ability to take pictures that are, for the most part, in focus. So I offered the donation of my photography skills to help the orphanage in its fundraising and promotions. GLA accepted.
While I was at the orphanage, Judy Jacobson, her teenage daughter, Kenna, and Jacobson’s sister, Cheryl VanBeek, who had traveled from Alberta, Canada, were volunteering. The trio spent time with babies and toddlers, giving them one-on-one attention.
And a team of 13 came from the Highland Church of Christ in Robinson, Ill. The team spent a good amount of time doing painting and construction projects on a new facility that the orphanage will begin moving to in December.
Through the lens of my camera, I could see both groups sharing the love of Christ as they offered themselves as living sacrifices for these Haitian children through GLA. It was an inspiring week for me as I witnessed this. I don’t think I could help but be changed by what the staff and volunteers were doing for “the least of these.”
It was my third trip to Haiti, which by no means makes me an expert on the island nation or its problems. But each time I go, I seem to learn a little more and become a bit more attached to the people and the place.
On my first trip, I couldn’t wait to get home. This time, as I was leaving, I was already working on plans for a way to return.
God is at work and doing some amazing things in this impoverished country, and I can’t think of a better way to spend my time than by being a small part of that. For more on God’s Littlest Angels, go to glahaiti.org or call the group’s Colorado Springs office, 719-638-4348.
Chieftain photographer Bryan Kelsen can be reached at bryankelsen.com.

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