Jul 25, 2010

How A Visit to Haiti Changed My Life...

Marc Estes

This was supposed to be a 7 day visit to Haiti to repair a home, give out some rice and then come home. What I didn't expect was for this to forever re-shape who I am, how I act, and accept a calling to continue to help the people of Haiti.

This is my attempt to share the details of the trip. Each night I wrote down the days events in a journal and I'll write them here as I wrote them in the journal.

FRIDAY JULY 16th 2010
Taylor and I left Houston at 5:30pm on American Airlines and arrived in Miami around 9pm Eastern time. Each person on the trip (30 people) packed food and medical supplies in our two checked bags and took the clothes we would wear for the week on a carry on bag. Each checked bag weighed 50 pounds as that was the weight limit per bag by the airline. Once we retrieved the checked bags with supplies, we all gathered at the Miami airport hotel to meet Brent Gambrell, the organizer of the trip.

Brent told us of his purpose and history within Haiti. Brent has spent the last ten years in Haiti but has had a tough time since the earthquake in January 2010. All of the 22 churches and schools he has worked with collapsed in the earthquake.

Brent told us he was in the process of rebuilding homes, helping an orphanage, and bringing food and medical supplies to several villages.He said that we would be working with each of these tasks during the coming week.

After listening to Brent for an hour, I suspect this week could be a life changer. We will see......

Meeting downstairs in the hotel at 9am. Plane leaves at 12:30 for Haiti. We arrived in Haiti at 3pm. In Port Au Prince, we were met at the plane by a big bus that shuttled us to an old metal building which was a make shift immigration office and baggage claim. Once through immigration, it was a free for all to get the luggage. The bags came in on a conveyor and once through, they were thrown in a huge pile for everyone to pick through trying to find their own bags.

As if that wasn't enough, once we made it out of "baggage claim", we walked out into a see of chaos outside of the airport. Peaceful but aggressive porters try to get you to let them carry your bags. Brent prepared us at the airport in Miami to say "No Messi, No Messi" sternly. This meant no thanks!

We were met with a dump truck to take our bags and an old school bus to take us to where we would be staying. We travelled for 2 hours on the bus to the city of Thomassin to a place called the Bethel Guest House. No air! Old bus! Pouring down rain! and the luggage in the back of the dump truck uncovered!

This is a God forsaken place. The poverty and way of life is unexplainable.

The Bethel Guest House is the wealthy district. It is a nice place, marble floors, indoor plumbing, etc.

Dinner was excellent, not what I expected at all.

This is going to be an interesting week......Daily re-cap and devotions at 8pm.

SUNDAY JULY 18th 2010
This morning we drove an hour to Port Au Prince to attend a local church. When we arrived, the service was underway. Our group began to file into the church and the local Haitians immediately got up and gave their seats to us. They did this without being asked to do so. This really impressed me....How many times in our own church service does the pastor have to ask us to scoot in and make room for visitors! I was really convicted on this one. We tend to be so selfish in the U.S.

The service was awesome, even though most of it was in French Creole!
Watch the video!

This makes me want to get involved....There is much we can do here.

We visited the orphanage after church. They call it a "cretch", an orphanage for infants to 7 years old. When you walk in, they run to you and touch your clothes, and then hold their hands up for you to take them and hold them. A heart breaker to say the least. When you put them down to leave, they cry out to you.

This afternoon we separated the luggage with all of the supplies we brought. All of the supplies would be put into "family bags" and distributed to the families in the village of Canez. Brent needed to have enough items to fill 85 bags. After an hour of stuffing supplies into the bags, we had 115 bags. Brent was ecstatic! This reminded me of the story of 5 loaves and 2 fish when Jesus was needing to feed a large group. When Jesus was finished passing out the bread and fish, there was plenty left over. This was our 5 loaves of bread and 2 fish today! It multiplied into more than we needed.

Brent says what we have seen so far is Haiti's New York City! This is where every Haitian wants to be, and it is absolute filth and destruction. He says the villages are worse and we will go there on Thursday or Friday.

My mind cannot comprehend this way of life. I cannot find the words to accurately describe what I am seeing. In the midst of this horrible place, these people find happiness that I am not sure I could find. Their attitudes are of praise and rejoice.

I think about the "stuff" we acquire in the U.S. to try to make us happy. What would it be like to just be happy we are alive? That's what I want to find. What is it about this place that makes me recognize just that? Why haven't I recognized it before? Why did I have to come to Haiti to have my eyes opened?

MONDAY JULY 19th 2010
Today we worked here at the orphanage.

Shelves needed to be built for the kitchen, the tool room was a mess and we organized it. All of the wood here will rot quickly due to the humidity. All wood has to be painted or varnished (Shellacked) as Brent would say.

This evening we prepared 115 bags that contained 3 each, #10 cans of rice. These will be given out to the children that attend VBS tomorrow and Wednesday. Each child will take it home to their families.

TUESDAY JULY 20th 2010
Today was a life changer! We spent the entire day in a mountainous village called "Gwo Jean" or Big John.

The people were excited to see us. One man that spoke English said the people in the village see hope with us being there and thanked us for the sacrifice we made to come to Haiti.

So many people came out to see us. To just get a glimpse of "The Americans".

The village was an unexplainable destruction and poverty. Yet the people seemed happy. The people live in tin huts or shacks. No running water, sewer, etc. The very things we think we are entitled to in the U.S. The people of this village walk miles for food and clean water. No bicycles, no car to jump in and go to Wal-Mart. It's survival of the fittest every day for them. Yet they're Christians and rejoice for what they have.....or most do.

We made our way to a widowed woman's home that was being re-built by Brent Gambrell Ministries. It is a concrete structure with a porch. It is no shack compared to the others in the village! Brent was determined to paint it. Paint in Haiti is only for the wealthy. For this woman, this meant the world to her. She was so happy and praised God for what he has done for her. She is in her late 70's and has never had a "real" home.

This is a life I know nothing about but I do know that we have been blessed and that we can make a difference one house at a time!


Today I jumped off of the construction group to go to the last day of VBS. I needed to get some video and pictures for the church service at Second when we get back.

100 kids came from the area. There were 6 rooms set up with activities, Bible stories, games, snacks and the plan of salvation was given.

The kids were given a new shirt. They immediately put them on. They were thrilled to get a new shirt. It was like watching one of my kids on Christmas morning!

After VBS was over, each child was given one of the bags we prepared with approximately 10 pounds of rice. This is enough rice for a family for 2 weeks. You could see in their faces that they couldn't wait to get home and show their moms.

This was an unbelievable day. These kids don't know they are poor and doing without!

But it was sad to watch the kids on the outside that couldn't attend. They climbed the walls to get a peek inside. The church could only handle 100 kids but approximately 25 to 50 other kids had to be turned away.

Today was a good day!

We went to "La Mission Baptiste" up in the mountains. A mission formed 50 plus years ago by the Turnbull family.

It had an American restaurant, merchants, a museum of Haiti, a zoo, a church and a school.

It was set in a mountainous region that was absolutely gorgeous. It looked like Italy or France does today. It is certainly a template of what all of Haiti could be. There is absolutely no reason this country should be so impoverished. The only reason that can be explained is pure corruption and greed. Fifty to sixty years of a government full of corruption.

There could be thousands of acres of vineyards that put hundreds of people to work. The ports are so corrupt that the wine couldn't make it out of the country.

This trip, this country has changed my perspective on life. I feel a calling for the people of this land. I'm not exactly sure what or how but my antenna is up and I'm listening. Abraham went and knew not!

FRIDAY JULY 23rd 2010
This morning we left the Bethel House at 8am and arrived in Canez at 11:30. It was a tough 3-1/2 hours to get there. We rode in the back of truck. The roads of Haiti are in rough shape to say the least.

The village of Canez is the most primitive way of life in the country. Mud huts with a thatched roof was the typical construction of the homes.

Kids ran around completely naked, dust all over them. Most every kid was without shoes.It was hard to comprehend what I was seeing.

There were approximately 100 homes in the village. We split into several groups and went house to house to speak of Christ, pray for them and with them. Our team led 2 people to Christ! I was one of the group members that led a person to Christ. That was pretty neat. I was out of my comfort zone but it taught me so much.

Each home was given a family bag that had soap, toothpaste, toys, shoes, etc in it. They were also given a ticket they could turn in for a 50 pound bag of rice.

If the family had someone sick, they could bring them to the mobile medical clinic we had setup. The nurses in our group looked at 30 people today.

Brent had brought 2 soccer balls to give to this village. When our guys brought them out and gave them to the kids, THEY WENT CRAZY!

Our guys played ball with them for an hour and you could see the joy it brought to the kids of the village AND to the guys in our group. I got some great video and pictures today. I can't wait to get home, see it and share it.

This week has been a blessing to me. It's done more for me as a person than I could have ever imagined. Earlier in the week, I posted on FaceBook that I thought Haiti was going to do more for me than what I could do for Haiti. I was right!

I will be back to Haiti. I want to help Brent Gambrell Ministries, and you can bet I will!

This will not end with just this one trip. I can't wait until the next time I can get here! This has given me a clear perspective on how to live my life from this point on. We, as Americans, are truly blessed and I am proud to be a U.S. citizen but our prosperity has insulated us from listening to the voice of God and how we can help others with the blessings bestowed upon us.

If you feel the calling to help in any way, please contact me at mestes1@gmail.com

Jul 24, 2010

The Boy's Room....finally finished!!!

I finally finished Noah and Jesse's room and it turned out so cute! They have stayed in it all day playing and watching TV. The dressers were refinished from Altar'd Furniture and she did a great job. LOVE the RED!!!
The only thing I was disappointed in is that their pottery barn star quilts don't work very well with bunk beds so I have to just fold them and lay them on the end of the bed. Still cute though!!
Here are some pictures....enjoy!!!

Jul 23, 2010

No gifts please.....except!!!

This is to all my friends and family that will be giving Emily a birthday gift!!!

In lieu of bringing presents we would prefer a cash gift that will be donated to Brent Gambrell Ministries with 100% of the money going to help the people of Haiti.

Emily has many toys and more clothes then she knows what to do with already that we decided we would like to do this instead. I know the children and people of Haiti will be blessed by your contribution. Thanks so much!!!

Jul 22, 2010

Party Food......

This for the little ones......

Party Food for the "older" kids.......


1 1/2 c. med.-size macaroni shells, freshly cooked, rinsed with cold water and drained
1 tbsp. vegetable oil
2 c. shredded iceberg lettuce
3 hard cooked eggs, sliced
Pepper to taste
12 oz. ham, cut in thin strips or 1 c. each thin strips ham and hard salami
1 (10 oz.) pkg. frozen tiny green peas, thawed
1 c. (4 oz.) coarsely shredded Monterey Jack cheese


1 c. mayonnaise
2 tsp. Dijon mustard
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 c. sour cream
1/4 c. sliced green onions
1/2 tsp. freshly ground pepper

Toss macaroni with oil to prevent shells from sticking. Mix all dressing ingredients in a small bowl until thoroughly blended. Put lettuce in one layer in a 3 quart bowl, preferably clear glass or plastic to show off layered effect; top with cooled macaroni, then egg slices. Sprinkle with pepper. Add in layers the ham, peas and cheese. Cover tight with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight. Before serving, sprinkle with parsley. 6 servings


Avocados (number is depending on how many you are feeding)
Tomatoes (I like lots of tomatoes)
Lemon Juice

Chicken Salad with Grapes and Dill

2 chicken breasts
1 large onion
2 celery stalks
1/4 pound of grapes
1/2 cup of mayonnaise
dill weed

Jul 21, 2010

Wordless Wednesday.....Invitation!!!

Thank you so much Uncle Pete (Payton) for creating this for Emily's party!!!!

Jul 20, 2010

So excited......

Marc says I have OCD when it comes to my kid's birthday parties. He says I go way overboard and I think everything has to be perfect all the way down to what they wear! Well...YES...I AM...and I ain't gonna change!!!! LOL!!! That was with three boys so along came our baby girl and it's just gonna get worse! So just yesterday I was thinking about how she has to sit in her highchair to eat her cake at her party and that her chair doesn't match her colors in her theme but I thought "oh well...her chair is cute...it will do!!" BUT...today this PRECIOUS thing came into my life and I pick it up from here Friday.......IT'S A PINK HIGH CHAIR!!!!!

Jul 19, 2010

She's a big girl now....feeling sad....

Emily is officially weaned from nursing and the last few days that has had me feeling kind of sad. I haven't nursed her in about 10 days and really can't remember the date of the last time. Somewhere around July 7th or 8th. Why didn't I savor that moment of her being so close to me....looking up at me with the most beautiful blues eyes in the world and playing with my nose and face? It's hard to explain the feeling when you stop nursing and it's hard to explain the feeling of nursing your baby....nothing sweeter. It's the one thing that I can give her that no one else in the world can. Boy was God creative when he made our bodies capable of feeding a child. I am so blessed to have been able to give her that and for 11 months of her life. I think I gave her an excellent start to life but will miss it for a long time!! But your a big girl now sweetheart....your almost ONE!!!!!

Jul 18, 2010

Wish I was there......

My husband and son are in Haiti this week with 28 others from our church and boy do I wish I could have gone but Emily and my little boys needed me more after being gone so much this summer. I can just tell by my Marc's voice and facebook updates that he is changed already and has only been there 24 hours. I know I would be too! He says they walked into church this morning and the locals actually gave up their seats for them. Marc said I won't believe the video of the service and how grateful they are when they literally have nothing. Wow....and we sometimes pray for things that we don't even need...just something we may want! I am so excited to hear about Taylor's experience and continue to pray this week that God touches him in SO many ways and that both of my guys are huge blessings to at least one person there!! If you read this blog will you pray too????

Jul 17, 2010

Door Signs.....more party planning!!!

I am going to TRY to make my own door sign for Emily's birthday. Shouldn't be to hard huh??? If it turns out to be a disaster then there is always these from Etsy.com!!!

Jul 13, 2010

Cupcake Towers.....

These are pretty elaborate but cute!! The one I am going to do is a secret until the party!!!
CUTEST. THING. EVER!!! I am so excited....

Candy Buffets.....Party Planning!!

These are just a few ideas that I have.....I went to goodwill today and bought 5 glass containers that are all different for $23!! Can't beat it!!

This was my friend Erynn's little girls candy and cupcake buffet....so precious!!! Erynn is so creative with parties!

Jul 8, 2010

Happy 11 Month Birthday Emily Grace......

How can it be that I am planning my baby girls first birthday party??? Where does the time go? (I know I say that every monthly post...sorry!!)
Here are some new things she is doing.....

Eating table food....almost anything we eat.
Sucks out of a straw and almost has mastered the sippy cup.
Claps and tries to say "YAY"
Plays patty cake...her version!!
Pulls up on everything and cruises the furniture.
Loves dogs!!
Loves her brothers and lights up when her Daddy gets home.
When you ask her where's the baby she will pat her head!!

Most of all she lights up the room and everyone that meets her thinks she is beautiful and so well behaved. Let's hope it stays that way!!!

Stay tuned for next month's post as it will be of her first birthday party and there will be a ton of pictures!!!

Jul 7, 2010

Happy 8th Birthday to my sweet Noah!!!!

I will never forget the day Marc called me on his way to work about 10 years ago and said "I just feel like we are supposed to adopt a baby!!" Of course I had never thought about it but that is all it took and 18 months later we were introduced to this precious face.....Tae Min Kim....AKA....Noah Tae Estes!!

This is my sweet boy today.....8 years old!

The song below is one that I found while waiting for him to come home. I loved listening to it and he used to love it to. Reading the words again some of it just describes him to a tee.....especially "little lover of God"....many people have said he is going to be our preacher! I sure wouldn't mind!

Sweet Noah
Your eyes are a window
To all of our childhood dreams
It's almost like we're starting over again
One more trip through this life
With different eyes to see

You're the gift that came to take us back
Cause baby dear, you have the joy we lack
With your tiny hands
You touch a different world
Your full of wonder, full of hope
And full of one more chance
For us to see the world again
Like God sees the world

Little lover of God
You'd smile at a stranger
You don't think to be careful
How sweet is your love
You'd reach for the most unlovely of creatures
Your love is so unconditional

You're the gift that came to take us back
Cause baby dear, you have the love we lack
With your tiny heart
You'll love a different world
Your full of wonder, full of hope
And full of one more chance
For us to love the world again
Like God loves the world

And a child shall lead them
For such is the kingdom of heaven
Simple faith, simple love
Just because

Little faithful one
You're just like a mirror
Reflecting anything and everything we do
Mirror, mirror oh how you remind us
That we should reflect our Father just the same

You're the gift that came to take us back
Cause baby dear, you have the faith we lack
With your tiny life
You've shown the precious love of God
He's full of mercy, full of grace,
And full of one more chance
For us to daily learn to love
Like He first loved us

And a child shall lead them
For such is the kingdom of heaven
Simple faith, simple love
Just because