Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Mold Me

My closing thoughts on our week in Haiti...   

On a personal level, Haiti once again touched my heart in a nearly indescribable way.  Our team was blessed with talented bloggers who witnessed beautifully to the personal transformation inherent in mission work.  And we were blessed with outstanding photographers who captured with great skill the plight and joy of Haiti.

As a team leader I was able to experience Haiti through the eyes of our team members.  What an honor it is to see God changing hearts and converting souls.  And how beautiful it is to see friendships formed and strengthened, both between our team members and with our Haitian brothers and sisters.

As a Reiser Relief representative I did my best to remain open to what God was putting in our path this week.  What cries did he want us to hear?  What devastation did he want us to see?    What hands did he want us to hold?    

It was fitting to end our week in the mountains at Reiser Heights school.  Education gives us hope in a brighter future for Haiti; that through their own potential, brought to life by education and opportunity, Haiti will build back better.  I was able, with the help of a wonderful interpreter, to better understand the needs of Reiser Heights and how we can better support the 380 children who receive an education there.  

Thank you, God, for allowing me to listen.  Help me, God, to hear what you want me to hear.  Mold me, and Reiser Relief, and use us for Your Glory.

God bless Haiti.

Joyce - see below a 9 video playlist of our trip

Monday, October 29, 2012

Higher Heights

Haiti Day 7: Reiser Heights

We landed softly after a bumpy two-hour mountain ride; the children don't overrun you at such an altitude. I would imagine the school had once been as beautiful as Grace Village appeared yesterday. And one can't call it neglect as I surmise corralling 380 students in those small rooms sucks every last drop of the staff's energy.  TLC with paintbrushes and patchwork are badly needed for goodness' sake. And how sad is it that their kitchen is empty?  Providing spiral notebooks and a basketball is a start, but so much more is required.  Required of all of us. We must help if we can.  And can't we?

This trip redefines your vocabulary.  It puts "un" in a completely new category when you describe unbelievable people, unfathomable poverty or the uncanny faith in Jesus found surrounding Port-Au-Prince.  Superlatives used in your world before arriving just don't fit here.  The "over" in overwhelming, if used to describe the emotional experience in Haiti, will reach too high if used back home.  Should someone describe anything using "incomprehensible" or "inconvenient" how much discipline will it take not to interrupt with a Haitian comparison? So please give me a moment if eyes appear distant.  I'll ask for your patience with my inability to adequately answer questions. 


Sunday, October 28, 2012

Michelle's Word of the Day...Change

   Our morning started out with a Change of plans from attending Mass at Missionaries of Charity becuse the service was moved to then walking to a tent service that could be found purely by sound.
  We then loaded into our TapTap bus for a 2hour bumpy, winding road up to Reiser Heights, a school supported by Reiser Relief, located in the farm village of Les Pinnese. It was incredible to watch our surroundings Change from the noise & chaos of the city to beautiful lush green rolling hills with hibiscus blooms hanging over the rocky, dirt road/path. There were times when we actually seemed to be above the clouds and actually in them as the fog clouds would suddenly Change the stunning view from the mountaintop .
   Seeing the exchange between the schoolmaster who knew & loved Fr. Reiser as he met 4 of Father's nieces was priceless!
   Although we weren't able to see the school in action since it was Sunday, it was clear to see what they saw as their "needs" was quite different from what we judged to be their "needs"! The school has no electricity, flushing toilets or running water, computers or internet access. All they said they "needed" would be continued support for teachers and fabric to make school uniforms and some simple school supplies.
    Listening to their list of what they "needed" was a good reminder to me that we must respectfully listen to their needs and Not try to Change who they are or their culture by trying to impose what we think they Need Changed.

No person is an island

Our 'rambling' from Fr. Reiser last night reminded us that no person is an island.  We need one another to get through life and will all experience moments of dependence.  "What do you have that you have not received and if you have received it, why do you glory as if you have received it not?" 1 Corinthians 4:7

It was fitting for me as I spent my day struggling with a case of "Haitian Happiness" (aka food poisoning) and had to depend on my team for all things.  As Fr. Reiser gently reminded me, my moments of discomfort are nothing compared to a lifetime of discomfort faced by too many Haitians.

Fr. Reiser wrote, "Can you imagine living in grinding poverty day after day, facing the daily menu of rice with bean sauce on top of it, without any hope for change or a different menu?  Living where sanitation is often nearly unheard of and having water means carrying it in five-gallon pails?  A poverty with no hope of alleviation and a future that holds nothing but the same grinding sufferings of today?"

And in spite of this, as our team reflected last night, the Haitians persevere.  After earthquake, flood, medical catastrophes, and food and water shortages, they dust themselves off, praise God to be alive, and continue to live in the moment.

We have so much to learn from the Haitians.

Haiti Day 6: Joy filled day!

How much better joy feels following days of such trying times!  Grace Village, in a beautiful setting overlooking the city and the ocean, personifies such joy.  The buildings are spacious and colorfully painted and surround a children's  jungle gym and basketball court and space to play. Today we helped bathe and feed the elderly.  We witnessed a clinic being built on the grounds. And we got a glimpse of a hopeful future with brick ovens for bread making and a Tilapia farm. In the near future they will bake bread and harvest fish for themselves and their community, with enough leftover to sell.  

After dinner and sharing some thoughts on the day, many of us were privileged to be taught the Salsa.  Jean could be called the Fred Astaire of the Caribbean, and he's an even better teacher with endless patience for left feet! We danced and we danced.  After a little rum we danced some more!  And what was particularly special (and surreal being in Haiti) is that we were able to share it with home via FaceTime on the iPad...although my son James will deny it I'm sure!  To bed late with big smiles.


Saturday, October 27, 2012

Michelle's Word of the Day...."Renewed"

   This morning we were greeted by sunshine & blue skies which Renewed our spirits after 3 long days of rain.
   As we drove to Grace Village, in  Titanyen, the flooded bridge which closed the road just days before, was open again. The water had receeded and the people had their freshly laundered clothes hanging on clotheslines, over fences & from bushes. They were setting up their markets again with Renewed hope.
   Our mission at Grace Village was to help the elders with showers who had come to be seen by the doctor. Many had never taken a shower prior to the elder care program. They soaked in the attention and loved to give hugs & sing songs of praise, accompanied by our driver, Junior's guitar while they waited.
  The children who live at the orphanage at Grace village, helped serve the elders a sandwich & juice. It was beautiful to see the spectrum of ages gathered together.
   Multiple trips, with the elders loaded in the back of the Kubota and when all were returned safely
 to their Tarp homes, we set off to the village to attend to  several homebound elders. It was evident that the fresh water & a snack along with songs & prayers, did wonders with both their bodies and spirits being Renewed. They are a people with amazing Faith & Trust in God's providence.
   It was a reminder to me that I must Not let my own Faith become complacent! I need to Listen and  be sure that both my body & spirit be Renewed.

Help Reiser Relief Help Haiti - Donate on Nov 15 - Give to the Max Day

Reiser Relief invites you to join in a day of generous giving designed to support nonprofit organizations across Minnesota. On November 15 GiveMN.org will sponsor their forth annual, 24-hour online Internet fundraiser called Give to the Max Day.

You have the opportunity to make a huge difference for the poor in Haiti. With your help Reiser Relief can continue to provide essential services to many Haitian families in their day-to-day efforts for survival.

These services include providing fresh water, stocking food centers, funding education, supporting the poor elderly.

One of our goals is to keep Father Reiser’s legacy alive by continuing to fund his projects in Haiti and be involved in helping to fund additional much-needed projects in Haiti as Father would have done.

You can pre-schedule your online donation by logging into "Your GiveMN account" from November 1-14.  This feature allows donors to schedule their gift ahead of time to be processed on Give to the Max Day, November 15, just like scheduling household bill payments or other transactions.  

Scheduled donations are deducted from donors' credit or debit card at 12 a.m. on November 15 and will be eligible for the 12 a.m. to 1 a.m. Golden Ticket, as well as helping their nonprofit advance on the leaderboard. We hope this new feature will help donors take part even if their calendars are full on November 15.

To schedule a donation Click this link and donate on Nov 1 to 14 - Reiser Relief - Bringing Hope to Haiti and then look to the right on page  - as seen by image to the right to setup this automatic feature. 

If you are unable to make a contribution on-line, you can mail your contribution noting “GTMD” on the memo line.  Reiser Relief Inc. PO Box 48096 Coon Rapids, MN 55448.

It’s hard to believe that a year ago at this time, our beloved friend and spiritual leader, Father Bernard Reiser, was still alive and actively involved with his mission he held so close to his heart, Reiser Relief. Father was pleased with the progress that had been made in Haiti, but he had so much more he still wanted to accomplish in the poverty-stricken country.

With the help of some of his dedicated supporters, Reiser Relief is making a difference every day: To provide relief, hope and dignity to the poor, elderly and homeless people of Haiti.

This exciting, one-day event allows thousands of Minnesotans to come together and support their favorite organizations. Last year, in 24 hours, more than $13 million was raised for non-profits across the state. Give to the Max Day also provides opportunities for your donation dollars to go further. Through prize grants, your donation on November 15 could help the Reiser Relief win an additional $1,000; $5,000; and potentially $10,000 gift.

Look for Reiser Relief on the Main and Medium sized nonprofit leaderboards where you can join in the friendly competition as you watch nonprofits jockey for position in four leaderboard categories (All nonprofits, medium nonprofits, small nonprofits, colleges & universities). As you watch your favorite nonprofit inch up the leaderboard, maybe an extra donation or two from you could help them win prize grant money by placing somewhere in the top 10.

Make your gift go even further! GiveMN’s Give to the Max Day amplifies your giving impact. Learn the different ways you can "MAXimize your donations for one day only!

24 Golden Tickets - During Give to the Max Day, one donor will be randomly chosen every hour by GiveMN to have $1,000 added to their donation. It’s a Golden Opportunity for Reiser Relief to further
support Haitians in need.

Here is how it works: Throughout the Nov. 15th event, an individual donor will be selected from donations made within that given hour, between the hours of 12:00 a.m. and 11:59 p.m.

Even donors who give $10 will be entered into these random drawings, and if you choose to give $10 every hour, you will have 24 chances to win an additional $1,000 donation for Reiser Relief.

Another example: if you choose to make 24 separate $10 donations within a specific hour (3:00 a.m. - 3:59 a.m.) you will have 24 chances to have a $1,000 added to your donation for Reiser Relief for that hour. ONE $240 donation would have ONE chance.

So basically, entry for the Golden Ticket contest is based on individual transactions. There's no limit to how many times a donor or nonprofit can win these bonus dollars during the entire event.

Attention night owls: Giving activity is lighter at night and in the wee hours of the morning. Consider donating to Reiser Relief during these hours.

Super-size Golden Ticket - Ten-Grand Golden Ticket - One donor’s contribution will be randomly drawn by GiveMN at the close of the event 11:59 p.m. from ALL CONTRIBUTIONS TRANSACTIONS made during the 24-hour period to have $10,000 added to their donation.

-To provide relief, hope and dignity to the poor, elderly and homeless people of Haiti.

-To provide relief from malnutrition and water born illness by providing food and clean water to women, children and elderly living in slums and impoverished situations.

-To provide hope for the poorest children and orphans by funding education and housing.

-To strive, by the Grace and Greatness of God, to be the hands and feet of Christ in serving the most vulnerable Haitians.

Video from our May 2012 Haiti Trip  

May 2012 Blog Writings - Haiti Trip
May 20 - Hait Day 1May 23-Water TruckMay 24 So Many things

My sister, Joyce, and I, Father’s nieces, made our first visit to Haiti in May and at this time, Joyce is currently leading a mission trip in Haiti. We were able to see firsthand some of the many projects Father Reiser and Reiser Relief are part of in Haiti. We were thrilled to see all that has been done (good things ARE happening in Haiti!), but extremely touched and saddened to see how much suffering still takes place there on a daily basis. The trip strengthened our belief that we at Reiser Relief CAN make a difference in Haiti -- a difference to the MAX.

Thank you for participating as we work together to provide relief to the neediest people in the Western Hemisphere. We thank you for your interest and support in helping us spread HOPE to the men, women, and children of Haiti. Any contribution you can make is greatly appreciated.

Ann Brau
President, Reiser Relief
Father Reiser’s niece

Watch a 4-minute video created in 2009: An Introduction on how to make and track your a donations on GiveMN by Exec. Dir. Dana Nelson

Public Service Announcement for Give to the Max Day


Day 5 Dancing Video-Click Here

Friday, October 26, 2012

Village of Jesus Video

Village of Jesus Video-Day 5


Thank you Lord for making me uncomfortable this week. For never being dry, for not seeing the sun, for changing plans, for seeing things unimaginable, for breaking my heart.
Now I know a very tiny part of how the Haitians might feel everyday. Hungry, sleeping in mud, flooded houses, no charcoal to cook the food they have, sick, dying, lonely.

Michelle's Word of the Day....Touch

  Today we traveled to Leogane which was the epicenter of the Earthquake of 2010. We visited the Village of Jesus where Fr Reiser helped support a home for abandoned women. It was a privilege to be with some of Father Reiser's nieces as they saw the place and the people who were dear to his heart.

They met several nuns, who run the home, who actually knew and loved Fr. Reiser.They had a picture of him in their entry hall and a beautiful tribute plaque in their courtyard.

   Our team spent some special time of sharing candy we had broughtfor them. Their thirsty skin soaked in our gentle Touch as we massaged their hands,arms,legs & feet with lotion.

We were Touched by the gratitude in their smiles which sparkled as brightly as their freshly painted pink, purple, red & green fingernails & for some their toes too! Their songs & for one lady nearly nonstop dancing.

(see video on the blog...it is priceless! ) were further ways we were touched by their appreciation.

  In the afternoon we felt further evidence of the power of Touch as we were able to go back to visit the home for sick children in Prot Au Prince and witness the response as children melted into our arms& hearts upon Touch!

  Don't ever underestimate the amazing power of a simple, loving Touch!

Mwen pa konnen!

It was a truly excellent day!  We visited the Village of Jesus in Leogane, Fr. Reiser's first major project in Haiti.  This is home to 27 delightful elderly women who would otherwise be abandoned and on their own.  Their joy is contagious.  Their spirits are uplifting.   I was absolutely overwhelmed when I walked into the feeding center and saw their 27 beaming faces.  

One petite lively woman got us all dancing and singing.  When I asked her how old she was, she broke into a huge grin and said "Mwen pa konnen!"  Translation:  I don't know!    Can you imagine not knowing your age, and not finding it important?  How liberating.

The nuns and workers who care for these women are efficient and loving, and the whole place was immaculate.  The donors who gave to this project over 10 years ago can be assured that their generosity is making a significant impact.

This afternoon we returned to the home for sick and dying babies to lend a hand in holding and comforting the little ones.  It was a perfect ending to an excellent day.

p.s.  It's still raining.

Orphans and Elderly Video-Day 4

Orphans and Elderly Video-Click Here

Thursday, October 25, 2012


I've had a water day, please let me explain.  I started reflecting about the water from my cold shower.  Then the thought of how lucky I am to take a shower in Haiti- where some people never get the opportunity to shower.

Last night we went to sleep last night while it was raining outside.  Well, it was more than rain.. it was tropical storm Sandy.  We woke up to rain again.  Our wonderful leaders, Shelley and Joyce, had to replan our day since the road was not accessible to our original plan. At that point I really didn't understand what the problem was but within the hour I realized how challenging our day would be due to the storm.  We departed in our top top and I was lucky to sit in front and see the view. The water was so high and rushing down the sides of the street.  It had been raining for over 24 hours now and when the roads are mud/sand and filled with garbage there is no place for the excess water to go. We then made it to a bridge that was only a few feet above the river.  We headed over it like no problem but now looking back, I realize we were the only vehicle to cross it during our 15 minutes there.  Going through the towns I started to see how high the water was.. it was half way up the tents and shacks.  It almost covered a truck!  I then thought about how the people of Haiti, standing on the side of the road, still waved to me even though they probably lost most of their belongings.  The thought of losing all my things in my house is too much to comprehend.  I'm sure they had worked very hard since the last storm for their new belongings. How lucky am I to have never lost anything in a storm.

We then made it to the orphanage where the kids were so happy happy to see us.  I got to pass out candy and was amazed by how the kids would not accept two peices until everyone had at least one.  We then made a few more stops to elderly people to ensure they were dry from all the new rain (they were :)).  
On our way home we ran into a roadblock.. the bridge was under water.  I thought how lucky we were to have made it passed the bridge two hours before. 

As we got back to the guesthouse using a detour we then dropped off food from Feed My Starving Children to nearby tents.  I happened to pick a section that was very orderly and everyone was very appreciative and even showed me inside their tents.  It was another sight of water.  Water on the floor of their "home" with some bricks to hold up a mattress.    

The evening is now ending after some team member bonding (catchphrase) to more pouring rain.  
I appreciate water.   We were able to see water in many ways in 4 days-- how it gives life (water truck delivery) but how it can take it all away.
Lisa  (p.s.  it's still raining out)

Michelle's Word of the day...Redirecting

....'.You can make your Plans but God has All the Answers!'
Ironically one of the things that drew me back to Haiti was the way people live in the moment here yet I found myself and other team members continuing to say "What are Our plans for today?!?"
   Today we were blest with the needed reminder that God was in charge of what we were going to do! Our plans to go deliver supplies to Reiser Heights, a mountain village school, were diverted by roads washed out by the torrential rains.

   God was clearly "ReDirecting" us to where HE needed us to go! His plan led us to an orphanage with puddles there were no way around. They welcomed our unexpected visit saying we have nothing to offer you but our prayers & song.  We enjoyed a creative craft time with pipe cleaners and beads which turned into colorful eyeglasses, bracelets, necklaces and headbands.

  Along the road leading away from the orphanage lived several of the village elders who we had planned to see when we helped them shower before their doctor visit at Grace Village on Saturday. Again God planned for us to check on them today. Marie greeted us with her 103 year old nearly toothless smile, expressing  gratitude for an unexpected visit. She had not slept because of the water coming through her leaking roof.

We gave her the Tarp from our taptap bus along with some bottled water and a fruit roll-up...she said our visit "saved her life"! A couple other stops for elders were met with the same gratitude.

  When we got back "home" the rain slowed down so we were able to bring some Feed My Starving Children food into the tent city near us. You could see the desperation on the faces of people of the people who hurried back to their tarp houses, set up on uneven ground that was washing away from all the rain, in hopes of receiving a bag of food. Our team's excitement to bring needed relief was quickly replaced by a flood of emotions as we held the last bag of food in our hands as many hands still needing reached from their tent homes.

  Yes...God had much to teach us today about who was in control!

Haiti flood video

Haiti Flood Video-Click Here

Nature speaks to the power of God

I read my favorite 'ramblings' from the book "Reiser's Ramblings" to the team every night.  This book is a collection of columns by my uncle, Fr. Reiser.  Somehow, (even from his Heavenly home) Fr. Reiser comes up with the perfect words every night to start off our group discussion time.  Tonight I read "Nature speaks to the power of God" in which Fr. Reiser reflects on God's mighty power as displayed in acts of nature.  This reminds us who is really in charge and how "it is rather amusing how we strut and glory over the little ant hills we erect in our brief passage of earthly journeying."

God was in charge today!  Our plans to visit Reiser Heights, one of two schools supported by Reiser Relief, were washed away by torrential rains.  Our back up plans to visit Grace Village were dashed by a rushing river threatening to overtake a bridge.  Instead, God sent us on a series of mad cap adventures; an orphanage, homes of elderly, Ecko Depot, Deli Mart and distributing Feed My Starving Children food packets in a tent city.  All while getting steadily more water logged and interspersed with many moments of laughter and joy.  Surely God has a terrific sense of humor.

What is God trying to teach me in all of this?  Humility?   Patience?   Compassion?  Justice?  Tenderness?

Teach me.  I want to learn.


Haiti Day 3

Haiti Day 3
Reflecting on yesterday's water day, I don't  understand why, with the billions of dollars pledged to Haiti, a field sits empty next to the Commercial Well.  We drive past it to get to slums where masses await fresh water.
Is it too complicated to buy the land, equip it with some plumbing and basic necessities and fill the new space with people?  

After my first blog yesterday, I didn't think there was anything in me for this today, but here goes:

Chasing Bacon
I started the day getting winded; it's quite a workout to escort a bounding dog halfway around the block.  Bacon escaped as we walked to church early this morning. And he's an expert at avoiding recapture.  He marked territory hurriedly as we chased and tried to corral him. 
Church was unforgettable. The hoarsely shouted Creole sounds of what I thought was a political dictator turned out to be the pastor shouting praises under a large navy blue tent. Exultation was a leading candidate for word of the day. Shouts of joy turned to a chorus of hymns before the pastor began his sermon. Exultations.  Hallelujah was one of very few words I could pick up, but it was easy to understand how much the people love Jesus. One woman was so moved she had to dance, and she danced with Jim.  

Hospital for Sick and Dying Children
It's surreal from the moment you arrive as you remove shoes to enter the hospital barefoot and douse your hands with bleach and water. It must be comforting for the parents arriving, and bleaching their hands, simultaneously to know that volunteers care to visit too--for days they cannot attend themselves. 
After being able to let go of the first "Hey you!" who bounded into my arms, I fed the girl in bed#2 who didn't have the strength to hold up her own head. I noticed Charlene sat on the floor to help with the balancing act, and I did the same. Incredibly she ate the whole bowl of food and I was grateful for my experience of keeping baby food off four chubby cheeks years ago.  The weak whimpers tug at your heart as you try to move to another needy child. I feel badly for not being able to comfort with a lullaby, but I can manage a hum now and then without breaking down.
A few of us moved to the very-sick ward and tried to decide who to hold or help. In the end I picked up a girl whose only sign of life were her beautiful eyes. That's what threw me off--I couldn't believe there was so little strength in that body since there was such beauty in those eyes. But I'll never forget how no life flowed from her tiny, thin arm.  The grasp reflex in her hand was completely absent, no matter how much I stroked her palm.  As I put her down before we left the ward I prayed: please, please let some of my love replace the energy she'll lose with whimpering as I leave her.  Please?
Such a dichotomy; so draining and so fulfilling at the same time.  And I think that's what tears you up inside...there's so much moving within you.  You could ask: Is the Net zero (or love, as they say in tennis)?  ABSOLUTELY NOT.    
When we returned to the regular ward, the bell indicated visiting parents had to leave, So I calmed one of the abandoned boys.  He was so tired. As I put him down it calmed him simply dry the tear that welled up in his eye.
Incredibly lunch was being prepared.  Hadn't breakfast just finished?  I was instructed to feed crib#9 as the nurse gave me yellow bib, spoon and aluminum bowl of rice, gravy and chicken. She is beautiful. And it was as if the chicken, which she clearly favored with her eyes as I fed her, awakened something within her. My father talks of "personality plus" to describe rare gems and this girl has it. When she finished her bowl i enjoyed taking extra care cleaning her with a wet-wipe packet.  
Taking nurse instruction again, I hurried to feed the boy in the neighboring crib before we had to leave. And as I bibbed him, Miss PP reached over and latched on to my forearm, with a gorgeous smile.  A smile that I'll never forget.  Just as I'll never forget that near-lifeless whimper. But the net is much more than love. 

Gertrude's Home for Special Needs Children
Special Needs is a good way to describe the way I feel about these children: I think they're special too. This is a great example of "Net-More-Than-Love" concept for me.  And how appropriate that one of the most beautiful buildings I've seen in Haiti will house these people!  Looks like they'll have ample space.   That is so exciting!

Day 3 Video

Day 3 Video Click Here

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Michelle's Word of the day.."HOLD"

                         Haiti has a way of grabbing "Hold" of your Heart!
   Our morning began at a "Sunrise" Worship service under overcast skies & drizzle but it did not dampen the Spirits of the Faith -filled Haitian people who so openly welcomed us and grabbed Hold of our hands as they sang songs of praise.
  After a hearty Haiti breakfast we spent the morning at a Childrens home for sick & dying. Cribs and toddler rooms were filled with children whose eyes and arms reached out saying "Hold" me!
   We came back to our guest house for some needed time of decompression before we set out for our afternoon. 2 of our team members went to help at a wound clinic and the other 9 of us headed for one of the few orphanages that takes in disabled children. Again we were greeted with smiling children who longed to be held and played with as they would take "Hold" of your  hand and lead you to the swings, the special hand peddled tricycles or to the end of the jumprope.
  Holding was the easy part of the day....Letting go was Heartwrenching!


The word in Creole for beautiful is bel.

As a hurricane / tropical storm tears through the Caribbean, as poverty rages on in Haiti, why am I writing about beauty?   What is beautiful about watching parents bring their children to a home to be treated for malnutrition and preventable diseases, or spending your afternoon with disabled children receiving few of the interventions and adaptations that could make their lives easier?

Here are the beautiful things I saw today:

-Haitians worshipping with great joy and enthusiasm at sunrise.
-Our team consoling crying babies, changing diapers and loving sick babies (yes, the men changed diapers too!)
-The Haitian parents who love their children so much that they leave them in the care of others because they do not have the means to care for them on their own.
-The loving care these babies received as they are nursed back to health.
-Beautiful Haitians everywhere I turned (how do they stay so well groomed coming out of tents and shacks?)
-Smiles and laughter from the disabled children who allowed us to play with them in the afternoon.
-The signs of faith everywhere I turn in Haiti.  "Thank you Jesus!" signs on trucks and buildings, unabashed praise and joy from the Haitians.
-Hearts of team members breaking for the same things that break the heart of Jesus.
-The pride, determination and hope I see in the eyes of the Haitians.

Beautiful.  Bel.


Day 2, Words of the Day

Unforgettable, Sadness, Overwhelming, Heartbreaking, Promise, Tattoo, Truck, Beautiful, Grope, Eyes...just words running through our minds according dinner conversation on our second day in Port Au Prince, Haiti.

After breakfast eleven of us piled in the Tap-Tap and left our Guest House for Terre Promise, a Reiser Relief sponsored school. The children, proudly dressed in school uniforms, bubbled with excitement for learning.  Dressed just as proudly in our new R-R blue t-shirts, we navigated through the swarming kids--up rickety, unlit staircases, and past hardworking breakfast-makers huddled in the dark corner.  After visiting with teachers and Elder Moreland, the administrator/principal, it was time to go to work...
So Tap-Tap bounced us through the city to the Commercial Well, where we filled the Truck from Minnesota (Reiser Relief water truck #3)--for the first time!  Three things would strike me hard at City Soleil this afternoon.

-First: the very large boar that swam across the stream (whose waters were seen fluorescent green and dank while flying over yesterday) as our guide described how we had just passed where dead bodies were buried and where the masses either chose to pay a quarter for port-a-potties or defacated in the open.

-Second: how Loretta surprised me between water-run number two and three...somehow I assumed the distances wouldn't make it possible for the green-barretted girl to find me again.  But with a grateful smile she insisted I note the bandaid-covered knee Joyce had provided at the end of the previous water station.

-Third: how Haitian eyes haunted me all day long.  This afternoon after learning a 'word of the day' would be required--it was immediately apparent to me.  And after dwelling on it a while, my own eyes were a part of it too.  I had mentioned to Mike that it was too overwhelming for me to fully open my eyes to what we were actually experiencing; better to focus upon the task than try to absorb the reality of this place.  Haitian eyes draw you in.  Completely.

Honestly.  Windows to the soul, yes, and this window is very very clear.  They have experienced hardship and are still filled with promise and have a quiet strength about them.  I believe it is their faith.  Faith stronger in a people that I have ever witnessed.  It is funny...as a salesman who has learned to read eyes over the years--but here I am not selling anything and I earned an experience unlike anything like these eyes.  Here people will lock eyes with me more than any other place I have been.  There is no shame with which to break eye-contact, rather there is yearning to be understood.

My new favorite Amy Grant song lyrics and its music repeated religiously and quieted me all day:
We pour out our miseries, God just hears a melody
Beautiful the mess we are, the honest cries of breaking hearts
Are better than a Hallellujah
Better than a church bell ringin
Better than a choir singin out, singin out!

On FaceTime my wife asked me tonight, "Did anything really stick out to you today?"

And, from this morning, the three elder schoolboys with whom I spent the end of our school visit came to mind.  After struggling with the language barrier for several minutes, one of them asked "What of Jesus?"  and my immediate reaction was a chest pump with clenched fist, as I quietly but emphatically responded "He's my savior!"  and my reaction was met with their joy.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Check out our day 2 video

Day 2 Video-Click Here

Day 2 Dinner - Words of the Day

Father Reiser

He wasn't rich or famous. His life was to serve others. He never got recognition for all the things he did for others. He was my pastor, my mentor and my friend.

I am so proud to have a team of his relatives and friends down in Haiti this week to show them where he walked, what he stared here, the things he saw and how it moved him to want to serve the poorest of the poor.

Today was very special because we went into City Soleil, the poorest slum in the western hemisphere to deliver free, clean, water to the people who live there. We were able to deliver this water from the second water truck Reiser Relief has sent down here.  For those of you who don't know, Father Reiser sent the first water truck down about 6 years ago. He started the water delivery to this area. The water is delivered 6 days a week, 3-4 stops a day.

The journey will continue this week of discovering more about Father Reiser's vision for helping in Haiti and what we can do to carry on his legacy.  Please keep us in your prayers and continue to follow us through this blog as things unfold for this special team.
God Bless Haiti

Team Culligan

Today began with an array of items from warm french toast to scrabbled eggs to fresh squeezed juice prepared by the wonderful house staff here at our 'base camp' so to speak.  We set out to our first stop...visiting the primary school Terre Promise. The school is full of happy and bubbly Haitian children and youth smartly dressed in immaculate uniforms. After the water truck got it's fill we set out to the first water stop of the day.
If I were to choose a collective "word of the day" for our group of 11 (9 first time experiencers) I would have to say Heart.There is Not a person whose Heart wasn't Opened, Broken and Changed by what we saw and felt.

At Terre Promise school we saw Hopeful Hearts of children who showed such gratitude for the privilege of education and hope for a better future.

We made 3 water truck stops into the poorest slums of City Soleil each filled with such contrast of Joyful & Grateful Hearts amidst the Unimaginable conditions. As I looked at the expressions on the faces of my team members, experiecing Haiti for the first time, I could recall my first visit in which the emotion was really just indescribable. It was almost as though your eyes & heart are opened in a way that lets you see & feel like never before. It is truly something that can't be explained and must be experienced.

The words from a song come to mind...." Father Break My Heart for What Breaks Yours".... today we truly had the opportunity to be the Hands & Feet of Christ!
                                                                                                                                Michelle 10/23/12


Today was water truck day.  I am so excited to report to our donors that it was the first day that our new water truck was in operation!  The process of getting it from Minnesota to Cite Soleil was much more difficult than any of us anticipated, but it was incredibly rewarding to see it roll into the first stop and deliver clean water to the poorest of the poor, bucket by bucket.

Cite Soleil is a place that I find beyond description.  Once again, I was humbled to serve as the hands of Christ in giving water to the thirsty.  And I was honored to have a chance to love the hundreds of beautiful children who flock to the truck.  I cried, I danced, I smiled, I sang, I carried, I hugged, and my heart was broken again and again.


Monday, October 22, 2012

My First Day

My first day was different. The logistics were a bit of a problem but we all got here. Being with the children is such a highlight and so unique. This country needs everything but the compassion shown by all the volunteers is remarkable. Tomorow will be a full day so I'll surely have more to say then. Good Bless you all! Jim


What an incredible honor it is to be part of a team of 11 Reiser Relief volunteers on a week long mission trip to Haiti.  I have thought of Fr. Reiser so many times today.  I've thought about the passion he had to doing whatever he could to alleviate the suffering he witnessed in Haiti.  I've tried to imagine him in the heat and chaos and beauty and love that I feel here.  I've thought about how pleased he must be to see his work continue in Haiti.

It is with tremendous humility that our team strives to uphold his legacy of compassion and service to the poor.  Thank you for following our blog.  Thank you for your support in preparing for this trip.  Pray that we are a blessing to each and every Haitian we meet this week.


Check out our video-Day 1


sibling rivalry

As loving sisters traveling together we may never be able to agree on a title for our blog...so here goes day one.
  When flying into Haiti we saw beautiful green mountains and blue waters.  It looked so picturesque.  As we got closer the reality of where we were set in with views of shacks and homes made of scrap metal.  The airport was very hectic and we won't lie - it was scary for the first few minutes.  Then our leader, Shelley, came to the rescue.
The ride to the guesthouse was in a colorful "tap tap".  It was our first time riding in a caged van but the smiles and waves we got from the Haitian people made us feel very welcomed.  We then settled in the guesthouse and took a walk around the block.  Immediately children flocked to us and told us their names and wanted to hold our hands.  It did feel a little awkward that they were so happy to see us, even though they had no idea who we were.  Each volunteer had at least one each kid on each side, just happy to be walking the block with us.
We then came back to the guesthouse for awesome taco salad and maybe the best guacamole ever.  We are now arranging all the wonderful donations we have gotten.  It will surely be a great but humbling week.  
Lisa & Kimmy Maciej

Monday, October 8, 2012

“Memorial” hardcover edition of Reiser’s Ramblings

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Minneapolis, Minnesota, United States of America (October 9th, 2012) Reiser Relief Inc is honored to announce the release of a "Memorial" hardcover edition of Reiser's Ramblings by our late founder, Father Bernard Reiser.

 "We couldn't be happier with the way the hardcover edition of Reiser's Ramblings has come together, it looks great and we are so happy with the design of the book" noted Ann Brau - Reiser Relief President and niece of author Fr, Reiser.

"We are proud to honor Father with a sentimental tribute by offering a "memorial" hardcover version of his book. I'm sure he would find the recognition to be both humbling and heartwarming."

 All profits from the sale of Reiser's Ramblings go to Haitian relief efforts sponsored by Reiser Relief. The "Memorial" hardcover will be available late October to early November and can be pre-order now through Epiphany Church Gift Store and St. George Catholic bookstore.

About the book
"Reiser's Ramblings" is a collection of daily/weekly meditations/devotions ~ daily reflections from the best columns written over the past three decades by Fr. Bernard Reiser, former pastor of Epiphany Parish in Coon Rapids, Minnesota. From farm living to an eternity in Heaven, Fr. Reiser brings together a wonderful
collection of Christian spiritual "ramblings" that all of us can take to heart.  We end up with a lovely book of short, easily read reminiscences and edifying stories and thoughts, with each column titled. The reader is
meant ponder the spiritual message and meaning in each column and how, or if, it applies to each individual life.

About the Author:
Father Bernard Reiser - Dec 29, 1924 - Dec 27, 2011 an American Roman Catholic priest known for his preaching and for his charitable giving, both locally and abroad. Father was ordained on June 4, 1949, by Archbishop John Gregory Murray. His first Solemn Mass was at Holy Name of Jesus, the parish where he attended as a child. He was assigned to St. Mary of the Lake parish in White Bear Lake, MN. In 1964, Archbishop Leo Binz asked Fr Reiser to start a parish in the quickly-growing suburb of Coon Rapids. Seventy acres of farmland was acquired for the new church, which was named Epiphany after one of the great feast days of the Lord.

Under Father Reiser's leadership, Epiphany grew to become one of the largest Catholic communities in the state. In addition to a spacious sanctuary, the Epiphany campus includes an elementary school, a Perpetual Adoration chapel, a senior housing complex, an assisted living facility, a cemetery, and several outdoor shrines. While being retired he volunteered his time to parishes in and around the Twin Cities of Minnesota.

Reiser Relief Inc. a volunteer run non-profit 501(c)(3) corporation founded by Father Reiser, who was involved with Haiti outreach programs for over 15 years; Bringing Hope To Haiti. Reiser Relief is based in Coon Rapids, MN and its mission is to help the impoverished people of the Caribbean country of Haiti, the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere.

Reiser's Ramblings Author: Fr. Bernard Reiser. Publisher: Reiser Relief Inc. Publication Date: Oct/Nov 2012. Genres: Christian Living› Faith, Spirituality › Inspirational, Catholicism › Self Help. Editor: Jacqueline Hilgert, Illustrator: Mark Sanislo ISBN: 978-0-985-91530-8 (6" x 9") Hardcover: 272pp. Retail Price: $23.95.  Paperback and Kindle versions available.

Call or stop into Pre-order your "Memorial" Hardcover Edition of "Reiser's Ramblings"

Epiphany Catholic Church Gift Center
11001 Hanson Blvd NW
Coon Rapids MN 55433

St. George Catholic Books & Gifts
10904 Baltimore St. NE
Blaine, MN 55449

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