All is Well!! Last Night in Seguin

February 18, 2017

Izzy Babkowski ~ It’s hard to believe that tonight is our last night in Seguin. I have no desire to go back home because I feel so welcome and at home here. Everyone here treats us like family. We closed the clinic down a little early today and packed up and cleaned the clinic. We had a lot of helpers from the village that helped us run the clinic smoothly and also helped clean up. To celebrate the last night we had a delicious feast of chicken, vegetables, fried plantains, fresh french fries, popcorn and cookies. Although I am very sad to leave Seguin I am excited to go swimming in the Sea of Antilles tomorrow and lay on the beach in Jacmel, even if it is for just an hour during our long journey back to Port-au-Prince. I am so thankful to be able to go on this trip again and I hope that I will be able to continue coming back to Seguin as much as I can after I am done with graduate school. There’s no place like home (Seguin)!

Erika Simonds ~ What an incredible week in Seguin! We were able to clean and extract so many teeth for the school children and adults here! In the short time we’ve been here, the Haitians have become close friends. It seems like I’ve learned something new about the Haitian culture every day. Most people in Seguin buy all of their supplies (food, clothes, etc.) from a market on the street every Thursday. The people here have hard (and mostly manual) jobs that they work from sun up to sun down. It breaks my heart to hear the stories of the teenagers here who have to work to provide for their families but have never had the chance to attend any level of school. When I stepped outside of my familiar bubble in the U.S., it really opened my eyes to the countless blessings in my life that I take advantage of on a daily basis. Despite all of this, I’ve learned that the Haitians are hospitable and friendly people who love to love others.

Stephanie Braun ~ This trip was such an incredible experience. My first trip to Seguin was the student mission trip as an alternative spring break, but this dental trip was so much different in the best way possible. Although this trip was a lot more work and we were inside the clinic most of the days, I did not experience as much culture shock and was opened to the amazing things of Haiti. One of the best things about Seguin is how little these people have and how happy and appreciative of the things they have they are. I never want to leave this place because when I am here I just cannot help but smile!!! As our final night we are hanging out with our good friends of two years on the front porch, and we are packing up for a long day on the road down the mountain to the beach. The beach in Jacmel is only thing that can drag me away from this beautiful place. I hope this is only the beginning of my trips.

Lauren Buczkowski ~ Haiti is home. Haiti is home to children with smiling faces and hearts open to love. Haiti is home to mothers and fathers working endless hours to support their families. Haiti is home to the hopeful and the intelligent. Lastly, Haiti is home to me.There is a verse from a song I love that reads, “Spirit lead me where my trust is without borders.”  This verse has revealed itself to me through my presence in this beautiful country. From sharing a single bathroom with twenty girls on a previous trip to watching hundreds of teeth get extracted every day, I have stepped out of my comfort zone and grown immensely in my faith. I come to Haiti to help others, but realized that they have helped me more. They have opened my eyes to God’s great love and the beauty of his creation. I have a surplus of love for this country and the people that walk the land. I intend to come back for years to come and am not ready to leave the ones I love here.

Just in…Wednesday’s Posts

February 16, 2017

Stephanie Braun ~ Today was another day in the clinic! My favorite parts of the morning are watching all of the school kids run to school down the rocky/muddy hill. I got to help Dr. Mitchell again with giving suction. The young children who had to get their teeth pulled needed some real comfort, and I got to help do that. Through the pain we got to give out super cute hats and wooden trucks, which made them smile. One of the boys I know from last year took my phone and ran down into a classroom. When I finally received it back, it had a hilarious video of a group of students practicing a dance routine; it is super funny.

Lauren Buczkowski ~ We had to be at the clinic at 8 am this morning. Although it is early, walking to the clinic is my favorite part of the day because the school kids are all running down the mountain to get to school on time. It amazes me how clean the kids’ uniforms are. The girls have their hair done up in bows, and the boys all have on their fresh kicks. As the day progressed, we spent many hours in the clinic. Again, the children were super cute and strong all day.

Erika Simonds ~ We had a busy clinic day today! We did another round of fluoride for one of the younger classes at the school. As usual, we spent most of the day cleaning the school kids’ teeth and ended the day with extractions. It’s always sad when a little one has to get an extraction, but one of our doctors, Dr. Pascal, is amazing at comforting them. We had mini dance parties with the kids while they were waiting to keep their minds off the dentist! It’s been raining the past two days, so it’s pretty chilly right now. We had delicious cookies that taste like elephant ears to celebrate the end of a long day.

Izzy Babkowski ~ Another busy day at the clinic! We started at 8am and didn’t leave until 7pm! Going to Haiti is definitely not a vacation, but it feels great being here and knowing we are making a difference. Today I mostly worked in the sterilization area and prepared trays for the dentists. I was also able to help teach a class of children how to brush their teeth, and then I put a fluoride treatment on their teeth. The kids here are well behaved and most of them aren’t scared of a stranger sticking their fingers in their mouth! We have music playing in the clinic all day to keep us going, and so many of the kids waiting for fillings dance in line, so cute!! After the long day we got home to a delicious meal and even got cookies for dessert! Looking forward to the last two days of clinic!

Another Fruitful Day

February 16, 2017

Wednesday was another very busy day of cleanings and extractions.  Even with rain the past two days and long hours of work, the team is in good spirits and looking forward to a good night’s rest in their bunk beds 🙂

Cookies for Valentine’s Day

February 15, 2017

Lauren Buczkowski ~ Today was another tiring day of work. Many kids and adults got their teeth extracted, and I assisted the dentists. Again, it was incredible to see how tough the kids were during treatment. As we walk to and from the clinic, kids grab onto our hands and are in awe of our presence there. It’s an amazing feeling to be here helping these grateful children every day.

Stephanie Braun  ~ Happy Valentines Day!! Today was day three in the clinic and we started at 8 and finished at 5 again. It started sprinkling and then pouring in Seguin, therefore all of our patients had super muddy feet. We had some great music on, and the dentists were singing and dancing; loving your American tunes. This little boy came up and gave me a kiss, and it was so cute. All of the young children love to smile and hold your hand. The cooks in the rectory even made us some delicious cookies for dessert tonight!

Anna Babkowski ~ My  7th trip here, but I’m always amazed of the beauty of the area as if it were my first. People welcome us here always with smiles, waves and even hugs. Every morning I get up early. I sit on the porch drinking my coffee just looking at the landscape of Segiun.  Ten minutes of that meditation, and I’m ready for a new day. Hustle and bustle starts here early, that includes donkeys and rosters.

Day three in clinic, things are going quite well. Our mission this year is to see and screen as many school kids as we can, do teeth cleanings, fluoride, and restorations. Our dental doctors’ team is working hard, quite nice and caring people. I’m seeing a lot of progress in dental hygiene, not so many extractions, and quite a few fillings that need to be done.  Over all we are heading in the right direction. I’m very thankful for all the prayers that were sent our way. Happy Valentine day, my friends! Crisna made us cookies 🙂

Second Day of Clinic

February 14, 2017

Izzy Babkowski ~ Today was our second day of clinic. It was another busy one! We have been mostly focusing on cleaning the teeth of the school children and doing less extractions and leaving those for the last bit of the day. Along with cleaning teeth today some of us went down to the kindergarten classrooms to teach them how to brush their teeth and administering fluoride treatments. We have been getting out of clinic quite late so we get back to the rectory just in time for a warm dinner with delicious fried plantains. I’m excited for the rest of the clinic days to see what interesting cases might come about and to see more of the kids get their teeth cleaned!

Erika Simonds ~ Another day in the books! Today we worked on fluoride for the preschool and kindergarten classes. We had mini lessons where we were teaching them how to brush their teeth. These kids are so cute, but they usually have no idea what we are trying to say! We also set up a station where we would paint the fluoride on their teeth. Our interpreters and a few older school boys were a huge help in telling the children what to do. At the end of the day, all three of our dentists were working on extractions, so we were runners for the tools, shots, and medications the dentists needed to speed up the removal process. I was shocked by the number of Haitians who needed teeth removed!

Stephanie Braun  ~ Today Lauren and I got to apply fluoride onto the kindergarteners’ teeth, and this was so cute. At the beginning it was a bit chaos from giving out tooth brushes and teaching them how to brush to actually applying the fluoride. We had to pick out which children had bad enough teeth to send to the dentist up in the clinic as well as separate the 60 children who had fluoride and who hadn’t. We finished and headed back up to the clinic, and I helped Dr. Mitchell with suction during cleanings.

Sunday

February 13, 2017

Erika Simonds~ Today we went to the Seguin church. This is my first trip to Haiti, so I was shocked when I saw the condition of the church! I saw pictures of its current state before we left, but seeing it in person was a completely different experience. The Haitians don’t let this keep them from their beautiful worship!  There are a few speakers, but even without them, the school choir is loud enough to hear a few hundred feet away. During the songs, an adorable two year old was dancing with the music. Whenever he would see one of us watching him and smiling, he would laugh, hide his face in his jacket, and play peek-a-boo with us behind the speaker. These people that Americans imagine as having so little praise God as if they had everything in the world. I loved being at their church today and look forward to coming back to it on another trip!

Stephanie Braun ~ Today was our first day in the clinic; we cleaned the room, set up dental instruments, and started cleanings. I got to assist Dr. Mitchell by giving suction while he cleaned the students’ teeth. It is so amazing how tough these young children are despite the pain they endure while getting their teeth fixed.

Lauren Buczkowski ~  It is my third time back to Haiti yet I am still amazed by the sights, sounds, and ways of life. Driving up the mountain felt different, almost familiar this time. The bumper to bumper traffic and littered roads didn’t surprise me as much because Haiti feels like home. Seeing my close Haitian friends I have known for four years now grow from young boys to tall young men amazes me. This is my first dental trip, so I had no idea what to expect. I wasn’t sure if I would be able to stomach the blood, but after seeing the pain tolerance of these young children, I was  inspired to assist in the procedures. I assisted two doctors in cleaning teeth and also helped cleaning and distributing instruments. It was a long day of hard work, but well worth it. The results of this first day had me in awe; I can’t wait to see what the rest of the week has to bring!

Hello Seguin!

February 12, 2017

The dental team arrived safely in Seguin on Saturday.  Tomorrow they will meet many old and new friends at Mass and then begin setting up the clinic for a full week of cleanings and extractions.

Hello Haiti!

February 11, 2017

After perfectly timed flights, the Holy Spirit Parish Dental Team arrived Friday afternoon to a very pleasant and warm welcome in Port au Prince.  Saturday will be the drive up the mountain.

Goodbye, and See Ya Soon, Haiti!

May 26, 2016

Hannah Swanson ~ It was a fun-filled day today! We got to visit Mother Theresa’s orphanage.  This was an experience of a lifetime.  We spent our time just being able to hold and cuddle the little ones.  It’s so heartbreaking seeing all of these little babies that just want love that they don’t receive often.  I absolutely fell in love with an 8-month old little boy that did not want to leave my arms, (my mom almost got a little Haitian grandchild).  Then after, we traveled throughout Port au Prince and saw the most amazing view at the top of a mountain and then did a little shopping at the local markets.  This place is truly amazing and I can’t believe I was able to have this experience.  I am so blessed for that.  This will not be my last time here so, SEE YA SOON HAITI!

 

Bob Swanson ~ Oh my gosh, what an experience at the orphanage.  I left there with tears in my eyes.  All those children who were in need.  To have those little ones in in my arms and then to have to walk away from them is heartbreaking.  Having said that, Mother Theresa’s Orphanage is amazing.  To see what they do to help the little ones coming in who are severely dehydrated or malnourished and the nuns there are willing to take care of them so well.  They do a lot of good work there.  It is also awesome to think we are walking in the same tracks that Mother Theresa walked in.  The afternoon was spent doing some site seeing in Port Au Prince.  What an amazing country and I am sorry we are leaving tomorrow.  The week has flown by and I am not ready for it to end.  It was awesome that I was able to share this experience with my mother, daughter, nephew, and awesome people like Lavina and Tim.  I am so thankful to the people of St. Michaels who helped to sponsor this trip and made this all happen.  Your generosity is amazing.  I feel blessed to have what I have.  The people of Haiti do not have nearly what we have but you never hear them complain.

 

Terry Swanson ~ Our journey is nearly over.  The day was a very special one.  Being with the children and babies at Mother Theresa’a House is touching.  They love to be snuggled and hugged.  Putting them back into their beds is the hard part.  It is sad to leave them crying to be held more.  The young boys loved the soccer balls.  We enjoyed watching them play.  The afternoon was seeing the sights of Haiti and shopping for special things to bring home. Though it will be good to be home I find leaving Haiti sad.  This was a week that was very special.  Because of the accomplishments and the joy of being with this team…..Tim, a faithful friend of Haiti and my mentor, Lavina who works so hard and is always with the traveling team.  Having my son and 2 grandchildren be a part of the dental clinic was such blessing.  I am grateful!

 

LaVina Dise ~ Today is our last day. and I am so thankful that we were to visit Mother Theresa’s Hospital. It is wonderful to see the babies and hold them and give them all the love we can. They are so beautiful and just need all the love we can give. The children love the soccer balls and toys we brought them. We hove a lot of pictures to share with everyone when we get home. Hope to see you soon. Tomorrow morning we are on our way home and will be home at night. I thank God for a wonderful trip and for being able to get so much done.

 

Daniel Swanson ~ Yesterday I was not able to go to the last day of the dental clinic because I was sick when I woke up, but by the end of the day I was feeling back to normal for the most part thankfully.  Although, I do wish I could have made one last trip up into the mountains before leaving Haiti.  It was one of the most scenic and beautiful places I have ever been.  Now that we are back in Port Au Prince, we are staying at Wall’s guest house again and have been loving the air conditioning at night.  Today was a good day to relax and go to Mother Theresa’s Orphanage and do some sight seeing.  We were not able to take pictures there, but holding the babies there was one of my favorite parts of the trip.  I could tell that they loved the attention from everyone that was there to spend time with them.  After the orphanage we were able to do some sight seeing, and we went to a restaurant overlooking all of Port Au Prince, and ate lunch with the most scenic view.  It is hard to believe that this trip is coming to an end now.  I do not have any regrets on coming here at all.  It has been one of the most eye opening experiences of my life and I am so thankful for the people that I was able to share it with.  Being here with family has made it all the better and the people I have met on this trip I plan on keeping in touch with.  It was also nice to have Hannah here so that I have someone my age that I am close to.  I am happy to see her, my grandma, and Uncle Bob enjoy this just as much as I have.  I feel blessed that God was watching over us and helping us with everything that we did on this trip.  Haiti is one of the most beautiful places I have ever been to, and everyone here that we have encountered have greeted us with love. I sure hope that this trip is not my last here.

Eye-Opening Experiences

May 25, 2016

Bob Swanson ~ We had a great day in clinic today.  Got there early this morning and put in a full day.  The dentists saw over 100 patients today.  It was nice to see some rain up in the mountains.  We did not get much rain at all at St. Joseph’s.  We went to a local school this morning to talk to the students about dental hygiene.  I was amazed at the size of some of the classrooms.  One room had over 140 students packed in the room.  Not sure how any learning occurs in that type of environment. Hannah and Daniel did a really good job talking to the kids.  I hate to see the week coming to an end.  Tomorrow will be our last day in the dental clinic.  I feel so blessed to be here in Haiti to share this experience with the group.

Hannah Swanson ~ Today was great! Daniel and I were able to go over to a near by school and talk to the kids about good dental hygiene.  It was amazing to see the difference in class size compared to in the US.  In one classroom, there were 140 kids which was shocking.  Meanwhile, the clinic was still running, serving over 100 patients again today.  We have one more day at the clinic and hope to finish up all the people who need help with their teeth! It’s has been an absolutely amazing trip, and we will see what else we have in store for the rest of the trip.

Terri Swanson ~ This is our last night in Fonds Parisian  There is a sadness in leaving Fonds Parisien tomorrow.It was a fun time and very productive.I will miss it it all except the hot, hot weather.  It was a special team with Tim, Bob, Daniel, LaVina, Hannah.

LaVina Dise ~ It has been a very good day. We met with Father Lalande and it went well. It was the 4th day for for our dental clinic today and had more people than any other day. Everyday we think they would slow down, but they keep coming from some where. God just keeps sending more people who need their teeth pulled. Thank God we are here to help the people here that need help. I sure enjoy my time with the team, Terri, Bob, Hannah, Daniel, and Tim. It is a wonderful trip and to think tomorrow is the last day. Thank you God for this trip.

Daniel Swanson ~ Today we were able to accomplish more than I could have hoped for. Hannah and I were able to go to a public school across the street and teach them about dental hygiene, one of which had over 140 children. It is a huge difference from schools in the United States, and was truly eye opening to me.  I could not have asked to be here with a better group of people, especially since half of them are my family, and getting to know the interpreters, drivers, doctors, Tim, and LaVina has been a blessing.  We have had so much fun while accomplishing everything that we came here for.  I think that along with the people in Haiti who we have been able to help, we have all gotten so much out of this trip as well.  I look forward to the last few days of our stay here and what is to come in them.