Sadly, today was our last day of work. We had an early start like all of our other days. Most of us awaken with the generator start. It tends to make a pretty loud humming sound and cools down the room, which makes it so comfy in the bed and a little hard to get up. But once up, we're usually refreshed! Sandwich-making and breakfast started at around 6:30. After a delicious breakfast of pancakes (smeared with peanut butter and nutella in some cases) and yogurt, one group hopped onto the pickup to head to Little Children of Jesus orphanage. Gene, Chuck, and Steve stayed at the Hope House to complete their project of building support beams for an outdoor workshop area.
We took a 14 block ride along Santo to the orphanage - the Hope House is at Santo 3 and LCJ is at Santo 17. We had 3 more join us in our visit to the orphanage: Jessica, Herb, and Patrick. I was really excited to witness Jessica and Herb's first full day experience with the kids as I knew they would really enjoy it. We spent the day feeding, playing with, and generally loving on these kids, and they loved on us just the same. It's hard to explain how it feels to be around them. The best way to say it is that they radiate joy and love. As they hug you, as they look into your eyes, as they prepare to throw a ball to you, as they motion to you to push their wheelchair, as you watch each one sharing his or her gifts with the others... you can't help but feel a warm, glowing joy from deep within you. This love is powerful. There is no resisting it.
Stevo recalled during tonight's devotion that during the church service on Sunday, Josh used the word "power" to describe God not once, but twice. We, in the US, don't often talk about God as a God of power as often as we talk about he being a God of love. Today we also had the activity of noting bible verses as so many tap-taps(the creatively decorated taxi trucks) and businesses are covered with them. As we read through those verses tonight, we noted that most all of these verses spoke of our God as a God of power, a God that will protect us and fight off those people and things that may try to harm us. God's love is powerful.
I can't help but think about how the kids' love toward each other and toward us is also powerful. And this love has a power to transform. In these children's eyes, they see me for a person much better than the real me; the person I have the potential to be. This is power; this type of love can transform. This sort of power can only come from God.
After saying sad, tear-filled goodbyes to the kids, we went to the metal workers district. This district is packed with so many shops and workshops where they transform a simple oil drum to gorgeous art. As you enter the area, you hear loud tapping of hammers against the metal as the artists create their works. You never know what creative ways these talented individuals will find to put together an amazing piece of wall art or household pieces. You can see the pride that they have of their work and it is a joy to have the opportunity to support them and their gifts. The simple transaction of giving a bill to an artist for work you both appreciate deeply is such a wonderful experience. And this talent and hard work allows them to generate a cash flow, which provides the opportunity to transform their family's life.
Once back at the Hope House, Chuck, Gene, and Steve went right back to work as they wanted to get more beams completed. Their dedication motivated them to work straight through to 6pm. We finished the night with a hearty bowl of traditional Haitian pumpkin soup, salad, and succulent, sweet mangoes and oat bars for dessert. Bert explained that pumpkin soup used to be only for the elite, such as wealthy slave owners. Once the people were freed, they were motivated to celebrate their independence day with pumpkin soup. The tradition includes visiting neighbors, friends, and family's homes for a sampling of their pumpkin soup. This soup represents a freeing, a transformation of how the people see their place in this world.
We wrapped up our night with our evening devotion. Through our worship and sharing, I felt God's love radiate through the group. Each of us has been touched by this experience in a very personal way. I know that we have all been transformed by this trip, through God's love, which is more powerful than we can fathom. And we trust that as God works in this place, that Haiti will also be transformed. We're excited to play a part in it and watch as God does his work.