Thursday, January 22
It is Thursday night. We have celebrated communion after our devotions and have had some time of reflection while considering the logistics of packing so we can be on the road to the airport at six AM.
The work was sometimes difficult but the spirit of those we came to serve, the Haitians, kept us focused. Time and again, at the school, the orphanage, at worship service and even moving the streets, each of us were captivated with the interminable spirit of the Haitians.
There is much beauty here, however, it is difficult to miss in the dust, the garbage and the difficulties associated with survival here in the densely populated urban area. Somehow, people are friendly and even joyful in their expression. It came through powerfully in the service last Sunday and it carried us through our week in many ways. Francy read a verse (Romans 5:5) during her devotion just last night that explained the impression. Looking difficulty in the eye when you need to sustain personal peace enough to make the next move and go forward, we should see not the disabled child or the possibility of disease. We must know we are looking into the eyes of Christ. We should then find the certainty that we will be sustained.
We are soon to be home again to our families and loved ones. We look forward to returning to our lives but we look forward most to living changed by this experience. May God give us the power to live the lessons learned here in Haiti. We want all to know that this inspirational trip is one we are ready to share.
Wednesday, January 21
We're having some power issues tonight so we wanted to make a quick post to share that all is well. Had a great day out at the Village of Hope School and Medical Clinic, where the whole team got to tour the campus and be a part of the flag-raising ceremony for the kindergarten classes. The team that has been working at Hope House headed back mid-morning to continue work on the kitchen ceiling. They did a great job and all that is left for tomorrow is caulking and painting.
The rest of the team got the chance to lead some Bible lesson crafts for a kindergarten class and 3rd grade class. It was a great success as the kids had lots of fun, and clearly grasped the messages of the lessons.
Tomorrow we're looking forward to a morning of work followed by a trip to the metal worker's village.
Tuesday, January 20
Today was another productive day. The crew at Hope House (Gene, Larry, Steve, Jim, Greg, and Chuck) continued to make progress on the ceiling replacement. Chuck's gift of height has been well-utilized as evidenced by his inability to raise his arms above his shoulders this evening. Gina, Sarah, Francy, and I were once again out at Little Children of Jesus where it was a full day of feeding, bathing, arts & crafts, and hanging out with the kids.
The days at the orphanage have been a little different this year, with the absence of the more capable and active kids who are now attending school. We decided to stay later today to be able to see them for a short time, as this would be the only day schedule-wise that it would work out. So many times in the past, those kids would be waiting to enthusiastically greet us as our truck would turn into the driveway of the orphanage. Today, I found myself in that same place, watching the clock as I anxiously anticipated their arrival. At about ten till four, their school bus finally arrived and Stevenson, Ben, Linda, Manu, Anderson, and the crew all all filed out of the bus, neatly dressed in their school uniforms. We were warmly greeted with hugs and smiles, and had some time to do a craft project that Francy and Sarah had prepared. While I have so greatly missed spending time with them this trip, I deeply encouraged to know that they are getting a chance to be educated and realize their God-given potential.
Tomorrow we head out to the school at Village of Hope where we will get another chance to witness kids who are receiving this amazing gift of education, being given the chance to grow into all God created them to be.
Monday, January 19
Today the team split into two crews, the construction team of Gene, Larry, Jim, Chuck, Steve and Greg. Their job was to dismantle the existing ceiling in the kitchen area at the Hope House, cut down lumber to construct a frame for the new ceiling, but before the whole area had to be cleared and the supplies readied outside the dining area, i.e. lumber, saws, building material, ladders, tools, etc. The goal is to have the new ceiling up by tomorrow and they are half way done so well within the time projected. Meanwhile the other team assigned to help out at the Little Children of Jesus were driven by Debbie to the nearby orphanage with supplies graciously donated by members of our church, their families, friends, and co-workers. These gifts of clothes for the children, soaps, bottles of lotion, vitamins, wipes, and more are very much needed and so welcome by the staff. The order of brothers in charge of LCJ send their heartfelt "Thank you" to all back home. Pastor Josh, Gina, Francy and I went through a short introduction and then on to the open area dining facility where most of the children lay in beds, cribs, sit in chairs or strollers, and some walking about if capable. Bowls of breakfast consisting of a rice and vegetable cereal with mixed in vitamin tables had to be spoon fed to the children. This took some time since the feeding needs to be slow and careful as not all children have the ability to swallow easily. After breakfast all children got a bath, a fresh set of clothes and were returned to their beds that had been wiped clean in the meantime. The team did bond with the children too with interaction of dancing, talking, and just being with them and sharing their smiles and laughs. Pastor Josh, Gina and myself did tend to them again with moisturizing their bodies, especially the ones with skin issues like psoriasis and eczema. After a short lunch in the company of David, a handicapped resident well known to the team members that have been here many times before, the order of brothers invited us to visit their home, served us snacks and lemonade and we got to know each other better and their mission, personal backgrounds and history of the order. Debbie picked us up as agreed at about 3PM and back we went to Hope House for time of rest, reflection on the day, dinner of yummy lasagna, salad, bread and a banana cake with a brown sugar frosting and fresh watermelon, and a wonderfully prepared devotion lead by Chuck pointing out talents and gifts given by God but not always recognized by us. It can be done and you can do it. You must try and trust in the Lord. The biggest fear is fear itself and failure will never be the outcome. Try!
Sunday, January 18
Today was our first full day here in Haiti. It being Sunday we went to church. We left the compound and drove through the streets, then made a few turns off the main road down some side streets – barely wide enough for the van. After a few turns and a u-turn we made it to the small building that is the church.
We got out of the van and were immediately welcomed by an usher who showed us to our seats in the front of the church. I don't think that I could accurately describe the the scene or even begin to put into words the experience, but I will try:
The church was a small little cinder block building with a slanted tin roof, there was an old wooden pulpit at the front, a keyboard and a drum set (played wonderfully by a 8 year old boy). For church the Haitians are dressed in their best, pressed suits or dress pants, shirts and ties for the men and dresses for the ladies. There were wooden pews on both sides – and there was not a seat to be had. People were standing outside trying to listen. The kids were outside in a courtyard for Sunday school being held under a tree. When they were done they came over and sat on a pew outside pressed as close as they could to hear the pastor's message.
There we were in this little church, listening to words that we did not understand, singing songs out of hymnals written in another language: however we were there to worship and praise God so it did not matter. We sang and listened to the people give their testimony and praises. At one point a young family brought their baby to the front and they were praising God for the gift of the little girl and thanking the congregation for their support through the difficult pregnancy. It was a moving experience for all of us.
There was a little boy about 2 ½ dressed in tan pants, a dress shirt and a sweater vest who would wander around providing entertainment as he would peek around items and give a smile. As I sat there for the 3 hour service: I found myself amazed. Here I was in a this small church in the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere, yet people were dressed in their best – even though they had to walk and there was not an empty seat. No one complained about the length of the service, the heat or the strange Americans in the front row. I was humbled to be there and reminded that no matter where you are you can praise God for all that you have – no matter how little it is.
After church we had lunch and then came back to the compound to sort all the donations so we can get them to we they now need to go.Tomorrow the work begins. The construction crew will start removing the kitchen ceiling while the other group will go to Little Children of Jesus to work with the children and help them however they can.
Thank you to everyone at home giving us their support.