On Monday we started our day just like everyother day in Haiti, with a granola bar breakfast and team devotions. After devos we went on a 3 hour walk around Gressier. It was neat to hear the stories of all the places we passed. The blue shelters you see in this picture are Samaritan Purse Shelters. They have tin roofs with tarp around the frame for the walls. These are much better than the tents alot of Haitians live in because they don't let rain in them and also, we were told that if another earthquake hits, tin roofs are the saftest because they won't come falling down. On our walk we was lots of really hard things. We saw one house that used to be a 2 story home, but now all you see is the roof on the ground because it came falling straight down. A lady was outside that house and told us that one of her family members is still stuck in all the rubble of the house, they weren't about to get them out.
This sweet girl is Eveline. She is from Jasmine's Orphanage. Jasmine has been in Haiti for 3 years now, so even before the earthquake. Jasmine and her husband have about 40 children at their orphanage. When we went we got to play with all the toddlers outside. It was so exciting to be able to give them all the love and attention they crave, but don't get on a regular basis. We were able to give Jasmine 6 new pack-n-plays to replace the ones with huge holes in the sides. We also provided lots of school supplies, games and pre-natal vitamens. She was so greatful for all of those things.
New Horizons was my favorite place we got to visit on our trip. The first time we went our team played and loved on the kids before doing VBS day 1 with them. Those kids were so stinkin adorable. I wanted to take so many of them home with me. KState wouldn't mind if there were some Haitian kids in my dorm room next year, right? Good, I didn't think so! :) One particular girl always clung to me each time I went. Her name was Samata. Every time I walked in the gate, she would see me and start running and jump into my arms with the biggest smile. I absolutly melted. Like I said, we got to practice day 1 of VBS with these kids. It was so fun to see them sing and do actions, make their craft and listen to the Gospel. We sang lots of songs that they knew and were able to sing like If Youre Happy&You Know it, Head&Sholders and songs like that. We taught them This Little Light of Mine which was fun. They made "Gospel Catchers" for their craft. These were just like the little "cooty catchers" the kids in America make, but instead of funny things on the inside, they said "Jesus loves you" or "Live for Christ!"....in Creole of course! The kids were all shouting these phrases in Creole which was so fun to hear. "Jezi te renmen ou!" "Viv pou Kris la!"
One of the work projects we did in Haiti was to put screens on our bunk house windows. When we arrived each bunk house had maybe 2 out of 10-12 windows covered. We were told that it would be really nice and helpful if all the windows had screens on them to have shelter from bugs, rain, things like that. We heard of an opportunity to serve, so we jumped on it! We meauserd all the windows, cut wood with the table saw we brought, cut screens, drilled the screens&wood and there you have it, screens on the windows. This week had many firsts...some of which happened with the work projects. I had never used a hand saw before...or a drill, but not I can say that I can do both things fairly well! (Okay....I just made my self sound like some expert at all this. Don't start calling me to put screens on your house or anything....cause I am far from being an expert! lol)
Wednesday, Thursday and Friday we put on a Vacation Bible School in Port-au-Prince at Pastor Moise's church. It was about an hour and a half drive from our house in Gressier. Let me tell you, the driving in Haiti is absolutly crazy...but exciting!! There are no speed limits and the lane markings are just suggestions! Driving to VBS each day was an adventure in and of itself! Once we got there, we were greeted by 200-300 children. The first day we were still getting all the kinks worked out, but by the second day we had alot more under controll. It was interesting having 200-300 Creole speaking children, 15 English speaking Americans and the 2 translators we brought. Thankfully, there were some people at the church who knew enough English to help us out. Charlie and I got to lead music with the kids. By the middle of the first day we had our "set list" down: Lord I Lift Your Name on High, Holy is the Lord (in Creole!), Mighty to Save, River of Life and then on day 3, Father Abraham. The kids loved the songs with the actions. By the end of VBS they had Mighty to Save actions down pretty well, and would randomly shout "Mighty to Save!!" whenever they felt like it durring the song. :)
On Thursday we stayed after VBS to go to Moise's church service. There was a wedding going on between VBS and the service so we got to see the wedding party come out of the church which was fun. While we waited for the wedding our team was in a room of the church where they brought us chilled Coke's. Wow. They were so good! American Coke doesn't even compare. At the church service Lucas got to lead the opening prayer, Caleb shared his testimony, Charlie and I sang Mighty to Save and Jeremy gave the message. Some of the pastors at Moise's church also talked and prayed. We were given headsets and Moise translated for us. It was so cool to hear them so passionatly praying in Creole, and understanding what they were saying! The church service was one of the best parts of our trip. It was such an amazing feeling to worship the Lord with my Haitian brothers and sisters...we didn't speak the same language, yet all our praise was going to the same God. I remember sitting in the pew feeling so overwhelmed with how huge our God is. Gives me chills to talk about it. The same God that I pray to as I lay in my nice comfortable bed is the same God that hears the people of Haiti as they lay in their shelters or tents. I knew this of course going into Haiti, but when you really think about how big that is it blows me away!
Some of the First Free Women made uniforms for New Horizons Orphanage. We got to go back to pass them out. What an exciting visit! They kids once again ran into our arms as we walked through the gate....melting my heart yet again. We split the girls and boys up and when and dressed them in their brand new uniforms. Galine (the lady who runs New Horizons) was so, so thrilled to have these for the children. We learned later that having uniforms brings legitimacy to a school. They are looked upon more highly when the children have uniforms. Gailine told us that she had been saving her money to buy uniforms for the school, but now that we provided those she can put her money to use elsewhere. This was really exciting to hear. They children we so increadibly thankful for their new uniforms. I couldn't help remembering my CCA years where we had to wear uniforms...and how I complained about them nearly every day. This kids were thrilled to have uniforms! Oh the things we take for granted in America.
This picture can explain my best and worst moments of the trip. This is Samata, a girl from New Horizons I talked about earlier. I told you about my favorite moment when she ran and jumped in my arms every time she saw me. So precious. My hardest moment involved her as well. Everytime we were at New Horizons she would cling to me like no other. If I would even flinch like I might be putting her down, she would just grab on even tighter. So as you can tell, saying goodbye was a challenge. First of all, I didn't want to leave! But as we learned in training, we have to say with the group...so I decided it would probibly be a good idea to leave with the rest of my team. :) Everyone would start saying their goodbyes to the children. I would look at Samata, say "Orevwa!" (goodbye!) and try to pry her off me. As soon as I said Orevwa to her it was as if she just shut down. She knew exactly what was going on. I was leaving her. Once she knew that she wouldnt even look me in the eye. She just stood there. This absolutly broke my heart. She had been so happy and full of love before, but once I left it was like she just couldn't handle it. This was extreamly hard for me to process.
Our main work project while in Haiti was building a latrine for Haiti Health Ministries. There is a Hospital that is going to be built across the way, so the latrine will be helpful! We learned how to make mortar and concreate, how use mortar to but the blocks in place, and all sorts of things. It was a fun project to do. Through this we got to see how Haitians are extreamly hard workers. They sure showed us up! They would be out working on the Hospital from 6am-4pm and they would earn $10 doing so.
On Sunday morning we woke up extra early to climb the mountain and watch the sunrise. It was so beautiful and such a great chance to marvel at Gods creation and reflect on the week. After our walk we got ready for church. Christianville was not far from our house. It was a fairly small building, with wood benches and it was extreamly hot! We sang some hymns, some were familer but the majority of them we didn't know. It was so neat to hear the people praising God in another language. We also got to partake in communion, following a 45min "communion sermon". All I can say was, that was not grape juice! The majority of our team all had our first taste of wine durring church. That was an interesting surprise! After the message, we headed back to the house for some really good debrief time. We got to unpack what the trip was like for us. I think that was really good for our team.
Later on Sunday, our team got to go to the "Cool Lions Beach". What an interesting experience, to say the least! It was the typical Spring Break atmosphere...so we made our way to a part of the Beach were there were no people....which probibly explains why the water was so gross! Our point in going there was really neat. We were to find 2 rocks and write a few names of some people we met in Haiti that we wanted to commit to praying for. One of these rocks we would throw back into the ocean, giving those people to God. The other rock we took with us to remind us to pray for them. It was a really great way to end our time in Haiti.
The rest of our Sunday consisted of cleaning up HQ and eating a yummy dinner of pancakes and eggs with our translator Josue and his son. Josue was such a blessing to us all week and he helped us out so so much! It was fun to be able to hang out with him one last time. We all miss him so much.
Reverse culture shock was much more difficult than I ever thought it would be. I knew that it would be tough to go from one of the poorest countries in the world to Andover, KS where every kid has everything they want and more. Well, it was just as difficult as I imagined...and then some. As soon as I got back into our car from the airport I lost it. I didn't stop crying that night untill I feel asleep. I hated being in America. All I wanted was to be back in Haiti. Now I have adjusted to this life, but with a much different perspective. Im finally feeling normal here and not so much like Im in a giant bubble and I got dropped down in America.
The Lord really used my experience in Haiti to grow my heart for missions. I really heard Him speaking to me on the trip. I know God wants me in the mission field. I don't know where that may be or what I would be doing, but I know I need to be there! I am just praying and waiting for the Lord's guidence in how to go about doing so. For now, I am putting my YES on the map and am willing to go where He sends me.
Thank you for all of your prayers durring this trip. It was so encouraging to know we had a prayer army back home showering us in prayer.
I can't wait to someday tell you about my next mission trip! Viva la Gospel!
"Here am I, send me!"