One week ago today we were adjusting to the tired feeling of travel, just like I feel now. However, there was a 'world' of differences. Literally. A different world. We saw broken hearts and I felt a broken heart. The poverty in Haiti is indescribable. We felt so insignificant in our mission of the week. Our plans were flexible going in, knowing we were going as a team to show Christ's love to the Haitian people, children specifically.
On Sunday, we arrived in Port Au Prince. After just being in 3 US airports, it took some adjusting to my eyes and mind just standing in the airport and going through customs. The drive to the house was....well, unless you experience it yourself, there's no way I can explain it. The roads and the Haitian driving is a culture all it's own. Then later that afternoon we drove (again) to the children's home. We held babies and loved on them, giving them a few fun toys, and lots of hugs. The kids just craved the touch and attention. It melted my heart. This is the first time we got to meet Ruth and Naomi, but had no idea at the time what God was calling us to (more about that later).
Then on Monday, we all went to another larger children's home. The children had only been there for 2 weeks, after being found in a garbage heap in a tent. The 56 kids in this home were starved for touch and attention. We brought lots and lots of toys, games, and trickets to hand out. The kids loved it! It might have been the only toys they had. We spent the day there just loving on the kids and playing with them. We noticed a lot of them were sick. SICK. It did stretch my comfort zone. Without running water to wash my hands or anyone else's for that matter, I admit, I was stretched. I was amazed at how comforted I felt at God's assurance that they needed loved by receiving hugs and playing with them, or rubbing their backs as they layed on a cool floor, more than I needed to worry about what germs I might be contacting. And I'll add that I'm not surprised that God prevented our entire group from catching any sickness this week! Our God is big!
Tuesday, our group split up as a few of us went to the smaller home where Ruth and Naomi live. The rest of the group returned to the larger one, to build bunk beds for the children, to work at building a form to pour a concrete cover over their well, and to give love and medical attention to the kids. Jason was in charge of the bunk bed plans, and he did a fabulous job. Getting the materials was the hardest part, since we were dealing with "Haitian time". That was another culture shock, but the job got accmplished by the end of our week.
Wednesday, we drove to Canaan, Haiti's largest tent city. Since the earthquake 17 months ago, there are over 500,000 people living in this tent city. And we saw several other smaller tent cities in our travels. I expected the people to be standoffish since all the media and white people have come to "help" them in the past, but they are still no closer to finding permanent homes. But, I was wrong, the kids just flocked to us, and followed everywhere we went.
I, personally had a different experience from the rest of our group. A medical team from Buffalo, NY came on Tues to join our group. The dentist needed help, and when I was asked if I knew of a dental assistant, I said "no"....then was hesitant to say, "I'm a hygienist". Anyway, God changed my unwilling heart to a willing one, and I was able to pracitce dental hygiene in a third world country, speaking no Creole at all! Thankfully Stanley was there to help interpret! It was heartbeaking to realize how grateful the Haitian people were for the care.
Later in the week, we had the opportunity to visit a beach resort. We drove about 17 miles in 2 hours to get there, which was the farthest we travelled all week. It felt wrong to be there after what we'd seen all week. It felt like we were in a different country. Strange to say my first (and probably only) view of the Carribbean was from Haiti. It was beautiful. We also were able to take the girls along with us for the experience, which was awesome! On the drive out, we also stopped at the mass grave from the earthquake. It was a sobering experience. Over 1 million people are burried there. It made me sick to my stomach to picture the images we were only told about. I have a new respect for the Haitian people and the torment that is still fresh in their minds.
God definately led our steps, protected our bodies and filtered what our minds grasped this week. I was grateful for the 21 people with me to share in these experiences with me. There are many more Haitian people who need Christ's love. We (or Jason) plan to return this fall. There is opportunity to join a team goin this October. Are you willing to be Christ's hands and feet?
....to be continued......