As I posted in my first blog from Haiti I mentioned that it takes about a full day to process everything we are experiencing so today I start with yesterday. I awoke at 6:00am and began my day outside with God. He led me to 2 Corinthians 10: 12-8 which Paul writes to the church talking about not comparing and that all work of God is important and necessary in order to spread the gospel. He talks about growing in faith and as our faith grows so does our sphere of activity which will allow the Good news to reach beyond Corinth and move into different regions reaching more and more people. It was a beautiful way to begin the morning. I was reminded that not all ministries in Haiti are the same and that they are all necessary and most of all need each other to learn from each other, apply what is learned, share the successes, grow from the failures and reproduce so more and more people can feel the love. As I finished my coffee and blog I headed into the kitchen to meet Kisnet, Ulta, and Berland.
These three ladies work here at the guest house and prepare the food and at breakfast we take turns helping them. I cranked up the worship playlist on my computer and we got to work cracking eggs. With nothing but the music in the background I found myself being prompted to ask Berland who was cooking next to me what her birthday was. I prayed that God would help me remember how to say “What is your birthday” en Francais…..I mean after all I was French Club president lol! “Quand est vous anniversaire?” sweet Jesus, it came out!!!! She looked at me in shock and asked me if I knew French. “Petite” was my response. She told me dix-sept de October. I then looked at her in shock! I told her mon frere (my brother) had the same birthday!! The rapport building had begun. We cooked together and sang Oceans by Hillsong together and exchanged smiles back and forth and when Ulta and Kismel came in she was excited to tell them that we shared the same birthday. We had a good laugh and went back to work. Ulta was slicing fresh passion fruit next to me and the smell was so wonderful. Instantly I had an idea! I could make a sugar scrub and scrub their feet. I asked politely if I could use some of the fresh passion fruit juices and asked for the sugar. They began to look at me like I was strange and I’m sure they were thinking what is this crazy girl doing?!? I then reached for the oil bottle on the window sill when Berland started waiving her hands frantically at me saying no, no! No, no! I gave her the motion of “It’s ok, I got this.” When she says, “No, no!” one more time to me and turns the bottle towards me. The label on the front said “Lentoil: Grease and Stain Remover.” LOL! Oh we had a roaring kitchen over that one! She asked me in creole what I think was “What are you looking for silly lady?” and I told her “Oil.” She then opened up the bottom cabinet and pulled out the cooking oil. They still were not sure what I was making and said a few things back and forth in creole which probably went a little like….”She isn’t going to eat that is she? or “If that is for us we are out!” When I finished I asked her for her hands as I thought that I needed to build a little more rapport with them for them to let me scrub their feet. She handed me her hand cautiously and I reached in grabbed the passion fruit sugar scrub and began massaging her hand and thanking her for her service and for blessing us with her talents and her hands. The smile as she smelled the beautiful aroma of the scrub in imprinted in my memory forever. As she rinsed her hands I felt a sense of peace. My heart was full. We all then gathered for breakfast. As I was sitting at the end of the table I could see into just the corner of the kitchen and I saw something that brought tears to my eyes. She was sharing with her Ulta and Kismel and sharing the love and the service. It was the ripple affect at its finest. All three ladies smiled a little bigger that day as they sang and the smell of passion fruit around them. After breakfast I put the rest of the scrub into a container and gave it to them to share with their friends back in their community. Heart was full of love and I praised God for opening my eyes to serving those ladies who were serving me. We gathered our water bottles and headed to Cite Soleil on the Tap Tap.
For the drive to Cite Soleil Brian and I road in the front of the tap tap with Maxim. This is quite the experience. You see first hand the despair, like I said yesterday it was unlike anything I have ever seen before. Maxim however was talking to us and teaching us how to ask “What is your name?” in Creole and how to respond “My name is…” as well. Brian and I practiced and it ended up being the best things someone could have given us for that day. “Kijan ou rele” is “What is your name?” and “Mwen rele Emily” is “My name is Emily. We pulled down a small road where we met up with our water truck (a big tank truck) and headed into the community where we would be serving. At this point I didn’t know what to expect. I truly didn’t. I’m going to be honest no one can really prepare your heart for what we witnessed as we pulled down the thin road with the Tap Tap and the water truck. Naked children running down the streets hollering and waving. People running towards the truck with buckets, and tubs, and big barrels and lining up and Creole conversations are being yelled everywhere. The Tap Tap stopped and kids came right to the door where Brian was and held their little hands up and he reached out to hold their hands not even getting the door open yet and they started climbing up the truck to get to him. This was purely in search of love and affection. We opened the Tap Tap truck started to climb out and instantly had 3-6 kids a piece, climbing, hugging, kissing, touching begging to be picked up and loved on. And that is exactly what we did. We held them as they nuzzled into our necks and squeezed tight. We smiled and bounced and tried to move towards the hose to serve their parents. At the same time this is happening the yelling continued and pushing towards the water hose to fill the buckets. Our guides Maxim and Valerie helped organize everyone in a line with their buckets and family by family the got to bring the buckets they had in their possession to get water for the day. They would swat you out of the way or give you a stern look if the bucket wasn’t full to the very top but overall they were thankful we were there. Some older children were dancing in the street with some of our team members, babies were clinging to teenagers and little boys put their mouths under the truck where the hose met the truck to have the drippings touch their dry mouth. Yes. This is their life.
The children. Be still my heart. The most beautiful and soul filled children were all around. Some were helping in the water line but most were just searching to be loved. One little girl in a Dora the Explorer shirt found me right away and with her sweet brown eyes raised her hands in the air symboling like Haven does for “Uppy” and I swooped her up. She stayed with me the rest of the time we were there. Another little girl named Ailyiah came up to me and held my hand and leaned into the side of my hip and we sat in silence sending each other love. It was beautiful. She then noticed my wedding ring and pointed to my friend Guy and asked if he was my husband. I said no and looked up to find Brian and across the street with a naked baby boy in one arm and a little girl in a tattered green dress in the other there he was. Tears fell down my cheeks and she pulled my arm to go meet him. We walked over and next to Brian holding his leg was a boy in a green shirt named Dedu. We was the big brother to the little girl Brian was holding. As we stood there a handsome boy walked over to us, looked straight in my eyes and said, “I have big dreams.” I looked back at him and I said, “I have big dreams too.” “Kijan ou rele?” “Stevenson,” he replied. “Mwen rele Emily.” The rapport began. He said, “Are you Christian?” “Yes,” we responded. He said “I am Christian too.” He asked us questions about Healing Haiti and how he could be a part of the ministry. For a moment when standing in front of Stevenson it felt like time stood still just like God stopped the sun from going down for Joshua. I told him I would find out some information on how to interview with the organization and our conversation turned to his dreams. He wants to be a Dr. I told him there is nothing stopping him. He said my dad is a man of poverty and does not understand and cannot support me. I told him as long as the fire is inside of his gut he could do anything. He smiled and nodded and affirmed what he already knew. He would some day be a Dr and I truly believe I will see Stevenson again. The water truck was now empty and it was almost time to leave the community but we still had one thing to see. With Ailyiah holding my hand and my precious little Dora baby in my arms and Stevenson by my side we headed up the hill of garbage to the site of the soon to be Hope Church that Healing Haiti is building right there in that community. Along with the church will come a free school! The site was breathtaking. Yes breathtaking right on top of all of the garbage and glass. The walls had already been built for the church and the school would soon be started. I leaned over to Ailyiah and I told her that when the church was built I wanted her to spend as much time as she could there and if she was there I would be back. I meant it. I will be back to worship and praise God for his work in this community and the love that is being poured out on them through the hands and feet of the Healing Haiti teams and missionaries. She nodded her head, looked at the church looked back at me and smiled.
Taking you back to two significant stories that happened while Brian and I were down by the water truck with the children. I told you that Brian had a boy named Dedu by his side the whole time. He wore a green shirt and his sister was in Brian’s are the whole time. When I say whole time it was around 2 hours time. The reason why Brian held that little girl the whole time was because her big brother made sure of it. He knew. He knew that little girl needed the love of a dad and he was going to make sure she got it. I don’t know more of selfless act than that people. As I type tears run down my face picturing him swatting down other children who were trying to pull this sweet baby girl out of Brian’s arms and yelling in Creole to go find someone else, he was for her. Around the time of the swatting down of children a little boy with a button down shirt was standing in between us. Now had I not had children his age I’m not sure I would have noticed this but God gave me the eyes knowing what this boy needed. A minute later he tapped on the side of my belly and as I looked down, I excitedly praised him for his button work! He buttoned his own shirt and boy was he proud. I was proud of him too just as I am my own children. He smiled and I told him he was intelligent and how proud I was of him and acknowledged how hard that was for a boy his age. Stevenson helped me translate the whole thing and that little boy’s smile was bigger than Buckwheat’s on Little Rascals! As I processed the Water Truck Day I couldn’t help but think that these families get by everyday by just surviving. There is nothing extra to give because they have to spend all of their time and energy to survive. Therefor this leaves the children of the family starving for acknowledgement, attention, encouragement, physical touch, but most of all love. This is what we brought more importantly that water. We brought love in all different forms…and that was just the first half of the day.
We then traveled 1 hour to Grace Village in the community of Titanyen which translates to, “Less than nothing.” Can you imagine living and growing up in a village called Titanyen and believing that. After the water truck I wasn’t sure what to prepare myself for Grace Village. Grace village is an orphanage supported and built through Healing Haiti and it sits on top of the mountain in Titanyen over looking the ocean. The view is incredible. The gates opened and we pulled up in the tap tap and immediately the feel was very different. This experience would be different. Right away everyone came to greet us and hug Paster Sue and welcome us. We met Pastor Wesley who is the pastor at Grace Church. As we stood in a semi circle a girl about 10 years old comes up near the circle and as I look at her I ask, “Kijan ou Rele” She shakes her head no. She is very guarded and seems to keep everyone at arms length. I smile at her and walk closer and she tilts her head slightly to the left and peaks at me out of the corner of her eye. “Mwen Rele Emily.” “Emmmelee?” she asks. I nod my head. “Emmelee.” She says and this time smiles. “Rosalinda.” She quietly says. “Rosalinda es belle.” She smiles and runs behind a tree to hide. While at Grace Village we plan our arts camp for the next 3 days and take a tour of the school and orphanage. This is the inspiring part. In just 4 years, Healing Haiti has built a full functioning kitchen that is teaching the children baking skills and will employ 50 families in the bakery they are building next to Grace Church just down the hill. One woman, one kitchen, one heart and a HUGE ripple affect. She is reproducing bakers so that when they are old enough they can work in the bakery or possibly start their own some day. We then walked through the feeding room where they all eat meals and on the floors and on the walls there are over 5000 fish drawn in bright colors. You never forget the way Jesus lived at Grace Village. Outside we walk through the pavilion and past the most beautiful playground. Across the playground is the transition house. This is where young adults learn how to transition out of the orphanage to the community. This came because their first transition experience did not go as well as they had hoped and they went back to the drawing board. These children are also mentors to the younger children. The younger children are now behaving like their mentors because they see that some day they too could transition out and be a mentor. You all know how much my heart swelled when I saw this and heard this. From the transition house we walked down to the school where they have classrooms and a brand new library with books written in English, French, Spanish and even polish. Some children in Grace Village already know several languages. As we walked out of the school and out to a small deck area we saw the future of Grace Village. We also learned that when they purchased the land they thought they were getting 15 acres when in reality they got more like 50!! God honored their service with this awesome surprise. They are still in the dreaming phase of what will come of that. Next we walked to Aquaponics. This is something that is so progressive I was astounded. In huge blue tanks were fish. They harvest 1 tank each year and it feeds them. With any extra they share with other orphanages in the area including Shalom Orphanage just down the street. The water from the tanks is then used to fertilize the rows and rows of vegetation they have where peppers and tomatoes and everything you can imagine is grown. It is sustainability at its finest. Next to my favorite part.
We walked up the hill to a set of 4 houses. This is where the children slept although it is unlike any orphanage you may picture including Miss Hannigan’s humble abode. These were houses. Each with a mom and a dad or two moms. The children live in this house as a family. They have responsibilities, they eat together, they do homework with mom, they play with their brothers and sisters. Kiki the director at GV made a profound statement. She said, “God didn’t create orphanages, God created a family.” They have given this to these kids. Amazing and God honoring.
We are not done yet. After we saw the houses we walked up to Grace clinic. It is a medical and dental clinic for the entire community of Titanyen. Families come every morning to stand in line and get a number to be seen by the Dr. The side walls are open and the breeze flows through and the air is filled with worship. We got an education while standing in the clinic. A lot of the Haitian people do not understand how babies are made or how to prevent it so a lot of the times they will get a woman in the clinic in a lot of pain turning out to be pregnant. They are currently working on a Family planning education class as well as birth control for their community as Titanyen is the most populated community in all of Haiti and most of the population is children.
As we head back to the tap tap to leave I hear, “Emmelee” I look and Rosalinda is smiling at me dancing. “Emmelee, I LOVE ballet.” I smile at her and I said “Rosalinda you are in luck, Miss Emily teaches ballet!” You should have seen her face…..it lit up and she was speechless. She asked if I would teach her. I said, “better yet Rosalinda, I will teach you and I brought ballet shoes.” Oh she jumped up and down and got so excited. We had to say goodbye for the day but I told her I would see her tomorrow. Well guess who was waiting for me when I got off the tap tap this morning….Yep. Rosalinda, with a big smile and a big bear hug for Emmelee! We spent today hand in hand the whole day and it was the best day here yet. Full of love, full of joy, full of God.
I leave you with the laughter of the Lentoil: Grease and stain remover, the pride of the boy with buttons and the open heart of a once hardened Rosalinda.
ps..pictures will be updated to the blog after we return as we do not take our phones with us but do have a photographer on the team. Will repost again with pictures later….but I will leave you with one!