Friday was a big day at art camp. This was the day we would head to Grace Church which is a church open to all of Titanyen and is just down the hill from Grace Village. Pastor Wesley had been inviting the children of Grace Church to come to arts camp and join the children of Grace Village. When we arrived at church there were children already sitting in the pews waiting for us and waiting to be loved on. A few of the GV kids had already come down but they were told they did not have to participate if they did not want to. I began wondering if Rosalinda would come down. We began worship with Pastor Wesley, Brian and Guy and it was beautiful and this time mostly in Creole. While singing in the pews I felt everyone scooching around and when I looked over it was Rosalinda asking them to move so she could sit by me. My heart smiled, I gave her a big huge and we began to sing to Jesus together.
After worship we introduced the arts team and I began to teach all of the children the motions and words to “O Happy Day”. We handed out the rhythm section of boom whackers, drum stinks and tamborines and we were ready to go. Brian began singing and playing and as Guy and the rhythm section joined him the energy soared through the roof as 100 children were singing and dancing. It was awesome! We did it once more for good measure and a lot of fun before sitting down. As we sat down Miss Katie brought her dancers up to perform Blessed Assurance. This is a live performance with live music and is simply beautiful. The Haitian kids young and old alike were in awe of their grace and beauty while dancing. We were reminded what a gift we have in movement.
It was snack and art time. Each child received a picture where written in both Creole and English said, “My favorite thing about God’s Creation is…” Then they were to draw what that was. A church in Minnesota did the same with their children and we were able to switch. The Haitian children received an American child’s picture and vice versa. It was fun to watch them receive their picture knowing they would pray over who ever’s picture they received. The power of cross cultural relationships at a young age. It was time to get on the tap tap. As I was heading out the door I noticed that Jonas and Pastor Sue were talking with the older girls in the front of the room. When I went over they said they wanted to learn how to dance like the American girls and could we teach them the dance. We grabbed Katie and of course she made it happen. We took some extra time to teach the girls a portion of the dance and merged it all together. We perform it this morning and I can’t wait to see how it is received. I know it will bring so much joy to all of us. Sharing the gift of dance, it is a powerful thing.
We got on the tap tap and headed to our next stop which was Mass Grave. The memorial where they placed all of the lives lost after the earthquake on January 12, 2010. We arrived and as we did children started running toward the tap tap. We had extra snacks but Sue said we would do it when we got back out of the memorial so we headed in. Walking in was surreal. There were workers working as they are building to be a beautiful place where people can come to remember their loved ones. Jonas shared with us a bit of what that day was like for everyone. Since they did not have the education or knowledge of what to do in case of an earthquake he said most people went inside of their homes instead of coming out. As you can imagine once inside the home and it collapsing there was no way out. Around 300,000 lives were lost that day and that is just what was counted through Mass Grave. The air was quiet as we listened to Jonas’s story. He spoke of being trapped in his school with this friends, not being able to get out not knowing what was going on. He spoke of house after house crumbling on top of those inside and then he spoke of his God daughter who passed away that day from a brick hitting her head. We prayed in silence and then prayed out loud for those affected by the earthquake and for the city that is still healing. This by far was the most powerful experience of the day that was until we walked outside.
All week everyone had mentioned that we would be doing Feed My Starving Children while at Mass Grave and I’m not exactly sure what I had in my mind but it surely wasn’t what was about to happen. When we came out there were three large lines starting from youngest to oldest. The last line was all adults. It started to click. We were actually going to give the Feed My Starving Children bags to starving children. Nothing prepares you for this moment. I have bagged the manna bags and listened to the stories but never in my life did I ever think I would actually be the one handing them out. There is so much that goes in to keeping this process organized and fair so that each person only gets one bag. There was pushing and shoving and yelling in creole. Our drivers kept everything under control as much as possible. We passed out bags one box at a time locking the other boxes up in the tap tap until the previous box was empty. You don’t think about these things when you are packing the bags in the states. Truly starving people will do anything for food. At one point Maxim started taking all the bags away and shouted for all of us to get on the tap tap quick. So we did. People were trying to get back in line and get more than one bag and pushing and shoving so Maxim took them away and off we left. A little boy in a red shirt ran after us all the way down the hill and when we got to the end of the hill Maxim stopped the truck and asked for manna bags. Under a tree was a family of five and then a woman with unkept hair came over and Maxim gave her 3 bags. They told us she was mentally ill and had a son and they always take care of her. The reason they know she is mentally ill is that it is a sign in Haiti that a woman who does not take care of her hair is mentally ill. He gave a bag to the little boy who ran down the hill and we headed back to the guest house humbled by my blessings.
On the way back I noticed something. The power of a smile. When first driving through the small towns the Haitian people may seem hard faced or angry but when you smile and wave at them their spirit comes to life and the warmest smile shines through and you see their soul. It truly is beautiful. I then thought how much do I do this at home? Not often. All it takes is a smile and a wave. Maybe say good day or hello. Simple. Powerful.
Sharing my heart and Haiti with you all,