Thursday, March 13, 2008

The rest of the story...

We have been home from Haiti for 5 days, so I guess it is about time that I update the blog with the rest of our Haiti trip. Here are some excerpts from my journaling for the last half of our trip

Tuesday (March 4)

Today we visited another orphanage that was a 15-20 minute walk from the school. This orphanage was much smaller and cleaner which definitely made it easier to visit. They have babies and young children up to age 5 and currently have 27 children. The great part was that all but 2 of them are currently in the process of being adopted. The couple that runs the place said that most of their children get adopted soon after they arrive. They also get a lot of brothers and sisters, and most of the time they are adopted together. It was refreshing to see such a ray of hope for children who have been neglected and abandoned. The walk there was the first time that I have really been out in the streets and it really gave me a better picture of Haiti. Out on the streets, people are hanging out everywhere you look and the poverty just stares you in the face. The homes here are concrete or cinder block and most of them are half finished. Occasionally, you will see a nicer painted cement home with a wall around it, but they are few and far between. Since there are very few cars and most people don’t have electricity, people seem to spend most of their time outside just hanging out with their neighbors and friends. April told us that if a house does have electricity, it will draw a crowd at night because everyone wants to hang out by the light. There is a house next to our hotel that we have wondered about because there are always a lot of people there in the evenings…now we know it is because they have electricity and it is one of the few lights in the area at night! It really is hard to get your mind around the lives these people lead. Even though you see it all around you, I still don’t think it really sinks in. April made the comment yesterday that she has been here for 10 years, and she has really gotten to know her students and what their lives are like outside of school. However, no matter how many times she goes into their homes and experiences their life, she always has the option to leave. And that is an option they don’t have. Because we can leave, we can never really know what it is like to live in such poverty. Experiencing it for one week on a mission trip is a great opportunity to gain a new perspective on what is really important, but we can always go back home. It breaks your heart when you realize that the majority of these Haitian people will never know anything different.

A few pictures from the orphanage today (we did face painting with the kids...they loved it!)

Thursday (March 6)

As we get closer to our departure day, it is getting harder to think about leaving this place. Chris really had a tough time today. He has really connected with the kids…which I knew he would. He has always been great with kids and they love him! It is always neat to see how God uses things in our lives. When Chris injured his knee right before we left for Haiti, he was so disappointed because he really wanted to help with the construction of the new church they are building. He didn’t know what he would be able to do in the school. But God had plans!! Chris is having so much fun with the 1st graders and the 7th and 8th graders. In fact, when I meet kids in his class and they find out that I am married to Mister Chris, their faces just light up. We have one more day to go, and I know we are all a little anxious about telling the kids goodbye.

Now I want to share some funny things from today. We have such a great team, and we all get along so well together. Chris is always telling us that we are the giggliest girls he has ever seen! We sometimes sound like a bunch of middle school girls at summer camp. We were really hooting and hollering tonight at dinner, the laugh till you cry kind, when Shonie was rehashing Sissy’s bad day. It started off this morning when apparently Sissy, Shonie & Sherry were on the roof of the school having their quiet time. The roof is a flat cement two story roof with no sides. As they were leaving, Sissy was headed for what she thought were the stairs. However, she got distracted with the scenery and was walking towards the edge of the roof without looking where she was going. Shonie noticed just in time that she was a few steps from walking right off the roof! Shonie hollered at her and stopped her just in time. Of course, it was one of those things that was rather scary and traumatic at the time, but boy was it funny when they were telling it later. The roof incident was then followed with several other things later in the morning. Sissy & Shonie were sitting on a bench in the playground, and Sissy had just finished saying that she was having a bad day when a volleyball from the other side of the playground flew across the picnic table and hit her on the head. She then gets up and moves to the other side of the picnic table, and a few minutes later she gets up screaming because a dog just walked over and pee’d on her skirt! I was laughing so hard and crying when they were telling this story at dinner. Sissy said she went on a hike that afternoon and it started to look like ran, and she made the comment that this was the day she would get struck by lightening. Thankfully she was spared! This trip has been overwhelming in so many ways, with the poverty and needs all around us...I think God knew we needed a little laughter today!

Friday (Mar 7)

It was tough today saying goodbye to all the kids. This week has flown by, like we knew it would. We have been practicing songs with the different classes all week, and today they did a performance. It was so touching to see the kids really worshipping the Lord in song. In Haiti, music seems to be a big part of their culture so the kids love to learn new songs. In fact, they just belt it out...something you don't see with American kids. For the most part, our kids get nervous at the idea of singing in front of people whereas these kids just sing at the tops of their lungs with no insecurity or inhibitions. I wonder if our overstimulated and media obsessed culture breeds insecurity in our kids??

After school, they had a baptism in the ocean right outside the school. That was incredible to witness! In Haiti, many of the parents don't allow their children to be baptized. I'm not sure if it is the public proclamation they don't like or what - but I was glad that we were able to be there for the baptism. Here are a few pictures:

After lunch, we went downtown to the market. April took us to her local "Wal-mart" - a large warehouse with lots of vendors and all kinds of miscellaneous things. She told us not to touch anything, because if we touch it we buy it. That was very hard for me, being the touchy feely person that I am! I had to stick my hands in my pockets!! After visiting several little stores, we hopped in the back of the pickup truck and drove for about 20 minutes to a hospital called the House of Hope. It was a nice facility, for Haiti, and Jada even pointed out that they had actual landscaping - or at least an attempt, which is something you just don't see here. We visited the pediatric section for terminally ill children. We took candy with us and passed that out and just loved on the kids, holding them and talking to them. I was holding a little girl probably around 18 months old whose name was Nena. April told me that she came to the orphanage as a tiny baby with AIDS, but she had recently been tested again and it came back negative! She was a beautiful little girl and we found out later that one of the nurses was in the process of adopting her. After our visit to the hospital, we headed back to Sonlight in the back of the pickup. Chris commented that he felt like a walking mud pie by the time we got back. The dust here just cakes everything!

It is hard to believe that we are heading back home tomorrow. It has been an incredible week. I'm sure I will be processing for weeks all that God has shown and taught me.

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