Wednesday, August 8, 2012

How was your trip to Haiti? (Day 1)

As many of you know, I had the privilege to visit the wonderful country of Haiti. The trip took place in July, but I’m so far behind on my blogging, I’m just now getting around to it.

It was an amazing experience, and I hope that one day you take some time to serve God in another country. Haiti is an amazing place and the people there are beautiful, inside and out.

I went with one of my good friends, Madison. She and I met up with about 18 other folks from the United States with an organization called 410 Bridge.

Here we are…about to board our plane out of New Orleans for Miami, then Port Au Prince, Haiti.


Madison and I met up with about 8 or 10 other 410 Bridge folks in Miami and we made the flight to Haiti together.

I don’t have any pictures of the Haiti airport, but man that is a crazy place. They basically unloaded the luggage in the middle of the baggage claim area. No, they did not bother putting any of it on the belts (that were running), they just tossed it in the middle of the room. Picture it, hundreds of travelers, pushing and shoving, trying to get their bags. We managed to find all of ours, thank God!

After collecting our luggage, we had to wait a couple of hours for the rest of our team to arrive in Port Au Prince. Here is a shot of us, just waiting.

After finally leaving the airport, we headed over for a short visit with the people in LaPiste (a small community right outside of Port Au Prince).

The reason for our trip was to work with the Deaf Community in Leveque, but most of the folks currently living in Leveque previously lived in LaPiste, so it was nice see what their living conditions were prior to moving to Leveque. The people in LaPiste are living in temporary homes (built by the Red Cross or other Non-Profit Organizations). I’m calling these temporary, because there is no way they would hold up in a hurricane, but they are homes, because (as you will see below…at the very bottom) lots of folks in Port Au Prince are still in tent cities, so this is a huge step up from that.

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See the “adult'” in this picture? His names is Carlin and you will see him several more times. He speaks both Creole and English and the kids LOVE him. He also had a radio…which was great in helping us teach the kids in Leveque to dance. Just wait! Lots more blogging to be done.

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As you can see, you do not have to speak the same language or be the same age as these kids to have a good time. We play games and had a short tour of the community. After saying our farewells, and promising to return later in the week, we loaded back up on the bus and headed to the community of Cabaret where the Guesthouse is located.

Here is a picture of a tent city in Port Au Prince. You can see why it’s important that we teach the Haitians how to care for themselves, get an education, run a business, or just basic life skills, so that they can move out of these tent cities. There are acres and acres of these little tent cities. Sad sight. The truth is that simply building a home for them (similar to the ones in LaPiste) is not enough. This is the reason I chose to travel with 410 Bridge. They do not do relief (meaning they aren’t building homes, passing out shoes, or giving temporary relief to a long term problem). Instead they work with the leaders in the community (Haitians), to teach them how to work together to build stronger communities for the future.

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Now this next part is for the die hard readers. Each day, a member of our team would write a blog about the daily happenings. These blogs were sent by e-mail to our family members. With very little access to phone/email our families were grateful for the little bits of information they could get while we were in Haiti. The first two days were written by Lindsey. She did an amazing job (well really everyone did…don’t worry…I have one in the mix too!). Anyway, I wanted to share her writings for day 1 as well.

July 13, 2012

  Shattered chaos surrounded us as we rode out of Port-Au-Prince to the Cabaret guesthouse. In the midst of the city’s thick smog, a pouring sea of searching eyes framed by cocoa colored faces passed by me. I had been wondering for awhile before departing for the trip, “Lord, how do I already want to return Haiti when I haven’t even been to there yet?” And I see it now. Where else can Christ be found? He is seen in the masses of the needy pouring out of rickety buildings, faint ones lying in the dirt, children crouching in muddy alleyways. Time and time again, Christ identifies himself most with the poor; not the wealthy, rulers or even the in-betweens. Just beyond the city in La Piste, our team made a brief stop at the first deaf community group. A group of shy, but welcoming young deaf adults introduced themselves in ASL and their sly humor and intelligence was a glimpse of the people we would meet the next day in Leveque. The city’s grime snakes around this community, so the deaf are in the challenging process of moving to Leveque where living is sustainable and life prospers.  
  We were tiny (albeit exhausted!) flecks on God’s coattail of glory as we coasted out of La Piste in a bus. The island scenery held startling juxtapositions: water glittered on one side while rugged mountains with an air of mystery loomed on the other. The air was slowly become fresher, offering a piece of hope in the breeze.    
After settling in our secure guest home, the storms are rolling in and my heart is fluttering for tomorrow. For another day of absorbing ourselves in Haiti and the beginning of building relationships with Leveque. For another day of God turning all of us upside down to shake every mundane bit of thing out of our pockets. For another day of learning about the difficulties they face here, yet having the wide open belief that Christ will deliver them through their struggles.

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