Monday, August 13, 2012

How was your trip to Haiti? (Day 5)

 

 

I was actually selected as blog writer for the group for the 5th day. How exciting!

 

Instead of posting the blog at the bottom, I’m just going to put it here at the top, then do the pictures after that.

 

 

July 17, 2012

Today was another wonderful day in Haiti. Last night might have been my best night of sleep yet. God blessed us with a cold front (or just a cool breeze). After a night of unbearable heat and humidity, the cool breeze coming from our window was like a gift sent straight from God. Of course, our room could have been cooler last night because my roommate, Madison, stole another fan from the dining room. Our room officially had 4 fans for 4 girls. We had to use our sheet covers because it got so cold (and by cold, I mean it may have dropped below 90 degrees in our room).

 

At breakfast, I felt like everyone was in a little better mood because of the cooler night. Of course, it could have been because our wonderful cooks, Keket, Maude, and Keket, made some very yummy banana pancakes. These ladies can cook!

 

After breakfast, we had a short devotional from Robert. He gave us a coach’s halftime speech and reminded us that our time in Haiti is not over, so we should still be working hard for the Lord. It is truly amazing how God has taught each of us so many things about His wonderful grace. I’ll explain more about our learning experiences a little later, for now, I’m just going to tell you about our day.

 

It all started with a trip to the Mission of Hope complex to drop off Jack. He is our resident team handyman and he’s used his talents to help Kyle do some much needed tune-up work on his truck. I’m sure Jack never imagined that his talents would be used in this manner in Haiti, but it just goes to show that God has a bigger plan for all those talents He has graciously given to us.

 

Once our group made it to Leveque, we did some shopping! The deaf community of Leveque is a very talented group of people. They showed us beautiful necklaces made from handmade beads, hand painted pictures of the landscape and homes in Leveque and some very fancy crocheted bags and scarves. If you are lucky, your family members may have purchased you one of these treasured items. They are such hot items that they sold so fast so my family members will just have to do without. Sorry guys. I guess that means I have to come back to Haiti, right?

 

After we bought up almost everything the community had to sell, we moved our group to the pavilion in the middle of the village and pulled out our “Bag of Tricks.” Margaret has given the big red bag full of fun and games the name “Bag of Tricks.” A few members of our group read a short story about the Armor of God, and then we led the kids in an amazing painting activity. They were each given a small shield (made from poster board), a paintbrush, and some paint. These kids are very creative! We had paint everywhere! Paint made it on our clothes, their clothes, the floor, the benches, the walls, and even the ceiling (you’d have to have been there to have fully appreciated the mess). When you have about 40-50 kids with paint and brushes, it’s a bit chaotic, but it was such a blessing to see the stunning artwork. I love messes, so this activity was my favorite of the week.

 

We took the paint and the brushes and put them all in a big trash bag to be washed later and that bag is still missing. I do hope we find it soon because I want to paint again! It was so much fun!

 

After painting, the kids separated into smaller groups. We painted fingernails, danced, sang, played games, and just enjoyed each other’s company. I’d like to remind you that most of our group from America does not speak Creole. Did that stop us? No! This week, I have discovered that love can be shown in any language. Kids don’t need to hear our voices to know that they are loved. They can see it clearly in our actions. The hugs, smiles, laughter, songs, dances, and games spoke louder than any words we could have found. Again, this is just another example of how God uses any talent we may have for His glory. Alex probably never thought her dancing skills would have played such an important role in Talisa’s life, but she made one little girl very happy today. Madison and Melanie probably thought their patience and nail painting expertise would never be used in Haiti, but they were wrong. They blessed many little girls (and their moms) today. Annie and Lindsey shared experiences with a member of the deaf community in Leveque. Sharing a similar background allowed them to connect with a member of this community in ways that no one else in our group could.

 

After playing for a couple of hours, we loaded back up on the bus and headed to “Gwo Papa Poul” or Big Papa’s Chicken. They served real Coke, chicken and rice. While waiting for our food, Annie told the best deaf joke I’ve ever heard, Kyle shared one of his stories about his time in the jungle and we thoroughly enjoyed some down time with our group. Of course, the food was wonderful! They served my favorite food…onions! Seriously, no joking, I do love onions!

 

Next on our agenda: the weekly soccer game. We met up with some fellow Americans who were volunteering with the Mission of Hope. The Haitians like to play music while they play soccer, so that led to lots of dancing. At one point, we looked up and the soccer players had come to the sidelines (mid game) to watch the dancing! (And by “us” I mean a bunch of rhythm-challenged Americans, with a few on the team who made up for with their amazing dance skills). As for the final score of the game, maybe they were tied. I honestly don’t know if they even kept score. I should have been watching the game more and dancing less, so I could have reported the correct score to our friends and family. Sorry about my lack of knowledge of soccer. I’ll try better next time (notice how I’m implying I’m coming back…that’s for my husband’s benefit, because he’s coming next year!).

 

After a long game in the hot, Haitian sun, we circled up, Americans and Haitians, deaf and hearing, and sang “How Great is Our God.” The award for Most Memorable Moment of the Trip would go to that experience. Imagine it: about 100 people in a huge circle singing and signing. It was beautiful!

 

Pastor William prayed for us after our song. He is a very passionate man, and I love to watch him sign. He expresses himself so well, that most of the time I don’t need a translator to hear what he has to say. It is so obvious that he loves God and the people of Haiti. They are truly blessed to have his as their Pastor.

 

It was our last day in Leveque, so there were hugs for everyone. Most of us in our group have only known the people of Leveque for a couple of days, but the relationships we built in that short time are so strong. I know I will miss little Emeson very much. He reminded me so much of an older version of my own son.

 

For dinner, our lovely cooks made fried chicken and mashed potatoes. It was so very yummy! For dessert, we passed around a bag of Hershey’s Drops, my mother-in-law sent with me. For future reference, don’t pack chocolate when you go to Haiti. It melts, because it is hot here. So we really just passed around a bag of mushy chocolate, but because we were so desperate for chocolate, we didn’t care.

 

After dinner, we gathered in the dining area for a wrap-up or debriefing meeting. Jack asked each of us to share something God has shown us during our time in Haiti. Jill was impressed that the kids wrote “Jesus” on their shields earlier in the day. Just goes to show how much they are learning. Eunique mentioned that there is unity everywhere; between the children and volunteers at the pavilion, the leaders in the deaf community, both deaf and hearing, Americans and Haitians at the soccer game. Chelsea mentioned that she found a lady in Leveque wearing a shirt from her church back in Georgia, and they had a conversation about it (note: Chelsea does not know sign language or Creole, and the lady did not know English…but they could communicate anyway). Melanie and Margaret saw a man, who lost use of his legs at some point in his life, pulling himself down the dangerous, hot roads of Haiti. Talk about a man on a mission. He was determined to get where he was going, and nothing could stop him.

 

While we might have come to Haiti to share God’s love with the people of Haiti, I think they may have taught us more about God than we could ever teach them in a lifetime. I praise God for the opportunity to come to Haiti, and I hope that one day I can return.

 

Here are some pictures of us doing the painting project with the kids. What a mess!!

 

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Madison and Melanie gave the girls manicures! They LOVED this!

 

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The other children played games. The first one was similar to simon says, but you say something (in creole, so I didn’t understand it), then the kids jump over a line. If they jump at the wrong time, they are out. Last one left is the winner.

 

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Then we brought out the basketball goal. This game was great! The boys loved it!!

 

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Next…lunch at Gwo Papa Poul. We had the “Hatian Meal” which is some yummy chicken, rice and friend plantains.

 

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Here are a few pictures from the soccer game. One word to describe this game, HOT! There was no shade, no breeze, no relief, but we didn’t care. It was a great game!

 

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While some of the boys played soccer, we danced. They had a huge sound system setup. If you know me, then you know my love for dancing. When this nice Haitian man asked me to dance, I couldn't refuse. Sorry Jace.

 

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As much fun as it was dancing with the Haitian Man, this was my favorite dance partner for the week…Emeson. I do love this kid.

 

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My Emeson. I miss him so much!

 

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