Our final day here in Haiti and we are all thinking about what it is we want to remember. This is exactly what I blogged about on our final day here last August and it is exactly what I need again tonight.
Wow! What a wonderful week with a wonderful team. I am so incredibly happy that I continue to be consumed with emotions while I am serving. As we left the Haiti airport, I was so happy to hear that familiar sound of the tap tap....I loved it! As we follow our water truck into Cite Soleil, I listen in anticipation for the children to start chanting "Hey You, Hey You, Hey You", you can then look out the back of the tap tap and see them come running after us, still chanting. Running as fast as they can and their arms are stretched just waiting for us to step out and pick them up. I LOVE grabbing the little kids holding and loving them. Because I knew what to expect, I was able to watch new members come off the truck and was able to witness their first experience - how amazing! I will always remember the pier that we walk out onto - it's significance. I love signing and dancing with the children there.
Another favorite experience and one that I want to remember is also a very hard one....our second water truck day and our final stop this trip to Cite Soleil....Alex....a 12 year old boy. He stole my heart and I am afraid a piece of it will remain there until I return and can find him. Until you realize how old a child is, you don't fully realize the effects of malnutrition over time. If I can digress for a moment, this became apparent to me this summer as I watched the Haitian Initiative Soccer Team in Blaine playing for the Schwann's Cup. The boys from Haiti were playing a team from Mankato - all the same age range. What became very apparent to me was the size difference. The boys from Haiti were a head shorter than the boys from Mankato....it became apparent to me in that very moment what the long term effects of malnutrition looked like. Going back to Alex....he seemed to be "watching out" for our team members. As we would help the women and children carry their very heavy buckets full of water, Alex would run after team members and tell us we had gone far enough. I believe this was for our protection. He would tell us to set the bucket down and go back to the water truck. Alex spoke pretty good English so we could communicate just a bit. I learned he is not able to go to school. I also learned his age, Alex is 12....Alex is NO taller than my 7yo boys - my heart broke in that very moment. Alex saw me crying and quickly went to get one of our interpreters to check on me....I was fine, just broken hearted. We did not get a picture of Alex, but he is etched in my mind forever.
Another very memorable (hard) moment was General Hospital. This is a county run hospital that truly is for the poorest of the poor. There were many sick children there, the bright spot in our visit was our interpreter, Emmanuel - he brought his guitar and sang at the bedside of a very sick child for a good portion of our visit. Beauty beyond belief and one I will want to remember.
Visiting the Elders is an absolute favorite day of mine. I was able to witness a team member have nearly the same experience I had last year on my 1st visit with an elder - moved beyond words, again so very beautiful! A highlight from this day, again, is the singing we do with our interpreters and also witnessing the respect the Haitian people have for their elders. This experience fills my heart beyond measure - incredible!
The visit to the Mass Grave is always a favorite of mine....being retold the story of that day, the earthquake that created mass destruction. I, again, feel blessed to have been able to walk around that area and climb the mountain to the crosses (last year). Now there is a wall around the area and we are not allow in. It is still very powerful and evokes many emotions. Very heartbreaking!
We were able to visit the Haitian Initiative in Site Soleil - something I was looking forward to on this trip. The kids weren't there that day, but it didn't matter. We got to meet one of the coaches who came to MN last month with the boys to play in Blaine. We also got to see the field that they play/practice on - all rubble. Could you imagine our children learning to play that way? WOW!
On Saturday we took an orphanage to WaHoo Bay to swim - it was simply awesome. We all had so much fun together and the children's smiles were such a blessing.
Today was our "team day", we did not serve. It was a fun day of worship at Grace Village - with amazing music and a wonderful sermon about Daniel and the Lion's Den. From there we had a drive through downtown Port-Au-Prince and were able to see where some of the damage occurred from the earthquake in 2010. There is lots of rebuilding going on, but still looked pretty devastated, at least to me. We drove up the mountain and stopped along the way to do some shopping and just spend time together as a group.
I am, of course, looking forward to seeing Dana and the kids....but I feel no where near ready to be done with Haiti. I am so thankful for this experience with this team. Two other very, very favorite memories that I will treasure is having one of our leaders be able to experience this journey with her father and one of her sisters. I am desperate to share this experience with Dana or my dad....I hope that can one day happen. The last one I will mention is a boy named Gerno....he is an 18 year old boy from Grace Village. He is in their transition program due to his age. He stayed in our guesthouse with us for most of the week. He is working to (I think) become a translator. He came with us a few days and helped out. He is such a sweet boy who shared just a tiny glimps into his life that I wonder about. Where did he come from, what was his life before Grace Village, what will happen to him once he is done there. He ate meals with us, played the guitar and sang for us, prayed with us - we grew to love him! We were able to say a proper goodbye today after church. A picture of him is included below.
Thank you for all of your prayers, support, thoughts and well wishes during this journey.