Today we had the absolute honor to visit and serve Marie who is a well-loved member of the elder program by all who meet her. She is expected to be around 104 years old and is so completely full of joy that you can't help but smile from inside your soul to just be in her presence! The team washed and lotioned her feet and hands and gave her a new coat of nail polish that matched her joyful smile. All the while, Marie sat with her hands raised, eyes closed, and smiled as she praised the Lord in Creole! Pastor Jacqui held her hand as tears flowed and the team worshiped and praised together. This was such a humbling moment for me...as I imagine the hard hard life this woman has lived for 104 YEARS, and then watching the passion with which she still praises God for all that she has! I will never understand all the devastation here, but I am constantly in awe of the faith and grateful hearts the beautiful Haitians have...in spite of it all.
We also had the joy of visiting Aloude who has been blessed with 16 grandchildren, all of whom she is raising on her own because her children have either passed away or are unable to care for them. She, along with many of us, shed many tears while listening to her granddaughter share her beautiful voice singing praise about our merciful Lord in Creole. We were also able to paint the nails of three of her granddaughters...and their smiles were priceless as they showed their Grandmother how beautiful their nails were!
The team struggled to see that Edmund, our third elder visit, was not feeling well and was only up for a short visit. However, return goers were excited to see his new home and to see his brother visiting and helping to care for him while he is ill. It is never easy to watch elderly grow ill, but it was especially difficult to see this typically joyful man struggling to get out of bed or eating.
After our visits, we toured Grace Village....another place that fills us with such hope and joy for the future. Healing Haiti and the vision created so many years ago has become a reality and the children are so well cared for there. I am constantly in awe of the new ways in which Healing Haiti has found to serve and create self-sustainability for the Haitian people, from the aquaponics gardens to the brick ovens, bakery and community church. Grace Academy is providing education to over 400 children and the clinic was busy with patients, both of which are open to the community of Titanyen. What an amazing blessing Grace Village is for this wonderful community!
We completed our day of service by visiting the Mass Grave Site...another extremely humbling place of sadness and loss. All those who were present during the 2010 earthquake that forever changed Haiti have their own story, and we were blessed to hear Jonas, our interpreter's account of such a tragic day. He estimated that around 300,000-400,000 people died on January 12, 2010 in a massive earthquake that completely shook the land of Haiti. It is impossible for me to fathom this experience or understand the magnitude and numbers of friends & family that were lost, nor to understand how those that lived through this tragedy were able to cope and find hope for their future. Yet...the faith of these people remains!
Although devestation and poverty have struck this country with a vengeance, we have a lot we can learn about finding JOY in the life we have and all that we have been blessed with from the smiles and sparkle that still remains in the Haitian people. I needed this reminder more than I even like to admit, but today has renewed my JOY and GRATITUDE for God's abundant blessings in my life!