Day 4 of our mission to Haiti is wrapping up, and while what we did today might not have looked like work, it was just as exhausting, heartbreaking, and powerful as anything else we could have done.
We started the morning by visiting the Village of Hope, a community that has emerged after the 2011 earthquake made up of Sukup Safe-ty Homes. These homes are essentially grain bins that are ventilated to stay cool, but they are earthquake and hurricane proof. This community has been built by the great people of Northwest Iowa, from churches and mission teams like ours who have seen the need and jumped in to help.
We got to the Village of Hope, and as soon as we got out of the car, we were greeted by a group of boys who took us by the hand through the community. My guide was Watson, a 12 year old boy who acted just like my boys, kind of goofy, always wanting my camera or sunglasses, but also always stuck to my side like glue. There at the Village we met a 120 year old woman – she came out to sit in the gazebo in the middle of a cluster of homes, just so she could say “bonjou.” I sat beside her for a moment to say “Bondye bene ou” (God bless you) before I was escorted off by my gang of boys back to the church at the entrance to the Village. There, with the help of Jimmy the Village Director, I shared a quick message about how God loves each of us, and how we are here in Haiti to share that love – then we handed out candy. Maybe they’ll remember the message when they remember the sweets.
From the Village of Hope we went to the Consolation Center, to pick up some supplies for yet another orphanage we were going to visit. 6 months ago, the leaders of Global Compassion were made aware of an orphanage were children were greatly malnourished, so they decided to find it and see how they could help. What they found was heartbreaking. When the pastor who led the orphanage died, his wife wanted to keep it running, but all of the funding had dried up. She was suffering along with the children. Shelters, can you call them that, did not have completed roofs or walls, the kids were sleeping on the floor.
Today we got to visit the Center for Help and deliver some beds. Bunk beds had been built, the mattresses came, and we brought 20 sets of sheets for the beds, so when we got there we were able to set up 10 bunks, with the plan that 10 more would be coming soon. We were instantly surrounded with love, hugs, smiles; we were able to bring joy and comfort to these suffering children. Our hearts were breaking, but we kept smiling, wanting to share the joy of Christ with these beautiful children every chance we could get.
When we got back to the hotel where we are staying, we quickly changed and prepared for an invasion. The forty seven girls from the Consolation Center came to swim in the pool. It was two hours of sheer madness, joy, and fun. There wasn’t a second that went by that of us guys on the team didn’t have one, or more, of the girls on our backs in the pool. When we were done, we were exhausted, blessed, and all just a little overwhelmed.
Today we didn’t build anything. By Iowa, by U.S. standards, it was a pretty unproductive day. But in Kingdom standards, I think we were part of the Master Builder’s plans. The foundation has been laid in Jesus Christ our Savior, today we were building in the love of God for these beautiful and hurting people. I honestly cannot think of a better way to have spent this day.
BTW – as a little side note, I have attempted to immerse myself in the Haiti culture today. I’m still learning and practicing my Creole, but that will take more time than I have here. No, today I traveled like a Haitian. When we transported the beds to the orphanage, I rode standing on the back bumper of the Land Rover, holding onto the luggage rack on the top. When we went into town for dinner tonight, and on the way back, I rode on the very top – it was a great way to travel. Just don’t tell my wife….