Today was our first full day in Haiti. I have to say our team is extraordinary. There are twelve of us on Team 2: Lauren, Tiff, Corrine, Pam, Sean, Gina, Nikki, Julie, Joni, Jaci, Julie and myself. We also have an amazing Healing Haiti team member Jaci which brings us to 13. In addition, the staff here at Healing Haiti has been so gracious - Amazing breakfast, delicious dinners, clean house and friendly smiles.
For some of us this is our first trip here, myself included. For others, they have been here multiple times. Regardless, today brought a range of experiences and emotions for our entire team. We started our day with a great breakfast and a devotional time. After that we loaded up in the Tap Tap (bus) and went to The Home for Sick and Dying children. I was anxious as we approached, not knowing what I would see or feel. We were welcomed by the sisters and quickly put to work. Our team dispersed into every corner of the home and sounds of laughter, playing, crying and soothing filled the air. A number of the gals and I headed to the infant side of the home to care for some of the more sicker babies at The Home for Sick and Dying Children. It was busy! There were roughly 40 babies in need of care – changing diapers, clothes, blankets, but more importantly hugs, kisses, caring words, prayers and smiles. Before going, I was anxious about whether I would be able to be of any help – I didn’t want to be just a spectator. That fear quickly disseminated as big brown eyes looked up at me, and all I had to do was reach out. Instantly babies were in my arms and the feeling of just wanting to be loved was so evident. We were there for about 2.5 hours, I lost track of how many diapers or bedding I changed. What I do remember though, is looking down at the nametags on the baby’s ankles, and being surprised at how light the sweet baby in my arms was, compared to how old they were. I remember Henri, 14 months, a sweet smile, and a warm snuggle. The overwhelming awareness that love is the same in any language. That Jesus loves us so much, and that this week we get the opportunity to show that overwhelming love to so many children.
After The Home for Sick and Dying Children we came back to the guesthouse for a quick lunch and loaded up to go to Dari’s Orphanage, which is an a home for children with disabilities. When I started the day, I was certain The Home for Sick and Dying Children would be the most emotional part of the day, but walking into Dari’s I hit this wall of feelings. There were about 12 children at the home who were sitting there eating lunch. We were welcomed with warm hellos and the team went and sat amongst the kids. I found my way over to a little boy, who later I would learn his name was Andres. Andres had on a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles shirt and the biggest smile. That was all. He patted the ground and I sat down next to him. He leaned over and kissed my cheek and said, “How are you”… my heart was filled with emotion and I fought the tears. I didn’t know much French, and he didn’t know much English, but I kissed his cheek and we became pals. We finished lunch with the kids, and the highlight of the afternoon was loading them up into wheelchairs for a “Race”. Andres looked at me, pointed to the wheel chair and said “Beep, beep!” and we were off! The smiles, laughter and “vroooom vroooooom” filled the air… the sun was hot, and we all laughed as we ran around. It was something so simple, but every single one of us loved it. When our races were over, one of the Haitian men picked up a guitar and played “10,000 Reasons”. We all joined it. Something about lifting our voices in worship brought a peace and closeness to this group. After that song, the man started playing a song that I didn’t know, but Andres did. The simple line said, “God is so good to me”. This sweet little arm, reached around my back and just started patting it as he sang in my ear, “God is so good to me.” Tears started rolling down my face instantly. I couldn’t process it all in that moment, but it was extraordinary and is a gift this trip has given me. Here we were, in the middle of a very poor country, he lives at an orphanage, only has a shirt on, he has disabilities and yet he can pat my back and sing “God is so good to me.” My heart cracked and I just held him close. God is so good to us, and sometimes in our everyday we get so wrapped up in our to-do lists and our own needs and wants. Andres, thank you.
After Dari’s we went to the Apparent project, which is a manufacturing and distributing company that was started by a woman from the United States who wanted to adopt a Haitian child. She came here to adopt that child, but quickly realized that child had parents who loved them and wanted to keep them, but had no financial means to support their child. This was the founding idea behind the Apparent project, which now employs 191 Haitians, has an on sight daycare and is a thriving business. We got a tour of the facilities, met the staff, and had the opportunity to go shopping in the gift shop. It was a great way to end the day.
We came home and had a delicious dinner the Haitian Ladies had prepared. After dinner we went outside to enjoy the comfortable night time temperatures and we circled up to discuss the day. Each person had to pick one word to describe their day. Some of the words the group chose were: Full, Emotion, Strength, Thankful. My word was Andres.