These our words of the day for Thursday, our fourth day in Haiti. Half-way through learning about this holy place in-person and from the holy people here.
We spent the day in the city Titanyen.
In the a.m., we split up into separate tap-taps and visited nine elders' homes. Serving activities included supplying water packets, juice, apple sauce, as well as, washing and massaging their feet, hands and shoulders. We also enjoyed singing to them and with them, one group accompanied with two ukeleles and the other with a guitar. Each session concluded with a personalized prayer based on the needs they shared. Our new elder friends included Guerline, Jude Jean Pual, Lauremise, Pierre, Viergelie, Lindor, Ofhane, Fleuriciane, and Marie. All were grateful and so were we.
After leaving the elders, we visited Mission of Hope which is one of Feed My Starving Children's largest distribution partners globally. They send out 91,000 meals a day through their education channels and various partners. Derek from Texas, a young member of the church advancement division, provided us with a tour of the office and the warehouse where we saw 2.2 million FMSC meals stored on palletes ready to feed hungry bodies. It was so awesome to see! To put that into perspective for our family and friends back home, Mission of Hope feeds a Duluth-size group of people. Other partners we saw in the warehouse included Tom's shoes, World Vision, 3M, and other manapak-like providers. Derek also shared the other ministries that Mission of Hope fuels like standing up schools and hosting teams and individuals of volunteers to serve the mission. They are also building a university and tech/trade school on the campus. Pretty cool stuff.
Our serving day ended with of Grace Village, Healing's Haiti's footprint in Haiti. For those that have in come previous year, they were able to see the progress that has been made in just a short period of time. They've replaced their aquaponics (tilapia pond) with a vegetable and herb garden. With the support Ann Spinner and JAMF (blessed shout-outs to Minnesota!), we were able to walk through their a library of books and technologies. Healing Haiti has also added onto the school and is now serving 350 students from sixteen years of grades and added subjects including Spanish and music. We were blessed with a surprising rendition of The Star Spangled Banner as we passed through the hallway. We may have had a couple music lovers join in. ;-) We also toured the new bakery on the grounds and witnessed the making of one of their popular items - street bread. Street break is sold to Haitians to resell to the community.
One special moment at Grace Village was the introduction of Dave Katzke to a child that his family sponsors; her name is Jessica. At first she was timid, not surprising as an interpreter was necessary and something being tall. Jessica warmed up to Dave quickly. They were able to spend an hour together, conversing about their homes, their commonalities and geography.
We served many today but we were also served in so many ways.
One literal we are served each evening is with a warm meal made by two lovely Haitian women. Their names are Ulta and Phaunis. Tonight we feasted on traditional Haitian foods. A savory vegetable stew spooned over rice and beans, green squash, beef meatballs, fried plaintains, steamed broccoli with onion and, the group fav, fried chicken legs accompanied by hot sauce which seems a crowd pleasing condiment for every meal.
As we do every evening, our day concluded with a small group discussion on the upstairs patio under the sky's stars. Tonight was uniquely supported by the background noise of Haitians worshiping at a church in the neighborhood. Today's reading, Matthew 14:13-21, or as many refer to as "Loaves and Fishes", laid the foreground for a connecting conversation about those we are dependent on to be free to come here (likely all of you reading this blog) and what we are willing to give up to be more of the hands and feet that God calls us to be.