(Kristi) As we approach the last days of our trip to Haiti, evening conversation has turned toward discussions around what we are being called to do - not just here, but at home too. We've been blessed by each other in so many ways, encouraging one another when we were down and reveling in the beauty of watching each other shine Jesus' light brightly in this world using our own God-given gifts. We have witnessed the beauty of living in community and of the support and strength that it brings.
Today we met a couple at the Haiti Deaf Academy, Meredith and Keith, who listened carefully to God's call. God had planted an ember in Meredith's heart early in her career, which turned into a flame after a recent visit to Haiti. This led to them serving as missionary directors, using their unique gifts to teach sign language to 50 children ages 5 - 15. In their current role, they provide loving care and housing for the children until the summer, when the children return to their families. Although there was not one, but two language barriers for us today (both Creole and sign), we found that our common language of play bridged the communication gap. We prepared lunch, prayed, played, shared Bible stories, sang, did crafts and filled the play yard with a melee of fun... like a couple of kids using Greg's face and head as a human canvas.
(Deb) One little boy who stole my heart was Fritz, a five year old who had moved to the Haiti Deaf Academy in September with no language skills whatsoever. Fritz cuddled right into my lap for story time and giggled joyfully while Pastor "Hurricane" Gary sprayed the kids with water. He drew a chalk picture for me of the tap-tap that we had arrived in and ventured off to a game of basketball with Bill as the human hoop - so he made EVERY basket. When it was time for us to leave, he wrapped his arms around my neck, squeezed me tight, and started to cry softly. Fritz will forever be in my heart.
(Becky) I met Choisenie, a blue-eyed deaf girl from Cite Soleil. When she arrived at the academy two years ago, she had no language. She was originally believed to be developmentally delayed, but was instead found to be deaf. She approached me right away to show me that our eyes matched, and together we searched for blue items to reinforce our shared eye color. After a few hours of play, including four-square (which I had to re-learn and then teach to Choisenie), we together selected a bracelet for me to purchase in the modest gift shop which was made by residents of a nearby deaf community. I will never forget this precious girl's beautiful face, her eyes, and our time together.
(Jennie) Today, I met Noahy. He is the only student at the academy that is truly an orphan. He was loving from the beginning. He followed me around, helped out with passing out of the sidewalk chalk, and especially enjoyed the face painting. He gave me a beautiful new "Groucho Marx" look. We had a long Minnesota good-bye, with hugs and tears by both of us, waving the "I love you" sign through the gates.