After another delicious breakfast we ventured out to do some shopping at Croix De Bouquet. For me, the ride to the village was very emotional. Reality had set in that for us this is only day two of seven but for the Haitians, this is how they live on a daily basis. The sight of the people sitting in shipping containers and two teenage boys pumping water from a well on the sidewalk hurt my heart. I thought to myself, “How can I go home after this?”
Croix De Bouquet consisted of a dozen or so concrete shops that made and sold metal art. The pieces of art ranged from bookmarks and crosses to complete bible verses and even Green Bay Packer logos (there’s several of us from Wisconsin, so represent). We got to see a few men hammering nails into the metal to make the intricate details. I had asked one of the men how long it took to make a 4x6 cross and he said “one day.” He was selling it for $15… to think of spending an entire day and making $15. As we looked through all the work, we were lead from one workshop to the next and to the next, greeted by the artists that were proudly showing off their work.
After shopping, we went to Rebuild Globally, a profit and non-profit organization. What the company does is used recycled items, (primarily rubber tires and inflatable tubes) to make beautiful handbags, shoes, jewelry, and more. The organization’s purpose is to teach Haitians how thrive in the work setting as well as provided jobs to Haitians.
The last missions for the day were either visiting The Home for Sick and Dying Babies or LeFare’s Orphanage. I was part of the group that went to the orphanage. We all felt pretty blessed when we got to ride in the tap-tap with nice cushioned seats. When we arrived to the orphanage, kids streamed out of the door to where we were waiting for them outside. A ten year old boy locked eyes with mine, took my arms, and wrapped them around him. We finger painted first and it was peaceful watching him intricately dip his finger into the paint, dot it to his paper, then reach his finger out to me so I could wipe it clean for his next move. The child in me starting painting so of course I painted my palm and each finger a different color then made a handprint on the paper. It was incredible seeing him start to copy me. He was a painting machine! We moved on to sidewalk chalk and we outlined each other. He was a boy of very little words but he was the definition of innocence. He would grab my hand to lead me, then look at me and give me the sweetest smile. We just sat on the dirt, his hand on my lap, and melted into each other watching everyone else play hop scotch. Like Angie had said, “Hello’s are easy, but goodbye’s are hard.”
A team of ten of us went to the Home for Sick and Dying Babies. As soon as we entered the building that housed the children, we could hear the sounds of crying babies. I walked into one of the rooms, and it had rows and rows of cribs; they were numbered and we were instructed to be sure to return the children to their numbered crib. As soon as we walked in, the little ones who could stand, stood up in their cribs and held out their arms.
We fed a meal to the children, a mixture of chicken-type broth with noodles, rice and potatoes in it – served in small metal bowls. The children were hungry and most of them ate their food quite quickly.
Several diapers needed changing. Each time I picked up a child, if a diaper change was needed, we’d head to the changing table. I felt like the Lord told me, “You are My hands helping to add physical comfort to this child.” It was a humbling experience to be able to love in such a small but profound way.
I was so impressed by the guys on our team! I saw Jesus in each of them as they held children, loved on them, played with them, and fed them. One of the guys even did his first-ever diaper change!
I felt like I wanted to hold each child and just love on them but there was no way to be able to hold each child. I picked up a little girl – I could only identify her as Crib #3 – and held her in my arms. I hugged her and sang “Jesus loves you, this I know.” Her dark, beautiful eyes gazed deeply into mine as she responded to my smile with a beautiful smile, and she responded to my hug with a loving snuggle. Then, it was time to put her down so I could love on another child, and the precious child in my arms started to cry and cling to me as I attempted to put her back in her crib. Big, big tears ran down her beautiful face and I thought surely my heart would break. With each subsequent child I held and needed to put down to hold and love another, the clinging and crying made me cry, and I felt my heart breaking a little more. As I thought about it and prayed over each of these little ones, the Lord reminded me that each piece of my heart that felt like it was breaking was a piece of my heart that will forever remain in Haiti. I think that I am not changing lives so much as that my life is being forever changed. God bless you, Haiti!