DAY 3 ON THE GROUND IN HAITI. Moms & daughters team from Minnesota.
We’re 72 hours into our missions trip with Healing Haiti. Fifteen females and thus far no drama among team members? That’s an incredible streak. Anyone who lives with teenage girls should know we’ve got a good thing going right now.
This morning, we saw one of the best-run orphanages in town. (Mind you, this is my first trip to Haiti, so my reference point is limited to the last three days.) Even so, the children were happy, well-fed, organized, obedient, and clean. I’m not sure there’s an exact quote from Scripture that says “cleanliness is next to godliness”, but it sure rings true in this case. God’s presence is felt in this school/orphanage/church/mission field.
Most of the team members spent time with a dozen different kids, floating between playing soccer, making bead bracelets, skipping rope or coloring. The girls were resourceful; the moms were troopers. (We do have over-achievers in this group; I’m not one of them, but if you’re married to one – you already know that!) I was saved by a 16-year old boy who wanted to improve his English-speaking skills, so we spent 30 minutes working on all kinds of common English phrases. Like calling “when the land shook” an earthquake. Like learning his dad was killed “when the land shook” and he still misses his father terribly. Like learning his mom was sent to the Dominican Republic to get a job so she could send money back for her kids. Which was why this 16-year old boy and his six siblings landed at the orphanage. I asked him if he knew Jesus. “YES, I pray to Jesus every day and love him for giving my mom a job in the Dominican Republic.” Well, now we had something cooking.
Our midday stop included an inside peek at a serious effort to create a sustainable business and employ a dozen women in the process. Papillon is the name of the little shop & factory. The jobs at Papillon give men and women dignity -- and a salary: the pottery & jewelry made are of good quality and very marketable. The messaging is faith-based and filled with hope. Hats off to everyone behind this effort!
We split up into two groups on the final stop of the day. (Leave it to Minnesotans to try to “cover everything”, these over-achieving Midwesterners.) Six team members went to a quiet orphanage, and although spread thin, found time to connect with each kid, whether special-needs, ornery, happy or shy.
The other ten stopped at Home for Sick & Dying Babies. The name of the place tells you everything you need to know. A few of us (me) cried the first twenty minutes until we got our bearings, then we went to work loving on these kids. “No phones, no pictures, period”: the posted signs made it clear these little babies weren’t to be exploited.
I have to hand it to Healing Haiti for their clear policy of not bringing cell phones or any electronics into these locations. Yes, we don’t need selfies posted on Instagram. More practically, though, I was struggling with the heat and desperately wanted to know how much time we had left at that location. Temps were hovering at 98 and the heat-index was well-above 105 degrees. I wanted my phone to see what time it was. I was also irritated at myself for being so miserably hot and letting it affect my experience – how effective I was (or wasn’t). “The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak;” even the great Apostle Paul experienced this. Dear Lord, this afternoon was blazing hot!
5pm did finally come and we were free to go. On our way out, we stumbled upon the reason we were absolutely supposed to stay there until closing time for visitors: the priest was administering Last Rites to Maria, a little girl making her journey from death to life. The ten of us surrounded the crib and prayed with the priest and the nuns, as Maria was sent to her heavenly home with dignity, love, and, finally, no more pain. “Yea, though I walk through the valley of death, I will fear no evil, for thou art with me. Thy rod and thy staff, they comfort me.”