Wednesday, April 3, 2019

Trash to Treasure

From Radiant Life Team - Michigan and Minnesota

April 2, 2019

Yesterday, our Michiganders flew from Miami to meet our Minnesotans who picked us up at the airport and whisked us away in the taptap (think modified box truck where the box is actually a locked cage that allows airflow when we get over 15 mph which is rare) to the guesthouse where the Michiganders found their rooms, dropped their luggage, changed into shorts and t-shirts, lathered up with sunscreen and back out the door to our first stop of the day: Peace Cycle (where Michigan and Minnesota met people from Maine!)

What is Peace Cycle? Think recycle. In Haiti, a common way for people to get drinking water is through waterbags, little sealed pouches of clean drinking water. Haitians go through and consume approximately 8 million of these waterbags PER DAY!!!!!!  After drinking their water what do they do with the bag? Throw it on the ground of course. We didn’t really notice them until it was brought to our attention and then, while walking around, you saw that they were everywhere. Peace Cycle takes that trash/litter and processes it so that it is usable and then uses it to make something beautiful. Sort of what God does with us when we are saved through grace and belief in Jesus Christ!  Peace Cycle takes the thrown out, discarded and used waterbag and washes it clean, cuts it into uniform rectangles, joins them in piles of 4 and irons them into a new and stronger piece of plastic and then sews those pieces into something useful like bags, place mats, kids aprons, passport covers, wine bottle totes, games, etc.  All items tell you how many waterbags it took to make the item being purchased. Let me tell you, what once was weak and flimsy and discarded as not useful anymore to the person who consumed it is, through the above process, turned into something not only sturdy and useful, but when you get the chance to see the beautiful people rehabbing this trash, their beauty is reflected in the new product created. Speaking for myself, before I turned to God for saving and redemption, I was like that used and discarded waterbag. Then people picked me up and, through Godś amazing grace, I was washed clean, trimmed, pressed and put together with other discarded and rehabbed water bags to form something greater than my old self; something greater than my new self alone; something beautiful in a community of other discarded and rehabbed trash. WOW!

After Peace Cycle, it was off to Papillon and the Apparent Project. This place was started by a lady who intended on coming to Haiti to adopt a child, found a child in an orphanage that she wanted to adopt, but then figured out that the child was not an orphan in the sense that we understand where the parents are no longer alive, but simply a child that the living parents could not afford to keep. Needless to say, the adoption did not go through. Rather, God used this experience and this woman to birth an idea whereby the Haitian people created items like jewelry, coffee mugs, etc from clay, as well as from things like cereal boxes (again discarded items of no use to anyone and intended for the trash heap), all the while providing income for the Haitian people who create these items so that they can provide for their families. On average, Haitians who are employed earn approximately $5 per day. Through Papillon and the Apparent Project, the Haitians who create their items earn $12 to $15 per day. In addition, their employees receive free child care and inexpensive schooling for their own kids on-site. We were again privileged to get a behind the scene looks at the Haitian people at work. In a day, one person can roll 1,300 beads from large cereal boxes or 900 microbeads or 1,000 regular beads. Another person can make a necklace every 15 minutes or earrings every 2 minutes or a bracelet every 5 minutes. And this is not a sweatshop atmosphere in a big factory. It is people seated at work benches talking with one another and casually, but intentionally getting their work done at the same time. And talk about beautiful items that are created. Whether it is necklaces and bracelets from the clay or cardboard bead or coffee mugs that are from the master and junior Haitian potters from the slab of clay to the potters wheel to the kiln to the sales floor. This stuff is great quality. Again, a metaphor for us going from sinner to saved!

Our last stop of the day was to the LaPhere orphanage. Our group was all set with blow up beach balls, balloons, games and a Bible lesson. The children had just returned from school and were all inside, but slowly started to emerge from their house. This was not their first experience with missionaries coming to visit and play, but they were still shy nonetheless. We were told that this was a sign of being well adjusted and well cared for. It didn’t take long for them to warm up to us when we invited them over to us. Hugs were shared and then they started taking us by the hand to play by kicking the beach balls or jump rope with them or play hopscotch or 4 square. It wasn’t long before we had all worked up quite a good sweat. Our Healing Haiti interpreter suggested that we take a break so that none of the M&Mś (Michigan and Minnesota missionaries) melted. A bible lesson then ensued, followed by the Haitian children singing and dancing for us and games that we played with them.

When we returned, some of us showered before dinner and then we shared a dinner of chicken and rice. Most of us went to a nearby saltwater pool located at the Elite Hotel to cool off and community. After getting back to the guesthouse from the pool, it was time for some team time. Our prayer for the week is What is God trying to teach me? It is not a mistake that we are here and we may all be here for a different reason. But we trust that for each of us, God is intending to teach us something through this experience and it up to us to allow God to work in us and through us with an open heart and mind and a palms up attitude.   - Brad

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