Tuesday, October 09, 2012

News from Haiti!

I don't have specific news from my family but our pastor and another team member has blogged, so I will share that with you.
{We did make it to the mountains yesterday--but I will save that for a different post.}
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From our pastor:

It's good to be back!  As we deplaned in Port au Prince, our team was immediately immersed in all of the sights, sounds, and smells that are unique to the country of Haiti.  We survived the chaos that is the airport baggage claim, fending off several extremely aggressive Haitians that wanted to "help" with our luggage, and emerged into the bright sunshine and stifling heat of the city.  We were exhausted but excited.  Our day began at 3 AM in the COE parking lot.  We loaded our 29 member team and 32 suitcases onto a big yellow school bus and away we went.  We survived one team member missing their wake up alarm and another having a close encounter with airport security over a rogue pocketknife before we were finally strapped in and ready to fly.  10 hours later we arrived in Haiti.

This is my 8th trip to this country and so I am finding myself paying more attention to the reactions of my team than to simply taking in the sights. It is fun to watch their expressions as they experience Haiti for the first time.  I am especially interested to see how my son Ethan processes all of this, I have been waiting a long time to do this trip with him and pray that it will impact him in the same way that it has impacted me.  You could see that the team didn't really know what to think as we loaded into a van and two tap-taps (Haitian taxi, usually a pickup with a covered bed full of benches to sit on) to head to the guest house where we are staying.  Our team got to experience the wonder of driving in Haiti.  This is a city of 8 million and I have only ever seen one stop light!  There seems to be only one rule on the road, the bigger vehicle wins. We pulled into the guest house about a half hour later and unloaded.  The guest house is within a compound that also has a church, a school, and other facilities for the community to use, including a water filtrations system that provides clean water for the surrounding area.  We got the usual welcome spiel, a little about culture, a warning not to drink water from the taps (you don't want to experience the consequences of forgetting that one, trust me), and a quick look at what the agenda for the week would be.  We had the option of going to church the next morning at 10 or at 6 AM. If we chose 6 we could also visit two other churches and still be home by 11. Since this is about experiencing Haitian culture and it is a culture that loves to worship, we decided to church hop.

We hit three churches, had communion twice, listened to three sermons in Creole, and sang about 20 songs that we couldn't understand.  It was awesome!  I remember the first time I experienced a Haitian church, for an American it is a humbling experience.  Here is a group of people who live in the poorest nation in the world.  Many are lucky to eat once a day, they sleep on the floors with as many as 10 to a room, and they have almost nothing in terms of possessions.  Could we worship in those circumstances?  They can and they do!  They cry out to God, they thank Him, and they praise Him, you don't need to understand Creole to see what God is doing in their hearts. 

After lunch we walked through the surrounding neighborhood.  The mission that we are working with will not allow us to wear shorts so we are all adjusting to the 95+ degree heat with high humidity and after about 30 seconds of anything we are always soaked with sweat.  On the walk we got to interact with many people using the one or two Creole phrases that we all know. Hello, how are you?  Bon swa, como ye?  The Haitians are extremely friendly and if you smile at them, they light up and smile in return. We had some bubbles that we were blowing for the little kids who love to see "Blancs" (white people). The kids are adorable and love to touch our hands and just be close to us, all of them except the one little boy that Michelle Reager scared who ran away crying in fright!

That's a quick synopsis of day one.  I found out two things as I sat down to write.  First, writing a blog is much tougher when you are leading a large group of people as opposed to my last trip with just Doug and one other.  I am going to try to find time but it may be tough to write as much.   Second, I may not be the best source of information this time.  The experience is amazing but I can't recapture what it was like to see and experience these things for the first time.  That's what you need to hear, a fresh perspective.  I may try to get some of the team members to write so that you can experience Haiti through their eyes as well.  We love you all and miss you!  Please continue to pray, the real work begins tomorrow.  See you next Sunday!

From another Team Member:   Monday news

We spent the day today in the classroom, seeing every 2nd through 6th grade class.  It felt, at the same time, completely familiar, and completely foreign. The classes here are extremely disciplined, with each child wearing a uniform, sitting straight in his/her seat, and paying very close attention to the teacher. There is no glass in the windows of the classrooms, so all day long, we can hear the children laughing, singing and reciting their lessons.  I can imagine this abundance of noise being a distraction to an American class, but not here.  It's a beautiful sound, and I absolutely love it.
But, as different as these classes are from their American counterparts, our children, whether American or Haitian, are so much the same.  As we taught in the third grade class, I could see how my own 3rd grader would fit right in. They're roughly the same size, the math lesson on the board is exactly what my son is working on, and there's still that row of boys in the lunchroom horsing around and knocking each other around.  There is still a shy kid in the front row who refuses to smile, no matter how hard you try to coax one out of him.  And there's still the sweet girl who scoots over to share her little seat, just to be close to you.
And, wow...to hear these children sing God's praises is a priceless gift. Whether singing in English or Creole, the Love for the Savior is evident.  Our team learned a song in Creole, a rowdy song, which they loved.  When we had time, we'd ask one or two to come up front and sing a song of his/her choice. At one point, a sweet little girl started singing.  As she came to the front, we were working on an art project, and the classroom was fairly noisy. But when she began...a hush immediately fell over the room, and the most angelic voice started, "Allelujah! Allelujah!  For the Lord God Almighty reigns!  Allelujah!  Holy!". I tell you, it was how I imagine Heaven, with pure voices filling the sky in awe and wonder of our God.  Our Good God. I still have goosebumps.  Hearing children -- our children, Haitian children, or children anywhere -- singing God's praise is a wondrous thing.
Our children are all the same. And God wants to know them, wants them to Know him.  Mark 10:14-15 tells us that Jesus said, "Let the little children come to me, and do not forbid them, for such is the kingdom of heaven.  I tell you the truth, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a child will never enter it." 

1 comment:

Angie said...

Love reading about their experiences. Thanks for sharing. Had to laugh at the lady that "scared" the little boy. Happened to me once in China. Poor boy had probably never seen such a pale woman before! :)