Day 5 was a day of work. We planted fruit trees, mostly cherry trees, at various homes among the village. The provide fruit (obviously), shade and sometimes a commodity. When we asked the homeowners how they would use the trees, they all said that they would feed themselves, but also their neighbors. The Haitian community that I have been witness to are some of the most generous people I have ever met. They have so little and yet live so largely and open handed compared to our country that has so much yet clenches their fists so tightly.
Our day was filled with a lot of digging in high temperatures. I did not take a lot of pictures that day, as I was getting my hands dirty but here are a few:
While many people can look at what we did was to simply plant trees, it was much more than that. When we planted a tree we explained that the tree, while providing multiple things for them, it should also serve as a reminder that a tree cannot bear fruit unless it is firmly planted in the ground. Just like ourselves and God. If we are not firmly planted in God, we cannot bear the fruit of His love. And like all trees and vines, we need to be pruned and watered and given much light.
After lunch we headed back to the village for a kids camp. It is basically like a one day VBS. There is a lot of singing and dancing, a short skit and a quick talk about the skit and its meaning. The kids then get a free meal and a craft. We were in this small school room, with resembles more like a lean to, with 100 kids. Here are some pictures of it all.
Peter and his posse.
Rrrrrro Rrrrrrro one of our Village Champions!
Katie getting her groove on.
Patty showing Ro Ro how it is done!
“And that kids is how you take a selfie!”
After the kids camp we went back to the compound and had some down time. We ventured over to Madame Cheap Cheap’s market stall. Madame Cheap Cheap is actually a whole family that sells wares and souvenirs and they are all related. However, they each have their own section and they try to out sell each other. It is quite comical. There is the matriarch, the original Madame Cheap Cheap, seen here:
Then there is her daughter, her son and all her grandchildren.
Michael was given the name “Big Booty Cheap Cheap” . Here he is getting his braids that they promised would make him look like Justin Bieber…..
The moon is creeping……
Kelly, our worship leader and jam-master K, also known as the “preacher!”
One of my favorite pictures, Port-Au-Prince at night.
The morning of our 4th day in Haiti we were taken on a tour of the Mission of Hope complex. Here are some photos of the complex, as well as a few of some more Strategic Village Time.
The morning light.
Souvenirs from nature.
Basketball court that doubles as a movie theater on campus!
All of these images are part of the orphanage. Mission of Hope does not do international adoptions, as they want the children to be raised in Haiti to become leaders of the next generation.
The next images are of some of the school buildings.
Mike Two Two
The interior of the church.
Paula trying to wash clothes. I did say trying. A for effort!
After hearing about Michael’s broken washing machine, the locals gave him a lesson on doing it himself. Not really, we all know Michael would just go buy new clothes.
This family ran a small market out of their home and this little girl was taking care of the customers and taking their money. I am thinking her math skills are superior to my own!
Heading in for lunch! The rest of our day was an adventure that will be continued in the next post!
Normally on these mission trips the last day is reserved for a “down day”. Meaning a day of rest and bringing one down from the service “high” that occurs while going on one of these trips. Its meant to help you start the re-acclimation process for when you return home. However, Haiti’s presidential elections were taking place during our trip and it has historically been a violent time. So our schedule was altered and we headed to our down time a mere 32 hours after we arrived. Here are quite a few pictures of our time at Wahoo Bay Resort.
Our view behind us, evoking the “Lava Song”.
Michael Two Two.
Like the goat, can you find the crab?
Paula and Patty!
Glass bottom kayak and we never tipped over. Thank you Michael for not wearing your Speedo.
How serious were they about the elections? UN and armed military everywhere. They are not messing around.
Just some traffic in the market. Not Kroger’s parking lot.
Double rainbow to wrap up the day!
And probably one of my best shots of the moon I have ever gotten. Now I need a telephoto lens……
Among the poverty there is so much beauty.
Michael with a couple of the kids.
This is Billy, Patty’s sponsored child (not really a child anymore!). We spent some time at Billy’s and this is where I met Woud Lyi. (pictured below) Woud Lyi, pronounced ‘Ooood Lee”, is a soft-spoken boy who was incredibly sweet. Sometimes you meet people and you just connect. I was not quite sure if it was just me that felt the connection and after that day, I felt pretty doubtful that I would see him again. When we returned to Mission of Hope, I asked the various Village Champions if they knew who he was, but no one did.
And this is Jerry, Billy’s brother and Woud Lyi’s friend.
After lunch we ventured back to the village to continue our SVT. Again, we encountered all different kinds of people, but ultimately there was a common denominator of struggles. One women who had the most vacant looking eyes, has been married for 30 years and has only ever wanted a child. She asked that we pray over her for God to grant her a child. I’ve heard this story from many American women as well. The irony of so many orphans wanting to be loved and a person who so desperately wants to love but cannot get beyond the giving life to a human being when they can give A life to a human being is not lost on me. I have looked at that right here in the states. I will not pretend to understand, because I cannot, the deep longing both have. I just wish one could see how much they could give each other. And on that somber note, find the goat.
One of our team members sponsors a Mission of Hope student and had some gifts to bring to him and his brothers, so after we had visited some of the homes in the afternoon, we stopped at his home to deliver the gifts. Of course the kids being done with school for the day, came out of the woodwork. And if a camera was seen, photos were demanded. Here are some of the kids and maybe a chicken.
There is more from this day, but you will just have to wait until tomorrow!
I really thought I could just wrap up each day into a single blog post, but I think that it just won’t be possible. There is too many things happening to surmise it all in one simple post. Let’s start with a sunrise, shall we?
Our first official day on mission begins with SVT training, also known as Strategic Village Training. Essentially we find out what Mission of Hope is looking for when we head into the villages, specific data collection while also making a connection with the villagers that we meet. Our team is broken up in two groups, with 3 of our members heading off to the mobile medical unit. Each group is headed up by one MOH intern, a translator and a Village Champion. A Village Champion is a person that lives in the community, most likely grew up in the community and has a deep sense of love for their community. They are the eyes and the ears and the heart of the village and EVERYONE loves the Village Champions, us included!
The first person we meet is a woman named Margaret. She has 3 or 4 children, all with different fathers and all of the fathers have passed away. She does not work. As we continued to talk with her, we discovered that she used to go to church and sing in the choir. With a little coaxing we actually got her to sing for us and it was really lovely. When she spoke of her life there was a deep sadness about her, but when she sang, her whole face changed. Margaret’s story is not unlike many of the stories we heard from the women in the villages. If you are the praying type, let your prayer be that these women, and all women would come to know their worth and their value and their purpose. I think we all know the great role women play in all successful societies and for these women to recognize this in themselves and empower themselves and each other would create a ripple effect of change.
Here is a picture of Margaret and some of our group.
(Margaret is in the middle with the striped shirt. One of our Village Champions is on the far right, his name is Ro-Ro. More on him later!)
While some of the stories sounded like Margaret’s, there were stories that sounded like some of our own. The woman who had been married for 30 years and asked that we would pray that she could conceive a child. Prayers for health, protection, their children and a deeper connection and relationship with God. The last one hits hard. How often do we pray for that? Usually we are screaming for it in the depths of our struggles and suffering but otherwise just coast along with an occasional “high five to Jesus” when things are going smooth. Let’s chew on that for a bit…..
But not all is suffering and despair. We met a young lady who made a few bad choices when she was younger but was able to bring herself out of it and into a better place. She lived with her mother and her cousin. Her home showed us a quaint space where she had planted a flower garden, she had potted plants all around, a dog named Copper and let us not forget a kitten. A kitten ! There was no garbage lying around. She had pride in her home and in herself. And it was good and so evident by the gorgeous smile on her face.
With Abdias, another of our Village Champions!
After a morning of SVT’s, we headed back for lunch. We ride back and forth in a vehicle called a “Cantor”. Also known as a pick up truck with a cage on top. Like this:
Looks harmless enough, but what you can’t see is the hole in the floor, or the INSANE traffic. There are no traffic laws, just guidelines that no one follows. I will stop here and pick up after lunch.