After sleeping like a baby despite the lack of air conditioning, I awoke around 5am on Sunday, August 3, 2014 when the generators turned off. It turns out this would be a regular occurrence over the next week as the generators are turned off each morning between 4:30 am and 5 am. It didn’t take long for the sweat beads to start so the cold shower was a blessing! This was our first full day in Haiti and I had no idea what to expect. We all dressed for church and then headed to breakfast….cold cereal, peanut butter and jelly were the choices for the day. I made the mistake of only eating cold cereal that morning, but learned quickly that eating proteins to have the strength for the day was important. My cereal wore off quickly in church and I became pretty weak so I made a note to eat peanut butter at the next meal! I experienced my first worship service in Haiti and it was a wonderful experience. Americans and Haitians all intermingled and all worshipping our one God, our Lord and Savior! The songs were all familiar but all sung in Creole, but the Holy Spirit moves in every language! The message was delivered in English by the MOH Pastor and translated in Creole by the Haitian pastor. A simple message about the Gospel and salvation offered by our God reached every person regardless of race.
After church we walked the long incline back up to the Guest House and kitchen where we would eat our meals. It took me about 4 breaks in the shade, but I made it back. Sunday afternoon was filled with a drive through Source Matelas and a tour of the villages of Bercy and Leveque. Bercy is MOH’s northern campus located on the water. There is a beautiful school located there (purple buildings in pictures below) and construction of a pastoral training center is expected to be completed by September. Test plots for ag products are also located at Bercy. The village of Leveque was our last stop of the day. Team Awesome made MOH history as our bus was the first bus to conquer a very steep hill…it was kind of like a roller coaster ride and the return trip down was a real thriller, but I was thankful because it meant I didn’t have to walk up & down that steep hill! By this time I was tiring and starting to wonder, “Lord, what have I gotten myself into?” “Am I in over my head?” I didn’t want to worry anyone so I didn’t mention these concerns to anyone at the time, but there was lots of conversation going on between me and God! When Meredith took her first trip to Haiti in March of 2013, she helped paint a church that had been built in Leveque. As we toured the village, Meredith got to see the fruits of her labor in the precious yellow church with the steeple in the air…a completed and fully operational church for the villagers living in Leveque! God is good:)
As others walked through Leveque, I had tired and reached my limit of walking so I found a playground and just sat. At first I thought I was missing out on everything, but then two little boys, probably about ages 3 & 6, came up to play. The older boy tried to conquer the monkey bars. He gently climbed around where I was sitting and then tried over and over to master them. It was precious to watch his determination and I couldn’t help but cheer him on, encourage him and give him a “high 5” each time he went one bar further than his last attempt. The little boy favored the yellow slide which was also near where I sat. He would climb up, kick off his shoes by me, give me a big smile and then off he went down the slide, each time flashing a big smile at me. It warmed my heart to just sit there. I cheered for both of these boys, high-5’d them each time, and soon others came to play on the equipment with others in our mission group. How I enjoyed cheering each child on! It reminded me of the days of encouraging Meredith to master swimming! It’s funny how encouraging children and the happiness and confidence it builds in the children crosses all nations, all races. I wrote in my journal that night–“I thank God that he gave me the ability to encourage and cheer children on—high 5’s make a difference!”
We arrived back at the MOH compound around 4 pm. Several of us couldn’t wait for a chance to meet and play with the orphans at MOH so we made our way to their houses. In order to give their mommies and the orphans some stability and privacy, you can only visit them between 4 & 6 each afternoon so we wanted to make good use of our time. Three little boys immediately came out to play; they were precious and cute as could be:) Then a little girl came out carrying a “Curious George” book and she began to conduct class requiring that we repeat “monkey” after her while pointing at Curious George. She definitely controlled her classroom and started singing “Jesus loves me” in English. Before we knew it, she would point at you and require you to stand holding the Curious George book and sing Jesus loves me. I’m guessing we sang that song at least 10 times. While we were in “school” with the little girl, Meredith & Amanda were busy playing with the little boys. They were rambunctious little ones and loved having someone to play with!
Our time with the orphans ended and we made our way back to the eating area where we feasted on a Haitian meal of fried chicken, slaw, rice, a delicious Haitian red sauce poured over the chicken, and fried plantains. It was yummy! The older girls in the orphanage prepared the meal as a way to learn skills and earn money to transition out of the orphanage. Each of us paid $5 to experience this delicious meal…it was WELL worth it! After dinner we had an all English worship service and learned the story of Mission of Hope Haiti, from its beginning to its vision to transform every man, woman, and child in Haiti! The most powerful message of that service was the story of Jean Marc, a young Haitian that lost his mother when he was only 10, was taken into the care of MOH at his mother’s request, now works for MOH, and was present at the church service. Jean Marc is a real life example of the life transformation happening at MOH! Now at age 18, Jean Marc’s love for God, his desire to share God’s love with his fellow Haitian children, and his leadership would be clearly evident as the week’s events began to unfold in the happenings at MOH during our time in Haiti!
Bonswa & God’s blessings!