This is my first trip to Haiti, and my first time writing the Haiti newsletter… but I understand I should start out with this even though I don’t know what it means;)…
I U E
It is Wednesday evening 8:30 PM at Hope House. We just finished our evening devotional. Each night has been a good time of sharing. Tonight we spent time in worship and prayer. Most of the team is now preparing for classes as I write… or helping with Paper Mache! Poor Stacey… it is VERY difficult to make Paper Mache in this HUMIDITY 🙂 Each night the Paper Mache projects have needed to be worked on.
And… it is raining……….again!!! Since this is my first trip to Haiti, I didn’t realize that rain this many days in a row in the evening is not what most of the team is used to. And… it is very green, much more than I expected, and more than many have seen in past trips. We have seen some crops growing taller each day as we head up the very bumpy road to the Village of Hope School.
Today, we had our 5:30 AM breakfast as we have had the past few days. We headed to the school at 6:30 AM, with classes beginning at 8 AM. I have been amazed with how much is happening on the streets when we are driving that early. There is so much to see, and it is such an adventure riding in the back of a pick-up truck with our team of 14 plus 6-7 translators.
Today I got to stand in the front, behind right behind the cab. Patrick, the photographer on our trip, usually stands there to get the bst pictures. (i think he said today he has taken over 1,000).
Anyway, I was able to see so much as we drove up to the school. By standing up I could see over all the walls that are around all the houses. Sometimes you would see a nice house behind the wall, sometimes you would see a tent, sometimes a collapsed building. Some people walking on the street have big baskets on their head, selling food… some are walking in school uniforms, some people are in business casual on their cell phones… and a few kids are wearing a shirt, and that is it.
I have been trying to think of a word to describe Haiti, and although I don’t think one word can really do it justice, Lennie used the word “RANDOM” today. I have been thinking about it, and maybe that could describe it. You see tent cities and then in front of them, there is one business… a barber/salon…?… outside a tent city. It has been pointed out to me that a lot of the businesses on the streets are barber shops or lottery shops.
You drive through the town and see two buildings standing and the one in between is completely collapsed. You see kids on the side of the road in their school uniforms, waiting for a ride. And you see their clothes are very clean and proper, as they stand next to piles of garbage and debris.
You see older children at the school with cell phones… at a school where they just recently put in toilets, the past few years. You see a Lexus on the road and a bicycle, and many who walk for hours to get to school. To me it is a lot of “random” things that don’t make sense. But again, this is my first visit and I am still processing it all, and still quite overwhelmed!!
Sorry, this is going to be long! There is SO much to share!
In our music classes today, Liz and I were playing the ‘cup game’… and rhythm game. The kids enjoyed it, but then spontaneously started up their own rhythm and we had a mini jam session with red solo cups on the chapel floor! And then, as we collected cups, I said something like “we are going to…” and a child broke out into the song “We are the World”. Pretty soon, we were all singing “We are the World”, in English, with the kids doing all the extra echo parts. It was SO FUN and totally random! (I wish I remembered both verses!)
The next class, I handed the guitar to one of the boys I found out plays guitar and he played many beautiful songs. He began to play the Haiti National Anthem, so I asked Jorel (our translator who is a fantastic musician himself) what the song was and if they would sing it. The class then sang for us… and he explained the words. What an amazing moment for Liz and I. ( I think Patrick was able to video some of it)
After class, we quickly loaded up the truck and headed to Delmas, on a sightseeing trip along with a stop at the Epidore for lunch (cheeseburgers! and coke!) and a grocery store. Debbie wanted us to get to see some of the damage and the United States Embassy, a UN camp, etc.
It was a LONG bumpy truck ride… maybe 2 hours (I promise I put on sunscreen Ian, but it didn’t quite work today:( )
We saw amazing things… many tent cities, hotels that were collapsed, some places where walls were cracked, and many UN trucks. Near the Embassy the roads were so smooth… it was a nice break from the bumps!
Debbie had shared that around her area by Hope House, it was about one out of every four homes that were damaged or collapsed. But as you got closer to the city, as we were today, it is three out of four homes destroyed. And we did see that… people living in tents where their home was.
There was one stretch of land with a fence around it and beautiful paintings that were for sale, hanging all along the fence. Behind these BEAUTIFUL works of art were hundreds and hundreds of tents. It was such a strange sight to me.
We got back many hours later and helped unload and organize boxes for the school, and we went through a bunch of boxes of shoe donations. The others were… you guessed it… paper mache-ing (if that is a word)
Debbie named our team for the week. I guess she comes up with names for all the teams that visit. Ours is “Madam Sarah’s Magpies plus two”. We are a team of 12 women and two men (the plus two). Debbie and Joell, the boy that helps her out at the house, were discussing our “team”. He said we reminded him of “Madam Sarah’s”…which is a Haitian term that refers to beautiful birds that chirp constantly… so I guess they are saying that we don’t stop talking. (I have to say, I may not personally fit this description but it does fit our team:)
I talked to John–I know a guy–John. He works at the Hope House, helping with everything. He shared about where he was when the earthquake hit and where his son was. He was next to a gas station. The building collapsed right next to him, his truck was a little bit damaged. His 12-year-old son wasn’t with him, but he was safe once John located him.
But their family lost 17, including some cousins that his son was close to… what a traumatic experience that they went through… and still deal with. He shared so much more, but I will just share one AMAZING thing he said. He said that maybe the earthquake was a reminder from God to his people to live more ‘simply’. He quoted a French proverb about “Nature not liking emptiness”… and from what I understood he was saying that many are living empty lives… trying to have the homes, cars, cell phones… and the earthquake was a reminder to him to live more simply. This man is from HAITI and lives in HAITI… and he thinks they should live more simply… hmmm. Random comment but something I needed to hear today!
God bless and thank you for your prayers!!!
The Haiti team