Friday, September 16, 2011

Day Three- Discovering Haiti

Sunday morning greeted us with the same rooster that had woken me up each morning since our arrival. I asked our host 'mom' if we could have rooster for dinner, but this was apparently not heeded. We got dressed and joined the children at the orphanage for their Sunday morning service. They had already begun by the time we arrived. It was such an awesome experience to see them praying fervently, singing beautifully, and preaching powerfully.
The younger children performed a song, then the older boys, followed by the older girls. Check it out... so awesome...

We also sang a few songs in English so as to contribute to the service. Two team members shared their testimonies while Dan translated. Monica shared how God has healed her, and Kristin shared how God has moved her and called her to a life much larger than her own.

After service, we quickly hopped into our caged truck for an hour + ride up the mountain side with the Baptist Mission being our destination for souvenir shopping and lunch. However, when we reached the top, the heavens opened and the rain came pouring down. Since virtually everything in Haiti happens outdoors, everything was closed. We turned around and traveled the hour back down the mountain with the cold and wet rain pouring in through the sides of the truck. We reminisced about the trip and chatted freely with one another until we reached a part of Port-Au-Prince we had not before seen.
The affects of the earthquake were everywhere. The palace was still sitting broken. Adults and children were running through the streets looking for a dry place to stay. Tents were set up everywhere- 600,000 people are still living like this because they have no home.

(Tent pictures taken by Julie Davis)

I spent the afternoon talking with Katia and learning about some of the children's stories... so heartbreaking. Kerby's mom dumped him in the toilet when he was 2 days old. Junior's dad is dead and his mom is mentally unstable. Children have seen their parents murdered and beheaded. This is the world they live in.
We were able to see the children one last time Sunday evening. They had a small presentation for us, where they sang good-bye to each team member in Creole. We bought them all ice cream- some of them had never had ice cream. Here is Jhonley's first experience with ice cream :)

What could be a better image with which to leave you?

Friday, September 9, 2011

Day Two- Extending a Hand

Dan, the President of Faith Mission International and one of our team members, had been made aware of a specific orphanage in Port-Au-Prince. We spent the morning visiting with them and learning about their predicament.
The man who ran the orphanage was a pastor, and he had accumulated 30 children before the earthquake in 2010. The earthquake destroyed their facilities, so they were living out of tents and buildings provided by US AID. The tents slept 6 to 7 children each, and they had one main building for eating, schooling, worshiping... everything.
The irony of all of this was their location. A wealthy relative was allowing the pastor to keep the orphans on his property... in the back yard. The house was large, even for American standards. I wouldn't be surprised if it had 10 bedrooms. The man lives in the US so the house is usually unoccupied. Unfortunately, this man has now decided that he no longer wants the orphans on his property and has told them they must leave ASAP. This pastor doesn't know what to do; they have no where to go.
Righteous anger fills me when I think about the large, empty house that could be sheltering children who have lost so much, but instead they are asked to leave the back yard.

We brought the kids sandwiches and juice, as we didn't know how much they had and wanted to bless them. We sang songs for them like "This is the Day" and "Hallelujah/Praise Ye the Lord." They also sang for us, but I can't tell you the names of those songs! We then took some instruments and passed them out and played with them. They followed directions for loud and soft, but were having so much fun they really didn't want to play slowly!
It was great to be able to be a part of building trust between the American mission teams and the Haitian people. Music is so powerful!

We went back to Gift of God orphanage after lunch and Jonas had brought his guitar! I was able to play and sing "Lean on Me" and the children sang along as they have been learning this song. We also sang "This Little Light of Mine" and simply did worship with drums and shakers. Eventually, we put the instruments away and one sweet little girl just had so much music in her so continued to drum on the bench. I don't think 5 year olds have rhythm like this in America...

Later that evening, I was told the story of Smith and Katia, the couple who housed us and run the orphanage. They were young when they met, fell in love, and got married. Katia was the only Christian in her family, so she was shunned. She never felt loved until God gave her Smith.
Smith and Katia have one son, who goes to school in Tampa, FL. Katia shared with me that she has had 6 miscarriages, but then she said "But God gave me 50 babies!" referring to the orphans. What an amazing woman.
Smith and Katia were kidnapped and held for ransom at one point. Their abductors believed they had connections to American money. When Smith and Katia were thrown into their holding cell, Katia's heart stopped. They pulled her back out and took her to the hospital. Smith didn't know if she was dead or alive. Assuming he was going to die, Smith spent his time witnessing to his captors; one of whom accepted Christ, and the other whom was killed shortly after. Meanwhile, Katia is at the hospital, and a friend that happened to be a nurse working their smuggled her out and helped her escape. Somehow Smith's family paid the ransom for his freedom, and the two were reunited.
Stuff like this only happens in movies, right? How can two people I know that love the Lord and serve him daily deal with this? How blessed are we that we don't often experience horrors like this.

August 26th, Meeting the Children

Despite the hurricane weather, the Haiti team made it into the country safe and on time with the exception of two members from Nashville who flew in Friday morning. We organized our donations and instruments, and slept well Thursday night.
Everyone was excited on Friday morning to pile into the back of a caged truck and drive the short three blocks from the mission house to the orphanage. When we pulled into the yard, 50 children began yelling, screaming, and running towards the vehicle in which we were caged. They were so excited that the team had arrived. They hugged each member as we climbed out of the truck. After passing out name tags and trying out our French Creole, we set to work on various stations for the kids. Myself and Monica, of course, did music, while other team members did sports, crafts, English, bird house building, etc. Monica and I had discussed and agreed that we wanted to see the teenagers first, so we met the 13-15 year olds. Dan, one of the leaders, agreed that this would be most beneficial for them.
Let me tell you, giving Haitians rhythm instruments is like giving a fish water. They needed no direction or guidance. We didn't have to say anything in Creole or English. They just went to 'play.'

The adult was our translator, Jonas. He was also a musician. We played together for a while, allowing the music to be our conversation. We did improvisation with drums and other rhythm instruments just to get to know each other. We were able to drum our names, favorite foods, favorite colors, and favorite animals. The teenagers were very focused and were able to follow physical cues from the therapists.
We implemented a musical game that allowed each child to talk about their feelings. A ball was tossed around to music, and when the music stopped, the child with the ball removed a piece of tape from the ball. This tape had a feeling on it. We talked about what made them feel that way (happy, sad, proud, shy, thankful, etc) and then played that feeling with the instruments. At one point, we all went around the circle and said what we were thankful for. One boy said he was thankful when other people send him money to take care of him (he has a sponsor). One girl said she was thankful for nothing... it broke my heart.
The second group we got was the 8 to 12 year olds. They were loud, energetic, rambunctious... It was fun. It was much less focused, but it was so enjoyable. They were able to cooperate musically with one another in their playing, and they followed musical directions. They did a lot of exploring and turn taking. I enjoyed playing with them immensely.

What a morning! What a joy these children bring to the lives of those attempting to share joy with them. We left for lunch and we were then blessed with an amazing opportunity to visit the land that was just purchased a few days before by Global Orphan Hope to build a new orphanage. They are taking three construction teams down in the next three months, and hope to have everything up and running by June of 2012. Both Mike and Sue, the leaders of this project, have children with special needs, so they have a heart and a desire to care for the children of Haiti with special needs. What a blessing to be able to meet them!

We returned to Gift of God Orphanage and spent the afternoon with free interactions. Monica did one-on-one singing and I (Amy) played with the kids, drew with sidewalk chalk, interacted with an English lesson, and loved on children. Monica showed the children photos of her family, and by the end of the day, most children had one. Monica, Wade, and their two children are on the bedroom walls of a Haitian Orphanage.

We parted around 5pm, as that is when visiting hours end at the orphanage, and went back to the mission house for dinner and a time of reflection. God is so good!