Friday, May 20, 2016

Unexpected Blessings

Our day started with the sun. We walked to the Church on the Rock and experienced something none of us have ever seen before. In the best way possible. You could feel God's presence before we even walked through the door. The church was the size of an airplane hangar and there were people of all ages walking up and down the pews raising their hands and praising the Lord. Pastors took turns leading worship and preaching while a worship band played along. Before we were even settled into our row an elderly woman came and greeted each of us with a hug and smile so warm our lack of common language didn't matter. As the pastor asked each person to pray for their neighbor several of our team members were brought to tears. We walked back to the guesthouse through the streets during morning rush hour to meet up with the rest of our team for a nourishing breakfast to head out for what would turn out to be a most amazing day.

We were sad to leave two of our team members behind who weren't feeling well but armed them with prayers and headed to Carrefour Home for Sick and Dying Adults. To get to our destination we had to drive an hour through winding streets in thick traffic in our tap tap. During the drive we saw cows, goats, chickens, a pig tied to the front of a bus, a man on the back of a motorcycle holding onto a car windshield, three guys breaking into a car. As we moved toward the city center our surroundings got nicer, the streets got wider and we saw signs of civilization that we have not seen to this point including stop signs and street lights. As quickly as we were able to appreciate the beauty of the downtown we were plunged back into an overwhelming tapestry of outdoor street vendors, whizzing motorcycles, and piles of garbage on the side of the road. Streets barely wide enough for one car serve as two lane games of chicken with blaring horns and close calls. At last we caught a glimpse of the ocean quickly followed by a petroleum plant and then our turn off for the home we were visiting.

The bright blue buildings and crisp vegetation felt more like a college campus than a home for sick and dying adults. There was a large green space, an outdoor chapel and nuns in full habit bustling about their business. We walked up to the second floor and entered the first room of patients. We were given a plastic bin of lotion and nail polish. We all spread out throughout the room with instructions to massage the women, paint their nails and pray for them. Our two Haitian interpreters joined us to play guitar, lead worship and help us communicate with the patients. It's safe to say many in our group were stretched beyond their comfort zone. Slowly it became apparent that it was not our individual hands at work but the collective hands of Jesus sharing love with each and every patient. We moved from one room to the next singing with the women, painting their nails and massaging them with lotion. With hand gestures and simple words and phrases we were able to share meaningful time with each group even though our time was short with them. Our team has proved this week that we will come together to complete the work God has put in front of us. Today was no exception. We were all looking out for each other and jumping in to make sure everyone who needed our attention got it. I think it is safe to say that none of us who were there that day will ever be the same again. There were three interactions today we would like to share individually:

Elle and Bailey: We came on this trip with a heart for children and babies. We loved every minute of the water truck day, the orphanage visit and every opportunity to hold and care for little ones. When our leaders announced we would be going to the home for sick and dying adults we did not expect to get much out of it. When we entered the room full of sick patients we chose a frail woman and began to rub her with lotion and we quickly realized that she didn't have the strength to sit up. She fell over Bailey while Elle rubbed her back and then fell back against Elle as Bailey massaged her arms and trunk. Both of us were overcome with emotion as Emmanual played the perfect worshp song at the perfect time every time. That is when the tears began rolling down our faces as we realized our visit could be the last time she experiences physical touch and prayer before going to meet the Lord.

Katie: I started working with my prayer partner Kelly but looked up and saw that one woman at the back corner of the room did not have anyone with her yet. I quickly walked over and she unbuttoned her gown and pointed to her stomach. I started rubbing her with lotion as she sproadically spasmed with pain and grimaced and moaned and writhed on her bed. Only by the grace of God was I able to sing to her, pray for her and cry with her in her time of need. As our interpreters signaled that it was time to move on I had to say goodbye as she curled into a fetal position. My only hope is that my ten minute visit brought a small measure of comfort in her difficult journey.

Kelly: As I walked into the home I was terrified. I didn't want to be there. I didn't want to rub lotion on strangers and I was worried about how I would be able to communicate with them. We entered the first room and we buddied up to get started. I sat with Jen and we took a collective deep breath and got the lotion ready. My hand was trembling as I reached for the ladies hand. My eyes filled with tears and I felt overwhelmed by the magnitude of what we were there to do. Her hand was trembling too as I started with lotion on her hands and arms. As the worship music began to play I observed myself almost from a distance and truly felt my hands being guided by Jesus. He led me to patients that I could handle working with and helped me communicate with each of them in any way that I could.

After we left Carrefour we headed out to a history museum and learned about how Haiti was formed and their history up to today. It was a very interesting opportunity to learn about the country we have all fallen in love with over the last several days. From there is was on to Laloo, an orphanage in Port au Prince. We arrived and were greeted by 30 smiling children. We shared the Easter story with them, sang songs, did a couple crafts and gave them a snack. The kids enjoyed playing with us and laughing at our attempts to speak their language.

On our way back to the guesthouse we stopped at the grocery store and had the opportunity to buy some Haitian goodies to bring home. Our team is now fully outfitted with hot sauce and spicy peanut butter.

We pulled into the driveway just before 4pm and were greeted by the smiling faces of our two sick team members who were both feeling much better. We enjoyed a delicious meal of spaghetti and garlic toast while talking over the details of our day. After dinner several people headed to the pool while others took the opportunity to relax and unwind from the day.

Pit time was especially impactful as we shared our word for the day. The floodgates of emotion opened as we shared the deep and profound ways we felt the prescense of God at Carrefour.  We spent time in extended worship as a way to continue processing all the sights and sounds of the day.

We were reflecting today how refreshing it has been to disconnect from technology. Screen time is almost nonexistent here. There is no TV and Wifi is sketchy at best which means we have had a lot of quality time to really get to know each other and spend time reflecting on our time here. It will be a challenge to get back into the routine of checking emails and following a schedule in just a few short days.

As we wind down for the night we're looking forward to a second water truck day and an opportunity to visit Apparent Project and Rebuild Global.

Kelly & Katie