Friday, June 10, 2016

Dan Leslie - Team Texas - June 10, 2016 (Day 5)

Day 5 - Tent Church, Home for the Sick & Dying Adults & La Loo Orphanages

Word of the Day: Appreciated

For now I am only posting pictures, exhaustion has set in and tomorrow is water truck day so I need to save my energy for hugs and carrying buckets of water...

Ok, another day has passed and I definitely expended a lot of energy today hugging little people and carrying buckets.

We started our day with Tent Church at 6:00am and it was already packed. Unlike in the United States, people walk around the church and pray out loud for over an hour prior to the beginning of the sermon. Merci Jezi!

It was a bit ironic that we saw a van that said "ME age", it only seemed fitting because back home we live in a very egocentric and selfish society. There was the Middle we are in the ME age. I think it was just a little reminder that we are called to care for others no matter how much the world advances around us, people still need each other.

*No pictures were taken at the Home for Sick and Dying Adults to respect their privacy.

The Home for Sick and Dying Adults taught us all a lesson in humbleness. We split into gender specific groups and rubbed lotion all over the bodies of many bed-bound adults and elderly. One of the sisters greeted us in one of the rooms and thanked us for coming, I responded "thank you for having us", she said "they needed you". Many women shamelessly removed their hospital gowns to bask in some one-on-one human touch. It seems so simple. Serving others doesn't have to be an elaborate gesture. Mark in the guest house previously shared that we can either share our time, our talents or our treasures with people. In the States we are generally good about giving our treasure but we are often selfish with our time and our talents.

Our final stop was at La Loo orphanage. We played games, shared some scripture and gave the children plates of beautiful drawn flowers, from some 3rd graders in the United States, reminding them that in order to grow into beautiful flowers (people) they must surround themselves with good things, good friends and kind words. I hope we all remember that lesson for ourselves once we return home. Its funny how its so easy to teach someone else something but forget to put it into practice for yourself.

"I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth." (3 John 1:4)

Dan Leslie - Team Texas - June 9, 2016 (Day 4)

Day 4 - Grace Village, Visiting Elders & Mass Graves

"So be truly glad. There is wonderful joy ahead, even though you must endure many trials for a little while. These trials will show that your faith is genuine. It is being tested as fire tests and purifies gold - though your faith is far more precious than mere gold. So when your faith remains strong through many trials, it will bring you much praise and glory and honor on the day when Jesus Christ is revealed to the whole world." (1 Peter 1:6-7)

Word of the Day: Trapped & Defeated    

Grace Village is the gold of Titanyen. It is an mini-oasis inside a place typically characterized by widespread despair with only small pockets of hope. Grace Village is home to 75 kids who live in family style homes and 28 in transient care. Over 300 additional children are served by a school on site, the entire community has the option to come to the feeding center and the clinic. Within the same area there is a church and bakery that is in the process of opening. Grace Village is a place where children are loved, dreams are encouraged and a community is strengthened by making family a common concept. We were given a tour by the Activities Director "Kiki" and she said she could talk to us all day about the amazing things happening at Grace Village but one story really stood out. It should be noted that the staff at Grace Village are very careful and take their time bringing new children into Grace because it can be seen as a threat to the other children who might feel they will be loved less, have less food available or lose their place among a family. After much preparation, conversation and assurance 3 new members were  recently added to their Grace family. As one terrified little boy walked into his new home, he shook and cried uncontrollably; he was unable to be comforted by the adults who brought him into the situation. Two of the youngest boys who already lived in the house, came and took his small shaking hands and said "You don't have to be scared, you're not an orphan anymore, we're your family now." Love like that can only be learned.

Water truck days are physically exhausting but visiting the Elders and the site of Mass Grave is emotionally draining. We visited 3 elders in the town of Titanyen and though each had a heartbreaking story and situation, each held on to hope that can only be found in community.

The Mass Grave was the government's solution to the 300,000+ bodies that remained as a result of the January 2010 earthquake that destroyed the already struggling Haiti. They dug into the side of a mountain to have a place to bury the bodies. A memorial has been built little by little since that day. One of our guides shared the story of where he was that day and what he saw. Our world stood still as he spoke.

Today we started our day, as usual, with a devotional lead by one of the team members. Even though it was the start of our day, I would like to end this post with it. We went through the alphabet and used words to describe our experiences in Haiti. Below is one example from each letter.

A - Atonement
B - Boaz
C - Confusion
D - Desperation
E - Excitement
F - Friendship
G - Grace
H - Hope
I - Invisible
J - Jezi
K -Kinship
L - Love
M - Mass Grave
O - Omniscient
P - Progress
Q - Quality
R - Redemption
S - Savior
T - Transition
U - Unified
V - Vibrant
W - Worthy
X - eXalted
Y - Yearning
Z - Zealous

These words might not mean anything to anyone else who wasn't there today but trust that these words hold special meaning to those that experienced them. Just like we have to trust in God when our own understanding fails us, you have to trust in other's experiences and believe in the potential of good. A young man in our group said something very wise - "Sometimes the lesson to be learned is that there is no lesson at all."