Thursday, September 22, 2016

The river of life (and water) runs through Cite Soleil.

      Bright smiles beamed on dark faces, hair beads swung left and right, and little fingers clasped both of my hands.  The sun shone brightly in the city of "Cite Soleil" while Haitians fished with their nets and children played in the ocean.  Innocent stares came from the left and right side of the dock, and after a while I realized it was because we were a group of Americans deep in the heart of Haiti where even some Haitians refuse to go.

     Today was water day and boy, were we in for a surprise!  The morning was simple.  We ate amazing pancakes, filled water bottles, and then jumped in the Tap Tap! The bumpy ride sloshed water bottles but a lot of us still attempted to get some hydration before the amazing day in the city of sun (which of course resulted in some comical tries, and a little water on the floor :) 

     After the ride we arrived at the water filling station, waited for our water truck to get filled and then headed to the first area to deliver water!  Adorable kids flocked to see us and hold our hands as we hopped out of the Tap Tap.  Kids, both big and small, walked us to the area where we would fill up their containers with water.  People lined up with their buckets waiting for the water to start running.  The water truck holds 3,000 gallons of water!  Children ran around trying to collect water in buckets.  Even buckets as small as old pop bottles were seen but they were determined and adorable!

     As we held the water hose, little kids would come up to us and tug on our shorts.  Their bright smiles beamed up at us from 3 feet below as we turned around.  Their gentle hands would reach up and pull on our fingers, or gesture asking us to hold them.  The girls were fascinated with my long nails (Madi).  And as we held the little boys and girls, we realized all they wanted was to be loved. 

     I learned today that those kids gave us more then we would ever give them.  All they wanted was to be held or stand by us and hold the side of our leg.  All we were giving them was water. They had close to nothing in the way of possessions.  Some of them didn't even have clothing.  But they were still happy!  The women would gesture at their 5 gallon buckets full of water and the point to their heads.  At first I was confused, but then I realized they wanted me to put the buckets on their heads!  I watched my mom, and everyone on the team help place these heavy buckets (filled to the brim) right on the tip top of their heads! Young and old alike walked away balancing their heavy buckets on their heads with smiles beaming from their faces.  All and all, it was an amazing day. 

     At the end of the day, the leaders asked everyone for one word or phrase that would describe their day.  One person said their word of the day was love.  Another said it was a bit overwhelming.  One person said wonderful and one really good word was this was their reality.  It was a reality check to us, seeing that they have nothing and that we have everything we could ever imagine.  Those kids probably haven't ever heard of Apple, or Mount Rushmore, but it didn't matter to them.  They had nothing, yet they were happy to receive water.  We have everything, yet we complain about the smallest things like matching clothes, or Christmas gifts.  A few other words were hope, trust,  smiles, family, enjoyment, and unconditional love. 

     At the end of every day, we have a devotional.  One of today's verses was Matthew 25:35-36:  (NIV) 
35 For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat.  I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink.  I was a stranger and you invited me in. 36 I needed clothes and you clothed me.  I was sick and you looked after me.  I was in prison and you came to visit me.’

     Through the whole day, we learned the meaning of being the hands and feet of Jesus.  We learned that no matter what, God is protecting us and He loves us just like He loves the Haitians.  And we learned that when we served the least of these, we are serving the King of Kings and Lord of Lords.  We are serving Jesus.