This morning, our team woke up at 5:30 AM to attend a local "tent" church service. Despite being extremely tired, the experience was amazing. Immediately, we were struck by the differences in worship. Throughout the large open church space, the majority of Haitians were pacing and dancing to the worship music. Our group sat in the corner watching ("as good Lutheran's do" - per Team Leader Heather), but gradually began to get more and more into it. The energy throughout the room showed on all of the Haitian's faces in addition to our own. We left early to start getting ready for the rest of our day.
We drove around forty minutes to Titanyen to visit the Mass Grave, created after the 2010 earthquake. Our translator answered questions and shared his overall experience of the tragedy. We were able to walk around the new memorial and had an amazing view of the ocean. The short stop gave us time to reflect and learn about the history of Haiti, allowing us to better understand the country we're serving.
Shortly after, we were FINALLY able to tour Grace Village and learn about the incredible programs they are providing for the community. Our group was impressed with the family-style living. Although the kids don't live with their biological parents, they are broken into four large families and treated by the caregivers as their own children. In addition, we were able to see Grace Village's school, medical clinic, kitchen and library. After our tour, we were given an opportunity to play with some of the kids. Just like every other day, some of us also got some cool new hair dos. :)
Afterwards, we headed out of Grace Village to visit four of Titanyen's elders. Our team was equipped with food, water, lotion, soap to rub feet, and a lot of nail polish! Each Elder we visited started off timid, but as soon as someone approached them, they started to smile brightly. They were all extremely gracious welcoming us into their homes. It was probably one of the hottest experiences, yet we were really grateful for all the connections made.
After we were done visiting the elders, we headed back to Grace Village to eat at their very own pizza restaurant. We were happy to support the small business as they help the local economy through job creation. In addition, we got to tour the bakery and eat some cookies!!!! Due to the long ride back to the guest house, we arrived late, but still found time to enjoy each other's company ... except team member Makayla only danced once today for the team, which was sad. :)
With each day, we're appreciating all of the opportunities we've been given and relationships we've gained. We're so touched and there's no way blogs can justify the joy we've been able to receive. Thank you for keeping up with us!
- Jacqueline & Emily E.