We have talked about driving in Haiti, but I can't get over how crazy it is. I am a horrible driver in Minnesota, but I'd be a wonderful driver here. There is no order to traffic, but somehow people drive along with little to no accidents. Grace and I talked today about how brave you have to be to drive a motorcycle here. Often times they weave in and out of traffic going headfirst towards other cars. We spent a lot of time in the tap tap today, driving to all of our different destinations. When we arrived at the orphanage and school for the deaf, our plans took another turn showing us that God is leading us. Since the students were in school, we weren't able to interact and play with them as we had hoped. However, we were able to get a tour of the grounds. Walking around the school, we all kept expressing how impressed we were with the facilities. The school has kids from the ages of 5 to 25. Many students are able to live on campus; around 100 and more will be able to when the new dorms are built. The school serves over 300 students who are all deaf. As we toured the school, we stopped in a classroom made up of older students, who were 19-25. The students were so eager to get to know us, to ask us questions, and to learn about where we were from. We had the opportunity to tell them our names while many of us signed our names. The students would laugh at us if we made a mistake and then teach us how to sign it correctly. From the time they start school, they learn sign language, Portuguese, French, Creole, and English. While we were in the classroom, the students loved to take ever opportunity to teach us their language. There was one student who connected with many different members of our group. The smile on his face lit up the whole room every time he taught someone something in their language,. Yesterday in our group time, we talked about the little things and how if we lose the little things, then we lose the battle. Today we saw those little things in a big way as we connected and talked with these students. Despite the many language barriers, we were able to communicate. It's something that so many of us take for granted, but something that makes a world of difference. Leaving the orphanage and school, many of us took away different things from God in how He worked through us in the hour we spent with the students.
Driving to our next destination, we again experienced the "every day Haiti," in the world around us. We drove through flooded streets, packed intersections, and countless piles of garbage. As we drove through the streets and saw the different vendors, selling everything they could find, we came to a quaint area similar to an outdoor mall. We arrived at the metal market. The metal market consisted of many different vendors who were proud of their work. They take metal barrels and work on them until they are beautiful pieces of art. Many pieces of the metal art are bible verses. There is wall art, table pieces, candle holders, and magnets. The Haitians invite you in and are so welcoming, showing you their work, beaming with pride, and hoping that you buy something from them. There was one vendor we met early on at his friend's shop and he told us, "So cheap, almost free." We then saw him again at his shop and we asked him, "It is so cheap, it is almost free, right?" He loved it and a few of us bought pieces of art from him. It was amazing to see how these Haitians worked and lived, what they have to do to survive and to provide for their families. Their hospitality, kindness, and joy for life were inspiring. Kara encountered a situation where a man thought she did not pay him. He came looking for her and through the interpreter was trying to get the money for the metal art, she had payed him and said that she did not have anymore money to give him. You could tell he was very upset, but accepted it and walked away. He came back later to find her because he had found the money in his back pocket. He apologized and brought her a metal heart to show his sincereness and love for her. Kind people exist, even in Haiti, in the poorest country in the Americas, a country where people have so little, yet still have so much kindness to give.
We stopped at Haiti Co Design and the Stop and Go, a Haitian grocery store, on our way back to the guest house. These stops were both another experience into the Haitian culture, teaching us so many things about how the people here live day to day. We ended our busy day with taco dinner and an amazing pit time filled with stories from what we all took away from our day, and a tear-filled worship, where Grace joined us with her beautiful voice. Today was not what we expected, God gave us a turn of events, but it was exactly what we needed. This trip is teaching us all to let the Holy Spirit lead us where our trust is without boarders and to let Him call us higher, call us deeper, and go where He will lead.
God Bless you all,
Allie with some advice from Allie, Kenzie, Taylor, and Anna