We began our morning today in Cite Soleil, one of the most impoverished cities in the world. 300,000 people live there. Today was "Water Truck Day." The water trucks deliver clean water to the neighborhoods of Cite Soleil on routes similar to the way our trash is picked up throughout the week. The women and children of the neighborhood come from every corner and alleyway to retrieve water to drink, eat, cook, and bathe in. At least 2,500 gallons of water is delivered and carried in buckets by hand and head.
At the head of every Tap Tap (bus) it says, "Be the hands and feet." We had the privilege of literally being Jesus' hands, feet, arms, back and even some of our own heads to carry water alongside the people of the neighborhood today. We have been taught that we cannot live without water for more than a few days. But stepping into Cite Soleil, immediately we learned that physical touch, smiles, loving connection and help, we can't live without either.
The unspoken bond we speak through touch casuses a deep, sweet connection that has no words but both know a deep bond. There have been times during the past few days in which one of our team members has been holding a child who is leaning in and yearning for their desire for love and affection to be met. In those moments, in the most unlikely places, time stops. The chaos that ensues around you seems to stand still. Nothing else matters! There is a giving and recieving that can touch the core of us and bring the most meaning. It's a hard thing to describe but it seems to be an experience that is a knowing of a Jesus-like love.
To be completely transparent, this day has been a challenging one in many ways. From manual labor to emotional hardship we have all had our own responses to what we witnessed today. But because we have bonded together as a family and communtiy here in Haiti and we have allowed God to take over in our hearts and our minds, challenging days don't seem so difficult and the good moments seem much sweeter.
Following Cite Soleil, we came back to the guest house to prepare for a family reunion. We went to the orphanage that the girls were adopted from over ten years ago. The smile on El's face was brighter than the sun in Soleil when she recognized the door, squealing with anticipation she jumped off of the Tap Tap to meet Josette who was riding shotgun and they both ran up the steps to the front door like two children coming home to play. Greeted at the door by their previous nannies as we all looked on glowing with joy filled hearts, children began to poor out.
We were welcomed into the orphanage by a doctor that Natalie, El's mother, had been in contact with throughout the trip and were given a tour. In the backyard of the orphanage where El and Josette spent time learning and growing, a medical team traveling with the doctor had begun a new project. A young man named, Mo had decided to rehab the playground. He and his team had cleaned the entire playground of trash, large rocks and tree limbs. They filled in the area with new sand and were beginning work on a border to keep the sand in. They had been working all day and are leaving tomorrow, they were digging a trench by hand and filling it with cement blocks, hand mixing concrete, and then adding sand to hold the wall in place.
Our team, women dressed in skirts and men in nice khaki shorts, picked up shovels and a pick axe and began working. Breaking through tree roots and concrete we were able to dig a 60 foot trench and placed as many blocks as we had on site. Mo and Tommy began mixing concrete while Todd began digging on the other side of the playground. Toni, Megan, and Jess were pouring the mixed concrete as the guys rested. Since the concrete was mixed and trenches dug, we were only waiting for the men to return with more blocks to complete the project.
El's family soon arrived and as in every other encounter here this week we were welcomed into the family, a few of us privileged to be asked to join in a family photo.
As El reunited with her birth family and Natalie found peace and assurance of the joy and heartfelt gratitude from her family in Haiti, the world seemed to be at shalom. At that time little did we know, a story similar to the beginning of El's story was unraveling just behind us. Starting over in a different family, a story all too familiar in Haiti. A mother unable to provide food and education for her children; praying, hoping, wishing for a loving woman to come along and be her children's "new mother," someone who could give them more than she could fathom.
As the sorrows of this story are overwhelming and heartbreaking, the joy in knowing that one day these children can be reunited with our Father in heaven, where money can not withhold dreams, and tears are only shed in happiness is greater than any peace known. As true as this is, there is no explanation or understanding for the pain this mother has for her children. Our team prayed today with this woman that God would met her practical and deep emotional needs. It's a sobering encounter that causes us to seek God's heart in what he wants us to do for her and her children.
This has been our prayer and our mission this week; to learn how to better serve the people of God, through God.
Jessica Varner and Karen LaBoube
"Suppose a brother or a sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to them, 'Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,' but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it?"
James 2: 15-16