Friday, December 15, 2017

Harnell- Kench '17: Friday

Day Four: Sorry for getting behind but Wifi in Haiti can be temperamental! During our layover in Atlanta Monday we met a family also traveling to Haiti. Come to find out, they were also going through Healing Haiti and would be joining up with us later in the week. Today they joined us after a few nights in a resort. They are a wonderful family with three kids, ages 12, 10, and 8. At ten o’clock we loaded up and left for our day. First stop: Sweet Home Orphanage. About halfway there we realized we forgot the craft box for the kids. No worries, though, this was a blessing in disguise (story to come). After an exciting drive weaving through goats and motorcycles, we arrived at iron gates. As soon as the gates were opened we were all amazed. The orphanage was full of kids running around in clean uniforms. It was almost shocking to see so many kids clean and healthy after spending the last couple days with sick, malnourished kids. It was a true testament to how good our God is. Kayley and Taylor quickly joined in on the jump roping, which is a lot more intense here than America; Brian and Madi showed the boys how to catch a rock off of their elbow; McKenzie, Michelle, Teressa, Rosetta, and Terri quickly found a couple kids to hug on; Jessie attempted soccer; Haley and Mckennah played with the children on the slides, Mike spun kids around on the playground equipment until they were dizzy. After recess was over we joined the younger kids and babies in the gazebo. Due to having no craft for them we were short for ideas so Jonas began singing. It was incredible how many praise songs he knows in English as well as Creole. The kids loved the songs just as much as we loved being able to spend time with them. Reggie gave us a tour of the orphanage as well as introduced us to the founders who are a Haitian-American couple from Texas. After the earthquake in 2010 they saw the need for a safe place for children so they initially adopted two children, which evolved into an orphanage. Those children today are now 14 and 16 years old. They are currently working on an addition to the orphanage, which would hold 50 more children but with lack of funding, the building has yet to be completed after 3 years. Before we departed the orphanage, the couple wanted to make sure we knew about a story relevant to Haitian culture regarding missionaries. They explained that the Haitians believe there is a tree that is just outside of the airport that if you walk under it, you will forget everything that you cared for in Haiti. Monfort was our last stop of the day which was a school and orphanage for the deaf. The school was filled with laughter and smiling faces as we toured through their classrooms. Each one of the children were dressed in their red school uniforms. While at this point, we were challenged with the language barrier with speaking creole, we now were playing with children who were deaf but fluent in sign language. One of the first things we all learned as a group was how to sign our names, and also whether or not we could hear. Rosetta got as far as “R-O” so the kids referred to her as “Ro”. They seemed overjoyed when they found out we could hear. We spend the next couple of hours getting to know them by playing on the playground, the rock game, drumming and eventually a very competitive game of soccer.. Americans against the Haitians. Not exactly the World Cup, we lost 2-0. After recess, we finished our tour of their facilities which included two buildings under construction that will be used for new dorm rooms. The site also provides garden space, which provide vegetables used at the orphanage. In addition, they raised rabbits, chickens, pigs, goats and cows. There were also several plantain trees, which are a staple here in Haiti. Kids played on the tractors and fed the cows while we toured through their facilities. We ended our tour in front of their dorms underneath a pavilion. We brought along beads and pipe cleaners to make candy cane Christmas ornaments. It was amazing the participation we had especially once the kids noticed we had real candy canes. Thanks to Madi, (inside joke) we had a large number of gifts from State Farm Insurance to distribute to the kids - “Like a good neighbor, State Farm was there!” We have experienced God’s grace in each day that we have been here. The days are filled with laughter, some tears (mainly Teressa & Terri’s), but mostly joy! We have met some wonderful people, along with members of our team from Minnesota, Michigan and folks from the other team from North Carolina, South Carolina, Minnesota, Tennessee and Colorado. We were able to meet with the other team on the upper balcony for praise and worship as we closed out our day. Grace, our long-term missionary, and a young lady from the other team lead us in music, their voices were simply beautiful. We took a video that we will share with you later on.

Thursday - Hendrickson/Severson

Hey everyone! Today our team went to the church that Healing Haiti built in Cite Soleil, Hope Church. The church also serves as an elementary school during the week. Our main ministry there started by playing with neighborhood kids outside the church. Much like the rest of Cite Soleil, the conditions there are devastating. Children are desperate for physical touch and beg to be picked up even if we are already holding one or two children...they will climb on our backs or hang from our legs just to experience affection in whatever way they can. We also got to play soccer and frisbee with the teenagers and young adults. We are discovering that even if we cannot communicate verbally, we are able to communicate in many different ways through things as simple as playing jump rope or giving a hug. It is so beautiful to see relationships being formed in new places in sometimes the most unlikely of ways. After the morning in the neighborhood, we went inside Hope Church to help serve lunch to the school children. They are PRECIOUS. They were hungry, too! Our afternoon held our visit to Papillon, which is a business and boutique located in Port-au-Prince that employs Haitians. Their mission is to empower Haitians by giving them jobs. When Haitian parents have jobs, they are able to obtain a steady income, and when they have a steady income, they do not have to give up their children for adoption. So, Papillon not only boosts the economy by creating jobs, but they effectively work to keep kids out of orphanages. Papillon has two sides...a production side and a store side. We got to see the production side first which is where everything is made...everything from jewelry to clay mugs to purses...and many, many other products. And then we got to shop! It was absolutely amazing to see all the beautiful, handmade items in the store that are quite directly helping Haiti and its families in such monumental ways. Tonight we ate a traditional Haitian dinner which was AMAZING and topped the day off with a worship night. We are all tired and ready for bed, and so excited for all that tomorrow will bring! :) -Kimber