Today started out with our typical breakfast and eager hands to help! There is a weird sore throat, sinus type thing going on in the group. I do not have enough cough drops to keep everyone supplied. So I took the mints I brought along and put them in the cough drop bag, I know a few students fell for it. We have one down that is not feeling well, no worries, she has started her meds and hopefully will be ready to go by this evening. I don't want to point out the sick one (but she called home, so no worries if you haven't heard anything from your kid). Speaking of contacting home, I have not heard any complaints or whining about not having a cell phone. In amazing ways, I think it is truly freeing for them to just be present to each other and to their experience. I keep checking my phone to see if anyone has tried to contact us, to get a few messages home (and see my babies), and to contact our H aitian friends and in so many ways, I wish that we didn't have this luxury.
Our first visit today was at Home Sweet Home Orphanage. They were opened after the earthquake in 2010 by a pastor to take care of some kids that lost their parents. The goal was not to open an orphanage, just to take care of the kids needing to be taken care of. Soon, he was compelled to open an official orphanage. It is beautiful. There are about 30-35 kids in the orphanage (and they are building a structure to hold 50 more). Honestly, it was the cleanest orphanage I have seen in Port-Au-Prince plus each of the sleeping areas has air conditioning! -to check out the orphanage where we visited, go to nplhome.org- We all were brought to a gazebo to wait for the kids to be brought out. When they did, we just played with them! Emily L. picked up a little cutie that simply fell asleep in her arms. She held her the entire time.
This is Emily Lentz. The second we got to the No Place Like Home Orphanage, we were immediately asked to remove our shoes and walk up to the gazebo. At first all of us were just hanging out playing O-Bo-Shin-Otten-Totten together, but then we were greeted by four adorable little kids. There was this one little girl in a denim dress with a small minnie mouse embroidered on the front. She was very quiet and I couldn't really get her to smile or anything which I was a little disheartened by, but then I quickly figured out that she was exhausted. I was holding her for a while and we watched the rest of the group play with balls and jump rope and she seemed completely mesmerized by all of the games and people. After about 10 minutes of sitting down facing away from me, she turned around and completely melted into my chest. Only a few minutes passed by and she was completely asleep. Her entire body went limp in my arms and the feeling of her breathing on my chest was so special. She had the longest eyelash that covered the biggest brown eyes, and even though I was never able to see her smile, she still made my heart completely melt. We were all asked to get up to get a tour of the orphanage, and I did not know what to do because at first they said we couldn't bring the kids with us. However, we asked and the kids were all able to hold our hands and follow along with us on the tour. The little girl was so hot and we were both completely drenched in sweat, but there was no way I was about to let her go. No matter what position I moved her around to when I was holding her, she remained so peaceful and asleep. I know that the kids at the orphanage probably don't get the opportunity to fall asleep in people's arms that often, so it was so special to me to be able to be comfortable enough to her that she was able to fall asleep in my arms. Letting go of her was extremely difficult, and she woke up when I had to pass her back to one of the women working at the orphanage. Luckily she did not cry, and the best part was as I was leaving I finally got the smile from her that I had been waiting for all morning. This orphanage was the nicest one we have visited so far, and all of the kids were so cute and eager to play with all of us. They had a playground, and a place outside where the elementary kids went to school. They had a pink building as well that the kids prayed in before bed, and where the preschool kids were taught. All of the women who work there seemed to have the trust of all of the kids, and it was cool to see the different interaction between the kids at the orphanage. The fact that they are building something new to house 50 more kids is such a blessing. Everyone was right in their element with these kids at the orphanage, and we all wish we would've had more time with all the beautiful kids. All of the kids were so loved by the women working there, and it made me feel better that I knew I was leaving the little girl I spent over an hour holding in good hands.
Lentz Family-- I just wanted to say hi to my family back home. Tommy hopefully made (is making) it home safely from Creighton for Easter. Have a great Easter with Granny and Aunt Sara, I am sad that I have to miss it this year. Give Daisy lots of love for me, and I have a gift that summarizes how obsessed we are with her when we get home. Love you lots!!
After our stop at Home Sweet Home we went back into City Soleil, this time to go to stop 17 (where Hope Church/school is). Our goal was just to go and play. There was a little different vibe there today and there were definitely more naked babies. Every time I come into City Soleil and I see the children, especially the little babies, I think about what a contrast that is to our experiences in the U.S. I can't imagine letting Cassie out of the house to go play without joining her, watching her, and trying to protect her as much as possible. In the past few years, probably because I am a parent, I have harsher judgements of this reality and I find myself getting so angry. I am not even sure who I am angry with, maybe it is a host of people/situations/realities. Then I take a few breaths and remind myself I am not here to judge or to get angry or even to fix- I am simply here to love, as difficult as that is for me. Maybe one of the hardest parts of the day was when we were leaving. Ronnie had a baby, not quite old enough to walk or maybe just old enough to walk. And when she put the baby down an older person, maybe a parent, hit the baby in the face. Punishing kids with beatings is not uncommon in City Soleil, as sad as that may be.
This is Elle McShane. Thursday was an especially exciting day. We were all excited to return to Cite Soleil, where we had stopped with a water truck on Monday. Surrounded by dozens of beautiful, loving, excited and energetic children all day, who wouldn't want to go back? Immediately when the tap-tap pulled in to the same area, kids collected and followed the truck with huge smiles. We ran out and picked up all the kids we could and said hi to a few of the Haitians we remembered. The kids would hold on tight, with little arms around our necks, and would talk and sing in Creole. The language barrier didn't matter. Everyone got by with knowing only "what is your name?" in Creole, or the children would just say "hey you" in English to get our attention. Once everyone was tired and sweaty, we all sat against the church wall. Girls would do hair, the toddlers would sit in laps, and older kids would sit next to us along the wall. I spent some time with one of the girls next to me trying to learn some of the Creole names which she thought was funny. After what seemed like a short hour, we were told to pack up and set down the children. I told the little boy I had been playing with "goodbye" he gripped me harder, looked at me and said "no, no". After a short while he went back to the kids who also had to say goodbye and we waved to each other. The visit concluded with the young kids waving at us as we left and chanting "heyyou, heyyou, heyyou..." the term they had associated with the playmates in the neon green shirts. Tears welled in many of our eyes.
hi family, happy late birthday carol :)
We ended the evening with a reflection based on the Thursday evening readings. We will do something tomorrow as well. I am not sure about the students, but this is a Holy Thursday that I will not soon forget. I feel like we are seeing Scripture lived out in a way that we do not frequently live it out. I am blessed to be a part of this group.