Today started a little earlier than usual so that we could go to Mother Teresa's for Easter Mass. There must have been around 300-400 people, mostly children from the school, singing and following the lead of what appeared to be the worship leader. They had a big drum that boomed through the congregation and made the singing of the children even better. For me there is nothing better than voices of angels singing with energy and enthusiasm at the top of their lungs, it seems even better when it is in a language I do not understand. The Mass was said in Kreyol and and even though I do not speak it, I am pretty sure the homily had something to do with the resurrection of Jesus. I actually find it so moving that wherever I go to Mass, I can basically follow along. It helps to know that while we were participating in the Mass that we were sharing that with all of you at home through the Eucharist. It is an incredible blessing. It was over 2 hours, but surely did not seem that long. We left, stopped back at the guest house before heading over to Gertrude's.
Gertrude is my wife's Haitian mother. When Joanna lived here for several months she lived with Gertrude. Gertrude has an orphanage for street kids and special need children. She told us that when mothers have child with special needs, they see it as a curse and those babies are often abandoned or left for dead. Gertrude has a heart for those kids and decided to take them in. She has had an orphanage since 1999. It moved once in that time because during the earthquake, her home and orphanage were crushed. She has 47 children there. Approximately 20 abled bodied kids and 27 children with special needs. They range in age from 2-22 and the special needs varies as well. She talks about how the abled bodied children may be adopted at some point, but that she will have the disabled kids with her for their whole lives. She is in the process of creating a transition home for some of the disabled men so that they will have a place for their own. Almost all of her children go to school. In the years that I have been going to Gertrude's I have seen the children, especially the children with special needs grow and advance. I am so proud of the work that she has done.
We brought stuff to throw them an Easter Party (thanks to Laura and Kathryn). We had a station to make bunny noses and whiskers with wire cleaner and little fuzzy balls and pop sickle sticks. We made resurrection crosses with pop sickle sticks and yarn. We had a bubble section, a coloring section, and a side walk chalk section. Each student had a different area that they were supposed to help with. Most however, after a few kids played with each activity, abandoned it just to play with the kids. They had wheelchair races, pushed kids in the swing, carried kids that couldn't walk for themselves to different stations, and generally just had a good old time. The best part of the party for many of them was the Easter Egg Hunt! They really loved the candy. I find Gertrude's place to be one of the happiest, saddest places in Haiti. My heart strings are always pulled when we go there. And it helps that Gertrude is so wonderful! I think it was the perfect way to end the week.
We left Gertrude's to take a mountain adventure. We drove about 45 minutes to go to the top of the mountain so we could see Port-Au-Prince from above and do some shopping. The ride is bumpy, but the view is spectacular. The students practiced their skills in negotiating. I think some did better than others. Anna G. as she was leaving locked wills with one of the vendors and Anna G came out victorious. Although she did not know they agreed to her price until she was already on the tap tap. It can be quite aggressive situation, but I think a little bit of fun as well. Hopefully you will all enjoy the gifts you receive from our excursion.
We came back to a traditional Easter meal of Ham and mashed potatoes! Some went to play soccer after dinner and others went to the pool. It has been a wonderful week. Thank you for sharing your children with me. They have been awesome and I think they will come home changed. The changes may be hard to see at first, but I am convinced each of them has a different perspective on life.
Tomorrow will be a long day of traveling. I will not be blogging tomorrow. Expect to see us at the airport when we get back. Please have them check in with me before you go so I can be sure that everyone is safe in the hands of their parents or another responsible adult. Then I will see all of them super early the next morning at school!!! If we get delayed or anything, I will make sure that every parent is contacted.
Happy Easter! See you all soon.