The campus is alive with activity this morning. Our teams assignment this morning is to go into two different villages and minister to some of the orphans and elderly. This mornings team conversation has been rich as we are processing together the day we had yesterday. We are anxiously looking forward to the day that lies ahead of us.
Our hearts are in Leveque today as we know they are working hard to get the drill released from the ground. We are earnestly praying for there to be water in that village before we get on the plane!
Wow, what a morning! The morning started with our team debriefing the day before at breakfast. We loaded up in a windowless truck, not really knowing what we were going to do. After a 20 minute ride or so, we ended up in the middle of the jungle. We were told we were going on the riverwalk.
We began walking away from the truck into a jungle village next to a river. The little beat of my son’s drum provided the perfect backdrop. The scene before us was amazing. We saw small concrete and thatched homes amongst the banana and mango trees. There were pigs, mules, goats, and donkeys tied to trees, fences, and each other. We were greeted by a boy who was instantly drawn to my son and his drum. It was adorable watching them walk as his shorts were too big and when he played the drum with both hands his shorts would fall down. We crossed over a bridge that was the villages water source for agriculture. There was a group bathing and playing in it as we arrived.
After just a few minutes into the village a man came up to our group and started conversing with the translator, and two of our team members. As the conversation played out, we learned he was asking if we could help him discover a natural way to dry his mangoes and apples for his business. One of our team members, Anne, speaks French and was conversing with him about the way she had seen them dry food in Africa. As they conversed, the rest of the team spent the time looking around at the beauty and some were making bracelets to give to kids we met.
We continued on through the village, over the aquifer and up a hill covered in homes. Next to the little concrete homes were piles of rocks with laundry scattered over the top waiting to dry. We came upon some houses with 5-8 feet cactus fences. They were the mature version of the little cactus fences the team was digging trenches for yesterday. At the end if the little cactus fences we saw a little house where the owners were drying tobacco in the sun, just outside their front door. We came out to a clearing and ran back into the aquifer. We gathered two more village boys walking with our group.
We turned and walked along an open path running alongside the irrigation ditch, which led into a massive banana tree area. There were gorgeous mountains just beyond the top of the banana leaves. The path led down a hill straight to the river. The river was a gorgeous view with massive trees growing out of the side of the source of the life the river provided.
The team began to cross the river one at a time. The large tree on the other side of the river was the perfect place to rest in the shade and put our shoes back on. We were resting on the opposite side of the river when we noticed some of the team and the three Haitian boys were gathered around a large rock. We saw George in a circle holding hands with the three boys. Karin, Sally, and Carrie were on their knees around the rock. It was a very serene scene to watch while trying to guess what had happened to create what we were seeing unfold. As the prayer ended we saw George crumble into tears.
They crossed the river to meet us and we all were waiting with baited breath to hear what had just happened. George proceeded to tell us that as he sat down on the rock by the river, one of our Haitian friends, told him to get up or he would die. The story unfolded that many of the village kids had been killed by the river and they had seen horrific scenes of voodoo in that very place. The little boys were very scared and trying to protect George. Karin suggested they pray. So the team responded instantly by some very intense prayers for that place and those boys in particular!
We learned that the little boy’s name was Emmanuel, which means God with us. George spoke encouraging words into little Emmanuel’s life about how he would grow to lead this village. It was a very powerful scene to watch unfold!
As we returned to campus, I left to climb the hill to see the view. It was the crest of the day and the clouds had just blown off. I was met by a gorgeous view of the mountains behind me an the ocean in front. I snapped some pictures, of course, and reflected on the morning we had just experienced. This afternoon we are going into a village orphanage. It doesn’t allow cameras, so I will have to observe and remember what we experience.
I feel like every time I sit down to write I start with, “wow, what a day!” without sounding redundant, this afternoon was interesting! It was very profound for me, although I haven’t completely processed the depth of it.
We got into our windowless truck and drove into what seemed to be a very remote village. As we exited the truck, my spirit was struck by a profound darkness. We walked up a path and I was feeling physically uncomfortable and even more so spiritually. We came upon a fence made of tin roofing and a little gate opened to let us into the orphanage we were visiting for the day.
The profound darkness, sadness, and what I clearly sensed as evil was palpable. There was a concrete house with an elevated porch to our left and a little open air pavilion with a tin roof to the right. The yard between the two was no bigger than a normal American driveway. The space had half a dozen kids running around and three or four dogs that were sickly and bony creeping around. The kids had no light in their eyes and some did not look well,.
I was overwhelmed by the scene unfolding before my eyes and began to feel sick to my stomach. I needed a focus point to keep myself from falling apart. I looked straight in front of me and saw a naked little girl sitting on a chair alone. She was probably under two and looked overwhelmed by over 20 people entering this small space. I squatted gently down to make eye contact with her and when she saw me she smiled.
The team began to move into the pavilion with a sudden gust of 40 kids. The back of the pavilion there was a makeshift kitchen with the equivalent of outdoor barbecue. There were three young women washing dishes, cooking, and looking on at the chaotic scene unfolding. Their eyes were sad and there was no light in them. I think part of the reason I was struck so profoundly, was because this was the first piece of hopelessness we had entered since arriving in Haiti. As I was walking into the open air pavilion my skin began to crawl. I started to want to run out of there, when I looked down at my feet and saw a baby holding up his arms to me. He was half naked, had the chubbiest cheeks I’ve ever seen, and big, round, sad eyes. He was probably 3 years old. I reached down to pick up his half naked body and he just melted into me. His nose was running, he was coughing, and felt like he had a little fever. He wrapped his chubby little hand around my neck and I started to rock him as he coughed.
For a little while the world around me faded away. My spirit stepped away from that dark place and found a peaceful place to rest and exist with the sweet angel in my arms. I started to rock him, sing to him, and pray for him. There was noise, singing, clapping, and dancing happening inside the pavilion, but he and I were standing in the rain somehow removed from everything else. He eventually settled in and layed his little head on my shoulder and rested. His breathing began to slow and I could feel his little body relax. The team was interacting with the other kids. They performed a skit about Daniel and the Lions den, they made and gave bracelets to all the kids, and they had paper and crayons and were drawing pictures with them.
As I stood outside the pavilion rocking this baby and taking in the scene, my heart was moved for the pieces of Haiti I had not yet seen. It was broken by the hopelessness, despair, and sadness I was experiencing in this place. My little friend woke up and started to talk. I had no idea what he was saying. I thought maybe he wanted to get down. When I put his feet on the ground he clenched his chubby little hands tighter around my neck. I started to point to things and realized he was looking for a drink. He took a long drink and then settled his little head back on my shoulder. He eventually fell asleep and his whole body turned floppy and sleepy. The time came, as I knew it would, when our team leader told us it was time to leave. It had literally felt as if we’d been there for 10 minutes. Time had somehow stood still for this little boy and I. He was in desperate need of comfort, nurturing, and love and I was so grateful to have been there to provide it. I asked our team leader if I could just take him with me. He said, “of course, if you’d like to see the inside of a Haitian jail.” I decided I would just hold him until I couldn’t any longer. He started to shift his weight and his head was falling into a position that I ended up cradling him in my arms. I could finally really see his cherub little face as he slept in my arms. A young girl came over to me and offered out her arms to take the sleeping boy. I reluctantly handed him over and turned to walk away. I knew I needed to walk and not look back. I did not cry until just this moment as I’m writing this out.
There were other very profound things that happened this evening, but I’m still very shaken by that experience. My stomach turns a bit when I think about it and my heart aches. While we have seen the mission of hope kids well cared for and nurtured and the village kids happy and hopeful, this angel and others like him live in these places in such need. I have never been one who wanted to adopt foreign babies, not even when we went to Africa, but something shook in my heart today that I can’t fully explain! I’m not saying I’m going to adopt, but I might become an advocate for why YOU could offer hope and a future to little kids like I held today!