[View over all of Port au Prince.]
This summer, God called me to go to Haiti. I had no idea why or how this was going to happen, but He made it clear that I would be part of team heading to Haiti at the end of June. Meetings and training dates flew by, and with each financial deadline that approached, the Lord provided the exact amount of money that I needed to go on the trip. The way He works things like that out is beyond my understanding!
[My boarding pass and my first real time leaving the country!]
In the weeks leading up to the trip, I joked that I had only ever left the country to go to Younglife camp in Canada. And we can all agree that that doesn't really count as leaving the country. I got my very first passport and carefully flipped through the blank pages. I purchased 98% deet bug spray (SO GLAD I DID THAT), a mosquito net and Malaria pills. My bag was packed with shorts and hair ties and an abundance of sunscreen. I was definitely prepared on the outside, but the most important and useful preparation was how my heart was prepared. Through our team leader's who had already been to Haiti, and others who have been on other mission trips, the Lord readied my heart for the kind of devastation I would see in Haiti.
[This is right outside one of the orphanages we visited, and a very common site in Haiti. Both parents died in the 2010 earthquake, so a grandmother was taking care of four grandchildren (ranging from toddler to teenager) and living in this tent. Despite their living conditions, they were a joy to talk to and the kids were very spirited and playful.]
[This is their pet dog. He was pretty cute.]
[This is the grandmother. Each day we returned to the orphanage, she greeted us with a beautiful smile and huge hugs. She washed laundry once a day (the yellow bucket) for a neighboring family and made about 50 cents per load. To put that into perspective... individual serving water pouches are sold on the streets in Haiti for somewhere around 12 cents.]
[This explains why the water pouches are sold. The waterways are polluted with trash and waste.]
I am so thankful for everyone who prayed for me before and during my trip. It was hard to walk around Port au Prince. The city is completely ruined, trashed and broken. But before I left, I was told to pray that God would show me the hope in Haiti. I did, and He did. Between a church service and visits to orphanages and a tent city, the Lord clearly showed me where He is working. The majority of the Haitians we interacted with had so much joy, I was amazed and humbled. It was a HUGE reminder that things do not equal joy. True joy only comes from Him.
During our time in Haiti, my team built benches and a gate, put up new tarps in a nearby tent city, did handiwork around one of the orphanages, and administered immunizations to orphans. I even got to give shots! The best part about this was that with each job or task, we were able to teach the Haitians how to do these things themselves. Sure, each task took a bit longer than it could have, but men who had no job and little education were able to learn a trade that could help them get work.
I'm obviously not a builder. So going into each place, I knew that I would spend a lot of time with the kids. Being a nanny, I was in my element. I really had no idea how important of a job that is. By the end of the week, with the little bit of Creole I'd picked up, I could understand the kids arguing over who's mom I was going to be! Even though I wasn't able to take them home with me, I was able to pray over them and rock them to sleep... even if it was only for a short time.
[When I asked this sweet girl what her name was, she replied in an equally sweet voice, "Lovely!" And she was definitely lovely. And apparently a model with my shades.]
[We took clothes, shoes, pillow pets and a bunch of other little necessities to the girls at the Sarthe orphanage. This picture was right before we passed out their bags. They didn't know what they were getting, but they sat patiently while we wrote down their names/ages for sponsors at home.]
[I'm pretty certain boys are the same everywhere. This boy, Bryon, loved pretend fighting with Aaron. The littler one did too.]
[This sweet girl, Allene (sp?), was one of my favorites. I played school with her, and she was amazed at my ability to copy numbers. :) She kept saying, "Bravo! Bravo!" Each time I correctly copied what she wrote.]