While in Jacmel my days were filled with a mixture of compassion and adventure. Even the transportation was something to experience. Traffic laws don't seem to be followed, and the right away seems to give way to first come first serve and whoever can beep their horn the loudest. Our means of getting around was by a "tap tap", an old pick up truck with benches welded on the bed of the truck for sitting, pictures below. This was fun!
On Thursday of last week Mitch actually got to drive the tap tap!
And I forget what day it was, but I got to ride on the back of a "moto" with Jean Mary to make a water run for my team.
A first for me on this trip was visiting the river. This river is used for bathing, laundry, taking your livestock down for a drink, and I saw numerous people walking back and forth with buckets of water for at home use. This river is beautiful...this life is hard.
Their church with Sunday worship and Tuesday night prayer is another experience that I won't ever be able to get enough of. The harmony of voices in song and in prayer have you drop to your knees in worship and it's a beautiful feeling to be praising God alongside your brothers and sisters in Haiti, and yet I know that this small preview is nothing compared to the symphony I will experience in heaven, but for the time being I am in awe, and so I worship the Most High God together with my brothers and sisters. When the Tuesday night prayer service was over, an elderly lady approached me to give me a kiss, and in English she said, "God bless you".
This same church uses it's building to feed the hungry children of Jacmel through a sponsorship program. Children gather here everyday to eat and play soccer in the yard. Just $30 a month provides these children with a meal, an education, and health care.
To paint a picture of what their home life is like, Pastor Lafleur told us a story from his childhood. He said there were times when he and his brothers and sisters went days without food. All his mother could offer him was a hug when the hunger pains came and a glass of salt water. This mother had a choice to make, either buy food or send her children to school. This woman valued education, for she had only been to school one day in her life because her father couldn't afford it. She wanted to break this cycle for her own children so she would tell him "eat your books today so that you can eat better tomorrow". Pastor as a young child studied hard and he was always the first in his class. The school would reward the top students with a small amount of money or a jar of peas. On one Good Friday his family had no food to eat, but that night with the money he earned from school and the jar of peas his mother was able to buy some coal to heat up the peas and that is what they had for dinner.
This life in Haiti, it is tough, and what is $30 to us?
Another program that Restoration Ministries offers is a chicken leg milk day. $400 provides a chicken leg in their beans and rice with a glass of milk for the 450 kids that are currently being sponsored. Thanks to Elena Bowling's vision and LifeSong Church, we were able to raise money and watch these kids enjoy a rare occasion of a chicken leg, my prayer is that this meal won't become so rare to them.
One day after lunch as I was sitting on the ground painting little finger nails, a child came up to me with a sour cherry for me to eat. I smiled and said "mmmmm", but with that small sound children ran to gather more cherries, before I knew it I had a least 5 children hand feeding me, stuffing my mouth with cherries. Mouth full I tried to motion for them to stop, but the cherries kept coming, and I'm laughing. Finally I motion for the cherries to be put in my hand, I then offer the cherries back and the children laughed and ate the cherries.
Our mornings were spent working and our afternoons were spent at the feeding program and playing with children. I miss it, I long to be back.
I met one little boy 2 years ago, only a year older than my son, he reminded me of Maddox when he would suck his thumb. 2 years later and now fluent in English I asked him, "Ilikie, do you still suck your thumb?". Unashamed he answered "yes!". My husband then asked him, "aren't you too old for that?", Ilikie's precious reply was, "not for that".
Ilikie is in the blue shirt below.
My friendships were made in the teens who live in this small community.
From left to right in the picture above is Vladimire, Stallacia, Steve, and Wichnel. Beautiful, smart and funny. So smart that I can see great things for them in their future. They are not their parents, but strong maturing adults with with a bright future. These 4 (and many more!) are loved by and supported by many.
On my last trip in April of 2011, Wichnel was teaching me Creole, but being the young and michevious guy that he is, he slipped in a phase, "alle poo poo"...Well when I repeated it, it was just hilarious to him, and since I'm a sucker for potty jokes it was funny to me too. Only in April of 2011 it was just him saying it, when I came back last week, not only did he remember, it seemed that all of the children, especially the preteens and teens would greet me with, "alle poo poo" lol. This went on all week long :)
I miss the children and the families of Jacmel. Their impact on me is far greater than any brick that I layed while I was there, and one week is simply not enough.
If you would like to sponsor a child please visit RestoreHaiti.com
To read other posts from my week in Haiti, please click on the following links:
Home From Haiti
Building Homes and Relationships in Jacmel