Hi DW's! As many of you already know, last week I was in Haiti on a missions trip with friends. I was part of a small group of four people who independently traveled there to help out friends at The Apparent Project. The trip proved to be overwhelming on so many levels considering the large amount of poverty and the mass rubble still present from last year's earthquake in Port au Prince. Anyway, my bunk-mate and fellow DW friend, Jennifer, wrote a daily synopsis of the experience (from her viewpoint) in order to update family and friends while we were there. I was so impressed with her writings, I asked for her permission to post them here on Fresh Flowers for the coming week. We hope and pray that these daily entries paint a real-life picture for you and bless your hearts to further help the poor, the widowed, and the orphaned as mandated in James 1:27.
Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world. (James 1:27)
Ladies, each one of us is able to make a difference in the lives of others! We must only be willing to follow God's call! May you be richly blessed by His love as you enjoy Jennifer's writings this upcoming week. Blessings! ~Victoria
(Pictured above: Rodney & his family in Haiti)
My Heart in Haiti (Day 4)
By Jennifer TheodorouSunday in Haiti was a much more relaxed day for us. As I dressed and got ready, from every window it seemed I could hear the sounds of praise and worship. Some coming from radios, some live, as early morning services began.
We started our day at a local missionary church, just a 10 minute walk from the Apparent Project house. As we waited out front for our Haitian companion and Apparent worker, Rodney, we enjoyed watching as the locals made their trek up the hill, or down, as they headed to their church of choice. All dressed in their Sunday best, it was easy to see the importance of their faith. People don't dress up this way at MY church anymore.
This particular church is headed by a group of American missionaries. The audience seemed to be about 50-70% Haitian. As the service began we sang a few familiar worship songs, greeted those around us and sat to hear the message. The sermon this day was on Prayer. Oddly enough, out here in the middle of Haiti, a man from Lombard, Illinois gave a brief testimony about the woman who had taught him to pray as a young man. All of sudden our worlds felt not so far apart.
The church was hot and the message was good. It was the perfect start to our day. After service Rodney asked if we would like to walk to his home. His mother, Rose, also works for Apparent, mostly from home these days, as she has 6 children to care for.
Just the day before, Sara had asked me if I was wanting to visit a tent city while I was here. I was hesitant. I had seen a lot of pictures, and I just wasn't sure there would be much purpose in that. I was afraid that our white faces wandering amongst this sea of poverty could be seen as gawking.
Not knowing where Rodney lived we agreed to visit his home. We walked for about 15-20 minutes through the hobbled and winding streets, as our guide led the way. Before I knew it the buildings ended and the tent city was before us. The decision was no longer mine. We followed Rodney through the winding endless sea of tents. Curious children popped up everywhere, some very cautious, others boldly grabbing my hand and walking with us for a moment. Some asked to have their picture taken, "photo moi?", others hiding shyly behind their mama or the edge of a tent. They love to see the photo of themselves and usually follow with an adorable giggle.
As we walked I heard a precious cry, "Jennifer!!" It was Peterson. How amongst thousands of tents and people is it possible that we would cross paths?! "Peterson!" I yelled back with a wave and smile, and he disappeared.
Deep into the tent city we arrived at Rodney's "home". A make shift tent of sticks and tarps that leak every time it rains. His little brothers and sisters greeted us and invited us to step into their home. Six children and beautiful mom, Rose, with two mattresses and not much else comprising their belongings. How do they even make this work??
We were happy to see Rose's boyfriend and another man working steadily on the construction of a slightly more solid structure right over the tent. If they can get the materials for a roof they may stay drier, but if a hurricane hits this season it will not stand.
One of Rodney's sisters asked me for the heart shaped silly band that was on my wrist. It had been given to me by Shelley's daughter and I knew she wouldn't mind, so I slipped it over her hand. Her smile was worth it. We thanked Rose for welcoming us into her home and began our meandering trek back.
As we walked through this city, I warmly greeted each person we passed with a smile and a "Bonsoit", good afternoon. Most replied with the same, others just looked quietly as we passed. With these pictures of poverty burned into my brain forever, we headed back to the house. As we made our way, Peterson found us again, and walked with us.
Back at the house we all had a snack, granola bars and water for everyone. We relaxed for a bit while Peterson's electronics obsession was fueled. He loves to play with our phones, and cameras, take pictures, watch videos and listen to music. As he was perusing the contents of Sara's phone he curled up into the corner of the couch and began to cry. He was watching the video that Sara had made after her October visit here. She made it in an effort to enlighten those around her about the desperate needs in Haiti. It wasn't meant for his eyes.
We asked why he was sad, and he simply said, "My family". It had again reminded him of all that he had lost. We consoled him and told him that we loved him.
No more videos. We decided that now would be a good time to finish up some painting in the courtyard, and we all set off to work. Peterson again eager to help. He was much more quiet for the first 30 minutes, still lingering in his sadness, and then like someone had flipped a switch, his silly side reappeared.
We wrapped things up and got ready to join the Clays for dinner. Tonight we would have the luxury of going to a restaurant. We wanted to treat and thank Shelley and Corrigan for all that they do. Dinner was a guilty pleasure, with good conversation and a few good laughs.
It was a good day. My eyes are being opened to something new every day here. I can't wait to see what this (next) day will bring.