Saturday, June 4, 2011

my heart in Haiti (day 7)

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: DW Jennifer, DW Sara, and DW Victoria)

My Heart in Haiti (Day 7)
By Jennifer TheodorouI've been amazed all week at how comfortable I am here in Haiti. I'm comfortable in my surroundings, comfortable with the heat and humidity (which I usually can't stand), and comfortable with the people. I have slept like a baby each night and have awoken with the break of day each morning.

At home I would be groaning for a little more sleep at this hour, but here I am up and ready to go. I awake each morning inspired to write and to share the details of my journey.

Yesterday was fun. The metalworkers community was incredible. As we turned off the main road you could here the building sound of the artists hammers and tools as they worked. Ping, ping, ping. The volume grew as we drove deeper into the community. We parked and wandered through many shops. I am in awe of the creativity and skill of these people.

Shelley has several people she buys from regularly. She carries some of their items in the Apparent boutique. As we walked others vied for our business; "Come, let me show you something different, something better." All were eager to make a sale. Most shops carried similar styles of art, others were extremely creative. One shop carried pieces that reflected a strong vibe of the voodoo culture here. It kind of creeped us out and we left quickly. I bought an amazing wall piece for $20. At home something similar would cost at least $70. Some of this art is actually bought by large retailers in bulk and resold in the states and other countries. They have an opportunity to survive in this community. Hopefully one day soon this will happen for the Apparent workers.

On our way back we stopped for Shelley to visit a friend who owns a restaurant right by the United Nations building. It's a very cute and modern place with light fixtures that look like they came from an IKEA catalog. It was incredibly busy. We stayed for lunch and I indulged in a bacon cheese burger and French fries, which tasted like home to me and killed a MAJOR craving.

The other group that was supposed to join us last night had flight cancellations and won't arrive until later today. So we spent the afternoon and evening relaxing.

At one point Rodney, our guide to church and the tent city, came by for a visit. It was raining again and he wasn't ready to go home to their tent where he would spend the rest of the night wet. We interviewed him a bit trying to get the feeling for what his life is like. He's almost 18, in school, and has 4 years left to complete a high school education.

They only go to school for about 4 hours a day. After that, he comes to work at Apparent or goes to Shelley's to hang out. There are only a few of the street boys that she welcomes there. Several actually live in an upstairs apartment above their house. They help with household chores and watch their kids from time to time. But Rodney has family so he returns home each night.

We asked how everyone in his family feels when it rains, knowing that their shelter does not protect them from the wet. Do they get scared? Sad?

He said they feel sad. I asked if he can actually sleep when it is raining, he said yes. But when he wakes up, and he is wet, and his books are wet, he cannot go to school. They are trying to build a more protective shelter over the array of tarps that comprise their tent. But materials are expensive and hard to come by. This is just one story that can still be told by 800,000 people living in the same situation. Apparent is providing hope to a few and the promise of "change" from the new president sounds hopeful but all too familiar. Who knows how much longer this suffering will continue.

Soon, Rodney said goodnight and headed off for "home".

Someone had left the game Mad Gab here, so we played for awhile and laughed hysterically. I'm sure our voices carried through the open windows and had the locals wondering what all the laughter was about. It was just like hanging out with a group of friends at home, again, comfortable.

Today Shelley will be busy with the full swing of jewelry making. And with many tasks accomplished this week we have decided to take a tap tap (taxi) ride into downtown. This is where the most obvious devastation from the quake is. It will be a photo opportunity mostly. Today is our last full day here. I am not surprised to find myself sad. My heart was in Haiti long before I was, and I knew I would love the people that much more. I want to capture every moment of today in my memory. Haiti will be going home with me tomorrow.

(Continued tomorrow...)

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