Tuesday, July 11, 2017
In Haiti safely! Pretty easy travels! I am into Cite Soleil today to meet with the staff. Excited to see everyone. I had a chance to sit with Louvenet last night! A sweet blessing to see him. We were talking about how we have know each other for over a decade, so neat! Been neat to watch him grow up, share stories, and listen and learn from each other. Last night he talked about, “being Haitian is hard.” I just listened, knowing that I will never understand. It’s frustrating to hear the stories of injustice and challenges. I often feel pressed against a wall because I do not know. I come from a middle class home, educated, can turn on water whenever I need it, cooking is easy, I have a savings, parents to depend on, a car that runs, health insurance, a safety net, a 401k, more than one pair of shoes….I just started reading a book called, Jesus and the Disinherited, by Howard Thurman. He writes of how God is on the side of the oppressed. He writes, “A profound piece of surgery has to take place in the very psyche of the disinherited before the great claim of the religion of Jesus can be presented. The great stretches of barren places in the soul much be revitalized, brought to life before they can be challenged.” I think of this as I head into Cite Soleil, a place where the disinherited reside. I think of the barren places in the soul that we might be encountering and it slows my gate in being quick to speak. Today, we sat with the staff; it was great being the only foreigner in the group. I love when the greater mass is Haitians, it feels right. As I sit there I pray that we would reflect Jesus, I pray that we would be a piece to the reconciliation and the “surgery” that needs to take place. I pray that if souls would be barren that through community and relationships God would start the work to revitalize souls and the streets. The book is humbling and hard to read because it confirms that I am privileged and the majority and deep within its hard and it hurts. I know God gave me that lot and I plan to use my gifts, but as I walk in the streets of Cite Soleil I work hard to be equal with the population and I know that our souls can be the same, but our situations will never be the same, so I wait, listen, learn, and let them take the lead.
Saturday, August 6, 2016
LAST DAY! Last day of three weeks of camp! Kind of crazy how fast it seemed to go. It went fast, but my body feels like it went slow. We had some really neat weeks and moments. Moments of complete joy…watching Chora and Losley sing with the children and have a “battle” of girls vs boys and who could sing louder. Precious! Chora pretended to get annoyed because the boys were not singing loud….then proceeded to say, “ O man, you guys can not sing, Leah give me your headband I am going to put it on and start singing with the girls.” They sing their hearts out…fun to feel the intensity of the singing, here the energy, see the smiles, and feel Jesus. This year they started singing a new song in English and then in Creole. The main line of the song is, “If God says YES, no one can say no. “Si Bondye di wi, Pesonn pa ka di no.” They would sing it over and over again. Loved it, AMEN! The last day they sang this same line over and over for about 3 minutes straight. I kept looking at Chora to see if he would break, stop, die out in intensity and he just seemed to clap louder, harder, longer, and with a bigger smile. It was simply AWESOME. The children were battling him to see who could clap louder…just kept going. Haitians are so strong. Physically, mentally…as I watched him clap, sing, experience his joy….just saw and heard STRENGTH! We had a fun staff this year for the morning camp. Been neat, it has been our 9th year working together and you can see and feel it. They way we interact and know what to do has been amazing. The last day of camp we took a group photo…this is what we came up with! A silly photo and a normal photo…love them all like family. Each one of them has unique characteristics that they bring to the table. Chora can get the crowd going at anytime of the day…has a gift to sing and drum. Lou, gentle soul and loves to share the gospel and is so good with the children. Has a gorgeous heart for his country and her people. Losley, that girl can throw down. If it’s singing, handing out food, in a skit…she can throw down. Frejohn, a father of some of the kids in camp. An adult in a child’s body. He is able to mesh into the skits, do what is asked with a willing and happy heart. ..meet the children were they are at. Wobina, another girl that can throw down. The first week of camp we has a deaf and mute boy in camp. Wobina, sat with him every day and helped him complete the activities, helped him during transitions, tried to sign certain actions to him. She is strong, sweet, and loving heart. Ami, he is always present and ready to work. He will take whatever comes his way with a happy heart. Chodley, maybe one of the sweetest children I know. He has this gentle spirit that is always ready to serve. He is so gracious and quiet, but ready to play any role in a skit. Caitlin has been leading an art group in the afternoon with 6 children and Chodley is one of them. On the last day of the group Chodley brought her a loaf of bread, a little bag of cereal, and two slices of cheese as a “thank you” gift. Nun, she joined the team this year. Quiet, I am still getting to know her, but she has got spunk and joy. Linlin and her “ti gason” in her belly…she is 8 months pregnant and throwing down at camp. She is so quiet, but a hard worker. Every morning, I would squat down and talk with her baby, “ti gason.” She would chuckle, precious enough that I would keep doing it. I told her that her son would know me next year by my voice because I talked to him so much…she laughed. Haitians love to joke around. I tend to act crazy just to make Haitians laugh. Laughter is ever present during camp and in conversations. Love it!
The children have been amazing! The first week there were three little boys that would just giggle ever second you goofed off with them. Caitlin bought one of the boy’s artwork for a Haitian dollar and you would have thought he won the lottery. He smiled for the rest of the day! Pretty precious! Other moments…playing the drums with the little children was beautiful and amazing all at once. They head outside and Chora rounds them up into a circle and the collectively sing and pound the drums and sing “Jericho.” The hot Haitian sun beats down and myself, the American thinks…how the heck are they still going. Twenty minutes later they are still beating the drums…running in a circle, now they are jumping up and down…it goes and goes. The energy is contagious and you join and realize the energy has completely got you hooked and for ten minutes you dig deep and just keep going and going. Just when you think you are exhausted, you dig a bit deeper and keep going, Jumping higher, singing louder, smiling bigger, and just soaking in the essence of God’s kingdom in Haiti. Once the music stops you look around and realize that every one is pouring sweat….my calves were even sweating, just love it. This is us throwing down!!!!!
This year we talked about how the community is a like a growing tree. We made a tree out of paper and had the children color mangoes and leaves to hang on the tree. We talked about how God is the vine, roots, and we are the branches. We talked about how if we grow together as a community, love each other, help each other, we are stronger like a tree. Had a lot of neat opportunities to discuss fruits of the spirit, growing together, posted a picture below of our tree. Was neat to have different energy in the room this year. Other neat moments have been doing summer life with people and seeing the fruits of all our labor. Many of our camp counselors used to attend the camp when they were little children and so neat to see them grown up and serving their brothers, sisters, and other communities. Been neat to vision with them, sit in struggles with them, vision future and discuss their hearts. I had the opportunity to sit with one of our camp counselors and discuss his heart to start a community center. I was able to visit a program that him and his friends put on for children in outside communities. They sang songs, played games, told stories, and feed the children. They said they did it three times a year. Before I left I got to sit with them and talk about their vision in growing their organization. They talked about how they are hopeful to rent a room to start facilitating more programs for the children. Been neat to see the seeds that are being planted and I am so gracious that God has allowed me to be a part of the harvest. There have been so many moments this summer. We celebrated our 9th year of camp this summer. This year we were able to serve 600 children, provide a month of employment to over 40 youth and young adults, and dig deeper into his kingdom.