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.
One night I was fried! I went out to fill up some water pitchers at the faucet. The town is having problems with water. The water is scarce and limited and in that more people have been coming to the faucet outside the compound we are staying at to fill their 5-gallon water jugs. One night I decided to plop down by the spicket and just talked with two boys about their day. I started joking with them…singing a song in Creole to which Gerry replied,”How do you know that song?” I said, from church…he chuckled…he seemed amused that I was a white lady singing a Creole song. I asked him how many 5-gallon jugs he was filling to which he started, 8. I looked at him and his brother; they could not be more than 150 pounds together. I asked them how many times they come to get water to which they stated we come twice a day. I volunteered to help them carry their jugs to their animals. I am a wuss! I watched those boys carry their water jugs with grace…I picked one up and nearly fell over. UMMMM….I am an American wuss!! We get to his horse and donkey and I decided to joke around and ask them the names of the animals, to which he replies…”Bourik (donkey) ak Chawl (horse)”…he then says,”You name your animals?” UMMMMM…yeah man! I name animals…he laughed. I told him we needed to name his animals…he laughed at me and told me that I should name them. I decided on Jacob and Job. He thought I was a nut. We laughed so hard. I helped them load their water and sat back amazed at their lifestyle and what they do. Each jug was a five-gallon bucket…loading 8 of them into bags on the horse and donkey…I left sweating my butt off. I told them if I saw them the next night I would help….I got to load water with Gerry and his brother three nights in a row. I know this is a silly story…and some of you might wonder why I choose to write stories like this…but honestly, this are the stories that capture my heart. Being in Haiti is about relationships for me. I believe that God uses us in relationships, in moments, to reflect more of his love, his grace, and his heart. Caitlin told me the other night, “We are here to bring out the LIGHT in people.” Loved that…Bring the light out! Bring the light out in relationships…bring the light out in communities…in children…in relationships…bring it out! I don’t think Gerry will forget me. I am pretty sure he went home and told his parents that he met a “crazy, white lady that named his donkey, Jacob, and his horse Job.” I am pretty sure I will see Gerry next year and I am pretty sure we will load water again and he will attend camp for the 1st time. I am pretty sure that I made a new friend and I know that it is those moments that God rejoices.
Saturday, July 23, 2016
Bonjour from ayiti, Week one is fini! The week had lots of highs. We got a radio of 50.00 american dollars. It is a karaoke machine…hahaha. We cranked Jesus music everyday and they sang while they did their projects. We are supposed to be working with children ages 6-9, but I am pretty sure that we have some children that are 4 and 5. The children have been amazing, they make a lot of noise, but it is happy noise. The workers can throw down..we got dada who can swing a jumping rope like its her business. She works so hard with the children and will hold a flat affect and then you give her a fist bump and tell her she works hard and she smiles. Love it. Kenken, is always ready to work. Been such a strong worker for the children. Demet has the same pose and attitude as Kenken, ready to roll. Then we got Helton, works like a mule. Works so hard and at the end of everyday he says he isn’t tired. The other day we had the children paint wood stars. It was so quiet as they painted the stars. Neat to watch them explore using a paint brush and enjoy painting. We put the verse, “Shine like a star for Jesus.” We have been going back to that with the children! Shine like a star! How do you shine like a star in your community, with your friends, in your family. Last day we had a pinata. I did not know how it would pan out, but it was a blast. Had some adults playing, children playing...was JOY! God has been so good to use. Been neat to see the little ways he has made this trip easy. All our bags got here, Cite Soleil has been really quiet and no gun shots, I have had just enough materials….God has just been neatly present this whole trip. Megan and Fran are in the North and we will be joining them on Saturday. Ryna and Eric come in tomorrow and we are excited to throw down in the North. Megan has been working with 5 children in the North and teaching them how to play the violin. We will head North for another two weeks. Be praying for Caitlin, she got sick the night before we were supposed to head North. We will try to leave tomorrow. Ryna and Eric went ahead and sister and I are going to wait until tomorrow. Pray for her strength and pray that it is just a stomach bug. Love you all! Thanks for all the prayers and support! More to come....
Wednesday, July 22, 2015
Haiti always has moments where you hear pieces of the rawness to life. The week has been going well! The kids are full of energy and joy. I have made a “new friend.” One of the youth that has been attending the afternoon workshops has asked, “If he could be in my friend group.” I had to chuckle, “Sure buddy!” He was the same boy that asked if he could come to my wedding in October. He is precious. Said he is making me earrings for my wedding day…have at it buddy! Talks my ear off. He asks some really random questions, but it is fun to sit with him and chat and laugh. The children love that I am getting married! They want to come in my suitcase home so they can go. I told them that the police would have a big problem with me! We have laugher and enjoyed the presence of JOY in the church. I have had a lot of moments. Haiti often gives you moments! Some moments where you loose it with laughter, some moments where your heart aches, moments where you just need to be still. The rawness of Cite Soleil came from seeing three different men at three different times carrying BIG guns like it was part of life. Gangs have been going back and forth. Today the community communicated to me, “That you will see that, its war.” It’s frustrating. It doesn’t make sense. It’s the weirdest sight to watch a man holding an AK47 walk past you while you are sitting with a group of children on the front stoop of a church and the children pay him no mind. It’s normal! The rawness of Cite Soleil. Moment where my heart ached that children have to call that “normal.” Moment where I laughed….Waiting in an alley for the 100 pate (food) we ordered for camp. A Haitian child was giving me a joke and asking me what language I spoke. I told him English, to which I asked him what language he spoke. To which he stated, “The language of a GOAT.” OOOO, this should be good! Leah enters the joke by saying, I speak goat as well, to which I begin to speak in goat sounds. Classic, as he responds in goat sounds. Sounds stupid, right? OOO, but we did this for five minutes and had about 10 deep laughing with us! I love those moments, laughter and being ridiculous with adults and children. Haitians have such a great sense of humor, fun to sit with them in the jokes! Tonight I got to sit with my good friend Louvenet. I met him the year I lived here, in 2007. He was one of the first children that I came to know and we began to learn English and Creole together. Sat with him for awhile tonight to talk about life in Haiti, his life, my life, catch up! He is 21 now. He talked about how “hard” it is up North because they don’t find rain and the drought is so bad. Worst he has ever seen. Louvenet loves Jesus with all his heart, maybe more than me. Tonight as we were talking he said, “Its hard to think about Heaven, when you can’t eat today.” We sat in that statement for awhile. What is hunger? Have I ever really known hunger? Nope! When hunger consumes you how it takes your mind off of what is pure and lovely, heaven. I told him I know I don’t really understand that statement because I have never had that kind of hunger. He said, “It has to be Haitians helping Haitians, but how? I have no doors to knock on.” So frustrating to be in that conversation with him because I look at a gifted man who could blow it up for his community, for Jesus, for his family, and then I see him in Haiti and how the great struggle of this country can consume his being. It makes my heart ache. Louvenet told me tonight in the politest way possible that I will never get it. It was humbling and I agree. I can be a presence in this country, be a listener, be a bridge, be a light, be a piece to the community, but I will never get the magnitude of what it means to worship through the struggle in this country.