Our last morning in Haiti we got to see our first sunrise and it was glorious. As the sun rose onto the valley I could not help but think of God's amazing power and love for his kingdom. I thought back to the countless blessing that he had poured upon our team, the camp, Haiti's children, and our travels. It was also in that Haitian sky that I thought about Haiti's suffering, oppression, and brokenness. I prayed for Haiti's restoration.
Haiti, an island were suffering is visual ever day. One day we were walking in the hills and we looked down into the valley to see four men working their land side by side. The land seemed monstrous, almost endless, and then you hear the men singing in unison and swinging the pics. I saw suffering. Suffering in the hands of men that will never know anything else but working the fields and trying to get a days work to feed their family. Suffering in a mother's eyes as she talks to you about how her child can no longer see and is loosing his hearing because of a massive growth that is forming on his neck. Suffering where there is hunger and drought. Suffering in the eyes of a child who craves an education and the ability to read. Suffering in the broken feet that walk 2 miles to fetch 3 gallons of water, three times a day. I found silence in that moment watching them. As they worked the field I thought about that day that suffering would be no more. I thought about that day when sweat would no longer fall because our kingdom would be restored. I thought about a new Haiti and I smiled.
This is the pinata before the riot. Below is the picture of the candy riot.
In the picture on the left we are playing musical hula hoops.
The 3rd week of camp we worked with the youth. The ages of the children were 13-15. This was the neatest week because the colors and activities became so alive. One day Caitlin worked with the children and the activity lasted for an hour. It was as if the children had stored images and ideas in their minds, but were unable to release them prior to the camp because they were without paper, pencils, glue, and paint. I had the opportunity to read this quote in a book while I was in Haiti. Everything about this quote cried Haiti. We were able to watch and it was the neatest experience I think I will ever embark upon.
Behind the walls of poverty and neglect live real children who laugh and struggle and dream and hurt and love. Just give a kid something, a microphone, camera, paintbrush, and watch what they can do. Just watch.
With each activity something new would unfold. It was also a week of trying new things. We had tie dye with the children. We also introduced the game of football. They had heard of it, but did not know how to play. After 2 days of practicing we got the hang of it. We also created a pinata and were able to rig it over the rafters of the building. The children loved it. When it burst I thought that we might be facilitating a riot, but they loved it. At the end of the week the children decided to sing for us. We had a group of boys serenade us. It was a precious gift. The week came to a close and we realized that we were done with what we started, Camp Hope. This camp was a blessing from God. He blessed us daily with supplies, hands to help, patience, and love. He continues to AMAZE me.
It was our last Sunday in Haiti. It was hot and humid and we were on our way to church. In church you sit about 7 people to a bench. There is little wind circulating through the church. The air is dead and with every minute you grow more tired because of the heat. We all brought our own bibles and books to read during the sermon because we didn't understand. I was listening a little, but my mind was in my book until I heard the name, "Miss Leah," from the front of the church. The man was saying thank you to our team and saying that he was going to sing for Miss Leah and her team. I closed my eyes and listened as he sang, "Soon and very soon we will go to see the king. Soon and very soon we will go to sing the king, “in perfect ENGLISH. The sweetest gift anyone has ever given me. As I listened to his words I saw God's hands covering Haiti and blessing the country with his love. I saw God restoring Haiti. Haiti is a place where 80% of the people live below the poverty line. Haiti is a place where 48% of the people are illiterate. 49% of the people are undernourished. 79% infant mortality rate. Haiti can only be healed by God. A place of suffering, hunger, and thirst. A place that is crying to be restored. As he finished the song the people applauded our work with the children. I could not help but cry in that moment. A place where the people have nothing, but they somehow give you everything. That song was the most precious gift I will ever receive. They continue to teach me the beauty of compassion, love, and faith. They add richness to my life. Haiti still holds a piece of my heart. We will be heading back next year. In the Summer of 2009, we will be returning to Haiti for another year of Camp Hope. Leah will be working to fundraise throughout the year. It is her hope that Camp Hope will be able to serve more kids next year. It is also her prayer to fundraise money throughout the year to send 300 children to school next year. It is 10 American dollars per child to go to school for one year. We want to be a voice for Haiti and its people. We want to bring education, Jesus, and hope to Haiti. Join Camp Hope in serving Haiti. If you are interested in helping Camp Hope, please contact Leah Beidler at firstname.lastname@example.org. Thank you again for all your support, love, encouragement, and prayers. We would not have been to Haiti and back without you.
Balloon hats in week one! Balloon hats in week one! It was a riot to watch the children during this. They loved it!
Hanging with our friends from the hospital.
We got to go to the House of Hope for a day and hold the children.
Everywhere we went there were children to be loved. What amazed us the most was their smiles. In all of their struggles, hungry, and thirst, they smiled. Their smiles would radiate the room. Ear to ear, nothing but smiles.
One night Jackie was reading her bible and she came across Revelation 7:16 and it just spoke to our hearts for Caitlin's mural.
"They will never again ne hungry of thirsty, and they will be fully protected from the scorching noontime heat. For the Lamb who stands in front of the throne will be their Shepherd. He will lead them to the springs of life-giving water. And God will wipe away all their tears."
This is our prayer for Haiti. That the people's hearts may see the Lord through their hunger and thirst. That the people of Haiti may seek Him as their Shepherd and let Him wipe away their tears. This is the creation of Caitlin Beidler. Each day she would pour her heart into this mural. These are God's hands open to Haiti's people. Pray that Haiti's people would come to know the Lord and the country would one day be restored and healed.
Caitlin also had the opportunity to paint a patient room. The room previous to the painting was miserable, gloomy, dirty, and DISGUSTING. Not a place I would want to go to be healed. But with a little paint, Caitlin, and God's work it was RESTORED.
Our adventure started out with seeing this. Through the river we went to the House of Hope.
Rhina holding a little newborn who ate a whole bowl of rice and beans. It was a sight!
The river you have to get through to go to Port-de-Paix. An adventure always.
The second week and our fuel was dwindling. The mornings were a little harder to get up. Sometimes we found ourselves dragging on the way to camp. The second week had to be the hardest. Days seemed to get hotter and longer. Our good food, Cliff bars were all gone and we were starting to live on bananas and mangoes. We wanted peanut butter and we were without it. We worked with children ages 10-12. The week was full of crafts, football, musical hula hoops, soccer, bubbles, films, and smiles. The highlight of the week was being able to visit the House of Hope. It is a place that houses 80 children ages 1-18. The children that live there are either malnourished or suffering from TB. The goal of the house is to treat the children and be able to send them back home. If they are without a place to return to they are able to live at the House of Hope. We had the neatest moment while we were there. Last year when my sister and I went to the House of Hope we got to meet a little boy named Jean-Baptist. He was suffering from TB and scoliosis. He was walking, but it appeared that it was very difficult for him. He looked weak and tired. This year we went back to the House of Hope to find Jean-Baptist, but this time it was smiles and running. We had the opportunity to talk with the woman in charge and she was able to tell us that after 3 years of treatment, Jean-Baptist was going home with his mother. Jean-Baptist came to HOH blind and paralyzed and he was leaving restored and happy. I will never forget seeing Jean-Baptist's smile as he took his mother's hand and walked down the corridor to a new life. God is working in Haiti and on this day, we were able to see it in Jean-Baptist.
Wilfet strolled in looking like he was trouble. Wilfet soon became the protector of the younger boys and took on the role of our goalie. Returning back to Haiti I found Wilfet with the same smile and energy. He plays on a soccer team and within days that I arrived in Haiti he came to me asking for money to buy a pair of cleats. I did not feel right giving money away, but I also wanted to help a friend. Instead of giving it to him; I offered him a job. To come help with the children at the camp Wednesday-Fridays. The catch was he needed the money before Wednesday so I had to let it go and have faith that he would stick to his word and come on Wednesday. Wednesday came and Wilfet arrived with a smile and helping hands. This was God's next favor to our team. Wilfet worked with the children like he was born to be a teacher. He guided them in the activities and brought energy to the sports. Sometimes Wilfet found a break and we caught him coloring, like a child. An 18 year old, who missed the opportunity to be a child, finally found the opportunity to play. One day I had the opportunity to talk with Wilfet and ask him about his family. He had lost his mother when he was young, without a father, and living with an aunt. Unfortunately, this is usually what happens in Haitian culture. Wilfet shared that he was in school and had Jesus in his heart. But I could not shake the feeling that Wilfet needed and still needs to be prayed for. Our last day of camp we sat with Wilfet and shared a prayer that he would continue to know the Lord and have a desire to seek him with all his heart. This is Wilfet. Join us in praying for him as he continues with his studies and plays forward on his soccer team. Pray that the Lord may bless his life and Wilfet will continue to seek his face.
The artwork of the children that colored a cement and gray wall. It was so neat to see their minds work and create.
Balloon hats was a riot. Our team did not know what we were doing, but the children never knew.
Watching National Geographic film on a 8" inch DVD player. I think you could have heard a pin drop.
"Chat, chat, sourit, sourit," were the words cried out as the children begged for a turn at the parachute. Chat in English is cat. Sourit in English in mouse. Three mice would go under the parachute and three cats would walk on top of the parachute and look for the mice. We laughed and laughed. Everytime we brought the parachute out the first word out of each child's mouth was CHAT. This was week one with the younger children ages, 6-9. From 9-12 we would conduct the camp and on Monday, Wednesday, and Fridays we would incorperate a food program that feed all 35-40 children. The first week was filled with arts and crafts. Making bracelets, paintings, crosses, balloon hats, bubbles, and face paint. We ran and jumped as we played with the jump ropes, footballs, and frisbees. We also incorperated a daily bible study. Each day we focused on a different miracle that Jesus gave to his people. One day the children shaked a blue table cloth as Caitlin, our Jesus, descended from the mountain (table) to walk across the cloth and reach for Peter's hand. We strived to make each lesson interactive and new. The first week we were on fire and full of energy. The second week folowing was a little different.