Thursday, February 24, 2011

Last Day in Cite Soleil, 5 Murals Done!

Today was an amazing day. This morning we got to visit St. Joseph’s Home in Port-au-Prince. It is a home that was built 25 years ago for boys off the streets. So neat to be there, hear the vision, meet the boys, and hear about the journey they have walked through. A man gave us a tour, 26 now, came to the home at 6 as a restavek. (In Creole it means, “stay with” it is child slavery) He spoke about his journey to St. Joseph’s and his journey and upbringing at the home. He spoke passionately about giving back to his people, his fellow brothers, the home, and the director of the program. He told us about when the earthquake hit he was on the roof of a 7 story building that came crashing down. He was able to jump onto a tree, which saved his life because he did not go down with the rubble. Following that story he said, “The Lord giveth and the Lord taketh away.” He really challenged me today. It was a blessing to hear his story, but see the power of Christ in his life, the strength of the human spirit, and the power of prayer. I left encouraged and feeling grateful for the opportunity to walk in and out of the home.

I asked him how the home got started and he told me that is started 25 years ago with a man named Michael who had a calling to start a home for street boys. He moved to Haiti with 1,000.00 and started with just five boys living in a home with him. 25 years later they run a home for street boys, a school for the disabled, a bakery/coffee house that employees mothers, and a school. So neat to see the fruit of labor and the Lord’s blessings. It was also encouraging as Caitlin and I have felt the calling of starting a home for street boys. It was a beautiful gift to be able to walk through the home today and meet some of the men that grew up at the home, look at their artwork, hear their stories, and see how this home and family brought life and joy into their lives.

Headed into Cite Soleil and spent the morning finishing the last three murals. My sister knows how to work it out. She busted out three of the five murals today. I was amazed by her spirit and gift today. She kept a smile up to the last minute. We even got to paint the outside of a man’s house, why not? Hahaha.

I got to play a little soccer today, enjoyed it until the ball bounced into the canal of sludge sewer. I watched the children descend into the canal to retrieve the ball with their feet. The blanc (me) almost lost my breakfast. I could not stop laughing. I wanted to tell the kids to leave the ball, but they just kept at it. By the end of the mission we had three children in the canal trying to get the ball. They finally got it out and it was covered in sludge. That is when I took my half time break and never returned. No thank you, I like soccer, but not that much. I could foresee myself being in a position to head the ball or take a ball to the face…nope.

Good day, greatful for completing all the murals, thankful for our safety, thankful for the many blessings that people poured on us, thankful for the opportunity to know Haiti’s people and children. Leaving encouraged and blessed and ready for God to expand our borders. One, two, three…go!

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

A Nap

This was my favorite part of the day. This little girl falling asleep in my arms. She was crying and slowly wandered over to me, arms extended, and tears falling. As soon as the arms went up I was hers. She nuzzled right into my chest and within ten minutes she was out. She stayed with me for about two hours. I could have been happy doing just that today. In those moments life seems to fade away. Her little nap refreshed me today.

Besides napping, we were able to complete the third mural today. Two more to go. Nothing like pushing it to the last minute. We finished the one in Cite Soleil today. Got to orchestra a color time with children. More like a free for all. This picture was of the children before all chaos broke out. I told them they had to kneel and not make noise. It worked for the first ten minutes. Lets just say that the twenty minutes following was not something I wanted to take a picture of. Played some soccer, practiced some Creole, and enjoyed the city with the people.

We have one more day in Cite Soleil and then we head up North. Looking forward to seeing friends up that way. We head out Friday and come back to Port-au-Prince on Tuesday. God has been so good to us. We had another great meeting this morning. We were able to vision and think about the future for Making Roots and Haiti. Exciting, seems impossible, but I know that God loves the impossible. So here we go….

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Get it done! Two more days, Three More Murals...

Another amazing day, thank you Jesus. The morning started off with a meeting. During this meeting Caitlin and I got to unfold our vision and dreams for our involvement in Haiti. It infused me with energy. Caitlin and I spoke about how our hearts desires and calling is to start a home for street children, specifically boys. During this time we got to share that with one of the local leaders we have been working with. It was neat to share that conversation and dream together for Cite Soleil’s people and specifically children. It is a beautiful gift to be able to vision for Haiti. We have had the prayer that we could be more involved in Cite Soleil and specifically in the children’s lives. Been a blessing to begin to unfold that and look deeper into that vision. Had a moment today where I felt like God was saying, “Leah come back to Haiti.” Feel so alive in the streets of Haiti. This place and the people continue to amaze me and encourage me.

Worked our way into Cite Soleil and cranked it out today. As Caitlin would say, “Slinging paint.” That is exactly what we did today. Caitlin threw up a drawing and we came in with the colors. She moved to the next wall and threw up the drawing and we came behind her to add colors. She moved on to the next wall and threw up the sketch and we came along and threw up the colors. We are tired. Anyone want to come to Haiti to give a foot massage? We started three more murals and hope to be done by this Thursday. That will be five completed murals. It is coming along. Continues to be fun to talk with the people, learned Creole, and be laughed at. Today I got laughed at because I was trying to say, “Take a break,” in the foreigner way. They taught me the Haitian slang way. So they continue to mock me by saying it the foreigner way..hahah, makes me laugh. We have a good team of men pouring their effort and hearts into helping us.

Today we able to finish the second of five murals. (see below) The graffiti artist, Ado, came in to finish the sky and font. Was so neat to watch him add his skill to the mural. Been neat to share the joy of art with him. He is coming again tomorrow to help with the third mural. Tomorrow we go at it again. Caitlin and I are fried. Shoulders are burned, noses are peeling, feet are tired, but we are still smiling. The children have been laughter and joy to be around. Today I decided to sit down and chat with them. Before I knew it I had about four children crawling on me. Two playing with my hair. One scratching my back and two picking the paint off my legs. I left Cite Soleil feeling pretty grungy, but leaving with a smile. Good day.

Continue to pray for time with the people. Pray that we get all the murals done. Pray for fruitful conversation in our meetings. Pray for vision. Pray for change and redemption in Haiti. Today as I walked to the mural I walked alongside the sewer system and was full of a deep sadness as this is life for so many. Children playing but three feet from the sewer. As the stench filled my nose I could not help but think about all the “what ifs.” So many beautiful people with so many beautiful dreams and hopes. So many beautiful talents and gifts that will never be know. So many beautiful children whose minds will never know the beauty of education. But then I rounded the corner to find our crew and our dear friend’s beautiful smile and I was so encouraged to see HOPE and their joy. It is present, the HOPE, and it is contagious. Pray that hope and faith continue to be present in Cite Soleil. Pray for the people and the elections that are coming up in March. Pray for Caitlin and I as we continue our day sin Cite Soleil. Pray for safety. Pray for strength and endurance.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Paint, Day 4, Graffiti Artist, and Vision

The days keep getting better and better. This morning we spent time with one of the local leaders and got to hear his vision for his people and Cite Soleil. His passionate heart revealed to us his vision for Cite Soleil, for the children, for the women, and for the elders. He held such passion and beauty as he spoke about his hopeful dreams for Haiti. We are excited to sit down with him in the days to come. Our prayer is that the Lord continues to intertwine our hearts, passions, and callings.

Been such a wonderful blessing to be in Cite Soleil with the people. Today we completed two murals. One on the main street and the other one that is in the center of Cite Soleil. Painting in the middle of Cite Soleil has really allowed us to work with the people and children. Today we had a car of five dudes stop to talk about the artwork. By the end of the day we were taking a picture together. The police have stopped. The children have made appearances. We had one-man today stop to say, “This is what I like, this is what I like.” Been neat to watch people stop, appreciate and talk with our workers and us.

Yesterday when our day was done we decided to draw all the men in and pray together. Today we finished and were quick to pack up in hopes to get the day done, tired and exhausted. Peter said, “Aren’t we going to pray?” Neat to see the relationships develop within our own team. We have laughed a bunch, shared random conversations, and been teachers to each other. Today I got my Creole lessons. Neat to share their language. Has really allowed me to bridge into their lives. Today they told me I was Haitian because I spoke such good Creole. To that I laughed and said, “Lets not over due it.” I told them I was black inside.

Today Caitlin and I sat together as the graffiti artist painted away and I think we were both left in awe and full of thankfulness. Thankful for the opportunity to be here at this moment and be working with God’s children in Cite Soleil. So neat to watch Ado (graffiti artist) work today. By the end of the day the mural was ours. Not the blancs, not the Haitians, but ours and for Cite Soleil, for CHANGE, for Jesus.

Tomorrow we paint again. The wall is bigger, but right in the middle of Cite Soleil. Hoping to play a little soccer with crazy kiddos and enjoy the energy of Cite Soleil. It is amazing how their energy infuses me. I often leave Haiti refreshed and ready to work. Another day, grateful and falling deeply in love with Haiti.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Jesus Music, Hard Core Rap, and the Blazing Sun

Today was a day that goes down in the books. We had about ten people on the wall today working together. So neat to watch people take a hand in the work. Hear peoples opinions of what to add, take away, or hopeful changes for Cite Soleil. At one moment in the day we had about five of our guys painting and jamming to the tunes that were playing in the background. A radio was pumping some music for Jesus and they all sang in sync. In the background our friend was on a load speaker explaining the murals to Cite Soleil. It was priceless. Peter, one of our workers (above) was jamming it out, painting on the ladder, and looking good in his shades. Brought a smile. It was one of those moments that you stop and thank god for the opportunity to be a part of what is going on.

Tomorrow the graffiti artist is going to come and paint up a storm with us. We are pretty excited about that because we want the people to take ownership for this piece of work. We have loved that the local people have been adding their talent and hearts to the project. That was our hope and vision for this project.

Later in the afternoon we made it out to the main street that goes through Cite Soleil. A little bit of a change. Sun blazing, almost lost it. So hot, but we survived. From Jesus tunes to some hard-core rap. The scene completely changed, but made me smile as we had the opportunity to be right in it, with the people, take it in, work and talk with people we did not know. The description is hard to captivate, but it was a moment for the books. Speakers pumping, tap taps flying by, vendors trying to sell goods and then two crazy blans trying to paint in the middle of the city.

Tomorrow we are back at it again. Three more to go, not one is complete, but getting closer. Please continue to pray for time with the people and community. Pray for vision. Pray for strength and endurance. Pray for change in Haiti. Pray for the children growing up to be leaders.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

2nd day in Cite Soleil

Day two and we found ourselves on a busy road leading out of Cite Soleil. We started off strong and ended sun burned, swollen elbow, and tired. We had a crew of about 10 men today helping us. This picture captures the essence of the day. We painted, talked, painted, laughed at my broken Creole, and painted some more. Had some interesting conversations with the people passing by, some thought the person Caitlin was painting was Aristide, one thought it was the devil, but we ended the day with a portrait of a beautiful Haitian representing the people of Cite Soleil.

It was neat to see the people that the painting drew out. During our sitting moments it was neat to embrace conversation with the people and talk about the mural. What words to add to the photo? What to draw on the mural? Was neat to watch them take it over. By the end of the day we had a graffiti artist join us and help with the drawing. He was not too fond of the tears that Caitlin was creating on the mural. He decided to contribute his skills. He is coming back tomorrow to work with us.

It has been so neat to be in the streets of Cite Soleil. We have been blessed with workers and men to help with painting and security. Today Caitlin crossed the street and one of the guys that was with us watched her like a hawk. He did not like that. Been neat to form relationships with the team and people. Looking forward to tomorrow as it will be another day on the streets with the people.

Highlight of the day had to be taking an hour to sit with the guys and talk about Haiti. Haiti continues to captivate me. One of our workers and I got into a discussion about Aristide. Was neat to hear him speak about how he does not put his trust or hope in Aristide or Man, only God. His smiles and conversations have been highlights of the day.

Continue to pray for safety and time with the people. Pray for endurance. Pray that God would expand our borders and conversation with the people. Pray for this trip that it might continue to birth vision and fruit for Haiti and Making Roots.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Cite Soleil

8 small signs to 5 murals. Cite Soleil 2011

The day started with a young man telling me I was prettier last year. Hhahahah, almost lost it. Day ended with a little boy breaking it done to Micheal Jackson and showing us some karate moves. Good beginning and close to the day! My sister and I almost lost it. I think people are wondering about the crazy “blancs.”

The trip has been encouraging so far. God has provided every little detail. The trip was a blessing. Every plane on time, bags here, paint here, we are safe.

We were anticipating 8 small signs while we were here. We arrived to find walls. The first “sign” we found was definitely a small mural. All of them seem equally big, but we love it. The crew that we are working with has been pure joy. Mostly men, and one gal that if I were to give her a name it would be, “Rough Rider.” She seems like a trooper. Looks tough, but such a sweet spirit, willing to help wherever we go. We were tromping around the city today. By 12 o’clock I felt like it was time for bed. We were able to prime all the walls and get some time to enjoy sitting with friends.

Falling in love with Haiti all over again. Tomorrow we head in for another day of sketching and painting. Please continue to pray for safety as we are working in the city. Most of the time we are on our feet working in the city. Pray for safety, endurance, and time with the people. Here are some photos of beginning stages of our “signs,” which we are now calling murals.