The last week in Haiti I was out with a team from Lafayette, LA at their Sister Church in the village of Picot. I was nervous and excited to see what the Lord was going to do. I met the team members Friday night and found that they are very fun people and I actually remembered some of them from years ago (when I was here with my parents). It was a very great start to an even better week. We left the mission center with no problems Saturday. We were greeted at the church with such warmth and gladness. I have never experienced that feeling. The Haitian people remembered a lot of the team and even if they didn't, they hugged them like they did! It was like true family had come home. Once all the hugs were done there was a formal greeting by the pastor and his wife. After we ate an amazing meal then we went and played with the kids. They taught us a game and it was a lot of fun. You stand in a circle holding hands and sing a Haitian song. Once the song ends you have to try to hit the person's hand next to you. It was really fun. Playing that night I could tell that these kids just wanted love.
The next morning we had Sunday church service which was an exciting time. After lunch there were counseling sessions then youth service then an open air service. I was honored enough to be able to take part of the counseling sessions. A professional counselor was on the team and had prepared several sessions to help earthquake victims deal with what they'd gone through. A lot of the people that came had gone through the earthquake and had lost family members. It was one of my top highlights of the whole trip. It put an actual face to this horrible tragedy that happened. There was a 24 yrs. old girl that lost her mom in the earthquake and everything she had. She left Port and came to Picot to live with her sisters. She was borrowing everything and had very little if any of her own items. I was blessed enough to give her some of my clothes (we were about the same size) and another team member gave her a pair of sandals. It breaks my heart to think of how she feels. It breaks my heart to even think of not having my mom or dad around. In the next day's counseling session there was a woman, her daughter and son. They lost their husband and father due to an illness. I wanted to cry for them. I wanted to be able to do something, but all I could say was that I was proud of them for being so strong. There were no words for what I felt and feel about what happened to both families. There were other families that had lost daughters and sons and you could tell that they hurt so much but were so strong. We can't even imagine what they are going through with having almost nothing in the first place and then losing what they do have.
After the counseling session the youth gathering went well and it was a lot of fun. We got to put on a small skit for the youth and they loved it. It looked like it was going to rain so we had the open air service in the church and it went well. We got loud and proud praising the Lord. I met a cute little girl that stole my heart. She was the cutest, quietest little girl ever!!! The next day we met all the kids who were involved in RMI's Hope For Kidz Program. They sang for us and we sang together. And guess what? That little girl was there that I met the night before! We got to play games with the kids and dance with them. It was such a blessing from God to be with these kids. Giving love and being loved is so rewarding. In the afternoon we were suppose to have the women's tea but there were some mix ups and we had it the next day, Tuesday. One of the team members and I got to openly talk with the ladies in the kitchen about fun, crazy things and just had a great real time with them! We had some good laughs and good tears. Another top favorite time of mine. After talking with the ladies, I was able to play with the kids and just hang out with everyone. Good times!
The next day we were blessed with good weather so the team, RMI staff, and I got to go the Falls. It is a 60 ft. tall beautiful waterfall that is a Haitian national park. The water was really cold but man it was a lot of fun and it is crystal blue water! My family, friends and I used to go to the Falls quite a bit when we lived here. When we returned to the church, the team had a tea for the women in the church. I wasn't able to attend because another counseling session was at the same time, but I heard it went very well. The going away service that night was a lot of fun also. The little girl sat with me and I finally found out her name - Laurna Alexia. Isn't that a beautiful name. She stole my heart. We danced and laughed. The team member who preached had visited Picot 20 years ago. He showed pictures of his visit then and everyone went crazy!!! It was a great time!!!!!!
The next morning was sad, but they knew the team was going to come back so not too many tears were shed. We drove to the retreat center and had the most relaxing time ever. Well...once we went boogie boarding. We had the chance to chill and get to know each other better. One of the team members, Cami, and I found that we had a lot in common and had a great time together. SHOUT out to you girlfriend!
When we got back to the mission center it was pretty crazy! I had to make sure I was packed and everything was in order early enough so I could get my hair braided by a friend's cousin. During my time here I was able to get close to several Haitian girls my age...Mary France (a translator for RMI) and Merry (a Hope For Kidz employee) as well as Merry's cousin. They were all there - and Cami too. It was such a fun experience to get my hair braided and talk with the girls freely and openly. We got closer with each other through that. A SHOUT out to Mary and Merry!!!! It turned out looking great!!
After that Cami and I went to dinner. I took pictures with the team and said goodbye, or more like "see you later". I miss them all so much! It's interesting how close you can get to people in just one week of ministry together. The last minutes at the Cayes airport was bitter... I didn't want to leave at all, but knew I had to. The flight to Port-a-Prince was quick but really pretty to see Haiti from the air. We got through Port easily and went to the waiting area pretty quickly. Pete, Cami, and I had a lot of fun playing cards and laughing. Pete is the team member who had been there 20 years ago. He has known our family since before I was born and kind of saw me grow up as he visited his Sister Church over the years. He was a lot of fun the whole trip! Good times tarantula hunting, Pete! SHOUT out to PETE!
I had a good trip to Miami, but then my flight to Charlotte, NC (where I was to meet my parents - they were in South Carolina helping my grandmother and aunt move into a new house) was canceled. While I was waiting for my hotel and food vouchers from the airlines, God gave me the opportunity to talk to and encourage an airline employee, a brother in Christ. He lost his best friend in the earthquake. I saw so much sadness in his eyes. I was able to encourage him yet at the same time, he encouraged me.
It was pretty difficult to get out of bed the next morning, but I made it on the plane with time to spare. Only by His grace. I was dragging my feet pretty far behind me, though. It was nice to get back but I sure do miss Haiti and my newfound friends, Benjamin, Benson, Merry, Mary France and so many more!!!!! I did cry in the Miami airport but don't tell anyone :). I miss you all so much!
I really want to thank everyone for the support they gave me! Your prayer and financial support made this trip possible. I can't tell you what going back to Haiti has meant to me. I have learned so much...about myself, about Haiti, about life as a missionary, and about full time ministry. I'm still processing it all. Since this is already so long, I'll save it for my next blog. Again, thank you for your help and prayers. I appreciate all of you.