I'm so relieved I brought my big camera to Haiti...to capture this. But even then, this place is soooo hard to capture through a lens, even with a good camera. But I try.And out the right window, a man peeing on the sidewalk, and the worst slums you can possibly imagine. A boy comes out of the ocean naked. Just done with his morning bath. We drive on. A few feet later, a man dumps a pan of bathroom waste into that same water.
As we drive, they stare at us. And we stare right back. Clearly, two worlds apart. We stop for motorcycles to whiz by, or for a goat to run across the road. As we do, we are sometimes inches from these Haitian men and women, strangers passing by. Maybe on their way to collect water, find food for their family, or for 10% of people in Haiti, going to work. I can't always tell where they are going. but they are going. They all seems to be in motion. Walking. Walking. Endlessly walking. We pull down the road that leads to the church and to day 2 of VBS. So much awaits us. So much for God to teach us. 'Father, what do you want me to learn today? I'm yours.'
It's been 3 days since we arrived here in Haiti. It was three days ago that we left the airport. Brandi and I were riding in the front seat on our trip from the airport. We went through big towns, small towns on our way to St. Marc. In one of those towns along the way, we saw a Mother carrying a baby. It's hot, she looks desperate. Brandi, who was sitting in the middle of the front seat, reaches across me to hand the desperate Mama her half drank water bottle. The Mama immediately lifts the bottle to the babies mouth and gives her some cool water. Before we know it, the van starts moving again and the Mama and baby are just another face behind us in the crowd.
Wick leads us in team devotion and prayer, which I video on my iPhone. We are literally standing in a pile of garbage. But this is nothing new. There is garbage EVERYWHERE. Greg says this is way better than it used to be years ago. They now have a garbage removal system. I think I can't imagine it being worse. There is trash on the road, in the gutter, in the church, around the church, the kids play in it...
Victoria keeps saying that everything here is opposites. I'm starting to get it. She's right. As I'm videoing on my cool new iPhone, the men behind Wick are pushing a huge truck up the hill. Away. Away from us. Away from this pile of trash that we are standing in. Away to whatever is next in their day. We start setting up and the kids start arriving.
They come in packs.
Cute little girls and their friends.
Boys and their buddies.
These children are starved for love.
Wilda, the prettiest little girl. Eyelashes so long they touch her eyelids. Chocolate eyes that smile and dance. A little mischief and a lot darling.
They love fist bumps and high fives. They love to laugh. This morning, we start with songs. We act nuts and they smile and eat us up with their eyes. We sing Baby Shark. They watch and mimic. I turn on the Chicken Dance and stand in the middle of the huge mass of children. I crouch down inbetween all the kids and hold the speaker above my head. I watch as our team leads them in singing and dancing. Glad to see it from the kids perspective. This IS so great. I feel like a big kid.
It gives me a minute to take it all in. I imagine seeing this scene from a birds eye view. Like a Google satellite map. The one that allows you to plug in an address and go from seeing it from a satellite. You see the country, zoom in to the state, zoom in the city, the neighborhood and finally the house.
I see a large island in the Atlantic ocean...it's Haiti, zoom in. A large town ...St Marc, zoom in. A slummy area with broken down homes and broken down cars, zoom in. A dirt and trash road, zoom in. A building...it's a church. It has no roof. There's a small blue tarp beside it. And under the blue tarp a couple of people from SC and lots and lots of sweet Haitian kids.
But what is happening under this blue tarp is supernatural. God is changing lives. God is changing ME.This little girl showed up today. Her right foot mangled. She's here. No mother around. I hold her. Her foot looks wierd. She hobbles on it. But she can walk. I wonder if it hurts every step. She's wearing jelly shoes that, while cute, CAN'T be comfortable. I wonder if she told her mother that.
I ask my sweet translator Kally to ask her what happened to her leg.
They shake their head, no.
Kally: 'She says she fell.'
Half the kids stay under the tarp. They are coloring, doing Salvation bracelets and other crafts. The other half come into the sun with Victoria and me for dancing, singing and game time. Then after 45 minutes or so, we switch and have the other half.
At least...that was the plan...
We do Ring around the Rosies, total challenge when you don't speak the language. We do Evelyn's favorite, the Dinosaur stomp song. They like that one. They do the Haitian song where you shake your bootie over a plate. They laugh and love that one. They can't get close enough to me. Literally.
My soaking wet, sweaty pink shirt is stretched out by a few inches from them hanging on it. Victoria and I play in the sun with the kids until we can't do it anymore. It's been over an hour and we need some shade. I think to myself, teaching bootcamp is NOTHING compared to swimming in sweat with 100 love-starved children.
We decide to find shade. At this point, we have to find shade.
So, we march.
Like a sweaty, Haitian congo line.
So we march.
Victoria has a slew of sweaty ones, I have the other sweaty group.
We are singing and dancing as we march.
I am dehydrated.
I am overextended.
They EACH require more love than I have to give.
So, I smile at one.
Cup anothers chin in my hand.
It's actually like opening a bag of really salty chips. Having one only makes you want to have another and another until you are shoveling the chips into your mouth unabashedly.
The kids are that way.
I touch one on the head.
I'm glad I'm tall.
My soul is so connected to these kids...without even consciously knowing I'm doing it, I let each these little sweet ones into my heart.
I feel my heart stretchingggg so bigggg.
Just mere days later, I am standing in a big pile of trash that I never in a million years would have stepped in. Much less looked at....or taken a line of kids through.
But here we are.
'Shout for joy to the Lord, all the earth.' Psalm 100:1
It is the only way to the shade. And shade was what we HAVE to have. An escape from the harsh brutality of one of the Haitians worst enemies, the sun.
Kally teaches us a song in this trash pile, '...From Cross to Cross....my Jesus is the best....my Jesus is the best...'Over and over we sing this song in the trash.
Everything here feels spiritual.
Everything here IS spiritual.
There's nothing else.
There's just a big bunch of kids SURVIVING.
We're all dehydrated.
No one ever goes to the bathroom.
Not the team.
Not the children.
So we are stomping.
The dirt sticks better when you're sweaty.
It's brown, black, grey.
The children study me so carefully that they wipe my dirty arms. They can see my dirt because I am so white.
The dirt shows up on me.
But, they want it OFF.
I'M a mess.
In my sweat.
In their sweat.
It's just a mess here. Their stories break my heart. I see their outward scars. Scars on heads, cheeks...Broken feet. Pain shoots from their eyes.
Sometimes the sadness seems almost unbearable, the problems unsolvable, the wounds unhealable.
But, I will keep trying anyway.
Jesus rose from the dead.
His resurrection is real!
Light can pierce darkness.
God is eternal.
I may never see the end of horrendous situations in Haiti, so instead of trying to fix the situation here and now, I remember what Brian said...
'Jennie, It doesn't matter if you have the right clothes, shoes and supplies for your trip. You need your passport. And to remember two things, and two things only.
1) Tell them about Jesus.
So, I focus on helping these children come to Heaven with me. It's all about my humble king.
Jesus Christ has overcome trash.