Sorry, I was unable to update yesterday! If you checked the church blog, you would see that we had lots going on!
I think yesterday was the best day I’d had in a long time. My roommate and I accidentally woke up and hour earlier (her cell phone was still set in EST) that required, and were sitting waiting at the breakfast table for several minutes before we realized our mistake.
Fortunately, it gave us a fantastic opportunity to have coffee (Haitian coffee is DELICIOUS), quiet time and an opportunity to share with each other how God was moving in us. Once the rest of the group joined us, we had a delicious meal before heading out to the boys’ orphanage at Grace International.
At the complex, we learned that the first job they had for us was to construct a fence to separate the living quarters of the boys’ orphanage with the rest of the church. Which, if you had all the materials and tools in the world, should be no problem for someone like me (with an architecture background) and a civil engineering background (which Greg had) to figure out how to construct.
Well, with a large stick, no concrete for foundation, a rubble-filled terrain to build on top of, one shovel, one pickaxe, and no hammers…
…let’s just say, Thank God we had local Haitian volunteers around the corner, eager to help and with a practical knowledge of how to build something out of nothing.
While Greg and his wife Steph headed out to help purchase lumber, the rest of the team waited on site to standby. We were standing around, wondering how to kill time when suddenly a group of 4-10 year-old-boys poked their heads around the corner to wave at us (later I found out from our Grace International Rep Johnette, that we were the first Asian people they have ever seen in their lives).
Thinking back, I don’t even know how it happened, but our entire group had suddenly erupted into a show of the guys showing magic tricks with cards (to the delight of the little kids), a little dance party to the music that came out of Danny’s phone, the kids schooling us in Korean jacks (if I’m not mistaken, either they have a game just like it in Haiti, or they’re just really really good…or we’re really really bad), and pretend martial arts fighting (I know, I’m furthering their stereotype of Asians, but they enjoyed it so much, haha!)
At first, they were very cautious of warming up to us, but before we knew it, they were teaching us new card games, showing us their dance moves, and we were all laughing and smiling and playing effortlessly…
I think that’s what the word of the day is…effortless. Everything was so natural, because everyone was genuinely in love with one another. My mom “warned” me that I would experience a little bit of heaven here, and I did.
Almost too soon, the materials had arrived and we set forth to build.
Unfortunately, at first, the girls didn’t have anything to do, as the limited number of tools available were being handled by the boys. But during that time, God didn’t give us a single minute before he provided an opportunity for us to “work” in a different way. Local tent community children had joined us, having heard all of the laughter coming through the gate of the complex. The group included little girls that I sidled next to, and in my limited Creole, chatted with. They were shy, but like the boys, quickly warmed up to us. Before we knew it, each of us had a child holding our hands, playing games, or even just sitting quietly with.
In particular, a little girl named Clemen had captured my heart. As a preface, if you know me like my family does, you would know that I have a hard time relating or hanging out with little kids. But she made the first move, slipping her hand in mind and leaning her head on my shoulder. Before I knew it, my head was on hers, and together, we looked through the Haitian Creole/English book I had brought with me, as she gently corrected my pronunciations and laughed at the sillier phrases in the textbook. She even taught me a hand-clap game~ But when it was time to “shoo” away the little kids (as construction was getting dangerous), she hung around for an extra 20 minutes, just watching me and waving every time I caught her eye. It broke my heart.
When the girls finally had a physical task to perform (lugging water back and forth from a well in buckets to help create a cement-like mixture to set the vertical wooden posts into the ground), we did it with the help of a boy named Wilkins. The pre-teen boy was the biggest practical joker I had ever met, scaring us, tapping us on the shoulder and pretending that he didn’t, and falling on the group laughing as Koo tried to pronounce the world “dlo (water).” But he was the hardest worker I had ever met, too. Working joyfully and diligently amidst the pranks and laughter, all of the girls fell in love with him.
Today was hard and long work…but it was effortless, thank You, Jesus. Whether it was bonding on our van rides with our security guards (one in particular FINALLY opened up to us when we asked her in Creole if she had any children, which she proudly does), talking with Chris (a tri-lingual pastor in training that served as a fellow worker and translator) and teaching him Korean, playing with the kids (who were the highlights of our day), or completing the structural framework of our humble fence (I felt more pride and accomplishment at making this fence than I had working on casinos, restaurants, and hotels combined)…
…I don’t think I have ever been so happy the past 24 hours than I have been back home in the States.
I had purpose, drive, passion, and love shown to me and exuded from me today, and I experienced a taste of heaven on earth.