If yesterday was effortless, today was draining to the point of feeling defeated.
We started off the day just as energetic and early as the one before. 4 of the girls went to assist the older women in the kitchen to prepare food for the tent community children, while the rest of the team went back to the boy’s orphanage to finish the fence.
The fence went up without a hitch. In the span of 7:30 am to 11:00 am, we had completed the fence from top to bottom, with doors on each end to boot. We felt so proud of what we managed to accomplish in such a short amount of time and praised God that we were able to do so before we had to leave. The four girls that prepared food also were able to distribute school supplies to the children who were studying at Grace International.
The next place we went to was back to the Grace International campus. Together, we assembled baggies of donated clothes with toothbrushes, diapers, and other amenities to hand out to the little kids that were going to come through the gates for food.
With the money that was raised back home in the States, we were able to feed over 700 children…but they were the most heartbreaking 700 children we had ever encountered.
After yesterday’s experiences, and before the chaos set in, we were all super pumped and excited to give a meal to the little ones in the tent community. But the moment they opened the gates to start letting kids in, we saw the frantic panic and chaos of kids trying to be part of the first group to get fed. Parents were almost throwing their babies over the crowd and into our arms in order for them to get fed.
The most difficult logistical issue we had was figuring out whether or not kids that came through the gate weren’t trying to sneak back in for a second serving of food. If a kid managed to slip through and eat two meals, that meant that a kid would not be able to go through and eat at all. It was a very difficult situation, so our plan was to mark every kid’s thumb near the cuticle and side with a sharpie marker (so that it would be difficult to wash out).
Unfortunately, we didn’t take into consideration how dirty and damaged all of the kid’s fingers were. My job was the marker, and I have never held so many little hand in my own in my entire lifetime combined…and by the time the second round of 140 children came in, I purposefully tried to get lost into the chaos, to merely smile and mark the kids, because my heart was falling apart every single time I saw a child with a shattered nail, a sore on their finger, a cut, covered in dirt and grime…
I wanted to stop the food line, take each child to the nearest sink, and clean their hands. Maybe even put a band-aid on the ones that needed one…
All I could think about was that if this was MY child, their hands would be clean, if injured, bandaged, if bruised, kissed…I didn’t know what to do with all those hands.
It was chaos. I would go into more detail, but it was what it was. By the time the last bowl was gone, and we had to shut the gates on more children waiting outside, we all looked as though we had lost our will to keep going.
Later that night, when we discussed what happened, all of us broke down into tears, men and women alike. Because despite the defeat, we saw Jesus working in what had happened. Whether it was the child that looked at Abe and said in English, “Thank You, Jesus” before he ate, or the boy that turned around to sidle up to me before running out the gates and give me a hug for the food, or how each round of children that came in said the Lord’s Prayer before eating with enthusiasm that transcended their hunger…we saw hope in the little bit of work we did today.
After feeding them, none of us were hungry and forced down mouthfuls of food before driving out to see Bishop Jeune’s newly purchased land in Haiti.
While there, we felt more hope build up again, as we saw the rich expanse of land with cattle, pigs, chickens, goats, and other livestock meandering through, and the large hole in the ground that was being constructed as the village bathroom. To our joy, and honor, Metro is funding that bathroom for the people of the village to use, instead of having little kids wander into the bush to go.
On our way back to Grace International, we had an hour or so to kill, so we decided to go and play with the kids, while some of the guys played soccer with the older men in the village (Metro got schooled by people who didn’t even play with shoes).
As the sun set on us, we began to feel hope rise up again. I had to, at one point, hide my camera, as the kids were doing anything they could to get a moment of my attention and were grabbing the camera to get a picture taken of them.
A little girl sat herself in my lap as I “drew” with little pebbles. A crowd of kids came to watch, and with every object I drew, they shouted out what it was in Creole. They were sad to see us go, and some held our hands and walked with us all the way up to the security gate before we said our good-byes.
Tomorrow is a new day. We have more preparation and experience now, and with a different set of expectations. We will smile more, take a little bit more time to help feed the smallest of the children who need help, and commit ourselves to not be so worried about logistics. We will do our best to just love like Jesus did.
We will be coming back to the States earlier than expected due to the impending hurricane. But though we may be leaving early, we all want to come back, with a bigger force of people and volunteers and supplies. We know the situation now, and the need is as great as ever. If you find it in your heart and calling to come with us next time, or to donate supplies and money, please let me know and I will make sure it happens.