Welcome to these folks from The Link. Good to see old friends and great to meet new ones.
Originally written on Monday the 20th but due to IT glitches couldn't be posted last night.
Shanda's thought of the day- "Great day... no spiders"
Delynne's thought of the day- "Good day... got to sit by Chad on this leg of the journey, not Steve (T)"
Tania's thought of the day- "Let the baby cuddling begin!"
Steve F's thought of the day- "So impressed with the incredible positive changes since my first visit 4 years ago."
Steve T's thought of the day- "6 trips to Haiti and I finally got to sit with my wife on the plane!"
Chad's thought of the day (and my turn to blog)
As a first time visitor to Haiti, I really didn't know what to expect. As much as I've heard stories from Team Members who've been here before and looked at pictures, I've decided that there is no way anyone could be prepared for this place without actually coming here. The country is a complete dichotomy, on one hand is shares most of the great Caribbean qualities of its neighbours (warm climate, jungle, beaches, etc.) but on the other shows the visual devastation you would only ever see in one of those Hollywood blockbusters about the end of the world. Driving from the airport, I witnessed a City of 4 million practically living on top of eachother in small homes that look like they just barely survived the earthquake of 4 years ago or in tents made of tarps, plastic, cardboard and who knows what else. Generally, the people we passed were well dressed and appear to be content going about their days. We passed motorcycles transpoting what appeared to be whole families of 4 on one bike through traffic that made drivers in Mexico look like Canadian drivers. I don't share any of this to be insulting, the people here obviously due the best they can with what they have, its just that I have never witnessed anything like it and typing it out here is helping me process the overwhelming stimulus being in such a different land than home.
As for Haiti Arise, it is an oasis in the midst of the lingering devastation here. The village we are in is basically a beaten dirt trail winding across the side of a hill with small homes on either side build with no apparent pattern. You can quickly identify a home of someone with means as it is surrounded by an 8' high concrete block wall made of blocks that were made on site using bagged cement and aggregate crushed by hand. Haiti Arise is made up of three of these walled properties. The main building where I am sitting now is on a 4 acre plot that houses an elementary school attended by 375 local children, a medical clinic that serves the area, an outdoor church, a technical school that has almost 500 students enrolled, gardens, the biggest mango tree in the world (ok, maybe the second biggest), utility buidings and the main building with kitchen, dorm rooms, bathrooms, common areas, etc. The second property that we visited on our walk through town is twice the size and is currently empty except for two duplexes at various stages of construction. The site is the future home of the children's village, I won't go into the details on that as you can read all about it on the website but it is going to be an amazing complex that will be able to serve the community in some incredible ways. The last place we went was a walled goat farm. This place was completely empty except for the goats and a few chickens but also has a water well on it that the locals can access. To me though, the best part of the day happened in the first 15 minutes that we were here. As we walked past the Tech School the kids from the elementary school up the road were let out on lunch break. Needless to say, we were swarmed by all these little kids aged between 5 and 10. In spite of the obvious challenges caused by were they come from, the kids were smiling ear to ear and really sweet. A few of them would just walk up and gently put their hand in mine and walk with me. Not all were so quiet though. One little girl of probably 5 years old ran up and jumped on me and wrapped herself around my legs and just smiled up at me. The kids learn French in school so I was actually able to speak with a few of the older ones with my limited ability but could tell that even just being able to communicate with some of us white strangers brought them a lot of joy. One little boy, I think his name was Christienne, who looked to be around 10 years old especially seemed to want to practice his French so we just chatted a little back and forth.
Tomorrow, the hard work begins. Our morning will be spent getting organized but by the afternoon we should be painting and tiling in one of the duplexes at the children's village. By the sounds of things, the work here is never ending so we will probably have an opportunity to do many other jobs around the compound.
Tonight I sit here typing thankful to God for this opportunity, thankfoul for all the incredible blessings that I have living in Canada but probably most of all missing my wife and two little boys. I wonder what life would be like if I had been born here and had our boys here. I can tell this is going to be life-changing and am praying that I will be open to God's voice when it comes.
Good night... and please say a prayer for Haiti.