For anyone who has ever been to Haiti on a trip, you have most likely experienced "Water Truck Day." This post is not for you. You already know how crazy, amazing, beautiful, and chaotic it is. You already know what to expect going into a day like I experienced today. This post is for the rest of you. Those who can't even begin to imagine what this is like. If that is you, please read on. (Even if you have been here and experienced it, I bet you will get it too so feel free to read on).
So as I mentioned, we had "Water Truck Day" today, which consists of us following an old milk truck that has been converted to haul 3,500 gallons of water into the streets of Cite Soleil, where they have no access to water. Not just no plumbing, no running water, but no other access at all to clean water. There was a moment pulling into the city where I realized that I could see women and children running along side our Tap Tap and carrying buckets and trying to beat the line because once the water runs out, it is out and we have to move on the the next site and empty the next water truck. I was overwhelmed and realized in that moment that we are all blessed immeasurably. Even if someone lives in these conditions, or what we know back home. We are blessed to have an opportunity to serve these people that so desperately need us to be the hands and feet of Jesus. They are blessed and grateful to receive our support in many ways, but today, it was all about water.
The scene was almost unimaginable to me as we arrived, even though I had been prepared ahead of time. Garbage everywhere, a smell you can hardly imagine, slums and poverty line the streets of this city, but what we were there to do was so much bigger, so much more important that focusing on that in the moment. We were there to deliver water. Life-giving, life-sustaining, and all too precious a commodity for these Haitians. I will never look at water the same again. After the last stop, I will never look at a port-a-potty the same again because one family used an old tank to fill up with their water and that is something I will not forget!
A young girl at our third stop of the day grabbed on to me and would not let go. This is not much different than all the other stops of the day because we were all practically human jungle gyms. The only time she let me set her down was to go help with the hose on the water truck. Anyway, this little girl had absolutely no clothes on but some pink sandals on her feet and she and I didn't speak the same language, but I picked her up and we bonded. We bonded over a few short phrases I have learned in Creole (one of which is "Ou Pote m'" and means "You carry me?") and she knew this one unmistakable fact that she sang in a joyous song over and over with me: God is so good, is so good, is so good, God is! Our lives are so completely different in every possible way but one: we both love a great God!
Wednesday, June 22, 2016
Today is one of my favorite days on this trip. We spent our time between 2 different orphanages we support.
We loaded the team up at 9 a.m. and headed to our first stop-Dares Orphanage. This was the first time I’ve been to this orphanage. What makes this so wonderful is that it’s an orphanage for physically and mentally challenged kids.
Culturally many of these kids, when born, are abandoned by their parents. For these who make it to Dares, the care of the staff of this orphanage give them a somewhat normal life. The kids seemed to range in age between 2-13. They also range from physically completely challenged to some mental impairment.
That’s where the differences seem to stop. Bottom line these kids are kids. They love to play. They love to laugh. They love to be active.
We spent nearly 3 hours with these wonderful kids in the morning.
We then headed back to the mission house to connect with the entire 28 person team. After a bathroom pit stop and some mid day snacks we headed to our 2nd orphanage called LeFeur.
There we encountered more kids as kids. We had brought a lot games, craft items, coloring books and the hit of the day-a jump rope.
The teenage girls in this orphanage were awesome as tandem jump roping. The boys were as well.
Not to be outdone, the team all took to jumping and before the afternoon was over almost everyone took a shot at it. Even me.
Monday is the traditional travel day for our HealingHaiti.org mission trips.
Most of the team is Minneapolis based so they leave from that airport. I wasn't able to make that connection from Madison so I flew to Miami on Father's Day and met up with the team at 11:30 a.m. at the Miami Airport.
My first impression was the group was HUGE! We all wear a white Healing Haiti t-shirt on travel day. This serves 2 purposes-one, it's easy to identify and make sure all of our team members are present and accounted for, and two, there's always great conversations with other who are curious about us and our mission work.
This trip consists of 2 teams of 14 people each. I was asked to co-lead because the groups have gotten so big.
So imagine arriving in an airport, as we did into Port au Prince, with 28 people who each had 3 suitcases each (2 checked bags and 1 carry on) . Then imagine not only baggage claim and it's chaos, imagine the train of suitcases and 28 people moving toward our transportation, which in Haiti is a covered pickup truck called a Tap Tap.
Our great Healing Haiti staff met us outside the airport, we loaded up 2 tap taps and we headed to the mission house.
On the ride to the house I started to get a sense of who was our "newbies" to Haiti and here were our veterans. It seems as if 50% of the group is experiences this wonderful country for the first time and the other half have made at least 1 or more mission trips here.