This was a day that the Lord made.
Our first outreach of the day was to a home for 25 elderly women in Port Au Prince. This is a wonderful, unique, special place where women who have no family to care for them are tended to by a group of Catholic Sisters.
In Haiti, when people reach a certain point in their lives where they are no longer able to provide for their family, they often excuse themselves and disappear so as not to burden their family. What happens to them I can not say, but it is rarely the outcome we experienced today.
We traveled through the extremely crowded center of the city and up the mountain to where our transport had to stop because the road was blocked by a dump truck. We carried our equipment the rest of the way up the dirt road, knocked on the iron gate and were greeted by the nicest nun you've ever met.
The ladies were seated and anxiously ready for us and seated in rows of chairs on a covered veranda that sometimes serves as the garage for the sister's suv or motorcycles.
Our wonderful team immediately dove in with bottles of lotion and massaged the hands and feet of all the ladies. Then we broke out the fingernail polish and did up their nails and pampered them as best we could in the short time we had.
To say that this was not awkward would be a lie. It was probably as 'different' for them as it was for us, but it didn't take time for everyone to settle into their roles, myself and the other boys included, as nail artists.
As we wrapped up the manis and pedis, I got out a guitar and started playing Amazing Grace very quietly. One of the non-verbal women, who had refused the manicure, immediately lit up and started dancing in her seat and humming along. We broke into song and the entire room erupted with music.
It was a magical time. For the next hour, we sang song after song with, for, and to, a group of people who were genuinely, abundantly appreciative of our special day with them.
Following the songs, we treated them to a feast of meat and cheese sandwiches, chips, applesauce and Tampica (juice.) What they didn't eat, they hoarded for later.
All of us will remember this day.
We spent the next couple hours at the Haitian National History Museum so that we could all gain a little knowledge about how this country came to be. In a nutshell, for those who don't know, the island was originally colonized by people from Brazil and Venezuela hundreds and hundreds of years ago. Christopher Columbus and his crew landed here and began the process of enslaving the original inhabitants. Eventually the aboriginal settlers were eradicated and slaves from Africa were brought in to work on plantations. The French challenged the Spaniards, the island was divided in two and Spain kept the Dominican Republic and France kept Haiti.
In 1804 the slaves overthrew the French (led by 40,000 of Napoleon's soldiers) and won their independence. They have been working hard to survive as best they can on this island ever since.
We rounded out the rest of the day at an orphanage where we again sang songs, played games, and did crafts with a fantastic group of children. I am always amazed by how universal our songs are and how many of the people of Haiti sing along with us.
It was a great day.