Friday, January 12, 2018

Easter Lutheran Church Day 4 - STRENGTH

I write blogs every week for work; however sitting down to write this blog is a little more difficult…

We are on Day 4 of our Haiti trip and I’ve experienced so many more emotions than I ever could have expected. Each day has been a completely different journey filled with scenes, smiles and stories that are impossible to describe. I’m thankful for each night when we have time to reflect as a group. During this time Pastor Kris asks us each to come up with a “word of the day” that can describe the day. Tonight my word is “strength.”

Today’s agenda included: City Soleil for two water truck stops, St. Joseph’s Home for Boys (memorial visit), and Home for Sick and Dying Babies.

Water Truck: City Soleil
At the first water truck stop I decided to get a different perspective from our stops on Tuesday. I helped hold the water hose. This lent the opportunity to be at the front of where the buckets were lined up and constantly budged forward to fill before the water supply ran dry. A teammate, Tracy, kept an eye on me and must have noticed I was a bit overwhelmed (and feeling like I should have done those extra push-ups before this trip!) and offered to take the hose. Before the hose lifted off my shoulders on to Tracy’s, a woman pushed a baby into my arms. I looked into the baby’s eyes and she started waving and laughing! I learned her name was Mary. A moment later, I felt a hand tightly grip my arm and nudge me to a full water pail. I grabbed the pail (with Mary still in arm) and start following a boy as he led me down a path to his home. As I knew from water truck day 1, the full buckets were not light! I began to set down the bucket before reaching the destination, but a woman walked past and caught my eye – she looked about my age. She was carrying TWO babies AND carrying a full bucket on her head.  Earlier this week Pastor Kris told us to look out for God – and there He was. His strength was clearly in this woman who persisted home and I instantly felt new energy. I picked up the bucket and walked beside her (well, a few paces behind her) until I was near the boy’s doorstep.

The second water truck stop was bittersweet, as it was the last of our trip. I spent time talking with a boy who spoke a “small amount of America.” He was holding a deflated soccer ball, so we talked about our favorite soccer positions and players. All week I’ve enjoyed finding simple commonalities with these beautiful people. I looked around, soaked up the scene of our group laughing, singing, and spreading love to so many people.

St. Joseph’s Home for the Boys.
This was a beautiful place in Port-Au-Prince with plenty of luscious trees and a newly built guesthouse (rebuilt after the 2010 earthquake.) Here we were welcomed in and shown Ben Larson’s dedicated memorial. Ben’s story touched me. Ben Larson went to Luther College and went to Wartburg Seminary. Ben, his cousin and his wife were doing service in Haiti when the earthquake hit. Ben was graciously heard singing a hymn as he was buried in the rubble. Tragically, he didn’t make it, but St. Joseph’s dedicated a guesthouse room in his memory. We visited the room, sang Amazing Grace and remembered Ben and the many others lost in the disaster.

We climbed up at least six floors and were awe-struck when we saw the breathtaking view of Haiti – filled with stacked homes and rolling mountains.

Home for Sick and Dying Babies
The last stop of the day was quick, but memorable to say the least. This home was for babies, infants and young children to go when their health is deteriorated. We fed the children and held them close for as long as we could. Our group agreed – the hardest part of this stop was to leave!

4:53 p.m.
Back at the Healing Haiti guesthouse, our group observed silence in memory for those lost in the earthquake, which hit at 4:53, January 12 2010. For this minute it seemed as though car horns, voices, and music typically heard in the distance was completely muted. It was incredible and heartbreaking at the same time.

I’m thankful for the strength God gave me to say “yes” to this trip and I can’t wait  to “come and see” God’s love in Haiti during our remaining days here.

- Jenna Mushro