Friday, October 18, 2013

Haiti Journal - Day 2

Sorry for the delay.
Here's my journal entry for my second day in Haiti:

The morning commute is so much more intense than any I've seen! Atlanta's got nothing compared to Haiti! Yesterday we visited School of the Good Sower and the girl that showed us around, Dora, is from Hungry. She asked that we pray for someone to come in to do praise and worship with the children.  The person that was doing it before had to leave and the kids are really missing that experience. Especially the kids in the special needs area.

Our first school we visited today was having their first day of classes. Some of the children, mainly the younger ones, were definitely missing the moms.  There was one small boy who came to school but was not allowed in to class because he didn't have a uniform, which are required of all students; and his parents did not meet with the school director.  So when we pulled up he was sitting under a tree listening to the class he would be in from the outside.  I think if a student in the States was not allowed in class he would have left.

As we are driving around Haiti I'm surprised at the number of cell phones that I see. Plus the advertisements for smart phones.  A country that is the poorest in the Western Hemisphere I wonder where they get the money for these "luxuries?" Plus, I see a lot of signs for a national lottery! AMAZING!

I've tried to take a number of "postcard" pictures of Haiti. It's such a beautiful country! However, no matter where you look you can't see the beauty of this country without seeing the devastation and the poverty.  I think God has done that on purpose - He doesn't want me to forget that the people here are truly struggling and have real needs.

On our way to the next school we passed a beautiful housing complex. There were hundreds of apartment homes - all vacant! I was told that the reasons were: 1 - the trees had been torn down, 2 - too far from any market, and 3 - too much red tape to qualify.  Seems like when the government thinks they are doing some favors they really are not helping at all.  Sound a little familiar?

We also passed one of the largest tent cities in the country. Nearly four years after the quake people are still living in makeshift tents. There are so many unfinished construction projects throughout the country.  I was told that most construction costs nearly $1,000 per square meter! An average size house could cost hundreds of thousands of dollars. No wonder nothing is finished.

We stopped by the only monument to those that lost their lives in the earthquake.  At one time it was a huge crater that was used as a place to dump the bodies found.  The earthquake caused nearly 300,000 people to lose their lives and 200,000 are buried at this site.  A private citizen built the monument because he thinks his wife is buried here.  The place is eerily quiet. That place made a huge impact on me.  (I found a rock there that I have to this day. I have it to remind me of those that survived the quake and continue to struggle.  I pray for them daily).

The second school we visited had nearly 180 students. The youngest was about 3 years old.  We had a great time here. Sang and played - actually had one little girl bounce me out of musical chairs! She thought it was funny a little thing like her was able get me, a big guy, out of the way! So far on this trip we haven't been confronted with poverty or heartbreak. I mean, we've seen it at the schools and through the windows of our SUVs but not really face-to-face. Until...

The third school of the day was the poorest yet.  The buildings were made of grass walls and tin roofs. When we pulled up we were greeted at the gate with cheers and songs. I kinda felt like a rock star! I had the chance to visit with a sweet little girl. She didn't say much as we sat together and colored. Her face said enough. Once I showed the picture I took of her on my phone she opened up a little and smiled.

While we were there we also had the chance to visit a family at their home.  At first I was little aprehensive about this visit. I don't think I do to well in those situations.  We began our walk which seemed to be for miles (remember - I'm in long pants and in 98 degree heat with a heat index of 130 degree plus). We passed through a few homesteads and farms and finally made it to the family we were going to visit.  The father was a former government messenger who lost his position when the new president came in to power.  He now farms bananas and eggplant. While we were talking he shared how much he appreciates the work of Cross and our partnership with them.  He was grateful for the school we were supporting because he knows his children will get an education and have at least one meal a day.

Our final vist was to Together in Christ (TIC). This place is amazing! A school, an orphanage, and even a place where area pastors can be equipped. We met with Gladys and her husband Pastor "Henry" who both shared how the property was acquired and what they have done in the last several years. The verse they live by is 1 Samuel 7:14 and they wish for me to pray that their children will receive kindness.  They don't want us to pray for an easy life but to pray for them to be stronger people.

What a overwhelming day! So much emotion and so many thoughts.  What do I do with all this?

My final journal entry will be posted later.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Haiti Journal - Day 1

Well it's been a week since I was in Haiti and I've had so many ask about my trip. Obviously I wish I could share everything that I experienced but that would take more time than most have available.  After a lot of thought I have decided to share my journal that I kept while in Haiti. Today's post is from my first day.  I hope that it will adequately share how I was feeling.

Haiti - Day 1
After a turbulent flight to Florida and a good dinner with mom and the Cross Team I hoped to get a good nights rest but I tossed a lot, not quite getting comfortable. Before I knew it, 3am came around and it was time to get up and prepare for the trip.

Once we arrive at the airport I began to feel those anxious feelings - what am I doing? How will this affect me? Even now, as I'm on the plane, I still feel lost in all of this.  It all feels surreal.

(This part of the journal entry was written at the end of the day)
We visiting 3 schools today.  The word that best describes my feelings is "overwhelmed." The first  school, Santo School, they sang and quoted Psalm 23.  These were some of the sweetest faces that I've seen. One little guy - while we were praying - had such a precious face while praying.

The next school was Bute Boyer (sp?). The director of the school is the son of the founder who was killed during the earthquake. The school building crumbled on him. The school (year) started late and had only 7 students the first day. Today there were about 20-30. I had the chance to serve lunch to the students.

The last school, School of the Good Sower, is a school and orphanage. They also have a special needs wing. These children are the forgotten ones. Made eye contact with a little boy there who just lit up! What a precious smile he has! There was one little girl who was found in a trash heap. This was an amazing day! Tomorrow promises to be another great one. I'm so grateful for the team around me - especially Frank Sontag. Frank is becoming a good friend.

Tomorrow I will have my journal entry for day 2.