Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Craig's March 2010 Haiti Trip

Our team plus a couple extras who were still there when we got there.
My trip was planned for March 2010. I was put in a group with six other men that I had never met. We were going to be working on the perimeter wall for the orphanage. On the airplane headed to Haiti, Cory Grimm our leader, shared with us that we would be stuccoing the 8 foot wall around the football field sized orphanage grounds. The reason for doing this was to get rid of the tarantulas, scorpions and bats that lived in the crevices in the wall.  Cory also informed us that there was a Haitian crew working on the wall previously but they were fired because they weren’t getting the work done. That crew vowed to kill any other crew that Pam (Mission Haiti founder) hired to finish the job. We laughed it off but were thankful that the Lord was guiding our way.

I began a journal on my trip and will try to incorporate segments of the journal when appropriate. "It's very evident to me looking back that God has been ahead of this trip for many, many years! I have 100% peace and comfort knowing that…no matter what happens anywhere and anytime on this trip."

Haiti's National Capitol
When we landed, we were amazed by the heat, humidity and smell of Port-au-Prince. The temperatures were in the mid-nineties and humidity was 80-90%. Immediately upon leaving the airport, it was obvious already what my “word” for the trip was…Unbelievable!!  Throughout the trip I learned about the unbelievable destruction from the earthquake, the unbelievable hope of the Haitian people, and the unbelievable joy regardless of their circumstances.  

This is a boulevard in the middle of two lanes of traffic. Yes, those are homes!
Seeing the busy-ness and craziness of Port-au-Prince two months after the devastating 7.0 earthquake, was more eye-opening than I even expected. Despite the piles of rubble everywhere, it seemed as if life was going on as if nothing had happened. The streets were full of concrete rubble, people, cars, motorcycles and tap-taps (colorful Haitian taxis/buses). We drove around Port-au-Prince for about an hour picking up people to take to the orphanage.

The scenery wasn’t like anything that I expected. “Once out of Port, the countryside is beautiful, the coast, the mountains, the people are all amazing.” My first five hours in country were spent in the back of a pickup sitting on a 2x6 board, padlocked inside of an iron cage. “It really wasn’t that bad, and only the last four hours did my butt hurt. A small price to pay to help these people.”
As we drove through the mountains and along the coast, my excitement grew because we were getting closer to the orphanage and meeting the kids. The final two or three hundred yards in the cage were very bumpy and we were thrown around whacking our heads on the roof of the cage. It was a relief to get out.

When we got out of the truck, the kids were there greeting us and helping us unpack and move into the Mission house. We had already worked up an appetite and enjoyed our first of many meals of rice and beans that evening. (Or was it beans and rice?)

 It was quickly obvious that God had a different plan for our trip. The sand needed to stucco the wall didn’t show up until our last day. Rather than working on the wall, we spent time doing various construction jobs around the orphanage and Mission house. We built bunk beds, cabinets, shelving, school benches and a bed for Fern, the orphanage mom. We also got to deliver school supplies to Mission Haiti sponsored schools. We hiked to “Mountain School” where I met our newly sponsored Haitian family (the Noel family).

Because we were waiting for stuccoing supplies, I was able to lead two more days of trips to the “Mountain School” delivering “Mission Balls” (soccer balls with Bible verses written on them) and more school supplies. It was during these three trips up and down the mountain that I really connected with the people and fell more and more in love with them. It is hard to even think about this portion of the trip, I feel so emotionally connected with the people. It was enjoyable interacting with the people in the mountains. We couldn’t understand each other’s languages but we communicated well non-verbally.
Our new sponsored family in Haiti, the Noel Family
I had a blast making the locals laugh with my less than ideal farming skills!

Kenlove (Kenny) and I
I had a strong connection with the people in the mountains, but my favorite part of the trip was hanging out and loving on the kids at the orphanage and spending time with the youth group from Ti-Rivier, the village. From the moment we got out of the truck when we arrived, the kids had stolen my heart. I played cards with them, did chores with them, played soccer, ate with them, tucked them into bed, chased chickens, prayed with them, went on hikes, took them to school and thoroughly enjoyed loving on them.

There were seven kids at the orphanage (Francia, Rose, Santia, Lucy, Schneider, Nestle and Kenlove) and learning their stories throughout the week broke my heart. The abuse, loss and abandonment that some of them had been through at such a young age was unbelievable. I knew that going on this trip would change my life but didn’t know how. As I said goodbye to the kids and was sobbing uncontrollably, I knew that I couldn’t just come home and do nothing more.
Lucy and Francia
Lucy and I
 On the plane ride home, I couldn’t sleep because I had to figure out how to tell Bec that our lives would never be the same. God hadn’t made it clear yet what exactly that meant, but the two most obvious options were either moving to Haiti or adopting from Haiti.

“Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after the orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.” James 1:27

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