Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Haiti 2016 - Day 7 & 8

Tuesday morning we all woke up with gratitude in our hearts!! The playset had finally arrived!! The men were up and at the site by 5:30 (I think, I only woke up briefly as Tim kissed me goodbye). 

Once us ladies got up and got ready, we ate breakfast just the 4 of us. Marie was in bed sick most of the day, due to the heat and a cold that she was fighting off. Lavaud made plans to bring the guys breakfast to eat at the park. The ladies decided to head on over and help out any way that we could at the park. 

Once we arrived, we set up breakfast. At around 8 o'clock and the kids were making their way towards school, and the crowds were starting to gather. 

The ladies had scheduled to meet with the students in the sponsorship program that are not yet sponsored to update their pictures and profiles. We also had dresses and t-shirts for each of them as well as goodie bags and Bibles. 

(The first group of unsponsored students) 

We were able to make contact with 24 of the 30 unsponsored students. 

After the unsponsored party, it didn't take us long to realized that we needed to put up the temporary fencing in order to keep the kids out of the work area. 

The women decided to take that project on while the guys continued to set up the equipment. 

It was breath-taking to watch the play set be put up in one day the way that it was. The men worked tirelessly, and the Lord certainly blessed their labors. Lavaud had hired several local men to help, plus they had Zoko, Wilson, and the older gentlemen from the orphanage (his name escapes me right now). 

It was a team effort.

The men continued their work throughout the afternoon while the ladies hosted our second sponsorship party at the school. 

The second party was slightly larger than the first but everything still went smoothly. It was a great success!! 

In the end we were able to make contact with 38 out of the 42 sponsored students!

And while we were there we added 3 new students to the program:

Tim and I ended up sponsoring Dienaylo've. 

Monica & Dan sponsored a little girl.

and Lynn picked out a new sponsor girl for her brother after we learned that his old sponsor student had moved to Port-au-Prince. 

Being "on the ground" (so to speak) watching the sponsor student program in action really ignited something in my heart for the program. 

It is an amazing opportunity to become involved in the work in Haiti as well as forming a relationship (across the miles) with a child. There are still students available to be sponsored! The funds that are sent help pay the teachers at the school, provide uniforms, school supplies and other school costs (like seating, blackboards, maintenance, etc.) The more kids that are sponsored the more the program grows, the more funds the school has to grow and to maintain a healthy educating atmosphere!

I challenge each of you to prayerfully consider sponsoring a child. The cost is $25 a month (or $300 a year). Voice of Compassion has worked hard at keeping administration costs very low, in fact most everyone who works with VOC does so as a volunteer, over 95% of the funds coming in go directly to the school, and the majority of the other 5% actually goes to pay those in Haiti who help administratively on that end.

If the Lord leads you to partner with Voice of Compassion through the student sponsorship program to make a difference in the lives of the children in Haiti, please contact me and I can get you the information you need. 

The guys did decide to head back to the compound for lunch to get a good meal and lots of fluids. 

They headed back to the playground right away though and worked until dinner time. 

By the end of the day most of the playground system was assembled and in the ground in the concrete! May all the glory go to God for what He was able to accomplish in His own timing, and His own way! 

Our flight was scheduled to leave Wednesday afternoon around 4 (I think), so we had a little time Wednesday morning to head back over to the playground. The guys were already there by the time the ladies got there (I'm not sure what work needed to be finished that morning), as we pulled up we could see the large crowd of children surrounding the play area. 

Dienaylo've was by my side as soon as I hopped down out of the truck. I grabbed her hand and started walking around taking pictures. She handed me a note written in creole, I couldn't read it but I tried to tell her I would have a translator read it for me. 

She wasn't her normal smiley self, so I just grabbed her hand and kept her close to me. I went to tell her I would be leaving today. She knew. A tear filled up in one of her eyes, which she quickly blinked away. I was not so lucky. 

Not long after we got there Lavaud led us all in a dedication. We sang "How Great Thou Art" and part of another song I didn't recognize, he prayed and then spoke (mostly in Creole). 

Afterward, he let a few children play on the equipment for about 10 minutes (it still wasn't completely dried) these few short moments standing in the middle of a play ground system, that 2 days prior we weren't even sure would get completed, watching the kids play and scream and laugh.... it was amazing and I will never forget it. 

God isn't God because He made everything work out and got the play system up. God is God because He knew all along the timing and what needed to happen and how it needed to happen when we didn't. 
In this situation it all "worked out" from our point of view, but even if it wouldn't have, God would still be God and He would still be good, and He would most certainly have been in control of the situation. 

I am so grateful and humbled to have been a part of this trip with this group of people. I learned so much. I was stretched for sure. 

Everyone was able to use their unique God-given gifts and talents for the glory of God. We relied on one another. We grew together and we worked together.
I praise God for all He did - for the things seen and unseen.

By the time the dedication was over we needed to head back to the compound to eat lunch.

This was the moment we had to say good bye to Dienaylo've....

It was one of the hardest moments I can recall in my life. 
I felt as though I were leaving a piece of myself with this little girl and as though I were letting her down. 
I had never meant to become so attached. I had never intended for her to become so attached. I wanted to bring her home with me. I don't speak much creole but I told her over and over how much I loved her, and how much Jesus loved her. I cried over her. I prayed over her. I pleaded with the Lord to bring her peace and for me to actually have the strength to walk away.

I have no way of knowing what the Lord has in store for Dienaylo've or for our family.  But I do know that she is forever a part of our hearts and our family. I know the Lord brought us in each others lives for a reason. Tim & I continue to pray for her daily and we will continue our sponsorship of her for as long as needed. 

Tim & I plan on going back to Haiti. We have committed, Lord willing, to going every year to work with the sponsored students, updating the profiles and making contact with the sponsored family's and students. I look forward to seeing all the familiar faces again and to see what new things the Lord has for the people of Haiti. 

(One last motorcycle ride for Monica and I) 

Friday, March 18, 2016

Haiti 2016 - Day 6

(Random: A closer picture of one of the kites the boys from the orphanage had made and use)

Day 6 in Haiti, Monday.

Monday morning the ladies and a few of the men continued with our home visits in the Rhode area. We were able to make another 8 (or maybe 9) visits. We handed out dresses, underwear, family bags, Bibles, peanut butter, reusable feminine bags and candy

As enjoyable as the home visits were, and they were, they could also get a little stressful when you were trying to figure out who belonged where, which kids go with which families. The children would follow you around regardless of whether you had already visited their home, some of them were easy to remember that you had already seen, and others weren't as easy.

Being a hard-core "rule-follower" it is sometimes hard for me to not insist on fairness and justice at all times. I would find myself getting worked up over things that in the end didn't matter as much as I thought they did at the time. I realized the more home visits we did that I was just going to have to trust in the Lord regarding who got what, even when it wasn't always "fair".

(Our translator, Jimmy, explaining the word-less gospel bracelets. The women really enjoyed these and many of them asked for extras with the cards so that they could share them with their friends. I loved the idea of giving the women something pretty & special with an eternal message that would hopefully change their heart.)

I know that I've gone on about the dresses before, but they were truly a blessing to the people there in a way that I never expected. The people there really have so little that something as nice as a dress is worth more than you may expect. They were always grateful for the dresses. I look forward to the next time I go and I hope to come up with something more for the boys too.

It was really nice to have some of the guys join us on the home visits, not just for "protection" but also for being our pack mules :) They did a great job of lugging the heaviest bags around that were full of feminine products, dresses and underwear.

(Tim snapped this picture as we were walking through Rhode on our home visits, of a new house being built. They're obviously at the beginning stages but I think the picture speaks for itself)

Monday afternoon, the ladies put on our first student sponsorship party. There were 40 students that were sponsored. We decided to break them into two groups of about 20 each and host two smaller parties than one bigger party. Looking back, this was a great idea.

Monday's party was primarily of students who had been sent gifts from their sponsors, which we knew would take a little more time.

Lynn had put a form together and had it translated into Creole for the students to answer for their sponsors. Things like their favorite colors, things they enjoy doing, their favorite subject in school, etc.

After the kids filled out their sheets and took updated photos, we had them go into one of the classrooms where we put on a puppet show (in creole) about the wordless book and the gospel message.

The party was for the sponsored students, but they were also allowed to bring their parents (and there were a few siblings there as well). Lynn shared with the parents about the sponsorship program and why the sponsors do what they do, and the reason is because of the gospel and what Jesus has done in their lives. The sponsor's relationship with Jesus and their hope for the sponsored students to hear the gospel continually is what motivates them to sponsor the students.

We centered the entire party around the good news of what Jesus has done and the good news of the gospel. We also made sure to promote Lavaud's church so that those families who do not currently attend the church would have a place to go to learn more.

After the puppet show we split them up and had some of the students make paper bag puppets and the other group make wordless gospel bracelets.

Then the groups switched, so that all the kids were able to do both activities.

Towards the end of the party each student was given a backpack with goodies and a few small toys. We also had a dress for every girl and a tshirt for every boy.

At the first party, we also handed out the bags and gifts from the sponsors for their specific students, including the three goats that were purchased. Many of the gifts included letters, so we would have the translators read the letters that were sent.

We were hopeful that the playset might make it out of customs sometime on Monday. The plan was to have a truck there first thing in the morning. The guys after taking a closer look at the big truck began to realize that it wasn't in prime condition to make the trip. Lavaud started looking into, and eventually went with having the play set delivered by a trucking company.

The playset did eventually make it, but it didn't actually arrive until 12:30am Tuesday morning. The guys stayed up and went over to unload the truck.

You could feel the excitement! Such a great feeling to finally get the set there!!