Mark and I were blessed to have been a part of the team from LifeSong Church on a recent mission trip to Jacmel, Haiti, serving in the community of Morne Oge. Capture, my heart, these last sweet moments . ~E
We began feeling better mid-day yesterday and were able to join the team for dinner at Restoration House. It was cool to hear everyone’s stories from the day. Construction was well underway at one of the houses, the foundation laid and three walls going up. Caley and Sheldon were able to reorganize, label the shelving and create an inventory of medical supplies in the clinic, a job I had thought impossible in the short time we had!! Painting in the preschool was completed, good to go for the new school year to begin on Tuesday next week. Very exciting!!
Our dinner Thursday evening was my favorite meal …. Haitian stew over rice, so hearty, tasty and satisfying after being so sick the past few days. At debriefing later at the hotel, we shared our thoughts and observations on “diligence”. My heart is encouraged. I’m so proud of this team. I find myself wishing for another week here to see what more God could do with us.
It’s Friday, which means beach day!! The morning started slower than I would have liked, but looking back the wait was so worth it! After breakfast our team leaders met with Jean Marie to coordinate the logistics for the day. We had 28 in all going to the beach today, our team of 11 plus our Haitian guests …. adults, teens and children. We pooled our money to cover the cost of lunch for everyone. Each team member got to invite a guest, so Mark and I invited our sponsor child Clara and her sister Doris. Their little friend Gaielle was heartbroken at being left out, since the girls at the house seldom get to go on these outings. Dr T made sure she didn’t miss out …. Talk about one excited little girl! Her little face glowed!!
Then the long wait began. Jean Marie called in our massive lunch order at 9:30, so they could catch our fish and lobsters in anticipation of our arrival. He arranged for a second tap tap to carry the children. We were all ready to GO, but it was well after 11:00 before our transportation arrived. Seemed like a lifetime!
We made a quick stop downtown at the Restoration Center and Ministry Store, where you can buy local artwork and souvenirs, knowing that proceeds from sales go to help Restoration Ministries. Then we continued on to the beach, arriving at the same spot we enjoyed last year. Long tables were reserved for us under shady palms right at the water’s edge. The scene was a tropical paradise, a picture postcard of a day. The minute we arrived, vendors descended on us, setting out their wares so close that if we weren’t careful we would step on the merchandise just getting up from our seats. That part is not so fun, neither is the hard sell …. But we smile, say “no merci” and go on about our day.
I asked our girls if they’d like fresh coconuts, and they eagerly nodded yes. As soon as they’d finished, they made a beeline for the water. What a joy to see them play, swim, laugh and sing! I could just sit here and watch these little ones for hours!
It took a long time to prepare meals for all 28 of us, so our lunch was served a little later than normal. My lobster was fresh and delicious, caught this morning right off this very beach! After our meal, we purchased some artwork from a couple of the more persistent vendors and Mark and I went down to the beach. The ocean was wonderful, just like bathwater. I wandered out a little too far and got caught in a current that pulled me out more than was comfortable. Mark got me back and I stayed closer to shore.
The children were like little Energizer bunnies, playing every minute and having a great time! Even after we called them in to dry off and get ready to leave, they managed to slip away during our last photographs …. back into the water while the adults were distracted. How funny! I have to keep reminding myself that they are little girls with one thing on their minds …. FUN!!
The ride back was heartwarming. Jean Marie, following our tap tap on his moto, began singing “Break Every Chain”. The whole team joined in. It was sweet music to the Lord, as our hearts and voices rose in praise and worship. Again, the power and presence of God was so close and tangible as we made our way back through town. We take in the raw natural beauty of this country and relish the joy and simplicity of it’s people.
Dinner at Restoration House was delicious, but bittersweet. It would be our last evening meal at their table. Madame Fedony made one of her special cakes for dessert, a real delicacy!! After the meal we went out to the courtyard, where it appeared the whole village had turned out to say goodbye to us! The highlight of the evening was the footwashing — a time of thanks and humility when our team washes the feet of those who served us so well while in their care.
We ladies took turns washing the feet of the ladies who work in the kitchen and other female Restoration House staff. We prayed over each lady as we washed, massaged and dried their feet. Then the guys from our team took a turn, washing the feet of our Haitian brothers. It was a very emotional moment.
We said our goodbyes for the night, thanking each one for their love, service and dedication to the mission and ministry. Clara’s mother, the house mother, called me aside with Aly translating, to bless me and thank me for our support and obvious affection for her family. She totally made me cry.
We arrived at the hotel, our bodies tired from the long day, our hearts overflowing. After a quick debrief about our travel day on Saturday, Mark and went back to the room to pack. I am amazed …. how on earth did we get everything here with more stuff than we’re leaving with, and I can’t get seem to get it all to fit in our bags for the return home? We ended up leaving our beach towels, wash cloths and my fleece blankey (sad face).
After a late visit in the lobby with our team leaders, Pam and Facebook, we turned in for the night. Or so we thought! We got into bed for our last night and the bed crashed down without warning on Mark’s side, one corner of the mattress and box springs down on the floor! We giggled like little kids, so funny!! Not so funny when we realized it wasn’t a simple matter of lifting it back into place …. As the wood support and nails had pulled loose from the wooden bed frame. Cami, the hotel’s security guard, came to investigate the source of all that commotion and tried to help us “fix” the problem. Unfortunately one of the nails snagged Cami’s finger in two places, making jagged puncture wounds that hurt and bled like crazy. We decided to lift both mattress and box springs out of the frame and rest them on the floor. I cleaned and dressed Cami’s finger, leaving him the tube of Neosporin and some extra band-aids for later. I had assumed that Cami was Haitian since we had only exchanged smiles, nods and hellos …. through this experience I learned that he is from Dominican Republic and speaks fluent Spanish! We ended up having great communication and conversation, always a plus in my book!
6:00 am came early and I rushed to shower and dress, trying to make it to the roof to see the sun rise on our last day. I was a little late but still got a glimpse of God’s colors and His people rising. I prayer walked the roof, thanking God for the week, for His blessing on the hotel and all who will stay here, for the community, the ministry leaders at Restoration and and praising Him for the work He is doing. We left our luggage, packed and ready, while we went one last time for breakfast and final goodbyes at Restoration House. I could not control my emotions and cried for a jumble of stuff it will take weeks for me to sort through. God will help me put things in their place, later, when I’m able to process it. This journal will remain close as He reveals things …. in His time and for my good.