WOW! Well, we were up at 4:30am, on our plane at 7:00am and stepping off in Haiti around 8:30am. I was amazed at “baggage claim.” It was total chaos. We were warned, but it’s just not the same until you are there. There were people standing on the conveyor belt throwing luggage. There was no, “excuse me, let me get my bag so I can get out of your way.” It was like a bull in a china shop. But all 20 bags made it, praise God, and we boogied out of there.
We made it outside and waited on our ride for about 45 min. The landscape in Haiti is very mountainous and very beautiful. I noticed immediately that it is very loud. The Haitian people “holler” when they speak to each other. My children would have no problems here. It would kinda feel like home to them.
Our ride pulled up. We met our Haitian Sweet Sleep contact person, Ron. Super cool Hatian. He brought us a luxurious “Tap Tap.” It looked like a big red caged mini flatbed truck. We rode in back to the place we are staying for the week. As we rode, we did get to take in all the sights and sounds of Haiti. No question Haiti is like you imagine. There were lots of crumpled buildings and thousands of people lining the streets selling anything from whittled sticks of sugar can to Kleenex. There are makeshift homes made of tents as far as you could see in some areas. It was a humbling sight.
Driving in Haiti is a mess. There are no rules or laws or even common courtesy. People honk constantly-CONSTANTLY. This little boy, we didn’t catch his name (it’s hard to understand them, I think), but this boy was probably 10 but looked 6, jumped on the back of our cage and said A-lo! We tried to make him get down, but instead he hustled us out of crackers and some chocolate. I would have given him my shoes because he didn’t have any, but you have to stop.
We finally made it to the orphanage. It was great to see all of them…FINALLY! They all ran to the edge of their balcony. They were jumping up and down, waving, so happy. We were a little overwhelmed. Tears were welling in my eyes. I took a deep breath and asked the Lord for His strength.
These children were living in squalor. I don’t think our team had any expectations so we all walked around as Madame, the main “mama” showed us the conditions. There was raw sewage inside the building and more cockroaches than you could count. The smell was so, so bad. BUT, the children were joyful. Our team, who totally rocks, pulled it together, went outside and began to meet the children. Two of the guys, Chet and Jim left with Ron and got bleach and scrub brushes to clean before we started to build the beds.
The children were beautiful! They were full of energy, they were awesome. They wanted to know us and teach us things they know. They took turns jumping rope, coloring, they didn’t ever fight. I was totally shocked over that. They all got along very well. I got out a little notebook and crayons (Jen Gash gave me that tip) and sat over in a corner and began talking to a girl who was more quiet and to herself than some of the others. I asked her to write her name and her age down. She wrote, “Delenda 9.” I wrote, “Kelly 36.” Her eyes got real big and she, too, could not believe how young I looked for my age. I wrote, “I love you, and Jesus love you.” She wrote, “I love you and I love Jesus.” Delenda laid her head in my lap and quickly fell asleep. As the attention faded, a little boy, Angelo, who I could have put in my pocket, just laid down on my lap and fell asleep, too. As I sat there, I watched Laura, our team leader, make her way over to a mentally handicap boy-really cute boy named, Jean. He looked up and smiled and she sat down and put her arm around him. They both began singing Jesus Loves Me. Then she pulled out her bible and and began reading Psalm 139 to him…”O Lord you have searched me and you know me….you hem me in-behind and before, you have laid your hand upon me….For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb…” Jean just rocked and listened. It was a powerful moment for me and I know for Laura and Jean. God works on all of us all of the time.
I am so thankful for Sweet Sleep. We were at this orphanage for four hours and four children fell asleep on me. I am so thankful for this team and getting to know these awesome people. We have Kristi, the passionate, down to earth, therapist. Mary Virginia, the energetic, sweet nurturer. Heather, the beautiful, kind-hearted singer. Laura, the veteran, and lover Haitian boys (she is adopting 3). Kenzie, the amazing, righteous 18 year old. Katie, the wickedly funny, smart senior in college. Chet the humble builder. Jim the dry, super cool teacher of the Word, and Todd the guardian of us all. I am humbled to be a part of this group. We all have our own different strengths and God has put us all together for a reason. We all want to bring glory to His name. I am going to stop writing now and go to bed. Love to my family and friends and prayer partners!