Jim here! Well, I’m not in Kansas anymore. Not even Ar-kansas (which is where I live). We wrapped up our last visit to the orphanage today and though the team returns to our respective homes tomorrow, I know not a single one of us will ever be the same. I’ve had the privilege and joy of sharing this trip with my daughter, Katie, and she and I are going to share today’s blog entry, as well.
Since the “ safari” truck was not available this morning, we rode to the orphanage in two shifts via SUV. I’ve got permanent marks on my fingers from putting the death grip on the holding rails that run across the top of the caged truck, so a front seat SUV ride was welcomed. At the orphanage, we gathered the kids together for a final group presentation to remind them of why we came to give them new beds. They told us that they loved the beds and were sleeping well. We told them we hope the beds remind them of God’s great love for each of them and that Jesus said no one could snatch His sheep out of His hand. Please pray with us that each of these beautiful children will truly understand and respond to the message of the gospel.
As usual, the ladies on the team worked their magic by organizing crafts for around one hundred kids. When they’re not crafting, the girls are constantly ministering to these kids by holding them, rocking them, playing with them, allowing the kids to “do their hair”, etc. In fact, seeing the constant loving interaction between my new friends and the children will be a lasting memory for me.
The guys spent the afternoon working on two building projects that were badly needed. Most of the work was done by Chet, who the kids refer to as Rambo. If you saw his flowing locks and sturdy stature-not to mention his “Survivor” worthy bandanas, you would understand how he got that nickname. I carried stuff and said, “Great job, Chet.” Three of the boys helped us with both projects and it was gratifying beyond words.
The good-byes in the afternoon were indeed short and maybe the sweetest I’ve ever experienced. Hugs and God bless you’s were passed around, tears were shared, then we loaded into the truck. I will miss many things in Haiti. I will miss some of the most beautiful kids I’ve ever seen. I won’t miss that truck.
Katie here! I had the pleasure of spending this trip with my dad who was the oldest on the trip. I made fun of his clothing choices, like how he wore house shoes to breakfast and dinner, but he held his own with the younger men, Rambo and Todd (papa blanc). But in all seriousness, it truly was a blessing to serve the orphans of Haiti alongside my father. The kids at the orphanage loved it when my dad told them he was my “papa.”
Today was a hard day but a blessing all the same. We took two shifts to the orphanage in the morning, because the caged truck was occupied. The second group was delayed getting to the orphanage, but the first group was busy helping kids make their crowns for the “worthday” party. I got such a warm fuzzy feeling when we, the second group, pulled up to the orphanage and saw all the kids waving and smiling on the balcony, each with their precious paper crowns sitting on their head. The kids were so proud of the crowns, and every one of them was wearing one, from the one-year-olds to the teenagers.
Soon we began the “worthday” party, where we handed out oreos and marshmallows to the kids. Sweet Mary Virginia handed out the marshmallows and whispered to each child, “God loves you and we do, too.” Then we handed out gift bags, which were a huge hit. I quickly realized that putting noisemakers in the bags was a poor decision when the whole orphanage was blaring with different honking sounds. I couldn’t help but think, though, that this is probably the only instrument these kids have ever played, and that they were making such a joyful noise to the Lord.
In the afternoon we decorated t-shirts and all the kids wrote their names on their shirts and drew pictures and many of them wrote, “Jesus loves me” or “Jesus I love.” My sweet little friend, Joanne, asked me in broken English, “Do you know Jesus,” and “Do you pray to Jesus every day, every night?” It was such a blessing to hear her precious giggle when I told her that I do and asked her the same. I will never forget that smile.
As Dad wrote, it was very difficult to say goodbye, and I definitely shed my share of tears, but these precious orphans have left a mark on my heart that will always be there. I will never forget Joanne, Kech, Monika, Immanuel, Jameson, or any of the other kids. Thank you all for your prayers and support, because we definitely felt them this week. It’s a bitter sweet night as we prepare to leave the country, but I know all of us are thinking about the day, whether in heaven or here on earth, when we will see our little orphan friends again.