We woke to the smell of pancakes, oatmeal, mangos...a fabulous start to a day like no other for many of us. This was my first journey into the area devastated by the earthquake three years ago still reeling from the loss of life and home. After a dusty and bumpy ride in the tap tap to the water filling station, we followed the tanker to our first stop, 17, in Cite Soleil. 17 is a shantytown where survival is a daily challenge. Conditions are deplorable, yet our arrival brought many smiles, hugs and thank yous. I helped man the bucket brigade and the hose as we filled many buckets to overflowing while treating some of the young ones to impromptu showers. If I wasn't holding a hose or a bucket, I was holding and hugging a beautiful, smiling child (or two)! The expectation on these water runs is that there will be plenty of loving going around for anyone seeking it.
Brunet and Wilson, two of the staff members, led us on a brief hike to a squalid peninsula in the bay where what might have been a beautiful beach had become a burial ground and garbage dump. Despite the horror around us, the children who had hiked with us responded with smiles, leaps of joy and sheer excitement when Wilson led us all in a song of praise. The song of praise led into a time of prayer where we asked God to bless these children and their community.
Next, we went back to the water pump station to refill the truck before heading to our next stop--Kat Coffin. More water buckets, more hugs, more love.
Finally we headed to a tent city, a first for even the returnees in our group. It was a different experience as we witnessed men being more involved in carrying the water and caring for the children. A particularly poignant moment was when some of us were summoned to trek up a dusty and rocky corridor up to a shack where a mother had requested prayer for her ailing baby. She was grateful for the prayers lifted up on behalf of her child. The need is so great. We feel so inadequate. But we remind each other often that we are His hands and feet. At our morning devotion, Jeff read a selection from Sarah Young's "Jesus Calling," which stayed with me throughout this heart-wrenching but fulfilling day: "As long as you focus on Me, you are safe. If you gaze too long at the myriad problems around you, you will sink under the weight of your burdens. When you start to sink, simply call out "Help me, Jesus!" and I will lift you up."
After a spaghetti dinner with--are you ready?--hot dog slivers as a topping, we shared in our daily "Word of the Day." My word was "fulfilling." How could I not be challenged, uplifted and blessed by having the opportunity to be a part of Healing Haiti's outreach?
Some of the group settled in on the guesthouse couch. Others sat outside under the stars. The true soldiers practiced salsa dancing under the tutelage of master salsa teacher, Jean. I am proud to say, that I was one of those soldiers!