I can’t believe I have already been at New Life for four days. I’ve experienced many emotions and situations I have wanted to share – but time always slips away. As usual, as soon as we drove away from the airport here in Haiti I felt at home. Once inside the gate at New Life a peace came that I can’t describe. Children rushed forward to welcome Renee and me. It was such a wonderful feeling being hugged by so many at once that I nearly lost my balance. Yet that night I unpacked my three bags and laid the beautiful dresses in any space I could find. I just couldn’t wait to show them to the girls. We were able to spend some time with Miriam before she began packing to leave the next day for the States.
Stories were told at dinner about the number of tarantulas that had been seen about, with one person finding the “visitor” on her pillow. I’m not normally afraid of spiders, but tarantulas would definitely NOT be a desired roommate! I can handle the geckos on the walls now – but not sure what I would do with a spider of that make and model! So – the first night while preparing for bed, I would have to admit to having the heebie-jeebies! Neither of us slept the best, despite no spider sightings, but we did have a wonderful, cooling rain.
Our first full day was spent with getting reacquainted with the kids and enjoying every second. In anticipation of our upcoming art auction “Hearts for Haiti” in early August, we set the older boys up with canvas and paint and told them to “express away” – as there are many of them with amazing artistic talent. The painting table was placed in the shade and it seems like the table has been occupied for three full days, as the boys come and go creating beautiful Haitian scenes. We are truly excited to bring home their personal art and anticipate that they will receive rave reviews and donations to help us/Impact for Jesus purchase water filtration systems for the people in the mountains who have NO clean water source. Other people staying at New Life are already expressing the desire to purchase the art. MY joy comes from watching them paint. I asked through translation if they enjoy what they are doing. All heads shook in agreement. Someone said that he was thankful that we liked their work and it made them feel good about themselves. YEAH! You can’t put a price on providing a way to promote self-worth. They try to suppress their smiles when we praise them. A clean work sight is NOT their gift, however… We were able to meet the four new babies who arrived since we were here in February. A room for babies has had to be created, as there are now five children less than a year old. The older girls have stepped up to the plate and help the nannies with all the many things the babies require. The most wonderful news is that the four most recent children were all suffering with various disorders, but now after medical care, nutritious feedings and loving attention 24/7 – they are thriving and greatly improved.
You may remember my dear little girl Rosena, who we brought back to New Life in October from the mountains. Suddenly she seems so big and mature compared to the babies. I’ve been told that she “runs the show” and makes her desires known. After spending about 10 minutes with her I found myself following her little finger that pointed to where she wanted to go. She shakes her head “no” without hesitation if you get off course. Another highlight of Thursday was having the girls pick out a new dress for Easter. The beautiful dresses that I brought were made by a woman named Bonnie Oliver from Elmhurst. A group of young Moms who meet regularly at Wheatland Salem donated bows, ribbons, and other needed items. So once the girls picked out their dress – tried it on – and got five of us ranting and raving about their beauty, they selected a hair accessory. It was such fun to see their excitement, too!
Thursday night we had a downpour that cooled down the temperature, making it a bit easier to fall asleep. But rain always makes me think about the half MILLION people who remain in a tent city. I doubt they look forward to the rainy season which has come. This will in turn add to the cholera problem and once again people will die of a treatable disease all because they have NO clean water. I don’t think many of us know anyone who struggles with no water on their property, let alone a local well. Thousands walk miles each day to get water – only now it’s contaminated from raw sewage! NO spider activity – day two – I am no longer jumpy and preoccupied with creatures. GOOD FRIDAY was just that. We had lots of fun with the kids all day. I got beat at about six games of UNO and tried not to show my competitive side which can be pretty whiney. We decorated foam crosses so they could each have one for their own. They had the new kite flying high in the air which competed with another kite in the sky flown by someone down the street, only the neighbors kite had shredded black plastic for the tail and was home made. The kids got so excited trying to get their kite higher and higher.
I should mention that when I first came down in the morning Rene’, Frenzy, and Fedner were all at New Life – even though they had the day off since it was Good Friday. Little Patty, my Godchild, Rene’s daughter was with them as a surprise. She was dressed so cute and her hair was braided to perfection. She had a cute little purse on her should so I asked what was inside. First she pulled out a little dress I had brought for her and I was so touched that she had brought it with her. But then she pulled out her nightgown, followed by a clean pair of “un-dees” and last – her toothbrush! Rene’ was so surprised and he laughed and laughed. Patty shared that she was spending the night with me. She calls me her “mother-in-law.” She had a great day playing with all the children who were SO great with her. She loved having all the room to run and play. As the afternoon came to a close it was time for her and the guys to go home. Patty was told that until she learned English she couldn’t stay with me because I wouldn’t understand if she needed something. Her demeanor immediately changed and I thought my heart would break. She left by giving me a tight hug, but was very mad at her “Papa.” Too cute!
Friday’s dinner was the tradition – fish. The children had fish as well. At evening devotions I asked about 10 questions to the children to see what they knew about why we call it Good Friday and what took place on that day over 2,000 years ago. I was very impressed with all they knew and I wasn’t able to stump them. It was a good opportunity to discuss what Christ asked of his disciples, why He had to die, and the importance of not just asking for forgiveness – but to make an effort to change our ways to avoid further sin. It was a humbling and blessed time for me, as well. It seemed everyone had a “good Friday” and the children’s day ended with a movie and popcorn - a Friday night tradition.
Earlier in the afternoon a team came with suitcase after suitcase of treats to make 300 Easter Baskets! We all put our goodies together in the most organized way possible. The diverse amount of candy and little toys was unbelievable. Can you even picture the size of the pile of 1,700 filled plastic eggs?
End of day three – No longer even thinking about tarantulas… Today we had a busy morning as Renee and I went to Pastor Smith’s church to witness Frenzy getting baptized. He invited us to come and we were honored to be present for the event that had deep meaning to him. We told him he is officially our “little brother” now! When we returned the filling of Easter bags was underway. Wherever you looked in the dining room was an Easter bag. We got the job done by lunch and all the bags counted out and divided so that tomorrow three different orphanages will have the fun of receiving a bag filled with all kinds of goodies. The group sponsoring this generous offering is called My Neighbor’s Children. Their generosity also includes the provision of a huge Easter dinner tomorrow for the three orphanages, New Life being one of them. They spent several hours at the open air market this morning purchasing all the vegetables and such. They even had a man come up to the car hoping to sell them the head of a cow! I guess that really added to the experience.
The day has now come to a close, at least for Renee and me. The heat has a way of wearing you down. (Or maybe I should speak for myself!) The children just finished evening devotions and are about to watch another movie tonight as a treat. We talked about the reasons Christ was crucified last night and tomorrow we will celebrate His victory over death. I explained to the children on Thursday that when people come to New Life to visit, they should realize that the visitors are sent by God to give them HIS love! They should look at this as an answer to their prayers – as when they pray for God to help them, love them, and provide for them – HE sends people to do just that! The people who come most generally are responding to a call from God. They represent God’s love and God’s response to their prayer. THAT’S how God can work – through us! I assured them of my love for each of them – but suggested that they feel the love of God through me and others. AND – at the same time, they can give that love to each other just as God asks of them. Wouldn’t that be some kind of kingdom on earth – if we all practiced loving each other unconditionally?
May each of you have a wonderful Easter celebration and thank you for your prayers as we continue to spread His love from our end on the world. I can assure you He is giving that love back to us 10 fold.