The funeral took place today. The six feet of dirt has been dug out and the coffin lowered into a piece of our hearts where only pain and memories exist now. This is certainly not a good-bye though. The day is filled with heavy tears, hand-crafted gifts and a new found compassion with many of us motivated to action. A resurrection is in the near future. Disciples see death differently. Only now can the real work begin............
The last day has arrived like a hearse at a viewing. This will be an emotional day. Yesterday was Haiti's national celebration of children day, it didn't feel too different to us. Everyday here has been a grand dedication of them. As we decorated colorful masks, broke out in random dancing, ate fresh food, watched dance battles, and shared laughing fits, this was just an organized day with costumes. The nights run longer now as our relationships have grown deeper. Like a mother witnessing the transition of a child, we are soaking up these final opportunities. Moments filled with big and small vows alike. Tears shed and shared as the kids and us try to imagine life without one another. Hearts pound like steel drums in our chest as we long to provide all their needs, but only have minimal material and infinite love. We are nervous about the future and humbled that our power is limited. Surely, God is sovereign.
A new constellation shined last night as we sat among the kids. The orphanage was alive late in preparation for todays events, but it gave us a chance to speak with these survivors. Looking into their dazzling eyes as we asked about their stories and sang sweet melodies of worship, it was clear their eyes had been witnesses of more than their mouths could attest. Although the lights were on and the stars were out, it was all overshadowed by the whites of their teeth and the twinkle of their eyes which lit our hearts. A place set ablaze by only mother and God, these kids succeeded at doing it too. As the older kids allowed us to embrace them, they returned the warmth ten fold. A sense of ownership and responsibility to care and fight for them took over me. They have lit a candle under my heart and it burns a bitter sweet scent. I will miss them.
Did we come here to serve or escape? I think I'm starting to confuse what this has become for me. Primary intetntions have morphed as haiti seems to serve me. Brisk breezes cool the day and caress me at night. In the early morning, clouds descend into a silent intimacy as they engulf the rolling mountains. The lake sparkles in the distance like the eyes of an alluring woman. And God winked at us millions of times last night as we looked up to Him in prayer and praise under a true star-studded night. Surely this is an escape...right? As the children melt my heart and the time to leave draws near, it seems obvious that only one has dug my heart can leave such a crater. I hope I can do the same.
Behind every scar lies a story, some told and many untold. They serve as reminders of adventures we've taken, mistakes we've made, and times we wish to forget. As I sit with the kids in class, I realize these children won't be forgetting soon. Scars are common on their topography, but their skin remains pastel soft and leather strong. Never has such deep hurt created something so beautiful than yesterday as they decorated masks in class worthy of carnival. But none with enough ostentation to decorate their pasts or hide their pain. Like rivers and streams give character to a dry land, so their tears have created paths in the palms of their hands; many long nights of crying themselves to sleep I imagine. But, it's not all sad as these scars have designed compassionate jewels. We have much to learn from them.
Never has such a dry and dusty field been filled with so much life. Little black bottoms race from their morning showers, back to their rooms as the kids get ready for another much anticipated day. Even the roosters, chickens, and goats sing songs and dance familiar dances of unity. Normal is different here, but I like it; it makes sense to me. Pate je. Share. Without knowing, they live like the disciples in Acts; the DNA of children strung together differently. I'm starting to forget that poverty exists here because they have riches that can't be purchased. But, I remain aware, if we are in here working for God, Satan surely creeps around the cement barricades looking for an entrance too.
Haiti silently sang me to sleep last night. Without any words, I marveled at the way the moon shone bright enough to dull the stars and reveal the majestic serenity of the mountain silhouettes. Surrounded by these rolling hills, Haiti has much to protect and many secrets to hide. Pearly whites greet us every morning and push through the day; these kids are her treasures. Their smiles shine bright enough to reveal the Poverty has taken refuge here. Making His home amongst the tenets that litter the land, He has shown no mercy, but Haiti has raised a resilient people. The likes of Richardson and John assure that Hope still lingers and God still exists.
Bonjour rings through the air of the orphanage as I wake up to my first morning in Haiti's bosom. Although it's only been a day, I feel taken in and embraced. From the sun, breeze of the mountains, and warm hugs, to the smiles of the children, God and Haiti have officially welcomed me. It has only been a day, but time here has proven to be measured differently than back home. Survival, memories, and exhaustion are our seconds, minutes, and hours here. I would say welcome to Day 2, but we may fit enough love, energy, and pictures in today to fill a typical week, so instead I say "Welcome to today."
Okay. So it is officially June 1st at 2:42am. I need to catch the train at 9:46am to get to the hotel where all the volunteers are meeting up at and surprise, surprise...I'm not even packed yet. BUT, for good reason; finishing up my To-Do list, which included this blog. Since I need to pack and get some shut eye, I'll keep this short. My Tampa family, I still long for you each day. My heart presses out of my chest in hopes to be back with you, so please do not underestimate the impact you've had on me and how difficult it's been to be away from you. But, God has been moving and providing in some spectacular way like getting all the funding I needed to go to HAITI TOMORROW!!! I am super excited and have been preparing myself to give ALL of who I am and what I got to the orphans and church when I get there. I leave Saturday morning at 6a and am not sure if I'll have internet access. If so, you'll hear from me soon. If not, I'll have a lot of catching up to do when I get back.
I love you all. Please continue to send up prayers for me as I do for you. We are ONE body and we fight together.