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."
The days have already started to blend. Lol. Friday was orientation. On the way to the Sheraton hotel on the Miami tri-rail, Christina G, my friend who was traveling with me, almost got arrested for holding the train up by sticking her purse in the door as I scurried to buy my ticket and board. It was honorable, but HILARIOUS. God covered us though. I met and helped this young lady, Sharlene, on the bus from the tri-rail to the airport with her bags which was cool because her airline ended up being the exact spot where all of Hope Youth Corp was at waiting for people's flights. I love how God works. We did some icebreakers and mingled at the Broward church. We had some peruvian food, did some last minute shopping and should have went to bed early, but I had to talk to some people before I was completely out of touch for 12 whole days. Yesterday we flew in to Haiti at about 8am. It was exciting, but we had to be ready and aware so no time to show it. The airport wasn't too bad though. As we walked out to the bus the disciples had waiting for us, I saw a old resident of mine from USF in the parking lot. Isn't that CRAZY!!!? The drive through Port-au-Prince was familiar, like Bahamas, but much worse. Apparently, it had been fixed up quite a bit from the previous year. It definitely looked rough. I struggle with sympathy and compassion. Sympathy to me feels like a sadness as you look down at someone's situation. That doesn't seem helpful to a people for whom all this is their reality. They have persevered through it all, so I feel like sympathy would almost hold me back from diving into their world. Compassion though allows me to love them where they are at. Random thought and feeling. Gotta think more about it. Anyway, the bus ride was cool and just had me thinking and absorbing a lot. We got to visit the Village of Hope, an area of houses built, and still being built, for the disciples in the church. It was incredible. They grow their own food, have solar powered stuff and were building a church on the grounds. Awesome. Then, we voyaged on toward the orphanage where the bus continued to stall of completely stop. The bus driver and a brother were incredibly resourceful, knowledgable, and willing to get gas all over themselves to get us there safely. We were stuck for a while ten minutes from the orphanage in the beautiful country of Haiti so a truck came and took a load of sisters there. The bus restarted and we arrived shortly after, but the sisters stole the exciting welcome embrace, but I was grateful. I actually waited to get off the bus last. I just feel this need to earn my spot in their family, even if they do welcome me freely. I noticed the older guys watching, testing perhaps, and I was okay with that. We played some soccer almost immediately. We ate lunch, which was not better than my Haitian mommy back home, but still good. I fell asleep on the back porch for nap time. I awoke to John and Richardson and another girl laughing. We woke up McCall and scared her. I taught them a hand game, tickled them, horse back ride, and played on monkey bars. John and Richardson have these incredible smiles! The rest of the day, the kids were more embracing. We played kickball, basketball, danced, showered, ate dinner, devotional, ironed for church and slept. I have been moved throughout today by the love the kids have for one another.