Day three in Croix de Bouquet, Haiti, and we are sleeping solid after spending all day in the sun. Woke up and indulged in another sugar cane coke for a caffeine fix; and had breakfast with the Pleasant Valley team and Sharon (from KTBS in Shreveport, who is getting such great parts of the story to bring back to share with North LA)...they're all so funny.
We took off walking down the way, across the street, and past a couple of pastures to another orphan home that also transitioned about 40 kids in and out of the OTV over the past months and now live in a new building that The Global Orphan Project was able to finance. The kids greeted us with a welcome song, and a little boy named Leles (who is 7 but looks 4) found me. If my sweet friend, Herby from Bighouse, has a long lost twin, it is Leles. He melts into my arms like Herby. Closes and opens his long-lash-surrounded eyes slowly like Herby. Sang really quietly into my ear like Herby. And looked at me differently, like he knows something I don't, like he knows the secrets of the world, like Herby. I didn't think I was going to be able to see him on this trip:)
At the orphan home, the Pastor's 25 yr old daughter and 17 yr old son sang "Alleluia, Alleluia, for the Lord God Almighty reigns...worthy is the Lamb, worthy is the Lamb, you are Holy" for me, Sharon, Nicole, and Cathie. Then a small child climbed a mango tree and dropped a few down for us to peel back and eat, the kids were completely enthralled with a game of "jump over the stick," and the Pastor asked if we could all pray. So everyone crowded in together under the mango tree, every team member cradling a kid buried in their neck, the pastor offered a prayer in Creole, our team offered a prayer in English, the translator connected our worlds, a huge breeze swarmed the place, and I thought, "This moment is why we do what we do...."
The pastor of an orphanage, filled with victims of life's uncertainties who he is now responsible for, offered prayers to God...for us. Along with their best mangoes. They have nothing, they give all. Very few moments are so humbling.
We came back to the OTV and proceeded to take part in 1000 different activities that seemed to make for the longest day in the Caribbean heat. We taught 4-square. We made instruments. We had a parade. We played soccer. We took naps. They took baths. We played more soccer. We painted nails. And that's where God told me again this whole thing is not about me. Whoops.
Fighting this dumb sinus infection, my nose refuses to stop running. There are few things that I can confidently qualify as my pet peeves, but sunburns, allergies, mean children that hit, and flies that fly near your face certainly fall into that category. Luckily, they all decided to meet in one hour of my day today. I was drained of soccer and burnt from the sun, so I went into the supply room and found some toe nail polish and told a couple of the girls that I would paint their fingernails. A couple turned into roughly ten, and ten turned into 20 hands and oh, 20 feet too while you're sitting there, si vu ple. And 20 hands and feet turned into, no I was next in line! No, I didn't like that so I bit it off and would like you to do it again but not after the others, now, mesi. Plus, I couldn't stop sneezing, a fly was trying to go up my nose, and a 5 year old named Kenly (who I LOVE!) was hanging on my sunburn.
And as I watched foot after dirty foot pass by my lap, with all of the crushed toes and deformed toenails and blistered soles and infections...and as I painted on top of the cracked paint that the last team had adorned their nails with a week ago...and as I sneezed and fought the very real annoyances...these things came to mind:
1. Their feet looked completely different with sparkles and new pink paint, drawing the eye away from the dirt to the beauty. We are here to create beauty in places that are hungry for it.
2. We can not merely continue to paint over the last team's paint in this life...at some point, the root of why there are dirty, bare, and broken feet must be fiercely, often slowly tackled...that is what Global Orphan Project, and many other deeply invested organizations, congregations, and stateside souls are doing in Haiti. Praise God. The church is both bringing the weekly polish to brighten faces, and changing the world.
3. We can romanticize anything in our stories, and this is easy here because the story of the gospel is very, very romantic. But, there are children who were rude to each other today in the heat and pollen that culminated to work my nerves and I remembered that they do not go home at the end of the day to parents. They are the the world's children, and this day to day, sticking it out, pushing past ourselves for service, even during the times that can't be completely romanticized, is the heart of selflessness that ushers in the Kingdom of God. Bless the "mamas" and the staff that stay long after we leave.
4. A lot of time is spent, even for if not especially for people in ministry, trying to preserve a specific image of ourselves. Guilty. It is at the end of ourselves that the Spirit is free to run wild in the places we step foot. So much energy is lost in our preservation that could be poured out in our reckless loving. That this might be a consistent reality...
We ended the night on the roof again, as we listened to the kids down in the dark courtyard, singing as they got ready for bed.
Maybe tomorrow Kenly will have pants on that don't hit the ground every time he runs. Maybe tomorrow we will play another few hours of 4-square. Maybe tomorrow they will make new headway in the new village planning and Rojelin's quest to reunite with his sister in Miami. Maybe tomorrow it won't matter near as much to preserve a specific image, but to love to a nonsensical extent, to love wildly.
We drive an hour into Port au Prince in the morning for church:) :) :)
Alleluia, Alleluia, for the Lord God Almighty reigns,