There's a big white table that currently accompanies 5 wooden chairs and 10 folding chairs on the second floor wrap-around porch at Hosanna Guesthouse. If you lean on it for too long (like I do when I blog) its paint chips off onto your sun-screen/bug-spray covered arms that are already pretty dirty from a day of play and work at the orphanage. A row of potted plants sit on the the railing in old paint buckets and a broken cushion-swing begs for a team member to journal on its green and white stripes underneath the hanging decorations of plastic flowers.
It is day 4 of travel and day 2 of site-work in Haiti for the college and young adult team. Trip-goers are scattered about the complex busying themselves with rest, reading, and showering while we wait for Frantzou (our wonderful translator) and Luke to get back here on Frantzou's motobike from purchasing a circular saw from the market. Luke has never looked so tall than he did situating his long legs and video camera behind the smaller Haitian who assured me that "he is under my protection and God's protection, now worries."
Today was a sweet day at Bighouse, as the second days usually are because teams are getting familiarized with the faces and the heat and the routine of our short stay. It's always really rich to see new team members as well as old quickly fall for one specific child. Where when they hold each other, though no one says anything, you can tell the two are soaking in every minute of loving on one another that they can, subconsciously admitting to the fact that lives change lives little by little, if even by long hugs and group sing-alongs.
Half of the team (mostly the guys) spent the morning stripping wood and taking measurements to install all the many mosquito screens into the orphanage windows. Which keep "evil out" we hear. And I suppose in a sense, that's true. However, our battery powered circular saw was overworking and losing power quickly. So the guys finished the measurements, loaded the wood on top of the 15 passenger van, and decided that we would finish building the screens at the guesthouse and bring them to install tomorrow. (Which is why Luke is now at the market.) The other half of the team spent the morning corralling all 75 of the children into "un lin, sivuple!" not two lines, but one, as we brought them into the chapel three at a time to get their updated heights, weights, and pictures. This is always a fun and chaotic and hopeful and chaotic and humorous and chaotic task. It is essential to get all of the children through the process, but sometimes we have wanderers. It is essential to get the children's correct information, but sometimes Louvilia from three years ago who was Dovilia last year is Novilia this year. Welcome to Haiti. This is why it is good to invest in one area deeply, so that we can recognize the child even when her stats shift slightly due to typically unsteady structure.
The children at Bighouse are still growing, one boy, Charles Fritz Kendy, already at a whopping 106lbs. I swear he's gained 20lbs a year. Just one or two of them seem to have not, but this is more about chronic health problems than unprovided nutrition. We are currently in conversation about how to remedy these chronic health problems for these two--mainly one--children who have already been in and out of doctors offices in Cayes, Port Salut, and Port au Prince now for a few months.
It was deeply convicting to me today while standing under the pavilion with the translator and Pastor Jean as he told me the details of these doctors appointments. When the updates are in emails, they seem crucial and significant. But when the update is in your arms, it becomes of utmost priority. I'm never quite sure when or if the tears will hit me in Haiti anymore. The trash doesn't shock me. The dirty feet don't appall me. The torn clothes and thin mattresses at the orphan dorms don't paralyze me to ineffectiveness as they once did. But today, standing under the pavilion with the translator and Pastor Jean as he told me the details of these doctors appointments...I felt the conviction of the Holy Spirit of my responsibility as a go-between. As a voice. As a witness to sickness and a witness to good medicine. We are introduced to health and wealth and introduced to poverty and sickness for one reason and one reason only, and that is to answer when called to fill the gap. Not take over. Not "Americanize" the world. Not assume that we are fix-alls. But as far as it depends on me, and on us, if we know of a sick child and know of someone who knows of good doctors (whether in Haiti or overseas), or know of someone who could fund the medicine...then it is the calling coupled with our salvation that commissions us to stand in the gap.
A 6 year old with tiny arms and beautiful cornrows shyly scooted up to me today with her vbs craft in hand. When I picked her up, she whispered something into my ear that I couldn't understand. "Kisa?" I said. And she repeated. When I asked the translator to do what he does best, he said, "She says, 'Please keep holding me.'"
I thought about how many times my soul cries out like that to God. "Please keep holding me. Please don't let me down. I'm not sure about a lot of things, but I know that this feels safe, and right. Please keep holding me." And I held onto that baby girl in the back of the chapel where the team was leading the 74 other children in Creole and English verses of "My God is So Big So Strong and So Mighty, There's Nothing My God Cannot Do." And I thought about how the children's songs are sometimes the most relevant.
Sweet Peter (the often crying and consistently intense 6 year old) then came up to me with his foam Moses beard craft in his hand, but cotton stuffing glued onto his own face. I wish I could say that I was the compassionate caregiver who then took him to the well to wash it off. But, alas, I took him around to all the team members to show off his newly developed white beard.
Speaking of weird bugs. Our translator ushered a very, very, very, very large spider out of the classroom we were eating lunch in today. This was of course prior to him punching a wood bee away from the ladies and then dropping down to the ground to complete his share of the push-up-competition that some of the boys have made a daily routine for after our mid-day-meal.
We finished the day with Nilla Wafers in a round circle and answered "Wi!" to the children's questions of whether or not we would be back tomorrow. Then Anna Connell did what she does best and rounded up the team for another adventurous mudding experience in our lumber-topped-white van.
Now we wait to finish screens, take cold showers, and play another tense game of BS and Spoons on this long, paint-chipped white porch table before dinner and devotion time.
We ask you to help us stand in the gap in prayer for the sick, in gratefulness for the healthy, and in seeking for those who can meet needs. Trusting that we have been introduced to all three for a beautiful purpose. Awareness, hope, and restoration.
Mesi Anpil, from the team in Les Cayes, Haiti:)