I started running with some of the boys in the afternoons. There is a trail up the mountain behind the Children's Village that makes a loop. The trail is a footpath used for travel to and from the small dwellings dotting the landscape. We pass by these on our run and greet everyone we meet along the way. The trail tops out on a large plateau overlooking the city of Grand Goave, and then the ocean. The plateau provides a foraging place for goats and cows. We greet the men and boys tending the livestock as we continue on along the trail.
The trail continues to climb and meets up with the mountain road behind the Be Like Brit orphanage. Then it continues to climb the steep road until it circles around to our other Hands and Feet Site at Ikondo. We are always greeted by all of the small children waving and yelling “Hey You!, Hey You!”. We complete the far end of the loop right before we reach our other site, and then circle into another trail behind a Haitian night club. I witnessed a large crowd fighting there the other night and a woman being beaten in the midst. She then turned on the guy beating her and began holding her own. The whole crowd seemed pretty violent. This scene caused Amy to lose sleep for a few nights.
On our runs we circle in behind the night club. It is pretty deserted during the day and the afternoon when we run. We circle in and make our way down the mountain through all the dwellings along the path. More kids waving and giving us high fives. Some of them have clothes on. Some of them have red hair, a sign of malnutrition. We come out of the mountain trail right behind the church – Mission of Hope – and the follow the highway back to the Children's Village. I'm pretty sure Jean Marie is our fastest runner. Tall, lean, and reserved. He can run like the wind.
“Laramie, you better come take a look at this” Amy said with a slight look of concern in her eyes. I went out to check things out and noticed something hanging on a string. This time it was a bat. It was a pretty decent sized bat. All the kids were gathered around poking at it and the kid that held the string would swing it around from time to time. I told them they couldn't play with the bat because sometimes they carry rabies. They agreed so I killed it and threw it in the garbage fire. I held open the mouth with a machete before I threw it in the fire to show them the sharp teeth and fangs. They were pretty unimpressed. I guess when you don't have a whole bunch of toys you make your own. It seems the first choice is to find some kind of vermin, put it on a string, and then gather around to poke it.
Our Creole teacher decided that it would be good for us to interact with his English class. We met up and then went to the school together. The school was a few cinder block rooms with a tin roof and a dirt floor. No lighting. The English lesson consisted of teaching the class to sing I surrender All. The beautiful voices learning to sing praises to God in English. We were all fighting back tears as we had the privilege of helping them sing the words. The night was coming on and the light-less room was growing dark, but the voices were lifted to heaven as we sang to God together and brought a light that could be felt even if it could not be seen.
The same construction worker that cut his thumb and needed stitches a few weeks ago has been talking to me about his strong desire to evangelize in the mountains. We started praying together about what God has in store for us in this area. A Haitian guy that has been helping us with our short term groups is also interested. His name is Samuel.
Samuel has been invited to the International Festival in Lafayette, Louisiana because he is part of a Haitian Singing group. Megan from Respire Haiti is also from Lafayette. We told him about her and decided it would be good for them to meet. So their group started praying about it.
With no further prompting or communication Megan called out of the blue and said she wanted to tour our site and get to know us better. We saw Samuel that day and told him that she was coming. He got his group together so they could all meet. If that wasn't cool enough, just wait.
When Megan got here she had a dentist and his wife with them that volunteer here from New Iberia, Louisiana. We met them and connected right away. While Josh (Megan's husband) and I were talking, Megan met Samuel and his group and began to help them right away with the application process for the festival. A few minutes later Amy came and asked me if I knew what was happening. I thought so, but there was one more piece that I had missed.
Before the dentist left on this trip, a friend of his had given him some money to give to a Haitian man that they use to sponsor when he was a child. The dentist took the money but had no clue how to get in touch with the man and thought that there was no chance of them actually being able to give him the money. As they were talking with Samuel and his friends, it turned out that one of the members of the singing group was the man he was supposed to give the money to. God is at work here. Sometimes we get the privilege of participating, and sometimes we just get to observe and praise Him for what He is doing.
We got to go to the the Tuesday night prayer service at church for the first time this week. It seems that other duties have pulled us away every other Tuesday that we have been here. I love the Haitian prayer service. The men here that lead it are just wonderful brothers in Christ. During the service, one of the pastors said something in Creole that sounded like Pastor Laramie will be preaching next Tuesday. I leaned over to Amy and she confirmed that she thought that is what he said to. He then smiled at me and said “Si 'dye vle!” In the military we call that getting voluntold. I just smiled back and nodded. Of course I would be happy to preach.
One afternoon I smelled smoke closer to the house than the usual garbage fire. Smoke started to fill the house and I walked outside to see what was cooking. Well, it was corn. The kids had built a fire right outside the open window that draws the most air and were cooking corn. I learned that in Haiti, you just take the whole ear of corn, chuck it in the fire, pull it out before it burns completely up, peel, and eat.
There is definitely a revival here. I had the privilege to be a part of baptizing two more of our kids this week. In addition I was able to baptize the wife of a former Voodoo priest. About a year ago a Voodoo priest heard the church service on the radio, decided he wanted to surrender to Christ, and then came to church to find out what to do next. He gave his life to Christ that day and destroyed all of his Voodoo stuff. Last Saturday he got married. On Sunday he and his wife were baptized. It is as if God is saying,”I am doing something big here. You are going to get to be a part of it, but don't forget that I am doing it. It is just your privilege to get to participate.”
During orientation with the mission team the other night, a giant tarantula crawled out between the feet of one of the ladies. Angie tried hard not to alarm her as she gently explained what was going on. The lady immediately lifted her feet and gasped. We paused long enough for a couple of pictures, and then I squashed it with my boot. We resumed the orientation.
There is a cattle drive every week. Usually during the evening service at church, you can see the procession of cattle being driven down the road. Last Sunday night we got caught in the herd on our way home in the dark. All the kids were running to the side of the road and hollering. We couldn't figure out what was going on and then someone called out “Bef Anpil! (a lot of cows)” And we all stepped to the side and waited while the cows passed us by in the dark. A short time later one of the boys was talking to Amy. He said, “I just stepped in some of what the cows left behind. I feel it under my foot. It was hot.” Good English skills.
I got to visit the children's hospital this week because one of our kids had an appointment. I got to meet some other kids there, like Billy. With protruding eyes from a lymphatic disorder, and club feet, he smiled broadly as he scooted by on a wheeled toy. I thought he was riding it because he couldn't walk, but I was wrong. I was amazed as he stepped off and walked to me even though both feet turned inward and he had to walk on the outward sides. He barely looked like he had a problem.
Billy sat next to me and started talking. He is maybe 5. I asked him how old he was and he just said “Pa Konnen.” He doesn't know, but that didn't stop him from smiling and laughing as he played with the alarms on my watch. He played with the alarms and laughed every time the beeped. After a while he called his other friends over. One of them had a colostomy bag, he was about the same age as Billy and his name was Clifford. He wanted to show them the new toy he had found.
He came back to show them the watch attached to my arm. They all stood around and laughed with him every time it would beep. He showed them how the light worked. But when they wanted to try, he just covered the watch. You can look, but I control the watch – and the arm it is attached to.
I said, “Billy, you called all your friends over, but now you won't let them play.” He just said, “No, li mwen.” He said it very matter of fact, and the rest of the kids were content to sit there and observe.
Then there was Salina. A beautiful girl with a mother that looked just like her. I found out that she is getting worse. I was sitting right next to the scale when she stepped off after being weighed. She almost fell and I helped catch her. She smiled and her mother thanked me. She is finished with all of her treatments, but they are not working.
Sitting next to Salina and her mom was a lady with a baby in her arms. She is not the mother. The child probably has cerebral palsy. She was found on the street by the organization that the lady holding her works for. They wanted to help her, so now the lady is taking care of her.
The kids here have been through so much, and sometimes that is manifest in their behavior. That is why we are here. It was a hard day, and right in the midst of some of the struggles a missionary was cut on the head by a falling board. Head wounds always produce a lot of blood. Things always seem to go wrong all at the same time. After some cleaning it was decided that he didn't need stitches. About that time someone said, “Look, a double rainbow!” It was beautiful, and everyone stopped to look. The kids looked up and said “Lakansyèl!” The promises of God. He who called is faithful to do it.