I woke up to the sound of a rooster crowing this morning. I rolled out of my make shift bed and headed outside to see what Haiti looked like at sunrise. It was already sticky hot, but beautiful. Our neighbors to the left were already out with their pick axes breaking away the stone that they had been working on all day yesterday. It appeared as though they woke up and got right to work. I felt the desire to offer a hand with the work since Rhiana and the girls were still sleeping, but chickened out. It wasn’t the work that made me hesitate. It was a combination of things. The iron gate covered in barbed wire that separated us, the language barrier, and truthfully I was a little self conscience.
You see, last night we were invited by our two housemates to walk down the street and experience a crusade. I had no idea what a crusade was and I thought that all the music we had been hearing was for Carnival 2014. It was not. We cautiously left the gates of our house which meant we were also leaving behind our shotgun-yielding security guard. We wove through the dark streets following the sounds and after ducking under a half fallen iron gateway we could see a gravel field with thousands of people singing and dancing. There was a band on stage with a few other men across the front of the stage shouting Haitian Creole words at the crowd. It was intense and it was all for Jesus. When I rounded the corner and went about halfway across the field I could see a white tarp framed with the words, “I Love Jesus” projected onto it. My insecurity of being the only “Blanc” (White) man in the crowd soon went away. I held Clover high in my arms so that she could see the stage while Rhiana stood with Gracie and our housemates. It was incredible. I had never seen this many people this passionate for Jesus anywhere in my entire life.
Clover waved to a little girl that was next to us and she waved back. Eventually, her family picked up their chairs and moved to another area of the field. I thought nothing of it until a young man walked up to me and asked me why I was there if I couldn’t understand the language. I told him that I heard the music and came to see what was going on and now that I see it is worship – I’m so happy we did. He asked where I was from and I returned the gesture as we shook hands. He then explained that he needed to go before too many people saw him talking to me.
Thats when it hit me….the color of our skin was an issue. I looked around and everyone had cleared out 20 feet in every direction around us. I didn’t feel bad, I didn’t feel threatened, I felt compassion. Compassion for anyone who has been alienated for any reason, but in that moment especially for those alienated due to the color of their skin.
At that point, I did the only thing that I could think to do which was pray. I thanked God for the experience and rocked Clover to sleep with the beat of the music. We walked back and I definitely was a little more on alert now than on the walk over. As I went to sleep, I thought I had left it behind, but it obviously played a role in me not approaching the neighbors early this morning.
I brought it up to the housemates at breakfast and they were shocked. One of them lives here permanently and the other has been here for over a month. They assured me that it was an isolated case and not the norm. That proved to be true as I was met with nothing but smiles and open arms for the rest of the day.
After breakfast we went over the orphanage and got a tour of the facility. We got to see the classroom where Rhiana will be teaching and basic understanding of how things function there on a day to day basis. After that we went down to the “babies” room. (They consider all orphans under the age of 2 a baby) It was decided that we would spend today with that age group playing out on the front porch of the Orphanage. I was the first in the family to be handed a baby to hold and he is someone that I will never forget. He had the biggest smile and you could see pure joy in his eyes. How is that even possible when you live under the stress that he and the others live under? My mind kept asking that same question over and over again. I finally got the answer by the end of day 1 at the Orphanage.
These children are exposed to preaching, prayer, and song all day, everyday. There is no outside influence or distraction. No headrest DVD player to melt their brains while bouncing along in their Mom’s overpriced SUV before being dropped off at a day care with no sign of God anywhere… instead these Orphans are smothered in God’s promise for all of his children.
Now, that being said – there are still a lot of things that will make your heart break for these kids. They are starved for affection and one on one time with a loving adult. The nannies at the Orphanage are very task oriented due to their culture and the fact that they have to be with that many children. I worked my hardest to hold each and every child today and play with them evenly. It was exhausting, but it was rewarding.
It is crazy to think that it is only day one of 29 here in Haiti. We have experienced so much in 24 hours. I hope and pray that I can impact these children in a positive way and be of service to this community. That is why we are here and I know God will use each of us to do his work. My only fear at this very moment is the pain that will come with leaving.