I can't believe it's already Thursday night! We had a fun day that started early this morning with us loading up the vehicles and heading out after our last breakfast in Bohoc. Nothing says goodbye like cinnamon rolls, oatmeal, and hotdogs... yes, I said hotdogs! We laughed a lot this week as we learned more about the culture of Haiti and worked hard to participate fully while we're here.
Our debrief time last night was "family game night" and included a pretty intense game of spoons before heading to bed. After everything we had seen, felt, and experienced this week, I think we all just needed some time to have fun. The ride in to Bohoc last Saturday took us 5 hours and left everyone praying for smooth spots in the road ahead so we began mentally preparing for a bumpy ride last night. Surprisingly, our trip today was just under 4 hours and was full of good discussions as we tried to begin putting our experience together in words.
We arrived at an orphanage in Port Au Prince around noon to find the kids sitting all throughout the house and yard working on their school for the day. We talked with Wilson, the founder and operator of the orphanage, and he shared about a vision for this home that began in him several years ago. He has done an amazing job just being faithful and trusting that God will provide. The kids (55 now) eat beans and rice twice a day and have to eat in shifts because they only have spoons for about 30. The food is provided by World Vision and they literally live on the income from Wilson, a friend, and donated supplies. I think the Wilson's story really impacted the team and his servant leadership is obvious from the moment you pass through the gates of the compound.
After hearing all about the home, we were turned loose to play with the kids. It took about 20 seconds before everyone had at least one child attached to them or pulling them by the hand to go play in the yard. We didn't have a lot of time but it was quality time for sure. When it was time to go, we had a crowd of children all around us and the tears began. It's incredible how quickly God can bond hearts together when the focus of the relationship is Him! We were with these children for about 1 hour and yet this time became some of the most cherished of the trip so far. Thank you Father for allowing us to love these children in a way that you love us... purely and passionately!
The drive to our hotel included a pass by the demolished Presidential Palace. There really isn't a way to put in to words the power of the destructive earthquake of last January. What once was a massive and towering white structure now is compacted and lying in ruins. Across the street is one of the larger "tent cities" where we saw men, women, and children bathing on the street with the water that is brought to the edge of the area by relief organizations and the government. A ride like that will put things in perspective pretty quick. We arrived to our hotel by 5pm and it was humbling for us all to be in such a "nice place". It's funny how our students viewed things like an air conditioning unit and a queen bed as luxury items. There's a strange dynamic as you climb the stairs to your private room and look out over the wall upon thousands of tent and shanty homes and it resonated immediately with our team.
Here's yet another thing I love about these guys, at dinner their conversations could have been about anything that typical 17-18 year olds would have but our team began asking each other questions like: "What were the top 5 moments of your trip?" and "What person impacted you the most?". Our time of debrief was next and yet again, we were humbled as our team shared one thing after another about what God taught them and how they felt His presence throughout this trip. God is faithful and has revealed Himself to our team in unique and powerful ways. I ask that you join me in prayer that these students allow God to forever change their lives through the Holy Spirit and the experience of this trip. We are all blessed to have formed new relationships with the people of Haiti!