Saturday, June 29th, 2013

Something that TJ often says is that we are not here to just be a humanitarian effort.  We don’t just come to Haiti to provide walls for those who have none, food for those who hunger and healthcare for those who are ailing.  And while meeting physical needs is important and a large part of our activity, we don’t just come to Haiti to administer to the physical; we come to minister to the spiritual.  Today more blocks were laid, the solar lights were finished and the frame of the gate was installed.  All of those projects make up a part of the reason we’re here, and it is absolutely incredible that so much has been accomplished in such a short period of time and is a blaringly loud testimonial to how God brought together this large team with so many different skills, but an even bigger part of why we’re here was realized when we got to do our two VBS sessions in the village.

Yesterday we went through the village inviting people to come out for VBS today in a large open field not too far from Pastor’s orphanage.  Around 10 o’clock this morning children from the village began showing up at Pastor’s, so our team set out down the road with dozens of kids, familiar and unfamiliar, in tow.  We walked about seventy-five yards down the road and took a sharp right onto one of those narrow, easily unseen paths that was flanked by a concrete wall on the left side and “mean green” shrubs on the right side.  After a short walk the path opened up to a villager’s home, behind which lay the field for VBS.  The field was covered with short stubby greenery, save for a large oval-shaped area of dusty, grayish black dirt.  The field had a few different entrances and was in easy view of one of the main roads in the distance, which allowed for kids to see what was happening and join. Trees and taller shrubs surrounded the perimeter of the field, but the uniquely beautiful Haitian mountains were not obscured from our view.  They loomed up in the background of all the VBS activity as God’s creation silently watching over God’s children.  Those mountains are incredible.  For our morning VBS, we organized the kids into four color groups that would rotate through four stations: snack/story, craft, music and games.  While initially a really great method of organization in what would otherwise potentially be mass chaos, the constant stream of children running in from the village made it difficult to keep track of groups and what children had been through which stations.  But we carried on, telling the story found in Mark 2 of Jesus healing the paralytic man brought to Jesus by his four friends, or “zamis” in Creole.  The kids all colored and sticker-fied white visors as a reminder that just as the visor protects our eyes from the sun, God also gives us protection.  Shouts from duck, duck, goose and “ruj” light, “ver” light competed with sound of children trying to keep up with a lively version of “Singing in the Rain” and the ever popular “Dum Dum Diddy.”  We never got a complete count of the number of kids, and some teens and adults, who participated in our morning VBS, but there were easily 100 kids that came through at some point or another.

Lunch at Kaliko featured a new item today that could be the official poster product of what sometimes comes from Haitian and English communication, or rather, miscommunication.  A few team members asked for a grilled cheese and were given just that – a few slices of grilled cheese on a plate.  After a good laugh, some slices of bread were brought out, the team finished eating and we loaded up to finish our last full day at the orphanage (tomorrow we will only spend the afternoon at the orphanage, and Monday we will only spend part of the morning).  We started our second VBS soon after arriving, making our way back down the road to the field.  Instead of rotating among four different stations, we decided to do everything as one large group, which ended up working really well. The theme of the afternoon was salvation, which consisted of the telling of Christ’s life, death and resurrection during story time, making salvation bracelets during craft, and eating jelly beans the same color as the beads on the salvation bracelets for snack.  Once again, “Dum Dum Diddy” and a heavily accented version of “Father Abraham” sounded across the field.  Our translators did a great job helping us communicate, and although at first all I could think was how seemingly impossible it was going to be to get our message across to a large group of rowdy children excited about their snack and craft, I realized as we went that something unbelievably amazing was happening.  We were standing out in the middle of a hot field in a small village on the island of Haiti and the name of Jesus was being said and sung and shouted in English and in Creole.  We sang a song tonight in our group devotional time with the line “Jesus your name is power, breath and living water, such a marvelous mystery.” That reminded me that even the very name of Jesus Christ carries the power to move those mountains resting in the distance, carries the power to invade the hearts of the children in attendance at VBS and carries the power to spread like wildfire through Williamson and across the nation of Haiti.  Every night my family group leader asks us what was “big” during the day.  That’s big.

Thong Pham led our devotional time tonight, and he asked us another one of those hard questions that always seem to work their way into our minds when we’re in Haiti.  Why are we here? Why do we keep coming back? If I could type out a transcript of his entire message, jokes and all, I would.  Thong reminded us of the remarkable truth that although we come here expecting to minister to the Haitian people, God so often uses them to minister to us.  Another team member pointed out that we often ask God to come and participate with us in our work when really we’re the ones joining him in his work.  He is already here in Haiti and we are blessed to walk beside him and experience a taste of his vast power as he does mighty work in this nation, in the hearts of her people, and in the hearts of our team.  The word compassion was mentioned tonight and my mind went to the first sound of that word, “come.”  I thought that was picture-perfect in the fact that we come here to Haiti to express compassion as an outgoing flow of emotion from ourselves to the children at Pastor’s.  But I was quickly made to rethink that as Thong explained that the word compassion has two parts; “passion” as in feelings or emotions, and “co” as in together.  This compassion is not just outgoing from us to the orphans.  It is a partnership of compassion in that we share feelings and emotions with them and they in turn share feelings and emotions with us.  And God serves as the third and most important part of this partnership.  He created compassion, showed us the meaning of it, offers it to us on a daily basis, and gives us the ability to experience it with the children we spend our time with every day.  And that’s some of why we’re here, some of why we keep coming back.  To experience our saving God of power and creation and beauty and compassion.