Today has been a good day! For several months I have been looking forward to meeting Stanley and Davinsly, two young boys who are being adopted by two wonderful families in our church. We had that chance this morning.
We began the day with another fantastic breakfast at the World Wide Village home. We said, “good-bye” to Jane, our new friend from the Starkey Foundation, who has been in Haiti working with kids with hearing loss.From there it was off to Haiti’s version of a Home Depot.
We went to get a sense of what building materials cost in Haiti. It was also an eye-opener to the reality that so much reconstruction is happening here. This would be a good reminder for us later in the day. I was amazed at the amount of Christmas decorations in the Haitian store, because we had been told earlier in the trip that gift giving and celebrating Christmas wan’t a big deal here. We would see lots of Christmas decorations throughout the day.
From the hardware store it was off to the New Arrival Orphanage to see first-hand what we have heard so much about from Sara Lein
. We were greeted by Dukens who shared about the work of the orphanage and school. There are about 40 students enrolled in the school associated with the orphanage, in two grades. Five of those students are orphans who live at the home. The Pearcy, Haroldson and Lein families had filled a suitcase full of gifts for the five boys, and the orphanage.
When we walked into the classroom, I immediately noticed Stanley. His big smile and bright eyes were staring at us as we walked in. He immediately hid his face behind a book, and then came out behind the book, chucking. Dukens told the class that I was Miss Sara’s pastor. That is when I saw Davinsly on the other side of the room.The boys’ teacher was fantastic. And soon the entire classroom was up performing a rousing song for us.
Both of the boys participated in the singing. They had big smiles on their faces as they sang and chuckled because the song was kind of fun to sing.We left the classroom and talked with Dukens a bit more. Since we had gifts for the boys, but not all of the students, we asked if the five guys who were orphans could be brought out of the classroom.It was so special to be able to present them with gifts from their families.
Each of the boys’ faces lit up when they received their packages. There was such pride in their eyes as the looked over each one of the gifts. The families did a great job of putting together gifts that boys would love. From matchbox cars to superhero items, everything in the bag was a hit.
Davinsly shouted, “Captain America!” as soon as he picked up his new superhero toy. The Pearcy and Haroldson families put together beautiful books for the boys. At first, the boys looked at the cover, and quickly moved on to the toys. Then, I took some itme to go through each page with the boys, and their eyes were riveted to the pages of the book. They LOVED seeing the pictures of themselves in the book. I know this is something that they will treasure as the days go by.
When it came time for the boys to put their new gifts away, I followed Davinsly. He has a chest in his room where he keeps his precious items. He very carefully put away his bag with great pride. You could tell that he was so excited about these new blessings.
Stanley placed his gifts on his bed, next to a blanket that I believe was made by our kids in Vacation Bible School.It was amazing to spend time with these guys. I was blown away at the quality of the care and the love that these guys are shown by their caregivers. There are some very good things happening at this school and orphanage. We were able to capture some video that I’ll share with the families when we get back into town.
Both boys really lit up when I showed them their future siblings in the picture books. I think they understood what I was telling them about having sisters and a brother. They were genuinely excited.It was hard to leave the guys at the orphanage. A big part of me wished I could just bring them home to meet their terrific families. They are so precious and full of joy. I can only imagine how difficult it is to wait for an unknown amount of time to meet your sons and brothers.
From the orphanage, we went to the school that Randy Mortensen considers to be one of the best in the nation, with the educator who he believes does the best job. The school runs from K-13, with 100% of students passing the entrance exams for the next grade. This educator is running teacher clinics throughout the programs World Wide Village Runs. While not a WWV school, this school has a close working relationship with Randy and the WWV team that is essential for the year’s ahead.
After the school we had lunch at a hotel that used to be a Holiday Inn and Best Western. It was located in the region of Port au Prince that suffered the most damage during the earthquake. You would have never known this peaceful, beautiful and serene hotel existed behind the concrete barrier in front of it. I couldn’t believe my eyes when we walked in. This hotel served as a home base for foreign aid workers during the crisis. We went from lunch to the old presidential palace, that was destroyed in the earthquake and has since been bulldozed. The palace will be rebuilt sometime soon.
We ended our day driving through the rebuilding city of Port au Prince. We saw the outside of the tent cities, where 400,000 Haitians still live some 2 years after the quake. I was stunned when I saw so many buildings looking like they could fall down at any moment. The trash and open sewage on the streets were heartbreaking. Our Haitian driver didn’t want to take us into the even worse section of town for fear of safety.We leave this country tomorrow. I will miss the people and look forward to returning some day in the future. God is doing good things here and there is hope in the midst of such continuing heartache. Pray for the people of Haiti and for discernment as our church seeks God wisdom on how to best make a difference. Thank you to all of you who helped Darrin and I get here. It has been a humbling and learning experience.I took over 150 pictures today and all of them are available on my Facebook page. Thank you for taking the time to read our experiences.