We can feel your prayers from Haiti!
The team united at 1:30am Monday morning (Sunday night?) to do final suitcase arrangement and packing, and we were on the road by 2:00am, many of us not having slept a wink. Some were able to catch some shuteye in the van ride to O’Hare, but for almost all of us, the excitement kept us awake and energized until we arrived.
Check-in at the airport also went smoothly. Our team brought down 30 checked bags full of supplies and donated materials. Simply awesome! The downtime after check-in gave us yet another time to rest a little bit before we boarded. Our original flight schedule allowed us to have a perfect 2 hour layover in Fort Lauderdale, but that quickly dwindled down to a 15 minute crunch time after sitting at the gate in Chicago as the maintenance teams diagnosed our “engine failure.” Lucky for us, the good staff at American Airlines had us on their radar, and they held the plane when we landed and rushed to the gate next door for our second flight. Miraculously, the baggage handlers got all 30 of our less-than-light suitcases on the plane in that short amount of time as well. Praise the Lord!
Our first evening in Haiti got the team acquainted with the delicious dinners we are to be spoiled with all week long, and allowed many of us to finally get some quality sleep in. Many of us came armed with white noise and earplugs to drown out the friendly roosters and trusty (but loud) guard dogs.
Today began with a quick breakfast and tour of the grounds. For those of us who were here in November, it was rewarding to see what has changed and what progress has been made on projects we helped with last time. Some things we found quite surprising as well, such as the mostly dried up river (rainy season begins in a month or so), the impressive structure in place for the new orphanage, and a wonderful new detour on the way to Lifeline that shortened our airport trip by 20-30 minutes. Oh, and speaking of the airport, a brand new baggage return area and immigration center opened recently, making the airport experience a less scary environment to land in. I digress.
After lunch, the ladies had their first bible study session and were overly excited to see around ~40 Haitian women in attendance. They will continue their time with them on Thursday, and remain excited to continue spreading the word and showing their love with activities, songs, and crafts.
Many of the men started on several projects and planning for a run into Port-Au-Prince to buy the remaining supplies we need for our water project. The lighting system is mostly installed already, and the goal of fixing the concrete block making machinery saw some positive first steps taken as well.
Lets not forget the loving on children that has happened as well. For those of us who’ve returned, our hearts were filled to see familiar faces and hear our names belted from the gate. Several of us who have started sponsoring children eagerly dispersed gifts of clothing, food, and toys today. The glow on their faces was brighter than 5 Christmases combined.
Many who are making the trip for first time had children quickly take their hands, legs, shoulders and arm hairs, on our walk into the village and were already wondering how many of them they could sneak back with us. The first timers have also been making observations about the differences they are noticing since arriving here. Many of these are very familiar to those of us who are returning, and we enjoyed discussing some of these together during our meal and devotional times this evening.
I’ve written quite a bit, so I’ll leave you with Matthew 25:35-40, as shared to us tonight during our devotional time by Donald Curtis, the president of Children’s Lifeline, who is along on our trip.
For I was hungry, and you fed me. I was thirsty, and you gave me a drink. I was a stranger, and you invited me into your home. I was naked, and you gave me clothing. I was sick, and you cared for me. I was in prison, and you visited me.’
“Then these righteous ones will reply, ‘Lord, when did we ever see you hungry and feed you? Or thirsty and give you something to drink? Or a stranger and show you hospitality? Or naked and give you clothing? When did we ever see you sick or in prison and visit you?’
“And the King will say, ‘I tell you the truth, when you did it to one of the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were doing it to me!’
We look forward to serving the least of these over the next week, and will continue to update you as we can. Many thanks for the prayers and messages of support. We feel so loved by you all.
Tim, for the team.