This past week was so good. In so many ways. We had a 6 person medical trip called Coast to Coast from Sunday afternoon till yesterday morning. It was a week full of clinics, fun and emotion.
Two of the ladies had come last year, Lori and Patty, so it was nice to be able to work with them again along with the four new team members. I had the pleasure of bunking with the only guy who’s name is Stan who, by the way, lives in Jersey! We did four and a half clinic days so it was a full week! We went to Makesnel and Walmy’s school in Ganthier, La Referance, we returned to a school in Jerusalem, we went to an orphanage at the top of Ganthier run by a great woman named Madame Valmont, and we went to a new location called Gallet Chanbon which hadn’t had a medical clinic since 2010 or 12.
It is always a pleasure working with Makesnel and Walmy and serving their school. The vision they have for their school, for Ganthier, and for Haiti is just so great and they are so passionate about what they do. They have had great success in everything they have put their heart and hands to. The school in Jerusalem was a great day for me as some of the children remembered me from when we went last (in May?) and I had the pleasure of talking to them and taking some pictures with them towards the end of the clinic. I haven’t been to the orphanage in Ganthier much, I’ve more so been to CAD right down the road from Men nan Man. This was the second time I had ever been to Kay Madame Valmont (what we call it), the first being last year on this same trip with Lori and Patty. We weren’t there for very long as that was the half clinic day. We were only there for a couple hours so I didn’t have much time to bond with the kids (who weren’t all there because we only saw the sick ones.) The last clinic day was the most tiring physically for me and emotionally. Firstly because whenever we do a clinic in an area like Gallet Chanbon we always see more severe needs manifested because they are “off the beaten path” so to speak. They are far away from any source of medical care and the closest hospitals are expensive. Because there is often more need, the people are more pressing towards the end of the clinic because families who didn’t make the list still crowd around hoping to be seen so there is an aspect of urgency. Secondly, we didn’t have enough translators for the day because we had extra help so I translated all day. We had two dentists (who didn’t need translators), one of whom we have worked with in the past, Vava, and the other who was from the princeton group Konekte. We also had another doctor who was from Konekte and she needed a translator because she only spoke French and when you go to villages like that many people only speak Creole. So I worked all day with Lori which was nice! It was challenging but was the first time I felt comfortable translating for a long period of time, God is good!
So on to Konekte. They came in on Wednesday and left this afternoon. They were a group of 6 as well, lead by Ann and Judy whom I have met several times. It is always a pleasure having them in country and partnering with them. Often times we don’t do much for them logistically wise besides feed them in the morning and at night. They always stay at the hotel across the street and rent their own car and driver and have their own schedule. They focus mainly on teaching and schools, La Referance being one of them. They also do a bunch of work with Jerry School next to Miracle Village for those of you who know what and where that is. They brought the dentist and doctor with them and so that’s why we had those extra two with us on the last clinical day.
I had the utmost pleasure of tagging along with the Konekte team yesterday because I wasn’t needed to take the other team to the airport. It was a great experience in several different ways. Firstly, because I got an inside look at what Konekte really does. Whenever they come I always see them in the house for breakfast and dinner but the FFP staff don’t go with them because they have their own projects and many times we have a team and are working on our own projects. We went to La Referance in the morning for a meeting with the staff of the school and also some art activities with their art class. After that we went to Men nan Men for a little bit for some training on how to properly brush your teeth and keep them healthy (lead by the dentist.) We then ate lunch in Miracle Village at the newly-ish opened EpiD’or restaurant which was nice (and cold). After lunch we headed to Kay Madame Valmont’s to do some more teaching about brushing teeth and oral hygiene as well as to donate many French children’s books to the kids and to play with them. This experience made my WHOLE week…
I cannot express how touched I was with that second visit to the orphanage. Like I said, the first visit with the medical group wasn’t very personal and we didn’t get much time to love on and connect with the kids. This time was different. Many of them obviously remembered me from just a few days prior and when it was time to play together and read the newly-donated books, three or four girls and a little boy stayed with me literally the whole time. I think at one time there were 6 or 7 crowding around me as we opened several books and talked about the pictures that were on the pages (yer boy can’t read French). It was so precious. One of the girl’s names is Emanuella and when we first arrived she ran and jumped into my arms ❤ She had actually done that as a good-by as we were leaving with the medical group on Wednesday but I hadn’t expected her to do it again yesterday. She was the first one to stick by me and stayed there the whole time 😀 She had an ugly looking rash on her neck but I was glad to find out we had given them medicine for it in the clinic and it was healing. Her hair was cut very short and she was pretty small. Her smile was so beautiful! I wish I had taken some pictures with the kids but I forgot. I guess I was having too good a time! One of the Konekte team members had been taking pictures for their trip the whole time and so I know he got some of me which he will send to me when he’s gone over them! I’m excited to see those and share them with you all. That 45 min-1 hour was hands down my favorite hour of the whole week. The amounts of love you can spread with a smile, with touch, with holding hands, with laughing, with just talking to kids.. it’s incomprehensible. It’s something you have to experience to truly understand, nothing I say will be able to explain it well. I was completely moved by those precious kids. As the children’s song says, “Jesus loves the little children, all the children of the world. Red, brown, yellow, black and white they’re all precious in his sight.” I got a taste of what God feels for them, for us. Yesterday night I talked logistics with pastor V on the phone about the group that’s coming tomorrow and I tried to explain my experience to him. I can best describe it as falling in love with people; not romantically but purely, as God intends us to love himself and others. That is what I felt yesterday for these kids, and if I’m honest, I don’t know what to do with that. I have this white savior complex that’s pulling at me and wanting to adopt them all (which is not possible anyway) along with the knowledge that they are in deep pain because of what has happened in their lives/to their families/to them, etc. and having to realize that I can’t “help” them with that. All I can do is provide love and laughter and smiles and hugs and a hand to hold, and while that (to me) doesn’t seem like enough, it has to be. Their situation is out of my hands but I can be the hands and feet of Christ. I can mirror his heart for his children, especially the ones that are orphaned, needy, marginalized or in pain. I believe God graced me with some of his love for these kids yesterday and in doing so, reminded me of what true love feels like. Love that doesn’t look for anything in return. Love that crosses all boundaries. Love that just wants to be with. Love that wants to protect at all costs to itself. Love that Christ has for you and I.
It was dope.
Welp, we have a highschool construction team coming tomorrow and leaving Friday. They are doing two days of work at Men nan Men on the wall and then a day of English teaching and playing with kids in Jacquet which should be nice because we haven’t been back there since the middle of spring.
As always, please continue to pray for me for physical and mental strength to work with this team as well as self-control and spiritual strength to face temptation and win. I am forever grateful for the group of prayer warriors I have back home as well as everyone who has ever contributed a dollar towards my ministry here. You all are the real MVPs. Thank you all so much and thanks for taking time to read about my life and what God has been doing here with FFP in Haiti.