Wednesday in Haiti

Wednesday started slow, but it ended up being a great day. In the morning, Jim and I accompanied Andrea, Rose, and DeAnna as they walked to the house that hosts the Apparent Project. The Apparent Project is a business run by an American family who is employing Haitian artisans to make jewelry, purses, baskets, and other goods. Andrea, Rose, and DeAnna wanted to check into the possibility of bringing back some of the products to sell at home parties.

With two of the street boys outside the Apparent Project
Jim and I waited outside the gate while the ladies went in to shop. We thought it would take a few minutes. We had accumulated three street boys along the way, so we started talking to them. I was also carrying a bag with donated items for the Maison de Lumiere school. We did our best to talk to the boys with our limited Creole. A few minutes went by. Looking for something to do, I started fishing around in the bag to see if it held anything that might interest the boys. There was a box with a puzzle inside. We went through the names of all the animals in English and Creole several times. Jim and I were learning new words, and we liked that. A few more minutes went by. I pulled out the puzzle pieces, and we started trying to guess which animal was partially pictured on each puzzle piece. The guard at the gate joined in. So did a merchant who had walked up, hoping to sell us something to eat. A few more minutes went by. Jim and I learned the names of four or five colors in Creole. Having stood for a while, we sat down in the dirt and leaned up against the wall. The boys sat down with us. "I wonder what is taking so long," I commented. "Yeah, me too," Jim answered. "I feel like we got stuck at the mall," I lamented. Jim agreed. Then we pulled out another puzzle. And then another. The merchant was still entertained. A few more minutes went by. The merchant left, and the guard got bored with us. We pulled a large wooden puzzle of an elephant out and put it together with the boys on a patch of uneven cement. A few more minutes went by. We were running out of things to do. Finally, after having sat outside in the dirt and sun for a good long time, we packed up our things and wandered off with the street boys behind us. We saw the ladies at lunch time, and they asked why we left. We told them we were there so long, we couldn't remember how we got there in the first place, and thought it was best go to home.

In the afternoon, we learned that we might not be able to have construction on the houses started before we leave. We prayed together and entrusted the situation to God. We hope to meet one of the families on Friday.

The face of the feeding program
Wednesday afternoon was feeding program, and we were bracing ourselves for more trouble outside in the street. A lot of the kids who come to the feeding program are pretty tough, and fighting is common. Jim, Lauren, and I stationed ourselves in the street. Once the lines started filling up with kids, the pushing began. And pushing leads quickly to fighting. I found the boy who was causing the most trouble and stood directly in front of him, sandwiched between the two lines of kids. I ended up being in that spot for at least a half hour. I had to stop kids from pushing, elbowing, and antagonizing one another. Jim and Lauren were also keeping peace in other areas. Finally I decided to turn the situation into a Bible lesson. In Creole I asked the group of boys in front of me, "What does the Bible say -- to fight or not fight?" About half of them answered "fight," and half answered "not fight." I had just read earlier that morning that we are not to fight or quarrel, so it was fresh in my mind. "The Bible says not to fight," I declared. That helped but only a little. Eventually I resorted to telling kids, "If you fight or push, you go home." The kids got into the feeding program without major incident, thank God.

There was one fist fight, but it involved two 13-ish girls who weren't in the feeding program. They just decided to start punching each other right in front of us. I jumped in the middle and grabbed one, while the other went running off down the street. I have broken up three fights this week. Of the six participants, four have been girls and two have been boys.

In the feeding program, Rose and some other team members were broken hearted to see one disabled girl named America pile in a bowl full of rice and beans, and then ask for another. She kept shoveling in food and asking for more. She also fed her little brother a few bites. It is really hard to watch a truly hungry person eat.

Following the feeding program, we went to the Ravine to visit two families I have known since just after the earthquake. That was a huge highlight for me! By the time we got to Mona and Mimos' shanties, there were about 25 kids gathered around. Our hosts put out chairs for us, and we sat down on Mimos' porch area. I don't know about others, but at first I felt kind of awkward, like I was being treated like some kind of dignitary. But then the kids started climbing on everyone's laps, and we forgot about everything except having a good time. I was sitting with Roseline and her little sister Rosena. Love those girls! We had bought some pieces of candy, and we handed them out. We took photos and laughed with the kids. Finally, we prayed for the two families and the Claireville community. That meant a lot to me. After the quake, Claireville turned into a small tent city. Times were desperate there. My heart went out to those people, and I invested in relationships with some of them, especially the feeding program kids. Now when we visit, it is a festive occasion with lots of laughter and genuine affection. As we were sitting on Mimos' porch, laughing and loving up on those kids, I thought it was about as close as one can get to heaven.

We ended the day with a very moving worship gathering at the boys' house with all the MDL kids. After sweet fellowship in the Ravine, it was the perfect way to end the day.

Lauren and DeeAnna, sharing a cooking experience
Except that the day wasn't quite finished. It was Wednesday, and the next day was Thanksgiving! We had gotten the makings for pumpkin pies, and the ladies on our team went to work preparing them for the next day. Needless to say, there was more than one flour fight before it was all over. Note to self: don't let Lauren Beck and DeAnna Gallardo be in the kitchen at the same time, especially if it's after midnight. :-)

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