The day started bright and early as we loaded up the vans to start the day. We collected the chickens and the goats and loaded them into the vans and on top of the vans and began our 45-minute drive to the village of Ti-Marche. As we turned off the main highway, several team members chose to ride on top of one of the vans. So, again, we were very noticeable in our vans with the blancs on top of one and goats on top of another. Lots of smiles and lots of waves as we drove through small housing areas and the “town” part.
We arrived to the church where the pastor is the one who lets Second Chance know who in the village could use some extra help. We began our parade of blancs carrying chickens, leading goats, and weighted down with 15-25 pounds of beans and rice in our backpacks. And as we walked, our parade grew because kids and adults would join us to see what we were doing and where we were going. They were also very quick to lend a hand to help us jump over a ditch filled with water or help us with a stubborn goat or cranky chicken. Kids wanted to hold our hands and wanted us to take their pics and then see themselves on our phones. I quickly learned that I couldn’t give something to one child because I would then be surrounded by 10 more and I didn’t have enough to give. So, I will be making an Oriental Trading order before my next trip so I have something to give everyone! They love watches, sunglasses, and bracelets.
We were out traversing fields and crossing little creeks for several hours as we were led to the homes of people who needed some extra love, some prayers and a little reminder that there are people in the world who care. Most of the houses were one-room shacks made out of mud and straw….others were a little bigger made out of concrete block and tin roofs. The views, however, were spectacular. Mountains in the distance. Lush vegetation – trees of coconut, mango, avocado, and lime. Crops of beans, sugar cane, corn, beets, potatoes. There were chickens, cows, pigs, and goats. The children could run around and play and not have to worry about traffic and “city” dangers. Far away from the loud noise and the hustle and bustle of the city. It was so peaceful and quiet. Beautiful blue skies – palm trees – sunshine – I’ll share some pics later…or go follow me on Facebook or IG.
We would give one goat to a family because they then would allow that goat to breed their neighbor’s goat and then the baby goats would be shared with others in the village. I think that is what I found so overwhelming and humbling is that even though they don’t have lots of material goods…what they do have, they share with one another and will share with you. I think we Americans could learn a lot about it being more blessed to give than to receive and how we really don’t need all that we have in our houses and homes – wealth isn’t measured by what we have but by the relationships and love we have in our lives. We left Bruno (the goat) with a mother of 7 who is a widow. If I had to guess the size of her one-room house, I would say it was a square of 10 feet by 10 feet. I know it wasn’t very big at all. Our translator would translate what our spokesperson would say and would translate our prayers, as well. I was able to hug her and be the recipient of one of her beautiful smiles. The $30 it cost to purchase Bruno seems so small in relation to what it means to be given that goat.
It was such an incredible experience to be introduced to the various villagers….to see their smiles…to feel the love that was so evident in everything we said and did that day. We may not speak the same language but a smile and hug says the same thing in any language and crosses all cultures, ethnic groups, and language barriers.
We came to a house where a lady was being cared for by her daughters and we found out that she had been out in the field working that morning and had suffered a stroke two hours prior to our arrival. Nate and Jeff are first responders and have careers here in the US in the medical field so they were able to explain some things to the daughters and to give some recommendations. However, we all knew it wasn’t very probable that she would survive. Strokes are the number one cause of death in Haiti – the risk factors are high blood pressure and sickle-cell anemia. Average life expectancy is age 60 for men and age 65 for women. It was a sobering moment as we realized she was only 52… Yes, there are lots of moments where the reality of things can be very overwhelming and seem so hopeless; but then you see the eyes of a child light up when you give them a piece of candy or a pair of sunglasses or take their pic and your heart begins to feel hope and purpose again and you know that those are life changing moments for everyone..and that it is your life that will be changed the most profoundly.
You have to have moments of fun and laughter – otherwise, the sad emotions could be overpowering. We had lots of those during our days. I think of D’Anna passing out bags of beans and rice from her backpack and instead of her backpack getting lighter…it seemed just as heavy as when she started. What she didn’t know is that every time Nate took a bag out, he put a big rock in. She just kept trudging along while leaning forward because of the weight on her back. After a while, Nate finally fessed up, and she, along with the rest of us, had a really good laugh.
We left the village and traveled to a lookout point where you could see the mountains of the Dominican Republic in the distance (we were only about 45 minutes from the border) and could see Lake Enriquillo….it’s the largest lake and the lowest elevation in the Caribbean. It was breathtaking! A stop to meet the baby boy born to Roger, another of their translators, was a precious reminder of the circle of life. We drove back to the orphanage a tired, dusty, exhausted team but with happy hearts and grateful spirits.
I also have to share how one always wants to travel with Second Chance Haiti board member, Mike. He brings the sour patch kids and the twizzlers. He was on our van so we were the ones who got to travel with the good stuff! Lol! On Sunday afternoon, the people in the other van thought they could confiscate the bag of sour patch kids and that would be permissible. We tried to get them back to no avail…even sending our security person over to use her authority to hand them over. Well, all it took was Mike walking over and holding out his hand – they had to return the bag to its owner. That is why you want to be on the van with Mike! In all seriousness – sour patch kids, twizzlers, peanut butter, nutella, tortillas to the side and not taken into consideration – Mike is a man with a servant’s heart who is willing to use his skills and talents to make life a little easier for those with whom he comes in contact….whether it be helping a little girl get her stubborn donkey to start walking, constructing trunks so the orphanage has storage, or praying for a person in the village. Just don’t ask him to go back to the market to carry chickens!!! lol
Addition for Monday’s blog:
I forgot to mention one of the most important things we did that day at the FOSA orphanage (in my opinion). One of our team members wanted to carry on a ministry that her friend’s mother had started several years ago. She has passed away and no one has carried on this ministry. Britt had purchased stuffed animals for all of the children there; however, as people who believe in the power of prayer and in the love of a Heavenly Father who can watch over these children, she wanted several of us to join with her in prayer. We all held several of the stuffed animals and then took turns praying over those animals – we prayed that these children would be comforted when they were feeling sad and that they would feel peace on days when everything seemed chaotic. We prayed that they would feel love on the days they felt alone and uncared for and that they would remember there are people in this world who care about them and love them so much. Tears fell from our eyes as we listened to the heartfelt prayers of our fellow team members. Knowing that we cannot be there in person to brush the tears away from these children’s eyes and we cannot be there to give them a hug and we cannot be there to comfort them in the middle of the night when they have a bad dream. However, we know a God who can do that and we knew that the power of prayer can transcend miles and distance and can do more than what we can do in our own human effort. So, I would ask that you remember these children every time you pray for your own children, grandchildren, nieces, nephews, godchildren. I know that it will make a difference!