So today we woke up in Haiti. That was a bit surreal after having about a 12-hour travel day that started for many in Tallahassee the day before. And what a sight to wake up to. We were able to see even more of the beauty of the country as the ministry center is nestled on a great lookout on top of a hill that opens to homes and countryside below, mountains all around and a view of the Caribbean sea on the not too distant horizon.
After breakfast we started on a tour of the property by ESMI staff member, Richard. As we walked building to building we were able to hear more about their history and current vision and mission. They really have a holistic view of the Gospel in mind for these orphans that not only includes physical care, but spiritual restoration, education and even speciality training in engine work, cosmetology, machine and woodworking, agriculture and hydroponics and even some animal husbandry.
During the hurricane, this place became a place of refuge as orphans from more unstable areas were moved here to ride out the storm. The facility sustained some damage on multiple buildings and on their security wall, but for the most part, their level of construction withstood the storm. Electrical and water are still under repair so a generator and quite a bit of manual hauling of water is now a daily routine.
Our day had a bit of a slow start as I needed to go into town to purchase some of our construction supplies. Again, we are striving to be learners and understand the culture and pace of things here. Things just take time. But thankfully, there is always another important mission besides manual labor and repair work present with over 100 orphans here. So today was our first day interacting with them and the beginning of the formation of relationships. Thankfully the language that supersedes language barriers is the language of play. Loads of physical interaction, games, chalk, balloons and bubbles provided a fun environment.
After lunch we were off and running with the demolition of the damaged sections of wall in one area and the subsequent rebuilding. Everything is by hand from demo work to moving blocks to making concrete. But many of us were able to put our Nicaraguan concrete and masonry skills to work.
It was amazing how quickly the team came together in work and jumped in to help. And we were excited to see many of the teenage orphans jump right in to work alongside us. It’s a one of the philosophies of our mission strategy to join and come alongside people in the work God has for us.
We put in a full day that ended with some frisbee, tag, paper airplanes and soccer before dinner. They put out a great spread for us at meal times so we are certainly replenishing calories expended. We were so grateful that they hand filled the water tanks so that we could all shower for the first time. It’s the little things in life… actually the way we smelled and were caked in dirt made a shower not so little of a thing, but we were grateful nonetheless.
Team time at night is the highlight of the day for me. I love the opportunity to open God’s Word and also to take about our day – what we are seeing, experiencing and most importantly, where we are seeing God throughout the day. He is certainly present and has met us in this place. We are quickly falling in love and finding a home away from home here in Haiti. We may not fully know why we are here and the impact that will be made, but we know a good part of that impact will be on our own lives. Thank you for praying for us as we continue to serve here.