Wednesday, August 18, 2010

And what a day it was!

Yesterday (8/17) was such an eventful day that I just have to dedicate an entire post to it.

The morning was fairly uneventful. I spent most of the morning supervising the library. Things got a little heated at one point, but I thought nothing of it at the time (turns out I was wrong, but I'll get to that later). Then, at 12:30, we had our first Bible study of the summer. The whole school schedule got messed up by the earthquake, so this is the first week of the summer for the kids. A few of them still have exams, so it was a voluntary Bible study. The nannies wanted to make Bible study mandatory for all the kids, which I wasn't so excited about, but they didn't want mandatory Bible study to start before everyone had finished exams, so that gave us two weeks to do some voluntary Bible studies. And it worked! We had ten kids there (of 34 total). I taught on humility from Luke 14:7-14. I'd say it was overall pretty successful, although there is room for improvement. The kids were interested and listened attentively while I talked. They weren't exactly jumping out of their seats to answer my questions, but that's OK. Talking with Mark afterward, we figured there were probably a few reasons for this; primarily, most of my questions probably sounded like calls to public confession, which, though we may think of that as a common part of Bible study in the US, doesn't seem to be part of the church culture here in Haiti, and certainly not at the orphanage. But they did, first of all, come, and they seemed pretty engaged. All in all, it was an encouraging first Bible study.

The second thing we had planned for the day was painting crews. American short-term teams have been coming in during our summer in the US, and many of them have been painting classrooms in the orphanage, some of which probably haven't been painted since it was built. But we've got the hallways left to paint, and now that school is starting in the US, there are fewer short-term mission teams coming our way. But part of what HFC wants to do, is to get the kids involved in service, so a good place to start is helping out in their own building. They do have regular chores around the place, but summer can be a little boring without a whole lot to do. So we asked for volunteers to help paint. And 14 kids volunteered. And they loved it! There were a few sour grapes, but mostly, they had a good time, and we rewarded them with cokes at the end of it. It was really good to see them getting involved and learning something.

Then, the most dramatic event of the day. Sometime in the late afternoon, a big storm blew in. I don't think it was a hurricane, but there was a lot of rain and a lot of wind. I was sitting in my room, taking a little break and listening to my iPod when it started to get dark. I took out my headphones and the wind was howling and the rain was beating in the windows. Everyone was on their feet looking out at what the storm was doing. The rain flooded the streets, turning them into rivers. No joke, I saw a concrete block being pushed downhill by the water. That's how much water was in the street. The wind blew a few roofs off of some surrounding houses. And the tarps and tents, which many people have been living in since the earthquake, didn't fare too well. Some survived, but some of the tarp houses were blown apart, just like in "The Three Little Pigs." We had a few tarps covering an outdoor courtyard that has served as the kindergarten area since the earthquake (the kindergarten parents are too afraid of another earthquake to let their kids have class inside the 3-story concrete building). The wind ripped them up and tore them down. Most of them are now pretty useless.

There was one moment of this storm that really struck me. I was looking out of the window of the boys' house across the street, and I saw a woman with a big pile of charcoal. She had found a tarp and was struggling to cover her pile of charcoal with it. In Haiti, the wealthier folks cook with gas stoves. The poorer cook with charcoal. And selling charcoal is one of the lowest and most humiliating jobs in the country. You sit by the side of the road, covered in charcoal dust all day long. These bags of charcoal were this woman's livelihood, and if they got wet, they'd probably be useless, at least for a while until they dried (does anyone know? if charcoal gets wet, can it dry out and be useful again?). But the wind was not helping, blowing her tarp all over the place. And you could see the anguish on her face, the worry that all she had would be destroyed. It was hard to watch, and at the same time I couldn't take my eyes off of her.

And that's not all! The argument that I heard earlier in the day in the library, turns out it was actually a bigger deal than I thought. One of the boys called one of the girls a bad name that I'd rather not repeat. I'll just say that if you turned on the radio, this word would be bleeped out. I didn't have any idea that he had used this word earlier, because he said it in Creole. But the girl went and told one of the other girls who then told one of the Haitian nannies who then called Dr. Bernard, who basically runs the orphanage. He used to live right up the street, and he and his wife were the house parents of the orphanage; he's been a part of these kids lives for about 14 years now. Anyway, he punished the boy for what he said. My problem is, I think the story probably got exaggerated before it got to him. I don't always trust this particular girl, and she is often very disrespectful to me and Mark and Marsha. Its just a little frustrating. I was here, but I have no idea what actually happened. I don't think he deserved the punishment he got, but maybe he did. It doesn't help that I don't particularly trust all of the individuals that the story passed through to get to Dr. Bernard either, and some of the other kids seem to think the punishment was too harsh as well. Its challenging to say the least.

Anyway, sorry for the long post, but I wanted to share the whole day with you. Its funny: some days are packed full, and some days are downright mundane. You never know.

I just want to add one prayer request:
Life here can be quite overwhelming sometimes. Dealing with the kids, seeing poverty on such a massive scale, thinking and praying about my life and where God is moving me, and all the while trying to keep focused on God and where I am. Its challenging, and sometimes it brings me to the point of tears. Emotions here can go from laughing and smiling to anger or tears in a moment, and sometimes I don't know why. Please pray for strength and strength through God.


  1. sending you love and prayers, jamie. miss you much <3 -Ally

  2. It's so good to hear what's going on, Jamie. Thank you for the stories. I know what you mean about being overwhelmed, too. I still start tearing up almost every time I think about the orphanage and impoverished community in the Philippines. As much as you're doing work for God there, He's doing something in you as well. You'll be changed through your time there. :-) I'll be praying for you!

  3. Hey brother,

    Psalm 46:10 says "Cease striving and know that I am God." As my pastor says, "take your hands off and let God do it."

    I hope you can take comfort in this verse, as I have recently, to rest in the knowledge that God is in control. period. You're doing good things, but only through His strength. So when things don't go as well as you hoped, check in with Him. make sure you're tuned in to His heart and not just a good idea.

    I'm so proud of you for being willing to go. I know your heart yearns to see God's blessings pour out on the poverty in Haiti. And yet we are told in scripture that the suffering will end, the battle will be won, and Christ will reign in glory. amen.

    I love you, bro. I love seeing God mold you in His image. Peace be with you.

  4. Hey Jamie, it's good to hear your voice even if it is electronic text. I can hear you in it. I seems as if your experience has been very striking at moments. It must be hard to put what you're learning into words. I'm sure the biggest transformations are far from being completely obvious and speakable ("Today I learned...yadah yadah"). Muchas Oraciones.