We got two new boys! Their names are Wismik and Kevin, and they are 9 and 8, according to their uncle that brought them. Both of their parents died years back, and until recently they had been living with their grandma. After she died, the uncle brought them in, but with 6 kids of his own, he said he wasn’t able to feed them or send them to school.
These kids have NEVER been to one day of school. Thinking of that in contrast to America’s public education system is soo hard. There is so much injustice here. All children should be entitled to an education!! But the problem here is that the government has set up so few public schools that only 20% of schools are public. And we’ve heard that the only way to get your kids into those schools is if you know someone. So the vast majority of kids in Haiti will never go to school, because they cannot afford the $50-$100 it costs for the year. If it were $10 a year, most still could not afford it.
Anyway, the new boys are adjusting very quickly, faster than all the rest did. We think it’s because they’ve been in survival mode for so long, going place to place, with no parents.. to them, this is just one more place you have to fend for yourself. Yesterday, for example, I brought over a bunch of crayons and paper to color with the boys. When we were finishing up, all the boys started helping me clean up. I noticed about half the crayons were missing, and then found ALL of the missing ones in Kevin’s pockets. I think in his mind he thought if he got his hands on them he could sell them for food. He has no idea that 3 meals a day will be consistently available for at least the next ten years! Praise the Lord that He is providing for these boys!!!
We’ve had so much fun doing “new” things with the boys lately. We started having “movie night” every Saturday night, and they love it!! So far we’ve watched many a Tom and Jerry, and Finding Nemo.
We also got to take them to a playground for the first time too! They had never been to one before! When they first saw it, one of them said, “How do we play with that?!” But it took about three seconds for them to figure it out once they started climbing on. J
We have a film crew here right now, which is really neat because they are interviewing lots of children and adults involved with Charles’ ministry here… meaning we get to hear more in depth life stories. It’s really neat being involved with it and helping to translate and so forth.
I’m continuing to do school with the boys at the orphanage, and they are loving it! Yesterday they put their first word together: “boul,” the word for ball. Thankfully Creole phonics are so easy! J
That’s it for now… more to come!
wide eyed at the playground :)
learning to ride a bike! the boys take turns pushing each other :)
this kid's laugh is INCREDIBLE.
jay and i with all the boys
D here. Two blogs in one day? Unprecedented. But just wanted to give a few short updates on top of what I wrote earlier..
All around best part: The kids all ran up to us yelling our names, “Daayyyy annn A! Je! JaaaarrreMY!” …and then getting lots of hugs. : )
Hardest part: Seeing all the tent cities as we left the airport and drove into the compound. They were everywhere. It seemed so hopeless. Be praying these people get homes before rainy season (starts very soon) and hurricane season (in a couple months).
Best orphanage moment: A few days ago, two baby chicks entered the compound. The boys had so mch fun playing with them, and then after a little while, they decided to make a Baby Chick Orphanage for them. They said the chicks needed a safe place to rest! : ) [See below]
Funniest part: Seeing my friend Chantal and her new 2 month old baby boy… a little background info: Two days before the earthquake, I went to go visit Chantal and her baby. I asked her what she named him, and she shrugged her shoulders. “You name him,” she said. “I can’t think of anything.” First thing that came to mind? MIGUEL. Why? I don’t know. She added a “son” to the end of it, as many Haitain names have: Miguelson. Anyhow, when I saw her when we got back last week, I asked her how her baby was, and what she ended up naming him. She said, “You should know! You named him!” I didn’t really think it was a serious conversation! So I named a Haitian child Miguelson. Jeremy said I should have said, “Starlight” that day and then at least he’d have a sweet name. Jay asked Chantal yesterday if she liked the name, and she said she did only because it was an American name! Should I tell the truth?!
The most “Ooookay, really?!” moment/s: Every night, at 3:30 am on the dot, a church up the road sings, preaches, and sings some more. VERY LOUDLY. I realize Haiti needs lots and lots of prayer, but if only they prayed at 8…
Madame Menos, the orphanage mom, let me into her life story today and I have no choice but to share it with you, b/c it is truly a picture of God’s redemptive work. For many months now, I have been blessed to see how Madame Menos loves the 13 boys in the orphanage so well. She loves them like her own. My favorite thing is to see her laugh with them and truly enjoy them when they are being ridiculous. She has a belly aching laugh and seems to almost fall over when she does. She is a large, jolly woman, and is such a prayer warrior, too. I’d wondered about her story many times before, and figured that she must have grown up in a loving Christian family to love the way she does. I never would have guessed she had to grow up like she did.
As the kids were eating lunch today, I was telling Madame Menos how well some of the kids are doing in school. (School in all Haiti is cancelled right now, probably for the rest of the year, so I have been having “school” for the orphans every day. I started with teaching them the letters and sounds of the Haitian alphabet and how to write their names.) She said, “Wow! Everyone is so strong in writing except me!” I asked her if she ever had the chance to go to school. She didn’t, because her parents didn’t have any money when she was little. Then, both of her parents died when she was ten. She had no other choice but to move in with her aunt. When she told me this, my heart sank; I knew that meant she basically became a child slave at the age of ten. One of church women explained to me the first few weeks here that when children become orphans in Haiti, no one loves them, not even their extended family. They are destined to be house servants or much worse, wherever they end up. They do not go to school. They are barely fed. And they are oftentimes physically abused. I asked Madame Menos if this was the case for her, and she said, “YES! All I EVER did was work, and they would beat me all the time.” She lived there until she was 27 when she finally got married and had a way out. She told me her husband, Menos, had a very similar childhood. He became an orphan at a young age too.
As she was telling me this, I was in shock. When she told me that people in Haiti only love their own children, I asked her how and why she loves the orphanage children so much, because, obviously, they are not her own. She told me that it’s because Jesus changed her heart, and He has given her a love for them. I still cannot stop thinking about this…How amazing that God would use this woman, an orphan herself, to raise and teach these orphaned boys that they have a Heavenly Father who loves them!!!!!! Unbelievable.
Friday afternoon, we flew back into a different Haiti than I (Jay) have ever seen before. It is hard to explain, because so much of it is still so similar to the pre-quake Haiti. For example, the smells are the exact same – still some striking combination of burning trash, deserted land, and human survival – and these smells still immediately remind me that I am standing in a real place.
But so much has changed.
There are now tents. Everywhere. From the air, I could spot countless tent cities. On the ground, they seem to go on forever. Some people have tarps. Some have a Coleman camping tent. Some tents have a giant Red Cross emblem on them. But thousands upon thousands of them are made of cardboard and bedsheets. And driving by them, we all ask the question aloud, “how do people fit in there?” Some of the tents cover only maybe 4 square feet of earth, providing maybe one person with 50% body coverage at night. The tents are a sight that I had no way of preparing for. I had seen them on the news, but I realized I couldn’t grasp the numbers when my eyes and heart tried to process them. There are even about 90 church members still sleeping in Taiwanese Red Cross tents (Thanks Taiwan!) in our yard. They are nice tents. But they are a constant reminder of the hundreds of thousands of people living under a bedsheet.
The roads have also changed. There is now rubble piled up at frequent intervals, causing traffic back up and long travel times to grow even longer. I have noticed more military/UN/police vehicles on the road. And there are new cities that have popped up along the road in previously abandoned land, where tents now cover certain patches of barren hillsides. We don’t sense any danger, and the military presence here is vast, but we do see decades and decades of restoration that are needed.
My heart has changed as well. I knew my heart would never be the same after we survived the earthquake. But I am reminded of that fact being back here. This country of Haiti, which was broken before, is now filled with a spirit of despair and haunting acceptance of such despair. It breaks me, and I see even more the need for God to bring healing to this country, and to my own heart as well. I feel burdened by the despair around me. I feel incapable of changing it. I see how it penetrates the very core of Haitian life. I see how my broken heart is not too different than the broken hearts of Haitians. And I am again freshly grateful that Jesus came to bring healing, hope, and redemption to this undeniably broken world. He is my only hope. He is Haiti’s only hope.