Overview of our itinerary...
I find it very hard to put into words my experience from this trip. It was not my first mission trip but it was very different then the previous trip to Haiti. It would be very easy to paint a picture of poverty, sadness, and anger but that's not what I'd like to do. I had the most amazing trip meeting new people who were hard working and hopeful.
Below I've written an overview of our week and also linked a few more pictures from the trip. I hope you enjoy.
...was a long travel day...We left the Indianapolis airport at 8:00 a.m. (-27 wind chill that morning, Bye!), layover in Atlanta, and arrived in Port-Au-Prince around 3:30 p.m. For safety reasons, we went straight to our hotel so we could get settled in before dark.
Tuesday - Friday
Each day started with devotions and then a 45 minute drive to our work-site. The work-site already had a makeshift building where people were worshiping on Sunday's and school for 45 + children. (Makeshift meaning; tin, metal, boards, etc.)
We were specifically in Haiti to help build a more permanent church out of cement blocks. We worked alongside a team of Haitian brick layers and also members of the church to complete the new building. Now, I'm no expert at building things but I do know building things in Haiti is completely different then the US. We had to mix our own cement with shovels, pass the cement where it needed to go using 5 gallon buckets and a "bucket-line," and carry the cement blocks to multiple locations.
Each day we spent at least an hour at school playing with the children. We played games, colored pictures, read stories, sang songs, and played with bubbles & balloons. One of the songs I taught the children was "the hokey pokey." It quickly became one of their favorites and even after school was over they would come up to me and do the motions of the song. I quickly became known as the "hokey pokey girl."
I was also able to distribute some of our shoe donations to the people at our work-site. The following picture is of Cindy, she worked with us everyday and was so excited when we gave her a pair of new tennis shoes. The rest of the donations were given to the Pastor and he will distribute them to the people he thinks needs them most.
We had the opportunity to visit Ruska Village, an orphanage, on Saturday. Barbra, the lady who runs the orphanage, has processed over 1,500 adoptions during her 33 years in Haiti. She's earned her nickname, "Rambo in the Blue Dress," by battling the Haitian government, court systems, and working with the ever changing adoption laws.
We also had the opportunity to take a Tap-Tap to another nearby orphanage. I'm not going to lie, this part of the day was very hard for me. This orphanage was a home for children so they didn't have to live on the streets, they weren't able to process adoptions from this orphanage.
On Sunday we traveled into Port-Au-Price and attended church at Good Shepard, Port-Au-Prince, Haiti. This church is the first church our group helped support and it has grown to another church in Leogane (where I went on my first mission trip) and now the church we are helping to build during this trip.
After we at lunch (Papa Johns Pizza, haha), we drove back to our work-site for another smaller church service with the people we had been working with all week. It was amazing to see the children from school and the people we had worked with all dressed up. They take dressing up for church very seriously in Haiti. Everyone's shoes are shined, shirts tucked-in, and the little girls hair are all done up in braids and ribbons.
...was another long travel day. We had to leave our hotel very early in order to allow enough time to navigate Haitian traffic and possible set-backs at the airport. Port-Au-Prince -- layover in Atlanta ---arrived in Las Vegas for Apparel Market.
It was a long week and at times it was a hard week but overall it was the best week! I am so thankful for the opportunity to go on this trip and also to be able to incorporate my experience into another aspect of my life, my career. I know I've said this many times before, but thank you again to everyone who donated shoes, you will never know how much the people of Haiti appreciate our donations, thoughts, and prayers.
- Renee Elise