I had an amazing weekend at H2H in Grande Goave! When we drove through the gates I felt like I had arrived home. For those of you who are not familar with H2H, here’s a quick glimpse…
My church, Pacific Community Church (PCC) in Cloverdale, BC (Canada) has partnered with an organization called Heart 2 Heart (H2H) who have a complex in Grande Goave (southern Haiti) which contains a Children’s Home (~85 kids), a community school (~300 kids) and a church for the community. PCC sends short term missions teams to Haiti once a year and we spend 1 week in Grand Goave and 1 week in Grande Savande (Northern Haiti) where we are building a new Church for H2H. I have been on two missions trips with H2H/PCC and this weekend was my third time visiting them. My primary goal in coming to GLA was to learn creole so I can be more productive on future teams. I have a heart for Haiti in general but I have a soft spot for Grande Goave & Grande Savande in particular.
The ever welcoming gate… from the inside:
Here are some of the school kids:
Hmmm… I’m not sure how to summarize my weekend. It feels like we did a months worth of activities over 4 days. As the days all blur together anyways, I’ll just give you some of my highlights.
– Being greeted by Wilkenson. We arrived at night & seconds after getting out of the truck I felt 2 arms wrap around me. I knew before I turned around that it was Wilkenson. He is the reason I am currently at GLA. He was my shadow on both of my mission trips to H2H and on the last trip he was devasted when we left… ok, I’ll admit it, so was I. It broke my heart that I couldn’t communicate with him to comfort him or to explain to him that he was just as important to me as I was to him. I promised myself that I would learn Creole, at least enough to communicate with Wilkenson, before I came back. GLA has been a great place for me to learn Creole, as the toddlers & Nannys are eager teachers. This weekend Wilkenson & I talked for hours & with a little help from my dictionary I was able to tell him what I needed to, it was amazing! And it wasn’t a sad goodbye this time because I was able to tell him I’d see him in a couple of weeks – I wish I had a picture of the look on his face when I told him that.
This is Wilkenson:
– Visiting with Pastor Luc & Michelle. Luc & Michelle are a Haitian couple who run the Children’s Home & the complex. Michelle has been battling cancer for the past few years and was recently in the hospital in FL as her cancer had relapsed. She was on life support and the doctors had gathered the family to say their goodbyes. When they turned off the life support she started battling back & she was well enough to return to her home in Haiti to spend her final days. Michelle is struggling with bouts of pain but overall she is lively & happy to visit with friends and family. She even made a guest appearance at church on Sunday and blessed us with some preaching. While I couldn’t understand all she said, it was a special thing to see the Spirit speak through her… not something I have seen so evidently before.
– Taking 65 kids to Tyno Beach in a rented tap-tap… just carrying on Roger’s tradition! As they boarded the tap-tap I noticed a bunch of them had brought water jugs. I was impressed… the kids were thinking ahead! As soon as we got to the beach they dumped the water & put the empty jug in the back of their shorts as a floatation devise. I should have given them a hard time about wasting water but I was laughing too hard as they waddled to the water.
– Making a new friend. There is a deaf girl at H2H that I hadn’t met before, because she has attended a special school in PAP for the past few years, and she was estatic that I could sign with her. I was very rusty (it has been several years since I took the sign language course) but it didn’t matter… when I surprised her by asking her if she thought the boy sitting beside her was cute, I made a friend for life
– Walking through the village of Grande Goave & being greeted by kids & adults that I had met on previous trips. I still got the typical “blanc, blanc” but I heard “Rebecca!” almost as often! With our whimpy stomachs we can’t eat the same food as they eat at the Children’s Home so we walked through the village to Pastor Luc’s house for our meals. It was a great excuse to visit people along the way & I often had a pack of kids by the time I got there. Just a few sketchy moments… we walked through a rara one evening (although it was very peaceful) and we had a crazy guy follow us yelling “they’re thiefs!”, “tie them up”, “send them away”. LOL. Even that was a highlight because the little boy holding my hand kept repeating “monti!!” which means liar in Creole
– Pastor Herrod (pronounced A-wal) saying in broken english “Movies mean quiet, I like movies”. Luc & Michelle haven’t been living in the complex as Michelle needs some R&R so Pastor Herrod was moved in to care for the kids. Doesn’t sound like a big task but imagine 85 kids from 6 years to 18 years… and then imagine looking after them when you’re mid-twenties without any experience with kids! He’s definitely earned my respect!
– Getting ring worm. Yup, you read that right. Why a highlight? Why not. The first one appeared on Thursday as we were waiting to be picked up & my friend was eager to point out new ones each day. As I didn’t have any medicine with me they were pretty bad by the end of my stay but now that I’m back at GLA the meds are working great.
– Driving back through Port-au-Prince. In typical Haitian style, we travelled with 5 guys in the back of the truck & a live chicken (kind of like packing a brown bag lunch except you light a fire instead of using a microwave) between us in the back seat. Our driver, a “big boss” in the Police (aka Pastor Luc’s brother & my new self proclaimed Uncle Hoslais) drove us & he was tired of the traffic so he crossed over the center barrier and drove on the wrong side of the road!! Man, I thought our drive home from the West Coast Trail was scary!
Here we are playing chicken with the taptaps… I put my hand out the window to take these pictures & almost lost it a few times!
While I had a great time there this weekend (maybe even my best ever in Haiti so far), I was also overwhelmed with the need the kids have for a role model. With Luc & Michelle residing in the town, instead of in the complex, the kids are missing having someone to show them affection, play with them, teach them how to care for the younger ones or the sick ones, & give them a boot when they get lazy.
When I came to Haiti in February, my plan was to stay at GLA until May 15th and then meet a team from PCC at H2H and spend 2 weeks there before returning to Canada with them. I still may stick with that plan but I’m also considering heading to H2H (Grande Groave) a few weeks early to help where I can. I would then return to Canada with the team from PCC, raise the necessary support, gather additional supplies and return to H2H for a year (or as needed). This would be a big step for me & there are still details that would need to be worked out before I could commit to it.
I am traveling with leaders from H2H to Grande Savande this weekend to check on the progress of the church we are building and to visit with the community surrounding it. I expect that I’ll solidify my transition date from GLA to H2H after this weekend.
Thanks for reading this novel and thanks for all the emails & comments you leave, they are a great encouragement.
Just a few pictures to end off with…………..
The famous twins… Wood & Woody:
Craft time with some of the boys: