This was my first time back since the original vision trip with Living Water International in the spring of 2009, so I expected a few changes. And those changes were evident immediately as we landed seeing no livestock or people wandering about the end of the runway.
I was reunited with Len Morris from Texas, while Tracy Bynum and Linda Jock were my partners from Huntersville Presbyterian Church. Tracy had also been on the first trip and had not returned since. Len and Linda were veterans of Embrace Haiti. We met new friends from Madison, Alabama (outside of Huntsville) the day before in Ft. Lauderdale and it was very similar to meeting our partners from Texas the first time with an instant rapport, as if we’d know them all our lives. I guess the shared love of Christ does that. Our new mission partners, Haiti Good News Mission, and the mission house are a blessing. It’s a joy to see Coty and DouDou building on what they’ve learned and growing it forward. The mission house is spacious, secure and convenient to Cap-Haitien and to the main roads leading to our mission work.
The transformation in the village brought tears to my eyes. I could have sat outside the classroom all day and listened to Softly conjugate verbs with the kids enthusiastically repeating every tense. All the teachers gave their instruction to the class and then handed the reins over to the students to go back over segments. Some were shy, some confident, just like our kids, but all were engaged. All exhibited the highest respect towards the teachers. Everyone knew that something special, something of great value was occurring. And it wasn’t just because the "Blancs" were paying them a visit. The lack of attention we received was actually refreshing. Yes, the kids wanted their picture taken and they wanted to see it afterwards but the schooling, the instruction, the recess (DO NOT GET IN THE WAY OF A PICK-UP SOCCER GAME!) the rhythm of their school day was their focus and we were just onlookers.
Tracy taught a very eager crowd of village women the basics of sewing an apron. It wasn’t long before they had outpaced him with their strong and nimble hands. Their confidence, aptitude and ambition was apparent. Linda kept us all on task. She loves those kids. That’s why she had heart surgery awhile back…she had given away a huge chunk of her heart to those children. What about Len? Well, Len was Len. He suffered through the hard things that Embrace Haiti has to do: hold leaders accountable, work through relationship issues that affect the project, define objectives and goals to the Nth degree minimizing miscommunication. What doesn’t Len do? If it’s a thorny issue, Len deals with it with an amazing amount of grace and professionalism.
Me? I just soaked it all in. I am humbled to just be a part of Embrace Haiti. I know God is working all around us, in Garate, Haiti and in Davidson, NC…but why is it made so much more apparent in Haiti? The answers are different for us all and that’s why most of us return. I had a guilty complex after my first trip having caught myself feeling good about what we had done and what we were doing. But it was different this time, I’m different. It’s OK to feel good about Embrace Haiti, it’s OK to bask a bit in God’s glory. His Glory is His tremendous love for all his children and we should rejoice when that lights the fire within our soul.