By Kristyn Emmer
Welcome to hot, humid, and fun-filled Haiti! It’s been a couple days since the last update on what’s happening here, so let me try to get you up to date. As you can imagine, it’s been unexpectedly busy for Haiti time as we were anticipating this week’s events. Before I get into those, I’m going to back it up a couple days to Saturday night.
On Saturday night, the big screen came to Pignon! Before it got dark, we all set up a screen and projector that Loving Haiti purchased previously. Popcorn popping in the background, Amber’s ukulele playing for pre-show entertainment, and the sound of children anticipating a special treat filled the air. We watched as they all ran down the hill from the children’s home to the cafeteria area where the movie was being shown. There are very few times where I’ve seen, felt, and heard so much joy in one room, but as the animals of Madagascar spoke in French across the screen little eyes lit up and the laughter was contagious.
Sunday quickly came and went, but before it went there was a lot of anticipation for this day. I could feel it in our group and I could also sense it around here. Often, church back in the States is something that lasts for a couple hours on a Sunday morning or Saturday night, and then most people are back to chores homework, grocery shopping, and maybe even working. Here, it’s very opposite. Denny and Grant weren’t even allow to touch the bunk bed building project they started the day prior. Anyhow, the day started with the sounds of roosters, barking dogs, that obnoxious donkey, and the sounds of little feet running past. And when I looked out the window, the kids were all set for Sunday school in church in their absolute Sunday best. It wasn’t long before we were in church too. Of course, Pastor wanted us to sit in the very front row, and he also had a surprise up his sleeve. After listening to some beautiful hymns, special performing groups, and announcements to the church, the 6 of us women (Amber, Saundie, Chelsie, McKenzie, our new friend T, and me) made our way to the front of the church with the entire congregation anxiously awaiting what was about to happen. What were we up there for, you ask? Well, just a little time for us 6 to sing for the whole church. Yes, we sang. Earlier that morning—like a half an hour before church—Pastor TOLD us that we would be singing in church that morning after he introduced us individually. Thankfully, T has song singing background so we put together a simple medley of our favorite tunes. And it went off without a hitch!
And church later that night. The part of yesterday that really left me in awe though was when the kids came back from church in the evening and found us waiting for them at the bottom of the hill. Something about that time was much different than all the other times we’ve been with them so far. The shyest kids ran up to us and wanted to sit on our laps. Some of the older girls opened up to other people. And everyone wanted to play games where lots of people could be involved. I don’t think I have the words right now to describe how beautiful and profound that time was for me. Maybe it was the fact that it was the first time I felt like we were making real connections with these kids. Or maybe it was understanding another way love and care can appear. It could also be the fact that they trust us to enter into their lives in a new way, despite a huge language barrier. Who knows right now, but what I do know is this…As it got a little later, Amber, Saundie, McKenzie, Chelsie, and I let our hair down a bit—actually literally let our hair down. It was time for a little beauty salon. The result: unparalled. The era: definitely 90’s, like Zenon Girl of the 21st Century style.
That brings us up to today, which began the first day of VBS. Again, typical to Haitian culture, we didn’t really have a set plan as to what our role was for the day, except that we were going to help out whenever needed. The thing was, though, that what they needed was for us to provide games and teach a lesson to all the kids. Good thing we had practice from the day before, because we pulled together a lesson in under 15 minutes.
Thankfully we also created field games the day before like Tug-O-War, jump rope, and three-legged races to keep the kids entertained.
I’d say it went very well for the first day and for not being as prepared as we would have liked to be. And the games? Well you can imagine what the boys vs. girls tug-o-war experience was like with 141 children running around. Nonetheless, they had fun, no one got injured, and they learned a little something that morning. Lunch was also provided by us and Loving Haiti, which again was one of those moments I just had to stop and take it in. Rice, beans, and chicken was the entrée. As I looked around and saw some sitting in the dirt, some helping their siblings finish their meal, and others who found themselves in the heat of the day, I was so thankful that we were able to offer a simple gesture that could potentially take the burden off so many children and their families.
Now we are here. Overall, things in Haiti are going great. There’s a constant drip of sweat, small fear of mosquitoes, and lots of energy to keep everyone entertained and feeling loved. We have quite a few adventures planned for the next few days so stay tuned for those! For now, it’s back to jump rope, soccer, cards, crafts, and hand clapping games with the ones who make this place come alive. Cheers for now!