Thursday, August 28, 2008

God in a box

Sometimes I put God in a box. I put limits on Him. And God has none. He showed me that on this trip to Haiti. He is able to do more than I can ask or imagine. He proved that to me in Camp Hope. Our prayers were answered over and above. Through fundraising. Through the orchestration of our team. Through protection in travelling. Through bringing rain to the land when it was so dry and barren. Through caring for little babies who were malnourished. Through the perfect amount of paint that was needed. Through having a fifth team member there in Haiti for us. Through healing in unexpected ways.

So, I want to thank Him for all He has done. I give Him the credit for Camp Hope. I also want to thank my home church: 180 Degrees-- for supporting us every step of the way, in the natural and supernatural. Thank you to all of you who supported Camp Hope financially and prayerfully. We could not have done this work with out you. And I want to thank my sister (see photo above) who worked so hard to make this thing happen that a missionary in town said "shouldn't have happened" logistically.

Haiti as we know it

Haiti was not on my radar until two years ago when my sister decided God was leading her there to teach 3 Haitian girls who had been adopted by Dutch missionaries in this small town called Passe Cataboise in Northwest Haiti. I honestly didn't even know where Haiti was, and I quickly learned that Haiti has a really bad rap. Us Americans are told not to travel there. As I learned about the history of Haiti, God started to break my heart for it and its people. Here is a quick history lesson:

1. Columbus "discovers" the island.
2. Original people are wiped out.
3. French get the left side of the island, Spain the right.
4. Slaves are shipped over from Africa.
5. The French colony of Haiti was one of the richest places with its crops of cotton, coffee, sugar cane, cocoa.
6. 1804 Haiti gains independence from France.
7. 2008 the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere.

Its crazy how one of the richest places is now one of the poorest.
I remember thinking while we were there this summer, "This place isn't going to get better." So, why go back? And to that I think and believe, "The light shines the brightest in the darkest place." If we can bring hope to the little kids--like little Michelda that you see above--then its worth it. We look forward to shining the light of Christ in the years to come through Camp Hope.

Meet the team

Camp Hope was birthed by my sister's vision to bring joy and fun to the children of Haiti. This year, we had a team of five fabulous gals....

1. Leah--My sister who really was the heartbeat of the team with her energy, relating to the people, and strength of body, mind and spirit.

2. Me--I took on the role of organizer... Nicknamed "Monica" after Monica in "Friends." And I was the art lady... leading kids in the crafts... SO FUN!!!

3. Jackie--From Maine and a fellow soccer player with Leah at Roger Williams, she was such a trooper!! This was her first trip to a 3rd world country and her grace and love for the people was amazing to see come forth.

4. Ashley--From Cali and friend of Leah's, she was the spunk of the team, making us laugh, discovering a love for cooking (she cooked our five star meals every night) and a love for nursing (She would go to the med clinic almost daily.... She is now applying to nursing school... not even a thought before this trip!!!).

5. Amanda-- From The Netherlands, our unexpected Dutch addition. We had prayed for a team of five, and who knew God would answer our prayers when we got to Haiti... She was there visiting and became our 5th team member. Her helping hands were much needed!!!

A day in the life

So.... Our team was in Haiti for one month.... Our typical day:

1. 6:00 am we walked around the mountains and heard people called out "Blanc" meaning foreigner or white person OR "Miss Leah, Miss Leah!!" echoing through the trees. She is quite famous there ;).

2. 9:00 am we began camp which was held in a 2 room school house. We had about 35 kids each week. The first week we did ages 6-8. The second week, ages 9-11. And the third week, ages 12-15. What was so neat during the month was that we had 3 Haitians helping us. One man, Titus, did the bible stories for us. And we had 2 Haitian teenagers--Michelda and Wilfet--help us with the kids. We were able to pay them for their help as well. Wilfet got new soccer cleats because of it.

3. From 9:00-12pm we would do arts and crafts, bible stories, games, sports, and music. Leah was a fantastic leader. She spoke the language well, which is Creole, a dialect of French. I managed to lead the kids in art, knowing some nouns and verbs. SO MUCH FUN!!!

4. 12pm three days a week we would feed the children. We hired Haitian women to buy and cook the food. It was amazing to watch the kids eat. They all were very hungry and would savor it. If there was any sort of meat, it would be left for the very last bite. Most meals were beans and rice.

5. After camp and some RandR, I would go to the hospital to work on the mural. This year the mural was 10 x 40 feet. Double last year. I had a couple teenagers really help me out this year, which was a lot of fun.See the mural above... The mural with the hands is the one I did this year (the one below it is last year's).... The scripture written on it in Creole is this: "They shall neither hunger anymore nor thirst anymore; the sun shall not strike them, nor any heat; for the Lamb who is in the midst of the throne will sheperd them and lead them to living fountains of waters. And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes." Rev. 7:16-17. The hands are God's, the background is Haiti with people lifting their arms to the Lord, and water is flowing from His hands. I had this picture before I got to Haiti. Ashley found that verse when were were there. And, to me, that verse is for Haiti. When I finished the hospital mural, I then painted a patient room in the medical clinic. Let's just say that it was like bringing light into darkness in that room. We took paint rollers and rolled paint into every nook and cranny in that room, over all the yuck and body fluids that adorned its walls.... BONUS.