16 Jul Haiti – July 15, 2014 : Day 7
Just as everyday, we began our second-to-last morning with an amazing breakfast, our cook, Jacqueline cooks the greatest meals and I will miss dearly how spoiled we have been in regards to our accommodations. Today is unlike the days previous, in a way it is a catharsis to such an emotional, yet life-changing trip. Today we were fortunate enough to go to one of the most breath-taking beaches you will ever see.
Every car ride is always an adventure. Our team never experiences a dull moment with a ton of rowdy teenagers in a confined space. Fortunately, I spent the hour and a half drive peacefully in the front of our truck enjoying the scenery and taking pictures of mountains unlike anything you’ve ever seen (pictures could honestly not at all capture what our team was privileged to experience in person).
Before we went to the beach, we stopped at the Mission of Hope compound. We had a tour of the Convoy of Hope warehouse where they keep various supplies for distribution. This included food, vitamins, as well as Toms. If you aren’t aware, Toms are a shoe company that advertises that for every shoe you buy, one pair goes to a child in need. As I have a pair, I had wondered how true that advertisement was and it was very nice to see that it is (maybe this will give my mother an incentive to buy me another pair). Convoy of Hope is doing amazing things and through Feed My Starving Children, Kids Against Hunger, and many other non-government organizations children are being taking care of, and every day they hope for the capability to provide food and other necessities for more children.
Once we left the compound, we continued on towards the beach. The resort we were visiting for the day was called Wahoo Bay. This resort had many activities to participate in, beautiful flowers, a refreshing pool, and absolutely indescribable scenery. This place was very similar to how you’d imagine your happy place to be, and I’m sure I’ll visit it often in my memories.
The beach itself was stunning. I wish I could explain to you our view, but the words fail me. We swam in a bay where we were right next to mountains with such height their peaks were engulfed by clouds. The water was crystal clear and so full of salt, staying buoyant was no struggle. Most of us spent our time bouncing on a trampoline further out in the bay, which also included a rope swing and a platform we attempted to push our opponent into the water and be the last standing.
Some went snorkeling, others bought live lobster which was then cooked and served to us on the beach, a few others bought coconuts to drink straight out of, and others relaxed in the sun.
We all enjoyed our amazing lunch with authentic Haitian food of rice and beans, plantains, and Creole chicken. Our day was very similar to a day in paradise.
But this is not what I want to talk about. Not at all.
I want to talk about the mass grave we visited after the beach where 100,000 bodies were buried after the earthquake. I want to talk to you about the child at the grave that came up to me and could only utter to me in broken english “hungry, hungry”. I want to talk about the pained look on our faces, and the only response I could come up with to the child was “Jesus loves you” in the little Creole I learned. I want to discuss what happens outside of the walls of the resort.
The grave we visited was one of three, and the largest of them. The sight of this grave was somber, and heart wrenching. Every Haitian I spoke to during this week had been affected by the earthquake, and one of our young translators had even lost both of his parents because of the tragedy. There was a memorial in the closed off area of the grave, and surrounding it were tin homes of those in poverty and starvation.
The mass grave was no more than 20 minutes from the resort.
My heart absolutely breaks for this country. There is so much more to this than crazy traffic, bartering with vendors, congested streets, compost toilets, and insane heat. My heart breaks for the little girl Stefan I met at the school who lost all her family, has no friends, and is frequently picked on. My heart breaks for the toddler Yulencia who is neglected by her mother and the orange in her hair shows the onset of malnourishment. My heart breaks for the children who tore apart our lunch trash bag like a Christmas present and celebrated for the empty Pringles cans they found.
I hate to end on a sad note, but I do want you to know this is not a vacation. Many of our team members have been emotional (Including myself, but I cry at hallmark commercials) and for many of us our lives have been changed forever. This is why I say all this, because while you hadn’t been on the trip, I want to express to you our thoughts, feelings, and experiences in the best way I can. This trip has been very somber, sorrowful, emotional, and challenging.
But fortunately, that isn’t all either. For many of the children we were able to show them hope.
Our amazing team (I mean, absolutely amazing. These people are great women and men of God and the bonding we’ve experienced is phenomenal) was able to spread the gospel to over 100 children. We emphasized to many of the hurting children that Christ can give them strength to face the day, and that their hope is found in Jesus. There is something about telling children someone loves them unconditionally and will be there for them always, and seeing their faces light up with happiness and joy, despite all they are deprived of.
It is because of teams such as Mission of Hope, Convoy of Hope, and other relief and development organizations, we can know that the love of God is being spread across the world to give those in need a hope for the future. However it cannot be done without your help, whether that be through your selfless giving or through your fervent prayers. On behalf of the team, we thank you for all your support.
I can confidently say this week has been one of the best weeks i’ve ever had and I will never forget it. I will carry these memories of this trip as souvenirs for the rest of my life. As followers of Christ, we are called to love and serve, and after seeing this team achieve that (with flying colors), this group certainly lives up to the name of “Compassion Team”.