Good evening. It is my attempt to get this blog posted much earlier than I did last night. We’ve all been so busy and have been enjoying each others’ company so much that getting down to the night’s business has been challenging. We didn’t start charging cameras and uploading photographs until after 10:00 p.m. last night.
One change occurred yesterday that was significant. The boys moved into the other houses that they were supposed to be in the entire trip. However, a group of French who were working with Partners in Health stayed longer than planned. The boys have been gracefully sleeping on mattresses in the floor of the dining area. The arrangements have been tight but it was honestly nice to have everyone close. The French group left yesterday afternoon and the boys finally were able to move. They packed up most of their stuff – although the girls’ room is still littered with shoes, water bottles, and other items that belong to the boys – and moved about two hundred yards away into bright pink houses! Paul did, however, leave his hammock hanging in the dining room and he still slept there last night.
This morning started the same way that many of them have. We’ve left the windows open and some of us have left the wooden door open as well (there are grates and screens covering them) and the sunlight seems to be what rouses most of us from our dreams. We get dressed for the day and meet for breakfast. The food seems to be their interpretation of what they think we eat at home. The food is prepared cleanly to keep us safe. Sometimes they get their meals confused and we end up with spaghetti for breakfast and oatmeal for lunch.
Some of the team members consumed a quick breakfast and took the dolls which were made and donated by one of the churches to give to the preschoolers. They sang songs and played games with the kids before we joined them for the last morning session.
We spent hardly any time in the classroom today; instead we went out and enjoyed the kids we’ve been working with and let them have free reign over where they wanted to take pictures. We had a general theme of them showing where they saw God. We showed them the American tradition of self-portrait, silly poses like the Heisman, and we even showed them how we could capture all of them jumping in the air. Several of the groups ended up in a garden. In the heat of the day, this area was cool and lush with life.
According to our hostess, that area is used to teach agriculture to the students. They learn to plant and grow things, and, when the plants are a size where they are sustainable, they are allowed to take them home to plant.
When we returned to the school, we allowed the students to pick a photograph to print. Although they had taken amazing photographs over the course of the week, many of them simply wanted a photograph of themselves or with a group of their friends. I think that we gave them such a blessing to allow them to have a photograph of themselves at this particular moment in their lives. Not only will they remember this class and our time with them, they will have a tangible reminder of who they were at this point in their lives. I would venture to say that most, if not all, of these young adults have never had a photograph of themselves. Although we brought pencils, notebooks, underwear, and many other items to give away, I firmly believe we gave them an amazing gift today!
Once everyone had their photograph printed, we had a short closing. The students that we worked with all week shared their gratitude for the opportunity and thanked their teachers.
I am amazed at the ambitions of so many of these students. They don’t strive to be farmers or to sell items at the market. They desire to be doctors, teachers, lawyers, and diplomats. I hope and pray that they are able to see these dreams into fruition. They are the future of Haiti and I firmly believe that they will do great things for the country of which they are so proud.
Email addresses were exchanged and lots of kids promised to friend us on Facebook. I cannot wait to return home and continue relationships with these wonderful new friends. After goodbyes, hugs, and even some tears on our part were shared, the group split up. Half of us returned to the house for a rest break and some down time. The other group joined a class which was working on letters to students in America.
One of the most interesting concepts about school in Haiti is that the classes are not based on age but on passing exams and the time they’ve been in school. This means that there can be 10 year olds and 20 year olds in the same class. The class we worked with today was the fourth grade. The teachers translated a letter from a class in Atlanta, Georgia who were going to be pen pals. The students copied a letter written on the chalkboard in English and filled in their own personal details. We sat with the kids and helped them with spelling and sharpening pencils.
When we were finished, some of us headed back to the hospital to visit the gift shop with items from local artists. We spoke with the woman who ran the gift shop who had retired to Cange. She was from Greenville, South Carolina and she definitely displayed the Southern hospitality to which we are accustomed. It was so difficult to get out of the shop because she wanted to talk!
While the group who worked with the kids writing the letters took some time to rest, the others returned to the school to instruct the teachers on how to use the equipment so that they could continue to teach once we go home. They allowed the teachers to take photographs before showing them how to use the printers. We presented them the laptop. They were overwhelmed by the fact that we were giving them all this equipment when we’d only met them earlier in the week.
We’ve finally all returned to the house and we’re wandering among different groups having discussions. Two of the translators have joined us and are asking us about Yani and Michael Bolton. We explained to them that while we knew who they were, we really didn’t listen to them. It was nice to have discussions with people so close in age to our group.
Tim is working on finishing his devotion this evening. We’re distracting him from finding a Bible verse that he needs. It’s almost time for dinner and then we’ll just hang out at the house until it’s time for bed.
The school is closed tomorrow, so I’m not really sure what our plan will be. It will be interesting though and I’ll be sure to share what’s going on. Then on Sunday, we’ll be getting ready to head home. I’ll try to post before the car ride and then again when we hit Miami.