We were very happy to begin our mission by helping out at the Children’s Home today. Father Aaron mentioned to us that he has never had such a smooth first day of the mission as this one because we had the opportunity to “ease in” or “acclimatize” ourselves to our work here.
That being said, our work at the Children’s Home was not particularly “easy.”
We arrived to the Home a bit after 8:30 (and after a hearty breakfast at the guesthouse) and started with an intro to what to expect and morning prayer in the Missionaries of Charity chapel. As much as we try to prepare, the experience is just not anything we would encounter back home.
We walked in to cribs filled with beautiful brown-eyed babies whose gazes soon followed us around the room with hope that we would pick them up… and we happily obliged. Many commented that there was a lot of joy that we encountered with the children, but there was a lot of pain, too, seeing them malnourished, fevered, (and otherwise unwell.) The point of the Children’s Home is to provide a home for these kids to be nursed back to health and returned home to their Haitian families. We received the news that one of their recent arrivals had passed away during the night and so the reality of their illness hit home quickly.
Several of our missionaries were put to work helping the Missionaries of Charity with some projects they needed help with—making a new registrar from a notebook (our own Adam spent the better portion of his morning on this project), and cutting vitamins in half to prepare the “medicines” that will help speed the healing process (it is striking that the main medicine that the children need is just some basic vitamins that we take for granted!)
The rest of us found different ways to be with the children there, some trying to hold as many children as they could, some trying to hold more than one child at once, and others dedicating time just to one child as we felt led to do. Our hearts were moved by them and it didn’t take long for us to fall in love with them, even while feeling our own impotence at being able to “fix” them! (Although we tried our best by helping to feed them, change them—many diaper stories today—and just love them!)
We returned to the guesthouse for our “lunch break” and rest time before heading back in the afternoon for a bit more time with the children (which passed all too quickly!)
In the evening, we had time to prepare for the camp we will have tomorrow (we are very grateful for the groups who came before us who left us all of their notes of “best practices” for us to help plan.
We ended with dinner, sharing, Mass and some more time of adoration, placing the mission in Christ’s hands—may He use us to touch these kids we will meet tomorrow!