We have officially arrived in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, and have begun this journey! Thank you all for your constant support and prayers, it truly means the world to us. We want you all to know that all is well and that we truly hit the ground running today.
Saturday, May 28th, we started our day around 7:00 a.m. to prepare before heading out at 7:45 (and if you’re like 99% of our group and forgot to change the time zone, you woke up around 6 a.m.). The time zone here is usually on Eastern Time, but this year Haiti decided they would not participate in Daylight Savings, so they are on Central Time! Even though most of us didn’t get the memo, it was nice to see the cooler temperatures of the morning and be fully awake before our first day as missionaries.
As 7:45 rolled around, we loaded up the van and the truck, also known as the Frog (it’s green), we got a first glimpse of the reality of Port-au-Prince. For the first-timers of this trip, this was our first real glance at what poverty was. Driving through the streets of a post-earthquake country is unlike anything most of us had ever experienced before, and it is easy to say that it was overwhelming.
As we walked through the gates of our first site, a Children’s Home, we were greeted by the Sisters in charge of the compound. We set our stuff down and got to work immediately. Our task at hand: care for malnourished children. This included changing their diapers, feeding them, but most importantly, giving them the love and attention that all babies need. These children were in the clinic for the reason that their parents couldn’t feed them. The parents of the children visit several times a week to spend time with them, so it was nice for us to see mothers and fathers caring for their children as well.
While most of us were caring for these babies, Father James and Grace were lucky enough to be able to work at the Wounds Clinic. The Wounds Clinic is a clinic that allows the public to come and get infected wounds cleaned and re-bandaged. They came back around lunch time.
After our break for lunch, we continued caring for these children for the rest of the day. A typically interaction would be picking up a crying baby out of their crib and walking around with them in our arms and comforting them. Once feeding time came around, we would hand-feed the babies with a spoon and a bowl of “mush” as most of us would see it. All of us enjoyed interacting with these little bundles of joy, whether it be letting them lay in our lap, or spinning them on a merry-go-round on the playground.
Bonds between missionary and child were being beautifully formed right in front of our eyes. This was especially hard for most of us at the end of the day, knowing that the child would cry and scream for their new friend once we had to put them back in their cribs.
We returned to the Wells International House for dinner, small group, and an end-of-the-day mass service.
They say no matter how much research you do, or how much you prepare yourself you will never be ready for the experience you get here in Haiti. Some of us really didn’t understand what this truly meant until walking into the Children’s Home. As we all get more comfortable with the people and the culture, we begin to realize the difference between empathy and sympathy. The situation these children are born into is uncontrollable. Seeing the gratitude in their eyes and seeing how happy it made them for us to just be there, made us rethink how much you have and maybe how much you take for granted. We should not feel bad about where we live/come from and that we were born into a fortunate family but rather use our gifts and loving hearts to have empathy for them. Praying, playing, and loving these children for who they really are as children of God is the most important thing we could do for them. As this trip progresses we will care for these children and let them know that they truly are loved by God.