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Hello from Haiti. I am writing this blog from the roof of Irene’s Place looking out at the mountainous landscape. It truly is breathtaking. Yesterday we arrived in Haiti via MFI so we landed right in Pignon on the grass airstrip. The kids enjoyed the flight, especially sitting up front and talking with the pilots. Watching Abbie and AJ experience their first sights and sounds of this country has been amusing. They are taking it all in, the beauty and the challenges.

After getting settled and a quick lunch, we decided to walk into town, which from our campus is over a mile, in the hot, Haitian sun. Then we had to navigate the market stands to buy items for some food distribution we’ll do later this week. We carried cooking oil, pumpkins, pineapples, beans, and rice among a few other items. With little shade and since we’d had such an early start to the day, the market shopping trip certainly tested our stamina. We reminded ourselves of the themes and scripture that are guiding us this week, and we successfully finished the task. Some cold water in a bag helped as well!

We rode back to town with our purchases and rested a bit before heading to the swing bridge near Sylvain. I am not a heights person, so the bridge is a challenge, but the kids loved it and I put on a brave face. Below the bridge is the river where you can see people washing clothes and cooling off with a quick swim. Christi, AJ, and Tim had a skipping rocks competition while Abbie hunted for the most colorful rocks to add to her collection. I sat back and surveyed my surroundings. It is amazing to me how Haiti can feel like a completely different world but also like home. Having the kids here has felt very natural even though it took a few years for this trip to happen. I can’t wait to hear more about their thoughts this week.

This morning, we headed towards town to put in a cement floor. I have put in several cement floors during trips to Haiti, and each time I am in awe of the process. The cement floor crew had everything ready to go, and the family had all of their belongings removed from the stick and mud four-room house. We asked AJ and Abbie if they could imagine taking everything out of our house and putting it outside. Would it cover the driveway? The front yard? The backyard, too? We all just took a moment to realize how many possessions we have, and that’s a hard reality to face when you are surrounding by poverty. After a prayer for the family and the workers, we grabbed buckets of water as the Haitians mixed the cement. Then the bucket brigade began. I always enjoy the physical labor of this project, and it was great to be able to work with the kids. Within a couple of hours, the floor was finished. We headed back to the compound to get ready for the MH4H Celebration.
The party today was full of family, fun, and food. The Celebration included all of the MH4H staff members in Haiti and their families to celebrate the work that God has done in this region. For many of the 52 Haitian staff, it was the first time their families have come to see the campus. And also, the first time that our American staff have been able to meet the employees’ families. Darryl and Shelly’s daughter Morgan and her husband Aaron are here with us this week so they are enjoying having some family here, and we are thrilled to have our family here meeting everyone. The cultural greeting of hugging and kissing may have been a little awkward for our kids, but they are quickly learning that a “Bonjou” and a smile go a long way here. The program featured some talks and testimonies by MH4H staff and recognition of 5+ years of service. MH4H has been able to impact so many lives because people have followed God’s call. It was very special to see those people come together today. After serving a meal to the 250 guests, a tournament of games began with bowling, blanket volleyball, and bags (aka corn-hole to you midwestern folks). Abbie was on one of the eight teams and AJ played soccer with some of the other kids. It was a competitive afternoon which concluded with delicious chocolate chip and peanut butter cookies that the De Ruiters made. The Celebration was a huge success!
For years we have wanted to the kids to come to Haiti, to see “where” Tim travels and MH4H works, but really we want them to see “who” this work is for and “why” the work is so important. I think they are starting to see that. And for me, being here with them has just felt right. Haiti isn’t just a place on a map for them anymore— it is something much, much bigger.


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