Mary Shives with the Bright Horizons Child Care team shares her experience meeting the Thrive children and their caretakers for the first time.

Hello from Haiti! Today was a long day but a blessed one. I started my day by finding out I didn’t know how to properly set my alarm. I thought I was setting my alarm on my phone for 6am to be ready for breakfast. I jumped out of my bed, excited for our day, only to realize it was actually 4am and no one else was awake except the chicken clucking outside my window.

God is so good He helped me redeem the time. I took the time to lay in my bed and listen to quiet praise and worship. Having seen the beautiful faces of some of the children the day before, I waited with blessed anticipation of their arrival. I prayed, thanking God for the opportunity to be His hands and feet by equipping others to do the same. I remembered that I had been told about the porch on the front of the guest house and thought I would give it a try. I am so glad I did. The view from the porch was amazing.

We had breakfast in the guest house and enjoyed devotions with the MH4H staff, and although I did not understand what was being said exactly, with some help from a translator and the holy spirit I understood that what was being said was about family. Our reference was Matthew 12:46-50 the gist of it seemed to be if we accept Jesus as Lord and do what He said to do, we become family in Christ. I loved hearing praise to Father God in Creole. You can see on their faces they truly meant every word.

The view from the gazebo where morning devotions are held.

After devotions we had the privilege of sitting in and helping with teacher training. We let our Haitian counterparts know how important they are to the education of not only the children but the mothers and fathers as well, that they were chosen for this, not just by us but more importantly by God.

Mary and our new Teacher Juna Jean

We were able to come up with a plan to celebrate the parents and children later this month when MH4H starts a new year of the Thrive for 5 program. We helped develop some introductory activities and some fun take-aways for the families on the first day.

Then the event I had been waiting for: the families and the children started to arrive. Smiling faces greeted us as some tried to practice English that many have learned, thanks to the hard work of our very own Liz Clarke. They smile and say, “Good Morning”, and I smile and say “Bonswa”.  They smile back at me not laughing at me for saying good afternoon in Creole instead of “Bonjour” which is good morning. I very much appreciate their patience with me as I try to communicate.

Some of the children were so tired they were sleeping on the benches and in their mother’s arms. All of them were clean and dressed in what I have to assume is their best clothes. I played peek-a-boo with a little one over the bench as her mother listened to what was being said by the leaders. Then I realized we were being called to the front to introduce ourselves. I would have much rather continued to play peek-a-boo. As I walked to the front, I started to rehearse what I was going to say, repeating a simple phrase in my head determined to get it right. I stood at the ready and when it was my turn I introduced myself in creole to the smiles from the adults and the children. I looked at my translator hoping I had gotten it right and she said “my name is Mary” in English smiling at me to let me know I had done well. Thank you Jesus. I went on telling them about what I do in the states and what I was doing in Haiti, but to tell you the truth I was watching the little one try to play peek-a-boo with me over the seat.

The children love to play!

We got to help serve the meal to the children and their caretakers. Today’s meal was rice and beans with goat and onions. I could see they were grateful and heard many say “mesi”. I enjoyed watching the children eating the food. They are just as messy as my kids back home at The Yellow Iron Academy. When the meal was done there was a lot of cleanup to do. Bev and I swept the floors being helped along by the free range chickens who picked at the rice in the piles as we started to sweep. Tia and Sara had the privilege of helping with the dishes, getting to work closely with the Haitian staff. Neither one having full understanding of what was being said by the other but with the common goal of getting the work done. The old adage “many hands make light work” came to life as we finished cleaning and got to sit and eat with the thrive for 5 staff. That’s right, this Iowa girl ate goat and liked it! The cooks here make their food spicy at times but this time it was perfect.

Sharing a meal with the Mh4h team!

We then went and cleaned the classroom, chairs, and tables. The brightly colored room with the lights and cubbies all in place ready for the fun to begin. To tell you the truth I am going to be sad when it comes time to leave. I want to play with and teach these beautiful families about the love of Christ and the world He has created for us to explore. I know they could teach me too. I came here missing my family but I will leave here missing theirs. He even provided us with pedicures from a local woman and her sister. We sat and enjoyed, talking to some of the MH4H haitian staff. We were serenaded by some beautiful little children singing a song that our American staff had taught them, “Zippidy doo da!” It was fun because I could finally sing along. It was a blessed day! Bondye bon! God is good!

Bon nwit! Good night!

P.S. I tried to catch a goat. Thank you Tia for your help.