Late Monday PM, Josh McCausland
So I was asked to give my specific insight on today’s events and a strange parallel hit me when reflecting. Anyone who has ever touched a camera at any point in their life knows that when attending events one cannot participate in the event while taking photos or capturing the event. There is an extreme disconnect, ironically enough the person who is capturing the event for others to see is not in fact seeing it themselves. So, when this project fell onto my lap I was ecstatic to take it on for John and myself. It dawned on me the day before the trip, “What did I get myself into? This is Haiti! How will I participate if I am behind the lens the entire time?” Now, film is in fact my passion but when pursuing something in this field I find myself often craving experiences rather than experience with a camera.
The first day was very hard, due to being a strange “Blanc” in Haiti waving my camera around and attempting to squeak out words like “Bansouis” or “Bonjour”. I received a harsh barrage of foul looks from people of all ages. Looks that made me question why I was here. I wondered what my purpose was and if this was going to be the theme all week. And if so was it worth it? The next day and especially today all those doubts and worries I had came crumbling down. Today I found myself bumbling around a nearby neighborhood while the groups worked on their projects. Tired and sore from the long “Slip Rock Mountain” hike at the butt crack of dawn this morning, my knobby knees needed a rest. I found myself sitting on a log wiping my forehead and this small boy came walking up to me and called me “Blanc” but he smiled. At this point I thought “Blanc” was a word of derogatory terms but at this moment not at all. He was excited to see me, all of me, a sweaty gross smelling Blanc from America. He pointed at his family or “famil” and smiled. Hesitantly, I waved and the second I did they all smiled and the mood changed from frightened to curiosity and excitement. So I followed the boy over to his family. I can honestly say I have never felt so welcome in a foreign place in my entire life. I have been all around the United States, and not once did I feel this with people I don’t know… And they don’t even speak my language. These families were so interested in my camera. When I attempted to piece together the little creole I know to say “Me reol photo pu” which is probably the worst type of sentence imaginable, they smiled and nodded “Oui”. They had such joy when they saw themselves on the screen; they ran and grabbed others from the neighborhood. A family invited me to their yard and home which was in our eyes sticks and mud and some cactus but they were so happy showing me around each room and the yard they had. They offered me food and smiled when I took a picture of their little boy. I don’t think even now I can describe what all this felt like and being an introvert my entire life I felt so comfortable with these amazing people. I remember my translator returning and helping me and the flood of nice things that translated from the people of that neighborhood. I told them “Belle famil” whenever I left to two different families and they smiled and replied, “Au Revoir”. As the group walked through and I returned to walking with them, I found myself looking back at these people and just speechless at the hospitality they showed me….Mi Famil, mi famil in Pignon.
That lens to which I had seen the world through no longer was a crutch, especially here; it was the very thing to which these people connected to me through. I no longer felt detached through my camera but humbled by the opportunity to be in this beautiful country doing what I love and am called to do. The saying “You can leave Haiti, but Haiti doesn’t leave you” makes so much sense now.
Written by Ally Suite
Today was such a great day. It seems like all of the days are going by too fast, and we have been waking up at 6 and staying up until 12 and it STILL seems like the days are going by too fast. We all got to start our day off by washing people’s feet to begin the leadership conference. That was a humbling experience. Some people seemed so happy to get their feet washed, and the whole process was not that bad. After the foot-washing my group left while the other group did their program in the conference. We went to an elementary school for boys and girls. It was cool to see the children, because when we got there we got swarmed. They just wanted to hold your hands and be near you. We tried to get them to play “chat chat chien” (cat cat dog), which is “duck duck goose” in America. After I saw that playing the game was not working, I started dancing with a little girl. She was shy at first, but then other girls started to join in. Then they began to sing in English, “This is the Day that the Lord Has Made.” That completely melted my heart because it was so amazing to see God working over here in their young lives. When it was time to go, the children looked unhappy, but they had to go back to class.
After we left the children at school, my group went back to the house and then we went to do our part in the leadership program. It was time to present my group’s project. Our whole program was about teamwork, and my part was about communication. I think it went good, but I was getting nervous because no one was talking and we were supposed to have a discussion. During the first activity, I asked a guy to break sticks in half. This showed how team work would have made it easier and that the more you have, the harder it is to break. The same is true with people. The next activity was more difficult. We asked them to build a tower of cards, but it seemed like the people had never seen playing cards. Our last activity was the best. It was called the human chair. This is where 4 people sitting in chairs lean back on the others and then we remove the chairs and they should be laying on each other suspended in mid-air. It was so cool to hear the people cheer when they saw the people being human chairs. Overall, the whole program went very well.
It is just a blessing to be here and see things that I never would of seen if I had stayed in the U.S. It is crazy to think how different a place can be that is no more than 5 hours away. It is such a blessing to be here. It has really been eye opening to me and I can’t wait to see what is going to happen for the rest of our trip. Thanks for keeping us in your thoughts and prays. Please keep us there!
Written by Karli Collins
Tuesday Day 1 conference
As my good friend and fellow ‘first aid caretaker’ Ian Hamilton stated earlier…WHAT IS SLEEP? I don’t know about you, but hearing roosters crowing, Haitian radios playing, dogs barking and Creole conversations going on all through the night is a lot different compared to the car horns and noises of ‘daily America’!. Let’s just say these past few days have been very fascinating. I must admit, I slightly feel like I am on an episode of “Survivor” since staying with a diverse group of 20 plus people in close quarters proves to be…interesting. But, I am happy to report that it is now Day 4 and no one has gotten ‘kicked out’ of the house yet .
Today we finally kicked off Day 1 of our leadership day conference, a day that I know we all have been anxiously awaiting ever since we had our first class back in January and were told that we were going to be putting this event on. We left the house at 7:45 on Haitian time, making it to the church building at 8:30am to begin the conference. The conference began with all of our team together in the building, praising and worshiping God with the Haitians who were in attendance that day. Can you do me a favor? Go back and read that sentence for me one more time. But this time, picture 75 Haitians, a small band composed of a keyboard and a guitar, and our team. No air conditioning, no projector with words portrayed on a screen, no electric guitar, or a decked out praise team. To hear them sing and worship God with abandonment was one of the most beautiful, perfect experiences I have ever had, let alone when they sang a couple of worship songs that we sing in the United States and we were all able to worship with them in our own language.
Next, before splitting up, Dr. Hayden announced to the group that he would be washing and massaging everyone’s feet (just kidding!). He asked permission from the Haitians for our team of college students to wash each of the Haitians feet, just as Jesus had done for His disciples. We proceeded to wash the feet of each Haitian in the church. In kneeling down to wash the feet of the first man I had sitting in front of me, I looked up into his face and locked eyes with him. Even though we spoke 2 different languages, there was no need for spoken words at that time. I could see, in his face and his eyes, such humbleness, gratefulness, and appreciation for my actions and the actions of our group as a whole.
We then split up, half of us went to a primary school to play with the children during their recess group while the other group stayed back to present their session and activities. My group went to the primary school, where I know I personally learned that it is now possible to have 20 plus children to hold onto me at the same time…one on each finger, some on my elbows, some holding onto my skirt…all while playing the Haitian version of Duck Duck Goose. The other group’s morning presentation was very successful, as they had an excellent session on the subject of what it means to possess integrity. This group emerged with the ultimate highlight, which was leading two Haitians to Christ.
My group was the afternoon crew, with our session being on the subject of teamwork. From making a ‘human chair’, to forming Ecclesiastes 4:9-12 from 4 different puzzles, my favorite part of the session was where we asked the Haitians to construct a list of characteristics that they believed were important as a ‘team player’. We then compared their list to a list we had previously made earlier in our Leadership Academy class, and the characteristics listed from our 2 different groups were almost identical. To end our session with Bildad speaking on the importance of everyone displaying these characteristics as Jesus would, to each person loving and trusting each other was an outstanding finish.
If you would have asked me back in January what I thought our trip would have been like, my description would have been no where close to what it is right now. In listening to my friends intensely play Uno in the background, to discussing if Bildad shaves his armpits as he is Haitian and that is not the norm, to watching groups prepare for our second day tomorrow, we have grown very close and are a family now. Thanks for all of your thoughts and prayers, we are very appreciative of them! Other than a couple sprained ankles, a tussle with a cactus, a fight with a bobcat and braving the infamous ‘Haitian Roads’, I know everyone (myself included) has had an awesome time and we have so much more to come.
Mom and Dad: if you’re reading this, I’m alive! Yes, I’ve tried to not be bossy. No, I most definitely did not ride on top of a truck for 4 hours on the way here or buy a machete. Yes, I am having an outstanding time and am so thankful for God allowing me to have this opportunity, in choosing a week in Haiti for my senior year spring break.