Monday, February 22, 2010

Day 8 - "He is an Orphan Like Me"

Today was a long day for the Haiti Orphan Relief Team.  It began at 4:30 a.m. when we were awakened by a 4.7 quake aftershock.  As there is no electricity here now, we fumbled in the darkness to run from our rooms on the second story of the house.  All week we have been talking to people, especially children, who are too afraid to sleep inside since the quake that killed 200,000.  We had wondered to ourselves,”Why don’t they just go inside the remaining structures? Why must they camp in the open?” This morning, God gave us a glimpse of the terror they have experienced. Suddenly, we have a whole new level of empathy for what these children have experienced.

Unable to return to sleep, we packed up our gear and headed out to the area of Saint Marc, about a two-hour drive north of Port Au Prince.  St. Marc is a coastal town that has swelled with tens of thousands of people that have come from PAP since the quake. We know that the churches in this area were already at capacity caring for local children, and wanted to see how we could help them receive the orphans of the quake.

Life, the old way and the new way, Saint Marc.

By dividing our team, we were able to visit 12 churches and hear the hearts of the pastors.  It is so humbling to see how these men of God serve in the simplest of circumstances.

At each location, we try to explain to the children why we are there, and that many children in America are praying for them.

On the way home, the long ride enabled us to get to know our fantastic interpreter, Smit, 27, who has been with us all week. Smit is a very agreeable young man who has learned the routine of our church visits, and has been a great help communicating with our partners.  When he is not interpreting, Smit usually rides “shotgun” in the back of our truck, but today due to a series of circumstances that left us changing vehicles, he rode inside with us.

 Smit, to the left of Alan Hunt, listens carefully as he interprets one of our pastors meetings.

We told Smit we were considering moving our sleeping arrangements outside tonight due to the aftershock. “I sleep in a tent” he said matter-of-factly. Soon, we learned Smit’s house was destroyed in the quake. He lost his mother years ago and did not know his father. “I guess you could say I am an orphan.” We felt shame as we realized we had been using Smit to talk to others about orphans all week, and never inquired about his circumstances. 

He went on to say “I work as an interpreter to support myself and help others.  There is a boy, Daniel, who has been staying with me in my tent since a few days after the quake. I found him on the streets with nowhere to go. When I finish this job this week, I hope to buy him some clothes. He is an orphan like me.” 

Kethlene is 18 and teaches at one of the tin churches we visited today.

Little Dauna stole our hearts.

There are many ways to communicate across a language barrier.

This beautiful lady, Dorheus, cares for 57 children daily, and does it joyfully and with God's love.

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