West Tennessee Haiti Partnership

So why are all the team members grinning?

Working for a week at a school for handicapped children in a poverty laden country like Haiti may not sound like a vacation to most people.  So why are all the team members grinning and laughing and telling stories about the fun they had all day? 

Anne standing next to St V students, all in uniform

Wednesday morning began with a church service at the school as soon as we arrived.  Drew read the gospel of Mark and preached, with on the spot translation into Kreyol by Pere Wiclen. 
Drew and Pere Wiclen
One of the older blind boys gave an impassioned prayer of praise, while Jean Robert and Professor Simeon (who is also blind) played the violin softly and Jimmy played the accordion.  How Great Thou Art, as beautiful in French as in English. Followed by Seek Ye First, a song which I have heard too many times before, but sounded fresh and beautiful when sung by Haitian children.  Alleluia!

I have learned over the years that it is as important for the team to play with the children as it is to run a medical clinic.  So we bring jump ropes, rubber balls, nail polish, bubbles, beads, and all manner of entertainment.

Anne Boykin skipping rope.

Yes, that’s our St Mary’s Cathedral DOK president skipping rope in the courtyard with the girls.  

Dieumene painted toenails on some of her friends (mind you, Dieumene has no arms) and the boys played soccer and dodgeball.  Alison described herself as  impromptu goalie, when a soccer ball suddenly bounced into the pharmacy, knocking over a few bottles of vitamins in the process.  Edie told me the highlight of her day was watching Dieumene paint someone else’s toenails, using her feet.  Oh, and the privilege granted of feeding Dieumene some peanut butter crackers.  Dieumene has more dignity than most people I have met, and she grants her subjects rare privileges if we behave properly.  

Under the shade tree in the courtyard, I cherish the moments I can stand and feel the breeze (YES THERE WAS A COOL BREEZE TODAY) and watch the children playing.  There is something addicting about coming to St Vincent’s over and over again, learning to know the children by name and seeing them grow up.  My friend Rochelle came to see me today and played her violin for us.  Rochelle is blind and I have known her for 8 years.  She completed school at St Vincent’s and is now graduated from Port au Prince University with a communications degree. Today she gave me a thank you card, in which she wrote a message and signed her name.  How she does that with no sight, I do not know.  But I watched her do it.  

Tomorrow will be hard because it is our last day at the school; Saturday we will take a small day trip outside of Port au Prince to see some of the beautiful countryside.  I have already warned my team that they will leave St Vincent’s feeling overwhelmed at all the things they wish they could have finished or done better.  That is the humbling part of our work here; there is no way we can accomplish all the tasks we think up in our heads.  I have come to learn that that is God’s way.  If we could do everything we set our mind to do, why would we need God?  Why would we need each other?

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