Today began with a slightly hectic hour after breakfast. We were preparing for our multiple stops at two tent cities which involved packing up a lot of gear and food.
We barely had time for devotions so we ended up rescheduling that sacred time for the evening… but that’s life in Haiti. One of the hardest parts to get used to is the lack of a structured schedule, however, that also teaches us to be more accepting what God has planned for us. After a 15 minute trip on a big yellow school bus, we arrived at our first tent city.
The moment we got off the bus; we were swarmed by smiling children and never got a break. Surprisingly, the most popular request was to be picked up and held or have a picture taken. Chants of “Hey you!” echoed throughout the day, each child wanted their fair share of attention. Almost immediately a small sided game of soccer started on a small field made mostly of rocks. We tired quickly and eventually entered the small building known as their school.
Each member of the team was called to the front of the classroom to partake in a song and dance that the children had been doing. After each dance was finished, the crowd of children applauded and began the chant again for the next participant.
Tampicos (similar to Sunny D except better), bags of chips (similar to cheese puffs), and cheese sandwiches were passed out. Each child thankfully received their meal and they all seemed very grateful. Some of the children needed help opening their juices and a lot of them chose to save their drinks until later. I (Evan) even had to help one of the younger girls because she didn’t seem to know how to eat; I literally had to put the sandwich to her mouth and show her how to eat it.
After presenting some students with soccer balls and toys, we spent another hour or so mingling with some of the older kids and playing with the children then we loaded back on the big yellow bus and headed to our next tent city. On the ride, we saw some graphic images such as a dead dog. Some of the smells of the city were also very intense; they seemed to have a certain level of density that made our faces cringe. For lunch, we had gourmet peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.
We arrived at our final destination for the day. This next tent city was a little cleaner and seemed to have a bigger community. Of course, we played soccer again but this field was easier to play on because it was just dirt. Sadly, there was no school at this tent city, but there were still plenty of excited and joyous children.
Even some of the teenagers joined in the soccer game! The hardest part about visiting the second tent city was trying to stay energized and hydrated under the cruel Haitian sun. There were no cheese sandwiches for this group but we did provide chilled water in bags and chips for them. What was amazing was that some of the kids didn’t drink all of their water, but they chose to play with it and get some of the missionaries and each other wet.
I guess a little fun is as hard to come by as food. Each day here has been more and more life changing and not just for the Haitian children. We can’t wait to see how each of us grown by the end of the trip.