By Thursday the 8th, the heat and physical challenges of the week were starting to wear on all of us. A few of us didn’t feel well that day. We were dropping like flies. I stayed back at the hotel until they came back for breakfast & then I joined back in. Two others stayed back until after lunch. Luckily, everyone was okay by evening. It could have been so much worse. Two weeks before our trip, everyone in that group had gotten terribly sick (apparently from eating bad fish. We avoided fish during our week).
But the construction went well that day. You could tell we were all lower on energy. We were dragging a bit more. The afternoon was a real struggle to make it through. The house was looking really good though. By the end of the day all it lacked was the back section & then the window blocks. We would only get to work until lunch the following day, so we were hopeful we could see it completed.
We did have a lot of fun with the kids that day. Ashley & Lisa taught them leap frog, red light/green light, duck duck goose, & the shark song. It was great!
The highlight of the day, by far, was going to the church to have dinner with the Pastor & his family. Madam (& probably an army of other women) cooked for us. When we arrived, they seated us at the tables, which were covered in cloth. After everyone was seated, several women came out and rolled back the sheets to reveal mounds of food. They had probably gathered all of the best plates and silverware they could find for us to use. There were even 4 Christmas plates out. The women came around and served us cokes & sprites. There was a blessing said & then we feasted. It was, by far, the best meal of the week. We had fried chicken, rice, beans (that you put a coleslaw mix & a sauce on top of), fried plantains, and french fry potato strings. It was all so delicious. And while we ate, they actually had a choir practice going on, on the other side of the tarp. It provided a perfect backdrop!
Somehow we were able to convince the family to actually eat with us. Stephen had told us that the previous group was also invited over for dinner, but that they came in, served them, and then left them to eat as honored guests. That’s just what they do. But we joked with them that we would not eat if they didn’t join us. So we were so glad they did!
Their family consists of Pastor Garnell Joseph, his wife (everyone just calls her Madam), & their three children (2 boys & a girl). They are precious! Such an amazing family. They are so sweet & kind. Always smiling & encouraging. The Joseph family is a true light there in Haiti, in Petite Goave. They are always taking care of everyone in the community. Multiple other people are always living with them. They truly embody what it means to live in community & in service to others. We felt so attached to them by the end of the week. It’s amazing how attached you can get to some people, even after a matter of only a few short days. Someone said that they needed to come visit us in the US someday, and Pastor Joseph very genuinely said, “mmm, ok, Madam & I are going to pray about that, we’re going to pray about that.” 🙂
After dinner we presented them with the gifts we brought for them. A bag of stuff for each person in the family. They were floored, and so grateful! We were also able to leave them with several bags of stuff to distribute to other people, particularly children’s toys, coloring books, stickers, etc. (Before we left on Friday, we loaded up a couple suitcases full of our clothes, shoes, etc that we wore that week for them to distribute to people who need them.)
The ride back to the hotel that night, all loaded up in the back of the tap tap (pick-up truck), was one of those memories & feelings that I will remember. It was neat to be out in the streets at night. That was the only time all week that we were. But everyone seemed to be out on the streets or sitting in front of their houses or tents. It was one of the coolest times of the day, so people were outside visiting & hanging out. We had also just had an amazing dinner,; it felt very much like our “last supper” of the week. We were sad to be ending the week, but feeling so grateful for everything we had experienced and been able to do. The next morning, we were going to have to say goodbye…
…And just for fun… that night, back at the hotel, there was a great commotion. Below, you can see why. We found this beast crawling around on the patio area just out front of the hotel rooms! Literally 10 feet from the doors. It then started climbing the tree that could take it from the 1st floor to the 2nd. The boys were quite fascinated by it; the ladies, not so much. That night everyone shoved towels in the cracks underneath the doors. This one was certainly too big to get in, but just in case “she” had babies somewhere near by…
My Haiti stories are almost done. Another day & a half to go. Maybe another post or two. Thanks to everyone who has been reading them. Please continue to be in prayer for the people of Haiti, for people like the Joseph family, and please continue to contribute to organizations there that are making a real difference (www.worldvision.org, http://www.ahomeinhaiti.org, etc).