Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Haiti - 2015 - Final Day

(Editor's Note: I am sad to say that this is the final blog post of the Haiti 2015 Mission. Katerina Silis did us the honor of writing this final post.)
Taking it to church with Katerina, Jenn, and Bebe

Right now it's 10:23 and I'm on the plane preparing to begin the last leg of our journey home. Now that we're waiting for take off, I'm feeling exhausted because our day was filled so much more than travel.

At the beginning of my day, my 7:00 a.m. alarm felt like a rude awakening after being able to sleep in a bit yesterday, so I overslept, quickly ate breakfast, and threw my packed bags in the van that would take us to St. Paul's for a church service. I must admit going into it, I did not think I would enjoy it as much as I did. I knew it would be a two hour service in a language I did not understand so I was worried I might fall asleep. I was pleasantly surprised to find the service engaging from the minute we pulled up to the school and saw the congregation standing outside, which included the Dynamic Ladies, the church choir, and others including some kids from our summer camp dressed in white robes for the service. We were seated in the front as the congregation walked around the church singing and entered. The women singing had strong, soulful voices accompanied by drums and electric keyboard throughout the service. We were given prayer books so we could sing along. The service was like a musical conversation between the priest and the people and the people and God. The atmosphere was lively with the drums (I tapped my foot to the beat the whole time). Even though for the most part I could not understand what was being said, I think that, I would describe it as what church should be like.

Cameras couldn't catch the speed of this church dance party
Mr. Yee gave his first homily at the service today, which was a close reading of the mustard seed parable. Father Walin kindly translated his speech into Creole for the congregation. Mr. Yee talked about our relationship with St. Paul's and the children as a growing seed that we will cultivate into the future. His speech was hopeful and talked about how the children and community would develop.

Mr. Yee, Father Walin, and the Homily
Then, in the middle of the service where we shook hands with one another to 'keep the peace', the children from the camp came forward to embrace us. In that moment, I felt so much love as the community thanked us for all that we had done that week (we even had a mini dance party in the middle of the service). Afterwards, a man came forward and talked about how he obtained a brain injury and had to undergo surgery on his head after rubble fell on him inside a building. It was scary to think about how someone doing something seemingly safe like standing in a building could obtain a life-changing injury. Then, towards the end, Father Walin thanked us on behalf of the congregation for coming on the service trip and expressed his hopes that our relationship will grow stronger over the years as we continue the summer camp. After the service, we bid the kids reluctant farewells before we headed off to the airport. It was especially sweet to see Bebe refuse to let go of Jenn even though we had to leave for the airport.

Even the offertory was danced up to the altar 
Post-Service Goodbyes
On the way to the airport, I rode in the Father Walin's truck. Dokken and I were in the back seat, Ms. Engelberg, and Madam Scott were in the bed of the pickup truck, and Father Walin drove us with his mother sitting shotgun. The view on the way to the airport was gorgeous with the sea on the right and the tall mountains on the left. The father played traditional Haitian music in the car while we all took in our last views of Haiti before our return. We arrived at the airport, thanked Father Walin, and headed off through security.

Final Picture of us all outside the airport
Fast-forward back to the end of the day: now I'm here on the plane heading back to VA. I'm scared I might forget what I have seen in Haiti and yet I feel like I never will because of everything we have seen. I want to thank all of the members of the group for making this experience so special and for all of the inside jokes (love you all!).

The plane's A/C was a gas. So were our jokes.
In a few words, they are: Drake, bad country music, the Daddy bracelet, the flick of that wrist, Mary Grace knows so many lyrics, 1000 miles, and other things I can't remember right now.

The one thing I want to leave you with is some perspective in the form of a commonly told story. The guy who always complained about his shoes stopped complaining when he met a footless man. This story tells of confronting problems larger than your own. On this trip, we saw that we have so many problems that are so small in the scheme of life, so we shouldn't blow them up to more than they are. We will remember there are people out there who don't know where their next meals are coming from, or don't have a roof over their heads, so we won't be the person who always complains about his shoes.


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