After crossing the border, we arrived at the orphanage by midday.
As we drove up, the kids all came running to greet us.
It's a lot to take in at a moment.
I tried to take it all in, though it threatened to pound me in a violent wave of emotion.
These children are orphans.
These kids are no different than the little boys I left at home.
They are made by the same Maker, known by the same faultless creator.
They are no different than the toe -headed 5 year old who burst into tears, after pretending to be mad so he wouldn't cry, when he said good bye to momma for a week.
"I don't want you to go," he declared through his tears.
"How long will she be gone?" he asked his grandma.
"Just one week."
"But that's tooooooo long," he wailed.
My heart broke.
And then I told him I had to come here...to do this.
They have the same longings to be seen, to be heard, to be held.
But they are here, pushing their way through a crowd of other children, vying for some, if any, personal attention.
Here I was. It could have been overwhelming.
But I sucked in a deep breath, held back the tears, and invested my energies into hugs and greetings instead.
My brother in law, Merl, was back in Haiti for the second time and find his favorite little man right away.
This is Fidel. Fidel was found by Willio in Port Au Prince after the earthquake. He lost both of his parents to the quake, and was brought with about 13 others to Ouanaminthe to live in Willio's family.
You know him from the drumming video.
After the hellos, we moved to distributing all of our goodies we brought along.
We gave out lots of shoes. They ALWAYS need shoes.
We even got the chance to bring a wedding ring for Willio's wife, Chrisman.
But don't worry, we made him propose all over again for it:)
It was interesting to see that most of the children, despite their pain, were just goofy regular kids.
The one above with the spoon in his mouth is Fidel. The same one who lost his family only months ago.
For the most part, the children were just typical children
But this little girl in the red dress stood out to me and you will probably see her in other posts.
The girl in white never leaves her side, and the small one hardly ever smiled or got excited about personal interaction.
I fear her pain is so deep that it has sucked the life right out of her. She broke my heart. May God bring her grace each day and heal her heart in ways only He can.
For much of the day, I just tried to take it all in, learn names, hold hands.
We all spent lots of time just spending time
who are lucky to spend most days lost in the crowd of 45 children at an orphanage, instead of in the streets or worse.
We also began the few projects we could afford to do on this trip.
Merl is also an electrician. His trade is an immense gift to the orphanage. Last time he was there he helped install electricity they can use for short amounts of time. This time, he installed fans in some of the rooms.
To say Haiti is hot is an understatement.
I'm sweating just talking about it.
We payed to have a local man weld a door and install it on the second floor to keep the children safe while they sleep.
And the guys built a cover for the well you see here.
They also rebuilt the gate you see here, also for security reasons.
By the time we got done, it was evening.
When the sun goes down at night, you are left in the darkness. Though there are many hours before slumber, there is no light to see clearly by. It left me with moments of anxiety as the darkness crept in each evening. For some reason, with the light fled the illusion that all was well in this broken land called Haiti. Maybe it was the urgency with which the Haitians scurried home before they could be left alone on the streets at night. Perhaps it was the smell of trash burning all around the city, filling the already dark sky with putrid smoke. Or maybe it was just my anxiety at being left without a common American comfort- electricity- that made me feel so vulnerable in those darkened hours.
To stay distracted, I played with the kids. And as they wore down, it was those same unnerving hours of night that provided our most intimate of talks with this man, Willio, who has become a dear dear friend to Noah and I.