We completed our final day of work. If you missed the previous days, check out day 1, day 2, day 3, day 4, and day 5. It is amazing the amount of work this team was able to accomplish in a week. God used them in an incredible way. Everyone is returning fulfilled and blessed.
The Construction team began the day with a sense of urgency. There were many projects to complete. The showers, latrine, kitchen, garden, and chicken coop all had unfinished tasks. The team set out an extra hour early to ensure they would complete the tasks. Several members from our VBS and Medical teams also joined the construction teams to provide some extra help.
The medical team prepared to give showers to the children. The purpose of these showers was to treat a fungus condition on their scalps. It was a blessing to have the new showers completed for this task. Some of the children had such a severe condition, the team was required to cut the children’s hair. Many of the girls were not happy about this and it became a great struggle. After the haircuts and shampoo treatment, the team would apply a medicinal creme. About 1/4 of the orphanage was infected by the fungus and it was spreading, so the team treated all the children to prevent additional infections.
The second medical team hosted a medical clinic at a third orphanage we had not yet visited. This orphanage is operated by Pastor Mesidor Ernst. When the team arrived they discovered the girls at the orphanage had been infected with Malaria. Dr. Susan Busse and John Peterson, who were part of that team, are the founders of an organization called MEND. The mission of MEND is the eradication of Malaria in the world. They utilize a low cost treatment for the disease with which they treated the girls at Pastor Mesidor’s orphanage.
Back at Mama Denise’s orphanage the VBS team arrived for the final day. The team had printed out photos of each of the children and we gave each child their own photo. One of the big challenges on this final day was to keep the children clear of the construction team as they rushed to complete their projects. Everyone knew that the time to say goodbye was drawing close. Everyone worked to savor every moment left. At the end of the day the children were able to put their hand prints in some cement which had been laid. It will serve as a memory for a long time of our visit.
In the end all the projects were finished – the showers, the latrine, the chicken coop, the kitchen, the new grill, the well cover, and the garden. All of these projects will have an incredible impact on the lives of these children for the better. It is impressive the scope of what the construction team and all our teams accomplished.
When we came to the end of the day, we joined together in a time of worship. We prayed, we sang, and expressed our gratitude for each other. Pastor Phil presented Jude, Mama Denise’s husband, with a Good Shepherd t-shirt. Sponsors also shared a photograph with their children that had been taken during the trip. There were tears and there were hugs. Maybe the most heartbreaking moment was the tears of the children. Pastor Phil shared we are not really saying good bye, but see you later. We made a promise that we would return.
We are so thankful for the the team that God put together to make all this happen. Every person of this team was a valuable member and made their own unique contribution. We are thankful to the people who contributed financially to help us afford to be able to do this. We are thankful for our families who stayed behind to care for young children and attend to other affairs so we could be away for a week. We are thankful to Pastor Nicolas and all the other Haitian people who worked together with us. These are some lifelong friendships which have been formed. Most of all we are thankful for our God who we saw at work in so many ways both big and small this past week.
The question to now be asked is “what is next?” This is not the end of our work in Haiti. If anything our team has realized that we have so much more to do. It is amazing how much has been accomplished in 9 months since Pastor Phil and Randi Rutan first visited Haiti. Our team has been inspired to do even more. This will be the first of many more trips to come. We will also need to recruit more sponsors for our children since the orphanage has almost doubled in size. We also realize this mission is bigger than any one church. So one big step will be to work to build partnerships with other churches in New Jersey and beyond to help us in this work.
I believe that God was smiling down this week. He saw relationships being built which bridged language and cultural differences. He saw compassion being offered. He saw the story of his love told. We pray through all of this that He was honored and glorified.