On Wednesday we were scheduled to go up to Bel Air and assist them in rebuilding their church. First we drove to the school, and waited, and waited. Then got to "work" playing with kiddos, before finding out that they weren't ready for us in Bel Air yet, so we would just stay at the school and finish up some projects. So that is exactly what we did. Our day at the school ended with an awesome game of football (soccer) between the students and the team. It was so fun watching everyone play together at the end of a busy day, and a great way to end our time at the school in Gressier. Afterwards we got to go to the beach again. Which is always awesome.
Thursday we finally made the drive up to Bel Air. It was about 30 minutes up into the mountains on a winding (but PAVED!) road. From the mountaintop we were able to see the southern side of Haiti. It was truly the first time I bore witness to the complete deforestation of the country. From what I had seen in Cap Haitien, there were still trees and forests and green areas. Up on the mountain you saw a lot of dirt. Dirt mountains, dirt fields, dirt paths. Not much green. Going up to Bel Air was my favorite day. When we got there, they were hard at work and the 20 students were in school. There were women crossing from the bottom of the hill where the church is being rebuilt to the other side of the street, filling buckets with limestone to carry up to the men.
The men were finishing up the demo of what was left of the old church building to use as filler in holes. We visited with the children. The children there were so sweet. They don't get to see blancs very often, so at first they were completely mesmerized by our presence. We made bracelets with the children before their teacher called them back for the rest of their school day.
When we got back to the school, Rick had toys to pass out to the children. Oh the joy! Rick's churches children ministry collected money so Rick could purchase toys for the children. He gave them pictures of the children from Illinois with the toys, and we took pictures with the children from Bel Air with them.
One of the most humbling things about the experience was lunch. In the mountains, people have little money and few resources. But they cooked us lunch. The children sat and watched as we ate our graciously prepared meal. We ate little and prayed that the left overs would be given to the workers and the students.
We left after hugs and "thank you"s and bright white smiles on chocolate colored faces.
Back at the house we prepared for our goodbye dinner. As per my request, Blonde brought us coconuts. And we ate a feast.
Can you look at that fantastic plate??? Rice and beans, chicken, and banan pezi. YUM
The next morning was bittersweet. We sat around waiting for the cars to pick us up to go to the airport. While we waited, we sang worship songs with Mary Lou, and I can't imagine a better way to end a week in Haiti.
Getting back was another adventure, but after what I endured last year coming back, it was nothing. Our bags made it safely, nothing exploded enough to cause damage, and we were all healthy by the time we got home.
God was with us. God is with us.