Today is our last day at the orphanage, it is difficult to believe we fly home tomorrow. Earlier in the week I was walking from the soccer field down to the room at the orphanage where we rest and eat our meals and was amazed by the beautiful mountains in the background. I don't remember noticing them from last year, either it was hotter and the haze hid them or I simply never looked up. My view of Haiti has expanded this trip, it's not as overwhelming as it was last year but it isn't any less heartbreaking. The folks we work with are insistent that we see some of the beautiful parts of Haiti to balance what we see here in the city, so yesterday we drove to a beach for some time to process everything we have seen so far. It was nice to get out into the country and past the areas where the 2010 earthquake caused physical damage, but it was also unsettling. There were farms, and soccer areas and bustling markets and busy tap taps and fields of bananas but the homes don't get much larger or any sturdier. Raw plywood and corrugated tin, but more space in between them. It looks like so many other places I've visited but that doesn't make it any easier to see or any better.
There has also been so much joy this trip. Highlights have been watching Judy encourage the children to finger paint her when they were done with their crafts. Clothing is precious here and the children take pains to keep clean. They were hesitant at first, and then were completely delighted with their new canvas. Judy urged them on saying she was too clean, she needed stickers on her face and they gently moved from her clothes to her face. She finished covered from nose to feet and dried off in about five minutes. The kids typically come out of their shells during game and craft time but that was the most unrestrained joy I've ever seen from them.
I brought many pictures from last year's trip and got to give those out on a day when it was too hot to move. I was amazed at how totally enthralled the kids were. They weren't just interested in their own pictures, they passed them all around as if they were precious and they all got back to the right people. No mocking of how people looked, just enjoying and sharing.
On Wednesday, we were greeted by Noel, one of the leaders of the kids, who told us they all had a surprise for us before soccer. They had made a beautiful card for two of our team members who were celebrating their second wedding anniversary. They read a note and had a procession to present the card. It was a great way to start the day before soccer and annual physical exams on the kids.
I was up late last night sorting through photos, we are making a slideshow for the kids to show them at lunch today. It's a hard balance of emotions, there has been so much improvement to the city since we were here last July, and yet there are still so many thing where the only response I have is 'this is not okay.' The sorrow is too overwhelming to be any more articulate than that. The more I grow to care about these children as individuals, rather than a group the worse it gets. Below are pictures of some of those joyous moments, I hope you can sense a little of the love we feel for this place and the hopes we have for these people.