The VBS team has been hard at work. We are splitting into three groups this year: older girls, older boys, and younger children. Stephanie and I are working with the younger children. Each day we share a Bible verse, a story from the Jesus Storybook Bible in Haitian-Creole, and a craft. During the school year, I am a social worker in an elementary school, and I was keeping an eye on the developmental skills of the children while we were working on the crafts. I have been amazed at how independent and skilled the children are. We did a project that involved sewing felt hearts together as a reminder of God’s love for us. Even the youngest children, who turned 3 today, were able to manage sewing independently with a needle and yarn. While I am in awe at their skills and self-sufficiency, (especially when I think about how my own children can’t even manage to put their own shoes), it is hard to think about how independent they are required to be to survive. The house mothers are caring, and the older children are so tender with the younger, but there is no room for being babied in an orphanage.
The children were coloring today in some books left by another team, and I noticed them coloring exactly within the lines, trying even to copy the exact colors they felt were “right.” Even the three year olds were coloring within the lines. I was wondering if they were able to be more creative, and I asked one boy to draw a person- “personne” - using my rusty college French from 20 years ago. As the drawing emerged, I commented to a fellow team member that this was clearly developmentally behind, until I realized that he had drawn a “poisson,” not a “personne,” and that his fish looked exactly like a fish! He realized my mistake and drew me a beautiful self-portrait that I will take home and treasure.
I was thinking tonight about these beautiful children, and how I wished I could spend more time with them. Some of them just want to sit in your lap for hours, and even the 10- and 11-year-old boys just yearn for nearness and attention. I can now pray for these kids in a way that I have never before been able to pray for children in poverty, and even if I never get to see them again, I can continue to pray for them by name, and that makes my trip here seem worthwhile.
The Morquettes have been so hospitable, and the team has wonderful dinners together every night when we can talk, learn more about Haiti, and process our day. We’ve had beef, chicken, turkey, and a meat I can’t mention because my son is reading this blog and it involves a certain animal he adopted at farm camp last week. It was good too though! (sorry, T.D.) I am so grateful to be able to stay in their house and hear about Haiti from people who love this country so deeply.