After flying into Port au Prince our team was getting ready to head to the mountains (which was 3 hours away) to a place called Jacmel for three days. As we were loading up the vehicle (that we would be crammed in for the next 3 hours driving along very bumpy roads) I looked out the window I was sitting next to to see a small, dark, Haitian girl staring straight at me with a huge smile across her face. She was trying to communicate to me but unfortunately I had taken spanish in high school instead of french so I simply smiled back at her and laughed a joyful laugh. The image of that little girl will stick with me forever! It gave me such joy in my heart to see her with her happy face! She was the cutest little girl! I wanted to get out of the vehicle and hug her right there and then but I knew I couldn't at the time. Thankfully, I was given more chances to do so when we visited the orphanages. The orphans in Haiti attached to us like leeches and followed us wherever we went. They took our hands in theirs. We danced with the kids and sung with them. Their beautiful voices blew me away! It made me want to open up an orphanage in the future and/or adopt kids someday!
The first night we arrived in Haiti it was dark and I remember standing out in the streets eating food that our team leaders had purchased for our group to chow down on. However, when I went to take my first bite I hesitated because I noticed a crowd of Haitians forming around us that simply stared straight at us as while we were eating our food. I felt guilty for even touching the food but I knew I needed to eat it after a 3 hour trip without having any dinner in order to gain energy to serve. Some people from our team decided to give up their meals which blessed some of the Haitians in a huge way.
Everywhere we would go along the road there were huge cracks in the streets, buildings that had been squashed like sandwiches, people who were simply living under tarps as homes, tents everywhere, children playing in mounds of wastes, starving people as thin as sticks, loss of hope in many of the Haitians eyes and much more that simply broke my heart! That night I realized how blessed I was to have enough food, water, clothing and shelter back in the United States!
For three days in a row their was hardly enough water to go around. There was a jug of juice and water at breakfast and at dinner that 15 or so people had to share and some of the time their wasn't enough for all of us to take a sip. There were no water bottles to take with us with clean water in them on our travels throughout the day so we had to rely on what was given to us at the table in the morning and evenings.
At one point I was really thirsty and I noticed that there were two water bottles filled with water sitting on top of the sink in one of the bathrooms. It looked as though they were bought for us to drink and so I decided to take a sip of one. My throat started feeling scratchy and inflamed and suddenly I felt this awful pain inside my neck. It so happened that one of the girls on our team filled those water bottles with faucet water for her to shower with because their was more water coming out of the sink than their was the shower! I had drunk the water that is totally bad for Americans to drink because our systems aren't used to it!! And it was unclean. Thankfully, the next day the pain in my next went away and my throat went back to normal. At least I hadn't thrown up for 3 days in a row like one of the guys did on the other team after drinking the bad water. God had protected me from getting too sick.
One evening a frog jumped through my window and our entire team screamed bloody murder at the stroke of midnight because it kept hopping on people and sticking to them freaking them out. One of the Haitian women of the household was wondering what all the racket was about and therefore came stomping up the staircase to see what the problem was that we were facing. She started kicking the frog against the wall and then by our surprise took her heel and stabbed it squishing it while rubbing it back and forth against the glossy floor. We heard bones cracking as she did this and it thoroughly grossed us out! She then kicked it off the balcony as it left a gooey trail behind. It was very amusing! I guess I didn't get to kiss my prince that night after all!
One of the things that struck me when I was there was when the haitian pastors were worshipping the Lord. It drew me to tears because they thanked the Lord with such passion and joy amidst their current sufferings from the results of the earthquake. It made me feel guilty for times that I had been dissatisfied and not thankful to the Lord enough when I was standing amongst my trials (which were much smaller than the Haitian's might I add).
At one point we were stuck in traffic in Port au Prince for about 45 minutes straight. One of the guys in our vehicle needed to meet his friend at the airport really soon. The airport was not too far away from us but it was too dangerous to trek to the airport alone. It was best to stay inside of the vehicle. Finally, we decided that we should pray to the Lord about our current situation and as soon as we said "amen" traffic cleared instantly and we were able to get to the airport on time! We concluded that God wanted us to rely on Him more!
We had the privilege of riding on three-person motorcycles up one of the mountain ranges to a place called "Basin Blues" which was a large waterfall that we cliff dove/jumped off of from about 40 ft. in the air. The bike that my friend and I were on along with the driver had kept stalling because there was too much weight on it. Every so often I had to get off and ride on the very front of one of the other bikes with 3 other people. I had to hold on for dear life because the roads were very hilly. At any moment I could have flown off the mountain if I had let go! But once again God protected me as I knew he would! :-) There were Haitian faces every which way I looked and I kept wishing them a good evening in french. As I looked to my left going up the mountain I saw the distant shore where the turquoise ocean was located with a beach and palm trees all around! My first thought was: honeymoon? That's how beautiful it was! I felt as though I was in a dream. We hiked a trail through the very green jungle to get to the waterfall. I felt like I was in a "Lost" episode! The place was filled with slippery slopes and rocks. I also felt as though I was risking my life doing what I did that day! I never thought I would be that person who jumped off a 40 ft. cliff into the most refreshing water one has ever felt! But I am glad I lived to talk about it! Everything I did that day I kept saying to myself "It's a once in a lifetime opportunity!" When I was about to jump from the cliff there were a few rocks that were pointing out in front of me that I could have hit if I had jumped too close to them. This is why people kept telling me to take a running start. I was so nervous that I hardly took a running start and simply jumped ALMOST hitting those rocks but once again God had more planned for me in the future so He did not want to take my life quite yet. Also, people kept telling me to jump in a pencil shape but I had accidently leaned forward a little too much and as I came down smacking the water the wind got knocked out of me and my chest and head were throbbing big time! Thankfully the pain went away about five minutes later. I concluded that I truly lived that day as if it were my last! And I felt as though I needed to do that everyday of my life because its so worth it! Plus, I never know when Jesus could return! His Word says to always be ready and therefore I must obey Him because He is my Creator and the One who gave me life to its fullest!
My flip flops kept falling off and breaking because they were wet and the soil was so moist there that the haitian men that were walking with us kept helping me and some of the other girls (because the same thing was happening to them too) by holding our hands to pull us along. One of the Haitians even gave me his flip flops for a little while. They were very nice and gentlemen-like. Finally, I gave up trying to walk with shoes that I simply took them off and walked on the soil and rocks with my bare feet. I had faith God would protect me either way (and he most definitely did)!
When we returned to the bikes to head back down the mountain, before we did, we came together for prayer and the Haitians that were standing all around us joined in with us. As we held hand in hand with them and prayed to God in their language I felt as though we were unified with them in a heavenly way because that is exactly what heaven will resemble (all nations brought together, every tribe and every tongue!).
There are so many more stories I could tell you regarding my trip to Haiti but I think I will leave it there for now! :-)