Our third day was Friday, June 27. As was my habit, I rose early and went outside - after a little judicious use of bug spray - and ushered in the dawn with God's Word. I was on deck to lead our group devotion the next day, so in addition to my personal reading, I spent time in prayer and contemplation regarding what God wanted me to share with the team.
The sun comes up; it's a new day dawning...
On this morning, we had to leave early in order to arrive in time for the Mission of Hope graduation ceremony. There were many seniors from Minoterie graduating, among them Ketna, Wendy, Frantzdy, and Eliezer, all of whom are friends and family of our team. I believe there were about twenty graduates in total from our small village.
For those who missed my blog series last summer, you can revisit Day 1 here, but I'll provide some quick background on Mission of Hope (MoH) for those readers who may not be familiar with them. MoH was officially founded in 1998, and has since grown from a small mission located on a barren piece of land to a fruitful organization that now houses an onsite orphanage, medical facility (including clinic, hospital and prosthetic lab), school, food distribution center, church, and more. Through partnerships, MoH also serves outside of its property by helping other orphanages, churches, and schools throughout the country.
- Sources: MoH and me :-)
One of the most compelling facets of the MoH story is how they work to employ Haitians throughout their ministry organizations. This is not an American-led effort - although the parent organization is presided over by Brad Johnson, the son of the MoH founders. From drivers, to translators, to teachers, to nurses and doctors, the MoH ministries and community service organizations are staffed by Haitians. MoH may complete the foundational efforts required to get a program off the ground, but it is quickly handed over to skilled Haitian workers and leadership. Most of the people I've spoken with in Haiti agree that for the country to transcend its past, the Haitian people themselves must take responsibility for, and leadership of, their future.
Mission of Hope Church
In any case, we were heading to the MoH church this morning for their school graduation ceremony. In many ways, the proceedings were quite familiar. There were lots of parents and other relatives milling about beforehand. The graduates walked gracefully up the aisle and took their places accompanied by Pomp and Circumstance. There were the usual speeches by various school and community officials. One difference? The graduates sang several beautiful songs as a group - 195 strong - and also serenaded us with a few wonderful solos. Another highlight of the festivities - judging by the shouts and applause - was a student fashion show!
Students in fashionable clothes...if you can see them!
I could post A LOT of pictures from graduation, but I think I'll include just a few that, I believe, will illustrate the happiness of the occasion!
Eliezer shows off the parchment
No more Pomp & Circumstance - Frantzdy is a graduate!
After a morning full of recognition and celebration for the outstanding achievements by these dedicated young people, we packed the bus and rode back to Minoterie with our team, students and parents. After dropping folks off, we ended up at Jamari Berdy's house for our daily dose of peanut butter and jelly.
The early afternoon was spent playing with kids, visiting families and just building relationships with the good people of Minoterie. Tomorrow - Saturday - we had a food program coming up so by mid-afternoon Friday, we needed to break away and head to the market in Titanyen.
This isn't so bad...
Okay, this is crowded...
I couldn't really tell you what all we bought. We basically followed a couple of ladies from Minoterie around and did what they said. They picked out all the fruits, vegetables, meat and seasonings that we believed were needed to feed the expected three hundred children we would host on Saturday. In addition to fifty kilograms of rice, we filled a large sack with so much food it took two of us to carry it to the bus - and even then we had to rest a time or two. We also picked up a large quantity of charcoal and a few other odds and ends to round out our market day.
I will spare my gentle readers the photographs of the meat market. Suffice it to say that Titanyen is not Kroger or Publix. There are no clean, neatly-wrapped packages of meat displayed on a refrigeration shelf. There are goat, lamb and cow heads sitting on the ends of long butcher tables, advertising the kind of meat available. There are legs, hooves, and other body parts scattered around randomly as the butchers ply their trade. Flies are rampant and the smell of animal blood is intense. But that's life in places where the food chain is much more compact than we're used to in America. Fortunately, this wasn't the first time I had been in a meat market in a country like Haiti. Not so for young Caleb. It took a little adjustment for him, but he came through like a trooper.
After taking all of our supplies back to Jamari Berdy's house, we unloaded, said good bye to the kids and headed off into the sunset. Tomorrow would be another long day and we were looking forward to it.