Our little team of seven Americans and four Haitians had finally made it to the village. Four of us had an unexpected overnight delay in Miami, so we were all grateful to be together, starting the very full two weeks that would be ahead of us. We sat in the notably warm Upper Team House together and talked about our missions for the trip.
One of our top priorities was to register the sponsored children for school. Another top priority was to find out how each of the 63 village families were faring and which of them needed family sponsorships.
We knew that what had to be done meant personally talking to each of the approximately 450 members of the Merci’ de Dieu Village.
In our hands we had a stack of forms that had been sent ahead of us for each family in the village to fill out. Each form included basic information that would help us keep records and begin to know better how to help the families – information such as correct name spellings, and birth dates and grade levels of children.
We ended our team meeting that night, eager to begin the tasks, excited to get to the know the families better, and wonderfully naive about how intense the next few days were going to be.
The following days were completely full. We started early and worked late. It was a delight to get to know the families, learn their stories, hear their needs, and talk to them about Christ.
Each team member knew his or her job and did it well. The unity displayed among everyone was an answer to prayer and a beauty to behold.
Two interview teams worked simultaneously, while Pastor Etienne kept things moving – as soon as one family interview was complete, Pastor Etienne had the next family ready and waiting. Dr. John floated between groups and answered a myriad of questions from the interview teams. Jessi spent time investing in the groups of children who loved to be around all the action.
Our photographer, Charles, made sure to get thousands of individual and family photos and Ellen followed up with recording picture numbers with names so we wouldn’t forget who was who. We came home not only with fabulous photos, but also with meticulous records!
Some of the children were a little shy and it often took some time and smiles to get them to answer questions. Unlike the more in-depth questions for the adults, we asked the children things like, What is your favorite animal? What is your favorite color? What do you like to do? These questions will help School Sponsors learn a little more about their Sponsored Child.
We had a great time getting to know the children. I remember one warm afternoon, I was sitting under the gazebo interviewing a little boy with Kenlley, one of our amazing interpreters. The little boy told us that his favorite color is yellow, his favorite foods are rice and beans . . . and (surprise, surprise) cookies. He does not like to pet animals and, in fact, does not like animals at all. But he does like bugs. Although he claims to know how to read, he doesn’t know his alphabet yet. However, he loves his book with the picture of a lion.
How cute is that? I couldn’t help myself from falling in love with various children, over and over again.
Several days later, what seemed like insurmountable tasks, came to completion:
- Over 450 personal, in-depth interviews
- Students and schools evaluated
- 116 students registered for school
- A team who once was naive to the enormity of the tasks, now awed by God’s enabling grace
I remember sitting behind the computer for the umpteenth hour, correcting and updating records, in the same notably warm Upper Team House we met in on our first night of the trip. I was hot. I was exhausted. I was probably smelly, too. And I was happy. I was filled with joy and thanks at being a part of God’s work in my life, the lives of our team members, and the lives of our Haitian friends. And I know I speak on behalf of the entire team.
One of the best things about completing the interview project is that our leaders refused to take glory for themselves and continually gave glory to God. Dr. John kept us encouraged and provided invaluable direction for us along the way, yet always gave glory to where glory is due: our God. God enabled us to accomplish far more than we imagined and our hearts were filled with praise.
Now, we excitedly anticipate the next steps of continuing to help provide long-term, sustainable help for the village families.