On Wednesday, it was my birthday, and I had planned to have a special morning at school with my kids and then to go down to the Hope House in the afternoon. However, these plans all changed when Rachel knocked on my door shortly after I woke up and told me that I had one hour to get ready before we were heading out on the town! Shocked, I asked “But what about school!?!”, and she smiled and told me that she had already discussed it with the van der Mark’s, and I had the day off.
So, still unknowing where we were going, I jumped in a truck with Rachel and Patris, and we began to head up the mountain. I was amazed at the breathtaking view of the villages and homes below... Even though the pictures don’t do justice, I’ve included some for you to take a peek at.
When we arrived at our destination, I found out that we were at the Baptist Mission. This Christian mission is similar to the Mission of Hope, except it has been around for a lot longer, so they have many ‘attractions’ including a zoo, museum and gift shop. We spent the morning exploring through the mission and taking pictures, and then sat down to a delicious meal of pizza and ice cream.... Ahhhh, what a wonderful taste of home! :)
On the way home, Rachel and I also seized the opportunity to stop by the grocery store, so that was an added bonus!
That evening after supper, the van der Marks and Rachel had yet another surprise waiting for me... A birthday cake! :) It was very special to share it with them. Looking back on the day, I am just amazed how the Lord abundantly blessed me. Even though it wasn’t easy to be far away from those I love, I am so thankful to have been able to experience my birthday in a different place, and for all of the special memories I made... It will definitely be a birthday I will never forget!
Another celebration I was fortunate to be a part of took place last night. The Cabaret children who have been staying at the mission since the hurricane are returning to their orphanage today. So last night as a special celebration, Rachel had organized a party for all the kids, complete with singing, skits, dancing, games and best of all, CAKE! The party actually came together last-minute, so right around supper time Rachel called me and asked if I would be willing to help her finish the cakes. So before the party as Rachel ran errands, I stayed in her kitchen and made 4 batches of icing and decorated the desserts. It was such an fun job for me, knowing that it would be such a treat that all 150+ kids would get to enjoy.
When I went down to the church (where the party took place), I was thrilled to see so many excited children laughing and singing. It was such a joyful evening, but it was still difficult to say goodbye to all of the beautiful Cabaret children. Fortunately they aren’t going too faraway, so I will be able to go and visit them on occasion, but last night as they all returned to the high school (where they have been staying) for bedtime, I went along and my heart broke. Most of the children were preparing their beds (a flat sheet on the floor), while others lined up by an old, dirty bucket to use the bathroom, and still other small children, too young to get ready themselves, remained outside sitting in the gravel and waiting for an adult to take them to bed. It all started to hit me, that the lifestyles of these children, so seemingly desperate, was normal. These children have probably never slept in a comfortable bed, worn clean pyjama's, taken a warm bath, or felt the comfort of a loving mother who tucks them in, like I and most North American children have experienced. As I held, smiled and kissed the little ones around me, I whispered a prayer in my heart for each one. During this special time, Lord spoke to me and reminded me, despite the pain I felt for these children, He is the same Father to them as He is to me. Even when their care seems inadequate and their futures are full of unknowns, He made each one, and created them with a specific purpose. Just as I feel His presence in my life, He loves each one of them and will be faithful to them through the calm and through the storm.
Sometimes I question pain and why bad things happen to people, especially the innocent children of Haiti, and yet I have realized that without pain, there would be no hope. I feel blessed knowing that in some small way I am able to play a part in offering these children hope, and as the little boy in my arms fell asleep, once again I felt a fullness in my heart that this is exactly where I need to be.