The following is an update from the SeaCoast Church team in Leveque Haiti. You can follow the rest of their trip here.
Day three in Haiti…and our second day back in Leveque…
For those you who don’t know, Leveque is a community established outside of Port-au-Prince to help the deaf start over after the earthquake. At a time where everyone was in need and no one had enough, the deaf were shunned, pushed to the back of the line and denied the basic necessities. They would stand in line for days to get food for their families and when they reached the front, they’d be turned away because they were deaf. A few years back Mission of Hope and The 410 Bridge were able secure land about an hour outside of the city and have now added somewhere around 500 houses.
Today, we had the opportunity to help turn these cinder block structures into a home for two deaf families. We started by moving out all of their belongings, which we later realized took all of ten minutes. Imagine how long it would take you to move all of the things you own out of your house. Also imagine if you will, the sound you might make if dropped from an airplane without a parachute…and then double it. That is the sound our fearless leader, MaryChris made as a cute little mouse ran out from under the mattress she and Vincent were lifting and ran for cover! I’m not sure who was more scared…MaryChris, who was screaming like a little girl, or the mouse who was frantically trying to climb the wall to escape. After running over Marybeth’s foot and into the other room, the mouse met his demise and MaryChris met her hero…a young Haitian boy who proudly killed the mouse, carried it out by the tail and flung it towards poor Amber, who picked up a new nickname today…Bolt! She surely must be related to Olympic Champion, Usain Bolt…because she set a new record for the 100 yard dash…child on her hip and all!
After all the laughter subsided, we got to work bringing the cell block gray inside of the homes to a bright and cheerful yellow. As we sat back and looked at this experience today, Sandy commented about how proud she was to be helping the deaf community turn these buildings into homes….and how amazing it is to take part in such a personal experience for the deaf in Leveque. To think that a year from now…or ten years from now, these families will be sitting around their table in a room that we had a personal touch on is extraordinary.
Not only was this an amazing experience, but it was a messy one! Unlike how we do things in the US, today was not about perfection. We had several very young children eagerly helping us paint and not just for a few minutes, not just until they were bored, but for hours. There was paint on the floor, paint all over everyone of us, paint on the kids faces, hands and feet but their smiles never faded. They worked hard. They worked eagerly and they were full of joy the entire time. Adult members of the community came in to help and unlike an adult would do in America, they did not send those messy little kids away or micromanage their imperfection. They smiled and saw happiness where us Americans may see a hindrance.
After lunch, we were again reminded of the simpler things in life. We have a suitcase full of frisbees, jump ropes and toys for the kids to use…and although our plan was to bring that suitcase today, it remained at the hotel. So, we ended up with two balls and one rope for a crowd of children…and you know what? They had a blast! We spent a few hours playing, laughing and just enjoying each other. Can you imagine a group of American kids with no video games, no technology and just a few simple toys enjoying themselves for hours? Maybe if you don’t know what others have, you don’t know what you’re missing. Or maybe Haitians just have it right…maybe it’s more about who you have and the time you spend together that really matters most.
That is definitely a lesson this team is learning this week. We are having such a great time with each other and with the deaf community at Leveque, and that’s all that really matters. Many people told us before we left how great it is what we are doing…but what you don’t realize unless you are here to experience it, is that the people here, the time spent together and the lessons learned in their simplicity leaves us with so much more than we leave them with. So much more than we could ever ask or imagine…