Beth in Haiti

Please join me as we bring hope to a nation in need!

Friday, September 21, 2012

Young Hope

Young Hope members L to R: Jeanson, Elisson, Lumaine, Mansado, Galaxson & Wilson

 Seeing the Village of Hope kids every day, you sometimes start to forget or take for granted how amazingly talented they are.  Ok that’s not true, they are stinkin’ amazing and continuously blow my mind with their love for God, their love for each other and their realization and utilization of their God-given abilities.  Over the past few months, six of our Village of Hope young men and women have come together in an inspiring way.  Realizing that they all had a unique talent with their voices, they almost completely independently created their singing and rap group named Young Hope in which they write their own songs, practice harmonies and sing about trusting God in every situation and bringing change to the nation of Haiti.  This past Sunday, Young Hope had a chance to perform at a concert for the first time outside of the walls of Mission of Hope at a church in Port-au-Prince called Eglise Sur Le Rocher (Church on the Rock).

Bernadine dressed and ready for the bus ride to Port-au-Prince!

It was an incredible experience to watch Jeanson, Elisson, Mansado, Wilson, Galaxson and Lumaine (the members of Young Hope) as they practiced daily for their show, coordinated their outfits and fought through a plethora of preshow emotions together.  Not only is it amazing that these kids have overcome all of the past obstacles that a young child should never have to deal with, but the fact that they have showed perseverance and resiliency in the face of adversity throughout everything is inspirational.   As we all loaded onto the bus with every Village of Hope child and employee, it was made extremely clear to us by Young Hope that we were not allowed to leave for the concert without praying first.   After praying together as a family on the bus, we made our way to Port-au-Prince, everyone singing and jumping up and down with excitement as we went.   Young Hope’s preparation and calm before the show was almost surreal- especially as many of us seemed to be feeling all of the anticipation and nerves for them!  The six of them huddled together as a group before their act went on; they prayed, shared some words and then united with a group chant.  Shortly after, they confidently walked on stage, proceeded to rile the crowd and then blew everyone away, finishing their three-song set with lyrics about praising God even when we are hungry, tired and hopeless.  Even though the concert ran late, it was raining and everyone was tired, nothing could have stopped the excitement of the Village of Hope children as they continued to cheer for Young Hope and sing all the way back home.

Young Hope coming together for their pre-show pep talk.

Not only was Young Hope’s concert a unique and life-changing opportunity for them, but what an incredible initiation for me personally!  At a time when I have felt led to move here and work with these children to help prepare them as much as possible for their eventual transition into the community, what better way to see the amazing ways they are actively planning for their futures and already using their talents than to watch six of them working together and already bringing hope to people outside of the walls of Mission of Hope?  As our program continues to develop in its beginning stages, I cannot wait or even begin to imagine all of the incredible talents I will begin to see in these kids and will have the honor of helping them figure out where they can use their talents in the future.  There are endless possibilities for these young men and women and I am thrilled to be able to watch their journey from the front line.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Day 1

Wow, I’m exhausted!  I can’t believe that the day I have been talking about with the kids for two years was actually today.  And who would’ve known it would go so much differently than expected.  Everyone expects when they return to a place where they are loved to be greeted with arms wide open, big smiles and tears of joy.  Ya, not so much!  It would be so easy (and probably much more uplifting to read) to fake it and say that my reunion with the Village of Hope kids was nothing short of Oscar-worthy.  But I guess in this case, uplifting is overrated.  I could not have been more excited to drive onto the Mission today and stopped just short of jumping out of the moving truck to greet the kids… only to be met by rolling eyes, questions about why I cut my hair and accusations that I would never actually commit to staying in Haiti with them for any significant amount of time. 

My initial reaction is to be like: seriously?! I just committed to AT LEAST a year with you people… don’t I deserve some kind of credit?!  What a letdown.  After literally imagining this day every day for the past 2 years, that is how it went.   I don’t know much about much and have almost no credibility when it comes to talking about anything concerning faith, but I am confident in the fact that the one thing that can shake me is absence of admiration in those kids towards me.  Just about the only thing that can make me question what I’m doing here is those kids questioning my love for them.  And look at what happens- exactly that!  I could pretty confidently put money on it at this point that Satan is using his most powerful weapon against me to convince me that coming here was a mistake.  Maybe it wasn’t such a good idea to commit to a whole year!  Maybe I should’ve just gone straight into grad school.  At least there’s air conditioning in the United States!... and also french fries.

Unfortunately for Satan, we’ve been down this path before and you’d think he would’ve learned his lesson the last time that he tried to pull this exact same trick on me.  No amount of insecurity on my part could ever take away from the experiences I have already had and the memories I will surely make in the future with these kids.  The side-splitting laughter that can be heard whenever I try to join in on their choreographed dances, the annoyingly-difficult Kreyol lessons taught to me by six different 7-year-olds at once, the trips to the beach with kids so excited that our bus filled with songs can be heard from miles down the road and the tears that I’ve wiped off the little ones as we say goodbye.  None of those memories can ever be taken from me or from the kids.  No matter how their growing and (sometimes slowly) maturing minds tell them to act one day, I stand firm in the fact that each and every one of them knows and cherishes the love I have for them.   I can’t wait to write again, laughing about how shaken I was by their greeting today.  I can’t wait to relive a moment like so many in the past where carrying five chickens in my hands down the streets of the market in Cabaret for the younger boys to have as pets is a normal day or watching two little boys who were thought to be too malnourished to ever live, let alone walk, strut past me holding hands as a regular, everyday occurrence. 

How can any other plan I may have had for myself compare to 365 days filled with potential like that?!  I’m pretty positive I could never conjure up a more amazing opportunity on my own.  God certainly has a sense of humor: taking the girl that only applied to Texas schools out of high school out of fear to leave home and the girl who had to be heavily medicated anytime she got on a plane to a place thousands of miles away in a country that is DEFINITELY not Texas and understatedly more than a quick car ride away.  As I lay down tonight to think about starting my first day tomorrow in the MOH office, I can’t help but dream about the potential for growth in my new position, get excited about the possibility for life change in so many Haitian individuals and maybe even squeal a little about the fact that these kids won’t be able to get rid of me- even if they tried.