Today was an action-packed day filled with meaningful interactions and hard work. It started out with a breakfast of pancakes: something we weren’t expecting to eat during our time here in Haiti. At breakfast, our interpreter Leonard utilized his newfound love for peanut butter and bananas – something we all convinced him he had to try. This morning’s breakfast was also unique because we were joined by Melvin, a man from Michigan on his eleventh trip to Haiti. He had made the trip to Petit-Goave to present a plaque at the Brakeman school as a memorial for Harry and Ella Brakeman, who were pastors at his church and, as Mel said, were like family to him. We learned from Mel what the Brakeman’s lives were like, and about their passion for serving the people of Haiti. The Brakemans started not only this school here in Petit-Goave, but four other schools around Haiti. Hearing about their passionate hearts and serving hands was inspiring.
We arrived at the school earlier than normal to experience the flag ceremony. Our team leader Scott gave the opening prayer after we were introduced to the children. After the prayer we saw Mel give an emotional presentation of the plaque as he explained how happy Harry and Ella would be to see the growth of the school. As the flag raising commenced, we listened to the entire student body sing “How Great Thou Art” in Creole, followed by the national anthem. It was a moving start to our day at the school. Our team had the opportunity to take a small break from working on the job site to spend some time with the children in the fourth and fifth grade classrooms. We walked the children through the making of a small sticker book that read John 3:16 in Creole, taught them how to make beaded cross bracelets to either keep or give to their mothers for the upcoming Mothers Day in Haiti, and we led the classes in the song “I Have Decided To Follow Jesus,” both in Creole and English. We are very thankful that we had our interpreter Leo there with us, or none of this would have been possible! The children were kind and gracious and seemed excited about the crafts and excited to spend a bit of time with us – or maybe a bit of time away from studying for exams.
The rest of the day commenced as our other days have thus far – with lots of sand sifting, carrying water buckets, and helping wherever we are needed on the job site. Mel ended up joining us in our work in the morning, for lunch at the Dorcely’s home, and again for our work in the afternoon. We were struck by his willingness to jump in and help and his kindness to everyone in our group. By the time we left in the afternoon, both classrooms had been laid with tile, and there was only the outside hallway to finish. The Haitian workers work long after we leave each day, so the tile work may be finished by the time we arrive tomorrow. After our afternoon’s work, we said goodbye to Mel and headed back to the manse for much-needed showers and time to rest and play cards – our team’s favorite is a Haitian card game called Casino. Tonight’s dinner was an incredible beef and dumpling stew, followed by delicious lemon cake! We are spoiled by all of the delicious meals here at the Dorcely home. Tonight we will sleep well with some extra soreness in our muscles, but full stomachs and even fuller hearts.