What a wonderful day!
It started off fairly slow this morning, but there was a team here from Dallas that was going home so I spent some time chatting with them. It was fun to swap stories about the DFW area and they were really friendly people. It was a great way to sort of ease into the day. :)
Then I went with Oge to drop that team off at the airport. We had another great chat as we always do and I once again marveled at the lack of rubble around. There are still some collapsed buildings that have not been taken care of yet, but the streets are clear and in most places it is difficult now to tell that there was ever an earthquake. That's WONDERFUL to see.
After we got back, I sat ate some lunch and chatted with Sarah and Danette, Sarah's replacement as she will be leaving this week. (Sad day!) We chatted about the bracelet program and it was just... such a GREAT conversation. We carried it over to Rebo Coffee Shop in Petionville, which is like Haitian Starbucks... a truly wonderful oasis in Haiti. (And the baristas recognized me and exclaimed how happy they were to see me. ... That should tell you how often I went there. :) I don't like coffee or anything... ;) )
Anyway, the conversation was great and I feel like I have even more direction for the bracelet program. We figured out today that it will probably take a little over $10,000 to cover start up costs for a year. We're hoping to find some investors to help us reach that goal so that we can expedite the transition of the program. I am thankful for their help and I am thankful that more and more things seem to be falling into place so that my dream for Bracelets of Blessing can become a reality. Praise God!
When I got back from that, I thought I would just have a lazy afternoon, but then Oge found me and asked if I wanted to tag along on a trip downtown. I said yes, of course, as it had been a very long time since I had seen downtown.
... It was... amazing. I think I cried, I was so happy. The vast, VAST majority of the tents near the palace are completely gone. They just aren't there anymore. This picture may not seem like much, but this is the yard/park across the street from the Presidential Palace and it used to be COVERED in tents. I seriously did not know that the park looked like this. I actually thought it was all concrete... who knew there was grass underneath!?!? If you don't believe me, go here. That photo is facing the Presidential Palace, but it's the same plot of land... crazy difference, right!??! It was really, really wonderful to see.
Up in Petionville it was the same story. One area that was a fairly large camp was now functioning as a park again with people chatting and children playing. I told Oge, "This is why we work as hard as we do for Haiti. For things like this. We want to see Haiti rise up, we want to see Haiti move forward. This is such a great example of Haiti doing just that."
Unfortunately, I don't have many pictures because my camera's battery is DEAD. I am hoping to borrow someone's camera tomorrow, though, so I can take some better shots at Mellier and some better shots downtown. If I can't do that, then I guess my camera phone will just have to do. I guess it could be worse!
Also, the Haiti Partnership team is at the Guest House! I adore Haiti Partnership teams as they really understand Haiti and how to "go with the flow." They are just really great people. Also, Holly is on that team! Holly was on the very first team that I met when I came to Haiti. When I first arrived in Haiti, I got off the plane, walked out in the pouring rain and met Oge for the first time, went to the Guest House, met Mike and Doug, and then went to the Epi d'or for lunch with the Haiti Partnership team that Holly was on. It was great to see her again and re-live some of those early memories.
Oh, and Oge invited me to preach at his mother's church this Sunday. Whoa! Part of me wants to as it would be super fun to tell that story of "that one time I preached in Haiti" and I enjoy preaching (and Oge has never heard me preach!)... but it's also kind of intimidating. I mean, what does a suburban white girl from Kansas have to say to Haitian people? Would anything I say actually be meaningful? If you have any advice for me, let me know as I am unsure. (And I better decide quick or else I'll have no time to write it!)
To end this, I suppose I'll just say that being here has just reaffirmed my call to international work and particularly to Haiti. This just feels like home... even now after I have been gone for a year. I keep on expecting things to feel unfamiliar, foreign, different, unfriendly... but it hasn't happened yet. I still don't know what doors may open for my continued work in Haiti but I am prayerful and hopeful that I am able to return. Until then, I'll just keep plugging along and keeping my eyes and ears open for possibilities.
Sending love to all of you,