Today was a hodge-podge of a day in many ways, but it was excellent none-the-less.
This morning we said goodbye to Sarah. Although she's not COMPLETELY moved out (she'll be back on the 29th to finish that job), she did leave for Martinique this morning and she is officially no longer employed by VIM. I tagged along with her to the airport and we chatted about a whole slew of things. I'll certainly miss her here on future trips, but I'm sure I'll see her again at some point. :)
When I returned, I tagged along on a trip to Giant Market with Belorne. She was shopping for a team and told me, "Beth, you do the shopping that you always used to do." I panicked a bit as I didn't think I remembered most of the shopping that I used to do... but as I walked through the aisles, I remembered a great deal of it. That was kind of fun and Belorne was very thankful for the small bit of help.
Also, Oge called his wife and daughter as they were walking home from his daughter's school and asked them to meet him at Giant Market. They did and I got to see "Little Laura" once again. Although now, I would say, she is no longer little. Haha. She's seven years old and starting to get taller and taller. She's grown up so much! It was wonderful to see her again, even though it was just for a brief moment.
After that quick hello, we headed back to the Guest House but we stopped at Rebo on the way. I had been promising to get Rebo for Oge all along but he hadn't been able to make it on any of our other trips. Thankfully, today worked out. Also, I was able to purchase a Rebo'ccino Glace (Haitian frappucino) for Belorne. She hadn't had one since I lived in Haiti so that was fun to treat both of them to a special drink. :)
This afternoon we just hung out for a little while as it was pretty quiet and calm. Around 4 o'clock, though, the bracelet kids stopped by.
I got the opportunity to interview most of them and ask them about the program and why they appreciated it. I also got to ask about their hopes for the future of the program and what their lives might be like without the program. It was inspiring and humbling to hear some of their stories.
Some of the kids would be OK without the program, but life still wouldn't be particularly easy. They would be able to pay for school and food, but they might not have money to pay for a tap-tap to get to school or good clothes for school, etc. Most of the kids, though, told me today that their lives would be dramatically different - they would not be able to afford school, they would not be able to afford food regularly, and they would have very little money for clothes or shoes. Hearing those stories, I was thankful. This is a blessed program. God is absolutely at work.
I also got the opportunity to interview Oge and talk to him about the program. Oge has been with me in this journey from the beginning and his passion for Bracelets of Blessing is as deep as my own. His interview was... perfect. When I get home I will post it to Youtube, unedited, so you, too, can hear his powerful words. It gives me goosebumps when I listen to it.
I also got the opportunity to pray with the kids today. That was also a neat moment. We stood in a circle and I prayed for them. I thanked God for them and their energy, joy, love, and hard work. I prayed the program would be blessed and would continue to grow and thrive. It was wonderful to pray with them and for them. What a special gift.
But then, the best part happened. You see, I mentioned at the beginning of the week that something exciting might be happening with the bracelet program and if things moved forward then I would report it here. Well, things are moving forward. :) Today, I got the opportunity to introduce Jean Claude to the kids. Jean Claude is one of the interpreters that we use here for the UMVIM program. He is just an awesome, responsible, friendly, lovable man and he is officially going to be the director of Bracelets of Blessing.
I had been trying for too long to try to be the director myself, even though I am in the US now. It just wasn't working and I decided before I came down to Haiti that I wanted to hire a Haitian person to run the program and be the person in charge. I will still serve on the Board of Directors and I will provide whatever leadership and assistance I can, but I will not be the one in charge. I was thrilled to introduce Jean Claude to the kids today as that means that the program is moving forward. I think it's hit a critical mass at this point and it's really poised to enter the next phase. I am SO excited to see what God might do in this next year.
After that excitement I had a quick dinner (and Jim Gulley arrived so it was great to see him again!) and showed Ronda and Chelsee (the two members of the HP team that stayed behind) some awesome Sara Groves songs. At a certain point, though, I was ready to head back to my room and shower and work on this blog and such. I started walking back to my room, but as soon as I entered the Swiss House, Danette stopped me. "I have to talk to you," she said.
So we started chatting and she told me that she had a friend in the States who is in the advertising business and she was telling him a bit about the expansion of the bracelet program. He has been to Haiti three times and so he knows about the bracelets and he was instantly interested. He said, "You know, I'd be really happy to do some pro-bono advertising work for them... like do some campaigns with churches, set up a website, all that good stuff."
Uhhhh... what?? How awesome is that!?!? God is absolutely at work. I got the opportunity to talk to him tonight as well and he got really excited about the vision for the next phase of the program. He's really excited to create an advertising campaign for us and he started to share all of his ideas for growth for the program. Wow. Just... wow.
I started to tear up when I was talking to him. It was the only reaction I had. These kids will have a true future because of this program. I just don't even know how to describe how... awesome, terrifying, and humbling that is... all at the same time. But I am thankful. I am so, so thankful. I remember that when I was still living here I would lay in bed and worry about what would happen to "my boys." I worried that I would lose touch with them and that they wouldn't get to go to school, or that they might be constantly jumping from tent to tent, never finding a secure, safe place to live. But I don't have to worry about that anymore. We are helping to build a true future for them - a promise for a better tomorrow. A promise for a better Haiti. Thanks be to God for that.
Tomorrow will be my last full day in Haiti. I'm already heartbroken over it. How can I say goodbye to this country once again? Please, if you think about it, say a little prayer for me tomorrow and/or Wednesday. I'll need it as I prepare to go back to the US. However, I think that tomorrow is going to be another really great day - I'll get to see La Tremblay church and, as always, have dance parties in the car with Oge.
Until I blog tomorrow,