a Christmas experience (by Guest Blogger Anachemy Victor)

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Oftentimes we wonder if we are getting through to the children or not. Sometimes I question how much they really understand and is there anything more I could be doing to help them get the ‘big picture’.

On Christmas day, many of the questions I had about the children understanding the meaning of ‘paying it forward’ were answered. Shortly after the morning activities of a Christmas play production, unwrapping presents, discovering new treasures, and enjoying family togetherness, we packed Beth McHoul’s pickup truck with over four hundred pounds of rice and beans that the children/older kids had packaged.

We headed down Delmas 33 to the Nelus’ family tent (Esterline, Moise and Maudline). It was a bumpy, yet exciting ride. Esterline could barely hide her smile and Moise’s face lit with enthusiasm! Fisher joined the ride while Mr. Yonel and Esterline’s Dad was there to help keep things in order.

Once we arrived at the tent city, the leader met us outside. We spoke about the setup and a few minutes later he had several guys come over to assist. As they took care of getting the distribution area setup, I walked with Esterline and her dad to what was once their former home.

We walked through a narrow walkway, jumped over several small polluted creeks, leapt through piles of garbage, disregarded unwanted stares, and ignored the loud whispers. A while later, as we stood in front of a grey tin shack that had a sheet cover for the door, Stephanie (the middle sister) welcomed us with a bright smile and open arms. She swooped up Esterline and twirled her around, gradually placing kisses on every inch of her face and she carried her into their home. 

The “house” was a 2 room shack about the size of our pantry. There were no cement walls, no windows, and no doors. One of the back walls was a sheet which draped over two stacks of cement blocks. One room had a twin size bed (which took up the entire floor space) while the room had a table pushed against the wall that appeared to possess all the family’s belongings. There was no kitchen area (something common in every American home), but instead an outdoor community stove.

As the tour came to an end, Maudline appeared after having finished hand washing clothes. She grabbed Esterline by the hand and began to show her off. Maudline yelled “She is here! She is here! Everyone come and meet my little sister!”

Neighbors began to gather, to see what the commotion was about. They whispered and stood in amazement (you would have thought Esterline was a superstar)! As the crowd gathered, I became very overprotective and held on to Esterline’s hands even tighter. As more people gathered, she grabbed hold of me and I knew she had had enough.

As we walked back to the main entrance, where the tent city community church was located (the place where the rice & beans would be distributed) she told me how excited and happy she had been to see everyone. “I am happy to see my sisters, but I do not remember ever living here,” she said.

Soon after her statement, we arrived at the church building and began the food distribution to the children of this tent city community. The children came in in groups of 10 or less. They were instructed to sit down nicely and wait for the food packages to be handed to them. Once all the children had one, they left the building and another group entered behind them.

Many of the children that came were young like Bettinie and Enolika. They had clothes on that did not fit, many were barefoot, some had discolorations in their hair (from malnutrition), runny noses, and a few had visible fungal infections, not counting the many eyes which displayed hurt. Big beautiful dark brown eyes, but many were sad too, glossed over, and with visible redness. These children were being raised in an unfortunate situation.
While the food supply dwindled, so did the large mass of children. As the kids left, parents began gathering and sending in other children of theirs.  Looking for what ‘else’ was left, many were met with disappointment.

We cleaned up and began packing our empty bins and sacks, only to discover the leader of the tent city was going home empty handed. The man who had informed the people and controlled a potential chaotic situation had been selfless in making sure other’s needs were met.

As Esterline overheard me talking to this man about not receiving anything, she was a bit disappointed and devastated he was going home empty handed. She yanked my hand and pulled me close saying, “Miss Anachemy, why didn’t we make him take his first? Can we come back and bring him something? Can I share tonight’s dinner with him? And for the kids who did not get any, can I share my tuna sandwiches with them?"

Esterline’s questions burst from a sincere place in her heart and it became apparent she was learning what ‘paying it forward’ really meant. She developed a heart to serve the children and this man who she wanted to see receive a packaged of food too for his family.  

As we ended the trip and loaded the trucks, I had no idea the impact this service project would have on her. A few days later, several children ran to me and explained how we can work together to help the children of this ‘fatherless nation’.  I think this activity has been beneficial in broadening the perspective of at least some of the kids at Have Faith Haiti Mission.

** I wanted to share this story, and I have one more to come later...because these are the moments that God allows me to glimpse a little of the fruits of our labors and they fuel me through the long stressful seemingly fruitless days. Thank you to all who pray for and and support us here in Haiti. - Jennifer **
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