By: Kathy Novak (RFA Board Member)
Our day began with the radiant Haitian sunshine against a background of the clear,deep blue sky and palm trees: simply beautiful! But even this didn’t compare to the smiles and enthusiasm of the 36 children of the two combined RFA houses during our trip to Gelee Beach. The children arrived separately in tap tap vehicles that are abundant in Haiti, with the children seated on wooden benches in open vehicles, with hands waiving as they greeted us, anticipating the day of fun in the water. The Chantal children arrived before the children from Ducis and we were amazed that they waited patiently for the other children, many whom they know or are related to. They did not utter a word of complaint while waiting, and talked quietly with each other or team members until the others arrived.
As is our custom, we started our time together with a prayer circle as Pastor Lubin and Mami Ellen discussed the rules for keeping everyone safe in the water. Our team members discussed our concerns this morning at our morning meeting of the kids perhaps not being able to share our affections and playing safely together in the water. We again were surprised and delighted with their cooperative nature during the entire day. For some of the children, this was the first time ever at the beach and it was clearly evident judging by their continuous shrieks of delight as they swam and ran through the waves. We were impressed by their lack of fear of the water and once the small tubes were distributed to all the younger children, the kids were even more confident in their abilities to navigate the waves by themselves! The joy on their faces as the surf washed over them was priceless, and their laughs were contagious not only infecting their siblings but all of us as well. The children listened each time we asked them to move towards the shore or in line with the backpacks and towels on the beach only venturing off once when some local fishermen arrived on shore with their catch. The kids were absolutely enthralled by the tinny crabs that remained in the nets after the men and women gleaned the lobster and shrimp from them. They used their plastic bottles from their drinks at lunch to capture tiny sea creatures, once again reminding us of their incredible curiosity and enjoyment of life’s many joys. The highlight for me was playing as a train in the water, with 6 children on-board What a workout for me and such fun for all of us! The squeals in my ear calling my name as I held onto feet pulling the kids behind me through the water were wonderful and a great blessing to me. I haven’t loved swimming so much since my own children were young.
But these children are now mine as well; they are indeed all of our children. Our team is strong and vibrant with each one contributing in such meaningful ways, sharing their talents and knowledge of solar energy and wellness, music and art and sports and storytelling. Such wonderful people who now have brothers and sisters in Haiti. What a blessing indeed. We cannot wait for tomorrow to see what God has in store for us all!