The week with the team went amazing in my opinion. We had a vision group from Frazer United Methodist Church in Montgomery, Alabama; the first team to come to HDC/La Piste. Frazer will be the primary Church partner with The 410 Bridge on the HDC project. Margaret (from 410 US) traveled with 9 members of Frazier including Pastor Patrick O’Brein.
The team was able to spend Tuesday and Wednesday morning at the camp assisting me with a census we have put together on the community. Building relationships is vital in every aspect of the work 410 does, but Frazier has made it clear building relationships with the Deaf of Haiti is something God has called them to do. We were able to use the census to start building these relationships. Over 200 members of their congregation have began taking Sign Language classes in order to be able to communicate with the Deaf of Haiti as their mission work continues over the next few years.
One of the members of the team is a certified interpreter; Robin was instrumental and invaluable this week. It was clear each member on the vision trip had a role and a reason they were there.
My current read is Greg Mortenson’s book ‘Three Cups of Tea’. Aside of the life story and work Greg does in Afghanistan with the Central Asia Institute (CAI), the book has captivated and inspired my everyday life. Monday as I waited for the team I was reading and praying for someone like Greg or Greg himself to come to Haiti and work on the education system here and with the HDC project. In my opinion it is the number one problem of Haiti.
When I met the team I was greeted with smiles from all, hugs from Margaret, and team member (Kyle) who told me he wanted to pick my brain because he is interested in moving to Haiti as soon as possible. To be honest I get this a lot, Haiti is a beautiful country with a rich culture and unbelievably strong people. When Kyle told me WHY he wanted to move to Haiti I could have cried…
Kyle has worked with World Teach and is interested in moving to Haiti with Frazier and The 410 Bridge to address the educational needs of the Deaf community, both with adults and children. I couldn’t believe God had answered such a prayer…all in less than two hours! This project is still in development, Kyle won’t be moving next week, but it is overwhelming to think of the opportunities and possibilities that lie ahead for the Deaf community; not only with a permanent community, but in the education and knowledge that will be available to them.
The team was able to see a lot for only being in Haiti four days, two full days with two travel days. We spent the mornings at the camp working on the census and playing with the kids. The purpose of the census, aside of being able to talk to community members and begin to build relationships between Frazer and HDC was to talk more about the land prospect. It is important people at HDC understand moving to the land is not a requirement, but an option. The temporary shelters they are currently living in will not be taken from them by us, although Haiti can unpredictable and the new government may decide they need to evacuate the land they currently occupy. The 410 Bridge is not forcing any one to move. Together, with Frazier and potential other partners we want the Deaf of Haiti to have to best life possible. We want to be a part in giving them the opportunities for a fulfilling life they deserve.
The team was able to meet community members and chat about a variety of things such as the skills and gifts they have to offer, what they currently do for work and income, their feelings on the land, and their family background. The two teenage girls on the trip, Kaylee and Anne Louise, fit right in with the children at HDC leading coloring, face painting and jump rope activities. It was great to see children laughing and playing together as I witnessed cultural and language differences to be no barrier.
On Tuesday afternoon the team was able to visit St. Vincent’s school for the Handicap where there are about 40 deaf children. We were able to meet and chat with a few people as we learned about the school; how they started and what they have recovered from as a result of the earthquake.
Georgia Nicholas who is connected with Friends of Deaf Haiti (FDH) was able to join us for dinner on Tuesday night. She has been with FDH since they were established one year ago; she is their liaison and often assists the deaf with food distributions or other needs and issues they encounter. I didn’t blog about my US Embassy appointment last week, but Georgia called me to interpret for three members of the HDC as they were applying for VISAS to attend a FDH one year anniversary celebration in Washington DC on April 16th. I was hoping to attend the celebration, but on such short nice I was not able to; or so I thought.
After dinner with Georgia, Pastor Quinn and Frazer Mission’s Director, Butch McPerson, decided it would be a good opportunity to send me to Washington DC to attend the banquet. I will be able to represent The 410 Bridge and Frazer to FDH. With so many people and organizations all striving to achieve the same goal, it will be better than each individually could ever imagine if we collaborate and work together. On Thursday I am DC bound, flying out with the team for a change!
As the week went on, I was excited to spend time with and get to know some of the members of the church I will be working closely with as this venture continues. Wednesday afternoon we visited a church near La Piste that has many deaf members in their congregation. Ronald (410 Haiti Staff) knew the interpreter, Elionel; they went to college together back in the day! It was a great opportunity to visit and see where many deaf people worship. Elionel often interprets for services that can last up to three hours or more! Bless his heart; I hope I will have the opportunity to do some team interpreting with him soon!
Thursday we all packed up and headed to the airport. It will be a good trip I hope, a nice break to get myself energized a little. We had a great week and the prospect for the future is overwhelming. It is a God sized project to build this community, but with faith anything is possible!
Prayer of Sir Francis Drake
Disturb us, Lord, when We are too well pleased with ourselves,
When our dreams have come true
Because we have dreamed too little,
When we arrived safely
Because we sailed too close to the shore.
Disturb us, Lord, when
With the abundance of things we possess
We have lost our thirst
For the waters of life;
Having fallen in love with life,
We have ceased to dream of eternity
And in our efforts to build a new earth,
We have allowed our vision
Of the new Heaven to dim.
Disturb us, Lord, to dare more boldly,
To venture on wider seas
Where storms will show your mastery;
Where losing sight of land,
We shall find the stars.
We ask You to push back
The horizons of our hopes;
And to push into the future
In strength, courage, hope, and love.