Tuesday – Getting Started

Tuesday began with devotions bright and early to start the day off right! As a group, we discussed what it means to see God as our day goes on. We prepared our hearts and minds to be more aware of how God is working throughout our day. It was clear to me that I needed to have a different perspective going into this day and I was excited to see what God had to show me.

After Bible study, we took the most adventurous moped ride to meet with our entrepreneurs. My moped buddy, Daniel, and I hopped on a sweet moped and raced over to meet with our entrepreneur. Daniel and I learned how to say the Haitian Creole word for “faster.” As we raced through the village, we screamed, “VIT! VIT! VIT!” to our driver and maybe that wasn’t such a great idea after all. After a few short minutes, we arrived at our location to meet with our entrepreneur, Lucenia, extremely eager to get started.

Today was Lucenia’s day to sign her contract for her business. It was such a blessing to watch Lucenia sign her contract because it meant that it was actually happening. We talked with Lucenia afterwards and she informed us of her plan to get started. She showed us the location of her business and told us that she will begin the next day. As excited as we all were, that was all we accomplish for the day and we headed back to the hotel for some free time before a delightful dinner at Larry and Mama’s place.

A few days before, I had met a friend named Benjee. Benjee is the coolest little Haitian boy that I have met. He and I immediately hit it off and he planned to take a group of us out on a boat to go swimming on this fine day. We got into the boat and went out and jumped into the ocean. I have never seen water so blue and it was a different perspective to look back at the island. After a while we hopped back into the boat and headed back to shore to get ready for dinner.

After dinner, we had a short debrief and we talked about some of the ways that we saw God throughout our day. I saw God in a number of ways, one of them being Lucenia signing her contract. It made me realize that anything is possible with Him, and I need to rely on Him more. I also saw God when I was swimming in the ocean looking back at the shore. It was apparent that God’s creation is astounding and beautiful. This week has been amazing, and I am grateful for the opportunity to meet new people and connect with this awesome group of people from our class. I am excited to see what else God has in store for me as we learn and grow from this experience.

– Colton

God is there, even when we can’t see him. This is the devotion idea that started off our day today, and it stayed with me in the back of my mind all day. God showed up in powerful ways today, y’all.

He was there as we raced through the dirt roads of Port-de-Paix after our devotional time as we went to go meet our entrepreneur to start the day. Let me just say that our daily moped rides continually bring me so much joy and thrill, I am determined to get my motorcycle license when I get back home (sorry Mom and Dad!). Besides the thrill of non-conventional roadways and lack of stop signs, I also really enjoy the chance to see how everyday Haitian lives, and experience the hustle and bustle of a major Haitian city. I’m fascinated at how everything works together, and how few car crashes there are, despite the lack of organization and regulation for everything.

He was there as we waited in the hot, stagnant room for hours, as our entrepreneur was the last person to meet with Handson to sign her contract. During this long waiting period, we tagged and prices more clothes for the entrepreneurs who will be selling clothes as their business. It was a joy to be somewhat productive with classmates who have become friends, as we got to learn more about one another as we worked next to each other. After a while, we ran out of clothes to add to the inventory, so we sat. But, God showed up there too. A handful of kids were around us at all times in the office we were working in, but one little girl stood out to me the most. She wore an ill-fitting dress, and it was evident that she was not in school because she could not afford it, as she would’ve been at school at this time of day if that were not the case. I asked her name using the only phrase in Creole that I know, and we started to play handclap games and she showed me this cool game similar to jacks, but using rocks. Ten-year old Ameesha and I started to develop a friendship during these long, hot hours as we played and hand-motioned to communicate. She was fascinated by my hair, and styled it multiple times. As time went on, more kids came in and played with us, but her and I shared a special bond. God was there she smiled. God was in the way she was resourceful at creating games out of rocks, how joyful she was despite not having lunch or getting to go to school with her friends.

He was there when Irlaine signed her microloan contract, signifying the start of her business and her path to a better life. Sabrina and I are working with Irlaine, the sweetest little woman who is mother to seven (!!!!!) kids, and very determined to make this work. She said that she moved her family out here to Port-de-Paix so that they could have a better life, and she’s been selling various things since then to make it happen. However, when she heard about the program through Handson and the Eaton Center, she was thrilled at the opportunity to “do things the right way”. She went through the training so that her new venture could be as profitable as possible, and has been taking sewing lessons so that she can eventually be certified to have a sewing license. If we’re being totally honest here, I was on the verge of tears the entire time she was signing her contract. This is for two main reasons: 1.) I was so excited for what this meant for her and her family. 2.) I did not feel qualified to be there; I was humbled and honored to be a part of it. Both the complexities and the simplicities of starting a business in Haiti to support your family astound me and puzzle me like no other.

He was there when my classmates and I jumped into the clearest, bluest water I have ever seen in the Caribbean Sea. Our friend Benji helped us get someone to take us out into the ocean on his rowboat, as the water close to the shore is unsafe to be in. I ended up treading water for what felt like 20-30 minutes as he rowed back and forth to take more people in and back to shore; the entire time I was 1.) Trying not to die, and 2.) Marveling at how crazy amazing this experience has been.

He was there on the soccer field. After we went swimming, I came back and took a quick shower, but still had time to do something before dinner. I got my friend Cody to come with Benji and I to go play a game of soccer near Benji’s house. We were led down this dirt road with shacks on either side, and then there was an empty lot, full of mud and trash. One of the boys had already taken sticks to create a goal, and another stacked some rocks to create the other goal. We played 3 on 3, with a little Haitian boy on our team. There were no holds bared. There was running, tripping, pushing in mud- all in good fun. It amazed me at how despite being so so so hot outside, and probably not having much to eat that day, these boys played with so much energy. They were running barefoot over broken glass shards and trash-filled mud with no afterthought, which was really cool. The blancs (us) ended up schooling the other team, 9-2, but it was such a fun experience. It only started with a couple of us, but by the time we were done with our game, it seemed like the entire neighborhood had come out to watch.

Finally, he was there in our group dynamic. In all honesty, I was a little nervous coming on this trip, as it seemed like a lot of people already knew each other, and I wasn’t sure how I would mesh. But in the quiet moments, and at the end of the day as we sat on Larry and Diana’s roof and talked amongst ourselves for hours, there have been so much laughter and friendships being forged, it been great to witness. Though this group hasn’t quite experienced crazy outgoing Emily (yet), I have felt comfortable to share parts of my life and myself that I normally wouldn’t have expected to. These people all have the same focus for this trip, and some share the same passions that I have, and it has been fun seeing God work in the relationships here. It hasn’t been perfect, but it’s been better than expected.

In closing, today has made my heart feel so full, yet it has broken my heart to no end too. But I guess this is where God shows up too, in the broken times. I am extremely humbled and grateful for this experience, and do not look forward to it ending at all. I have established such a connection with the people, namely Irlaine and Ameesha, which I want to continue to foster and make sure that their life progresses in a positive manner. At this point though, I know it’s all in God’s hands, as it always has been.

– Emily

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