I was sitting on my comfy couch this morning watching The Price is Right on my flatscreen HD TV thinking I was a little chilly, my mind instantly took me back to September when I was in Haiti, no comfy couch, no TV and the word chilly is not in the vocabulary. The word comfort came to mind. When you say or hear the word comfort which one do you think of the noun or the verb.
- Noun—a state or situation in which you are relaxed and do not have any physically unpleasant feelings caused by pain, heat, cold, etc.
- Verb— to give strength and hope to; To ease the grief or trouble of
I am afraid sometimes we are more concerned with comfort the noun than we are the verb, me included. On our recent trip to Haiti, although it was very short God showed me a few things about comfort. During this trip it was just Jonathan and myself, I was not caught up in cooking for people, trying to keep everything going, I got to slow down and look around and see the Haiti I fell in love with. I would like to share some of the things that made me thing I need more “verb” comfort and less “noun” comfort. The “verb” comfort sounds a lot like LOVE to me when you think about it.
There were a few things we needed to accomplish on this trip. One of the things we need to do is purchase some Haitian art, home made jewelry and such. We like to share Haiti with people back home and this is a small way to do so. Not only can you have a little piece of Haiti it helps the people in so many different way. When we purchase these Items the artist makes money to help feed their family, the vendor who sets up on the side of the road and sells the products makes money to feed their family and the children at Voice of the Children Orphanage benefit when you purchase from us.
On Friday we headed out to look for some new and interesting art. Moise, our usual translator, was not able to go with us so a friend of his, Mike, came along to help us if we got in a spot and needed more Creole than we knew. We have use Mike before and he does a great job for us. He is tall, slim and kinda quite but knows his way around the city. As we drove around and looked at several places in the Delmas area of Port au Prince and couldn’t really find the things we were looking for we decided to drive up the mountain and go to the Baptist Mission, where we have been several times and knew they would have some of the things we were looking for.
Even though it takes us a little while to drive up the windy road to the Mission we have always enjoyed it. Once you are there its a little cooler, the view is breathtaking, they have a little food bar where you can get GREAT french fries, ice cream and a soda and they have a lot of men trying to get you to come to their little shop and see what they have (even though most of them have the very same thing)! While driving up the mountain Jonathan asked Mike if he had ever been up to the Baptist Mission and he said NO, we told him he was in for a treat. You know once you have seen something several times, even tough its beautiful, you just really don’t appreciate it a much as the first time. Once we arrived and walked over to the place where you can see a beautiful view of the Mountains, the same view I had seen several times and I looked over and seen the look on Mike’s face it was like a child on Christmas morning. His face lit up and you could not remove the smile on his face. As he continued to look out over the mountain I realized how much I had taken for granite this beautiful view. I don’t know what Mike had to deal with the previous week, that day or tomorrow, what I do know is that for one day he was up on that mountain with us, taking in the all the sights didn’t have a worry in the world. In looking back he had the look of “comfort” his face, not grief, not worry, just comfort.
One of our other objectives while in Haiti this time was to meet with some contractors to get information on building the wall at the new orphanage location (blog in it self lol) While we drove to Leogon which is about 45 minutes away on a good day, I knew we would be meeting with the men about building the wall. When we arrived one guy was there but we were waiting on the other. We walked around the facility looking at the wall and looking at the existing building on the property. In Haiti you seek out the shade when all possible, while we were waiting on the other man to show up we found some shade and sat on the steps of the little make shift church. While sitting there something caught my eye in the corner of the property where the wall was completely torn down. I seen a couple little girls who had spotted us and was waving. This use to happen all the time in Port au Prince, however since there had been so many NGO’s since the earthquake the children in the city seen more white people that the kids in province. These little girls would holler, wave then hide. Once the other gentleman arrived and we had our little meeting, took pictures and was over in this corner where the wall had completely fallen down one of the men “Fritizen” who was with us knew the family who lived just on the other side of our property and they began to speak. I noticed there was a refrigerator laying on its back on the side of the road beside this very small (size of a small out building) house and knew there was a big block of ice inside and some cold drinks. Jonathan purchased us some nice cold water and we stood by while Fritzen caught up with old friends. The little girls who were waving then decided to be come a little shy, hiding behind their mom and peaking around. They finally got the courage to step out and come a little closer. Laughing and giggling (I don’t know if I want to know what they were saying LOL). These little girls were barefoot, probably not by choice, but because they probably only had one pair of shoes and had to save them for church or if they are lucky enough to go to school. Jonathan glanced over and noticed a couple of little girls rummaging through a trash pile, something we would never let our children do. I don’t know what they were looking for, perhaps something they could turn into a game or a toy. After spending a few minutes just standing there not “IN THEIR WORLD” but close to it, I realized that the “comforts” we think are necessary… hot water, heat, air, our own bed, pillow, TV, video games…I could go on and on, really are nothing. You see, these little girls had a mother, father and looked like perhaps grandparents there close by, all probably living in this little 10×15 foot building. A building with probably No electricity, No running water, No fans, No video games. Comfort to these little girls is a mother and father to hug them and say “I love you”, comfort to these little girls is perhaps a mattress to sleep on at night and a little rice in their belles to keep them full. I think I need to re-think my sense of comfort.
The third and last thing that came to my mind this morning while sitting on my comfy couch was the last night we were there. It was Sunday evening and we had a few things we were going to take to the orphanage so Jonathan and I decided to just walk over there and take these few items. We knew we didn’t have much time to spend because it would be dark soon and wanted to be back at the house before dark. When we arrived most of the children were there since it was Sunday and no one was at school. Jonathan and myself sat just inside the door, hopping to catch a little breeze (NOT). Soon we were bombarded with several little ones who wanted hugs, play little hand games or just have us sit and hold them for a while. We tried to have a little conversation with Mama but it was a little difficult because we were there by our self, no translator. So mostly we just sat there holding kids. It was getting darker and as I looked around I noticed most all the kids were inside the little HOT orphanage now, just standing around not really doing anything. Then it got a little darker and darker. You see in Haiti the city power is not on ALL the time, only from around 9:30 p.m. (if you are lucky) until 6 a.m. So while sitting in the orphanage with all 43 kids and its pitch dark, hot and NO electricity I began to wonder what on earth do they do here in the dark? Mama has an inverter which charges while city power is on and allows them to have a light on until city power comes on but the batteries have been used so much they have worn out and they have NONE. After I noticed some of the bigger girls were there and started playing some of their singing clap hand games I got up and started playing with them, that turned into several other games that included singing and dancing. Most of which I have played before in the day time, its much harder playing such games in the dark with kids who have dark skin color.
Needless to say I could not see ANYTHING or ANYONE.. LOL. So what started out with playing little games turned into one of the most beautiful evenings I have spent in Haiti. The children began to sing, they know a couple church songs in english and was singing to us. We intern would sing the songs back to the in English, buy this time Moise had arrived and helped us sing with the kids. This went on for at least 30 minutes. All the children gathered around singing, we were having our own little church service. I looked over at one time and could see an elder lady who had stopped by to visit with Mama sitting in the chair with her hands lifted high praising God. This was so beautiful. By this time I had to sit on the floor, sweat rolling off my face with several little ones by my side. After we sang a few more songs Jonathan wanted to tell the children just how much they mean to us. How much we love them and how much we thing about them even when we are in the States. Most of the children found a place to sit all lined up where they could hear what Jon a than had to say. I was sitting on the floor, where most of the kids were with 3 little ones on my lap, who all fell asleep, along with my LEGS.. We sat there in the dark at Voice of the Children Orphanage, now being lit by the light on my Cell phone listening to Jonathan speak and the children were saying “AMEN” “AMEN”, they were listening to every single word he was saying. When the time came for us to go, the little ones picked up and put in their beds and we began to tell everyone goodbye it was so special. This time it was not like saying bye to a friend or someone you know, but it was truly like saying goodbye to family, even the bigger kids, who sometimes stand back when its time for hugs and kisses bye were sending us off with a big hug and kiss.
You see this was “COMFORT”, not comfortable, but COMFORT, not only for them but for me. They don’t have many comfortable things in Haiti, oh I’m sure you could find them there, among people who have a lot of money, but for the most part the “noun” comfort is hard to find. What we can bring not only the children but the adults like Mike is “comfort” the verb.
Lets move, lets do, become a VERB… Become Comfort…..