“These were new four days ago,” Brandon marvelled, examining his once orange and tan work gloves now almost solid black.
“Those are the hands of Haiti,” said our team-mate, Doug. Even as we laughed at the image of my son’s glove encapsulating the soil and soul of a nation, I knew that no hands, either of flesh or cloth could because the “hands of Haiti” in a mere four days.
I was confident in my assessment because I had spent over an hour and a half the previous day dealing exclusively with Haitian hands: full-grown hands, medium hands, but mostly small hands. Regardless of size, they were, to a hand, caked in layers of the same dirt clinging to my son’s glove, but they were also calloused, cracked and worn beyond their years. The hands in question were also eager, because they were about to receive some attention in the form of a fresh new coat of nail polish.
Earlier in the week, Jody had explained what a treat it is when mission visitors paint the neighborhood children’s fingernails. So three of our youth and myself took a break from nails of the hammering sort and headed out with our interpreter armed with three bottles of flashy polish, some pre-recorded Christian story books, and the desire to spread some love along with a splash of color.
It didn’t take long to see how hungry these hands were for attention. Jody told us it was common for the kids to actually wipe off the polish just so they could again have the experience of being touched. Indeed, many, many of the nails I painted returned moments later with serious imperfections in need of a re-touch.
And no finger was content to be just one color. Almost every fingernail ended up sporting a rainbow of all the colors. Every time I thought there could not possibly be another Haitian hand within walking distance, more natural nails few in front of my face, in need of just as much attention as the fingers before. It was, frankly, overwhelming. I painted until I felt like Jesus seeking off-shore refuge from the crowds, my own hands crying for a fresh layer of hand sanitizer.
And my son? He was dealing in hands himself–not painting them , but playing a spirited game of “slaps,” his hands playfully trying to make contact with the upturned palms of his Haitian counterparts–each one seeking attention that can only come through human contact.
The gloves will stay here in Haiti, hopefully protecting another set of hands–Haitian ones, that may be slightly less calloused and dirty for the covering.
Cynthia Davis for Northside Haiti Team 1
Bonjour, mes amis! Between using my French almost every hour and English, it has come to the point where it has become hard to distinguish what language I should be using. Being here has helped me realize so many things that frankly, I didn’t think were necessary. For one, as a high school student, it is required for me to take three years of a language. My dad urged me to take Spanish, but for some odd reason, I had this push to take French. And now, I see why. It’s so amazing to me to look back over the past few years and see how God has prepared me for this trip; a trip I didn’t even know would happen when I chose my language. I’ve definitely had some struggles here with it, though. Creole is a lot like French, but not exactly the same. There are a few key words in the sentences that I’ve been able to pick out, and through context and body language, am able to distinguish what they are trying to convey.
Although being able to use my language skills has been an absolute blessing, there have been hardships for me. God definitely had a plan in mind when I signed up for this; I have been tested, pushed, bitten, choked (by children), and slept on, and I wouldn’t change anything about this wonderful adventure. While the heat and the bugs have been… intense, coming to Haiti is something I definitely do not regret.
While I’m sure some of you are questioning what I meant about being pushed, choked, and slept on – let me elaborate. There’s a mission run orphanage right beside our construction site, and Mrs. Davis, Brandon, and I visited it frequently. The children there captured our hearts, and we just wanted to love them; and they just wanted to be loved. The orphanage moms do a fantastic job, but it can’t be easy to keep up with that many children. They welcomed us with open arms, and gave us the chance to be a blessing to them, and to the children. And while we may have blessed them, I feel like I’m the one who is blessed. Being able to see the utter joy in their eyes is a priceless gift, and one I would trade nothing for.
Although the work has been physically taxing, I feel spiritually, mentally, and emotionally content. I know I was here for a purpose there are no coincidences with the Lord. I’m not ready to leave, being here has been so wonderful; I’ve built relationships with people I never thought I would. I was able to meet another team member not from our church, Doug, who has been great on the work site and great to talk to as well.
I already want to come back here, and we haven’t even left yet. We’ll all come home changed in some way or another, and we leave here with a sense of contentment, seeing what we have accomplished; and also, with a powerful tug to pray. Pray continually, as the Bible says. Pray always, and that’s something I know we’ll do, whether as a team, or individually. Haiti has captured us, body, and heart, and we are blessed. Thank you all for your prayers throughout this adventure, we couldn’t have done this without your love and encouragement.
Margie, Raymond says he loves you, and is very happy about Joe’s transfer. He says he’ll see you soon 🙂