We arrived in Jacmel around 11:00 a.m. Sunday morning after a few mishaps. We missed our plane in Atlanta by five minutes due to a change in policy regarding how early checked baggage was required to be checked in on international flights.
Also, our connection in PaP never arrived to take us to the chartered airport. However, God is gracious! He made a way for us to get on the next "full" plane to Miami and provided a kind taxi driver in PaP that took very good care of us.
As always, the children greeted us all at once with hugs and kisses. Once we were able to get off the taptap, I had them form a line so that I could give each one a proper hello with more hugs and kisses. After they showed me around their new home of which they are very proud, we headed to the cafeteria to begin our two day Christmas celebration. I shared the story of Christmas by using a nativity set. Then we talked about how Jesus grew up, died for us, and rose from the grave. I revisited the story again the next day to see how much they remembered and was pleasantly surprised. I also talked about what it means to become a Christian.
Then they each opened a gift that contained a pair of flip-flops, a bathing suit and a pajamas. They were thrilled with their gifts even down to the tie that held their gift bag together. All of the bathing suits fit perfectly. They were so fun to watch showing off their new gifts. Then we shared Rice Crispy treats and a coloring page with children in the snow making snowmen. I explained to them about snow, but I don't think they ever grasped it. I also had to explain to them about pajamas. They had no clue! Finally, I said you sleep in them. I was getting no where with our translator with the word pajamas.
During this first day of our Christmas celebration, I realized that I did not see the Christmas tree that I was told they would have. Joy was told that one could be purchased in the market and we decided to get one for the kids. When I asked about it, I was told it was outside. I was very puzzled and immediately said well lets bring it in (I brought ornaments). Then I was told it was hanging on a tree and it was a different kind of tree. Needless to say, I was very confused. After a lot of questions, I finally learned that there was no tree but a string of lights in a mango tree. If the smell and sights had not already told me I was in Haiti, this miscommunication certainly made it clear. I made a mental note to purchase a tree after Christmas and somehow get it to the kids by next year.
We ended the day at the Church by the Beach for a sweet service with other Christian Americans. It took place at Dr. Ken Pierce's house who is an American doctor from Hawaii. He and his wife are in Jacmel to build a medical clinic and have started a surfing ministry. There were 12 of us at church including four young adults who were such a blessing to us all.
On Monday, Andy met Rob Birkbeck (represented Manna Care from Canada) at the notaries office to complete the land transaction. The meeting lasted less than 2 hours. Rob said this was amazing, because these types of transactions can sometimes take up to years! Although we were hit with a large tax bill, we were praising God for a quick deal (things rarely ever go as planned in Haiti).
Then it was off to have our second day of Christmas celebration with the kids. As I said, we revisited the story of Jesus' birth. Then the kids got their second present.
The kindergarten classes at Eastwood Presbyterian School had purchased outfits for each of the kids. However, these were not just any ole outfits! The tops and bottoms had their names monogrammed and each child had a different color. Needless to say, the kids loved seeing their names. They were so proud of them along with hair accessories for the girls and extra clothes for the boys. They immediately tried their new clothes on and came ready for their picture to be taken.
After we had meetings with the staff and Samuel, we met with almost each child individually just to encourage them, remind them of God's love, and let them know that Children's Hope would do our very best to always provide for them. We made sure that "things" were going okay. Elida was the only one that began to cry.
Finally, she told us that she was crying because she missed Mrs. Joy!
As we left and said our good-byes, it was getting dark. I looked up in the mango tree and there were the Christmas lights. I couldn't help but think about Jesus Christ being the Light of the world and nothing can dispel His Light. I thought about Haiti and regardless of its darkness, the Light is shining!