Sunday morning started with a rousing church service at the school with the kids and staff of HATS along with several kids and adults from the neighborhood. Worship is so much fun, dancing and playing percussion instruments and laughing with the kids, and their singing is beautiful. I (Brooks) did a little visual demonstration with magic, about how God stays with us no matter where we go. Karen explained first that I was not involved in voodoo – that it was a comedy type of thing and not magic that they would think of. David brought the word with Karen translating. And our team all got to sing for the congregation. We sang and danced a rousing version of “I’ve got joy, down in my heart, deep deep down in my heart.” Julie missed the rehearsal. Other than her, our performance was flawless.

Kids practicing with Mariah to sing in church


Sunday service


Sleeping beauties at Sunday service

After church, lunch, and a little rest, we finished up the kitchen and it looks quite wonderful, if I do say so myself (Photos of finished kitchen will come soon). Then I took off to spend the next 24 hours with at the Comfort House, where Ray and Trisha Comfort are caring for 13 children, most of whom have AIDS/HIV. I’ve spent time there before and wanted to spend time with the kids and bring them a few supplies. Stories about my adventures with the Comforts could fill pages. I’ll just spare you the time and say it was a special time with one of the most unique families I’ll ever meet.

The rest of the crew remained in the comparatively luxurious confines of HATS, where they no doubt feasted on crab legs and ice cream while soaking in hot tubs. They also spent the evening laughing and bonding at Seth and Jessie’s place. I was hoping they’d grieve my absence and be bored silly. That didn’t happen. They were joined by Mariah, Karen’s granddaughter, who is spending a year away from college to help out, is fantastic, and I think she’ll one day run the place. Getting to know her on this trip was a privilege. And so ends day 3.

Day 4.
While I continued my adventures at the Comfort House (start time: 6am), I assume the other team slept until 10 or so. Probably not, though, since they went next door to the school to see the morning’s opening ceremonies and then played with all the kids at the school during recess. Rumor has it that Molly was drilled in the head with a soccer ball. After school let out, the crew finished up the Aqua Chintzizing of the new building. It looks fantastic. I made it home in time to miss out on cleaning up all the painting supplies, but right on time to one final round o play with the kids.

Team finishing the painting of school office

The Ritchie ladies got their hair braided. Lots of jumping rope was done (David’s arm is still sore). Julie carried babies all over the place. Ryan and I played “washers” with a few of the boys. Then David joined us and the game was then called “Warshers.” After a final soccer game, we went to enjoy a delicious meal from Jesse and Seth at Huber Manor. Seth makes some amazing bread. Soccer skills, handyman skills, baking skills – Seth is a Renaissance man in cut-off jean shorts. I love the guy. Between Seth and Missionary James (see day 2), we got to know some really awesome men of God with equally awesome beards.

More games were followed by the hardest part of this trip every year – saying good-bye to the beautiful children of HATS. It’s so tough because each of them touched our hearts in a unique way. However, we can say our good-byes with peace, knowing they are so well cared for and deeply loved by an amazing staff. That didn’t stop me from considering smuggling a kid or two out in my backpack, but still…

After a round of games, we headed up to the rooftop of Karen’s place for an amazing time of prayer and encouragement with Karen, Mariah, and the Hubers. It was the perfect way to end an incredible time. We can’t wait to return next year. We love HATS. We pray for Haiti. We know God is at work there, and are honored to play a small role in it.