Well, we have arrived!  After leaving Yarmouth, NS yesterday morning at 6 am Eastern time and arriving at the airport hotel in Miami after 10 pm, we dropped our bags in rooms and grabbed a quick supper at Subway before dropping in bed around 11:30 pm.  Wow! Did 4:30 am come early!  However, we breezed through the Miami airport and arrived in Port au Prince even earlier than scheduled.

of airport baggage claim

All our bags arrived safely! God is SO good as we were literally waived through Customs without them even looking at the 13 tightly packed bags of supplies and all our carry ons.  Lucky no flies were around, as I’m sure they would have flown into our astonished open mouths as we found our wonderful drivers for the 2 ½ hour ride to HATS.

Once luggage and humans were piled in the van, we were OFF!  And I mean OFF! Drivers of vans, cars, mopeds, motorcycles, trucks or whatever DO NOT slow for anything. Once again, most of us were slack-jawed at the new experience as we held on while trying to take in all the sights that bombarded our senses. My sixteen-year-old son, Will (who was also adopted from Russia when he was six and has cerebral palsy) became very quiet and sober for the first half hour or so when he realized the degree of poverty and dilapidated structures that people actually call “home.” I’m sure we were all feeling inwardly the same as our first-world problems quickly evaporated like water on the pavement does in this blanketing heat.

houses

 

of the cow

 

woman carrying on her head

The culture shock of everything we observed had our heads spinning and minds soaking in all the history given us by our teammate, Bob Comeau.  Pictures we’ve seen in books showing women carrying goods on their heads and the military presence experienced for safety in many parts of the world became a reality as the kilometers sped by.  We learned of civil unrest and fear of personal safety that is a daily part of life; how the earthquake four years ago decimated an entire country and how they’ve rebuilt…and more of the history and workings of this amazing place called HATS.

Haitian Police

 

bon bagay

And then. The compound appeared. Brightly colored protected walls showing light in the gray landscape. The walls which read “Village of Hope; Orphans Today; Leaders Tomorrow” and “It’s All About the Children.”  As our van pulled through the gates, children of all ages in brightly dressed uniforms surrounded us and when we got out, we were all almost knocked over with all the hugs and blinded by the toothy grins. THIS IS WHAT IT’S ALL ABOUT.  I have never been more humbled to have the honor and privilege of being God’s hands and feet.  I know who’s going to get the biggest blessing from this week. Not Karen or the staff…..not the kids….not the community members. But, me.

 

PS: We all think the church colors will look great

~Laurie Gillespie