Lipscomb sophomore distance runner Katie Bunker and senior distance runner Alexander McMeen along with a number of teammates are on a mission trip to Haiti. The following is an update from the two on the trip.
August 4 and 5, 2012
Saturday started off bright and early, as we woke up with the sun around 6 a.m. to do our workout. One of the staff brought us to a nearby “soccer field,” which quickly became crowded with not only people but also livestock (including cows and goats!). Needless to say, that definitely made for interesting 1200 repeats. The rest of the day was spent doing various jobs around the orphanage. These included touching up paint, building benches (from scratch!), picking up trash, and of course playing with the kids. All the kids love the random activities we show them; the big parachute games were definitely a hit! After our daily rooftop dinner (above the dining hall), our evening was filled with many different games that this time the children taught us. Some of the children here are able to speak a little English, but many of them speak only Creole. The language barrier is at times difficult, but the kids who understand are always willing to translate. This makes learning the rules to the games very interesting, but definitely very fun. By the end of the night, majority of the children and our team members were all playing one huge chanting-name-game, laughing and goofing off. As Saturday came to a close, we all went to sleep exhausted but feeling right at home.
Just like Saturday, we got up very early to get our run in before we headed off to church. Some of the kids even tried to keep up with us for a few laps, which added some giggles to our run. The 50 plus orphans, our 12 team members, and Hunter and Jillian piled into the pick up truck and the open-air bus and made the 15 minute drive to a neighboring village where they attend church. The children split off to the kids’ church and everyone else went to the main chapel for the service, which lasted about 2 hours. Most of the service was in Creole, but we found ourselves humming along to some familiar songs as the church members belted out the lyrics with no inhibitions. The kids’ church crammed over 90 people into a 12 by 15 foot room where they learned about Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. At the end the kids each received points for singing a different church song, where even Justin Bieber’s hit “Baby” was mistakenly sung by one of our favorite little girls, Dalencia. When we got back from church, we ate a quick lunch and then later headed out to the Christian Bible Training (CBT) facility for a quiet place to celebrate our teammate Matt’s life while our loved ones back home were the doing the same. Although we were a thousand miles away, we had each other to lean on while we prayed and supported the rest of the Lipscomb family, and especially the Deery family. Nothing would be able to change the circumstances, but as we returned to the orphanage we were able to focus our love and emotions on the children who long for our attention. We wrapped up the night by singing church songs, getting our hair braided (not Alexander, of course), and just spending time with the kids.
Many people would consider the language barrier too big of an obstacle to overcome, but we have found the opposite to be true. Being unable to understand what they are saying forces you to rely on body language and emotion, keeping us in tune with how the kids are truly feeling. A smile in English is the same as a smile in Creole, and the same goes with laughter. We all smile and laugh in the same language, and simply paying attention to facial expressions can be more powerful than words themselves.
In Haiti, voodoo is one of the major religions, and witch doctors play a huge role in the culture. To us, voodoo sounds like something loony we would see on TV, but in actuality, it can be compared to our form of materialism. We talked about how materialism is our major separation from God and a main downfall in every American’s life, both young and old. It sounds funny, but voodoo is the separation from God to many Haitians and even many of the Haitian churchgoers. Their loyalty is torn between God and the devil, and whoever fulfills their request is whom they choose to worship for the time until their desires aren’t met. Experiencing the Haitian culture has caused us to reflect on our “perfect world” we have in America. Haiti may be a 3rd world country, but our problems in the U.S. aren’t much fewer. As Americans, we may have the luxurious lifestyle, but God made it clear to the rich young ruler that money and possessions don’t bring happiness. The orphans here at CHCH are living proof of this often-overlooked message. Left with almost nothing, these kids are happier than most we’ve interacted with back home. The past few days have reinforced to us the obvious needs in Haiti, but it has also revealed our own issues in our not-so-perfect comfortable lifestyle.
Until next time,
Katie and Alexander