Friday, June 17, 2011

moving forward...

Moving forward.
Toward His glory.
Toward His presence.
Toward His love.

Being still.
In His glory.
In His presence.
In His love.

Standing firm.
For His glory.
For His presence.
For His love.

Rejoicing always.
About His glory.
About His presence.
About His love.

Moving forward.
Being still.
Standing firm.
Rejoicing always.

Moving forward.
Toward His glory.
Toward His presence.
Toward His love...

Blessings!
Blog Posting Written By Victoria Anderson

Monday, June 6, 2011

my heart in Haiti: beauty (conclusion)

Hi DW's! As many of you already know, recently I was in Haiti on a missions trip with friends. I was part of a small group of four people who independently traveled there to help out friends at The Apparent Project. The trip proved to be overwhelming on so many levels considering the large amount of poverty and the mass rubble still present from last year's earthquake in Port au Prince. This past week I have shares with you the writings of my bunk-mate and fellow DW friend, Jennifer, who wrote a daily synopsis of the experience (from her viewpoint) in order to update family and friends while we were there. Today, I would like to conclude this blog series with a blog written by DW Shelley from The Apparent Project. We all hope and pray that these writings will bless your hearts to further help the poor, the widowed, and the orphaned as mandated in James 1:27.

Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world. (James 1:27)

Ladies, each one of us is able to make a difference in the lives of others! We must only be willing to follow God's call wherever he leads! May you be richly blessed by His love as you enjoy Shelley's blog entry regarding her beloved Haiti... and now also my beloved Haiti. Blessings! ~Victoria

(Pictured above: Latina in Haiti)
Beauty By Shelley Clay at The Apparent Project
This woman has no teeth. Her eyes are unproportionately large, her hair, pure grey. She obviously skipped her last few sessions of botox, is half the height of a super model, can't remember who she is, has huge calloused feet from walking in the dirt barefoot her whole life, has nothing really to offer in terms of productiveness or service, her hands are crooked and wrinkled, she has no womanly figure to speak of any more. And she is the most beautiful, breathtaking thing that I laid eyes on this year.

Her name is Latina.

What is it about brokenness, about things ancient, used up and yet still somehow unchanged that is so attractive over time?

I feel the same way about Haiti, about the earthquake rubble, about the lady in my neighborhood with stubs for arms, the precious little girl with orange skin, the piles of trash to pick through for new recycling ideas, the teasingly inconsistent everything here, and the way that my life in Haiti only half accomplishes what it should in three times as long. It has become my place of rest. This broken country so beautiful to me.

I loved China. The efficiency, the cleanliness, the amazing streamlined production, the meticulous importing and exporting of everything, the starched collared guards at every corner. But it was not home. It was not comfortable. It was not something to sink into. Haiti is comfortable to me.

The thought of this scares me as I know that in order for Haitians to someday move past the bondage of poverty, things have to change. Marketing, importing, music, clothing, internet, jobs, food.. it's all changing. People are being trained, leaders rising up, tents going down, buildings going up. And all of it is so tearfully good. So good.

But there is something to the idea of timelessness. Of leaving a piece of the Berlin Wall in tact, the sacred space of Ground Zero undisturbed, the scar from a horrible childhood incident not erased, the broken pieces of your heart still on your sleeve that brings something living and real to what the fabric of Haiti is.

May Haiti be all that she can be. May Haiti rise up to be the cool breeze that refreshes the Caribbean and blesses the world with her beauty, people, and culture as her kids start to receive education, her moms and dads fill their calling to work, the young and old alike need not die for lack of medical care, and her plants and animals need not be broken and abused anymore.

But may she never lose her wrinkles, her scars, her weathered feet that bring all that she is becoming into a new kind of beauty. She is not broken to beautiful, but rather beauty because of her brokenness.

She is my Latina.

And may the stunningly gorgeous Latina live to be 300 years old (if she's not already) so that every time I venture into the paradise of the Furcy mountains, I can see her face and melt in her glow.

Thank you, my online DW's for taking this "journey" with us the past week or so. Additional pictures from our trip can be found on my Facebook Fan Page under "Photos". In months/years to come, my prayer is that we at DW will be able to introduce you to other areas of the world that also need prayer, support, aid, help, etc. We are the hands and feet of our Master. Let's learn to love others... ALL OTHERS... as He first loved us! Many thanks to DW Jennifer and Shelley for sharing their hearts (and DW Sara for her pictures). It has been a great honor to serve alongside you, my dear sisters in Christ! Love you, gals! XOXOXO ~Victoria

For more information on how to help the Haitian people through
The Apparent Project, please visit www.apparentproject.org.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

my heart in Haiti (day 8)

Hi DW's! As many of you already know, recently I was in Haiti on a missions trip with friends. I was part of a small group of four people who independently traveled there to help out friends at The Apparent Project. The trip proved to be overwhelming on so many levels considering the large amount of poverty and the mass rubble still present from last year's earthquake in Port au Prince. Anyway, my bunk-mate and fellow DW friend, Jennifer, wrote a daily synopsis of the experience (from her viewpoint) in order to update family and friends while we were there. I was so impressed with her writings, I asked for her permission to post them here on Fresh Flowers for the coming week. We hope and pray that these daily entries paint a real-life picture for you and bless your hearts to further help the poor, the widowed, and the orphaned as mandated in James 1:27.

Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world. (James 1:27)

Ladies, each one of us is able to make a difference in the lives of others! We must only be willing to follow God's call! May you be richly blessed by His love as you enjoy Jennifer's writings this upcoming week. Blessings! ~Victoria

(Pictured above: Haitian-made, artisan jewelry from The Apparent Project)

My Heart in Haiti (Day 8)
By Jennifer Theodorou5:30 a.m., awake and already sad. We're going home today. The emotions are so complex. I miss my babies and my husband. I even cried after the one time I talked to them during the week. But I don't want to leave here. In my heart I know, if I were single, I would be spending some significant time in Haiti. But, that is not in the Lord's plans for me. He has blessed me with a family, a home and so much more. Though I will be back to Haiti (I hope soon), my time here was truly a gift.

I'm thinking about all of the wonderful people I've met this week. Shelley and Corrigan are amazing. What they are doing here is having a great impact on those around them. From the calling of the Lord they are caring for the orphans, the widows, the least of these.

James 1:27, "Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world." (English Standard Version)

I've not seen Peterson since Tuesday night when he had dinner with us at the Clay's. We are leaving early enough this morning that I don't think I will get to say goodbye to him. This absolutely breaks me in two. On day one he got into my heart. If there were a way, if my husband agreed, I would bring him home. He would have so many friends at our house. I live surrounded by a neighborhood of little boys that would love him. I love him. Perhaps there is another way to help him, we just haven't figured that out yet.

And then there is Rodney, our walking companion. Rodney has left another beautiful imprint on my heart. I had two amazing conversations with Rodney. One, after he took us to church on Sunday. He asked if I loved Jesus, which seems to be the leading question with these boys. I shared again that indeed I did and he voiced the same. He asked if I thought I had the Holy Spirit. I explained that I believed all who have received Christ as Savior and have proclaimed Him as Lord, have the Holy Spirit. That that is our guidance for this life. He nodded and said he wants to get baptized. I think he sees this as a link to the Holy Spirit. He asked me some questions about heaven and I shared what I could.

Last night, Rodney accompanied us on a walk to and from the Clay's house. It's only about a 10 minute walk. On the way there we walked in a light rain which felt so refreshing in the heat of the day. On the way home, the sun was shining. As we set out Rodney pulled out his phone and started to play worship music. We walked and sang along to "You're All I Want." Rodney shared that he loves listening to "Jesus music" and I asked him why. He said, that if he is thinking about doing something wrong, he listens to this music and then he doesn't want to do it. I put my arm around him and said, " See Rodney, THAT is the Holy Spirit. He's with you to show you the right way to go." He smiled broadly and nodded. We returned to singing and to our walk.

Rodney will stop by this morning on his way to school, to say goodbye. I know we will see him again. He hopes to finish high school, and come to the states for college. He wants to become a doctor and come back to Haiti to help his people. His heart is huge.

I will never forget Vesline and baby Pierre. Both are doing well by the way, praise the Lord!

The faces and smiles of the Haitian people are forever imprinted in my mind. I can close my eyes and here their beautiful Creole voices. And though I must go, this will never leave me.

For more information on how to help the Haitian people through The Apparent Project, please visit www.apparentproject.org.

(Concluded tomorrow...)

Saturday, June 4, 2011

my heart in Haiti (day 7)

Hi DW's! As many of you already know, last week I was in Haiti on a missions trip with friends. I was part of a small group of four people who independently traveled there to help out friends at The Apparent Project. The trip proved to be overwhelming on so many levels considering the large amount of poverty and the mass rubble still present from last year's earthquake in Port au Prince. Anyway, my bunk-mate and fellow DW friend, Jennifer, wrote a daily synopsis of the experience (from her viewpoint) in order to update family and friends while we were there. I was so impressed with her writings, I asked for her permission to post them here on Fresh Flowers for the coming week. We hope and pray that these daily entries paint a real-life picture for you and bless your hearts to further help the poor, the widowed, and the orphaned as mandated in James 1:27.

Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world. (James 1:27)

Ladies, each one of us is able to make a difference in the lives of others! We must only be willing to follow God's call! May you be richly blessed by His love as you enjoy Jennifer's writings this upcoming week. Blessings! ~Victoria

(Pictured above: DW Jennifer, DW Sara, and DW Victoria)

My Heart in Haiti (Day 7)
By Jennifer TheodorouI've been amazed all week at how comfortable I am here in Haiti. I'm comfortable in my surroundings, comfortable with the heat and humidity (which I usually can't stand), and comfortable with the people. I have slept like a baby each night and have awoken with the break of day each morning.

At home I would be groaning for a little more sleep at this hour, but here I am up and ready to go. I awake each morning inspired to write and to share the details of my journey.

Yesterday was fun. The metalworkers community was incredible. As we turned off the main road you could here the building sound of the artists hammers and tools as they worked. Ping, ping, ping. The volume grew as we drove deeper into the community. We parked and wandered through many shops. I am in awe of the creativity and skill of these people.

Shelley has several people she buys from regularly. She carries some of their items in the Apparent boutique. As we walked others vied for our business; "Come, let me show you something different, something better." All were eager to make a sale. Most shops carried similar styles of art, others were extremely creative. One shop carried pieces that reflected a strong vibe of the voodoo culture here. It kind of creeped us out and we left quickly. I bought an amazing wall piece for $20. At home something similar would cost at least $70. Some of this art is actually bought by large retailers in bulk and resold in the states and other countries. They have an opportunity to survive in this community. Hopefully one day soon this will happen for the Apparent workers.

On our way back we stopped for Shelley to visit a friend who owns a restaurant right by the United Nations building. It's a very cute and modern place with light fixtures that look like they came from an IKEA catalog. It was incredibly busy. We stayed for lunch and I indulged in a bacon cheese burger and French fries, which tasted like home to me and killed a MAJOR craving.

The other group that was supposed to join us last night had flight cancellations and won't arrive until later today. So we spent the afternoon and evening relaxing.

At one point Rodney, our guide to church and the tent city, came by for a visit. It was raining again and he wasn't ready to go home to their tent where he would spend the rest of the night wet. We interviewed him a bit trying to get the feeling for what his life is like. He's almost 18, in school, and has 4 years left to complete a high school education.

They only go to school for about 4 hours a day. After that, he comes to work at Apparent or goes to Shelley's to hang out. There are only a few of the street boys that she welcomes there. Several actually live in an upstairs apartment above their house. They help with household chores and watch their kids from time to time. But Rodney has family so he returns home each night.

We asked how everyone in his family feels when it rains, knowing that their shelter does not protect them from the wet. Do they get scared? Sad?

He said they feel sad. I asked if he can actually sleep when it is raining, he said yes. But when he wakes up, and he is wet, and his books are wet, he cannot go to school. They are trying to build a more protective shelter over the array of tarps that comprise their tent. But materials are expensive and hard to come by. This is just one story that can still be told by 800,000 people living in the same situation. Apparent is providing hope to a few and the promise of "change" from the new president sounds hopeful but all too familiar. Who knows how much longer this suffering will continue.

Soon, Rodney said goodnight and headed off for "home".

Someone had left the game Mad Gab here, so we played for awhile and laughed hysterically. I'm sure our voices carried through the open windows and had the locals wondering what all the laughter was about. It was just like hanging out with a group of friends at home, again, comfortable.

Today Shelley will be busy with the full swing of jewelry making. And with many tasks accomplished this week we have decided to take a tap tap (taxi) ride into downtown. This is where the most obvious devastation from the quake is. It will be a photo opportunity mostly. Today is our last full day here. I am not surprised to find myself sad. My heart was in Haiti long before I was, and I knew I would love the people that much more. I want to capture every moment of today in my memory. Haiti will be going home with me tomorrow.

(Continued tomorrow...)

Friday, June 3, 2011

my heart in Haiti (day 6)

Hi DW's! As many of you already know, last week I was in Haiti on a missions trip with friends. I was part of a small group of four people who independently traveled there to help out friends at The Apparent Project. The trip proved to be overwhelming on so many levels considering the large amount of poverty and the mass rubble still present from last year's earthquake in Port au Prince. Anyway, my bunk-mate and fellow DW friend, Jennifer, wrote a daily synopsis of the experience (from her viewpoint) in order to update family and friends while we were there. I was so impressed with her writings, I asked for her permission to post them here on Fresh Flowers for the coming week. We hope and pray that these daily entries paint a real-life picture for you and bless your hearts to further help the poor, the widowed, and the orphaned as mandated in James 1:27.

Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world. (James 1:27)

Ladies, each one of us is able to make a difference in the lives of others! We must only be willing to follow God's call! May you be richly blessed by His love as you enjoy Jennifer's writings this upcoming week. Blessings! ~Victoria
(Pictured above: A Haitian metal worker)

My Heart in Haiti (Day 6)
By Jennifer TheodorouThe drama of yesterday morning carried through the day as Vesline's fever came and went. She spent the entire day on the sofa sleeping. We took turns keeping watch over baby Pierre, who for most of the day didn't seem quite right himself. Mama wasn't up to nursing, so he took small amounts of formula which only upset his tummy. He didn't eat nearly enough, so between hunger and gas pains, he was not a happy boy. He too spent most of the day asleep, which had us concerned.

The beautiful part of this whole ordeal was watching as Nobel, Vesline's husband care for her. In the morning when Shelley decided she needed a cool bath to break the fever, he willingly and lovingly bathed her. Pouring one cupful at a time over her chest, her face, her back. He did not leave her side for most of the day. When she gained enough strength to eat, he fed her, and held a cup at her lips so she could drink. I was touched by this obvious display of love. At one point I asked Shelley to tell Nobel that I think he is a good man. She said it was good to see this because he has not always been so loving. Perhaps her illness made him think of the loss they have already experienced. (Visit Shelley's blog for more details.) Vesline has no family aside of Nobel and baby Pierre. In the last few months she has lost her mother and brother to cholera. It is easy to understand her concern for her baby, (for) he is all she has left.

On a lighter note, I got to take a ride into town with Junior, Shelley's manager here at Apparent. He helps Shelley keep things under control here. She jokes the he is actually her boss. We needed to get some office supplies. Tape for packing boxes, markers for labeling them and staplers for tagging jewelry.

Junior is a 31 year old Haitian man, raised in New York. He completed high school in the states, did one year of college and then returned to Haiti. He loves Haiti. He has hope for change here as well. To some it might be hard to imagine leaving your family, all secure in the states, to return to this. For him it was the natural choice of following his heart.

The Apparent Project shuts down on Wednesdays to give Shelley a much needed break. Many of the artisans will bead at home and return with finished product tomorrow. This morning we are going to the artisans community of Metal Workers. I am excited about this trip. Not just for the opportunity to see all the beautiful things that they create from recycled metal materials, but because this is the dream for Apparent in action. The fundraiser we just had (in the states) was to raise money for a piece of land here in Haiti. On that land Apparent hopes to build their own artisan community of jewelry makers, seamstresses etc.

These communities become self-sustaining through the attraction of tourists and visiting missionaries. They come regularly to buy the goods they create, providing regular income for these individuals and families. Here they have shelter, food and opportunity.

Apparent is close to their goal for purchasing their land. I pray that they will be able to meet this goal soon.

Another group will be joining us at the guesthouse today, for the remainder of our time here. It will be nice to get to know some others who's hearts have been called to Haiti. Two and a half more days. I think it will be hard to leave.

(Continued tomorrow...)

Thursday, June 2, 2011

my heart in Haiti (part 5)

Hi DW's! As many of you already know, last week I was in Haiti on a missions trip with friends. I was part of a small group of four people who independently traveled there to help out friends at The Apparent Project. The trip proved to be overwhelming on so many levels considering the large amount of poverty and the mass rubble still present from last year's earthquake in Port au Prince. Anyway, my bunk-mate and fellow DW friend, Jennifer, wrote a daily synopsis of the experience (from her viewpoint) in order to update family and friends while we were there. I was so impressed with her writings, I asked for her permission to post them here on Fresh Flowers for the coming week. We hope and pray that these daily entries paint a real-life picture for you and bless your hearts to further help the poor, the widowed, and the orphaned as mandated in James 1:27.
Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world. (James 1:27)

Ladies, each one of us is able to make a difference in the lives of others! We must only be willing to follow God's call! May you be richly blessed by His love as you enjoy Jennifer's writings this upcoming week. Blessings! ~Victoria

(Pictured above: Vesline's baby, Pierre)

My Heart in Haiti (Day 5)
By Jennifer TheodorouMorning is so beautiful here in Haiti. As I lie here in my bed, the sun is beaming through the window and warming my face. Before it rose I was actually a little cool for the first time here. There were some pretty intense rains here again last night, with lots of thunder and lightening. Not the gentle rain that lulled me to sleep on our first night. I was reminded again of the impending hurricane season. At one point during the evening last night I looked out over the hills around us at the most intense blackness I have ever seen. The city power was out (a common occurrence here these days), and our backup generator had kicked in without so much as the blink of an eye.

Though our accommodations are no five star hotel, we are living in the lap of luxury as far as the locals are concerned. I may have killed the biggest cockroach I've ever seen, and tried to chase a cute lizard out from under our dresser, but MAN! We've got it good!

Yesterday we got to experience Apparent Project at full tilt. We awoke to the bustling of dozens of Haitians gathering to work. Their Creole chatter was energized. As I made my way through the house their curious faces followed me. I greeted them warmly with smiles and "bonjour's" all around.

Quickly I set to work on my job for the day. The jewelry boutique where Shelley sells the jewelry and other goods was overflowing! Praise the Lord, this was money to be made for these hard workers. My task was to sort necklaces according to length, group them by tens, and box them for shipping to the states. Many jewelry parties will happen with these.

I probably boxed a couple thousand necklaces, or so it seemed. As I sorted, the artists would gather at the boutique door to watch. I wondered if they knew what I was doing. At one point in the day, several of the ladies came in. Talking quietly amongst themselves they began looking through the jewelry yet to be packed, grabbed a handful of pieces and slid them onto the rack where I was sorting. Then they giggled and departed. I looked at the tags that identify who made each necklace. They had handed me their own handiwork. They wanted to make sure it got to wherever I was preparing this all to go. They know there is hope in what they are doing here.

Shelley's job is not easy here. Though her workers are diligent and determined, there is always someone looking for a handout. As Shelley and I were talking, a woman appeared with a young baby, maybe 8 months old. On the back of the baby's neck and shoulders were white patches and spots. Against the darkness of her Haitian skin it was concerning. The mother wanted money to take her daughter to the doctor. There are plenty of free doctors here since the quake, but this is an open opportunity to ask for money. The hard part for Shelley is saying no, especially in regards to a child. With free medical care available she must teach them that they can't take advantage of the situation. Shelley has seen horrifying medical needs here, both with the locals and her own family. She has rushed people to hospital in the middle of the night, seen her husband perform CPR on their own son, and ...........

Ok, you're going to think I am making this up. I kid you not, as I was typing that last sentence there was a knock at our bedroom door. It was Shelley. One of the workers, Vesline, just arrived here this morning with a very high fever, rapid pulse and labored breathing. Shelley gave her some flu meds to help, and asked if I could help with cold compresses while she went to run her son to school. I quickly dressed and hurried to the living room where Vesline was lying on the couch. Her skin was burning to the touch, she was shaking and wheezing.

Shelley decided we should just get her to the tub of water in our shower area and bathe her with the cool water. Her husband, Nobel, and baby are with her. Feeling it would be more dignified for her I offered to take the baby and let Nobel do the bathing. Slowly she made her way to the bathroom, undressed and eased into the small round tub. Her shaking intensified as the shock of the coolness against her fevered skin set in. Nobel began gently pouring glasses of water over her back, face and chest. For a moment I feared she might go into literal shock. But as I watched, her trembling gradually slowed. I could see her breathing become less labored.

My first thought was that these are classic signs of dehydration. I gave her some water and she gulped it down. When her fever seemed to have broken her husband toweled her off, she dressed and returned to the couch. I gave her some more water and encouraged her to rest.

An hour has passed since the knock on my door. Vesline's fever seems to be down for the moment. The baby is hungry and as she rests the baby feeds at her breast.

I guess God thought I needed to see this up close and personal this morning.

(Continued tomorrow...)

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

my heart in Haiti (day 4)

Hi DW's! As many of you already know, last week I was in Haiti on a missions trip with friends. I was part of a small group of four people who independently traveled there to help out friends at The Apparent Project. The trip proved to be overwhelming on so many levels considering the large amount of poverty and the mass rubble still present from last year's earthquake in Port au Prince. Anyway, my bunk-mate and fellow DW friend, Jennifer, wrote a daily synopsis of the experience (from her viewpoint) in order to update family and friends while we were there. I was so impressed with her writings, I asked for her permission to post them here on Fresh Flowers for the coming week. We hope and pray that these daily entries paint a real-life picture for you and bless your hearts to further help the poor, the widowed, and the orphaned as mandated in James 1:27.
Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world. (James 1:27)

Ladies, each one of us is able to make a difference in the lives of others! We must only be willing to follow God's call! May you be richly blessed by His love as you enjoy Jennifer's writings this upcoming week. Blessings! ~Victoria

(Pictured above: Rodney & his family in Haiti)

My Heart in Haiti (Day 4)
By Jennifer TheodorouSunday in Haiti was a much more relaxed day for us. As I dressed and got ready, from every window it seemed I could hear the sounds of praise and worship. Some coming from radios, some live, as early morning services began.

We started our day at a local missionary church, just a 10 minute walk from the Apparent Project house. As we waited out front for our Haitian companion and Apparent worker, Rodney, we enjoyed watching as the locals made their trek up the hill, or down, as they headed to their church of choice. All dressed in their Sunday best, it was easy to see the importance of their faith. People don't dress up this way at MY church anymore.

This particular church is headed by a group of American missionaries. The audience seemed to be about 50-70% Haitian. As the service began we sang a few familiar worship songs, greeted those around us and sat to hear the message. The sermon this day was on Prayer. Oddly enough, out here in the middle of Haiti, a man from Lombard, Illinois gave a brief testimony about the woman who had taught him to pray as a young man. All of sudden our worlds felt not so far apart.

The church was hot and the message was good. It was the perfect start to our day. After service Rodney asked if we would like to walk to his home. His mother, Rose, also works for Apparent, mostly from home these days, as she has 6 children to care for.

Just the day before, Sara had asked me if I was wanting to visit a tent city while I was here. I was hesitant. I had seen a lot of pictures, and I just wasn't sure there would be much purpose in that. I was afraid that our white faces wandering amongst this sea of poverty could be seen as gawking.

Not knowing where Rodney lived we agreed to visit his home. We walked for about 15-20 minutes through the hobbled and winding streets, as our guide led the way. Before I knew it the buildings ended and the tent city was before us. The decision was no longer mine. We followed Rodney through the winding endless sea of tents. Curious children popped up everywhere, some very cautious, others boldly grabbing my hand and walking with us for a moment. Some asked to have their picture taken, "photo moi?", others hiding shyly behind their mama or the edge of a tent. They love to see the photo of themselves and usually follow with an adorable giggle.

As we walked I heard a precious cry, "Jennifer!!" It was Peterson. How amongst thousands of tents and people is it possible that we would cross paths?! "Peterson!" I yelled back with a wave and smile, and he disappeared.

Deep into the tent city we arrived at Rodney's "home". A make shift tent of sticks and tarps that leak every time it rains. His little brothers and sisters greeted us and invited us to step into their home. Six children and beautiful mom, Rose, with two mattresses and not much else comprising their belongings. How do they even make this work??

We were happy to see Rose's boyfriend and another man working steadily on the construction of a slightly more solid structure right over the tent. If they can get the materials for a roof they may stay drier, but if a hurricane hits this season it will not stand.

One of Rodney's sisters asked me for the heart shaped silly band that was on my wrist. It had been given to me by Shelley's daughter and I knew she wouldn't mind, so I slipped it over her hand. Her smile was worth it. We thanked Rose for welcoming us into her home and began our meandering trek back.

As we walked through this city, I warmly greeted each person we passed with a smile and a "Bonsoit", good afternoon. Most replied with the same, others just looked quietly as we passed. With these pictures of poverty burned into my brain forever, we headed back to the house. As we made our way, Peterson found us again, and walked with us.

Back at the house we all had a snack, granola bars and water for everyone. We relaxed for a bit while Peterson's electronics obsession was fueled. He loves to play with our phones, and cameras, take pictures, watch videos and listen to music. As he was perusing the contents of Sara's phone he curled up into the corner of the couch and began to cry. He was watching the video that Sara had made after her October visit here. She made it in an effort to enlighten those around her about the desperate needs in Haiti. It wasn't meant for his eyes.

We asked why he was sad, and he simply said, "My family". It had again reminded him of all that he had lost. We consoled him and told him that we loved him.

No more videos. We decided that now would be a good time to finish up some painting in the courtyard, and we all set off to work. Peterson again eager to help. He was much more quiet for the first 30 minutes, still lingering in his sadness, and then like someone had flipped a switch, his silly side reappeared.

We wrapped things up and got ready to join the Clays for dinner. Tonight we would have the luxury of going to a restaurant. We wanted to treat and thank Shelley and Corrigan for all that they do. Dinner was a guilty pleasure, with good conversation and a few good laughs.

It was a good day. My eyes are being opened to something new every day here. I can't wait to see what this (next) day will bring.

(Continued tomorrow...)

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