Last week we had the privilege of working in St. Raphael, Haiti, along with a short-term team from The Bridge Church in Fresno. More than 200 kids participated and our team experienced some challenges and victories on the journey.
The team was led by our friends, Kim and Dave McCurry, who also serve on the Missions Team at the Bridge. They brought their 5-year-old daughter as well. Pastor Shawn Meyer, who just started as the pastor of Reach and Connect, also joined them. Three returners included Lindsey Isaak, Paula Peterson and Dana Johnson. Our team newbies were Matt Gross and his mom, Karen. This was a diverse team, enabling us to connect with a lot of Haitians of different generations.
Our team chose to teach the kids about the “Armor of God” from Ephesians 6. Each day included a theme story like Jonah or the Centurion soldier or Noah. This helped the kids understand and relate to the different pieces of armor.
After reading the book, WHEN HELPING HURTS during training, they were challenged to think through how they could partner with the indigenous church in St. Raphael and empower the leaders rather than taking over the whole program. This was hard to do at first because there were few leaders and translators to work with, but as the week progressed more leaders from the church got involved teaching the Bible story, leading the games and crafts.
The kids seemed to enjoy all the rotations but they were very eager for Game time with Ericlee, Shawn and Matt. They had the kids doing pillow case races, tossing frisbees, balancing ping ping balls on spoons, and of course, playing the country's favorite futbol aka soccer!
We loved watching little Jemps and Lukendy from the orphanage play frisbee. The two entered their own little world tossing it back and forth with such concentration and true joy. They were in heaven!
Long-time friend Wilcion stepped up to serve as a translator this week. We have loved having him as part of our Vacation Bible School and Sports camps in Pignon. Now he's all grown up and really soaring with his English skills.
Our team had the blessing of also developing relationships with the kids in the Kay Cadence orphanage, which is adjacent to the church. All of the orphans eagerly participated in the VBS and were quite clearly many of the leaders in the groups. Clauvintz (pictured above) was always singing with joy from the second row.
Adeck from the orphanage was Dana's special helper each day in Crafts. He would run to the room to help her set things up and greet her with a big hug even in the overwhelming moments.
Paula and Lindsey worked closely with Pastor Emmano on the Bible lesson. Lindsey wrote all the stories and shared the first day but Pastor Emmano seized the opportunity to serve and even used the flannel board pictures after a little training from Paula.
We even recruited some of the young mothers to help with the Music time in the church and ushering groups from one place to the next.
Each day concluded with singing. The kids were full of energy as they learned new songs and sung some old familiar tunes. They especially loved the ones with hand motions and lots of clapping!
The church leaders sent the kids home each day with full tummies, and our prayer is they were full of the Word of God as well.