Six canceled trips, a pandemic, an expired passport, and two years of political unrest means it took me almost two years to set my feet back on Haitian soil...and oh how sweet. Rexanne Ude, an NVM board member, and myself were able to find a window of time to safely get to Chambrun...hug necks, conduct a lot of meetings, eat some amazing food, reconnect with old friends and see what all had changed and those things which have not. I wanted to take just a moment to share and reflect on those things I think you, our NVM family and friends, would appreciate hearing about the most.
Brooke, Rexanne, and I spent one afternoon trekking the road to the village and upon turning off the main road into the village I saw fancy new stacked blocks painted bright Caribbean colors welcoming us to Chambrun. Although there are new structures being built in the front of the village, it mostly felt the same...that is until I saw how big the kiddos had grown in two short years. And let me tell you, the little girls who were 10 and are now 12 & 13year olds have blossomed and changed the most. So much so that I barely recognized Fedjine...she is wow, just wow!! One thing that has not changed is Brooke's lap was still filled with littles. Each one vying for her attention by sharing their knowledge of 'days of the week' or telling her whose goat was pregnant and the names chosen for the soon to be newborns. As we sat and listened to 'days of the week' by each little, I noticed a new 2ft x 3ft mud structure that people kept walking up to, talking to someone inside and then leaving. When I asked Brooke what was going on she shared it is a new business in Chambrun...it was a charging station. ENTREPRENERUSHIP at its finest...a young man had set up a large solar panel wired to this hut and as he sat inside the hut (watching a movie on a laptop) people dropped off their devices to be charged for a fee. How smart is that, using all of that free Haitian sun to earn a living?!
I had been hearing from our staff for a while now how the young adults in our church/school have been stepping up in BIG ways and are leading. It was so honoring to be able to see and hear more about our young leaders and how they are growing in their skills at leading in church, in youth, in worship, being hired as NVM staff, and all the things we had set out for them to do when NVM was birthed. Rivaldo, who once attended our school and graduated high school is now our Child Sponsorship Liaison. I got to see him in action; delivering letters from sponsors, working with our school administration, and checking in with sponsor families. Rivaldo has also been leading in Brigade and he even , helped with the Baptism classes at church. I cannot wait to see what the Lord does with this young man He has big plans for him I am certain. Wikenlove is the Maestro for the Women's Dame group at church, leading worship, leading in Brigade...again BIG thinks happening with this young man. There are so many others that I just sat back and watched...I saw how over the last two years the Lord has been moving in their lives, deepening their relationship with Him, being a true example for all of those around them. Guys, keep watching and listening about this group of young leaders, I am certain you are going to hear amazing things from this crew!
Rexanne and I had the opportunity to visit the school as students were preparing for final exams, working alongside classmates and professors to prepare for their tests. What we learned is that our students are exceptional, that those in our high school classes are serious about finishing and graduating. (Don't forget we have our first graduating class next June) They take their lessons very seriously and want to succeed. I suppose that it was fulfilling to see this because sometimes stateside students just spend their time complaining about having to go to school...and in Haiti it really is a privilege to get to go to school. We got to see the new to me computer lab and the library that is quickly filling up with new books for students. These resources are so needed and we are so thankful for those of you who have given to make these a possibility for our students. We also learned that our preschool is on a wait list....yip that is right, we have so many little wanting to get into our school that we have a waitlist. We just do not have the staff or space for more classrooms right now, but someday!!!
One thing that remains constant on campus is the feeling of JOY. I don't know about you, but one thing that always remains consistent for me is the JOY that I feel and receive when I am in Haiti....and that has not changed. I was welcomed with BIG smiles, warm hugs, and lots of love from all of those whom quite frankly I thought may have forgotten me or worse, thought I may have forgotten them. We were welcomed by a flood of kids running out of the Children's Home singing and dancing to welcome us back...it was obvious I was not the only one who was excited that I was back in Chambrun. You all, I cannot wait until we can have each of you back to share in that JOY! Until then I encourage you to reach out, stay connected, email, write letters...however you can communicate to staff and friends and encourage them. Encourage them that you too have not forgotten them, that you too are still linking arms and standing strong until next time.