How can you describe joy…pure joy? Where to begin? How about January 2012? My family and a team of friends are in Cambry for a week of medical and construction missions when we learn that the 140 children of Cambry are literally starving from a reduction in funding for their orphanage. The doctors on our team tell me that if 80% of the children there were to come into their US offices they would hospitalize them immediately.
What to do? Start an orphan care program to supplement the food and educational needs of the children. Friends, family, co-workers, fellow church members, others who know of Cambry all step up to the plate and commit to solve the problem by agreeing to support the children on an ongoing basis. Later in 2012, Give Hope Global is formed to insure the continuation of the program so that lifelong change will be possible for the children of Cambry.
In January of 2013 we return with a large contingent of medical personnel who report that the children are absolutely thriving, with significant weight and height gains along with a dramatic decrease in disease. It is evident from their faces, their bodies and the energy they exhibit that these children have been transformed over the past year. We rejoice and thank God for His blessings that have allowed this to happen.
Now it is the evening of Friday, May 31st, 2013 and we are back again and have just wrapped up another incredible week in Haiti….an eyeglass clinic that has served approx 500 people at the villages of Cambry and Cavaillon, foot washing and shoe gifting for over 400 orphans in 4 different villages, Vacation Bible School and the construction and installation of doors for the girls dorms are all behind us and we are trying to pack for the trip back home to Charlotte the following day.
It is 9:30 PM and we aren’t making much progress. The orphans are all up at the Guest House and our team is struggling to say goodbye and get in those last hugs before we leave at 2:30 AM on Saturday morning. This day has been action packed from start to finish so we have not yet packed the communal team bags and most of us have yet to even begin packing our personal bags. I ask our most stern guard, Fanuel, to send the children back to the dorms so we can pack. This is not a very popular decision with him or with our team but sometimes leaders have to be practical…we roll out in five short hours and we need to pack and get some rest…right?
Begrudgingly, the kids go down the hill to the dorms and the team packs the large team duffles to be checked through the following day. Most of the team goes back to their rooms to pack their personal belongings and grieve the separation from the children they have come to love so much. It is now almost 11:00 PM and there are a few bags which we want to leave in the storage room in the tech center near the girls dorm. I ask Pastor Louis and a couple of the guards to help us carry them down and chat along the way.
When we reach the bottom of the hill it is evident that the children have not gone to bed and they are all milling around the dorms. This allows for a few more tearful hugs as we pass through with the bags to be stored in the tech center. As we walk back up the hill it looks like a scene from The Pied Piper as all the kids follow us back to the Guest House and they clearly have the approval of Pastor Louis and the guards as they do so. Oh no, I think, we are going to have to send them away again before the team figures out the kids are back and comes out of their rooms for another long goodbye.
As I watch the scene unfold, I am struck that the kids know exactly what to do next as they all head for the new outdoor pavilion that has been constructed for guest teams to hold their meals and team meetings. With workmanlike precision they put away the tables, place chairs all around the perimeter of the pavilion and set up a speaker system complete with portable microphone. This is clearly not their first rodeo. The team is beginning to get the word that the kids are back and they begin filing out of the Guest House with bewildered looks on their faces. “What is going on?” they ask. I just shrug and say “it looks like a party to me, I suppose we can sleep on the bus and the plane tomorrow”.
What happens next is beyond my ability to communicate…think of over 100 young people having more fun than you can possibly imagine….think “Haitian Idol” with kids performing on the microphone in front of their peers and the 20 overjoyed Americans who weren’t going to sleep on this night….think dance contests with amazing moves and joke telling contests that absolutely regaled the audience (I must learn Creole)….think sack races, musical chairs and games we had never seen….think of over 100 kids celebrating in a joyful way that is rarely seen in this world….think healthy bodies able to run and play and dance….think of one American 60 year-old crying tears of pure joy at God allowing him to witness the transformation of these young people within a few short feet of the same place he had cried his eyes dry over their malnutrition just 18 months before.
We did finish packing, we did leave a little after 2:30 AM and the children lined the road and cheered for us as we left that morning. Oh well, it was Saturday, they could sleep in and we could sleep eventually. Some times being practical is of little practical use and this was one of those times…I’ll take pure joy over sticking to the plan every time.
Roger Braswell….July 2013.