In late June, a team from Timberline Church met a team from a church in Ohio and traveled to Dubuisson, Haiti. Over five days, they organized Vacation Bible School activities for various ages of children, participated in a community soccer tournament against a powerful team of Haitians, and interacted with the church community through a time of worship and teaching. After church, they went on a walk through the community and came face-to-face with the poverty-stricken conditions that made interactions with the children that much more moving.
On their first day in Haiti, after getting settled into their hotel, the team headed over to the site where they would be working with the children. Between the cinderblock church building and school was a schoolyard consisting of dirt, rocks, weeds, and random trash. No playground equipment. No swings or slides. No bouncing balls full of air or baseball gloves.
But when they went inside, they found rows of Haitian children dressed in their best complete with fancy hair and shined shoes, sitting very prim and proper and waiting to be introduced to the Americans. After introductions, they went outside to play while the leaders met to finish planning. Despite the language barrier, the team started a game of duck, duck, goose and spent much of the afternoon running around, swinging children around, carrying them on their shoulders, and generally embracing the moment by soaking up the energy of all the happy children with their sweet little faces.
Each day working with the children, the team did the same activities and stories adjusted for the different age groups. The children decorated recyclable-type grocery bags with paint as a way to carry home their other crafts and as a tangible reminder that Christ carries our burdens. Windchimes constructed from plastic cups, straws, and beads represented the movement of Christ in our lives and symbolic bracelets with different colored beads told the salvation story. In addition to time spent singing songs, stories about Creation and the Resurrection, snacks, and lunch, they also spent time outside kicking rocks, chasing each other, and playing with a colorful parachute. The excitement in the eyes of the children and the smiles on their faces were more bright and beautiful than the colors of the parachute.
The final activity was washing the hands and feet of the children, then painting fingernails, toenails, faces, and arms. The personal attention was a way to explain how Christ washed his disciples feet and show the children how very beautiful they were in the team’s eyes and in Christ’s eyes. At the end of the day, it was hard to tear themselves away from the precious children, their rapt attention, ingenuity, and innocent excitement.
As one team member said, “Thank you Timberline for sending us to Haiti to share God’s love!”