After the first very long day, it was finally time to go to the "hotel." We weren't sure what to expect, but Willio assured us it was clean and safe, even though it was located in a more dangerous part of town (he didn't tell us that part until the last day).
A ritzy hotel in this part of Haiti is really one step up from camping. No complaints from me though, after seeing the destitution, and being bone tired, it was just great to have a clean bed to climb into—more than most people in town. It had a security wall around the property, bars on the windows and doors, and once we were in at night, we were actually locked in like a fortress. I didn't see any bugs in this room, save 4 billion ants marching in from outside (how do they find food??) when my roommate left some food in the garbage. Little sugar ants were a welcome site after Mr. Heavyweight Champion Cockroach the night before accompanied by Mr. Furry 8 Legs.
The hotel had intermittent electricity and flushing toilets, and it really was clean, though pretty old. The only inconvenient feature was the shower. When the water finally came out 4 minutes later, it was a small trickle of brownish water. My hair didn't need washing that badly.
One really cool thing I noticed is how Haitians sing their hearts out to Jesus. No instruments. No fancy worship teams. No worship DVDs. But when they sing, they mean it. I sure could use some work in this area. In fact, our whole church sounds pretty anemic compared to that joyful noise!
Lastly, I met the person who may well have impacted me the most on the trip. Dieudonne' Joseph, kept talking very intently and urgently to me the first day. Of course, not knowing Creole, I had no idea what he was saying. But still, he motioned and pointed, acting like I should understand him.
Come to find out, it wouldn't have mattered if I spoke Creole or not. The man was deaf since birth. Hey, how could I know? His gibberish didn't sound any different than the rest of the people I couldn't understand. Over the course of our stay, I came to realize what he was trying to tell me. He was so full of love for God, he was trying to share it with me. He was one of the most joyful people I've ever met, and yet he's never been able to verbalize his joy one day of his life. The next day, he even sang his heart out in front of the whole church (solo). This was still before I knew he was deaf and learning that fact later made it all the more precious. Everyone in the church was blessed by his passion. I can't wait to see "Donny" in the Kingdom and sing with him!
Before going to sleep, Bobbye asked me to describe our day with one word. That was hard to do. I had so many new experiences, intense feelings, and impressions filling my heart and mind. But after she emerged from her brownish trickle experience, I was ready to give her my word.
Hope. It wasn't original but I realized that day that Hopegivers, through their generous and loving sponsors, is truly spreading hope to desolate places like Haiti. It was written all over children's faces and heard in their songs. I think that was what most surprised me about such poverty—the joy. I expected sad oppressed people to be walking around with empty expressions and drooped shoulders in their suffering and hopelessness. Instead, I was met with humans just being human—happy humans. Kids running and playing, teasing each other, laughing, singing. Adults carrying on their daily tasks with a smile, amid trash and stray animals. People trying to find purpose, to get their basic needs met, and to be loved. I wish it wasn't too much to ask.