We went to Haiti to learn more about an "orphanage". But when we got there, we soon discovered that it was not an orphanage but a very large family. Pastor F and his wife had 6 biological kids and have become a family of 22 since the earthquake after taking in 14 more children. I don't believe they had plans to run an orphanage or to grow their family before the earthquake. They were praying about coming along side kids in their neighborhood, but they didn't know the earthquake was going to happen, so they didn't plan for their life to be changed in this way.
However, right after the earthquake that left thousands of children without parents, they saw the need and they responded.
Not only have they taken in 14 extra children since the quake, but they have been living in temporary shelter, first in tents in their back yard and now in plywood structured, tarp covered, dirt floor rooms.Their home is not livable.
It felt a lot like camping to me. This style of living would make me very uncomfortable. I probably wouldn't last too long but this family of 22 has been living with their circumstances for 2 years!
The reason we called this a vision trip is because there was a strong possibility, after we learned more about this orphanage that we would, at the minimum, make some short term commitments to come along side them. Yes - it requires more accountability but it also serves a purpose that I can justify.
After returning to the U.S., I have been asked several times, "What did they have you do there?"
But our purpose for being there was not to "do" things for them. The purpose wasn't even for us to tell them what we think they need. The purpose of the trip was to first hear their dreams and vision for the kids, their orphanage and church. Then, decide how we can work together to help them achieve their vision.
We left telling them in the end that we would like to begin with helping them rebuild their home. There is an urgency to this - they run the risk of being shut down because of their dirt floors. We would also like to help them not ever run out of food again.
The interesting part is that Pastor F told us not to set a timeline on raising funds for a rebuilding project but to work with God's timing. He said that timelines are man's creation.
Since home, we have been in the process of having conversations and sharing their story with others. Soon we will be laying out a fundraising plan. Stay tuned!!
This is all very exciting stuff!!