Thursday, June 9, 2011

Ella in Haiti

Since our first trip to Haiti in 2007, Ella has talked about wanting to go to Haiti 'someday.'  The idea of visiting a foreign place, and her natural curiosity about anything that her father and I talk about have been strong motivators.  After the earthquake, when Chris and I began to visit Haiti more frequently as well as talk about moving there, Ella's drive became more powerful.  She would beg to join us on our trips.  Finally, this May, she had her chance!

We landed in Haiti early on a sunny Friday morning.  Ella was excited and observant.  She noticed the children especially- how they went to school on foot or motorcycle; how they wore brightly colored uniforms, and how some had backpacks like her friends.   She noticed the tents and the destruction and the beautiful colors in the flowers and painting by the side of the roads. 

Upon arriving at the first orphanage we visited, Ella was excited and a little nervous to meet the children.   As the first blonde haired white child most of the children there had ever seen, she was an instant attraction.  All the attention overwhelmed her at first, but she soon made friends with a few of the girls her age and she was gone.  For the rest of the trip, Ella was either climbing a tree, jumping rope, dancing, playing soccer, or sitting under a mango tree with three or four children. 

The kids in Haiti were amazed to see an American child- with her mom!- in their home.  They all wanted to know if she was my 'bebe' and didn't believe that she was only 8, (Haitian kids are significanly smaller than American).  They were also very protective of her, and excited to show her the details of their world.  They loved to hear her sing and thought it amusing that she was shy in front of the cameras.

After visiting several orphan homes in multiple neighborhoods in and surrounding Port-au-Prince, it was time for us to go.  Ella, like me and several others on our trip, wasn't ready.  She wanted to stay.  In just 4 days, Ella developed friendships that she wants to nourish as well as a love for a new culture. 

Returning home was difficult for Ella, as it is for most people after their first visit to a developing country.  The easy availablity of medicine, food, and clothes inspired a sadness and anger in her.  She was able to recognize the blessings of plenty that we have here, as well as the burdon of greed.  She has become an 8 year old advocate.

It has been humbling and amazing to watch Ella through this time.  I am grateful for the experience and bit of wisdom that Chris and I have been able to share with her.  I am excited to see how God uses this experience in her life.