Our afternoon began with a visit to our boy’s orphanage and school, Foyer de l’Espoir (House of Hope). This was the site of the soccer game between our boys from this home and the “visiting team” from Lynn University that had accompanied me on my last trip. Our boys beat them 6 – 4 and great was their jubilation!
At one point of our visit, the speakers were asked to sit in a shaded area under a large tree and the boys all gathered in front of them (Vicki and I sat to the side). They began to sing some hymns for them and they ended up raising their arms and blessing them. But the experience was far from over, he boys then proceeded to walk towards the speakers and place both their hands on their heads and bless them again, this time more personally, and pray for them. What a beautiful gesture… to bless and pray for those whose very calling is to bless and pray for others.
Suddenly, I saw a young man (not more than 10) walking towards me and, without giggling or losing concentration, he placed both his hands on my head and prayed fervently for me for 3-4 minutes. I wondered if the young man understood why the tears were rolling down my face as he so flawlessly performed this moving sharing. Hundreds, if not thousands of times, I have received the blessings of family, priests, bishops, cardinals and even popes, but none before humbled me or moved me to the extent realized by the blessing from this young and holy orphan. Wow…
But his was not the only occasion in which I would be humbled on this day. We walked next door to the FFP Home for the Elderly immediately afterwards and there, the hundreds of elderly who were once homeless on the streets of the capital welcomed us with warmth and love. Although most are well into their seventies and eighties and even more, they do not believe in just sitting there for a quiet visit. They already had their band (made up of staff members) playing some lively hymns and other music, and as soon as they saw us, they invited us to join them in the dance.
A lady, at least in her late seventies, by a process of geographical proximity, became my dance partner. We danced for what seemed to be a very long time, with my partner becoming more spirited (and more possessive) as I attempted to keep up with her “moves.” Finally, exhausted and drenched in sweat, I stumbled into one of the nearby chairs, as my partner quickly sought my replacement and continued to dance until our departure – half an hour later. Humbled and shamed by a lady at least 20 years my senior!
On the way home, we stopped for a quick visit to the Roman Catholic cathedral in the heart of downtown. Like the elderly whom we had just left, the old cathedral showed many signs of disrepair without losing its beauty, and, like the people of Haiti, it endures.
Archbishop Miot received the group at his residence across the street. He graciously answered the many questions of our speakers. The simplicity of his living conditions and the total absence of lavishness portrayed a deep understanding of and respect for the extreme need of his people.
That night, at the hotel, we had the first reflection meeting, where we discussed what we had seen, what had moved us, what had troubled us, and many insights that we had received during this first day.