The girls in our group!
Cement at the other site - photo by Laura Pugh.
At 9am, we met in Mt. Pelier for VBS. Our first day, we had about 90 kids - by the end of the week we had about 140. I was one of the leaders for Crafts, and Doug was the Games leader. Our other two groups were Bible and Music. Monday's craft was decorating parachutes & playing with them, which the kids seemed to enjoy immensely.
Could this be any cuter?!
Love these little bare feet!
Favorite part is the girl in green's face!
Danielle, the girl I met at church on Sunday, was there for VBS and attached herself to me throughout the week. I also met a little guy who quickly became a favorite - Wilbur.
After VBS, it was back to Sandy Bay for lunch, and after lunch we headed to our first orphanage, West Haven. It was an hour bus ride, snaking through the mountains, going higher & higher... when we pulled up, our PPM leader, Brien, informed us that all of the "children" (ages 10-32) were "MRDD - Mentally Retarded and Developmentally Disabled." An immediate internal panic seized our group, as we were totally unprepared for this and completely out of our comfort zone.
On the way to West Haven...
However, this afternoon would prove to be the most powerful example of God's strength and love that we experienced. When our group walked through the gates, it was as one massive blob. However, within ten minutes, our youth group kids were totally immersed, loving the residents and having an awesome time. I know that there is no way I could have gotten past the smells and sights on my own, and I think I can speak for the group when I say that. It was incredible watching teenagers carrying people their age, getting drooled or urinated on, and just continuing to pour God's love into the residents and receive His love back from them. It was one of the coolest things I've ever been a part of.
In a quiet moment at West Haven, it struck me that these are some of the most forgotten people in the world. Abandoned by their families, pushed as far away as possible - yet they are so full of joy and couldn't stop singing praises to God. I left feeling utterly humbled. Being at West Haven revealed a different aspect of God's beauty to me. I saw that in Christ's eyes, we are all the same and we are all unique - simultaneously... if that even makes sense. It's amazing worshiping Jesus with all types of people and knowing that regardless of our circumstances, we are praising the same Creator who holds us all together.
We had dinner when we got back from West Haven and then had another "Crusade." I loved listening to our praise team and Fletcher Grove's praise team share with the congregation - just another awesome example of Christ spanning cultures!
Terrible picture quality, sorry!
Nightly team meeting to debrief & prepare for the following day was after Crusade and then we dropped exhaustedly into our beds!