Bwa Pin today…a pine tree where there are none. A very sweet group of children, though! Many of them were sick, quite a few had the orange hair of malnourishment, several had yellow eyes. This school seems to struggle more than the others. We took another little boy as our sponsored child…his name is Vinsen. He reminds me so much of Will at that age. He is six, but he looked about 4 1/2 or 5. He was skinny, with burn marks on his arms from the charcoal fires. His hair had a line of orange fuzz around his forehead. But he had such an intelligent face, and payed careful attention to his teachers, that he immediately caught my eye. He is one of seven children, three sisters and three brothers. Mrs. Barbara told me that when you come, you don’t pick a sponsored child, they pick you. I understand that now…couldn’t take my eyes off of Vinsen! The sponsorship program with Hope for LaGonave is an amazing thing.
The children who are sponsored receive the schooling and materials, vitamins, medical care and dental care, five big meals a week and they are carefully tracked by Mrs. Barbara personally. The sponsor families receive regular updates on their children, photographs, drawings and notes. When Jean Donald contracted cholera a few months ago and had to go to the hospital, we were informed so we could pray for him and regularly updated on his progress. It is an invaluable bargain at $30 per month. I was so humbled when I saw how much it means to the kids, knowing that it is such a small amount to us. The kids call their sponsor family “mem pas” which means “my people.” They pray for their sponsors. Their school performance is affected by the knowledge that the sponsors care about how they are doing academically. It really is an amesome thing to see these skinny, sickly children blossom through the sponsorship program.
The hard part of so much of this is trying to keep Will and Sam from giving away all their belongings. It’s hard to explain, yes you can give away your stuff, but not right this minute, because you’ll be swamped and get hurt or get them hurt or get the children in trouble. My boys will be glad for Thursday when we can give away whatever The Lord leads them to give. They have found a good compromise, however! They ARE allowed to purchase things from the children and the street kids outside Madame Fifi’s gate have a toy that they have started selling to Will and Sam. For a quarter, they buy a bottle cap, pounded flat with a rock, two holes punched through with a rusty nail and looped with a string from an old sack. The kids then twist them, getting the bottle cap going like a table saw blade and then have wars, cutting each other’s string. A quarter is equal to about 10 gourde (Haitian dollar), so it’s no wonder the little ones keep knocking at the gate with more and more bottle caps. The adults won’t take US coins, though. Since the pictures on our coins keep changing, they think it is fake money!
The boys also have found a litter of pups from Madame Fifi’s poor mangy dog. The puppies are darling and might be smuggled through customs if I don’t keep my eyes peeled!
Madam Bahbawa, as the kids call her, keeps saying how much Sam reminds her of Matt. He fits in so well, thriving on the constant buzz of people and activity in this town. D’umerle has already called the boys “blan Ayitian” (white Haitians) because they have acclimated so well. In some ways, Mrs. Barbara saying that he reminds her of Matt scares the phooey out of me but it gives me hope for him at the same time. God knows the plans he has for Sam, so I’m going to let him handle all that.

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