On Thursday, August 26th we drove approximately 3 hours into the mountains to visit two very small communities, Beloc and Camatin. I sat in the back of a pickup truck, along with Jon Knowles. Jon and I had a great week serving together, along with Cyndi Dodson, in the medical clinic. The views from the back of the truck were spectacular. Kurt Rudd, who served as our guide, drove and had Jon’s wife Amy, Cyndi and Nancy from our team in the cab of the truck.
In the mountains we passed through a very small community that had a dozen or so small houses, actually shacks, along the road. Right in the middle of this row of small shacks there was one shack that looked very out of place. This particular shack was painted. It was painted perfectly, sky blue. It also had two Disney characters, Mickey and Minnie, painted perfectly on the front. I didn’t have my camera ready and didn’t get a picture. I couldn’t believe that in the mountains of Haiti, in the midst of a row of shacks, there was a perfectly painted Disney shack. And, I didn’t get a picture of it. I made a mental note to get a picture of it on the drive back.
Our first stop was in a tiny little community, well off the beaten path, called Beloc. We delivered food and supplies and spent time with some of the people that live there. It was an emotional time seeing how isolated these people live. After a couple of hours we left to meet the rest of our team, who had driven straight to Camatin.
When we arrived at the orphanage in Camatin the rest of the team had walked from the orphanage up to a hilltop above the orphanage. Camatin sits up very high on the mountain and looks down on the coast and the city of Jacmel. The views were spectacular. The Church of the Redeemer meets under a tarp on this hilltop. The church use to meet in the basement of the orphanage, but since the earthquake they are afraid to go down there. After a short time, we walked down the hill to the orphanage. This orphanage is sponsored by White Stone Church of Knoxville and houses about 15 girls at this time. They are in the process of adding about 15 more girls.
When I arrived at the orphanage I was given a quick tour of the place and then enjoyed a snack on the roof top. Most of the team, which had arrived earlier, had already seen the orphanage and met the girls. When I finally walked back downstairs, many of the team members were playing with the girls on the large front porch. I immediately noticed one girl that was sitting quietly by herself and just watching everyone. I didn’t realize it at the time, but I now know that God was saving her for me. I asked Brian Lloyd, our other guide for the trip, what her name was, and he said Jesula. In the Haitian Creole form ‘Jezi’ means Jesus, and ‘la’ means There. Jesula’s name means Jesus There. Jesula, like the vast majority of girls, does not speak English. I talked with her briefly through Brian. As Brian told me, she was very shy and quiet. I pulled out my camera and asked her if she wanted to make a “photo”. Haitians know what “photo” means. Some Haitians do not like to have their picture taken. Jesula’s face lit up with the most beautiful smile and she jumped right in my lap. We took several pictures and she looked at them on my digital camera and laughed and smiled. I gave her some silly bands to wear on her wrists. Then just like that, Todd said it was time to leave. I had been with Jesula perhaps 15 minutes and I was not ready to go. They had to call me a couple times to get me to leave and I was the last one off the porch. Jesula and I exchanged a hug and smile, and then it was back to the truck.
When I was climbing into the back of the truck to leave, the Disney shack flashed back to my mind. I told Kurt, there is a perfectly painted house with Disney characters on the side of the road on the way down the mountain. I want to stop and take a picture of it please. He looked at me like I was crazy and said sure. We drove through some really hard rain on the way down the mountain and Jon and I got soaked. But honestly, we both enjoyed it for some reason. I looked for that house the whole way down the mountain. But strangely, I never saw it. It was like it disappeared. I was really disappointed I didn’t get a picture of the Disney shack.
Later that night, back at the house in Tabarre, I was thinking about Jesula, as I had all day. I pulled out my camera and started flipping through all the pictures I had taken that day. When I got to the first picture of Jesula and me, I saw something I had not seen before. Right there on the front of Jesula’s shirt, Disney characters. At that moment I felt an overwhelming awareness that God led me to Jesula. I know that JESUS led me THERE, to the mountains of Haiti, to JESULA!