I spent 4 days last week on retreat with the youth group at a camp near Les Cayes on the south side of the island. Marc and I took 40 teens and a few new leaders over the mountains for a weekend of waves, games, singing, camp fire, Bible study, and getting to know each other better.
Ever since I started leading at youth group, I have been frustrated by the division between the poor Haitian kids and the upper class and missionary kids. The Haitians feel inferior because they are poorer and because their English is not as good, while the other kids think that they don't want to be friends because they don't approach them. Along with the problem of division, the Haitian youth are much more shy and are very unwilling to talk to us leaders about what is really going on in their lives. Since the earthquake, all but 3 of the missionary kids and upper class kids evacuated, so we have a youth group that is almost entirely Haitian now. Without the social pressure, we have seen those shy teens come out of their shells. And on a 4 day retreat, we finally were able to touch some of the toughest ones.
Part way through the weekend, it came to our attention that some of the boys had been teasing the girls rather ruthlessly about their appearance. So Marc and I took the boys and talked to them about being gentlemen. Meanwhile, the girls received an encouraging talk from Scott and Erta about their worth in God's eyes. Something must have stuck with the boys because they snuck into the gazebo during the girls' meeting so they could serenade them! Later that evening, the boys got permission to go through the dinner line first, the one time they would have priority all weekend. I watched in awe as boy after boy filled a plate and carried it to a girl. It was the most beautiful act of brother-sister love that I've seen in a group of teens!
Zanglais is a beautiful place, so green and peaceful compared to Port-au-Prince. It was wonderful to be with friends and with God in such a haven.