Today, we faced our biggest challenge to date, both figuratively and literally. We braved the mountain on a trek to the Citadel. It had long been a dream for all of the team leaders for Haiti (not just our group) to take the children to the Citadel. Mission accomplished!
We loaded up 70 pbj’s, 38 sixth graders, 8 team members, 4 teachers, several CHE leaders, drinks and snacks into three vans. After being dropped at the mid point, we were ready to face the mountain. We all declined the use of a horse, as we wanted to walk with the children. We didn’t exactly walk with them, as the children and their guide reached the Citadel long before us!
Yet, we were determined and though tired never gave up. We climbed 3 1/2 miles to an elevation of 3000 ft., and what appeared to my Midwest flatlander’s eye to be at least a 45* slope. I thought of a verse from an old Gospel song, “…Lord, please don’t move my mountain, but give me the strength to climb it…”
After finally reaching the summit, we marveled at the engineering expertise involved in building this impenetrable fort. Built in the 19th century, under King Henry Christoph, it protected the island from its enemies. Latrines, dungeons, cisterns, and armory and much, much, more, all built on top of the mountain. This structure surely should be included in the list of ‘Must See’ wonders of the world.
After much marveling and many pictures later, we descended the mountain. This time with laughter and jokes, rather than the grunts, groans and panting which echoed on the way up. Never had a cold pbj, trail mix and a refreshing drink tasted so good!
Even better, was the look on the children’s faces. After replenishing their energy with lunch, they were eager to ascend the mountain a second time. The adults quickly quashed that idea. The children expressed their wonder of seeing with their own eyes such a significant part of their history. Seeing the magnitude and the majesty of the Citadel brought history to life and pride in their heritage. Hopefully, this can now be incorporated into every visit to Caracol.
After returning to the mission house, most of us needed a shower and nap, but not Curt. It was Curt’s turn to head the leadership training this evening. Curt was busy with his charts and lesson plans. As the training began, Curt walked in with his many rolls of paper filled with translations on the proper preparations of business plans. Curt, a natural teacher, with a strong interest in business added humor to the lesson. (note to Lisa – Curt explained his business plan for leaving the snowy Midwest and becoming a farmer in Haiti, growing corn and beans.)
Before beginning the evening, Shangela (Pastor Payot’s wife) prepared an amazing 5 star meal for us which included fresh lobster. (Thank you Shangela for all of your wonderful dinners!)
We discovered every Wednesday, Pastor Ernest holds a Midnight Praise service (loose translation). Long after our evening meal and devotion, we were blessed with songs of praise. Even though words and melodies were unrecognizable, what was recognizable was the Holy Spirit. Some of joined the service, while others let the joyful music lull our weary bodies to sleep.