Our kids live on a Caribbean island and haven’t been to the beach in almost 3 years. We haven’t had reliable transportation but have been promising them as soon as we got a new truck we would go. So this past Saturday we loaded 30 kids, 18 employees, and 6 Americans up in 4 different vehicles (2 ours, 2 rented, 1 Raymond & Gina’s) and headed to the beach! So those of you that think planning a beach day and going to the beach with your children is a lot of work try doing it for 55 people…and your 1 and 2-year-old!
Leading up to this day I don’t believe I have an accurate word to describe how excited the kids were. Everyone has been on best behavior and truly just beside themselves at the thought of a day at the beach. On Friday afternoon, the girls all pulled me into their room to show me they had everything ready. Here in Haiti, they plan a traveling to the beach outfit, a beach outfit, and a separate outfit to wear to travel home from the beach. They each had these things laid out on their beds. The boys were more concerned about what they would eat and giving us jugs of water to keep in our freezer so it would be cold the next day (they were so excited Saturday morning they forgot to get them out).
We’d told the kids we would leave at 8:30 (which really meant 9) but when we pulled up to their house on Saturday morning they were all ready to go at 8:30. Trying to find a place for everyone took a little time but then we were off. Sophie had also been looking forward to this day but was also clearly a little nervous about the unknown it brought since she’s never been to the beach here. She had been full of questions all week long but by the time we got to the kids house she just kept saying “I wanna go to the beach!”. This was also Babyson’s first time at the beach. All week long he’s been having me count how many days until the beach with him and asking me if it’s beautiful. Babyson is 8 and saw the ocean for the first time on Saturday.
It took about an hour to get there (we travel to a beach that is privately owned and pay to get in). When we got there everyone had to change into their bathing suits and it’s safe to say from then on everyone just had a blast. There were kids splashing, House Moms singing and dancing, sand fights, flips in the water (and 1 minor injury). Our friends, Mark and Karen Whalen were with us and helped with Sophie and Elijah and the rest of the kids. We took a short break to eat a feast Marjorie had prepared and then got right back to playing. Babyson let me know at some point that he’d drank too much ocean water and thrown it back up in the ocean. At about 2:00 Matt told everyone it was time to start getting ready to go to which they responded with moans and groans. I got the pleasure of being the one to give them 30 more minutes at which point they cheered and chanted my name.
Madam Oser is our House Mom who takes care of our younger boys Monday-Friday. She called out to me from the ocean “Jess, this is a beautiful day I will never forget” and at that moment I felt so grateful to the Lord for bringing us here. The kids were playing, Sophie and Elijah having a ball, employees felt loved and taken care of. It doesn’t get much better than that. As we changed clothes and loaded up to go home, employee after employee came to tell both Matt and I how much they appreciated us inviting them. The kids still haven’t stopped thanking us (and asking when the next beach day will be!).