by Diane Simoni

Are you wondering if you might travel to Haiti soon on a Mission Trip with HFC? Are you thinking about the talents you have that you might share with your neighbors there? Certainly, there is a lot of need in Haiti. The need is blaring at you as soon as you walk out of the airport to the van. The tent cities and crowded streets, some still with rubble from the 2010 earthquake, evoke a prayer from deep within, “God help us, God help them.” Yet, you truly need not worry about what gifts you can offer because anything you bring – from supplies to an open mind – is welcomed and appreciated.

The members of the group I traveled with in November 2011 were a musically talented, really more like gifted, sort. The Haitian song they learned that week from the children at the orphange and ‘performed’ at the church service was phenomenal. It is too bad we did not record it for Youtube – it would have gone viral! My husband Max and I were lucky, not being musically inclined ourselves, to travel to Haiti with these beautiful singers and music makers.
The group, besides all their energy for fixing and painting, brought musical engagement for afternoon activities with the high school children using instruments, singing, and laughing. However, I discovered a different way that Max and I could help make music.

I discovered a different way that Max and I could help make music.

I noticed a synthesizer / keyboard on the shelf in the library. It was a bit dusty and somewhat neglected. When I asked a young man about it, he explained that it was broken and that this was a particular loss for one student who liked to record videos and use the keyboard to create sounds for his projects.
I asked Max if he could look at the keyboard when he wasn’t hanging up ceiling fans and making shelves. He observed that the Yamaha keyboard and the IBM power cord were not making music together. While they were usually compatible, at this point, the electronics were weathered. “It might be reparable,” he said, with a big sigh, “If I had a soldering iron.”
With investigation and the help of the current intern, Katelyn Miller, we tracked down a student named Ashley who had a soldering kit! I knew that Ashley liked to fix things since he and I were working on a window mechanism the day before. But, who would have thought he had a soldering kit?

He looked excited with the prospect of trying to fix the keyboard with Max. When he went to his locker (the 12 inch by 12 inch cubby that each orphan has to keep their belongings in), I noticed he had 2 kits: one in a plastic bag and one brand new- not even opened yet. He grabbed the new one.
We went to a classroom and Max and Ashley set to work. It was our last day there and we had to leave at 4:00 to get back to the retreat center before dark. Just minutes before we had to leave and would have give up on the repair, Max and Ashley decided on a new way to try to fix the power adaptor: cut off the attachment and permanently affix it to the keyboard. I was doing a bit of the translating and Ashley seemed happily intrigued with the lesson Max was providing.
At the time we had to run out the door, they tested the keyboard and … success! It worked!  With a high five and tearful goodbyes, we left Ashley and the other children wishing we could stay longer.
I’ve been in touch with Ashley by email since then and he recently wrote, “I’m very happy to write to you…When are you coming back to Haiti? I love electricity.”

You may not know now what you will bring with you when you travel to Haiti, but surely your gifts will be treasured. Max brought his know-how and patience to teach someone in a language not his own. And, me- what did I bring? Well, I guess, I could say, I brought the camera which took these great shots of Max and Ashley working on and then celebrating their success!