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Haitian orphan choir returns to Dawsonville
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Children from the LifeSaver Orphanage in Haiti once again made their way to Dawsonville for the third year to perform gospel music in local churches. The children, traveling with the Love Him Love Them ministry, have been touring churches across the southeastern United States since 2016. On Aug. 29, 2018 they performed at Liberty Baptist Church in Dawsonville before heading to their next stop in Madison, Georgia. - photo by Jessica Taylor

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The Love Him Love Them orphan children’s choir makes their grand entrance at Liberty Baptist Church for their concert Aug. 29. - photo by Jessica Taylor

It was a lovely reunion in Dawsonville when Harmony Baptist Church and Liberty Baptist Church opened their arms and homes to their favorite traveling children’s choir.

For the third consecutive year, the Love Him Love Them orphan children’s choir traveled to Dawsonville where they were reunited with familiar faces.

The choir began touring the southeastern United States in 2016, but due to the devastating Hurricane Matthew setting its attention on their home island of Haiti, the choir found themselves stranded in the states.

Harmony Baptist Church of Dawsonville opened their doors and hosted the stranded ministry for two weeks until they could return home safely.

“The community was amazing,” said Harmony Baptist member Tina Brady as she recalled her experience with the choir two years ago.

The Dawson community opened their hearts to the Love Him Love Them ministry by providing food, shelter, clothing and entertainment for the group.

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Members of the Love Him Love Them choir were all smiles as they made their grand entrance into Liberty Baptist Church in Dawsonville Wednesday night. - photo by Jessica Taylor

“This is home for us,” Love Him Love Them Treasurer and Secretary Macarena Poole said of Dawsonville. “Harmony Baptist Church is one of our homes in Georgia.”

After a devastating earthquake in 2010 left many children orphaned, a local music teacher and his wife, William and Gertrude Paul, opened their home to displaced children, creating the LifeSaver Orphanage. They taught the children music, and when Love Him Love Them founder Linda Gunter visited the Pauls and the children, she was moved by their singing and knew she wanted to sponsor them and bring them to the United States to perform.

It was an uphill battle, but in 2016 the dream to bring the children’s choir to the Unites States became a reality.

“The kids love coming here,” said ‘choir mom’ Sarah Logan. “They’ve come here for three years now and they’re very excited to be back. We’re thankful for everything that everyone here does for us.”

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Tina Brady, a member of Harmony Baptist Church who hosted the Haitian choir Aug. 28, plays with members of the choir on the playground at Liberty Baptist Church before their concert Aug. 29. - photo by Jessica Taylor

On Aug. 28, the children arrived in Dawsonville and performed for a crowd of 50 people at Harmony Baptist, many of which were people who had never heard the angelic voices of the choir.

“It was emotional. It was really sweet spirit, a very sweet spirit with them being back,” said Brady. “We had a lot of people who had never heard them before and it was really cool to hear some of their responses and to see them get moved.”

The choir had a big day planned Wednesday that began at Dawson Vision in the morning where all 21 kids received eye exams from Dr. Karla Thomason and Dr. Brian Burke performed the exams at no charge for the ministry.

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Children from LifeSaver Orphanage in Haiti along with the staff at Dawson Vision pose for a photo Aug. 29. Dawson Vision provided free eye exams for the visiting Haitian choir and donated the needed lenses for the children at no cost to the ministry. - photo by For the Dawson County News

Thomason learned that the choir was in need of eye examinations a few months ago while at a Braves game. She immediately got in contact with Love Him Love Them founder Linda Gunter and volunteered to perform the exams.

Out of the 21 kids, only five of them required lenses, which were also donated by Dawson Vision.

But after completing their eye exams, one girl from the choir required medical attention for an allergic reaction. Linda Gunter took the child to Scottish Rite in Atlanta where she was moved to intensive care in order to monitor her symptoms.

Without a bus to take them back to their host homes, the rest of the choir was stranded at Dawson Vision until a familiar face came to the rescue.

Brady’s husband, Kip, coordinated to pick up the children and took them back to Harmony Baptist Church where they played basketball and soccer in the gym before heading to Liberty Baptist for a potluck dinner and their final concert in Dawsonville before their next stop in Madison.

The church was full with excited community members of all ages gathered together to hear the children perform gospels and hymns.

The choir, dressed in colorful costumes depicting their Haitian culture, joyously made their way to the stage as the audience applauded wildly.

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Love Him Love Them orphan children’s choir Sebastien plays electric guitar while the choir sings at Liberty Baptist Church. Sebastien is one of the band members hoping to attend college in the United States at the end of this year’s tour. - photo by Jessica Taylor

Accompanying the choir was the live band, all self-taught musicians from Haiti who hope to attend college in the United States after the tour. Complete with electric guitar, pianos, drums and singing, the spirit of the island echoed in the pews.

This season’s tour is in honor of nine year old choir member Sonsay who died earlier this year from Typhoid fever.

For more information about Love Him Love Them ministry, contact Gunter at (706) 599-7525 or Lisa M. LaFleur at (508) 410-9318 or llafleur@lovehimlovethem.org. For other dates and locations of performances, visit www.lovehimlovethem.org.

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The Love Him Love Them orphan children’s choir sang gospel hymns for a full house at Liberty Baptist Church Aug. 29. - photo by Jessica Taylor

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