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Haiti 2016

img 0341 Welcome to the Haiti 2016 blog.  We'll post updates from the Haiti team as we receive them.


2/28/16

 

As I write this final blog entry, I'm enjoying a luxury we often take for granted: sitting on a couch. Despite all of the creature comforts I've come back to in the States (air conditioning, the aforementioned couch, and not being woken up early by roosters), I would go back to Haiti with this team in an instant.

 

God's hand at work was evident on our trip. I would not consider myself to be a spiritually sensitive person – that is, I don't tend to see God move in the ways other people sometimes seem to.

And yet his presence with us was undeniable and evident even to me this week. Even making it through our baggage situation in New York, we could see the way God put people and situations in our way to get it figured out. But God was at work far more than simply giving us our bags back.

 

The day before we left for the trip, I had a meeting with my mentor, Pastor Braden, and while we were talking about the trip and praying, he asked me what would be my craziest prayer for the trip; if I could ask anything of God, what that would be. To be quite honest, I hadn't really thought about it. After some thought, I said that I would be amazed to see someone we encountered come to faith in Jesus, because I had never actually witnessed someone come to faith after hearing the Gospel. I didn’t think much of it after that, at least until the first day of our ministry work in Haiti last Monday.

 

As you’ve already read, we engaged in Strategic Village Time while in Haiti, speaking to families about Jesus, as well as their daily lives. One woman we encountered said she had heard about God before, but wasn’t ready to pursue a relationship with him. We asked if we could share the gospel with her, and after hearing it she said she wanted to accept Christ as her Savior. Another Haitian woman, who turned out to be the first woman’s friend, had been following us around from house to house a couple of times, and said she also wanted to accept Christ. So, God immediately answered my craziest prayer on the very first day of ministry, and he did so twice. That still amazes me; God was so definitely at work in Haiti! Please pray for the two women who came to faith, that God would continue to make himself known to them and give them opportunities to grow into greater faith.

 

God worked in many other ways, of course, and many of those stories are already told on the blog. I want to tell one more, and that is how God worked on me throughout the week. When I first thought up making a trip to Haiti my Senior Expo for school, I phrased my proposal as putting together a trip to Haiti; it was not really my intention to lead it. This was silly, of course, because who else would lead the trip if not me? But I didn’t feel ready to lead much of the time, and had to trust God through that. During this day, I heard song lyrics that really encapsulated the trip, at least as I experienced it: “You don't learn to trust God till you gotta trust God/Don't learn you got nothing until it's just God.” We saw this in the Haitians we encountered, certainly, and many of us touched on it in our blog posts, but I also saw it in myself, and I doubt I was the only team member who did. As a result of being called by God into a place of leadership where I spent much of my time feeling uncertain and even afraid, I’ve finally come to a place where I trust him more than I trust me. Please pray that this continues.

 

My encouragement towards you would be to find what God is calling you to, and pursue it with all you have, especially if it scares you. It is there that you will learn to trust him. Thank you for following our blog and praying for us!

 

- Jack Martin


2/25/16

Today was definitely a bittersweet moment as we finished our last day in service. Today was a work day that was originally planned to be a tree planting, goat giving, and roof repairing kind of day. It started off like every morning, being woken up by the annoying roosters, eating some cereal, and then heading off on our, never failing, dangerous and adventurous bus rides.

 

Our first task was to plant some mango trees in the same village we had been working with all week, Laveque. Because it was more of a one person job, it forced us to have to just stand back and watch for the most part. It was disappointing to not be able to help, but in the end the people were blessed with the tree and that's all that mattered. After we had planted the trees in the yards, we got to talk a little bit with the families that received it.. Every single one of them professed to be a Christian. They shared words of encouragement with us and it was so awesome to hear how much they trusted in the Lord and all the blessings they have gotten by His grace. Because the planting of the trees took longer, we did not get to do our next task of giving the goats to the families before lunch. It was then decided to use the leftover time before lunch, to play with the children from the kids club we spent time with the first time. The little girl who I had spent most of my time with on Monday recognized me right away and never left my side. It was so incredible to know that I am building relationships with the people in Haiti and that I am not only going to have great memories with them but that they will also share those memories.

 

After we had another lunch at Bercy, we were given the news that the groups would be splitting up the goat giving and the roof repairing. At first I was very upset when I found out I had to be in the roof repairing group. Obviously giving out cute goats was much more appealing to me then having to repair a roof. As we got to the village we were making the repair for, we then found out we were not able to actually repair the roof, because it was not safe. So instead we got to hang out with a huge amount of children in the village. This ended up being one of my main highlights on the trip. The girls taught me fun games, took lots of pictures with me, braided my hair, and would not stop loving on me the entire time. I ended up feeling guilty for going in with a bad attitude, because I was not in the goat group, but God definitely knew what he was doing. I was more than satisfied with today and all the great last memories we were able to make working with Mission of Hope.

 

Please continue to pray for us and that we will continue to be safe and travel back safely as well.

 

-Addison Vavala


2-24-16

I never thought I'd hate roosters as much as I do in Haiti. These pesky little animals start crowing at about 5:30am, that's at least an hour too early for me. This morning they woke me up at the crack of dawn, and after about a ridiculous hour of trying to block out the noise, it was time to grab a bowl of cereal and head on our way.

 

We started our day off on a bus to the village, Laveque, we've been working in the past several days. It was another day of Strategic Village Time and Kid's Club, which means we had another opportunity to engage with people on a deeper level. We first visited a woman named Esther. She's currently living with her sister and brother-in-law, because she can not afford her own home. This family had seven people living in one blue tent home. Her faith in God was absolutely astounding. She explained that she is alive by the grace of God, and that she lost everything, including a couple family members in the earthquake of 2010. She kept praying for our safety and ministry, even though we were the ones that were supposed to be praying for her. Their neighbor carried out chairs from his home, so that we could sit and be as comfortable as possible in the blazing heat. The man then sang us several praise songs in Creole and prayed for us. It amazes me that, even in such harsh conditions, the people in Haiti can be so kind and caring to our group.

 

We visited several more houses, and luckily, we got to see the two women that had accepted Jesus on Monday during Strategic Village Time. We then traveled over to Bercy to eat our usual peanut butter and jelly by the ocean. We headed back to Laveque worn out, covered in a layer of dust, and Addi with one less contact and a resulting horrible depth perception, but definitely ready to embrace the children waiting at the Kid's Club. The kids started to meander in about five minutes after we arrived at the church. They immediately began to pile on top of us, demanding our sunglasses, hair ties, and piggy back rides. At one point, Ellie had three children sitting on her lap, left with no room to breathe. However, the smiles on the kids' faces is beyond worth the expense of the constant attention and effort needed to entertain a bunch of hyper children. The pure joy when we hug them, laugh with them, and dance with them is so rewarding and uplifting.

 

After feeding the kids, a deaf man walked up to me and started signing to me. Since I'm a bit rusty on my ASL, I called Ellie over to translate. He was saying that even though our skin color is different, and we come from different places, we are family in Christ. It's amazing that there are so many barriers between us like language, culture, and race, and yet we have a common ground with the Hatians, and it's a common ground so much grander and important that anything else. It reminds me that through God, we too can overcome any barrier, and that He can overcome anything.

 

I am constantly humbled by how much the Haitian culture trusts God. I'd like to think that I trust God just as much, but the truth is that I am so reliant on my mom, transportation, healthcare, air conditioning, and insurance, that I don't have to worry about my next meal, or my next clean water supply. In the states, we have everything so easy, but to trust God in such difficult circumstances is a whole other story. But maybe trusting God is too easy in the states, because it's something we almost get to skip out on. I personally, respect the people of Haiti's reverence and love for God so much, and this trip has truly opened my eyes to the expansive love of God, and how I can grow in His perfect, amazing love.

 

Please continue to pray for our ministry, safety and growth in these last few days.

 

-Kaitlin Thresher


 

2-23-16

Today was a very good and productive day for our group. After eating some delicious pancakes for breakfast, our group left the main Mission of Hope (MOH) campus to go to the village of Leveque, where we spent the day yesterday as well. Today we painted the interior of a family's home. The family was very nice and welcoming to us as we came into their home. After they introduced themselves to us we started painted the walls right away. It didn't take long to get the first coat on the walls because we had 8-10 people painting at the same time. It was very hot inside the house and we all had splatters of paint all over us. After we put the second coat on, it was about 11:30 and we were all ready to go eat lunch. We ate lunch at one of the other MOH campuses (Bercy) not far from Leveque. This campus was right along the beach of the Caribbean. It was an amazing view looking out over the water while eating PB&J. After lunch we all went back to Leveque to put on one more coat of paint. That happened really quickly with all the hands that we had, so we were done by about 2:30. After that we talked to the family a little bit more before we left.

 

Then we all went back to the main MOH campus at about 3:00 and we were able to relax for a little while. At 5:00 we ate dinner which was rice with beans and vegetables. Then, at 5:30, we had a church service. It was just like the one on Sunday. After church, the nine of us gathered and had our evening devotion/debrief of the day. We read through James 2 and talked about many things from that passage. Then we all shared some thoughts we had about the or week so far. We all have noticed that the Haitians here have a very rich spirit. They earnestly want to seek God and they need to completely rely on God to put food on their table. It was very humbling to see that because in the U.S., we don't always have to worry about having food on the table. I realized that we take a lot of things for granted and that we don't always see it as a blessing from God. We almost think of those blessings as a right we are entitled to because we have always had them. But I can see that it is different in these people in Haiti. I want to strive to have a rich spirit in God like these Haitians. This trip has been an amazing experience for our whole group so far and I'm sure that we will have lots of fun and have so many more good experiences in these next few days.

 

- Jason Jorg


2-22-16

So after two days, one day of chaos, and one of relaxing, we finally started our mission work! After breakfast we did training for Strategic Village Time, where we were given information about the village we'll be engaging in and what we should be doing, and more info about the Village Champions and what they do. Village Champions are Haitians that inform the other Haitians of the village that Americans are coming by, as well as look out for the needs of the people of the village and report them to Mission of Hope.

 

After the SVT training we loaded the bus with our team headed off to start a day of work, along with a group from Florida. This is the exciting part! We started our village time and walked around to different sorts of houses made of blue tarps and wood in the hottest weather we've had since Saturday. (These tent shelters were given to refugees after the earthquake, and are still being used even though they were only supposed to be used for a year, since many people have no other option.)

 

When we first met the elder woman, we were sort of awkward because it was our first conversation. While we were there we asked her questions about her lifestyle, her kids, water, and most of all her relationship with Jesus. We were glad to know that she was a follower of Christ and goes to church.

 

The next house we came upon was a house built around a tree (which was the best thing at the moment due to shade and being able to sit for a while) and this was where we spent the majority of our time, which was very touching. We were able to talk to this lady (I forgot her name), and did the same routine of getting to know her, her family, her life condition, and her relationship with Jesus. When we first began our talk, she was not a Christian, she knew of God and the things he has done for her and her family, but she just felt that God wasn't calling her, almost as if he didn't want her to be his follower. We were able to share the Gospel with her, and by God's grace and mercy alone we are able to call that woman our new sister in Christ. Thank you Jesus! While we were there her friend wanted to accept Jesus as her savior also! It's amazing that God blessed us by letting us watch as these two women accept Jesus as their savior! The Village Champions will help set them up with Bibles so that they can continue to learn more about Jesus.

 

Overall, through this time we were able to meet and give encouraging words to our two new sisters in Christ, an older women and her kid, a woman, and a kind older man!

 

Throughout the day something we were faced with every time we came to someone's house were the words “I don't have clothes for church;” this broke my heart every single time. Every time I wanted to say “God says to come to him the way you are!” but my shyness took the best of me!

 

After that we had kids' club, where we were able to watch all the Haitian kids sing in their language, listen to bible stories and other encouraging words in Haitian language (translated of course) and to just see all the smiles on their faces when we played with the kids while the leader prepared a meal for them. When the food was prepared and we went back inside to pray and sing a song, I got the privilege to sit by a little girl who spoke almost better ASL than me! That made me so excited that I was able to communicate with the little girl through sign language. God really is a way-maker! She was such a sweet girl and I learned a lot from her today and got to learn a few new signs! (which is always exciting for me)

 

After feeding the kids, and heading back to the campus we're staying on, Jason, Ellie, Kristina, and I decided to go look at the gift shop down the hill from us. That was very exciting! Today I learned how to bargain with Haitians. I spent about $20 all together for for than 10 things! I was very proud of myself. But for sure all of us were anticipating to leave! The people there just drew you in and insisted that you buy something from every station even if you already had it. But I'd like to say Ellie pulls off corn rows that she spent $6 on (she bargained for that price).

 

Also today we had dish duty after dinner which was very entertaining and probably the most fun I've had washing dishes. The sophomores are very consistent with the “no talking” game and the “No smiling” game. We've played that everywhere, on the plane to Chicago, plane to New York, in the subway, plain to Haiti, everywhere. So tonight during dishes we combined those together and it was actually the most hilarious thing ever! Jason is still undefeated. Ellie, Nathan and I are trying to find out Jason's strategy to not smile. He won't break.

 

Right now as I write this, the team is now ending the day with spicy uno and laughing uncontrollably. Praise God for a blessed day!

 

Sincerely,

Drelyn Baha

 

P.S. I'm super excited to have met another Native American on this trip! She's Navajo and has a strong passion for God.


2/21/2016

After two days of intense traveling it was really nice to relax today and by relax I mean no more sprinting through airports and way less stress. This morning we woke up to yet another windy day and after we ate breakfast we hung around for a bit playing spicy uno (a very intense game where even the best of friendships are at risk). After about an hour we joined another group for a tour of the main campus where we are staying. In this tour we learned about the history of the mission, their kitchen, the orphanage, school, and their church. It was amazing to see how without God none of this would be here, I mean literally none if it. They told story after story of how God provided for them and answered their prayers.

 

The tour ended by the church and they told us we had an hour to hang before church actually started. Almost immediately about ten kids swarmed our group and started talking to us. Man do I wish I knew Haitian creole because it was hard trying to communicate with them. Aside from the language barrier the kids loved playing with us. When the service started they followed us inside and sat with us for the whole thing. The worship was probably my favorite part of the whole day. It was really cool to see two different cultures worshiping the same God. They had both the Creole and English translations of the songs on the screen and it sounded so cool with everyone singing at the top of their lungs. After the worship the pastor got up and spoke about love in creole for an hour and a half. This guy was so passionate in his preaching and he definitely didn't need a microphone. The whole time even though I couldn't understand him I felt like I knew what he was saying and I could just feel the presence of God everywhere.

 

We ate a quick lunch and then hopped on a school bus to go tour their second campus. This campus also has a school and an “orphanage”. Although instead of an orphanage for children it was for the elderly, who are often ignored in Haiti. It's not quite finished yet but it's well on its way. We followed this tour up with a mini tour of the village we will be helping in this week. This village has hundreds of houses that fit into an area the size of a small neighborhood. We spent about thirty minutes there playing with the children who are super fun to be around. After that we headed back to the main campus and ate dinner, did some devotionals, and played a lot more spicy uno (we're addicted).

 

That pretty much sums up our whole day. Now that the wind is gone and I sit here typing this and watching tons of mosquitoes swarm around, I am so thankful for mosquito nets and bug spray. We appreciate the prayers and would definitely love some tomorrow as we go into our first work day in the village. Just pray that we can communicate well and that we won't let fear stop us from doing what God has called us down here to do.

 

Well I guess that's it for now....

-Nathan Self


 

2/20/2016

Yesterday morning (February 19) we set out on our first day of travel early in the morning. Unfortunately, our first flight was delayed by a couple of hours, and our second flight with the same airline was not pushed back at all. This meant that for us, the Chicago Airport was more like the track for the 400 yard dash than a place where we could get lunch and board our flight. With less than fifteen minutes to make it from one plane to the next, we made it! Our bags, unfortunately, did not.  

 

Thanks to a certain American Airlines employee you might know (Marilyn Cords), we were able to have our bags sent to New York after we worried that we would not be able to get our bags back before Haiti. Afterwords, we attempted to figure out the New York subway system (mostly succeeding!) and got dinner in Times Sqaure.

 

As a leader, I found myself pushed on day one of the trip in ways I definitely did not anticipate, largely due to the aforementioned baggage issue. I realize that this might sound like a complaint, but I am in truth quite grateful to God for it. The work we do in Haiti will be hard, and I believe God worked through the struggles we had yesterday to teach me things about myself in a leadership position that I need to be working on throughout this week. I won't go through every lesson, but a big one I found myself wrestling with was patience, with circumstances yes, but even more so with people. I realized I did have a problem with impatience in dealing with a somewhat unpleasant member of American's staff (this was before Marilyn helped us out), when I made a snarky comment about American's lack of competence. Sure, you could call that a little thing, but I'm troubled by the idea that even while going to serve, it is appallingly easy to act out of selfishness and anger. I'm grateful to God for revealing it, though, and would appreciate your prayers in working on my own impatience, especially as we are in an environment where we will be living on slowed-down 'island time,' as we called it when I last traveled to Haiti.

 

Overall, though, yesterday was an encouraging time. While there was certainly as sense in which we could've chalked it up to a day when nothing went right, we were always provided the resources and help that we needed. Under the circumstances, my team acted with admirable humility, sometimes more than I did, in accepting the situation with the bags and still doing their best to move forward, not dwelling on the complaint but enjoying the time we had as a team. Please continue to keep us in your prayers as we arrive in Haiti!

 

Sincerely,

Jack Martin


2/19/2016

We made it safely to Haiti! God's hand has been so evident throughout our trip so far, from everything to making all our flights to getting our luggage back. I know He is with us and is teaching us to rely on Him to get us where we need to be.

 

Haiti is a beautiful country, and today happened to be very windy (no mosquitoes!). Flying into Port -au-Prince, the green coast became clearer and clearer, and the water was a beautiful turquoise. I thought to myself, “How can something so gorgeous be considered a third-world country?” Then I began to admire the “shiny” buildings. However, it soon became apparent that the shine was from the tin roofs. I realized that the houses looked more than a little slanted, and they were awfully close together. We were flying right by slums. It kind of broke my heart. It still looked beautiful, just beautiful and falling apart. After landing, we grabbed our bags and walked off the plane. The heat hit me pretty hard, and the humidity didn't help at all. We walked into the airport, paid the $10 tourist fee, had our passports stamped, and collected our luggage. Not everyone was very friendly to us throughout this leg of the journey, and one customs worker wouldn't even look me in the eyes. The baggage claim was very crowded, and after a long time of weaving in and out of tight places, we finally escaped! A man named Simson from Mission of Hope came to pick us up, and we drove to the Mission complex in the covered bed of a truck. We drove for about 45 minutes, sticking our heads out, enjoying the breeze, and waving to the little kids who exclaimed and pointed at the “white people”. Many people waved happily, some gave us a glare, and others laughed and yelled. All the towns looked very dirty, trash all over in the street, debris (probably from the earthquake in 2010) still sitting in people's yards. But no one seemed to mind. We drove past a market where vendors lay all their merchandise out on the sidewalk. Cute little goats with mini beards roamed around. Women carried big bags of grain or baskets of laundry on their heads, without even holding on to them! (I wish I had that much balance!)To be honest, the city looked filthy compared to what we see in the United States, but everyone seemed happy. When we finally got to Mission of Hope, a staff member named Elizabeth welcomed us warmly. Eventually we were shown to our rooms, and after getting settled, our small team hung out on the patio, watching Haiti's beautiful sunset. Several other groups of Americans showed up at the Mission today, and we all sat in a miniature orientation tonight in which Elizabeth explained to us the basic do's and don'ts of Haitian culture, as well as the ultimate goal to share Christ with every person in Haiti.

 

Overall, today was very exciting! Its interesting to see how different this country is from my own. While it may seem dirty in many ways, I love the feeling and atmosphere here. It is a country filled with people who call it home, and I hope that God teaches me important lessons through them. Please continue to pray for our trip, that God would use us to the best of our abilities to reach the Haitians with the Good News!

 

Ellie Nassir



 
              
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