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I ended up having many distractions this weekend and didn’t make time for a new post so instead you get a recycled one. I wrote and posted this on my facebook notes after I returned from a mission trip to Haiti in June. It seemed an appropriate reprint given Haiti’s recent and continuing tragedy.

Also, my apologies in advanced for typos and run on sentences and the like, which I’m sure it contains.

The team was made up of 18 individuals from the Dakotas, Nebraska, myself from Ohio and a few other states besides I think. No one had met anyone before this trip but God blessed us with a strong spirit of friendship and unity. There were a few glitches in Omaha when we got our boarding passing with myself and a girl from Brookings SD but the employee helping our group check in really bent over backwards to get all 18 of us and our 36 check in bags (not counting the 3 guitars) all on the plane on time. We cut it close but, we all made it.

We spent the night in Ft. Lauderdale FL and the next day started with more then enough glitches to last the day. The arrangement for breakfast for the team as well as transport to the airport for a 8 am departure time BOTH fell through but by the grace of God and the teams willingness to scrunch all us into a 15 passenger van (not including the driver) we made it in plenty of time to board.

Once we landed in Haiti we met Kiki and Big, the native Haitians who work frequently with Mission Haiti and the LifeLight groups that have come down to partner with it, who helped us load all of our luggage and ourselves into a van, jeep and one truck for the 5 hour drive to Petite Riviera. It was a hot, bumpy and tiring drive that a few of us (including myself) didn’t manage to stay totally lucid for despite the chaotic driving patterns of Haitian roadway (Which consist mostly of a short horn beep alerting your fellow drivers that you are about to move in whatever direction you want.) All the vehicles in Haiti with rare exception are vans and trucks. Cars just can’t handle the roads, even the “paved” ones in Porte au Prince.

We got to the Mission Haiti Orphanage around 4 o’clock and spent the rest of the day getting to know the compound and the kids who lived there under the guidance of Pam. Pam first came to Haiti in the mid 90’s and out of her passion for its people she founded the Orphanage that became Mission Haiti.
The compound is a 12ish foot cement block wall topped with razor wire for protection against thieves, which is very common because of the prevalence of poverty in all of Haiti that is exaggerated even more in the mountains. It has the Orphanage building itself which just barely pushing 1000ft and houses all 7 kids plus Sue and Fern, missionary nurses from the US who help take care of the children. The kitchen and bathrooms are separate buildings since kitchens are never part of the main house in Haitian culture (because everything is cooked over a charcoal fire and no one can afford air conditioning, in fact, no one there can afford electricity.) and the bathrooms are optional. The orphanage in the only place with an outhouse that any of us saw during our stay and we felt very blessed to have it, even when the tarantulas showed up there to say hi which was thankfully only once or twice. The last building is the mission house which is twice the size of the orphanage and has three bunk rooms and a center common room. We took all our meals in a giant cement pavilion with a tin roof. There is also a cement pad next to it that is covered with a white pavilion tent where we had worship and ministry.

There were 4 shower rooms consisting of four cement blocks with wood doors and shower curtains containing a bucket of water, a cup for getting water from the bucket to you and a shelf to hold your clothes and shampoo. People, you haven’t lived until you’ve showered at 5:30 in the morning under a fig tree in a tropical jungle with an empty peanut butter jar and bottle of 2 in 1 conditioner swiped from hotel to a chorus of jungle frogs. Seriously, I suggest you all try it at least once.

We went outside to do ministry everyday, mostly with children. We did VBS at schools along the coast road we stayed by and some up on the mountain as well. We played football and tried (note : tried) to teach the kids volley ball but they didn’t see the point of using hands when feet worked so much better. Team members took turns telling their stories, testimony of God in their lives to the teenagers and middle school kids that showed up at our events. An odd 20 young men and about 8 girls came by the orphanage to hear more testimonies and talks on purity and living a righteous life at the compound in the evenings. We focus on these topics because there is a potent spirit of sexual immorality in Haiti, kids are having kids and there is no there to tell them differently. Child abandonment is common and some parents sell their children into slavery because they don’t have money to raise them and because taking care of themselves, #1, is the model that their parents showed them.
The Haitian Mothers Day came on the Sunday we were there and the team did home visits and gave away rice on that day.
We were able to bless the children at the Orphanage by building them their very own swings set and play house. They had never seen such a thing in their young lives and it took a few hours of true blue motion sickness to get use to the unfamiliar and foreign play of swinging but, by the end of the day all of them were professionals in the making.
The team itself experienced a substantial growth spurt as God took their ideas, habits and theologies that the abundance and greed of comfort the USA ingrains on us like a spiritual cancer and threw them into the trash filled Haitian coast line. No one had the control to go dry eyed through the week as God broke us down and used children stark with malnutrition, abuse and hopelessness to show us that if all it takes to be loved is to hold hands with an overweight white stranger then how much more does God show us his love for us, that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.
God replaced our lazy ideals and complaints about “there not being enough time to go to that Bible study” or “I can’t sit a whole hour for a church service” with a hunger to do more to reach the lost with his salvation and love. He showed us how much suffering there is an hour flight from our resorts in Florida and made fools of our pursuits of happiness through material gain or status and folly of our bubbles of security through the smiles of children who sell bread on the street for a living.
Leaving at the end of our 5 days there was heartbreaking for the orphanage kids and the team. Many on both sides cried and I’ll be the last to exclude myself from that list. Team members packed their bags for the trip home again with a renewed sense of Gods grace in their lives and a bigger purpose in their hearts. Most of us girls had lighter bags as we had pilfered our belongings for things we didn’t need, like the skirts and shoes we all had bought for the trip and would never wear again, to leave behind to be given to those in need.
Mission work is the one thing that I believe the Christians of the US (and other 1st world countries) needs the most. We so often say “Why did God let this happen?” or “If God loved me He wouldn’t have done this or that.” I say that if you want to see how much God loves you turn off your computer, your TV and get out of your air conditioned kitchen, that has so much food you can’t even name half of what’s in your freezer without opening it and go to a third world country. You’ll see exactly how much God loves you when you step outside of your human built comfort zone and allow God to stretch your life to its full potential.

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2 Comments

  1. I've never been to Guatemala and I wish we could go. I'm looking forward to the day Shade is total potty trained so I can cart him along with me to other countries a bit more easily.

  2. It's still a very timely message for all. I'm excited to be going back to Guatemala with LP this summer. Love your writings.


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