First of all, let me say thank you to those of you who prayed for and supported our team in Haiti. God was incredibly gracious to us. Travel to and from the country was smooth, and at no point did we experience significant delays. Our team also experienced incredible health during the trip (with the only exception being a few sea urchin spines in a student’s foot)
After arriving in Port-au-Prince we took a two hour truck ride to the village of Perçin, located in the city of Petit-Goâve. We stayed on a compound bordering the ocean, and the incredible view was tainted only by the trash floating in the bay. Perçin is a poor village by Haitian standards, and many of people make a living through fishing. In the morning one can see the men of Perçin scurrying around the bay, spreading their nets with the aid of their dugout canoes. We had the opportunity to eat some of these fish during our visit. They look and taste similar to bluegill, but their scales are a purple color which is most vibrant on the fins.
Long before our visit, the Mission of Hope representatives met with the pastor and community leaders in the village to plan out our trip objectives. This planning aided our effectiveness in incredible ways. This was the most well orchestrated mission trip I have ever been a part of. One of the desires of the community was that we would understand what their life was like. This meant that on our first day we spent several hours preparing food and doing laundry by hand. Some of the team left with blisters – and a new appreciation for washing machines. Even though I worked at a restaurant for four years, my culinary skills did not come close to those if the Haitian women. At one point after I had cut up a pepper, a woman took back the knife because of my slow pace. I guess we all need a jolt of humility every once in a while. Later in the week we had the opportunity to experience part of a fisherman’s life as we went out to sea in a boat.
Our two main ministry tasks during the trip were painting the church building and running a Vacation Bible School program for the children. Concrete really sucks up the paint, and we applied ten gallons while putting two coats on the exterior of the small building. VBS certainly has a different feel in Haiti than it does in the states. Gone are the flashy promotional materials and finely tuned presentations. This didn’t seem to bother the Haitian children, however. They were happy to enjoy simple crafts and were reasonably attentive to the translated messages. Realizing our limited ability to communicate, we kept it simple, talking about creation, sin, Christ’s sacrifice, and our need for redemption.
Before we left for Haiti, our team read a book called What Is The Gospel?, and once on the ground it was so exciting to see the students take the Good News about Christ to the Haitian people. One of our students, who has been a Christian less than a year, created a card trick to illustrate the Gospel. It was awesome to see the Haitian people crowd around him to see the trick, and even more encouraging to hear them pray aloud at the end of his message.
The people of Haiti speak Creole, which is derived from French, but fifteen percent of the population speaks Spanish. This was very helpful to our team because two of our students are fluent in Spanish. In this way, Cody and Julian were able to forge friendships with two different local men. One of these men was a voodoo practitioner, and Julian was able to talk to him about the differences between the message of Jesus, and the practices of voodoo.
I went to Haiti hoping to care for the needs of the students well, and God blessed in this area tremendously. On many separate occasions God opened up doors to connect with the students through meaningful conversations and prayer. I also believe we were able to provide the students with the tools to process what they were seeing in healthy ways. My co-leader Whitney and I are continuing to check in with these students, and will be having at least one more meeting with the whole team together. Your prayers for our team would be appreciated as they continue to process what God showed them. God intends for his truth to change us, and no experience should be wasted.
God blessed us richly during our time in Haiti, and during the whole week I felt a remarkable peace. I also left with much to think about. I am fully confident that God wanted us there that week, and I believe that he used us to bless the community of Perçin. We were certainly blessed by them. For hundreds of pictures and more of my thoughts on Haiti please visit my Facebook page. My e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org