May 9-17, 2017
What a week full of humbling sights and experiences, relationships formed and kept, God’s strength in serving, and love… Tremendous love. A week that will forever be cemented in the foundation of my heart. We immersed ourselves in a country in great need of this immense love. As we served and loved the Haitians, the Haitians served and loved us.
Flying over the country allows you to look at Haiti with a wide lens which pictures a mountainous, breathtaking country with crystal clear waters and a vast sky. But landing and driving for six hours from Port Au Prince to Les Cayes forces you to replace the wide lens with a zoom lens, capturing every detail of poverty and brokenness.
Millions of people are living in small homes or huts everywhere. The land is a trash can. Trash fills the streets, fields, and rivers as complete normality. People carry baskets of water and products on their heads to sell or to provide for their family. Goats, cows, dogs, and pigs are chained in the middle of fields and on the streets. The drinking water is unfiltered. There is a universal language on the road of beeping which means “move out of the way” without any traffic regulations or signs as people walk between vehicles.
There is no wifi, no consistent power, and no sweet, sweet American normality or home comfort. This is Haitian normality. A sad truth, but a real truth. And yet this is the lifestyle. How humbling is this place for an entitled American?
In the same breath that I speak of brokenness, culture and joy encompasses the island too. There is such bliss in simply sitting and listening to the sounds and atmosphere of Haiti:
The conversations between people, the traffic and beeping from cars, the barking dogs, loud roosters, turkeys, goats, children laughing and screaming, wind, singing, music, and the reassuring stillness from The Lord.
This stillness was present everywhere, especially in moments when the heat was unbearable. As the sun burned and as the mosquitos bit, He sent His breeze to keep us cool and His strength to keep us moving. Weakness was rare because He really provided that strength. I never experienced this blessing to such an extent which served as a reminder from Psalm 23 that The Lord is our Shepherd because He protects and provides always.
Our broad mission for the week was to help build the foundation of what will be known as Mercy Hospital in Les Cayes as well as to spend time with children from two orphanages. On a more narrow view, our mission was to humbly serve and interact with the people of Haiti.
We shoveled, passed, and dumped buckets of dirt and cement into sections of the foundation. We did this for a good portion of the week. As we walked away from the foundation each day, I noticed the progress we had made.
The image of rocks being placed in this foundation brings me to Psalm 18:31 which says, “For who is God besides the Lord? And who is the Rock except our God?” We know that God is our solid rock and our foundation, so as this foundation is being built with rocks, The Lord is built right into the hospital, too, and His shield of protection and provision will forever be present there.
During our last morning devotion, rocks from the piles at the foundation were passed to our team and we wrote scripture or something from our heart on each rock. When the next team comes to work on the foundation, the Pastor that we worked with will pass out the rocks to that team and place our rocks in the foundation as a symbol of the work we accomplished this week and of God’s blessing on the hospital.
Haitian Children. So precious, so lovable, and so sassy all at once.
We spent one day with all of the orphans. When we first arrived at Ducis, the boys orphanage, their little faces lit up with joy and they immediately ran to our team with arms extended waiting for us to pick them up. This showed me that they wanted love, and it warmed my heart to know that we got to show them our own love, but more importantly, the love of Christ for the whole day.
When the girls came, we passed out skirts to them and we gave balls and bubbles to the boys along with a bag full of stickers, chalk, flip-flops, and more for all of the children. Before going to Haiti, our Cedarville team learned Zumba and wrote a skit based on the story of Jonah for the children. Dancing with the girls was a blast and the children comprehended and really enjoyed the skit when it was interpreted!
A highlight from this day was when a few of the boys noticed my cell phone, grabbed it from me, and began exploring the wonderful world of pictures. They took pictures of themselves and me, found snapchat and its filters, and looked through my own photos. Something that is so normal and uneventful to me was so fascinating and joyful for these kids. I loved watching them laugh and find fun in pictures.
One of the hardest parts of the trip was when we went to a hospital for mothers and new born babies that looked like something you would see on a commercial for poverty to donate to.
The conditions were terrible – it was dark, hot, full of flies, and unclean with rows of beds directly next to each other. Most of the women were alone without the fathers and some babies were completely abandoned.
Because of a cookie sale at Cedarville, we purchased baby formula to give the mothers. Before we left, we prayed at the front of the hospital and our Pastor asked if anyone wanted to know The Lord. One woman said in Creole, “Yes, I want to know Jesus!” So, Pastor Lubin prayed for her to accept Jesus and for her baby who has a heart condition. This woman now knows that she is living in the love and will of God, and that her baby boy is being held by his heavenly Father who also happens to be the great Healer.
Haitians are passionate, fun, and selfless.
They make the most out of what they have which has challenged me to do the same.
I am thankful that our Cedarville University team was not the only group working on the foundation for the week because we got to join the native Haitians who have been working on it since the first rock was placed. We had opportunities all week to interact with who we now call new friends.
Before going to Haiti, I would have never categorized passing rocks and dirt as “fun.” But when God is in the midst of the passing and there is strong unity in His name between two languages, heck, I want to pass rocks and dirt all day! Between listening to music, singing along, dancing a ton, learning Creole as the Haitians learned English, and laughing together, unity quickly formed and we became one team.
One of the highlights of the trip for me was when some of the Haitians on the work site grabbed a soccer ball that our team brought and began playing volleyball with it. A few of the Cedarville students and I decided to join. This interaction verified that a barrier was non-existent between us and the Haitians – we were all on the same team and fulfilling the same mission.
I could not have asked for a better Cedarville team to serve with and experience Haiti with. From the moment we boarded the plane to Atlanta and then to Port Au Prince, we clicked, and it was not long until we became, as Pastor Lubin would call it, a “shucky ducky” family.
There is no other team that I would rather listen to Kelly Clarkson and Veggie Tails with, learn the intricate art of Avalon, pass “boockets,” and encourage each other to keep going and to learn as much creole as possible.
I am determined to see this hospital when it is fully built. Mercy hospital will be a blessing to so many people, including the little baby with the heart condition. There is no way I can simply let my passion for this place die out. I love the people, I love the atmosphere, and I love what The Lord is constantly doing.
I will definitely be seeing Haiti again!