Saturday, December 3, 2011

Haiti- Part "De"

...As if the drive up to Bohoc wasn't going to be breathtaking enough, we spent our first day in Haiti, in a local church surrounded by the most passionate, beautiful seekers of God. Their voice praised Him from a depth that you don't see too often in the states... a depth that has likely been reached through many, many years of trials and testing.

After church we were invited to the pastor's home where they served us rice and beans. If you could have seen the amount of food that was stacked high for us, you would know what a sacrifice this was. Everything they harvest, they eat. Offering such a large meal for us was like pouring perfume on Jesus' feet- a true sacrifice and gift of love.
Pastor washing our hands before we ate lunch in his home
After eating we began our first "Mission"- Home visits. These were probably the most touching for me, personally. We were so close to peoples homes in the villages- we were able to see and touch these beautiful people and pray for their needs, encourage them through scripture and offer up a bag of rice and beans as a gift.

They live such simple lives. Nothing to distract them. This can be good and unfortunate at times. Grief striken women and men cannot escape their pain for just a moment with a TV show or a car ride somewhere. Then again, they have a keen, spiritual awareness of the battle they are in and they are able to call it what it is. A common response I hear after coming back from the trip has been, "Doesn't it make you grateful for all we have?"- Yes and No. I am thankful beyond words for the ability to drink clean water and not think twice about it. I am thankful for my home. The safety of my children and family. I am thankful for law and order. I am extremely thankful for our military. I am thankful for an abundance of educational opportunities. I am thankful that we have no lack in food. I am thankful for medical care. The basics that all human beings should have, I am thankful. It's the "beyond's" that I am now, not so sure about. Don't get me wrong, life is much more comfortable with a nice car, a warm bed, an occasional vacation, tv, a smartphone, resturants, movie theaters, malls, computers, etc... but it just makes life/God/meaning so much easier to.....escape. Could a simpler life mean hearing from Him better? following Him without reluctance- answering His call- living our purpose with abandon- and remembering what this is all really about? On my way there, I thought that they were in a little bubble of the world. Coming back- I wonder if we are the ones in a bubble- trapped by our overpacked, busy lives, our calendar of events, our appointments, our 2nd and 3rd jobs that help us maintain our lifestyles, our phones that tells us every. single. time. someone comments on our lives... our drama and complaints. If this life is really about preparing for the next, are we truly better off?
I read somewhere on Facebook earlier today that someone visiting an underground church in China, asked them how we, as Americans, could be praying for them. The response was that we would pray for them to continue to be persecuted so that their faith would be strengthened and also that we, here in the States, would start to experience persecution ourselves for the same reasons. Is it possible that they have encountered something that we haven't? Something that is worth giving up all of the "luxuries" for? I can hardly wrap my own mind around that kind of faith.


Monday was a school day at HAFF. I went to some of the classrooms and helped with an English class. I don't actually know how helpful I was though ;-) They asked me to teach a color song but I don't teach Kindergarten so I don't teach the colors; but from the depths of my memory, I drew up one song about colors. The students laughed. A lot. I'm pretty sure they were laughing at me, not with me. :) This trip also made me thankful for universal things that can connect us no matter our language or country. Things like...   laughter.     handshakes.       prayer.       worship.         smiling.         hugs.

Connecting with a smile :)

Monday afternoon I got my bags! Yay! They were banged up and handles broken, but I got them. I was very eager to get into the bags of teaching supplies. I had a few kids who I got to try out these math manipulatives on- they flourished with them! By the time we were done, they could: make patterns, continue patterns, count to 10, add, subtract, multiply, balance cubes with a scale and use reasoning.... all with me speaking English and them speaking Creole. It was awesome! 

HAFF does a milk program where mothers and caretakers can bring their children each week to be weighed and evaluated, then given milk for the week and a plant called Chiah. This is a miracle plant that Echo helped plant years ago in Haiti. It's a wonderful source of protein and vitamins and flourishes in the soil there. So these babies would get weighed, be prayed for, then take a blanket and stalk of Chiah with them. I was in charge of trying to speak some Creole phrases and give instructions for the women: "Please take a blanket", "God Bless You", and "Next one please". I'm pretty sure between my Southern accent and rearranging of sounds and words, I butchered these phrases but it got the job done ;-)

The miracle plant!

Tuesday, I met a wonderful man, Met Justin Mompremier. He does training for teachers in Haiti, covering nearly 50 schools in the Bohoc/Pignon area. He gets on his sturdy motorcycle everyday and rides around to the schools offering support, encouragement and training. It was an honor that he asked me to go around with him one day to 3 of those schools. At first, I assumed we would walk but when he handed me a helmet, I tried to contain the shock in my eyes. You know those "Watch for Motorcycles" stickers that seem to be everywhere in America? Yea, well Haiti needs "Watch for Motorcycles" billboards, public service announcements, stickers, t-shirts and picket signs. They are no joke there---they will go as fast as they want and around (or over) whatever they want. I was shocked at how everyone seems to just calmly move over as they speed by. So, when Met Justin handed me a helmet, I kinda got nervous. When we loaded up on a 4-wheeler, I felt much better. :)

We traveled to the schools and I saw smiling face, after smiling face. Children eager to learn- some who walked hours to get to school every single day. They were all so diligently working when I walked in. They weren't playing or goofing off. I saw no fighting in any of the schools, classrooms or recess areas. They took great pride in their uniforms and I was very impressed by how neat and clean they were. In a country where they live in homes made of dirt, clay and rocks and walk dirtroads, their white socks were the whitest I've ever seen. Tide has nothing on the Haitians laundry! :) 

Just as amazing as the children, was the environment they were working in. Natural sunlight beaming through the windows, doors open to a breeze, no computers or posters or perfectly spaced desks; no carpets or reading areas and a landscape outside of the school that many here would pay a lot of money to see everyday. 

Here are some of the precious children and classrooms:

While I was working in the schools, Tom was busy making chalkboards! His company donated enough money to make nearly 20 boards. They ended up making 14 this week. A future group will have supplies to make the rest, and then some. Very cool project!
At the same time, Dr. Jerry was heading up the "Dental Clinic" on site at HAFF. People walked for miles to come for dental work. The group from Iowa was such a blessing. Yet another reminder that God has gifted us with all kinds of talents and occupations that can be used according to His purpose! 

Wednesday we did a lot of home visits. This was a time to really be the hands and feet of Jesus to the village and meet the people who make up this community. Every person we visited seem very grateful that we took time to come to their homes and pray with them for their specific needs. "Mesi, Mesi" we would be told as many held their hands close to their hearts. There is so much less to do there, which leaves so much time on a daily basis, to do really important things like this. There is such a decrease in pressure to be anywhere but where you are. 

I tried to study the faces. Each wrinkle that told a story. Many faces seemed so burdened. Many also seem so, deeply in love with Jesus. As we sang "Amazing Grace", many would recognize the tune, close their eyes and hum along. Most times we did this right outside of their homes so chickens would pass by, a breeze would come through and you could hear the trees through the wind. It was such a natural, authentic environment and although there was a language barrier- we were joined by one Spirit for one purpose. This was a revelation for me about how amazing and infinitely available and in control, our God is. The same exact Savior that rescued my own life in a little town in Alabama, had also captured the hearts of these precious people in a tiny, little village on top of a great, big mountain, on a small island in the middle of the ocean. So in the moment of this home visit, we were able to be of one heart and one mind. What a beautiful glimpse into our eternal life to come....

*part 3/3 of Haiti posts are continued on the next page, or you can click on this link: Haiti- Part "Twa"

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