S: Haiti, January 2011
FC: Haiti Mission Trip January 9-16,2011
1: "'Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink. I was a stranger and you invited me in....I tell you the truth, whatever you did for the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.'" Matthew 25:34-35,40
2: Five Oaks Church partnered with Global Vision Citadelle Ministries (GVCM) to provide our team the opportunity to support the people of Haiti. "GVCM is establishing its work to further the gospel in Haiti...and wants to connect with the Haitian people's highest aspirations through the gospel of Jesus Christ, with the Lord's promise that when the gospel is obeyed, and the Church established in the hearts of a people, that 'the gates of hell will not prevail.'"
3: The Team: Back row: Cindy Fjerstad, Bob Madsen, Mike Kirley, Paige Paulson, Deion Wells, Jill Wells Front row: Lyn Francois, Juila Pastirik, Stephanie Madsen, Ed Harrell, Cathy Kirley, Alicia Bartel, Ron Schlegel, Lesley Schlegel, Austin Schlegel, Kyle Peterson Not pictured: Adan Casas and Stephanie Graber
4: Flying into Port-au-Prince was almost surreal. We could see some of the tent cities, and a lot of the earthquake damage in and around the airport. We were even shuttled from our airplane to customs because the airport was damaged. | I am so glad I was traveling with Tim Wiant, especially when we were going through the airport. When you get to the baggage claim there are dozens of Haitians standing around waiting to take your bags for you, hoping for a tip. They could be quite forceful.
5: The orphanage where we stayed is in a town called Fedja, up in the mountains. We took a truck from the capitol up the mountain. In Haiti people use different forms of transportation, buses, tap-taps and motorcycles. It was already getting dark by the time we started the drive, so I didn't get to see much scenery, but that's what the rest of the week was for.
6: Monday was my first full day in Haiti. Awakening to the beautiful mountains behind the orphanage was wonderful. After breakfast and devotions, our team split into two teams and went to two different villages. My team went to the town of Flande to conduct a worship service and pass out rice to the people in that community. The original plan was to pass out shoe boxes filled with toys to the children. However, the shoe boxes got tied up in customs so we had to go with "Plan B." Even without the toys, the people were so grateful to have us there. After the church service we went with guides to peoples homes to speak with them and deliver rice to those who were unable to attend the church service.
7: To turn the bus around and head home we had to drive up to the next town, Lascahobas, and go around the block. We stopped at the market in Lascahobas to take a look around. The market was an eye-opener, especially the meat department. There isn't a part of the animal that is wasted. On the way back to the orphanage the villagers stopped us and gave us a goat ask a thank you gift. I am pretty sure that goat ended up in our stew a few days later...
8: When we finally reached the village there were over a hundred children waiting for us. We had to carry our supplies to the church because the road was too rough to drive right up to the church. All of the children packed themselves into the church, eager to see what we had to hand out. We brought enough for everyone, plus a little extra. | Tuesday was a long but beautiful day. We went to a tiny village called Passe Pomme, a 2 hour tap-tap ride into the mountains. The countryside was breathtaking and I barely put my camera down. On the bumpy ride up the mountain we stopped and bought some raw sugar cane to eat. It was sweet and delicious. I tried to bring some home, but the customs guys didn't like that idea.
10: Wednesday, January 12 was the one year anniversary of the earthquake, so it was a national day of remembrance. They turned off the power for the day, and we hung around the orphanage and played with the kids. We taught them how to play baseball, and helped set up tents. Because we weren't able to go to a church to pass out rice, we decided to take a walk and give back to the community around the orphanage.
11: In the afternoon, we decided to go to the market in Mairebalais, some people wanted to try to find machetes as souvenirs. Like the market in Lascahobas, they sold many different items, toiletries, meat, bread, shoes, everything. We even found Haitian mud cookies. They are cookies made of dirt, butter and salt and are eaten by the Haitians merely to feel full. Our translators were very concerned when we bought some, but we reassured them we wouldn't eat them.
12: On Thursday morning Pastor Yeves told some of our team to "be careful and make sure you wear your life preservers today! The current can be strong." This was the first word we heard of a river crossing, but the whole team was excited. The town Balmaitre was our destination for the day. Balmaitre was very close to Fedja, but since we had to cross the river to get there all of us had to pitch in and carry the rice to the church. It was very hot and sunny so the chance to take a dip in the river was refreshing.
13: After the church service we split into two teams as we normally did. The team I was on met with several families and we were able to pray with several people to accept Christ into their lives. Our team also had our first real encounter with a voodoo priest. The men in our team wanted a chance to speak with him so they went ahead to his house while we stayed back and prayed. It was really a very interesting experience and taught everyone a little more about Haitian culture.
14: Friday the team went to Port-au-Prince but I stayed behind to rest. Exhaustion from the rest of the week finally caught up to me, so the day of rest was much needed. Saturday was a bittersweet day for the team. It was time for us to pack up our things and leave the orphanage. Many of the orphans and Haitians were waiting to say goodbye to us as we boarded the bus. We headed down to the Kaliko beach resort outside of Port-au-Prince for a day of relaxation and debriefing.
16: I feel so blessed to have had the chance to go to Haiti and meet these wonderful people. The experience offered some perspective into not only the culture and lives of the Haitian people, but also into my own life, and how I can be more involved in sharing the blessings I have.