On January 18, 2013 I traveled to Haiti with a small team from Trinity Church. However, my journey to Haiti started over three years ago.
In the summer of 2010 I took our daughters to Charlotte, NC to visit my lifelong friend Tara Brooks and her family. We were meeting her two sons, Jean Claude and Woodson for the first time. They were both adopted from Haiti. After hearing stories of Haiti and falling in love with the boys, I immediately felt a connection to the country that I could not describe. Then Tara got her photo album out and I saw the beautiful countryside and the beautiful people. I also saw the huge tarantula and said, “I will never go to Haiti!”
Over the course of the next three years many things have happened here at Trinity to point us in a more mission-oriented direction. We have welcomed several missionaries and their families in to talk to us about their passion and the mission fields where they are demonstrating God’s love. The stories of China, the Chec Republic, Papua New Guinea and New Zealand intrigued me but the day that Jeff and Sarah VanderMolen came with their family to share their mission work in Haiti, I knew God had a plan for me in that country as well. Everyone, including Hannah, seemed excited about their work and the prospect of travelling as a church family to Haiti. That had me thinking I needed to make sure it’s safe for her to go there. I immediately started praying about my fear of spiders and how God was going to get me through this difficult trip!
Finally after two years of planning and meeting with Jeff, our small scouting team consisting of me, Pastor Ron, Frank, and Renata was ready to embark on a trip that would change our lives forever. And boy did it!
There are so many things about Haiti that as an American I simply cannot wrap my brain around. The amount of trash lying around in the streets of Port Au Prince is simply mind boggling. There is trash everywhere! I was witness to a woman taking a drink from a water pouch and simply throwing it on the ground where she stood when she was done. This is something we just do not see here in the States. Even in the countryside of Baissin Caimman there is litter on the ground. There is a constant smell of burning everywhere you go in Haiti either due to burning trash or cooking. I knew I had to look past the trash to get to the beauty of this country and I am glad I was able to do that.
Another thing that blew my mind was the faith of the people I met in Baissin Caimman. As we settled in Saturday night, Pastor Celon wanted to hold a Bible study with us. A few men from the community joined us as well but what caught my attention the most was the children who snuck in to be a part of worshiping God as well. Then again at the Sunday morning service, the excitement of the people, but especially the children was inspiring! The praise songs were beautiful and sung with a volume and enthusiasm that puts me to shame! The best example I saw of the faith the Haitian people have was the evening service we attended in another community however. The place was busting at the seams with people who traveled miles on foot to participate in worshiping God! And the children who were attentive for three hours singing their hearts out in praise were beautiful!
Here are some of the things I fell in love with in Haiti:
- women who can’t even understand me, yet hug me with the same passion as my mother
- those same women cooking all day for us
- Haitian time
- the beach
- the language
- the way Haiti’s educated want to help their people
- Jules- a big man with the biggest heart of anyone I have ever met
- Jeff’s love for Haitian people in action
- the children who are so curious and eager to meet you with their bright eyes and smiling faces
- the respect that the people have for teachers and the value they place on their education
- the beauty of the countryside and the simplicity of life
- people who are on fire for the Lord no matter what the obstacles are for worshiping Him
There are many concerns I have for my friends in Haiti. One of the biggest concerns is sanitation, as I expressed before. The lack of resources is astounding. The lack of a print-rich environment in the classrooms, especially the pre-k and kindergarten classroom was very sad to me as an educator. The fact that kids don’t play, they just stay out of the way is another concept that is hard for me to see.
I see one of the roles of the Trinity Church being a support to the teachers of Baissin Caimmin. We have many teachers and youth who could add a great deal to this ministry. I would like us to work alongside the teachers and students during the school day to actively engage the students in literacy activities. As Renata will tell you, we have a lot to learn from them as well. I envision this as a collaboration of sorts.
We also have many grownups and youth who are actively involved in drama which could also add to this ministry. My vision is to have a nightly Bible School in which many of the kids and teachers from the community could come and we could just have a great time praising the Lord together. Learning each other’s language is a great way for our youth to connect with the people of Haiti! We will be teaching as many Haitian praise songs as we can before our larger group travels back. The kids could also work alongside each other to create skits for Bible stories that we will be focusing on for the week.
I have been told on more than one occasion that when you visit Haiti and then return home, a part of your heart stays there. I never really understood this until returning to life as normal here in Nunda, NY. The people of Haiti suffer in poverty the likes of which no American can fathom. Yet they live their lives with a richness we as Americans have a hard time grasping as well. The benefits of Trinity Church working alongside the Haiti H2O team and the people of Baissin Caimmin are only just beginning to immerge. I look forward to watching lives change both there and in our church family as well in the future years!
I ask you to pray for this ministry and how you can be a part of our partnership with the congregation of Baissin Caimmin. Perhaps there are things, like spiders, which have you saying “I can’t go!”. Don’t rule out the possibility! I never would have believed that I would go and even come face to face with my biggest fear. But God had it all planned out and I still want to go back! He used my fear to help me trust in Him fully. Maybe God has a plan for you in Haiti as well!