Haiti H2O

Hope to Opportunity

Category: St Martin

4 Mile Medical Mission

 Team Members – George Atkins, Darrell Martin, Mai Lynn Martin,Devin Martin, Megan Martin, Kiera Holbein, Ginny Holbein,Dave Holbein, River Icenhour, Sheri Herstine-lcenhour,Bill Porto, Kate Hurne, Karlyn Wilson, Jennifer Knight,and Jeff VanderMolen (Partner Haiti H20).

This is now the third time Four Mile has sent members to the village of Saint Martin (or as some pronounce it Sain Montain). Saint Martin is roughly 150 miles west of Port Au Prince, and just west of Cayes, right on the southern most point of Haiti. The center of Saint Martin is our Karlyn Wilson partner church. It seeks to address the needs of the community through a primary school, skills training (masonry and sewing classes), and sanitation. The church of Saint Martin asked us to help facilitate a Medical Clinic. On our previous trip we held an impromptu clinic simply because word spread we had health care professionals with us. In two days we treated just over 250 people. We all guessed at how many people we would see this time, since our return was advertized over radio. In just three days we treated 609 patients, and paid to send three to the hospital for surgery! Every team member played a strategic part in the clinic. Here are a few of their stories.

“This trip taught me that no matter how bad the circumstances, worshipping our God takes precedence over anything that is going on around you. And also in busy, hectic situations you sometimes have to take a deep breath and say, I know I am here for Your purpose and to do what You sent me to do. God is Good & his faithful love endures forever!” -Jennifer Knight

My week in St. Martin was amazing. I had the pleasure of meeting people that were resourceful, kind, gracious, friendly, hospitable and filled w/ the love of Jesus Christ. When all the clutter of possessions and busyness of the “modern lifestyle” are missing from one’s daily life, the character that is important to God takes on a beauty of its own. There is so much to learn from the people of St. Martin.– Karlyn Wilson

“Not shying away, but looking into the eyes of those that I served, I saw Gods love looking right back at me. I learned that I was not just serving those in need, but rather serving God’s purpose. 1 Peter 4: 10   Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms.”– Darrell Martin

“Although this was my second trip to Haiti, it was a different experience than 2 years ago. Going to Haiti is like stepping back in time to when life was simpler – no phone, no TV, no air conditioning, etc.. I forgot how nice it was to escape our everyday pressures involving work and family. I can’t wait to go back in 2 years and see the many friends I’ve made in Haiti.” – Dave Holbein

“I was humbled that God chose me to be His vessel and privileged to help give that care and be the light showing the love of Christ. Thank you Four Mile for your support and prayers as you have no idea how grateful they were to have us there!” – Ginny Holbein

“I was once again struck by the hospitality and the generosity of theHaitian people. They continually encourage me to love the people around me. Feel free to ask me about the trip!” – Kiera Holbein

Field Report-Jeff VanderMolen

I just got home from Haiti on Saturday, the second trip in one month. I am encouraged by all of the things happening right now. I visited all of our Haitian partners and all of the communities: Baissin Camain, St. Martin, and Plain Matin. In Baissin Caiman, there are 18 baby goats to distribute to new families. The fourth composting toilet has been installed, and the first three are working well! The program has expanded to St. Martin.

Last June, a committee from St. Martin came to Baissin Caiman to take part in a workshop on composting toilets, led by Jilsen and Onis, the head of the committee in Bassin Caiman. After learning about this approach to sanitation, they toured the working toilets, and said this is what they need in St. Martin. On this last visit, I sat down with the St. Martin committee to initiate the education component before beginning construction on the first composting toilet.

Education is important when introducing new ideas and technologies! The people who serve on the committees understand they are ultimately responsible for the success of a new project. They chose a site outside of the church courtyard so the new toilet would be perceived as a community toilet, yet would also ensure adequate supervision to keep it clean.

I have had multiple people confirm that Baissin Caiman wants to pursue a community corn grinder business. The success of the bread oven—it has been operating for the last six years as a self-sustaining business–has prompted them to explain how a corn grinder would benefit many people in the village. Right now, the ladies have a four-hour walk with their sack of corn to the nearest place to grind their corn, and then a four-hour walk home. Sometimes, the grinder is so busy, they cannot get their load finished in one day so they have to return another day to pick up their ground corn!

There are many more stories to tell. Needless to say, God is on the move in Haiti, and we are privileged to be a part of what he is doing. I have four more trips to Haiti planned for the year, and I am excited to keep the momentum going for the communities and people we have come to know and love.

In his grace,
Jeff VanderMolen
Haiti H2O
Trip Coordinator

The three big things that I learned in Haiti were…

Eastminster’s Haiti Trip 2012, by Keea Dorsey

When I first heard about my church’s annual trip to St. Martain, Haiti, I felt an immediate tug on my heart to go. I knew deep down that God was going to do something great on this trip. At first, I had the typical Christian mindset – I was going to go down there and God would use ME to speak to these people. But while I was in Haiti, God blew my mind! He used every single person I met to touch MY heart and teach me something. There is no possible way for me to put everything I felt and learned into one summary – it would take a year to read! So without further ado, the three big things that I learned in Haiti were 1) don’t worry, just trust 2) love strongly and 3) give your all.

One of the first things I noticed was that the people of Saint Martain trusted God with every fiber of their being and it showed in the way they live. They rose when the sun came up and worked, without complaining and while giving their best, until the sun set. They went about their day knowing that God would provide. Some people I met were sick. Some had children, friends, or relatives that were sick and they were caring for them. All these people were honest in saying that they did not know why this was happening. Not once did I hear anyone’s lips part to complain or say “why me?” They gladly welcomed prayer and stated that they knew God had it under control. One particular visit to a home stood out to me. We came across a godmother who was taking care of her goddaughter. The goddaughter had dementia among other problems. The godmother told us that her dementia “just happened and they didn’t know why.” Toward the end of our visit we offered to pray and sing a song with the two ladies. I was amazed as the godmother went into her hut and came out with a covering that the young lady with dementia specifically used for HER prayer time to the Lord. Thousands of thoughts rushed through my head. I couldn’t believe that in all she was suffering the goddaughter remembered to spend time with God and give him thanks and praise. After the prayer, her caregiver said something that stuck with me. She proudly stated, while looking at her goddaughter, “This is a test that the Lord is giving her and she is passing, she is passing.”

Second, these people know how to LOVE! I can’t begin to describe to you the amount of love I felt upon my arrival to Haiti. After 24 hours of non-stop travel we were having difficulties reaching the village in a timely manner. So many wonderful people pitched in to help get us to the village of St. Martain. At one point in our journey there, the pastor of the church in St. Martain left his home (after dark) to come looking for our group. He was worried because our group had not reached the village. I thought it was so amazing that a man we had never met could and would care so much. To top it all off, when we finally reached the village way later than expected almost half of the village was waiting for us at the “little river crossing”. They were there to welcome us and make sure that we would get across safely. At this point I knew without a doubt that traveling over 24 hours to get there would be so worth it. These people know how to love others because they truly love God. On our first day in St. Martian, one of our translators pulled a couple of our team members aside and began passionately talking to us about the love of Christ and asking if we would trade Christ for anything. You could clearly see that his heart was for Christ, his word, and his people. I fought hard to hold back tears. It was just so refreshing to see someone who had been walking with Christ for so long express his love for God as if he had just found it!

Lastly, these people give their all to Christ and to their brothers and sisters in Christ. Their ability to give is amazing. They have few material possessions but their spiritual wealth is great. The community is helping raise a little boy named Emmanuel because his mother is not able to properly care for him. On Sunday morning at church, I watched as several people not only gave their offering to the Lord but placed money in the basket for little Emmanuel. I immediately thought of how many times I’ve tried to get around giving my all to God (spiritually or financially). Even though I don’t make much by U.S standards, I’ll make more than some of those people ever will. Yet, their heart for giving is great. It is to be treasured and to be learned from. How could I be so selfish in the way that I love and give when I’ve been so blessed?

During my time in St. Martain, God showed me things about myself – about what still consumes me and insecurities that I have not fully given to Him. He showed me how I should love (like Him), with my whole being. He showed me how I should give, putting others ahead of myself at all times. He taught me how I should trust – all the time no matter what the circumstances are. God showed me through Haiti H2O, the translators, and the people of St. Martain what it looks like when everything revolves around Him and you make Him the center of your life.

If I could leave you with anything it would be this: These people live like we wouldn’t dare to live – with great fear of God, great love for God, and great faith in God. They put God’s Word into action and they cherish it. Let us first look to Christ where all great love comes from. Then let that love seep into us so that others might see it, feel it, and be compelled to change their ways. This love changed me in St. Martain and it is this love that is going to change our world.

Eastminster Haiti Trip 2012

Tee shirts packed.  Gatorade powder – packed. Bug spray – packed.  Passport –ready to go.  While I was packing for my trip to Haiti, a country known for its poverty, political turmoil and devastation caused by a recent earthquake, I kept thinking about the Wedding Feast of Cana. That’s the story in the bible when Jesus tells the wedding servers to fill six stone water jars. The jars could hold 20 – 30 gallons each, so the servers gathered  180 gallons of water! When the head server tasted the “water” he ran off to find the groom wondering why in the world he hadn’t served this crazy-good wine earlier. Basically, he says to the groom, “Why are you wasting this seriously delicious wine on all these drunk people? They won’t even know how good it is!”

So why was I drawn to this story before leaving for Haiti?  What did this seriously delicious wine have to do with the mission of our outreach trip?

It is hard to summarize our group’s 10-day trip to Haiti. There is too much to tell.

About how we all could still laugh and sing after 24 hours of straight-up travel.

About all the great projects we did – building forms and mixing and pouring a cement front porch for the church, adding earthquake-proof mesh to the walls of the school, painting two lovely murals, planting 100 tree saplings on a barren hillside.

About our hilarious struggle to learn some Creole by turning it into a game show complete with Haitian judges and audience. Someone say “WHEEL!…OF!… CREOLE!”

About the adorable baby named Emmanuel that the church community is raising because the mother is incapable.

About the tropical paradise of a cove we swam in everyday.

But for me, my favorite part was the Haitians. They were so gracious and welcoming, fun and hope-filled. On our late-night arrival, the worried Haitians– all ages – gathered at the beach crossing in the dark to make sure we could get through safely. They ran back to the village chasing our trucks. The next day, the children grabbed our hands and asked us to follow them through the coconut and plantain trees to their homes. Then they pulled out chairs for each of us and offered to get us coconuts. Every day fifteen cooks made us delicious traditional Haitian meals. They really put their hearts into it, serving us something a little different now and then as an extra treat.

I fell in love with these gorgeous people. They take pride in their appearance but are not prideful. They probably wear hand-me-down clothes, but who could tell? They look wonderful. While we were there it was Holy Week. Every night there was a service. The church filled up with lots of young people. One highlight was the ten young adult men from the congregation who got up front in matching burgundy dress shirts and sang. Everyone was clapping along and the young men were smiling, obviously having a blast. The song went on and on until it felt like the rafters were shaking. After it was over, everyone clapped and passed a hat to gather donations for the singers!

We were all there together – Haitian or American, rich or poor, sick or well, tired or rested, fed or wanting more, living in a hut or a three-bedroom house. But also there was this stop-you-dead-in-your-tracks wine that was being poured out for us. It was something too deep for us to fully realize. And definitely too good for our drunk, thick-headed selves! Later, as I was reading one of the devotionals that Jeff had us read, I realized that whether we understand this wine right away, or later, or maybe not at all, the delicious wine-filled Hope that we are called to as Christ-followers is always there – 180 gallons of it! That is more than we could ever need.

Who knew we would experience such thirst-quenching Hope in Haiti – described by some as “the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere?” I think the 16 of us who went on this trip would agree: Haiti has wine that tastes expensive and while we were there it was generously poured for us all.

Reflection by Anne Melnyk









Haiti Journey Report-Chestnut Mountain Presbyterian Church

Dear Family and Friends…

 We returned from our challenging journey to Haiti on Sunday evening and we sensed and felt your prayers every step of the way.

This year we went under the auspices of Haiti H2O, an organization in Pittsburgh that has been working in Haiti for some time. Our son, Doug and another close friend of his, Jeff VanderMolen, lead teams to 3 different areas in Haiti but this time, both of them were with us. The fact that they both know Creole, is a great asset that helped tremendously.

 From the get go, this venture was different from all the others we have been on to Haiti and elsewhere. The primary objective was building relationships with our dear brothers and sisters and this was done in a variety of ways.  Rather than we coming down with a program to be executed, through Haiti H2O we earlier found out what the pastor and peoples’ vision was and came along side to help them meet that vision.

 When we arrived on Saturday, February 25th…we had gotten settled in and had a team meeting, covering a fair amount of cultural material and how we would be working during the week. When we were about to break up and hit the sack, our host, Pastor Voltaire asked if someone would like to preach the following morning. Doug gave me the nod and said it would be appropriate for me to take the assignment if I would be willing. Quite frankly, I had not brought any material with me…but accented to the opportunity. The next morning the two hour+ service had already gone an hour and a half when I was asked to come to the pulpit.  Dear friends….your prayers were sensed in an unmistakable way and my interpreter, brother, Jules and I were in wonderful sync. 

 On our scouting trip back in November we had learned that they were interested in looking at dehydrating fruits, herbs and vegetables so Cindy searched the web and found that a wonderful Sun Oven would be helpful in doing that and much more. 

Long story short, the ladies learned how to use it to make bread, cookies, full meals and numerous other items without having to use charcoal…and freeing them up for other responsibilities while the food was baking by the sun’s rays. They have some neat plans for baking items that can be sold and securing funds for some much needed items for the church.

 We were encouraged to visit in the homes of Haitian families and were treated to fresh coconut milk and the soft white lining at one place where the family consisted of 6 boys, 3 girls and mom & dad.  Another visit was made on a home where three young ladies were out in the front yard braiding one another’s hair.  After spending some time getting to know them, the gospel was shared and the 25 year old aunt prayed to receive Christ.  We went back a couple of days later with one of the Church’s deacons who presented her with a bible and encouraged her to begin attending their worship services.

 Normally when we’ve taken reading glasses down, Bev has usually done the fitting of same and given them the appropriate strength.  This time, she trained two of them to do this ministry and the glasses were left with them to carry this out through the church as a helpful outreach on a regular basis.

 The Haitian sisters work very hard in the kitchen to prepare our meals.  One morning one of our college gals came along side and through one of the female translators indicated that she would like to do a pedicure for each of them. Over the next four hours Meighan washed their feet, cut their toe nails, massaged their toes and the bottoms of their feet, then applied oil….and had them pick out the color they wanted and painted their toe nails. All the time, she was watching their eyes and the expression on their faces to make sure she wasn’t causing them discomfort. It was a beautiful application of Matthew 25:14-16.

 The men, including several translators, helped strengthen the walls of the school through application of a mesh material that Larry researched and found would be helpful. It was brought down from the states.  Sand was dug from an area behind the school, sifted, mixed with cement and water and then applied to the walls. This was followed with the mesh material being attached to it and another layer of cement put on.  Four Haitian masons did the application while others did the measuring, cutting, sifting, etc. Three of the five rooms were done and money was left for them to complete the two remaining rooms prior to another team coming down at the end of March. When they arrive, a goat project will be initiated that the church has been planning for some time.

 We were able to take down with us over a dozen wedding dresses.  Six were left with this church to loan out to Haitian brides when they are getting married and the remainder were given to another congregation in Cayes that oversees this work along with a number of other congregations.

One day Doug, Cruz and the old guy, along with a translator went to the location of a bee keeper about an hour away.  He showed us his hives, some 250 in number, most of them housed in two foot lengths of hollowed out logs….and we compared methods used in our respective countries, as well as tasting each other’s honey.  A very interesting time, to say the least.

 There is much, much more to share but I am running out of space. We praise God for all that He accomplished. To HIM be all the glory and honor.

 Bob & Beverly Bradbury

Emmanuel, “God with us”

There is a woman in St. Martin who is mentally handicapped. She has no family in the area so the church helps take care of her. She often wanders around the courtyard or twists herself into a sitting position under a tree staring at the sky the through the branches and talks to herself. The ladies in the church make sure she has food to eat.

She has become pregnant three times. Whether some man took advantage of her physically or she just didn’t understand what she was doing, we don’t know. But we know that she has left two of the babies that she birthed under a tree to die. During the third pregnancy the church people made sure they knew where she had left the child, and rescued it.

Two families have taken responsibility for caring for the child but the whole church has committed to raise the child. Each week they have a dedicated offering for the congregation to give money for the child. This morning I watched as old ladies, children, men and women with families of the own come forward to put a few gourdes or a dollars into the basket. Pastor Voltaire told us later after the service that the child’s name is Emmanuel, “God with us”.

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