Making a difference in the lives of at risk women and children
Day 1, Monday June 15: We left Detroit Metro after a 7 hour delay, finallydeparting at 2am Tuesday morning. We were quite concerned we would not
get to Haiti at all that day because if we missed our connection there was not another flight til the day after. We did make it, and arrived in Port Au Prince Tuesday around noon. I was greeted at the airport by Greatest, a wonderful young Haitian friend, with a hug and a cell phone. It was so nice to see him since it had been two years. We did not have time to catch up as we left the air post in a van and started the four hour ride to Mizak, an hour north west of Jacmel ( southwest of Port Au Prince). It was an hour or so getting out of the cjty and then three on a mountain highway right out of the movies. There was mountain on one side and long drops on the other into the valleys. The road itself was in better shape than some of our Michigan roads, but wow! what a rolled coaster rise at times!We arrived at HAPI, Haitian Artisans for Peace Intl after traveling for more than 24 hours. Mizak is the most rural place I have ever been in Haiti.
Day 2 - 5, June 16 - 19: We spent the week in Mizak doing community integration. HAPI has a medical clinic, the Merlet Center where artisans make
and sell items, classrooms, and a community playground where kids have a safe place to play. The first day we went with the Artisans to the beach at Jacmel to pick up stones and sea glass. We then went to their center to "help" make jewelry. We also helped cut soap that they had made the day before. The items that they make and sell help to support their families. It was a real pleasure helping to empower these women!
The second day we rode motorbikes into the countryside with some of the clinic's nurses to visit new mothers. What an adventure! Three to a bike,
on trails that I would not have wanted to walk on. It really is the only way to reach some of the people ( except by donkey). We visited two three week old babies and their young moms. One was a full-term baby and seemed healthy, the other was born 8 weeks early and was struggling. Very tiny and not eating well. We need to keep them both in our prayers.
Our last day we painted bathrooms at the center, and painted a chalkboard on a classroom wall where computers are taught. Our team had a great time bonding, and singing together while we worked. This trip will be were transformative to our team kids, I wish every teen and young adult could do something like this.
Day 6 &7, June 20-21: Saturday we spent another 4 hours on mountain roads getting back to Port-Au-Prince, then settled into the Methodist Guest
House in Petionville for the week. I stayed there from 2004-2008 each year on my mission trips here, and they have made many improvements and
expanded since then. The food is great! Sunday we went to church service at the Methodist Church in Croix-des-Bouquet (built by Michigan teams I was a part of). It was great to see Edouarus, the school principal, and my Godsons Obed and Crisben. Boy are they getting big.! Its nice to always feel so welcomed when we come. After church we took the team to Wahoo Bay (yes, Wahoo!) For lunch and a swim in the ocean. They had a great time! On the way back to the guest house, about 1 1/2 hours, it rained quite hard. Because of the rain and the fact it was Sunday there was almost no traffic. It was quite errie. We went through a few areas of water covered roads, praying there were no pot holes. I'm not sure which I prefer, being woken by goats, donkeys and chickens or being woken by car horns, people talking and dogs barking. Either way, it is so good to be back in Haiti.
Day 8-11, June 22-25: This week we worked on a school in Duplan, about 15 minutes up the mountain from the guest house. Cement work, shoveling,
carrying cement blocks, and digging with pick axes to make a foundation for the security wall. The team had a good time working along side the Haitian workers, and some of the boys that we have been helping through school here. We also did a vacation Bible school for the kids. First day we had over 200, the next 250, the next 280, and today, the last day, 330!! There were a lot of " loaves and fishes" prayers as we were only planning for 200-250 kids. We also fed them lunch each day, amazing to see how you feed that many kids! They sat in the pews and we did an assembly line to get the tin plates of rice and beans to them. One of the projects we did at VBS was to have the kids make ‘prayer flags’. I had brought half sheets of paper with our bible verses on one side. The kids drew pictures, and wrote down their prayers to share with us. It was a blessing to see that most of them were prayers of thanksgiving! The flags will go up on banners for our own VBS program at Milford United Methodist Church.
We are so blessed and humbled to be here, and to have all of our friends here, and Haiti in our lives. God has shown himself so many times this week, changing our plans to fit his needs, putting us in the right place for the right time, to help the right people as they need it.
In many ways the mission trips to Haiti can be overwhelming. The abject poverty is all around, forcing you to take a good look at yourself and
humbling you as you realize just how well off we are here in America. Yet the people of Haiti continue to praise God each day for what they have, and put their trust in him for their future. We all leave a piece of our heart in Haiti, but are given a larger piece in return from all we meet. Even before we leave we find ourselves drawn back.
June 26: I’m back now, and just finished going through all the photos. This will be one of my more memorable trips. It was such a blessing to be able to see my friends in Haiti who I have missed dearly. It was also great to see parts of the country that I had not been to before. I truly enjoyed spending time with the other team members, especially the young adults on the trip. They have had the faith adventure of a lifetime!
We did put the prayer flags on ropes, and hung them over the fellowship hall for our VBS. It was so neat to be covered by the prayers of the Haitian
children! And our VBS kids helped to raise money for education and clean water for Haiti. I love it when kids are so passionate about helping other kids. Well, I’m already looking forward to my next trip. Thank you to everyone for their help and prayers in making this happen! Blessings!