So….Steph has been trying to get me to write my first blog entry ever by sharing about my trip to Haiti.
Honestly, I have had a difficult time processing my recent trip. Since I have returned, life has been busy and I have had little time to sit and process/pray through my experience. Sharing about my time in Haiti has been challenging because I just don’t know how to sum it up in a nice little 5 minute blurb, but since the pressure is mounting for me write this, I will do my best :). So here goes:
I was talking with a college-aged guy a couple of weeks ago and he asked me to sum up my experience in three words. I think he was joking and did not expect a response, but I thought for about 15 seconds and said, “OK, if I had to describe the trip in three words it would be this…. ‘Exceeded My Expectations’.”
I did not know what to expect as I prepared to lead this group of 13 people, some of them I did not know well, into a country I knew very little about, to work with a group of people I had never met. Before we left I thought, “This could go either way; it could be great or it could be a bust.” I wasn’t sure which it would be, but I never thought it would be as great of a trip as it ended up being for me.
I loved my time in Haiti! These are some of the things I loved about the trip.
1) I absolutely loved the missionary couple (John and Beth Mchoul) that hosted us. John and Beth “Exceeded Our Expectations”. They served us and took care of us in ways I did not think were possible for missionaries who have so, so much work to give themselves to. They are both from Boston, have great Boston accents, and have been serving in Haiti for 20 years. They have been responsible for arranging over 300 adoptions! They were both hippies and former drug addicts who were radically saved during the Jesus Movement in the 1970’s. John is a pastor of a Pentecostal church in Port-Au-Prince and I absolutely loved getting to know him a bit.
I think one of my favorite things about the trip was getting to watch John and Beth live out God’s purposes for their lives amongst the poor, the widows, and the orphans of Haiti. John’s example of being who God has called him to be was a real blessing and encouragement for me not be satisfied with anything else for my own life, but to fully embrace who called has called me to be, to the people that I live among. Here is a photo of our team...John is in the front.
2) I loved getting to see Haiti as we traveled 4 hours to and from a seaside village and back the second day we were there. While at this village we came face to face with “The Real Haiti.” The people of this village lived in such an overwhelming level of object poverty. Many of the children wore little or no clothing, were malnourished, and there were medical issues that our team doctor was not able to help. We de-wormed the kids in the village (meaning we gave them pills to kill the many worms that they have grown used to living with) and, though the worms will no doubt be back soon, it allows the children relief for a few weeks at least. We also handed out beef jerky and glow sticks and I was almost mugged to death as I tried to past them out. It was quite frustrating, but who can blame them. The best part of this trip was when we left the village to drive to the shore of the ocean, which was only about a quarter of a mile away. About 50 of the kids ran after us, or simply jumped on the back of the big truck and hitched a free ride. When we got to the ocean, some of the guys in our group got in, and the kids were not far behind them. Before long, our entire team was in the ocean with about 40 Haitian children, some with clothes, some without. The highlight of this time was the Chicken fights. We started out making sure the boys at least had underwear on before they were candidates for being put up on our shoulders to fight, but it wasn’t long before that rule went out the window. Here is a picture of us in action.
3) I loved working on the rooftop garden. Our group built 231 self-contained pots out of 5 gallon buckets that will help the ministry produce food to eat and sell. This was a huge project that we spent two full days on and we worked great together and had a ton of fun. Much of the time was spent listening to me and Ross talk about how we were working harder and more efficiently than anyone else, which wasn’t true at all but it made us feel good about our little system we had goingJ.
4) I loved getting to hold Renald! Renald is a three and a half year old who only weighs 14 pounds. His family lives up in the mountains and was not able to feed him so he was given to a rescue center. The center finds families that will help nourish children like Reynald for a short time, then give them back to their families when they are health enough to live. Renald was sweet and I held him as long as I could. The goal is to put 10 pounds on him and get him back to his family…these are the struggles in Haiti.
5) I loved the church service we went to while we were there. There was so much energy in the room and the set list for worship was 13 songs so we sang for well over an hour. I really enjoyed John’s sermon about self-interest as well. It was a wonderful meeting!
6) I loved being a part of meeting people medical needs. Though I did not contribute in any special way, we hosted a medical clinic the last day we were there and we met the needs of over 100 people. Included in this group, was a little boy who had pneumonia for a couple of weeks who would have probably died in a couple of days had his mom not brought him in. Our doctor treated him, and to everyone’s surprise, he seems to have fully recovered and is doing well! The miracle of medicine does save lives.
These were just a few of my experiences in Haiti. I could write so much more, but Steph as said I have already written the longest blog in history so I will wrap it up.
I want to go back to Haiti. I want to take Steph and introduce her to the people there. We are absolutely open to adopting one or two kids from Haiti but not sure what Jesus is saying about that yet. Either way, I think I will see more of Haiti in my lifetime, perhaps much more, and I am excited about that.
Thanks everyone for your support and your prayers as we went. I am so grateful for the opportunity and so thankful that Haiti….Exceeded My Expections!