I want to encourage you to read the team member testimonies that will be posted to the blog over the coming days, and you can still access our field updates from the "Blog Archive" link on the right hand side of the page. Thank you again for your prayers!
Monday, August 2, 2010
Even after weeks of planning and spiritual preparation, I arrived in Haiti feeling I was not really ready for what I was going to see or do. This was my first mission trip. My prayers were that God would in some way use me to make some kind of difference for His kingdom, no matter how small.
When we arrived at the school where we would be lodged, our senses had already been assaulted by jostling crowds at the airport, sights and sounds of the hard Haitian life along the busy, dusty streets, and now, behind a steel gate with an armed guard, by the stark reality that existed within the walled compound. It was hot. We were thirsty. I had about 8 hours’ sleep in the last three days. Met by the orphanage director and an interpreter, we were given a tour of the children’s quarters. I remember feeling concerned about our belongings left behind in that hallway…. the cement floors and the paint-chipped walls, many children of all ages, some curious and friendly, others skeptical and keeping a safe distance. I smiled, tried to reach out and open up to them, but it was difficult for me. And they knew it.
After everything we experienced during the week, on our last night we were invited to a devotional held in the hallway where we first encountered the children of the orphanage. We had heard their singing every evening across the concrete playground. The children who were leery of our presence a few days earlier now welcomed us into their home and crowded around us, many struggling for the chance to sit next to us on the hard wooden benches lining the narrow hallway. It was the same hot, dingy place where we first arrived, barely enough power to keep a few fluorescent bulbs flickering, but the space had been transformed into a sanctuary by the presence of Jesus. The sounds of the children singing songs of praise filled the tiny corridor. We had seen some astounding sights and shared moving moments during our brief visit, but this was it… the reason for our coming. They were ministering to us! As I thought back on my first impressions of this place, a great shame came over me, but at the same time I felt a profound sense of joy and hope.
Going into the mission field for the first time I did not know what to expect. Each day we went out with certain ideas of what would happen, and invariably God surprised us. We had notions of Haiti as a dark place, even before the effects of an earthquake. By actually going and seeing, I realized that men and their plans are not likely to make a noticeable impact …and as the world’s spotlight fades on the disaster and moves on to other calamities, the conditions as they exist now in Haiti will probably continue for years. But in being obedient to Christ, and with the confidence we have through Him, we are assured that God will be faithful, at least in the lives of those we came in contact with, even if it was just to show His love and offer His comfort.
From my perspective, on your first mission trip the most amazing part is not what God does through you, but what God does to you. My life, my heart, has been touched and the images of Haiti are etched in my mind forever. I learned that God’s plans are carried out in ways that we can not begin to imagine. His surprises are the best! I am looking for the next door He will open to allow me to return to the mission field.
In His service,
Saturday, July 31, 2010
I realized after being there for seven days that the only way for hope in Haiti is faith in Jesus. I’ve heard this preached from the pulpit. I’ve read the scriptures that make reference to it. But it was made real to me through the eyes of children, the sweat and dirt of Haitian workers, and the sad underlying tune of their praise and worship songs. I knew right then and there, Thursday night while listening to the children sing, that Jesus Christ is the only hope for this nation. I know that prayer is powerful! I “pinky promised” two of the girls that I would NEVER forget them, and I know that my prayers and the prayers of others CAN help lead them to the hope found in Jesus Christ. This was far from the construction helper that I thought I would be. I now realize that is just rubble and concrete.
Hebrews 11:1 “Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.”
Tuesday, July 27, 2010
Having never been on a mission trip, I went in to this with no expectations, just an open mind and heart eager to serve the people of Haiti. The one event that has been burned into my heart happened Sunday afternoon. I was wandering around the compound, and as I made it to the tent where church services were held that morning I noticed a group of five teenage girls singing the most heartfelt song. When they finished the song they immediately began praying. Their singing and praying went on for about an hour and a half. When they were finished they got up, hugging and encouraging one another. This was the most intense worship I have ever witnessed, and GOD was honoring it with the presence of the HOLY SPIRIT! Oh, did I mention that they were doing it on their own with no adults telling them it's time to start or stop? I shared with the Piney Grove congregation this morning that after seeing this, I felt ashamed and almost unworthy of calling myself a Christian. GOD broke my heart, showing me how I had been disobedient so many times in serving Him. I had always served Him on my terms and in my comfort zone, not answering the call of His will. I'm so thankful that we serve a patient and loving GOD who truly wants us to have what He has to give.
I think it's important for others to go on a missions trip because you have to get out of your "comfort zone," meaning when we step out of we depend on CHRIST and not our own abilities. I will be returning to the mission field so I can learn all I can about missions and lay a solid foundation for our missions outreach at Piney Grove Baptist Church.
Thank all of you and GOD bless,
Monday, July 26, 2010
Friday, July 23, 2010
Thursday, July 22, 2010
We will leave Haiti tomorrow knowing that we have accomplished the task that the Lord put before us. Although different than many of us imagined, it was no less rewarding. I will leave this country with a new perspective, a renewed passion for missions, and a truer understanding of Haiti's need for our prayers. I am infinitely thankful for our church that lives out the missionary call of Acts 1:8, for our families that so graciously support us while we are on the field, and for prayer partners that have no doubt sustained us through many difficult circumstances this week. We love you all, and look forward to our reunion tomorrow.
Wednesday, July 21, 2010
After we departed the job site, we visited the ruins of a church that had collapsed during the earthquake, killing the pastor who was inside. The congregation now meets in a UNICEF tent about 2 blocks away. We then drove through the downtown area of Port au Prince and some of the more directly affected areas, and the destruction is just impossible to describe. Although people are attempting to carry on with life, the devastation makes even the basic functions difficult. Even though aid money is flowing into the country, most people do not realize that this aid is only short term and temporal in nature--there is no long term plan for rebuilding. The reality of the situation really hit home when we drove by the Capitol building, which was still crumbling and unusable. Six months after the earthquake and not a hint of reconstruction activity to the center of their government. Most of the multistory buildings still lie in ruins, no doubt with bodies still inside them. Imagine the feeling that you felt deep in your gut on September 11, 2001, and that is the feeling that you are left with as you pass through these areas.
Tomorrow we will stay within the walls of the orphanage and school complex within which we are living this week. The word on the streets here is that there will be political demonstrations in the downtown area tomorrow which will make it potentially unsafe for us to venture out on the streets. We are in a safe and secure environment here and a fair distance from downtown so no need to worry about our safety, but do not be surprised if you see some footage from Port au Prince tomorrow on the news. We will use our time tomorrow to minister to the orphanage children who are so in need of love.
We love all of you back home and miss you, but we all know that God has used this team this week to minister to the Haitian people. This is a flexible and determined team, and they have truly done an amazing job this week. Thank you for your continued prayers!
Tuesday, July 20, 2010
Several of us went to the director of the school and got permission to go in the classrooms and speak to the children today. Monday a small team went into each classroom and presented the evangecube to them. The fact is that most of these children have already accepted Jesus and know he died on the cross for our sins. That team set the groundwork for us to go in the classrooms today and teach them a verse. I had prepared to teach John 3:16, but that quickly got tossed for Plan C or D. Yesterday as we were leaving the school, John Fitz told us to teach them a verse they could apply to their daily life. Several of us worked together after regrouping and decided to use John 13: 34-35. Paraphrased it reads: Love one another as I have loved you. By this all men will know that you are my disciples if you love one another.
The rebuilding of the wall- that has been interesting. Dobbs has been awesome with his leadership! The materials and tools that we have to work with are very primitive compared to what we have access to. However, I have been amazed at how the wall is coming together. We are able to work at most 30-45 minutes at a time before we have to take a break. While some of us are working on the wall or in the classrooms,others are sharing the gospel. All in all it's been a very different trip. One person hit the nail on the head at share time and said this trip is different in the sense that we are here to NOT have a plan and to follow where God leads us from day to day, or even hour to hour sometimes. (ILY)
Monday, July 19, 2010
Wake up time came very early this morning. Since electrical power and lighting is either unreliable or nonexistent, the schedule in Haiti revolves around sunrise and sunset. Most people rise around 5:00 am, and even the children are at school by 6:30 - 7:00 am. We spent our day assisting Pastor Edmonds at one of his churches / schools repairing a block wall that was severely damaged during the earthquake. As we worked, we had evangelism teams sharing the gospel with passersby using the evangecube gospel presentation in creole. They had many who sincerely understood the message and prayed to receive Christ as their Savior. Several of our first time team members were able to be a part of those witnessing experiences. Although our overall evangelism efforts have been complicated by a lack of interpreters, we have still been able work through our one interpreter, Gilson.
We have learned many sobering truths these past two days. First and foremost is the realization that most of the suffering that the Haitian people are experiencing far precedes the earthquake. From the open sewers in the streets to the shanty towns that are shared with pigs and livestock, the conditions are brutal. In fact, most of those living in the tent cities were actually homeless street people before the earthquake, and their living conditions now are actually improved over their prior conditions. The entire system is so chaotic that even basic life is difficult for most people, and there is a general feeling of hopelessness. Indeed, it does not appear that there is much opportunity for personal advancement. It has quickly become apparent that helping those that have been directly affected by the earthquake is difficult at best. The logistical and security concerns make virtually impossible to enter those areas that have been affected the most, and the majority of those people that lived in those areas have already been displaced. I'm not sure I've ever witnessed a more desperate and despondent situation, and our prayers are their only hope. Please pray for the Haitian people, that new and Godly leadership might rise up and lead this country out of darkness.
Our team is faring pretty well, considering the conditions. Today I drank over 1.5 gallons of water and was still barely able to keep up with what I lost. We have experienced a few minor aches and pains, but for the most part our team is well. Please continue to pray for our health as we work in the heat, but mostly pray for those we are ministering to. Thank you for your prayers and support!
Saturday, July 17, 2010
Our team is well. Yes, we are tired and very, very hot, but the real battle this week is not physical in nature, but rather spiritual and emotional. Please pray that we can deliver the hope that this place so desperately needs!
Friday, July 16, 2010
We have continued to gain clarity on what we will be doing once we arrive in Port au Prince. We will be based out of the New Life Orphanage located adjacent to the airport, and we will be staying in the empty classrooms of a school that is right next door to the orphanage. The initial plan is to tackle a construction project, participate in food distribution, and work with the children at the orphanage. Two of our ladies are registered nurses, and they will have the opportunity to work in a health clinic, and I am certain that we will have the opportunity to do some "street evangelism." Thanks to former Haiti missionary Sharon Etheridge, we now have five MP3 players with the gospel message recorded in Creole that we can use along with the Evangecube. This gives us the incredible opportunity to share the gospel, with or without an interpreter.
Our first flight departs from Tallahassee tomorrow morning at 9:00 am eastern time. Please pray for our connecting flights and that our bags will all make it to Port au Prince. We have several extra bags full of evangelistic supplies and clothing for the children, so please pray that our transition through Haiti immigrations goes smoothly. Thank you for your prayers, and I hope that my next update is from Haiti!
Wednesday, July 14, 2010
Our team received word this week that we will be working alongside of Pastor John Edmonds at the New Life Orphanage in Port au Prince. Although we will be involved in several different ministries in and around the orphanage, the real mission remains the same--show the children, the workers, and anyone we meet the love of Christ through our interactions and the Good News of the gospel. Please pray for Pastor Edmonds as he directs our team, and pray for our team members as we enter into a physically and emotionally difficult environment. Most of all, however, pray for those we will encounter, and for the divine appointments that Christ has in store for each of us.
Saturday, July 10, 2010
The downside to no communication, however, is that it leaves our friends, families, and prayer partners with no clear direction on how to pray for our team while on the field. That is where this blog comes into play. It is my hope that this blog will provide us with the opportunity to give daily one way communication so that those that are praying for us can be more intimately involved in our trip. I ask that you do not leave comments--we will not read them in order to preserve our focus on the task at hand. But we do ask you to pray, and pray often about our immediate needs, concerns, and victories.
Please understand that while it is our intent to update this blog daily while we are on the field, it is entirely possible that we will have no way to connect to upload our updated posts. If this happens, please do not be concerned about us or our well being. If we fail to update the blog in a timely manner, that simply means that we either cannot get connected to the internet, or that we are so busy serving Jesus that we simply do not have the time to post. After all, we are going to Haiti to minister, not to blog!
Thank you in advance for your prayer, and I hope you are praying for us even now.