Thank you for your prayers for our recent trip to Port au Prince, Haiti. God certainly blessed this joint effort between Piney Grove Baptist Church in Samson, Alabama, and St. Andrew Baptist Church in Panama City, Florida. Our team worked alongside of SCORE International Missions, a worldwide mission organization with a presence in Haiti.

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!

Saturday, July 31, 2010

Hope In Christ: Testimony from LeAnna Miller

I saw God work in my life in a mighty way while I was serving on the mission field in Haiti. I went with the expectation of lending a helping hand to a nation who had suffered devastation from an earthquake. I was hoping that by helping them rebuild, I would show them the love of God and they would be grateful. Upon arriving in Haiti, I saw the desperate needs of the people immediately. I saw the conditions that many of the people are living in and began to question how I was going to help them. It took me about three days to realize that “I” wasn’t going to be able to help them at all! My purpose was to stop trying to figure out God’s plan and to simply live out Acts 1:8 by telling others at the “ends of the earth” about Jesus’ love. It was important not only to tell them about the hope they have in Jesus, but to show them.

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

True Worship: The Testimony of Wilbur Phillips

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,

Wilbur Phillips

Monday, July 26, 2010

Reflections on Haiti

Now that our team members are safely home and have had a chance to reflect on our recent trip to Haiti, I would like to give each member the opportunity to share their mission trip testimony.  Over the next couple of weeks I will be posting to the blog these thoughts and testimonies from our team members, and I hope that you will be blessed and encouraged as you read them. 

God Bless,
John Drummond

Friday, July 23, 2010

Home Again...Well, Nearly!

I knew we were in trouble when the pilot of the Boeing 767 said we were returning to the gate with mechanical issues. Over an hour later we finally left Port au Prince, but unfortunately our time delay caused us to miss our connecting flight to Tallahassee. With no other flights available that would take us to the panhandle, the airline gave us a hotel and meal voucher and scheduled us for the first flight to Tallahassee in the morning. We have an amazing team, however, and everyone is still in great spirits. We enjoyed an unexpected meal together tonight, and praised God for little blessings like a running shower, a toilet that flushed, and safe water straight from the tap. Many thanks to Lynn Briley who was already north of Blountstown in route to pick up our team when he got the word that we would not make it today. Please pray for our safe and successful travel in the morning!

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Our Final Day

We had a great time today with the children at the orphanage. LeAnna and Kim put together a great schedule of activities, beginning with a drama skit in which we acted out the story of the good samaritan. We played several games with the children, shared Scripture with them, and just tried to love on them and encourage them. It was obvious from the smiles on their faces that the Lord allowed us to bring some joy into their lives today.

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

A Task Accomplished

We wrapped up our construction project today, and the wall that we have been working on this week finally completed. At lunch today we invited the workers that have been co-laboring with us to join us for pizza. After serving the workers with the meal, we presented them with the gospel message. Afterwards one of the workers came up to us and told us that he would like to invite Christ to be his Lord and Savior. We led him in a prayer of commitment and celebrated with him in his decision!

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

Another Amazing Day!

Hot and sweaty! That's how each day begins and ends. Morning devotion began about 6:45am and was followed by hot corn meal in a cup with a scoop of sugar. Most of us settled for the bread and cheese. When we arrived at the school this morning, it was evident the building crew worked until dusk after we left Monday. (Oh, let me clarify this is LeAnna Miller updating the blog! John graciously allowed me to actually type on the I-Pad. You will not see the eloquent phrasing and large descriptive vocabulary you a have become accustomed to.)
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)

A Difficult Departure

One of our team members, Mr. Floyd Skinner, will be traveling back home today. Yesterday Floyd began to develop pain in his hip and back, and even though he was able to visit an American run medical clinic yesterday afternoon and receive some medication, that pain has continued to be unrelenting. Floyd will fly out today just after noon, so please pray for his safe travel and speedy recovery. It is obvious that he does not wish to leave the team, and his departure is sad but probably best for Floyd. We know that he will continue to be a part of this team through his fervent prayers.

Monday, July 19, 2010

The Darker the Darkness, the Brighter the Light Shines

It has been a challenging, yet rewarding couple of days. Because of cultural feelings towards working on the Sabbath, we were limited in what we were able to do yesterday. We attended the church service in which 300+ gathered to praise the Lord. We used the balance of our time to rest up, get organized, and prepare ourselves for ministry. It is so hot that sleeping is difficult, but we are beginning to adapt to the climate. Fortunately the evening rains yesterday made it somewhat tolerable.

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

A Broken Nation

Before we even landed in Port au Prince, the brokenness of Haiti was quickly evident. Mudslides from the deforested mountains looked like tears flowing from the heights. A quick glimpse of the airport terminal revealed that it too had been affected by the earthquake, with huge cracks in the walls, and portions of the building rendered unsafe and unusable. Our first taste of the chaos came quickly as we attempted to navigate through the airport, as people searched for their bags through the hundreds that flowed from the single carosel. We were greeted on the outside by dozens, if not hundreds of people desperately searching for someone that might offer them a tip for unwanted assistance with baggage. As we drove to the orphanage a short distance away, tent cities were everywhere. Bruce made a sobering smiles on the faces of those we passed. This is a sad nation in desperate need of hope! Even the children are struggling and are still afraid to enter the lower floors of any multistory building for fear that it may again collapse upon them.

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

Final Countdown

My typical routine for mission trip preparation is to work really hard to get ready a day early, and take the final day before departure to troubleshoot, double check everything, and primarily to "get my head in the game."  That was certainly not the case with this trip!  I finally completed my preparations for the trip at about 5:30 pm, so at least I will have a couple of hours to spend with my family before trying to sleep for a few hours--3:00 am will come very early in the morning.

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

A People in Need

I visited my first orphanage in Mexico in October of 2001.  I remember it like it was yesterday--harsh block walls, a bathroom with no roof, and a dirty courtyard where the children played.  Our entire team was overwhelmed when we entered into the baby room, lined with cradles.  It was hot, stinky, and filled with flies.  As these babies cried from their discomfort, I remember just how insignificant I felt, and how deeply I was touched by those little ones that lived a very hard life.  Yet, joy could be found in that place.  As we played with the children, taught them a Bible story and showed them love, we began to understand that happiness is not a factor of one's environment.

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

Something Old, Something New

I am excited about the possiblity of blogging updates from our trip to Haiti. I have always believed (and still do!) that it is best to abstain from two way communication on the mission field, for several reasons. First of all, too many times I have seen a team member's trip disrupted or ruined by homesickness or "bad news" after calling home while on the mission field. Second, I believe that mission trips are much more than just witnessing and ministering in a foreign land...equally as important is the spiritual growth of the missionary. In order for an individual to truly experience all that God has in store for them, then that individual must leave home at home and focus completely on their relationship with Christ and the task at hand while on the field. But perhaps most important is the matter of faith. Faith is not truly understood so long as it remains untested, and a missionary must have the faith that not only will God provide guidance and protection in the field, but that He will also keep those we love back home safe as well. It is this exhibition of faith and complete focus on a relationship with Christ that generates tremendous spiritual growth in the life of a short term missionary.

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.