Don’t know how many readers we have from the community at large, and I know this is coming far too late, but we are presenting stories and demonstrating activities from our Haiti trip tomorrow, Sunday, June 27th, at Cornerstone Church of the Nazarene, starting at 10:30am. We’ll hopefully be able to get some more photos (and maybe videos) up here soon, but if you want to hear stories in person, please feel free to come and listen.
Cornerstone church’s meeting space is behind the Elk Grove Sports Bar on Elk Grove-Florin Rd. (south of Elk Grove Blvd.):
We made it to church Sunday morning and then in the afternoon most of us went to downtown Port-au-Prince to see the earthquake destruction first hand. The damage was unreal. No bodies clutter the streets. But the rubble is astounding. It looks like a WW2 epic battle was waged there for weeks (like images of London during the blitz). Vendors desperate for sales followed us and cried out to us from rickety booth crammed underneath falling buildings. Toxic water runs down the streets. Women sell mudcakes to the really poor just to fill their tummies a bit. The international community still needs to help Haiti. People are living in tightly cramped tents and tin hovels with hardly any food, money, water, or sanitation. Please continue to pray and support Haiti.
After that journey (we will post photos of this tour) we made it back to meet in the ravine as the final sheeting of the house went up on the roof. The last 1/2 hour of work was done by the Haitians themselves as the men in the community pitched together to nail the final nails. The entire ravine was riveted awaiting for the final nail to pound in. The Haitians and Americans lingered together talking and smiling as best we can despite the language barrier. Kids remembered us from VBS and played non-verbal games to make Zoe laugh. At the end of the work, we all stood on the porch with the Haitian family and all our Haitian friends posed for a final picture. This picture really sums up a week of lots of work and time spent building relationships in Haiti.
That evening we meet and Corrigan and Shelley’s house for an amazing meal made of conch shell fish and Indian fare where we celebrated the week. The Clay’s thanked us for all our hard work and acknowledged how we were on the front lines of getting to know Haiti directly and that we did well. We all fell into bed around 10pm and were up for the tap tap by 4:45am (with the roosters). We made it to the PAP airport and through two security and immigration checks before we entered the American Airlines terminal which had (get this!) air conditioning AND ice cubes. We were in heaven. It took another 20 hours of travel to get us home to Sacramento by 11pm last night.
Pray for our team as we recover and process all we have seen and accomplished this week, for the glory of our Lord and for the health, renewing, and sustaining of our Haitian brothers and sisters.
Na way pita! See you later!
I’m up late typing after the entire team is asleep before 11pm. We usually rise, or most of us do, before 7am and ALL are up by 8am without anyone grumpy. We are all on an early schedule with the roosters. I think Logan might have been jamming on guitar this morning and leading us all in worship at 7:30am.
Today saw the following tasks: Sherrie, Nate, Jerry, Gary, and Alex worked hard in the morning and throughout the day till 5pm (with a lunch break) to get the final and most dangerous truss up on the house. Sarah also got to escape her kids and get to the work site to weild a hammer and use her Creole skills to keep the tent city kids out of the house at crucial moments of lifting prowess. Today seemed hotter and the night is very humid as we await a storm (which hopefully will hit quickly so that we can cool off and get to our final work on the house in the morning). At 10am Ada, the Middletons, Sarah, Nita, Zoe, and Logan went to a Haitian orphanage that would have broken any of your hearts, with 25 kids sleeping in rubble under tarps. We sang with the kids and did two art projects with them that left them with bracelets and birds that they flew around on sticks in their gravel yard. Later in the day Shelley, our host, took some members of the time to an American indoor orphanage that cares for infants and toddlers which also weighed heavy on the hearts of many.
Though it came late in the week, we developed a new plan for cleaning up the guest house, assigning teams and tasks. This helps us not get frustrated with each other as we are at the end of a long week and we don’t have our Haitian housekeeper since it is Saturday. Team A – which is Jerry and all the teens – successfully cleaned the kitchen after an amazing dinner prepared by our ever present cooking team of Ada and Kat D. Today Nate and Gary also finished working with local Haitians to visit homes of locals asking for tents. Today we passed out our last tents and flip flops, and currently have about 15 tarps and only a 1/2 container of baby food left to hand out. We have worked very hard to give supplies to those who need them the MOST, and were discouraged if we found we were tricked by Haitians desperate for a second tent to sell in order to buy food. Please pray that these discouragements will be overcome when we consider how much we have learned in such a short time and how God can make good any gift (and here in Haiti no supply will be wasted).
The highlight of the day occurred when we had some unexpected but welcomed guest, our teenage boy translators – Rodney, Novins, Mike Henry, Max, and at least two others as well as two children from downstairs (Addrianna, and YouLov) stay with us for dinner. After filling our bellies Logan started playing worships songs on the guitar. We found at least four sets of bongo drums and the Haitian kids played and sang along with us. Jerry got a lot of it on video. And it was a relief to finally rejoice in the relationships we have built with these kids during the week. After being bombarded with requests (sometimes, demands) for our supplies as soon as we leave our gate, “please give me….” just spending time with these boys and children who never to rarely ask for anything, even though they help us immensely refilled us all. It was like we were all just human and were all just praising God. Just rejoicing in him and each other, without an exchange of goods. Our favorite song which we sang over and over and over was “I’m trading my sorrows, I’m trading my pain, I’m laying them down for the joy of the Lord.” We sang it in creole and English and everyone was singing at the top of their lungs.
Tomorrow we head to church at 10am; we will just walk to a nearby American missionary church down the block. The construction team of at least Sherrie and Mike and their hired Haitian sidekick Jinler (“Jean-Lair”) will skip church to do one last push on the house which is lacking a tin roof. Please pray for their safety. Jerry and Nate and perhaps others might help with the roof before rushing off to church. Kat D. is planning pancakes for us all in the morning, which has made the teenagers giddy with dreams tonight. Lincoln was quoted this morning that he had “stories in his eyes last night.” Let’s pray that the entire team sleeps soundly and fully with dreams of all the great work they have accomplished here in Haiti.
Written by Sarah
We are trying to finish up the projects we’ve been doing, and reflecting on what we’ve seen and done. We have personally gone to many ramshackel homes and worn out tents, doing our best, with the absolutely essential help of the local translaters–mostly boys–who try to help us understand not only what people are saying, but to see the situation accurately. We press on with the home construction, today without our team foreman, who woke up sick today. As much as Michael wants to be out there to make it right and keep everyone safe, we want him healthy.
Last night Jerry read us the scripture from 2 Corinthians that reminds us that God loves a cheerful giver. It reminded me not to miss the opportunity for joy in the work here, even amid the frustrations of unexpected obstacles and doubts about how much effect some of our efforts are making.
Today is much slower for all of us as a team. A couple of us are feeling sick or really tired (that’s me), and we are just giving ourselves some time to rest. Some good successes already this morning are that the fourth wall is up on the house (and all walls are level), we helped break a babies fever with a cold bath and medicine, kids are enjoying balloons with Lincoln, and baby food supplies were shared with the beading mothers downstairs.
But on the other side, trying to help people in Haiti is tiring for us, for a number of reasons: we don’t really understand the nuances of culture here, we aren’t used to the climate, and we have to make hard choices about who has the most immediate and pressing needs, and then sometimes people are difficult even when you are trying to meet an immediate need. And then you realize that until there are massive changes to the economy and infrastructure here, people will continue to face critical immediate needs on a daily basis.
Every time I face this troubling reality, I come back to the conviction that either/or thinking, as appealing as it is to have that kind of clarity about things, is really not a helpful way to understand this situation. We can’t frame this situations as “either we empower Haitians through economic development or we give them handouts.” We don’t have to choose, and shouldn’t try to, between large international NGOs/foreign aid and smaller operations like this one. It has to be an effort by both.
We still need discernment. Not all smaller organizations are efficient because they are small. Not all larger organizations are impossible bureaucracies. That discernment is hard, even from here on the ground.
We will keep trying to learn, trying to help. Only by faith that God is able to work great things in our small efforts. Two team members are sick today and resting – Logan and Sherrie both with tummy issues. So pray for them. We hope to go back to the tent city at 2pm your time (pacific) to do VBS with Nate subbing in for Logan on guitar and with Nita helping kids make bird toys.
A lady afraid to sleep in her home, fried plAntains for lunch, white and black kids giggling together, sticky hot humidity, intimate prayer and worship, pancaked homes, mobs begging us for shoes tents and soccer balls, Haitian beaders worshipping with many parts, kids painting for the first time, running up potholed streets with pigs goats dogs and school kids in perfect dress passing by, cantina music at night, a sliver of moon over hazy surreal sky as the sun rises, roosters crowing, bug bites all over Lincoln And Ada, swollen feet of mark and Nita, tired and overwhelmed hosting missionaries, b and w teens playing cards, people living in dirt with nothing, Zoe keeps giving away her shoes, shy Haitians who smile if you greet them, tired and cranky but determined team. We are weepy but also joyful and you would be proud to see how brave our team is to enter dark place with supplies, a song, some attempt at creole, a lesson in carpentry or English, an art lesson, or to hug a stranger. We are on the front lines. Your prayers remind us of gods power. we will discreetly distribute more supplies tomorrow, start on the houses roof, and do Vbs in the tent city tomorrow. Jerry is smiling, Logan is making friends with Haitian boy teens, Jessica is loving many kids who love saying her name, mark and Cathy are good at assessing needs in remote tent cities, Ada is cooking with kat lots, Nate is our fearless leader, Sarah is hearing the needs of babies the team and Haitians, mike is learning creative construction tricks, Sherrie is known as a verystrong woman who weilds a hammer and smile by the Haitians, Zoe is a great conversation starter and the whitest baby Haitians have seen, lincoln doesn’t stop to pee or bathe he just wants to play in the dirt with other kids, Alex is our strong guy and bravely searches out coke at nearby vendors, Nita loves praying for the team and is sending her art lessons home as rays of hope in the tents, Gary is bravely dispensing tents to the poorest of the poor, And you are diligently praying for us from home, we are the body or Christ, pray for us. Much love, Sarah.
We are tired, always hot and sweaty, but starting to make some headway on a few of our mission objectives. (Why does that sound like something from NASA?) But we are always learning–about the culture of this neighborhood, about how hard it is to get supplies to the people who really need things, about our limitations and our strengths.
We have a couple walls up on one house, have identified some families to get supplies to, and have adapted our focus to include more tasks that support the Clays directly and will pave the way for future teams and relief efforts. We are having to take a lot of initiative: this is not a guided tour. But in having to be pioneers, we are finding how to work together and how much it matters to put our faith in God. I’m reminded how the gospels say that people were amazed by how Jesus “spoke with authority.”. I think we are coming to places where there is little room for equivocation or second-guessing.
It is tiring, but ultimately deeply rewarding. Please keep praying hard. For strength and wisdom to do what will really help, for peace among ourselves and in our neighborhood. We should have a more present translator tomorrow. Children without shoes or food attended vbs and painted and sang with us things got a bit crazy when we tried to give them shoes. We gave out two tents today very carefully and are making aid kits with other supplies we brought. Sarah is understanding creole well and so is a bit overwhelmed with Haitians requests for supplies but god will sustian us with your prayers.we just ended our hardest day but best day yet in worship about how we need gods refilling and can feel him near. Noone is sick or hurt and we are up at dawn with the roosters. Sarah ran three miles today and says thank you to all who gave funds.
Pray fervently for us and the clay family as we battle here the great fight of our lords. Sent from my iPho
Well THAT was a day! It seems an eternity ago that we left Ft. Lauderdale. Too much to recount everything that happened. But here are a few things that I hope will stick with me:
-everyone warned us about how chaotic the PAP airport would be, but whether by supernatural intervention or good preparation ( I happen to think God can and does work in many ways ordinary and extraordinary), we sailed through. Corrigan said it was the best airport handoff he had ever seen.
-Though we tried to learn much about our lodging and work before we went, there is no replacement for actually seeing things. The guest house is really fantastic. Tent cities are everywhere, and so are smiling children. They marvel at the appearance of the little “blan” ( white children are apparently rare. We walked to and measured both construction sites, and learned there’s more prep work to do and that the pieces to the houses will have to be carried in a fair ways.
-it was a lot of fun to hear lots of creole, speak a bit of it, and understand a little bit less. But I could understand a little!
-a great cook-out on the Clay’s roof (a feast!), and a soaking wet walk back to the guest house-half a mile in a TORRENTIAL thunderstorm.
This is just scratching the surface. For more reasons than I can say, all of us here appreciate and request your continued prayers.
We’re waiting at the gate in Sac, at the start of what will likely be a long travel day, in all senses of that word. 11 of us are here; others are already in Florida.
So many people are sending us, and I can feel their support. And I feel confident that God is with us, going ahead of us and giving is strength and aid. Just this morning, we were able to take two extra checked bags free (go southwest!) because they were full of baby food for Haitians. I think that’s God bringing even more people into this effort. Well, gotta go! -Nate