Thank you for your prayers and financial support to send me and 5 other members to Haiti to work with Northwest Haiti Christian Mission (NHCM) and our church partner in Mayette.
This was far different than the previous three trips I’ve taken there. As you may have heard, on the day we arrived in Port Au Prince (PAP), the government announced a 35% hike to gas prices, eliminating a subsidy that had benefited all Haitians. As you can imagine, an increase that high to a people whose average income is $2/day would be crippling. So the people took to the streets to protest. Some blocked roads to shut off traffic and a few others got violent and destructive. After a few days of this there was one policeman and two protestors dead. I can certainly sympathize with the protestors but not at all with looters or those who took up violence. During that time of unrest, our team was safely within the walls of the grounds of the Coconut Villa Hotel. It’s a gated area with armed security. We never felt personally threatened nor were any Americans targeted during that time. But we were extremely disappointed. We came to Haiti for a reason. That reason was not to sit in PAP doing nothing. Why would God allow this after we had spent money and time to venture this far. It simply wasn’t safe to try to venture out and go north to the mission until Tuesday. Safety first! So finally we were able to go to NWHCM, but our lost time meant that we could NOT go to spend time with our partner church in Mayette. Again, we were disappointed and we’re still not entirely sure of the reasons but we trust that God was preventing us for a specific reason. Maybe it was so that we could love on the hotel staff. Maybe it was so that one of us wouldn’t befall an illness. We will never know. Because of the extra time at the hotel I got to be an advocate for Haiti and mission by doing a national radio interview and through the use of Twitter I got to share my faith with others.
The good news is that we did make it to the mission finally. The whole group flew north using Mission Aviation Fellowship (MAF) 5 seater and 10 seater planes. I did get to see my daughter, Reagan, who was safe the whole time at NWHCM. In fact, there were not protests at all in that community the whole time. We did get to spend time leading a soccer tournament for community youth, praying with the teams before each game and inviting them to the mission for movie night on Friday. We did get to spend time serving and ministering to the seniors in the Gran Moun, to the children in the Miriam Center (special needs orphanage), to the boys and girls in the mission’s regular orphanage. We did get the opportunity to conduct a half day VBS for children at a church on the other side of St. Louis du Nord. We did get to visit the House of Hope (a nutrition center and orphanage in nearby LaPointe). Several members helped with the mission’s nutrition program, vaccination program and birthing center. Melody Gilpin got to help with the birth of a baby.
And on Thursday, Royce, Micah, and I got to meet Pastor Daniel and his son, Watson, from Mayette for lunch in Port de Paix. It was good to see him again and he got to share what was happening in his community. For several years (with a short hiatus last year), Journey and FCC have been funding the church and school there. Right now there are about 175 in worship and 25 baptisms this past year. Their school is huge! They have 225 primary students and they just started a secondary school with 130 students. Unfortunately the money we send does not pay all the teachers. There’s not enough to go around. The water system we paid for has been installed but 2 of the 4 cisterns are broken and need replacement. Pastor Daniel also shared a need for Creole Bibles for his congregation. I had the money on me (and with the help of Journey Church) to pay for 40 new Bibles while we were there. The other needs will need to be addressed at some point. Also Pastor Daniel shared the sad news that 5 of the men we helped marry had died since we had been there three years ago.
Our combined FCC/Journey team was marvelous. Our youngest members shined as usual. We took encouragement from the mission staff when they said, “Working with you all is strange because I thought you came from two different churches and I can’t figure out who goes where.”
Please pray that God will lead us to what steps we need to take next.
By the way, Reagan has been doing great and doesn’t want to come home. Who would imagine that when she went as a 12 year old she might be considering giving her life to the mission field. That’s not a given at this point but God is certainly working on her in a number of incredible ways. I’m so proud to be her father and am grateful that you all have had such an impact on her spiritual growth over the years.