Wednesday, November 16, 2011

"I Give Myself Away, So You Can Use Me..."

Our team is back from Haiti and reflecting on our week-long journey and all the things we saw and learned. There is too much to say in one blog post, and I'm sure we have not fully realized all the ways that God is still stretching and challenging us.

If you haven't read the blog posts we wrote while in Haiti, I encourage you to scroll down and do so. We ended each day with an update to the blog and a review of all that we had done and experienced that day.

This first week back in Charlotte after experiencing such a life-changing trip is difficult. After spending 8 days serving God through serving His people - away from the distractions of TV, cell phones, email and deadlines - the transition back into "normal life" can be a slow process. I know everyone's thoughts are still in Haiti with the kids in the orphanages, the new friends we made and the beauty of a country being transformed by Christ.

However, amidst the difficult transition, is the constant reminder that we desperately need God to make it through life. While in Haiti, we cried out to God when we held a sick Haitian child, we relied on His strength when our strength wasn’t enough as we worked on a hot metal roof, and we spent our free time worshipping God's greatness and glory by singing at the top of our lungs and raising our hands in surrender.

Those moments and feelings won’t leave us even though we are far from Haiti and Mission of Hope. God is using our experiences in Haiti to mold us into humble followers of Him who can now testify to His presence around the world.

Here are just a few of our favorite pictures from the trip…

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Nov 10

We had a dual-mission to accomplish today.  Before lunch we worked construction on the warehouse.  There was a little more sitting around than usual because the cement truck was apparently on Haitian time.  A few people did keep busy starting a new section of the roof.

After lunch, we got in the canter and headed for the orphanage that we delivered food to a couple days ago.  We had a special relationship with these kids since we spent extra time with them when we delivered their supplies.

We surprised the kids with soccer balls, jump ropes and stickers.  The smiles on these kids lit up their faces as they ran to meet us.  Instantly everyone separated and had one or more little ones hanging from them.  There were balls being kicked around, kids showing off and jumping rope, and other's simply clinging to us with a desperate desire for love and attention.  A couple of women were in the middle of the area washing little outfits by hand with soap and water.

After the free time, we got together to sing.  As Gentry strummed the guitar, angelic voices filled the air with a song.  The kids mostly made a side-by-side line to sing but a very small boy stood in front.  This boy especially grabbed our attention with his animated singing and obvious dedication for the task with almost a scowl of concentration as he made exaggerated hand gestures to go along with his singing.

Karl then organized a few party games and had us all laughing in a common language by the end.  The kids were so determined to have with us as partners that we ended up with 2 or even 3 of them.

Once the games wound down, we got together to put on a play for the kids.  Luckily the kids didn't seem to know the difference (or care) that we couldn't act and, for the most part, had our roles told to us on the fly.  We used the story of Joseph and the multi-colored coat to teach about sharing and forgiveness.

As the time to leave approached, we were heart-broken not only by having to break the grasp of the children clinging to us but we also had to round up and take back all of the toys we brought with us (except the stickers).  MOH has decided that they do not want us to be seen as people giving gifts but as people spreading the word and helping to rebuild the country.  While it pained us to do this we agree with the purpose.

The ride home was a time for worship as we sang songs in harmony with Gentry's guitar and percussion provided by our translator expertly banging on the top of a cooler.  When Gentry ran out of songs to play, the translator would yell out more to keep the praise going strong.  We ended up singing the whole way home.

This was a monumental  personal experience for me personally because I sang these songs as well for the first time in my life.  As I watched out the back I could see Haitians waving to us and a few lips seemed to say "Jesus".  The best part  is that no one even noticed.  My personal journey is far from over but I have definitely taken a baby step today.

Joe H

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Nov 9

Wednesday in Haiti placed us on the roof at the new warehouse at MOH before 6 am.    The entire team worked at dawn prepping the work site by pulling out tools, charging power tool batteries, and rolling six foot long spools of insulation.    We watched the sun come up over the mountains to bless us with light and blistering heat.   Water and sun tan lotion are liberally consumed at all times.  We had our  breakfast of scones and granola bars while taking in the view of the mountains and bay.   Breath taking!

Under Will's direction, we were able to complete the part of the roof the construction director wanted finished.   The other part of our team assisted in lifting up new metal roof panels to the roof and laying a metal  grid for the new concrete slab floor.    The ground crew stayed cooler, because they spent their time under the new roof.   The con for the ground crew is the endless supply of dust and dirt.   The roof team stayed clear of the dirt, but expelled their body weight in sweat.  At lunch, we all partook of a  steaming hot bowl of stew!

An added benefit of the construction work is working alongside and getting to know our Haitian counterparts. On the roof, there's Ayore, Collins, Patrick and Bailey. Great guys who work hard, put up with our craziness and are patient with our very, very poor Creole!

We finally finished our work a little past four, and sauntered back up the hill looking forward to refreshment and dinner.    We spend our evenings playing games, talking and listening to stomach cramping stories by Reed,and singing 
Praise songs led by our talent Gentry.

At the end of the day, one of the interns at MOH, made a cookie cake to celebrate Will and Mary's 15th anniversary. Mary, we will bring a piece back for you!
For Him who lives,
FHC Haiti Team.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Nov 8

Today was food distribution day.  We left Moh in a canter (a truck with cage structure for the bed to carry people) which, thanks to Will's negotiating ability had open sides to see through instead of a big closed box.

Just about every stop had us riding through "neighborhoods" with extremely small "roads".  We got off to a bit of a rough start when we ripped ripped down a power line when the truck ran through it.  Luckily, the locals didn't seem too concerned.

We worked very well as a team by forming an army-style line ( or a royal navy line if you ask Phil) to pass the supplies from one person to the next until they got to their final destination.  Everyone on the team just seemed to automatically fall into place without really needing any coordination.  We ran through most of the stops pretty quickly by delivering the supplies, giving a quick look at the place, saying a few bon-jours and giving some smiles, and then jumping back in the truck.

We saw a mixture of orphanages and schools that were well taken care of to some that obviously didn't have very much funding.  It was really tough to walk around the places that were really in need because we were presented with situations that simply wouldn't exist back home that we couldn't do anything more about than act as delivery people.

By the end of the trip we had spent over 4 hours in the  canter and delivered to maybe 10 places.  Luckily, we had the opportunity to spend some extra quality time at the last orphanage.  We played with the children, prayed with them and took a bunch of pictures (at their request).

After dinner we walked down to the church for worship time.  The church is a large open-air building with pews in a T shape facing a center stage.  There was a distinct smell of burning plastic from the trash fires in the distance.  I could see dusty shoes as I bowed my head to pray.  The music and sermon were in creole but some of the songs had melodies that we sing to back home.  The pastor was speaking with such energetic passion that I would have thought he was instigating a riot if I hadn't known better.

The spirituality was so thick in the air that you could almost taste it.  Haitians were jumping around with closed eyes and raised hands and occasionally I saw them wiping tears from their eyes.  Almost everyone from the group was was moved by the service and we discussed that in detail in our devotional meeting that followed.

Personally speaking, the spirituality I am seeking is as foreign to me as the language that the service was in tonight .  I am quite sure it is due to the fact that that my eyes spent too much time looking sideways to see what people are thinking of me instead of looking up to God.  At least I know what work needs to be done and hopefully I'll get some Devine assistance.

Joe H

Monday, November 7, 2011

Nov 7th

Today was our first Opportunity to really do some real mission work and we certainly embraced it.  We worked on the construction of the new food distribution warehouse at Moh.  This warehouse will be 4 times bigger than their current one and hold some office rooms.

It's quite remarkable to be able to work on a building that has the same vista as a high priced resort.  You can see mountains fading away in the background with smaller hills in the foreground which reveal the Caribbean ocean between them.  Of course, you can only look at the view so much when you are 30+ feet off the ground with roofing material coming at you.

After working all day, we cleaned up and spent time together as a group just getting to know each other better - and making fun of each other at every available opportunity.  It's hard to remember when the last time a cold shower has been so refreshing

We look forward to tomorrow where we will be distributing food for the nutrition ministry.  Moh provides meals for almost 60,000 Hatians daily.

 I'm hoping that a lot of hard work, a good group of servants, a lot of needy people and a hot Haitian sun will open our hearts and untangle our souls to hear what the lord has to say.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Mov 6th

Today was great for many reasons.  We had an opportunity to tour MOH, worshiped with the people of Haiti and were able to travel to the other MOH campuses.  It's indescribable how God is working in this country and leading all the wonderful projects here at MOH.

A tasty Dinner was shared at a local Haitian restaurant - Gwo Papa Poul - otherwise known as 'Big Daddy Chicken'. It was great to see how The Lord is working to help grow the local communities near MOH.

This week is jam packed with chances for us to serve and continue to move the many projects forward that help so many here in Haiti.  Some of the projects include pouring the concrete floor for the new MOH warehouse, painting houses, food distribution to different villages and always spending time with the Haitian children.  

We just got done worshipping with a group of orphan boys from the Hope Village and it was awesome!  Now off to get some rest and find out what God has in store for us tomorrow.

In His service,

FHB- Haiti Team

Saturday, November 5, 2011

We are here

After an early morning of airports and very small airplanes, we touched down in Haiti.  It was another challenge to get all of the 12 bins of donations that we checked and get through the mob outside the airport.

The bus ride was very enlightening.  It was a surreal mixture of beautiful scenery and complete devastation.  Seeing all of the tent cities made me feel both blessed with what I have and guilty for the circumstances of where I was born and the opportunities that life has given me.

By lunch time we had arrived at the Mission of Hope facility.  Just in time for some PB+Jon stale bread which, depending on who you ask, tasted just fine.  

We had a little time to relax and walk around.  Mission of Hope seems to be exactly as the name sounds so far.  Children are given an good education here and can hopefully make an impact towards rebuilding their country in the future.  It's very refreshing to see kids want to get an education here.  (I learned that the school here is the 2nd best in the country)

I'm pretty sure I can speak for everyone when I say that this will be a life experience that will not only make me a better person but give me a much more real perspective on which of life's problems are really the important ones.

Joe H

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

And we're off...

As I write this post, our Haiti team is packing and prepping for our trip to Haiti in just 4 days. We'll be serving alongside Mission of Hope for 7 days and helping in a variety of areas:

  • home repairs/renovations
  • children's ministry
  • orphanage ministry
  • food distribution to surrounding villages
Thank you to all of you who have contributed financially or donated items for the orphanage and church. Also, thank you for coming alongside our team in prayer. As we get ready to spend a week in a country not only devastated by natural disasters, but also devastated by the evil of sin, selfishness, oppression and disease, we need all the spiritual protection we can get!

Please pray for these specific things:
  • strength, health, endurance, encouragement and spiritual growth for everyone on the team
  • pray for doors to be opened that we may share Jesus' love with everyone we meet
  • pray that lifelong and edifying relationships are formed within our team and with the staff of Mission of Hope
  • Pray for Mission of Hope's ministry in the country of Haiti - including the 2,500 students in School of Hope, the 65 orphans in the Hope Village, the 50,000 people fed every day through their Nutrition Program, the Church of Hope and their work in the community providing disaster relief, community advancement and healthcare.
Finally, take a few minutes to watch this powerful video from MOH which explains their work in Haiti and will give you a better idea of what our team will be experiencing:

Mission of Hope: Haiti from Landon Cox on Vimeo.