Friday, February 17, 2012

Day of reflection

For our final day in Haiti we took a 45 minute drive to the ocean to visit the Wahoo beach to relax, reflect and spend some time together. It was a pleasant change to see the lush landscape near the ocean and to be able to reflect on the week.

While at Wahoo some of us took time to snorkel over a reef, collect shells on the beach or just relax. The emotions of the week, the sighs and the time we have spent with the local Haitians has clearly weighed on us. Most nights we debriefed as a team on what we have seen and on the days activities. Often they turned into long discussions or just periods of tears.

Throughut the week we have seen so much advancement at the food distribution center at the main MOH campus as well as at the other locations. The school at Bercy wasn't started when we visited there on Sunday. Today when we passed the location they have already made significant headway. Nothing stays constant around here - the pace is very fast. This trip has clearly had a significant impact on many of us. Developing a heart for Haiti was easy - knowing what to do about that is much tougher.

Many of us have decided to sponsor some of the kids enrolled in the MOH school. This helps cover the related costs for the kids to ensure they continue their education. One of our team members got to sponsor one of the MOH orphans. Almost all of the orphans are already sponsored (until they are 18) but a few new additions to the orphanage offered a very unique opportunity to sponsor one of these very special kids. We have seen how blessed we are and it is our privilege to pass the blessings on to others.

We encourage any of you who have followed us through our trip to visit the MOH website if you are interested in finding way to support MOH. All of us are very willing to talk your ear off of it if you want more details or if you want to learn how you can participate in an upcoming trip there.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Providing for the future

Wednesday evening concluded with a time of powerfully intimate prayer - prayer that is building up our individual as well as team character.

Thursday morning arrived with excitement about the day's activities, as well as the daily bright morning sun.

After breakfast the bus loaded for a visit to another MOH target community - Source Matelas - with our serve partners from Texas. Upon arrival we dispersed into the village for evangelism and prayer with the villagers. Students that attend School Of Hope greeted us and served as interpreters and village guides, in addition to the incredible guides provided to us by MOH. These children took us to their families as well as other villagers that they knew wanted prayer.

We met a man tending to his field of beans, and prayed for him and his field - prayer that God would strengthen him and protect the beans to take the field to full harvest so that the villagers could receive some food. We prayed for several families who had health issues and were desperate to find work so that they can provide for their families. And we prayed with a woman who wanted to receive Jesus to provide for her eternal salvation.

After lunch our team returned to the Village Of Hope at Leveque for some more painting and some time playing with kids. We were fortunate enough to go back to the same part of the deaf village as where we painted on Tuesday, this time to paint the outside of houses. The home owners, two deaf women, were overflowing with joy that we had upheld our promise to return to finish painting their houses. Unfortunately we were not able to completely finish their two houses. However, we know and they know that very soon the painting of their homes will be completed - Jehovah Jirah!

In our short time spent at Leveque, we met and befriended several adults in the deaf community. Perhaps the most beautiful of all was an older man named Jean Louis, whose smile and sparkling eyes were infectious. At the end of our time in Leveque, Jean Louis was playing soccer with several guys from our team and kids from the community. No doubt this will be a priceless and teachable moment for the kids to see the value in this man who has been ostracized his entire life.

As is the customary behavior for kids in the village, they came around to watch us and ask for handouts. What we've noticed is that there is a substantial difference between the behavior of the kids who are receiving good education and those who are not. It's into this world that MOH is making remarkable inroads - through education, nutrition, and the churches - to change their future for greatness and develop the Haitians to be a people who can provide for their own futures.

The Lord our God provides in countless ways, and we're learning to open our eyes each day to see these ways and praise Him for each and every one.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

School makeover - Haiti edition.

Today we had the opportunity to go into a functioning school in Minoterie - a near by village where a couple of our translators live. The school provides education and food for about 300 kids between the ages of 4 and 14. Our job was to paint the classrooms. There were many fingerprints drawings and marks that covered the walls. We provided a colorful two tone paint job in 4 of the 6 classrooms.

It was an experience to see how attentivite and focused the kids were in their class. Shortly after we arrived it was clear that little school work would happen as the kids were very distracted by all of us being there. School was let out some could take over the class rooms and quickly many of the kids and us retreated to the soccer field, playing out front or just holding a couple of kids.

We asked one of our translators why the kids flock to us anytime we leave the MOH campus. Mischloot informed us that there were two reasons: he let us know that when kids see Americans we represent hope to the kids. They know that we come brining gifts, food and necessities to them. Even when we show up to a school to paint and don't have food or gifts for them - they know that we came from the US to bring them help. It was very powerful to hear that we are their visible sign of hope
The second answer was that the Haitian culture isn't one that show or states affection. The kids flock to us to get hugs and love to give them some of the love that they are longing for.

We continue to see how God is working in this place and how just a little hope offers those barling hanging on increase their faith and strength.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

The Widow's Mite

The team woke refreshed this morning, after a windy night kept us blessedly cool. After breakfast of some weird-looking eggs (we think) we headed back to the village of Leveque, one of the MOH construction sites. The goal for the day was getting the inside of four homes painted. Who knew painting on concrete was so difficult! We worked in the new deaf community, which consists of about 60 homes. We were so thankful that our team leader, Shawn, actually knows some sign language and was able to bridge the language barrier with the home owners. We were with the Texas group again, and we split into two groups to paint. The houses have a small front room and two smaller back rooms. We had to move all of the possessions out of the homes first, which was eye-opening because it only took a few minutes (it takes us forever to do that!). One gentleman had ALL of his clothing in one small suitcase. In some houses the owners painted with us. We were able to pray with them in creole, English and sign language. Since there weren't enough paint rollers to go around some of us played with the local kids again. It was inspiring to see the number of Christians in this community and the church hasn't been built yet (it was dedicated this week). The other clear sign of God was that MOH hit water in this village this week and they will have another source of water. After dinner we had the opportunity to worship again at the MOH church. One of our translators is the worship leader so we got to spend the day with him and then have him lead worship for us and about 400 local Haitians. Many of the faces in the service were famarilare to us through the MOH orphanage or the villages we spent time with. Their worship is so much more intense then what we are used to. Their love for the lord and desire to give Him praise are very clear through their body language. Most of the congregation has very animated hands reaching to the sky, voices raising above the band, tears and people dropping to their knees in complete surrender. Knowing what these people have in the way of basics necessities, the daily challenges they face and the sheer poverty that surrounds this entire area - we were amazed at their worship. One of the most impactful visuals was seeing them tithe. They gave generously even in the current condition of their families, villages and country. As we were cleaning dishes from dinner our final team members (Mary and Will) joined us. We are safe and healthy and wish our loved ones a Happy Valentines.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Already Worth It

The February 2012 Team has made it to Haiti! We landed Sat afternoon and, after a harrowing drive thru Port-Au-Prince in the back of a rather questionable van, arrived at Mission of Hope. A team from Texas is working with us this week, so while we waited for them to arrive, we spent some time resting and settling in to our bunk rooms. Once the mosquito nets were in place, and we had lathered on the Deet 100, we explored the 80 acre campus a little.

When Texas got here, we ate dinner, which was much better than expected! Our trip leader, Shawn, had said he gained weight last time he came, and we are beginning to understand why. After our meal, everyone serving on campus (in addition to our 11 and the 15 from Texas, there are about 50 here from Canada) came together for a welcome from the MOH staff and some time for worship. The generator that runs the power here is not 100% reliable, and the lights went out right as the acoustic guitar started. It was actually a perfect way to end the night, praising the Lord in the dark, with only our voices ringing thru the night.

We all slept very well (perhaps it had something to do with getting up at 2am on Sat!) and started the day Sunday with an official tour of campus. The scope of MOH is unbelievable, with the construction/mission arm, a school, an orphanage, clinic, prosthetics lab, nutrition program, sewing/craft ministry... It is truly incredible. We ended our tour at church, which was spoken mostly in Creole. It is an open-air building, shaped like a cross. The authenticity and joy in the way the Haitians worshiped was inspiring to all of us, and despite the language barrier, we sang and prayed along with them. You could feel God's presence in that building!

The remainder of the day we spent driving to the two MOH villages being built. We will most likely be working at these villages later in the week, but it was great to see them and hear the plans they have for these locations. The people were so warm and friendly, and so happy to welcome us. The children just come running when they see the bus, and tug on you and hug you and insist on being picked up and carried and played with. I'm sure we will talk much more about the kids later, so I'll stop there for now!

Today (Monday) we hit the ground running and spent the whole day in some of the remote villages on the hillsides of Haiti. We had some awesome interpreters with us, to bridge the language gap, and we walked through the villages, meeting people who live there. They were also welcoming and kind, and the children are SO loving! As we stopped at various houses, we asked if the family had any specific needs we could pray for. Whether they were believers or not, everyone was willing to share the needs of their family. We laid hands on them and prayed, and encouraged them with love and laughter.

One of the most incredible moments of our day happened about 20 minutes into the morning. After we prayed for a woman who was without a job and desperate to provide for her family, a young woman came to the interpreter and said she wanted us to pray for her because she wanted to know Jesus. Talk about an eye-opening experience! After some Creole discussion to ensure that she understood what she was asking, she knelt on the dusty road and we laid hands on her and prayed over her right there. It was incredibly powerful. If God isn't gracious enough, after she stood up, another young woman knelt with the same request!! It was amazing, and humbling, and such a huge thing to experience. God was truly moving in that village and we all felt so blessed to just be there to witness it.

I have to sign off now,but I left it on a high note :) We will try to blog later in the week, and keep you updated on the ways we continue to see God's hand here in Haiti. Keep the prayers coming, as they are obviously working!

Love, Erin (and the rest of the team!)