Almost 22 years ago, I was in a car wreck. Police and emergency medical staff thought I should not have made it out alive. But God intervened. None of the boys He called me to serve today had been born yet. A year and a half later, the surgeon released me from his care and then told me he had thought I would never walk again. I remember telling him I was glad he did not tell me until I was fully recovered. That was the same year a little boy in Haiti was born. In 2004 I was sitting on my deck, bored because I had completed all the projects I had planned to do. I glanced down at a newspaper and saw a white light illuminating a Help Wanted Ad. I googled the phone number (yes, you could do that back then) and learned the office was close to my house. I called the number, interviewed that same day and landed the job. In 2004 that little boy went to live on the streets of Port au Prince. He was 8 years old.
The job led me to a church I started attending in 2005 and become a member of in 2007. One of my earliest memories of that church was briefly meeting a friendly man name Duane Gibson. He had just returned from a trip to Haiti. I had no idea where Haiti was but I noticed a “fluttering” in the pit of my belly upon hearing his words. Four years later, that church invited me to go on a mission trip to Haiti. Initially I refused, but later went. Through no planning on my part, God connected me with that boy and several others who would be the first to age out of the (then) newly formed orphanage for former street kids.
I say all that to show that God knows everything. He knows the beginning and the end and He has a plan for it. He is in control, even when we think we are and even when we think there is no order in the chaos of this world.
Life in Haiti is certainly different than life in the United States. The other day we asked one student in each English class to come up to the board and draw a picture of a tree. None of the trees looked like the tree I would have drawn but they were all trees reflective of what is seen in this country. Here is one of the drawings:
Some days I think I am going to go crazy because things are so different. If you have an appointment at 8:00 am in the States and show up at 8:05am, you are late. Here in Haiti, if you show up at 8:50am, it is still considered 8! Obviously, the language is different and the confusion is amplified by the fact that Creole is primarily a spoken, not written, language. What IS written is not consistent. Sometimes people speak Creole and French, often in the same conversation, and they might throw in a little Spanish too. In Mathematics commas are used instead of decimal points and long division has a completely different format than I had ever seen before. Then, of course, there is the traffic. There are no rules for driving in Haiti. A friend of mine described it best when she said, “Driving in Haiti is like playing a video game. You never know what to expect but you have to anticipate what will happen.”
I could go on and on about the differences but I think you get the picture. Yet, at the heart of it all, some things are the same. We are all people. We have hopes and dreams. We all desire to be treated with respect and dignity. We all want to belong and be loved for who we are.
This group of boys grew up together and they look out for one another and those they love. They encourage each other and willingly share what they have with those in need. I often see them take the high road in situations. Sometimes I think they are teaching me more than I am teaching them. I am typically not a materialistic person but recently had some things stolen and was very upset about it. The words from the boys are words that I should have been thinking: “It’s just things. Things can be replaced.” Humbling, to say the least.
Education has been and continues to be a priority. Final exams for the school year begin next week. We are doing tutoring on weeknights. Most of the boys have a part time morning job with HandUp Global Goods and then attend school in the afternoon. We are still working on securing vocational training during the summer for those who will have the time to pursue the training.
I am excited about the life skills these guys are developing in the areas of budgeting, financial and time management, planning for their future and, as you can tell from earlier in this message, spiritual development. Some of the guys are in the process of planning to purchase, or have purchased, land to build their future home on. If God leads you to help them financially, it would be very helpful to them, as none of them ever wants to be homeless again.
Above is a picture of Emma. Last fall he was not working. He attended driving school, got his license earlier this year and secured a job as a motorcycle taxi driver. Part of his earning go for his living expenses and part of his earnings go to purchase the bike.
Tiblanc works part time at HandUp Global Goods and recently started a part time job as a motorcycle taxi driver. I call him “Moto Minister” because he shares the Word of God with people he gives rides to. Recently he told me that one of his regular riders accepted Jesus as her Lord and Savior! It excites me as I ponder how he was used to impact her life and wonder what the impact of HER life might have on others.
Marcial and Reginald have recently started Security and Bodyguard Training on the weekends. They are being trained by a Chief of Security with the Police Department of Haiti and will receive a certificate upon completion of their training which will allow them to secure a full or part time job in the future, if they desire. Both are currently employed part time by HandUp Global Goods. Reginald’s dream is to be a bodyguard to the president of Haiti one day.
Patrick’s dream is to be able to help the young people who have found themselves living on the streets of Haiti and he’s doing just that. He recently purchased a pick up, had it converted into a tap tap (a kind of taxi) and hired a friend of his (who used to live at the orphanage, Zanfan Lakay) to drive it. Patrick will keep his job at HandUp Global Goods while helping as many people as he can along the way, including himself.
Life has taught me that God always gets His way. We have the choice to follow Him or not and opportunities that we pass up may go to someone else but in all things God works for the good of those who love Him and are called according to His purposes. I am so thankful that you have chosen to be a part of this ministry with these guys. Your love, encouragement, prayers,financial support and emotional support mean more than you can possibly know… and are impacting the lives of others now and in the future. Thank you!!!