It has been a crazy week here in Haiti… even more crazy than usual. Many people are still not quite sure what time it is, me included!. Last year Haiti did not recognize Daylight Savings Time but on March 9th the new president decided Haiti would participate this year! It took the cell phone and internet companies a few days after the fact to get things coordinated! That, combined with a security strike on Wednesday at the airport, left people in a state of uncertainty as no one could leave Port au Prince until the strike was resolved. It was reported that planes circled overhead only to return to their original destination and others left with no one on board because no one with ticketed flights was able to get through security to board the planes.
Daily life in Haiti is uncertain and difficult, often riddled with unexpected or unexplained challenges and inconveniences. Most people take it in stride. “That’s how it is in Haiti” (actually the Creole equivalent) are words spoken and heard many times each day. Haitians are a strong and resilient people…able to go with the flow more so than I am. The media outside of Haiti portrays Haiti as more unsafe than is experienced by people living here day to day, which can cause folks to have a greater fear of the people here than necessary. For example, I was at the airport on Thursday looking for a friend. Seeing a Caucasian female come out of the airport and thinking she might be with my friend’s group, I approached her to ask if she had seen him inside. Without looking at me, she abruptly and fearfully said, “No, I don’t want anything.” When she did look at me and saw that I was American, her entire countenance changed and she spoke with me like a human being.
Strangely enough, racism is alive in Haiti too…. the lighter one’s skin is, the more value is put on the person’s life. Parents with fair skinned children can be seen carrying umbrellas to protect their child from the sun’s rays. (Yes, the sun makes the skin of Haitians darker too.) But no one is treated more harshly in Haiti than the children living on the streets with no one to care or provide for them. They are often referred to as the scum of the earth. They are seen as a nuisance. Unspeakable things are done to them.
I love this picture of Patrick as he is standing near the house God is using many people to have built for him. (You will be happy to know that all of the guys have been out to the site to help with the manual labor needed too!) Every Haitian dreams of having a piece of land and a home someday. For most, it remains an unrealized dream but Patrick is more than a dreamer. He meticulously plans and follows through with his plans. He has a strong faith in God; I have witnessed him defending his faith to men older than he is and in front of a group of mocking unbelievers. He remembers where he came from and doesn’t think he is better than others. He invests his time and what little money he has in helping others. Last year he took out a long term, no interest loan to purchase a pickup truck, had it converted into a tap tap and then hired a former resident of the orphanage he lived at to drive it daily. He and two other guys spend 2-3 afternoons a week teaching a group of children currently living on the streets how to read and write. He has dreamt of being a leader to the children living on the streets and whether he realizes it or not, he is a leader to them.
My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. – John 15:12
God has blessed us with a special group of guys who strive to make their lives better in spite of the many adversities life has presented to them. Perhaps the adversity helped to shape them into the fine young men they are today. (For more on this idea, check out The Adversity Paradox https://www.amazon.com/Adversity-Paradox-Unconventional-Achieving-Uncommon/dp/B0046LUGY4) Although the book is written from a business perspective, it can be applied to life as well. The guys often see me working on my laptop and it has sparked an interest in some of them to learn to type. With an color coded finger placement chart and a couple of keyboards to share, three of them have started the process of learning to type as it is not taught at the school they attend.
You may recall that Josue started a wholesale food distribution business. This is more than a business for him as it allows him to help those in need. During Hurricane Matthew last year many of the guys took food from his store to people who may not have survived without a few days’ worth of food. He has created jobs for people in the neighborhood with this business and helped others start their own small business by gifting them some start up supplies. Recently a team from Texas came to Haiti and conducted a child development class for a group of nannies at a local orphanage. Upon completion of the class, the participants were a awarded a Certificate, which can help them secure future employment, as well as a gift certificate to Josue’s store. Josue was invited to share his story with the nannies and is seen here passing out the gift certificates.
In early March, all of the guys conducted a VBS for the children in Canaan. They coordinated the entire program which was funded by a team of high school students visiting from the States. It was incredible to listen as Max told the story of Joseph’s unfair treatment in life but also of his unwaivering faith in God who always protected him. Each of the guys had their part in singing educational songs and playing similar type games which brought the Americans and Haitians together under the tin roof of the church building. More children came than were expected and it did not go unnoticed that none of the guys ate lunch; they wanted all of the children to have a meal.that day. By the time the long tap tap ride back to Port au Prince was over, some of the American students had learned to count to twenty in Creole as well as a few other Creole words!
Max has spent many hours at my house telling me of how God has impressed upon him to help twenty (specifically) of these children with spiritual training, food, clothes, school and medical care. He has the heart to do so but not the financial resources. He’d like to have a sponsorship program developed and at the same time he wants to preserve the dignity of the children and not exploit them online. If anyone has any ideas on how to effectively do this, please contact me and share your thoughts.
What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save them? Suppose a brother or a sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to them, “Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it? In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead. – James 2:14-17
Tiblanc’s biological mother passed away unexpectedly late last year. Tiblanc had not lived with her for many years and she left behind three children younger than Tiblanc. The girls went to live with extended family and Tiblanc chose to bring his young brother back to Port au Prince to live with him. He felt responsible for his brother and believes there are more opportunities for him here rather than in the countryside of northern Haiti. While this is admirable on Tiblanc’s part, it creates a huge burden for him emotionally and financially. I pray that he will be able to find the resources to send Pederson to school in the fall and in the coming years.
Aside from a few cases of “greep” (which actually might be allergies… there is an incredible amount of dust in the air here) most of the guys are currently healthy. Although some of them are not convinced that the Hydraid BioSand Water filtered water is as good (or better) to drink than purchased bottled (or bagged water), most of them are using the filtered water to bathe. One of the guys continues to complain about increasing back pain and we are hoping to have the results of the CT scan (taken in February) available for him soon. There is a chiropractor coming to Haiti on a mission trip in late March and we plan to get him to the chiropractor too. Please pray that his health is restored.
God is graciously growing New Generation English School and now there are over a hundred adult-aged students registered to learn English. While none of the five founders is currently taking a salary, the school does employ two additional teachers, a secretary and a custodian. The hope is that within a year, many of the students will be fluent enough in English to gain employment in the growing tourism market of Haiti. Haiti has a rich history that is best told to the rest of the world by Haitians.
Reginald is still trying to figure out how he can repair his motorcycle sooner rather than later. It’s a tough lesson to learn… he doesn’t have resources to buy all the parts at one time that were stolen but if the motorcycle was operational, he would be able to generate a small income.
Mackenson recently made a down payment on a piece of land in Onaville, which is on the eastern edge of Canaan in Haiti (just outside of Port au Prince.) In addition to his part time job at HandUp Global Goods, through the years Mackenson has made bracelets, sandals and jewelry to sell for additional income. If you are in the area of Des Moines, Iowa and would like to help Mackenson financially by purchasing some of his handiwork, you are welcome to stop in to Inspired Grounds Coffee Shop in Valley Junction or Country Club Chiropractic in Waukee where they are on display. Another way to help him financially is to make a tax deductible donation to this ministry by following the instructions at the end of this message.
As I close, thank you for all you have done to help with this mission God has us on. Please continue to pray for us and to pray for how God wants you to be involved. Whether He is calling you to serve financially, prayerfully or in some other way, please listen to that call and respond accordingly.
Matthew 25:40 – “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’”
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World Outreach Ministries, Inc.
(designate for Linda Martin #564)
P.O. Box B
Marietta, GA 30061