22 Years in Haiti
Happy Anniversary to us! 22 years ago this month, Lex and I arrived in Haiti to begin the ministry known as Mission of Hope International. I share with you each week about the wonderful things the Lord is doing for our friends, neighbors, staff, and students in Haiti and I will again today... BUT first - a little look at my memories of stepping out of the pan and into the fire...
Even though Lex grew up in Haiti, he'd never lived in Grand-Goave before. Add to that an American wife who was not so adventurous, a toddler, a preschooler, and no established friendships - well, it makes a roller coaster ride seem casual.
We quickly discovered that what we had thought was "walking in faith" was but a walk in the park. We sold, gave, or dumped all our belonging and headed to Haiti. We were unprepared for the reality. We had our tax return money and a couple of donors who got us started, but once we dove in we started to flail.
That first year was a doozy! There were no cell phones at the time and although we were put on a waiting list to get a house phone installed, we're still waiting. We were cut off from our support base in the US and money was an issue. At one point we had only enough money left to buy a package of hot dogs for our children to eat that day. We ended up pawning some things in order to keep going - something I'd never even considered in my life up to that point. I don't think I knew such a thing even existed.
We had no access to drinking water and ended up traveling to another city to get barrels. Although our home had a great electrical system, the electric company went months at a time without actually providing electricity to the city. Imagine living in the Haiti heat without so much as a fan! Nights were the worst, trying to sleep while soaking the bed with sweat. I would have to get up 3-4 times in the night to shower (okay, bucket bathe!) just to bring my body temperature down enough to fall back to sleep again. And the mosquitoes!!!
That's just the tip of the iceberg of difficulties we faced in that first year and those that have followed, but we survived them all. Not only did we survive, but I can say that I grew more in that first year than I had in the previous 19 years of my walk with Christ. Everything I thought I knew was shaken, but my foundation, the ROCK (who is Christ!) never moved. I learned to trust fully in Him out of necessity. I learned that I could not survive, never mind accomplish anything lasting, on my own. Lex and I both came to the conclusion: if God's not in it then neither are we.
Some might consider me adventurous today. I'm really not. I certainly don't seek adventure - and I don't ride roller coasters either. I do try to stick close to the Lord and apparently, HE is quite the adventurous One!
If you've been following these blog posts at all, you know that MOHI now has a campus in Port-au-Prince called the Christian Light School. This school was founded 21 years ago and has a strong foundation of Christ-centered education in French, Kreyol, and English. The students all speak fluent English, which is a great advantage for them when they enter the job market, considering how tiny that job market is.
We were not looking for another school to lead. We were asked by a dear friend if we would consider taking over the school. She told us the founder was ready to retire and would close the school down if no one took it over. We told her that we would consider it. Neither Lex nor I thought we would actually end up doing it, but we did consider it. And each time we thought we'd discovered a reason not to, the Lord turned it around to show us we should. And so we did.
Had we seen the end from the beginning, I'm pretty sure we would not have agreed to take leadership of the school. It's a lot more work than we'd anticipated. And yet, I am more confident than ever that this was the Lord's plan. 257 students are continuing their education, receiving daily vitamins and food, are having a nurse caring for them when they aren't feeling well, and are learning to put their trust in the God of the Bible. Babies in the area are being given vitamins and fed daily and their caretakers are hearing of Christ. 67 people are able to care for their own families through full-time employment at this school. Hundreds of donors and prayer partners have the opportunity to touch lives through their care and generosity. God has plans for this school. I am confident that the best is yet to come.
The physical school building has been in need of maintenance. Step by step we see the Lord providing for those needs. The school has been painted and has had many floor repairs done. The Lord again has provided! As of Wednesday, the roof project (replacing the leaking wood/metal roof on one wing of the building with a concrete one) is fully funded and the work has already begun. Praise the Lord!
All the rooms have been cleared of their contents.
The solar panels have been temporarily relocated.
Materials have been purchased.
The hard labor of hauling the materials to the roof area is progressing.
The roof has been disassembled.
We're off to a great start. We are so grateful for those of you who have given so generously to this project. Keep checking back here for updates!
Mardi Gras is a national holiday in Haiti. Our students in Grand-Goave and St. Etienne started their week on Wednesday and in the capital students returned to school on Thursday. While vacation days can be fun, they can also be miserable when there's no food at home. Our staff understands the pain of hunger and they gladly come in to cook for the babies.
The students love school. They know it is a privilege to be able to attend. They are grateful for the education for tomorrow, as well as the food for today.
Professor Samuel's 5th-grade class wrote descriptions of their homes and they are reading them to the class.
I'm so grateful for the organizations and individuals who work so tirelessly to provide medical and dental clinics at MOHI for our students and community.
Yvose brought her grandson to the clinic this week. She explained that Rooden's father is not in the picture and she cares for him so that her daughter could move to the city to work. The money she makes supports Yvose and Roodens, but they wish they could all be together. "MOHI helps us a lot. We always come to MOHI when Rooden is sick. I always get free medicine and the medicine always helps us. Thank you."
Hope originates with God. We always have a time of prayer and worship in the morning before the doctors begin seeing patients.
Eva's visit to the clinic was good for her. They left very happy.
Together we are shining the Light of Christ and casting out darkness. Thank you for enabling this ministry and more to go forth in Haiti!
We had a wonderful time with our friends on Amelia Island this week for a "Meet & Greet". Lex and I loved the question and answer time. It's a privilege to share about what we do and the reality of life in Haiti with those who are interested. A big thank you goes out to Sally Ericksen for organizing this event and for the wonderful encouragement she always brings to me! Here are some of the wonderful people who participated with us.
Would you like to host a Meet & Greet for your friends, church, neighbors? Please reach out to me at firstname.lastname@example.org and let's plan a visit soon!