September 3, 2014
Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
I thank God for giving me the opportunity to travel to Haiti. All that God allowed me to do in Haiti is due to the blessing of your support; either through financing, volunteering, donating, or prayer. I write this letter in an attempt to tell you about the strong people I have grown to love in a fourth world country. I can’t begin to tell you about their faith in our Lord, or, in some cases, lack of. I know that this letter will not do our Lord justice in telling of all His works in Haiti, but I will try.
During my recent trip in Haiti, I was given the opportunity to see more closely into the lives of the people. It is easy for one to watch a circumstance from afar and feel disconnected. I was blessed to become further connected to the hard lives that these children of God have.
Marie, Kim and I sponsor children and their families, in Vania’s house.
Marie Nash, Kim Rausch and I spent the first week of our trip in Port-au-Prince with our sponsor children. We were welcomed into a cement block, two room house by Vania, the mother of two sponsor children, Stephanie and Joane. This house, which few Americans would live in, had eight people staying in it when we visited. It was tucked between other houses with maybe 3 feet between them. We walked down a bumpy, crowded, dirt alley to get to the house. Vania does her cooking and laundry in the small area between her house and the next. God has blessed Vania’s family with a home and all children have sponsorship to be in school. Yet, while with them, we saw needs that were not filled. One can see the sun shining through their roof. Vania has high blood pressure and few resources to help her. The girls needed simple things like bras and food! While meeting Samuel, another sponsor child, I saw his need for a dentist and shoes. Samuel had great pain in his mouth and was wearing girl shoes that were too small for him.
I give you these examples to help you understand how many Haitians just live without many of their needs. Some live without a proper home, without clothes, without food, without school, or without parents. Yet many believe God has blessed them with hope and they are thankful for what they do have, life in Him.
The second week of our journey was spent in Ti-Goave with the addition of two more people to our team, Jake Houck and Tiffany Holder. This is the same village that I have been at the past two years. We were able to have a teacher in-service with 48 teachers and directors from the area. We were seeing some of these individuals for the third year in a row and others we were meeting for the first time. We educated the teachers on the different functions of the left and right side of the brain. We also gave them ideas for how they can rejuvenate students who are hungry and fatigued. The activities we gave them used both sides of the brain causing the two circumferences to work together.
We visited Jean and his family while traveling the mountains. He does not yet call himself Christian, but was still happy to have us come. We shared the Gospel with him, prayed over him and his family, and sang praise to God. He wished for a Bible before we left him.
My desire since 2010 has been to hike to the tallest point of the mountains in the Ti-Goave area. Well, I was finally blessed to make this difficult trek up to that part of Ti-Goave and all over the area’s mountains. Our team traveled to several schools in the area. We looked at the conditions that they were teaching in, with hopes of having a better handle on the conditions they teach in and how we may serve them in the future. We also traveled to some of the teachers houses and prayed with their families. The teachers, directors, and families need to know that we care about them. They work hard and make due in rough conditions. I met a teacher and a student that hike 60-80 minutes a day to get to school. They do not complain, they are happy for the opportunity. There are no water fountains along the way or paved walk ways. They simply have our Lord and the determination to keep their job or receive an education.
Many people have asked me if I noticed progress while in Haiti. I noticed some paved roads that were not constructed in 2013. There are less people living among rubble and more people living in a simple shack or tent.
However, the progress that I see most is in the relationships that are being built. I see youth that have grown over the last 3 years into men that take care of me as I climb mountains. I see their character developing as they come to youth group or help those younger than they are.
I see my sponsor children and the children of others growing with the knowledge that someone cares enough to make sure they receive an education. Those of you who have a sponsor child, I wish you could see their parents eyes when they thank you. One feels undeserving of the gratitude that God has allowed you to receive from their family. Please remember that only 30% of Haitians graduate from high school, even less go to college, and there is slim to no free public education offered in Haiti.
One of the most profound examples of relationships helping God’s people flourish, is a young boy/man named Jon. Jon was found wandering in the mountains with no place to call home. His parents are dead, his siblings are nowhere to be found, and his elderly grandparents have no claim to him. Jon is deaf. Before Jon came in contact with me, he slept on the side of the road, in a bush, wherever he thought was best. Jon’s age, how he was fed, how he has survived are all a mystery. Meaningful mission has taken Jon in. They have given him a place to sleep, food to eat, attempted to share the Gospel with him, and we love him. Jon is one of the happiest people I have ever seen. He loves to participate in daily routines like putting his cot away, brushing his teeth, and helping clean up after meals. He understands almost everything you tell him through actions. He looks out for those around him and has instinct to care for those that are younger than he. Jon wants to learn and sucks up every bit of information he observes. How God will use Jon in the future is a mystery to me, but He has already taught me what a blessing it is to reach out and love the unloved.
Thank you for allowing me to go and love the unloved. Your support means more than you will ever know. God grant you thankfulness for your blessings and continued use of them.
“I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength.” Phil. 4:13