TO MY PARTNERS in MINISTRY
to the PEOPLE of HAITI
September 21, 2011
Ready or not Haiti, I am back! After weeks of uncertainty about when I could/should return to Haiti, the time has arrived and I have returned. Although my ankle is not at 100%, the work in Haiti needs attending to. Thus, I have returned to tackle the tasks that I can and leave the rest for when I am able. I must rely on God to lead me down the path that He has chosen for me to follow!
Some have asked if it would be harder to readjust to Haiti after having been stateside for five months. In some ways it has been. One easily gets used to life in the USA and life as it is in Haiti dims in the process.
Upon my return, I soon realized that indeed “while the cat is away, the mice will play.” And play they did! Their calling cards were left in my underwear drawer, my nightgown drawer and various other places that had been a playground to rodents during my absence. As if on cue, the running water in our house (that had been shut off for ten days) returned to the sinks, toilets and shower. Perhaps God understood that I would need a good shower after 18 hours of travel. Gone are the days of when I could run a load of laundry in my washing machine, whenever I had a certain outfit that I needed for the next day. Hand washing and line drying certainly takes a much longer time! Gone are the times of pulling an ice cold drink from the refrigerator whenever I need one! Room temperature water is much more the norm! No more jumping into a car and running out for a quick errand. Now a trip out of the house, on motorcycle or on foot, requires remembering to bring toilet paper for those pit stops where none is available, bringing drinking water as a safe beverage may not be found, and toting insect repellent, hand sanitizer and sunscreen. Moments of electricity and running fans in the current 90 degree temperatures are savored, as one never knows how long such a luxury will last.
There are some noticeable improvements in our area since I was last here. New electrical wires are being strung in front of our home, promising longer hours of electricity. The gate at the hotel across the street has been freshly painted with a colorful design in browns and yellows. An ice cream cart now makes a daily trek past our house! Yes! An ice cream cart! Rarely, in the past, could one find ice cream anywhere in LesCayes. Now, a small cart is pushed or pulled by its owner right in plain sight of the whole neighborhood. A small generator keeps an ice cream churn working. Small portions of strawberry flavored soft serve ice cream are served with a spoon dipped into a small bathroom-sized Dixie cup for the equivalent of about $.65 each. Yum! On a hot day, with no electricity or cold beverages, this business endeavor is sure to please many customers! (The ice cream cannot help but remind me of the ice cream sold at Cones and Dogs – an endeavor of Bless the Orphans Resale Shoppe in Jenison Michigan. This wonderful ministry is raising funds for Grace Orphanage through donations, volunteers and the spending by shoppers! If you are ever in the area, you simply must check them out! You can find their page on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/pages/Bless-the-Orphans/135654563164538).
As with every September, the thoughts of most people in Haiti turns to education. Roving street vendors can be seen toting multiple backpacks that may entice a student’s family into purchasing such a desired item. But, the thought that is primary on the minds of each family is how they are going to be able to find the money to send their sons and daughters to school. Daily, we receive inquiries as to whether or not we have funds to help! This year, the start of the school year has been delayed until October 4th. This gives us more time to determine how far this years’ funds will go. There is never enough for everyone who comes asking. There is not always enough funds to help those children helped in previous years at the same rate they may have come accustomed to. It is a yearly dilemma! We pray that for those children that we are able to help that we are making a life-long difference in their lives through education!
This September, I was also reminded of the deep connection that people here in Haiti have to the people of the United States. On the day of the 10th anniversary of the tragedy of the destruction that occurred on September 11, 2001, I received numerous expressions of condolence from various Haitian people. They too have not forgotten! I clearly remember coming to Haiti on September 18, 2001. The airplane was nearly empty as many people still feared flying in airplanes with the tragedy and security issues so fresh in their minds. When I landed at the airport in Port-au-Prince, I was greeted by Haitian strangers with tears in their eyes and expressions of grief and promises of prayer. Haitian people know suffering and they are quick to share suffering with other people who are experiencing some kind of pain. In some way, Americans were better able to understand that sharing of grief when 9 years later the people of Haiti suffered the devastating earthquake. The outpouring of concern from the USA and from around the world was a blessing to the Haitian people. So often they are forgotten in their misery, but that was not the case in 2010. Thank you America for your expressions of concern!
September 2011 also brings another anniversary. It marks my seventh year in Haiti. The time here has brought a myriad of events. I have experienced whooping cough, two broken ribs, staph infections, dengue fever, hurricanes, an earthquake, being uprooted from familiar surroundings, living in a tent city and establishing a new place of residence. The joys have included seeing children saved from certain death by being accepted into one of the several orphanages that is sponsored by Caribbean Children’s Foundation. Another joy is being able to financially assist hundreds of children with the opportunity to attend school, some of whom have now graduated from childhood to adulthood with employable skills. Also rewarding is seeing healthy children who, because of timely medical intervention, are now able to live beyond the toddler years and bring continuing joy to their families. In addition, God has immensely blessed our construction projects as we witness the progress taking place on the orphanage and school building project sites. Feeding programs and medical/dental education are making a noticeable difference in the nutrition and well being of the children in the communities where we work.
Day-to-day it is hard to see much progress, but if I take the time to reflect back on the accumulation of my many months here, I do see that God has used me to make at least some measure of difference in the lives of the children that are placed in my path.
The longer that I am in Haiti the more I know that I have so much more to learn about the Haitian culture and its people. If I were to live in Haiti for 100 years, I would never learn all that there is to learn nor would I become Haitian. I will continue to be who I am – a child of God who as an infant, toddler, child, and adult grew up influenced by the American culture and who was then transplanted into a culture where I will continue to expand my world view.
What a ride it has been! My prayer now is that God will continue to lead me in the path that He has chosen for me. May I make Him proud! May I be the servant He wants me to be. May I find a way to accept His forgiveness when I fail. May I find the joy when I listen clearly to His direction!
Missionary to Haiti & the Dominican Republic Until next time. God willing …………