TO MY PARTNERS in MINISTRY
to the PEOPLE of HAITI
February 9, 2013
O n e S t a r r y N i g h t !
While recovering from some health issues in the USA, I could not help feeling that I was missing out on some very exciting events that were unfolding in Haiti in December 2012 and in January 2013. God had opened some amazing doors to some incredible events in the little community of Grann Plaine on Ile-a-Vache, where much of our ministry work is done. Solar lighting was brought to our school there, the lighting was soon extended to our orphanage and to add to the joy … several baptisms had occurred at our new community-requested church and I had missed it all!
Upon my return to Haiti, I was so looking forward to returning to this tiny island to witness firsthand the changes that had taken place. A dear friend, who is also a huge supporter of our ministry there, was coming for a visit. Together we would make the journey to see what exciting changes had occurred since our last visit.
The day my friend was to set foot on Haitian soil arrived – but alas, troubles with the airlines delayed her visit by one day. The following day, I waited impatiently for her 5 hour journey across the country to our home in LesCayes. That day, too, was plagued with delays. Those of us waiting in LesCayes finally decided to have the boat all loaded at the wharf, ready for her to jump in, so that we could disembark quickly and get to where we were going as soon as she arrived! Time kept ticking and the afternoon light was beginning to fade. I was concerned that we would end up traveling in the dark on a boat that has no lights and on a sea that is filled with large rocks and fishermen’s nets just waiting to entangle themselves in our boat motor. More time passed. When the van carrying my friend finally arrived there were greetings and thank-yous to be made with her fellow travelers and luggage to be loaded onto the boat before our launching actually occurred. Whew! Would be actually have enough time to reach the island before it was pitch black? I wasn’t so sure. When the sun in Haiti nestles behind the mountains, it gets very dark, very quickly. Oh well! We were now on our way and I was determined to enjoy the journey. The water was a bit choppy, but I was thrilled at the number of clouds in the sky because I knew that we were in for a bird’s-eye view of an incredible sunset, with the ocean waves in the foreground. The clouds were already forming hues of yellow and orange and purple and red. I got my camera ready for what I hoped would be some awesome shots of a day’s beautiful end! The sputtering noise of the motor interrupted my thoughts. When I started hearing the repetitive sounds of the motor trying to start and failing, I knew we might be headed for an adventure. We have a very old and constantly failing boat motor. Once again it had failed and it would not start again, even after numerous attempts to coax it to do so. At this point, many people would panic, but I did not. I have had multiple experiences in Haiti where I was stranded for some reason or another and each and every time someone comes from somewhere to assist. In Haiti, strangers become friends when there is someone in need of help. God did not let us down this time either. Another boat, carrying a few missionaries, came alongside us. The boat captain conversed with our boat captain and more attempts were made to start the motor. When it became clear to the second boat captain that our motor was not going to budge, he offered to tow us to the shore by the nearest beach on Ile-a-Vache. A towrope
was tossed to the second boat and we began our slow trek closer to our destination island. It would be a long slow ride, so my focus again returned to the sunset that was unfolding. My friend videotaped while I took still shots on the ever-changing kaleidoscope of colors that God was painting in the sky.
As we approached the shore, the winds seemed to calm and the temperatures hovered at a very pleasant degree. The second boat captain left us to get his passengers to their destination. It was assumed that letting the motor cool down, we would most likely be able to restart the motor and finish our trek around the western corner of the island to our final destination. The second boat faded from view and our boat captain again tried to restart the motor. The sun made its final descent and yet no kind of coaxing would make that motor start again! Again, panic did not come, but rather, I turned my gaze to the sky to the most incredible star filled wonder. Have you ever been in a place where there are no city lights when it is nighttime? Then you have an idea of what a beautiful sky we enjoyed from the uncushioned boat seats where we were perched for another of God’s awesome displays! The constellation of Orion, that was easily visible a few minutes before, was now so peppered with other stars that I could hardly find Orion in their midst. Every inch of the sky was dotted with stars, some bright and some not so bright. We were bobbing in the sea under a canopy of God’s marvelous creation! It was peaceful! It was surreal! It was actually comforting! As more time passed, I wondered if we would end up wading to the beach near where we were floating or would we stay on the boat until the first light of dawn. It was then that we heard a boat motor in the distance. Somehow we would need to catch the attention of that boat. Those of us who had flashlights on their cellphones started beaming the light in the direction of the boat. The light seemed to fall far short of its intended destination. I then remembered that I had tucked a flashlight in the front pouch of my backpack. This particular flashlight had a shaft that was clear and produced a blue strobe light when the correct series of buttons were pushed. I was able to get to it quickly and soon we were sending out our luminary SOS. The boat saw it and came our way. It ended up being the same boat that had towed us earlier, but this time they were minus their missionary passengers. We again hooked up our towline and with flashlights to search for dangerous rocks or fishnets, we rounded the bend towards our final destination.
Upon arrival at the village where we would disembark, we started to unload all of our goods in the blackness of the night. There to greet us were several people who would help us bring everything up the rutted path to the top of the mountain where our guesthouse is located. A mule loaded with some of the heavier items stumbled along the rainwater-hewn path dumping everything into the muddy, mule feces laced trail. All items were recovered and we got our first glimpse of a school lit with the energy of the solar power. What an awesome sight! Never before had I arrived in the dark. Never before had I arrived to light in the dark! Wow!
It was so good to be back home on this tiny isle! What a joy to have power all night long! What a joy to see that the orphanage boys now had light to do their homework by! What a joy to worship in one of the classrooms of the school with an electric keyboard and a fan to stir a bit of a breeze! What a joy to hear our orphanage boys’ choir sing for the first time in a church service!
I always say … “Another Haitian adventure!”
A week has gone by since this water adventure and I have had time to reflect back on what took place. I am reminded that in the midst of many storms of our lives, God is always there! He is the Light that lightens our darkness! He is there to protect us! He is there to guide us! He is there to lead us! He is the One in control and in the midst of it all …. it is only He who can give us peace! Thank you God for this incredible, peaceful, light-filled experience! You alone are GOD!
Missionary to Haiti & the Dominican Republic Until next time, God willing ……
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