The welcoming banner at our hotel in Les Cayes
This is the first of I’m not sure how many blogs that I will post over the next few days or weeks in an effort to share thoughts and insights gained from our church’s recent trip to Les Cayes (Aux Cayes) Haiti. This was my deuxième voyage to Haiti and this trip was very different from the first one I went on last year. I’ll write more on those differences later.
Many people ask about what we do when we go to Haiti; in effect, they’re asking, “Why do you go?” For some, it’s not enough that we are spending time with men, women and children, loving them, sharing with them, teaching them, feeding them…giving them something hopeful, something different from their everyday life. I’ve had people tell me that I don’t need to go to Haiti, or anywhere for that matter, and push my beliefs on the people who live there. I respect anyone’s freedom to share their opinion on that with me. I also respectfully disagree.
For one, I’m not pushing my beliefs on anyone. I’m sowing seeds. Each one of us has a choice to make regarding what we believe. All I do – all we do – when we go on an international mission is try to bring light into the life of the people we encounter. That light may be a smile, a helping hand, a meal – or it might be medical care, a new roof, a home.
In 1st Corinthians 12, Paul explains why all of us have to work together for the good of one another and how each one of us has gifts and abilities that we need to use for God’s glory. As I drove to work yesterday, my first day back from Haiti, I wondered about people who don’t believe in God – or maybe do believe in God, but don’t think He’s actively involved in our world. Where is the purpose in their life? From birth to death, they eat, work, play, laugh, cry, get angry or whatever – and then they die. And that’s it. King Solomon must’ve felt a little like that when he wrote what has become the book of Ecclesiastes. How empty it would be to get up in the morning and think that whatever I accomplish today has no ultimate meaning or purpose.
But I don’t want to go down that rabbit hole today.
Our team consisted of seven people led by our Pastor, Brian Nall of Ferris Hill Baptist Church (Milton, FL). Three of us had been on mission last year and four were experiencing it for the first time. The first of many catch phrases that came out of our trip to Les Cayes is: “Well, last year…” and then you fill in the blank. The four new missionaries wanted to throttle us by Tuesday after about the hundredth time we began a sentence with those words.
The team in Port au Prince
This year’s trip was completely different than last year’s. The location was different, the travel experience was different, the climate was different, the kids were different, our in-country team was different, the hotel experience was different, the schools were different, and our team was different.
The ladies in the back setting out for Les Cayes
The first thing that was different was change. Our first hint of the week to come occurred right after we made our way out of the crowded Port au Prince (PaP) airport at about 4:00 p.m. Saturday afternoon. Our itinerary called for an overnight stay at the mission house in PaP (about 15 minutes from the airport) and then a five-hour drive west to Les Cayes on Sunday morning. We were all prepped for that after getting up in the pre-dawn hours to make our 7:00 a.m. flight out of Pensacola.
Everyone out of the bus! Fixing one of our flat tires...
It was a l-o-n-g journey to Les Cayes Saturday night. I think we stopped about five times. A couple for gas and such before we left PaP, and three on the highway. One to tighten lug nuts, two to change flat tires and then to switch vans after the last flat tire so we could complete the journey and get to our lodging in Les Cayes.
Brief word(s) about the term: highway. Potholes; unsafe bridges, detours through a convenient dry wash, speed bumps, mountains, curves…Last year we had a relatively pleasant (sorry Rebekah) drive to Mirebalais. This year, we had Dramamine.
Through God’s Grace, we finally made it to Les Cayes at or about 9:30 p.m. Our in-country team had called ahead and the hotel staff (bless them!) had a late meal of chicken and – of all things – French Fries waiting for us. Believe it or not, the food helped everyone’s stomach feel a little better. Or maybe it was our favorite drink:
Anyone for a Sprite or fifty?
After dinner, we trooped upstairs to our rooms – three to a room – and were lulled to sleep by the soothing roar of the diesel generator outside. Apparently, it’s cheaper to run the entire hotel off of generator power than pay the government for electricity. In any case, we were most grateful for this modern – if somewhat noisy – luxury. We had survived the journey and were looking forward to a night’s rest and then a morning of worship in God’s house.