I've been to Haiti three times since 2010. Our teams were fortunate to stay in modest hotels in 2010 and 2011 that including in-room air conditioning (when the electricity was working). Mission of Hope (MoH) "guest houses" do not have air conditioning, so last week was a bit more climatically challenging.
Cross ventilation and mosquito netting saves the day!
Sunday morning started out with a breakfast of cereal and peanut butter & jelly. PB&J, we would discover, would come to be a staple for the week. Our food supply was augmented largely by donations that are brought in by the mission teams. It's not unusual to see Captain Crunch, Raisin Bran, or Special K cereals among many others. After petit dejeuner (breakfast, in French), our team went on a tour of the MoH campus. As I wrote in my journal, "The breadth of what MoH has accomplished here is staggering! School, clinic, hospital, prosthetic lab, orphanages, ministry - all while working to put Jesus first - amazing!"
After the tour, it was time for church; I've been to Haitian churches before, having helped with, and participated in, revivals on both of my previous visits. The MoH church is similar to other Haitian churches I've been in: open air (no full walls) and pews made from planks and re-bar; but that was where the similarities ended. The MoH church was huge by Haitian standards...
Amazingly, there was a section of wall to the right of the dais where words to the worship songs were projected - in both Creole and English - for each song. A couple of the most powerful songs were unfamiliar to me, "Depoze" (pronounced "dehpo-zay"), which basically means, "Lay it down" and "Pou kase tout Chèn" (pronounced "Poo kah-say toot shen"), which roughly translates, "To break every chain". Unfortunately, I can't find any Creole versions of these songs on the 'net but you can listen to the English versions below...
These versions are nice, but honestly, they do not do justice to the power of the Holy Spirit that was present in this Haitian church. American, Canadian, Haitian and other believers were singing in one voice - in English and Creole - praising and worshiping the Creator of the Universe. It didn't matter where we were from, what color our skin was, we were all brothers and sisters on this awesome morning.
We spent the rest of the morning in Bible study and prayer. As a team, we were all reading "Bruschko" during our week in Haiti. Bruschko is a phenomenal story about a 19-year-old man from Minnesota who answered the call to share Jesus with the Motilone tribes in Colombia. So Sunday gave us an opportunity to dig into the book as well. As I read, Malachi chapter 2 really came to my mind in a powerful way. Reading about how Bruce Olson was spurned by the established missionary organizations because - in part - he didn't want to turn the Motilones into North American Christians was a powerful reminder of something we needed to be acutely aware of: we were in Haiti to share Jesus with the people there; and it is possible to share Jesus with people without devaluing or destroying their own culture.
After dinner on Sunday night - a "to-go" supper delivered by Gwo Papa Poul - literally, "Great Father Chicken", we moved to the basketball court and watched the MoH Vision film, which describes the history, present activity, and future vision of Mission of Hope. After the film, we were treated to a discussion with Brad and Vanessa Johnson. Brad is the son of the MoH founders. If I haven't mentioned it before, the genesis of MoH began in 1972 when Sharon Johnson (Brad's mom) traveled to Haiti to direct a choir that was traveling around the country. Each year following, Sharon and her husband Bob returned to Haiti, working to address the pressing needs of the people there. Eventually, that led to establishing what is now known as Mission of Hope in 1983.
Sunday had been a long and rewarding day, but Monday loomed large as we found out that our week would be made up in great part of working construction projects out at Bercy, the MoH North campus. It was time to call it a night and see what God had in store for us as our mission began in earnest...