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Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Haiti Mission 2014 - Day 7

In the last Haiti blog (Haiti Mission 2014 - Day 6), I wrote of our visit to the Delmas children's prison in Port au Prince. And how we followed up that soul-wrenching experience with a walk through Minoterie and a visit with Berry-Jeanne...

Good morning, Berry-Jeanne

After our Monday evening devotion, I spent time in prayer and contemplation. The intimacy of our relationships was deepening with each passing day and I fully expected the next day - Tuesday - to be no different. 

Christy and friends in Minoterie

Keith, Ashley and friends at Berdy's house

I suspect most people don't like to visit hospitals. We go because our loved ones are there. Or maybe to accompany a friend as they visit someone. I really don't like going to hospitals so, on the whole, I was anticipating a very mixed reaction to our impending journey on Tuesday morning. I was thinking that we would walk into a ward, spend a few moments here and there with people who were struggling to regain their health, and then head back to Minoterie.

Before anything, we had a long drive ahead of us. Our route to the hospital took us through the heart of Port au Prince. We had to drop Bildad off downtown for a meeting with one of his relatives.

It's always market day in PaP

Marché de la Croix des Bossales

As we drove through the western side of Port au Prince, we passed one of the most amazing sights of our journey: the sprawling commercial complex that is the Marché de la Croix des Bossales. The Cross of Bossales Market covers roughly seventy thousand square meters. That is a little over three-quarters of a million square feet! It is a huge complex into which - if Internet articles are to be believed - over $2 million has been infused since 2010 in an effort to improve conditions and provide basic sanitation services.

Based on what I was told, the Marché de la Croix des Bossales sits in the same location as the original Haitian slave market. Today, it is the largest marketplace in Haiti, where all manner of goods and services can be obtained. Except slaves, that is. Thank the Lord.

Probably would not opt to stay here

Ben 10 has arrived in Haiti

One of the amazing things about Haiti - and indeed, about any country outside the United States - is how American culture finds its way around the world. Personally, I'm not so sure a lot of that is a great idea, but I was stumped as to the identity of the young man on the billboard above. I just thought it was a bit of an oddity, so I took the shot. Only after I returned did I discover that Ben 10 is a popular Cartoon Network hero-character.

Go figure.

I doubt it...

Just down the street from Ben 10 was the Eternal Father lotto store. I'm not going to claim to have the inside track on what God is up to these days, but I think it's a safe bet (pardon the pun) that He is not running a lotto network in Port au Prince. If you spend any time at all in Haiti, one thing you'll notice is that God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit - the Trinity - feature prominently on everything from tap-taps to roadside supply depots.

It took us about two and one-half hours to wend our way through Port au Prince and complete our journey to the hospital, which lies west of the capital. As the traffic thinned to almost nothing, Bluebird slowed, then stopped, signaling our arrival at - what the sign announced as - the Sanatorium. 

After receiving the requisite permissions, Jean Justin backed Bluebird through the gate and reversed down a long, tree-covered access road. Apparently you just don't drive a bus forward into any driveway in Haiti. On our right as we backed in we saw a school complex, followed by the hospital quad.

A number of pre-fab buildings made up the hospital quad

These two men appeared to be serious friends

On the left-hand side of us, there were about twenty to twenty-five men and women sitting on chairs or standing by, waiting for our arrival. Once parked, our team leader gave us a quick briefing; we were actually visiting what Americans would refer to as a Hospice. To put it bluntly, we were advised that most, if not all, of the patients who were there had conditions that would - sooner or later - be terminal.

The folks who had come out to welcome us were those still healthy enough to get about alright. All of the other patients were in the prefab buildings we noticed when we drove in. Just as it can be a little awkward when you go to visit a friend in the hospital, it was no different here. To start off, we just spoke with them, introducing ourselves and letting them know where we were from. We also sang for them, which they seemed to enjoy (which means they didn't hear me singing).

After the singing, we wanted to offer whatever encouragement we might, so I was asked to read a short Bible passage and lead a prayer for them.

I thank my God in all my remembrance of you, always in every prayer of mine for you all making my prayer with joy, because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now. And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.
 - Philippians 1:3-6 (ESV)

I chose the passage above because, to me, it speaks of the hope we all have in Jesus - He who began a good work in each of us. And here, as these good people faced the stark reality of their completion, we prayed that each of them would be received by Jesus on that day.

After praying, one of the Haitian women from Minoterie who traveled with us (I believe her name was Gerdy, but I am not completely sure on the spelling) stepped forward and talked to the patients gathered under the trees. Although she spoke in Creole, one of our translators softly filled us in on what she was saying.

As she spoke, Gerdy shared how she had become very ill some years before and how, when taken to the hospital, she had stopped breathing. Gerdy looked at each of the patients as she told them how the doctors were able to revive her thanks to the healing power of the Holy Spirit.

This really touched me because we spend so much time talking about our beliefs. But Gerdy shared the simple power of her faith in God. It surely didn't matter to these people whether she was a Baptist or Methodist or Catholic or whatever; all they heard - and saw in Gerdy's eyes - was an example of the healing power of God Almighty.

That's not to say that we were telling the patients that God would heal each of them. On the contrary; we all know how mysterious God's ways seem to us. Sometimes it doesn't make any sense at all.

In the book of Job, Zophar the Naamathite responds to Job's suffering with rebukes concerning the obvious state of Job's righteousness. However ultimately wrong Zophar's motivation and wisdom were, one thing he was correct about was the limitless measure of God's wisdom and power...

Can you find out the deep things of God? Can you find out the limit of the Almighty? It is higher than heaven—what can you do? Deeper than Sheol—what can you know? Its measure is longer than the earth and broader than the sea.

 - Job 11:7-9 (ESV)

After Gerdy's testimony, we handed out small containers of sanitizer, shampoo and soap, along with toothbrushes and toothpaste for each patient. These seemed like small gifts that we could give, but we heard how many of the patients did not have even such simple things as this, and they let us know how much they appreciated them.

We also handed out hand-made greeting cards that the children in both Huntsville and White House had made before our trip. Each card had a picture of the child along with some encouraging words handwritten in Creole.

Children's greetings

Kelma sharing with one of the patients

Before we left for the ride back to Minoterie, we walked around the quad. We were asked not to go into the patient rooms but we could stand outside and talk with patients, as well as pray for them as we visited each small building.

A peaceful garden...

Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also. And you know the way to where I am going.

 - Jesus (John 14:1-4 [ESV])

Our drive back to Minoterie was shorter than the outbound journey by an hour or so. This time, we did not pass through town, but along the outskirts of Port au Prince. We parked in front of Berdy's home and made sandwiches for lunch. Our midday meal was quiet; for my part, thinking about the all-too-fleeting moments we had shared with the hospital patients that morning.

After a short break, we moved the bus to a different spot in the village and several off us walked to a place nearby where we picked up trees that members of the team had purchased. We gathered back at the bus with our trees, then walked through Minoterie planting them in a yard here, a garden plot there. 

We chose places for the trees where there was some fence or other natural barrier, otherwise the goats will eat them before they can grow sufficiently to protect themselves. In all, we planted five mango, three lemon and two native shade trees. In each case the families who received the trees were very happy, eager to have us pray over each new addition, asking God's blessing on the fruit it would come to bear, as well as on their home.

Dye mon, gen mon; beyond the mountains, more mountains...

We returned late to the hotel, arriving after eight in the evening. We barely had time to wash up and grab dinner. After everyone had eaten, we met together for our final evening devotional. Tonight was the team's last night in Haiti and needless to say there were some emotional moments. Two things happened which surprised us all:

First, Nathanael, Berdy, Bildad, Israele and Frantzdy presented all of us with certificates of appreciation for the work that we had done this week on behalf of Prosperity of God ministries. Obviously, we did not (and do not) expect any recognition for the things we do on mission. However, we were humbled and honored to receive the thanks of these men who are on the Board of PoG yet worked and sweated right alongside us all week. If anyone should be given recognition, it is these hard working young men who live to support the community of Minoterie. They strive to educate themselves and the children, providing them an opportunity to become the future of Haiti.

True men of Haiti

Second, and eternally most important, Jean Justin, the man who had driven us all week joined us. This man is probably the best bus driver I have ever seen. He was able to carry us safely along the adventuresome roads of Haiti and maneuver big ol' Bluebird in and out of places I would hesitate to drive my little Saturn. After we gave Jean Justin a huge hand and many thanks for his awesome service throughout the week, he told us - through a translator - that he had something to say.

He spoke of sitting on the bus and quietly observing our activities. He spoke of how his heart was full of respect - and surprise - as he watched us with the children of Minoterie, the children in the prison, and the sick whom we had visited earlier that day. Although he knew the name of Jesus, he told us that this week was the first week he believed that he had seen Jesus at work - through us. We were all a little stunned. Finally, he told us that because of his experiences this week, he had felt the Holy Spirit move within his heart, and Jean Justin accepted Jesus Christ as his Lord and Savior. 

God without borders...

Talk about amazing! We gathered around him and gave God thanks for Jean Justin's decision. We hugged, we laughed, we cried, and we prayed. We also urged the men from PoG to take up the responsibility - and the challenge - to teach Jean Justin and to guide him in the ways of the Lord.

Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,

After all the incredible emotions of the day, we adjourned and headed to our rooms. Each of us had to pack and prepare so that we could leave early in the morning and spend our last hours in Minoterie. 

Sleep claimed us gently, with thoughts of angels rejoicing in heaven...


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