|Haiti: Jan 2004|
Prior to the trip...
Haiti gained independence from France in 1804. 2004 marks their bicentennial, and their celebration plans include rededicating the nation to Satan. We knew we would be in the country during the build-up before this happened...an increasingly dangerous time. A few days before we were to fly out, political unrest and demonstrations prompted the closing of the American embassy and a warning advising against any Americans travelling into Haiti. We were all given the individual option of not going, but as a team, we were determined to follow through with our plans. We had fasted and prayed, and recruited a network of people to support us in prayer. We were trusting God to be faithful.
The trip to Haiti went without incident. We arrived in Port Au Prince with all of our luggage, and Poppy was there waiting for us. A very pleasant suprise was an improvement to the truck. They had a cage made to fit in the pickup bed that included a bench around the perimeter and a platform above us to hold our bags. Now instead of two vehicles and a dangerous ride sitting exposed on the sides of the truck, we only needed one vehicle and were inclosed with bars to lean against. I was amazed at how calm Port Au Prince was. In fact, it seemed less hostile than any other time we have ever driven through the city.
Arriving at the orphanage is an awesome experience. Everyone is so excited to see us, that they come outside and cheer as the truck pulls up the driveway and around the corner of the house. The first night there is a time of celebration and a time for us to rest after a long day of traveling.
There is a lot of excitement surrounding our visits. In the past, Pastor Winston has described it as being like Christmas to the Haitians. Well, this time that description became a little more literal. In addition to buying the normal supplies that we take, Kimi also went shopping for Christmas presents. She bought toys for the kids and then wrapped those and clothes to give to them. She didn't stop with the kids, though. All of the workers around the orphanage received presents.
It was a special day... We decorated for Christmas and prepared a huge meal. We made everyone sit down at the tables and served them. Then we joined them and ate together. It was great to be able to serve everyone who does so much to take care of us while we are there.
After the meal and dessert, presents were passed out. When they were all distributed, everyone was told they could open them. The kids dove into the mounds of gifts piled in front of them, uncovering toys, watches, school supplies, radios, and clothes. This was the first time anyone had done something like this for them. After everything was opened, a few people got up to thank us on behalf of everyone, and then they all came around to give us hugs.
In past trips, we have gone out with pastors to pray for people in their churches who are sick or have other needs. This time, we did it at a whole new level. Almost every day, we had two teams go out in opposite directions. Pastor Winston led one team and put me in charge of the other. He told the pastors to take us to people who were not Christians so we could witness about Jesus.
We encountered a lot of excuses as we went. People wouldn't accept Jesus because, "My children aren't here," "I'm not ready yet," and one man who could barely speak because of a huge tumor on his face had to sing a song to a Voodoo priest. These encounters were frustrating, but everyone was at least willing to let us pray for them. Every time we prayed, there was a burden lifted. People's faces changed and they acted a lot more friendly. Our prayer was that there could be follow-up on these people to continue to present Jesus to them.
The greatest thing was the chance to actually witness to someone and them decide that they wanted to accept Christ as their Savior. I got to lead people in prayer for salvation and then see them at the service later that night. (Leading someone in a prayer consisted of me praying in English, our translator repeating it in Creole, and then the person repeating that.) There are many stories to tell from these visits, but what comes next is the best...
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