|Haiti: May 2005|
16 people, 15 days, 9 services, 8 first-timers, 2 birthdays and 1 chicken coop
This was my sixth missions trip to Haiti, and this was the longest, most populated trip of them all. Sixteen people went, eight of them for the first time, and some of them on their first mission trip. For the Chi Alpha staff members moving to California to do Chi Alpha at UCLA, this also was our last planned event with Mizzou Chi Alpha. So...for our finale, we did things right. We were in Haiti more days and did more church services than on any other trip. We were able to give a lot financially and really help take care of some big needs. We witnessed to people and prayed for the sick. Our goal was to do God's Will, to accomplish what He wanted us to accomplish, and by faith that's exactly what we did.
We connected with the three pastors we have relationships with and had two services at each of their churches. We also were able to minister at a church we had not been to before. We were there on a Sunday morning, which was their Mother's Day. After the service, they blessed us with cold sodas just to say thanks. Pastor Winston felt that he needed to launch some of the team members who are called to the ministry to do ministry. In the nine services, Pastor Winston didn't preach, but released five of the team members to preach instead. Four of them went twice and three of those preached for the first time. Every service had a good message and then we gave an altar call and prayed for people. Several people accepted Christ, many people were encouraged, and God was able to meet people's needs.
The orphanage property always has a project or two underway to improve or increase the ministry that they can do (as long as money is available, anyway). A couple of weeks before we arrived, we heard about another building being started that will be for younger orphan kids. Right now, the kids who stay there are teenagers and have been there a while. There wasn't room to take in more, but when this building is completed there will be. A small church building was completed on the property since last year, and we had our first two services there. Another vision that needed funding was to build a large chicken coop (1500 chickens large). This would provide a source of eggs without having to buy them from the market, and will even become a source of income eventually. Of course, the people living at the orphanage will benefit, but also the kids in the feeding program will now have more protein (and a little variety from rice and beans) in their diet. Building something this large is a huge project, and is out of reach unless someone from the U.S. funds it. Well, we were able to give a big chunk of what was needed, and within a few hours the location was staked off and they broke ground the next day.
Another financial need we were able to help with was the electricity bill. The orphanage finally saw power lines reach it a couple of years ago. Though the service has improved some, it is still unreliable and goes out fairly often. The bigger problem they faced, though, was that they were billed for 20-plus years of electricity use! This came up to $1000 U.S.! When the average annual income in Haiti is $80 U.S., there isn't much chance of ever paying off a bill that high. God blessed our team with an abundance of resources, and we were able to pay off half of the unfair debt!
As always, we brought literally hundreds of pounds of clothing, shoes and other supplies to give to people at and around the orphanage. We also brought something with us that none of the Haitians had ever experienced before, a fiesta! On a Saturday, we took over the kitchen and brought out taco shells, ground beef, salsa, cheese and other fiesta necessities and went to work. Meanwhile, we started decorating, setting up tables so the Haitians we invited would have places to sit, and preparing piñatas. That evening, we served everyone tacos, burritos, nachos, guacamole, salsa, nacho cheese, and Kool-Aid. There were also rice and beans (the foundation of the Haitian diet) available, which the kids quickly went for after finishing their Mexican food. That night, we introduced the kids to piñatas. They had a good time and it was hard to keep them from diving for the toys and candy while the stick was being swung.
A few years ago we met a lady named Nicole. She is a Christian and at the time had been in pain for eight years, but believed God would heal her so she could better care for her family. Since we met her, we always go visit her to see how she's doing. Last year she was pregnant, which worried us since she is tiny, still not in the best health, and her family is poor and they don't always have enough food. We gave her some food and prayed for God's blessing that she would have a healthy baby. This trip, we were able to rejoice that indeeed, she does have a healthy baby. Her husband recently lost his job, so once again we gave them food and prayed for God's blessing on the family.
Unfortunately, not all news is good news. Gerald, the Voodoo high priest who was saved a year-and-a-half ago, has turned back to Voodoo. I was told that a Haitian Voodoo leader who was living in the U.S. traveled back to Haiti and visited Gerald, convincing him to give up being a Christian and turn back to Voodoo. We attempted to visit him several times, but kept being told that he had just left. When we did manage to see him, he said that he believes what we have to say, but he's made up his mind. The only thing we can do at this point is pray, believing that Jesus is greater than the one in this world. We won't convince Gerald by a good argument, but the Holy Spirit is abundantly able to overthrow the lies Gerald is holding onto.
One evening, while we were eating dinner, a lady was brought to us for prayer. We were told that she was demon-posessed and had tried to kill herself earlier that day and had then tried to run away from her friends. She had recently accepted Jesus, but either had not accepted complete deliverance or had allowed the demons back. We prayed for her, but nothing happened right then. We took her to service with us that night and the next and then visited her again a couple of days later. Though we joined with her in prayer, there wasn't a breakthrough. We need to continue to pray that Jesus will completely break whatever hold Satan still has on this woman.
Like every trip, we played soccer with the kids. This time it didn't go very well. We only won two games, and for one of those, the older kids were gone so we played with the kids who usually don't get to play. A couple of the days some of the guys played basketball with the kids on the court at the school nearby. They won both of those games.
The previous trips have all had one big story to tell...one huge victory. This one is summarized a little differently. We did a lot of ministry and were able to be a huge blessing. We encouraged our friends, and once again were able to partner with them to reach out with the message of hope in Jesus. We launched new ministers down the path God has called them to, including one girl Winston's wife Kimberly prophesied over during one of our morning group devotions. We prayed with faith and planted seeds that will not return void. We were encouraged that since the last time we were there, God's work has continued. And we were able to expand our ministry to a new territory. Praise God! He is at work and will accomplish His purpose.
And now, this team disbands. Six of us - Winston, Kimberly, Uwe, Jessica, Sara and myself (Brian) - have moved to Los Angeles. Four have graduated; Ryan is heading to medical school, Anne is committing a year to missions work in Jordan, Matthew is searching for a job in journalism and Carrie is going to stay in Columbia, MO for another year and work. Joseph, Heath, Mark, Jordan, Britani and Angela will continue to pursue degrees and souls at Mizzou. May God's hand be on each of us to lead us in His Will and to bless us tremendously.
Some other things I didn't mention: Sara and Britani celebrated birthdays on the trip, Anne led arobics sessions on the roof, I was sick (one way or another) throughout the entire trip, before our second service we had childrens' program for more than two hundred kids, there was a day of swimming at the beach house, and there was a hiking expedition up the mountain above the orphanage.
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