Another Mission Trip to Haiti (part 1 Port Au Prince and Gonaieve)

I was so blessed to have gotten the opportunity to travel to Haiti again for the purpose of feeding people who are hungry and ministering the love of God to the orphans and children in the community.  I give great thanks to God for providing the means of me going there through the financial support of my church, Ogletown Baptist Church.

This trip was truly life changing for me.  It was an amazing experience and the Lord just did so much.  I warn you now that this entry is very long.  It gives the detailed account of my trip.  I did this for my wife since she was not able to go with me and I wanted her to know everything that happened so that she can feel as if she was right there with me.  I pray that this entry blesses and encourages many who read it.  My trip was from Thursday 10/09/08 to Thursday 10/16/08. The 2 places that we ministered in was Gonaieve (where there was massive hurricane damage and flooding) and Camp Coq (where the orphanage is)  Enjoy

Thursday 10/09

–  I was probably 1 of 3 white people on the entire flight

–  I left JFK airport in NY in cold 50ish weather and stepped out of the plane in Port Au Prince to sweltering hot weather, probably around mid 90’s with much humidity.

–  I was traveling alone and was told that somebody from our team would pick me up from the airport.  After waiting for a while for my luggage, I walked outside the airport and amidst a large noisy crowd, I heard someone call my name.  It was my friend Fritznel.  He lives in Port Au Prince.  He is about 25 years old and he is a great young man who really loves the Lord.

–  Driving from the airport, it feels like I never left here the 1st time last month.  All around me are sights of extreme poverty, people begging me for money on the streets.

–  We drove to the Guest House in Port AU Prince which is owned by the Florida Baptist Convention.  It is a decent place to stay because it has flush toilets and air conditioned rooms.  But it is pretty basic.

–  Upon arrival, I met a missionary team from Georgia who had just gotten back from Gonaieve.  They said that the devastation in Gonaieve is unbelievable and to be prepared for some harsh conditions.  The team had spent several weeks there.  One of the girl’s legs was completely covered with mosquito bites, same with another guy’s arms.  They told me that the bugs there are so bad because of the flood waters.  They said that they weren’t worried though because they got malaria shots before they came to Haiti…I didn’t.  Looks like I might be wearing jeans everyday in this 95 degree heat.  I’d rather sweat like crazy wearing jeans than sweat to death because of contracting malaria.

–  I was greeted by Frank and Nicole.  They are the Pastor and wife who are the leaders of the mission.  They are the ones who started the orphanage and schools and everything.  I was so surprised to see Nicole.  I didn’t think that she was going to be there.  She is really cool.

–  I had a very long and exciting conversation with Frank – the leader of this work.  He shared with me how this work got started from the very beginning as well as sharing his vision for the future as to what He believes God is calling him to.  He really believes that God has a lot more in store for this ministry.  He asked me if Maria and I would consider starting up an official mission organization with him and Nicole so that this work might expand.  I told him that that sounds really good, but I would want to pray about that first with Maria and not move ahead of or outside of God’s will.  I told him that Maria and I will be praying about what level of involvement God is calling us to with regards to this work in Haiti.  I am excited by what Frank tells me about how this ministry is all a giant walk of faith.  Every month, they trust God to provide the money that is needed to support the orphanage, schools, and churches.  And every month, the Lord provides.  He told me about Pastor San Luis (one of the Haitien pastors) who oversees several of the churches and does not receive any kind of payment whatsoever, but simply lives by faith in the Lord’s provision.  Frank is always praying about this ministry.  He told me that he prays every Tuesday morning from 8AM to Noon specifically for this work.  He told me that shortly after he began doing this is when the Lord brought our paths to cross.  He is very excited about us getting more involved.  I am very encouraged and challenged by Frank.  So much of his own money has gone into this ministry, which shows me that he is extremely committed to doing what God has called him to do.  The mission house in Camp Coq was built and paid for completely by Frank and Nicole.  The same with the orphanage.

–  I pray that the Lord blesses my efforts of being down here to serve for His glory.  I anticipate a week of hard work in harsh conditions.  Lord, use me for your glory.

–  I spoke to Fritznel about the reality of the “restaviks” (child slaves) in Haiti.  He said that it is very common and very real.  He also told me that AIDS is not the number one cause of death, although it contributes a lot.  But the real main cause of death is poverty and disease.  My heart goes out for this place.

–  First thing I see in the bathroom of the guest house is this…

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…a huge dead cockroach…This ought to be a fun week….

–  We had a meeting at night with the team to discuss what we will be doing every day.  Frank and Nicole were able to raise about $8,000 so that we can provide food and support to these people who have been so devastated by the hurricanes.  I was able to help raise about $1,000.  May the Lord use these resources for His glory.

–  After our meeting, I spoke at length with a missionary couple from Georgia who just recently moved down here as of March.  They lie in Gonaieve where they started a food program that feeds 250 people a day.  Their home was severely damaged by the floods.  They lost everything, including their truck which was carried away by the flood about a mile away and then crushed.  But still they are here and continue to persevere.  God bless such faith as that.  We exchanged contact info and he said that he would love to work together in the future.

–  Slept like a baby since the room had AC.  Better not get used to that.

Friday 10/10

–  Drive from Port Au Prince to Gonaieve – normally about a 4 hour drive, but now an 8 hour drive because of all the detours and broken roads due to the floods.  Probably one of the bumpiest and uncomfortable rides ever in my life.  There are really no paved roads in Haiti, so you’re usually driving on dirt and rock.  I had to get myself into a zone where I just accepted the “uncomfortableness” of the ride and would not allow myself to feel uncomfortable.  The AC barely worked in the truck, there are 3 of us in the back seat with bags on top of us and it is like hotter than ever.  Quite an experience.

–  Total poverty all around me.  Poverty in the city, poverty in the towns, poverty in the mountains.  Just poverty everywhere.  I gave some candy to different childr en along the way and told them ”  Jesus loves you” in Creole, which is “Jesu reme’w (Jay-swee ray-may-ou)

–  Ate some Griolle at a little road stand (fried pork, fried plantain, and spicy cabbage) Oh, it was sooo good

–  Here are some pictures of things along the way from Port Au Prince to Gonaieve…

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…candy always brings a smile…

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…the candy works again

–  When we arrived in Gonaieve we saw so many areas that were still flooded with water.  Entire small communities were now sitting in the midst of a lake of dirty water.  People’s homes were destroyed, water everywhere.

–  People bathing in the flood waters, people fishing in the flood waters…

–  Haiti is complete poverty in complete chaos

–  Stayed at a “decent” hotel in Gonaieve.  Had dinner cooked by Pastor San Luis’ sister in-law

– Prayer and singing just before going to sleep.

Saturday 10/11/08

–  Morning breakfast of fresh bread and fresh avocado

-Drove through Gonaieve to purchase rice, beans, and oil that we would distribute to the people

–  I have NEVER seen so much widespread destruction in my life.  This city was decimated by flood waters.  I can’t even fathom how people live here.  But to them, life must go on.  They still have to fight for survival every day to make a living.  So rather than take time to clean the mud out of the area, they set up their business of buying and selling right on the mud.  They were desperate before the flood just to make enough money money to feed their family, so they certainly cannot afford to lose time by investing in cleaning their community.  They will starve if they do.

–  Mere words and pictures really do not do justice in trying to describe the conditions here.  All I can say is that it is total devastation and total poverty all in one.

–  But life must go on for the people here in Gonaieve.  So they walk through the muddy waters, they wash their clothes in the muddy waters,and they bathe in the muddy waters.

–  Here are some pictures of some of the devastation that I have seen here.

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–  After taking several hours to purchase the food (Nothing ever happens “smoothly” in Haiti), we drove to the church in Gonaieve to spend the next several hours putting together family size bags of food to give to the people in the community.  We put together about 150 family size bags that would provide each family about a weeks worth of food.

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–  Then the chaos began as the iron gates of the church opened up and people tried to pus their way up front to get food.  People are so desperate.  They are all hungry.  We were able to provide food for over 150 families, yet there were several more people who we had to turn away because we didn’t have any more food.  People were trying to reach over the walls in hopes of being handed anything.

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…children rubbing their belly after I gave them some yummy candy.

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–  I believe that the Lord brought me all the way to Gonaieve for this one thing that happened just before giving out food.  I met this 17yr old boy who was helping us pack up the bags.  He said his name was Joseph Enoch.  I began speaking to him in my limited Creole just to try and make conversation.  So, I asked him “Ki leglis ou mache?”  Which means “what church do you go to?”  He told me that he goes to a Christian church in Gonaieve and then I asked him if he was a Christian.  He said that he “accepted” Jesus about a year ago in church.  The rest of the team was surprised when I continued to ask him about whether or not he knew Jesus.  I asked him what does it mean to him to “accept” Jesus.  He didn’t really know.  I asked him the 2 diagnostic questions that I often use from EE (Evangelism Explosion)  By his responses, it was apparent that he had no idea who Jesus was and what it means to accept Him as Lord and Savior.  I asked him if he wanted me to tell him what the message of salvation is really all about.  He said that he would like that, so he and I along with my friend Fritznel (who translated) went to find a quiet place where I was able to share the gospel message of salvation with Joseph.  I asked him if what I was saying made sense to him.  His reply was that it made complete sense and that he had never heard anyone explain it so clear to him in such a way that he really understood what it means to “accept” Jesus.  He said that he now understood that his sin has separated himself from a holy God and that Jesus loved him so much that He went to the cross so that the judgment of his (Joseph’s) sin was taken care of.  That nothing else could forgive or erase Joseph’s sin except the blood of Jesus.  He told me that he recognized his need for forgiveness and that he wanted to truly repent before God and ask Him to become his Savior and Lord.  And so, in that back alley way, in the devastated city of Gonaieve, this white guy from America was used by the living God to pray a new Haitien believer into the kingdom of the lord Jesus Christ.  Praise God for His wonder and glory.  Praise God for my Haitien brother in Jesus named Joseph Enoch.

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My new Christian brother Joseph between my good friend Fritznel and myself.

–  Immediately after praying with Joseph to receive Christ, I was overcome by massive stomach sickness, and next thing you know, I’m in one of these poverty stricken homes squatting over a concrete hole in the ground 3 different times in a half hour…and I’ll end that story right there…and I won’t tell you that as I was squatting, the outhouse door swung wide open and I’m looking at the next door neighbor looking down at me…that’s too embarrassing of a story to tell…:)

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–  Despite all my pain and embarrassment, I had a smile on my face thinking of the angels in heaven rejoicing over a 17yr old Haitien whose name was just written in the Lamb’s book of life.

– Here are some more pictures of Gonaieve as we were driving back to the hotel.

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–  As we were pulling up to our hotel, I saw 3 “blonds” (white people) so I stopped to talk to them for a while.  They are a missionary family serving with YWAM (Youth With A Mission) and living here in Gonaieve.  They have been here for about a year.  It is a single Mom and her 3 children – Wow!  That is amazing.  They know and work with the other missionary couple that I met in Port Au Prince.  (small world…or small country…or small network of missionaries here in Haiti)  I told her of our involvement with Haiti.  She offered to host a team at her home if we would ever have need of that.  I think it is cool that i have met 2 missionary families who have so graciously offered to work with us in the future.  Perhaps we might just do that…only the Lord knows.  It was so great to talk to this Mom’s teenage daughters and hear them share about their passion to be serving God in Haiti.

–  Tomorrow we will attend church service in the Gonaieve Baptist Church, then we will give out clothes to the people.  After that we will drive to Camp Coq where we will minister to the children at the orphanage and in the community, as well as buy food to give out to families in that community.

Sunday 10/12

–  After breakfast, we all headed out to church.  Driving through all that devastation and dirty flood waters was really starting to get to me, not to mention the stench all throughout.

–  Church service was good, but long and very hot.  I thank the Lord for giving me the opportunity to share a brief message from His Word.  God had been showing me Psalm 46 and Acts 17 in the past few days and I had a burning desire to share this word with the people of Gonaieve, but did not think that I would get the chance.  So, when Frank called me up to share a few words, I grabbed my bible and ran up to the pulpit and shared the message that He had put on my heart.  I pray that the word that I shared brought encouragement to the people.  It is always a challenge to preach a theological truth with the need for it to be translated into another language.

Here is the church in Gonaieve…

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–  After service, we handed out clothes to the people in the church.  We gave out about 4 suitcases full of clothes.  I think everybody got a few things.  But at that point, things were just starting to get to me.  The unbearable heat, the devastation all around, and the desperation of the people as they were yelling and pushing thorough to get anything that would help them out.  I was ready to go.  Actually I was ready to go home…seriously.  I was tired.  I was so dirty.  I was so hot that my clothes were just sticking to my body.  I missed my wife and kids.  I missed my comfortable home.  I missed my AC.  I missed comfort period.

But I knew at that point that it was the moment where I had to surrender all those things to God and trust in Him alone to be my joy and comfort.  It was in that moment that He was calling me to persevere for a cause greater than my comfort, and that cause was so that the name of Jesus would be lifted up and magnified in Haiti.  And so I pressed in to God…and pressed on in the mission.  I will say however that I was happy to be leaving Gonaieve and heading to Camp Coq.  I really believe that my purpose in coming to Gonaieve was to bring the gospel message to that 17 yr old boy and see him pray to receive Christ.

–  And so we left Gonaieve and headed up the mountains towards Camp Coq.

–  Here are a few pics of handing out clothes in the church.

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Frank’s wife Nicole handing out clothes.  She is from Homestead, FL.  She is originally from Haiti.

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Can you see the cry of desperation?

–  Next stop…our little mountain village of Camp Coq where the orphanage is.

One thought on “Another Mission Trip to Haiti (part 1 Port Au Prince and Gonaieve)

  1. I was in Gonaives right after the flood. I have good friend’s who are on the mission field serving in the Jubilee Blanc area. The were stranded approx. 10 days with limited food and water. We took a few men in to bring supplies and help remove two orphanages from the city.

    Thanks for your post, I good to read about someone who has experienced some of the same things I have experienced. Blessings to you. YBIC Tony Mc

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