I tried calling the AC guy so he could fix the busted hose. After a couple of days of no response I called Pa Vle and he explained that the guy was now living in America. Good for him and bad for me. At least Pa Vle knew another guy, but he lived in Ti Goave and we would have to drive to his house. We woke up the next morning and drove up a mountain road finally arriving at a group of houses with just enough space to drive between if you didn't try to open the doors. Pa Vle showed me the guys house and then had me keep driving to an area where we could turn the truck around with a 10 point turn. He then instructed me to come back in front of the guy's house and pull under a tree surrounded by car parts and junk vehicles. A literal shade tree mechanic.
The guy was very jovial and got right to work. School was out so his kids were hanging around in the yard playing with junk. They were very friendly and never asked me for anything. They even came over and hung out with me in the back of a broken pickup to wait for their dad to fix my AC. The guy had the broken part in his hand after about 30 minutes and explained what it would take to fix it. We negotiated a good fair price and then he was off to the town on his scooter to find some things he needed to finish the job.
Meanwhile I hung out with his kids in the old pickup bed and watched the goats and chickens graze. The whole process took about 4 hours. In the end he had the AC blowing cold air again and I was happy to pay him a fair price for his work. I brought Pa Vle back to his house and refused to take any money for his help. He said he barely did anything and couldn't accept money for his small contribution.
Right now is tarantula baby having season and they are out in droves. After Amy killed a spider in the kitchen sink that exploded with countless babies upon impact I decided that we needed to take this war to the offensive. Luke, Lance, and I took to the yard after dark with a can of bug spray and a lighter. We found our first target almost immediately and lit it up. The bug spray here is so explosively flammable that it is a little shocking each time you use it as a blow torch. After the third one we had a good process. Torch it for about 2 seconds to stun it, spray it for another two seconds, and give it one more burst of flame to set the liquid on fire. It will usually continue to burn for about 30 seconds this way with no more intervention. That night we had 8 confirmed kills and 2 unconfirmed. We have averaged about 2 more per week in our house since then.
The day finally arrived for Ti Mouche to have his Visa appointment at the embassy. He was sure that they would roll out the red carpet because I – the “blan” - was with him. His hopes were dashed when they stopped us at the front gate and said that the appointment was only for him and there was no way I could accompany him. There was another missionary lady from up north that was there for the same reason with the same result. I was able to talk to her while we waited for our Haitian friends. After about 2 hours they came out. Her friend got a Visa. Ti Mouche was refused.
After pressing him for what happened I finally got to the bottom of the story. He went in with a good reason for a Visa, a letter from his friend that would receive him explaining the nature of the visit and specific locations he would go for farming education, his land deed, business license, and marriage certificate. He never showed them any of the paperwork and just said that he wanted to visit the US because it was a beautiful place. Well – we tried.
On the way back home we were passing Croix bo Sal and I noticed that traffic was slow in our direction and no cars were coming from the other direction. Once we finally started moving again I noticed that there were hundreds of men gathering and walking in the direction of the National Palace. I asked Ti Mouche what he thought to which he replied nonchalantly, “Maybe a manifestation”. About 30 seconds later the all started running and yelling wildly. We were surrounded and I just started praying. At a fork in the road they started running one direction and we drove the other. Ti Mouche said, “Oh, you see, It's nothing because they are going the other direction.” I was extremely tense, but this was good enough for him and he just relaxed and barely paid any more attention. I didn't start to feel any better until we were past Marianai and close to Gressier.
Everyone is trying to leave Haiti right now by any means they can. Merlande showed us a picture at a discipleship group meeting of a boat full of people that had been arrested in the Bahamas trying to get to the US illegally. She said that many of the people were from Grand Goave and she knew them. Once they were brought back to Haiti they were all sentenced to prison terms.
Yvenson descended back into his old self pretty quickly. It was sad to see and very disheartening. After having some discussions with him I finally had to give up meeting with him. The last time I tried he never showed up. His uncle however, seized the opportunity to jump on the help wagon when he realized that Yvenson was now off. He explained to me how sick he was and that he needed some medicine. Wesley was there with me and verified that the old man's condition had almost killed him ant that it was a miracle he was alive. I knew which church he belonged to and asked if he had already tried to get help from his own pastor. He said that they helped him in the past but no longer would provide any help for him. I knew the pastor and decided to verify the information. I learned that so many people lie about this and usually fess up when I try to see if what they are telling me is true.
I called his pastor and he said the man was telling the truth. They helped him in the past but now would not provide any more help for him. I told the man to go to the hospital the next morning and I would meet him in the afternoon. I knew he could get a free consultation at the Cuban hospital in town and they would give him a list of medicines. I told him that if he gave me the list I would go with him to buy them.
The next day I went up the mountain with Wesley and Fan Fan to see Roger the voodoo priest. A Girls In Action class from my home church in Louisiana – Sandy Creek Baptist Church – had made cards for him and I wanted to deliver them. He seemed genuinely touched by the cards and brought them in his house to show them to his wife. I translated them for him and explained what they were and what they meant. He said that he was afraid to leave his current profession because he didn't think he would be able to make money another way and would be willing to leave it and follow Jesus only if he could find another way to make money first. I explained to him that it didn't work this way. I read to him Matthew 16:24-26 24 Then Jesus said to his disciples, "If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. 25 For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will find it. 26 What good will it be for a man if he gains the whole world, yet forfeits his soul? Or what can a man give in exchange for his soul?
He and his wife both looked genuinely sad, but refused to obey the gospel. I asked him if I could pray for him and he let me. This was the first time he allowed me to pray for him out loud at his house. I pray that God will save his soul.
We left from his house and went walking deeper in the mountains. We went to the house of another voodoo priest, but he was not home. On the way back down the mountain we came across an old man with two obviously well trained small dogs. He was barefooted with large feet and was carrying a small sack. We talked to him for a while and he explained that he had been hunting for feral cats. He usually gets at least one a day but had not gotten one today yet. Haitians love to eat cats. He uses the dogs to tree the cat and then shoots them with a homemade slingshot. Things like this make me love Haiti.
After getting back into town I went to meet up with Yvenson's Uncle. He was waiting where we agreed and he was holding a paper in his hand. Before I could even see what the paper said he started explaining that he didn't have the money to go to the hospital. I told him that I knew this was a lie. The Cuban hospital will see the Haitians for free and give you a list of medicines you need. After many excuses and other confusing explanations he finally gave me the paper. It was a list of his kids names with school prices for the next school year. All of his kids are in their early 20s. I just handed him the paper back and walked away.
In Haiti it seems that somehow the church and the state are connected in an inseparable way. In order to perform wedding ceremonies you must be recognized by the government and given a paper that says you are authorized. I went with Pastor Titus to the office that performs this function to see what their requirements are. When I went out to start my truck that morning I found my battery dead.
I used our generator and a special 12V cable and connector to charge the battery and finally started the truck. Pastor Titus and I drove to Grand Goave to buy a new battery, but the place that sells the batteries was not yet open – so we drove to the guys house that owns the store. He was there and said his wife could open the store, but was currently in the market area so he gave her a call. She met us at the store and sold us a new battery. I installed it and we headed to Port au Prince.
We finally found the government office and parked the truck on the side of the dirt road across from the office. We explained why we were there and they gave me a list of requirements. As I was reading through them I could hear the people in the office beginning to discuss something among themselves. The lady at the desk then took the list from me and asked me for my phone number. She said that they had different requirements for foreigners but she didn't know what they were. Once they figured out what the requirements were she would call me. I still have yet to hear from them.
On the way back home we stopped at the propane filling station to refill a propane tank I had brought with me. When I got back in the truck to head home it wouldn't start. Some other guys brought their truck over so we could jump off my battery. It still wouldn't start. Because it has a standard transmission, we had another option. Push it off. I hadn't done that in more than 20 years and it took about 4 tries before I got it started.
I called Pa Vle on the way home and he met me at his church because it had a shade tree that he could work under. About 2 hours later he was ready to start it again. We tried pushing it off again – because the battery was still dead. However, we couldn't find enough space in the church yard to get it going. He took a battery out of another vehicle to start it and then swapped it out with my new battery. We waited about 20 minutes and then drove all around town and up the mountain to give the alternator a chance to start the battery. We parked facing downhill for a test. If it didn't start we could just start rolling downhill to get it going again. Genius.
We gave it two test stops and starts. No more problems. I tried getting to the bottom of what the problem was and he couldn't exactly explain it. All I know is that he spent 2 hours under my hood with tape and wires. After that everything was fixed.
I completed the English version of our first Bible study series that I have been writing for discipleship. It is on the Church. Who is the Church and how are we supposed to function. Once the English version was complete I asked FanFan and the music leader from church to help me translate it into French and Creole. It was actually a really enjoyable time of working together. Sifting through dictionaries, discussing words, phrases, and comparing Bible translations. The most difficult part was the Creole Bible. It just doesn't jive with the other translations. There are real problems with it that are both discouraging and shed light on the lack of Biblical understanding among the majority of Haitians. The truth is still in there, but it takes much more work and sifting through junk before you can find it. My conclusion is that it is not a genuine translation, but somewhere between a paraphrase and a bad translation.
Luke has taken on leading a group of his friends through this study now that we have a completed version. After the first three sessions Galy discovered his need for Christ. After talking with him he confessed his sin problem, recognized the blood of Christ as the only solution, and received Christ as his Lord and Savior. It was an awesome moment. He is very teachable and brings so much joy as we watch him begin to grow in Christ.
Through my many trips to the mountains I have noticed a recurring theme. Lack of clean water. I have never seen any wells. People get their water from natural springs. Sometimes they walk for an hour or more each direction to these springs every day. Because of this, I have been praying and brainstorming solutions. Any solution I attempt to institute must meet the requirements of being sustainable, locally reproducible, and simple enough for the average Haitian to duplicate under current economic conditions. I don't want to create more dependency on foreign aid, but instead want to empower the Haitians to be dependent on God alone and use the gifts he has given them to provide for themselves.
I had experimented with a very basic percussion well drilling rig a few years ago on our property in South Carolina with good results. I had some good plans that included specs put out by UNICEF for free on their website for rigs that were used successfully in Africa. They were cheap, used only manual labor, could be built with scrap metal in third world conditions, and could effectively drill as deep as you needed to go. Wesley put me in contact with a new welder and I decided to try him out by making this rig.
He turned out to be a really smart guy in his late 20's that understood the specs and instructions very well. He spent a few hours with me going over every detail making sure that he understood exactly what he needed to do. Once we negotiated everything he actually wrote up the contract clearly and we both signed it. I could tell that this guy was no ordinary welder and probed further about his personal life. It turns out that he is welding so that he can put himself through law school. He is almost finished and will have his certificate to practice law in December. He has two houses and a fiancee that he wants to marry once he is finished with school. He is also a Christian and is active in a local church.
He contacted me a few times during the process and wanted me to check things out so he could make sure that he was getting it right. He finished on time and did an outstanding job. This was my fourth try with a welder and I was starting to lose hope. After 3 Ishmael welders I think God finally sent me the Isaac welder. I hired him again right away to build a back cover for the truck so that we could carry more people when we go somewhere.
They have at least two levels of semi official local soccer games. One is for the younger kids and the other is for young men. The one for younger kids is close enough to our house that I can hear the games. One afternoon Abraham and Galy stopped by and invited us to go watch a game with them. It was a small dirt field about half the size of a basketball court with two small homemade goals at each end. There was a concrete block wall on one side that people were sitting on, a guy with a three wheeled motorcycle filled with speakers blasting Haitian DJ music, and actual officials with whistles overseeing the game.
I was starting to get into the game pretty good and was actually enjoying myself when the half time show began. 5 girls from ages 18 to 7 came out and began dancing very provocatively to the music. I had to turn away out of embarrassment and the show continued long past the point of being uncomfortable all to the loud cheers and jeers of the spectators. I breathed a sigh of relief when the show was completed only to notice that the local gang of 12 year old runaway thugs came onto the field clearly drunk and toting their moonshine in old soda bottles. They came to disrupt the game and tried giving their moonshine to the goalies, who refused take any. After a few good laughs from the crowd – including the officials – they were finally asked to leave. After a few minutes of banter with the officials they finally went on their way and the game continued. The DJ started up the music again, much of which consisted of English cuss words mixed with Haitian cuss words. Well Lord, at least I know where the mission field is.
One afternoon as I was walking around the property I noticed some markings on one of our banana trees. It turned out that someone had carved 3 skull and crossbones into the trunk. I called Luke over to ask if he had done this and he told me he had no idea where it came from. With the fence complete and the new gate intact the only way in is to climb over the fence or the wall. Luke noticed some more markings on the other small house that is on the property. I just cut crosses over the skulls and carved
2 Timothy 1:7 over the markings on the house. The Haitians warned me not to eat the bananas, but I just claimed them in the name of Christ and ate them anyway. The were actually really good.
Mission of Hope church hosted their annual July conference and my pastor from our sending church in Georgia – National Hills Baptist Church – was invited to speak. He came and brought his daughter Grace with him. The Delta flights only come in late at night and leave early in the morning now which means that we have to be on the road in the dark both directions. So I brought John Franswa with me to make sure that I could find my way if any route changes were necessary. It was great to have him with me and made the trip more enjoyable. It was so good to see Kevin and Grace at the airport.
While Kevin was here we went up to an area close to our house where Luke and I had been warmly welcomed during our evening runs. We went to visit a voodoo priest there named Jean Ely. He was busy when we first got there coming out of his house holding some bowl of oil-like liquid, but invited us to sit and wait for him while he completed casting a spell for a customer. We waited under a covered area next to the peristyle – voodoo temple. After about five minutes we heard a very loud explosion come from inside and smoke billowed out the door. Luke, Kevin, and I just looked at each other and didn't say anything. After another five minutes I saw some money exchanged and Jean Ely came out to sit with us.
I explained who we were and why we were there. He explained that his vocation had been passed down to him from his father. It was a family business. He then explained that he didn't believe in hell and thought Jesus was the best magician because he could perform miracles that no one else could. I explained to him that Jesus was not a magician and he had ultimate power because he is God. We can know from scripture that God condemns the use of magic. He actually asked many very good questions and received us warmly. He even sent someone down the hill to buy cold drinks for us. We were able to talk for about an hour and then left. I asked if we could come back again and he said we could, but he was very busy. I asked if we could pray for him there, but he refused and said we could pray for him at our own house.
The conference went very well. It was great to tag team preach with Kevin and to have him and Grace with us for the week. Abby and Anna enjoyed having a friend to share time with for the week and Kevin's full personality brought laughs from everyone. At the end of the week we were exhausted physically, but refreshed spiritually.
Everyone was sad when it was time for them to go back home. Jean Franswa rode with me to the airport again. On the way back home the air conditioner went out again just as the sun was rising and heating things up. After about 30 minutes we began to pour sweat and debated what the problem might be. It started working again with no intervention as if to answer our question for us and prove that the problem was electrical. I was very thankful that it worked the rest of the way home. Thank you Lord for every good and perfect gift. Even sporadic air conditioning. James 1:17 Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.