Probably the most consistent piece of advice we have received since beginning work in Haiti is that everyone should be assumed guilty until proven innocent. Just assume that everyone is trying to scam you. Well, there is some room for wisdom here, but we have to just take risks in the name of Christ and let him give the blessings and curses. So I regularly just take the risk. Such is the case with a man we met that we now refer to as “The Good Doctor”, although I'm pretty sure he is just a con artist.
He showed up to our house one day (LOTS of people that we don't know show up here EVERY day) asking for help. Specifically money to buy medicine to give out to people. He explained that he is a doctor and serves in areas that need the most help. He only charges the equivalent of $2 for every patient that he sees.
I told him that we would not give him any money but would be willing to check out his operation when he was working so we could know more about what he does. He decided that would be great and so we volunteered to help him with his clinic just up the mountain from our house at a nearby church. He only does mobile clinics in remote places where people need it the most. We went with him, Amy checked vitals and I administered the medicines he prescribed.
Most of the day he just spent asking us for money. He had a good story about going to medical school in the Dominican Republic, but never could produce a medical license. The only ID he had was a badge that said he was a translator. I'm still not sure exactly what he was up to, but we got enough of a bad feeling not to continue working with him or provide support. The church he was partnering with for his mobile clinic we would later find to be a major source of false doctrine for the area.
The living conditions in our new location are somewhere between Mad Max and Little House on the Prairie. For the first few weeks living inside was only slightly better than living outside. The “floors” were completely unfinished with the exception of some bedroom space, a bathroom, and the kitchen that were tiled. The rest of the floors were basically packed dirt. You had to put on shoes to go from our bedroom anywhere else. Every time the wind blew it was like a dust storm inside the house. Everything we owned was continually coated in a fine layer of dirt with no relief. We spent most of our nights on the roof under our mosquito nets and just dealt with the din of night clubs and voodoo drums.
We finally were able to get the floors finished with smooth concrete. It is such a joy to be able to walk around the house now with no shoes on and not have all of our stuff covered in dirt every day with an endless cycle of futile cleaning. The only problem is that new concrete holds water. We constantly have to move anything that is placed on the concrete or it will mold. It is still better than the constant indoor dust storms. We moved our mosquito nets inside and now we run the generator at night so we can have some fans blowing. Almost like civilization.
Amy bought 10 of the solar yard lights when we were in the US. I really didn't understand how we were going to be able to use them here, but they have proven to be our main light source at night. It's Abby and Anna's job to bring them up to the roof every morning for charging, and then bring them back in the house every night. They were only slightly helpful until I made some cool candlesticks to put them in. I took some PVC pipe, a milk can, and some concrete. You just put the light inside the pipe and it elevates it high enough for some serious light output. Now our house looks like a modern medieval castle inside at night. Each candlestick is a little over two feet tall and our house is actually pretty well lit. Amy picked them out and I figured out a good way to use them. Teamwork.
The twins did most of the laundry for a while, but then we figured out a better system. Every night we put the washing bins next to the tub. When you take your bucket shower you put your clothes in the bin with laundry soap to soak. After your shower you wash you clothes and rinse them in the rinsing bin. Then you carry them to the roof to the drying line. You never have dirty clothes, everyone participates, and in my opinion it is easier than having a washing machine, dryer, and always a pile of laundry.
Having concrete walls has its advantages. I just couldn't seem to concentrate without having a whiteboard and being able to write down all my thoughts, so I bought some black acrylic paint and started painting blackboards. Amy has limited me to three for now, but I'll try to sneak more in later. We've also started writing scripture all over the walls with chalk. So much fun.
I really struggle with the fact that the main employer always seems to be a mission. In my opinion missions should never be an end to the economic problem or a job creation entity. It just creates a cycle of dependency that becomes increasingly more difficult to break free from. So many people ask me for a job because this is what they have been conditioned to believe. The Americans or Canadians come in, build a big mission, and then hire a whole bunch of local people to run it. They have a hard time understanding that I am here to preach the gospel and while I am deeply concerned about their physical needs, my primary concern is the condition of their soul. I am not an employer and don't want to be one. I'm a pastor/preacher/evangelist/disciple maker.
I am constantly reminded of the time that Jesus fed the multitude and all the people were concerned about was getting their bellies full. When he preached the truth to them and told them that His body and blood were real food, and they must partake of Him or they would have no part in Him, everyone left except a handful of followers. He even asked them if they wanted to leave too. Peter as usual had no loss for words and said - “We have left everything to follow you. You are the way to eternal life, why would we try to look anywhere else.” A handful of nobodies and rejects. These were the ones that Jesus spent His time with and rocked the whole world to the glory of God. The rest kept searching for someone to provide for the pleasures of today. Jesus even washed the feet of Judas because he hung around and didn't leave too, even thought Jesus knew he would betray Him.
Every day I'm asked for things. My money mostly, my shoes, my watch, some food, and my time. “Hey Blanc! Give me some......” whatever various need or want happens to come into their mind at that moment. For a while I wasn't sure exactly what to say. I usually stop, look them in the eyes, and have a conversation, but it took a long time before I was able to nail down the specific sin that was involved with this type of behavior. Then God gave it to me. Envy. A true deep rooted sin at the heart of most every other sin. Now I go to Deuteronomy 5:21 and James 4:1-4.
I stop, talk to them and explain the sin of Envy. I call them to confession, repentance, and a request of grace from a merciful God. Once I actually had someone listen intently and follow through with heartfelt repentance. His name is Galy.
Galy is a tall, skinny, kid of about 15. He lives nearby and is always hanging around. We met him about a month before we went to the US for our break the day we were signing papers to rent the house. After we moved in he would come over and ask my kids for things. I confronted him about this and he listened intently. He said it was the first time he had ever heard this. In fact, he said that he had heard many times in the Haitian churches it was good to ask missionaries for things, but he could clearly see in the scriptures that what he was doing was coveting. He has a mother that loves him, a father that works hard every day, and has no physical needs. He thanked me for spending the time to correct him and teach him the truth. Some days he is still pretty aggravating, but we love him and he has never asked us for another thing.
Every Friday we have our bible study. For a while there would be a major battle in our family on Fridays. All kinds of struggles and fights seemed to manifest and Fridays became a difficult day for us. We finally received some victories as we continued to press on with the bible studies, introspect and repent, and now we have moved into a new era of victorious family living. Praise God for His grace, mercy, and sanctification.
We still haven't figured out a good solution for running water, but we did figure out the mud in the bottom of the well problem. A well cleaner was recommended to us and for the equivalence of 100 USD he promised to clean our well and get it flowing again. He had a bucket, a strap, a large screwdriver, and some other guy with him that didn't have teeth.
I agreed to the price and they agreed to get started right away. They disappeared for about 10 minutes and resurface with two gourd halves. The short guy stripped down to his underwear and climbed down inside the well. Once at the bottom the guy with no teeth lowered the bucket and the gourd halves and the short guy started digging out all the mud with the gourd halves and putting it in the bucket. The guy with no teeth would raise the bucket and dump out the mud, rinse, and repeat.
After a couple of hours of this they had a large pile of mud and rocks. He said I needed to buy a large plastic barrel and he would “install” it for me. I asked around town and finally found a guy that had one at his house for sale. The short guy came back with a new tool. 1 hacksaw blade. He cut some diamond shapes in the sides of the barrel and then cut off the top.
He then placed it in the top of the well, beat the heck out of it with a large rock until it was mostly, inside the well, and then climbed inside. I have learned to not over-think, worry, or get involved when an “qualified expert” is doing his thing and I don't completely understand. So I just sat back and nervously tried to enjoy the unusual entertainment. After about 2 minutes of jumping up and down inside the barrel it began to slide rather easily and then without any extra effort slid all the way to the bottom of the well. We then passed him bucket fulls of large rocks that he placed around the sides of the barrel. The water continued to be muddy for about a week because it was stirred up so much, but now it flows pretty good. Please pray that we get our pump situation figured out next. The good news of hauling buckets of water every day is that the boys are getting seriously ripped, but I'm sure they would rather just do some workouts than haul buckets.
It is just hard to describe how big a tarantula is if you have never experienced them for yourself. For a while it seemed like every day we were killing one inside of our house, usually in the bathroom. They are very hard to kill and require all your strength and a powerful blow if you are using a board or something. You have to focus, muster up all your strength, and then exhale with a striking blow and a karate style yell. If you get it right they explode kind of like a balloon with nothing but legs, guts, and black stuff left behind. If you get it wrong they get mad and come after you. Lance thinks he is suffering from tarantula PTSD. He had an extremely large one crawl up his leg on night after entering the bathroom.
Albertson lives at the local orphanage that doesn't take care of the kids. He came regularly for food daily for a long time and I was able to share the gospel with him and some of his friends as they would eat. One day after him and some other boys were eating, Lance's only pair of Nike flip flops was stolen. All kinds of stories were thrown around and accusations were made. In the end we never got the truth or the shoes back, and Albertson and his gang were banned from coming here until I could get a confession and repentance. Hard choices in a hard place.
Wesley was the first person to start the focused discipleship program. I was able to provide a few small jobs for him to start generating some income, but made it clear that it was going to run out fast, and he needed to start making a plan before the jobs finished. He was without a house and stayed with friends for a few days, but was able to rent a house for six months with the money he made. I gave him some guidance, but also the freedom to take the advice or not. I also told him to treat looking for a job like a job. Please pray for him because he needs it.
He was eating with us one day and asked me out of the blue “Have you ever talked with the devil, face to face like we are talking now?” I admitted that I had not. He said the he has. He began to explain to me this practice that takes place all over Haiti all the time. He said the voodoo priest reads from a book and calls up the demon. After this a falling star hits the ground and the demon is manifest in a ball of fire. The demon knows your name and why you are there. Sometimes the demons fight, sometimes they tell you they cannot help you and recommend another demon.
I explained to him that this practice was detestable to God. I told him that participating in this practice was sinful and as 1 Corinthians 10:21 tells us we cannot share the Lord's table and the table of demons. You have to make a choice.
FanFam struggles to with anger toward his dad because he has never received help from him. His mom died and provides for some of his other family members when he has the money. He knows the grace of God and continually sees the provision. He simply says, “My God is so Good.” He is my primary translator and we are forming a deep relationship. Pray that God gives him a vision for his future.
Bebey is the youngest child of Pastor Titus. Every time he comes our whole family smiles and welcomes him. He is 22 and in his last year of school. He loves Christ and desires to be a part of focused evangelism in his nation and the world. His dream is to be part of an international evangelistic singing group.
So many people have asked us to speak English with them that we started a class. It has become a huge hit and we regularly have around 20 people. It is fun, light-hearted, and focuses on conversational communication. We plan to have a test soon where we will have a store and they will have to buy things – all in English.
One of the guys that comes regularly is named Roosevelt. He regularly shows up late, distracts the class, and speaks English very well already. I have already had to talk to him several times about being a disruption and am very close to banning him from the class.
Him and two other friends were originally part of my discipleship program. Through a divine discerning act of God it was discovered that they were all a part of a local church that denies the personhood of the Holy Spirit and the doctrine of the Trinity. The group is called Corps du Christ. This is the same church the “Good Doctor” used for his mobile clinic. I explained to them that if they had questions, were confused, unsure, or wanted to learn that they were free to stay, but this was not the case.
They were all very well educated, could speak multiple languages, and understood very well what they believed with a desire to teach others. After much discussion on the subject which included talking to their associate pastor, I told them they were not allowed to continue with the group. I also informed the pastor that I would not be able to partner with the church and explained all of the reasons why.
I always pick up extra people on Friday nights for the bible study outside of Mission of Hope Church. The moto truck has its advantages and disadvantages. One disadvantage is that you get wet when it rains. One Friday night I got caught in a major downpour after returning the people to the church after bible study was over. The only good part was that I was able to cool off for the first time in a long time. I actually got a little cold.
Ruben borrowed a motorcycle from a friend so we could go into the mountains again behind Vialet. This was not a mountain motorcycle, but the regular 125CC Chinese made standard street bike you can find everywhere in Haiti. It was still slightly better than walking, and we only fell twice on the way back down the mountain.
We sat on a rock next to the only source of fresh water in the area known as a sous in Creole. I just struck up conversations and led into the Gospel. The first lady said that she was just visiting family from Port-au-Prince. She said that she was saved, had been baptized, but had strayed from God. She said she wanted to come back. I started telling the story of the prodigal son and she finished it for me. With tears streaming down her face I prayed for her.
There was another man there that began by telling me that he was a pastor to a chorus of laughter from everyone standing around. He finally told me that he started out going to church, but then two men claiming to be evangelists stole all of his money in the market one day. He was depressed and went to the voodoo priest and the devil gave him all of his money back. He then saw all kinds of miraculous signs. After this he decided it was better to follow Satan than God.
I told him that I believed his story and I could assure him of two things. Number one was that the men that stole his money were not true Christians. Number two was there would be a payday for following Satan. The devil comes only to steal, kill, and destroy, but Christ came to give him life to the full. I explained to him that what he had experienced was like when you fish in the ocean. You put a small fish on a hook. When the big fish bites it takes good for a moment, until the hook sets in and he realized he is caught and can never be free. I urged him to cry out to Christ for mercy and shared the gospel message with him.
Many more people claimed to be Christians until a man visiting family from Leogonne started calling them all liars. He said, “I hear what you are telling this man and you are all lying!” He looked at me and said,”They are telling you this because they don't want to hear any more. They go to church sometimes, but they also participate in Ra Ra. They cut of the heads of chickens and make sacrifices. They are lying. Don't believe them. They don't follow God!” I left that day knowing that there is much work to be done.
Ruben has been out of work for months and explained to me all kinds of suffering he and his family is experiencing. I pray with him and give him food sometimes. I have been so burdened for him and his family and have been praying for God to show me my part in the plan for Ruben's life.
One of the boys that hangs out here is named Junior. His dad lives in the US and sends money to his mom. A different man lives with his mom. Junior goes to the Catholic church and Catholic school and is 11 years old. He is highly intelligent and a pure joy to be around. Big round eyes and a light heart. He knows more of the gospel than most protestants and loves Jesus. He always comes to bible study and English class. The Catholic school doesn't teach English, only French so he loves coming to English class.
He has two younger cousins that hang out here too. Amy made the rule that that have to wear clothes – at least pants if they hang out here. They are so funny and amazed hanging out with the Americans. One day they started explaining something to me out of the blue. They started explaining in graphic detail what it looks like when someone dies from voodoo poisoning. Your lips swell and your feet swell, then you vomit and have diarrhea. After this you have a painful death. I tried to get a better understanding of why they were telling me this, but they changed the subject and went back home.
Wesley has a friend that is a pastor at a church in the mountains of Vallue. They invited me to speak there, get to know everyone, and plan to go back to hold bible classes for all the people. Wesley and I paid his brother to take us to the church on a motorcycle, and then we walked back down. I was able to share a short message in Creole for the first time every. Wesley said that everyone was so happy that I spoke to them in Creole and wants me to come back.
We spent the morning up there, and then spent the rest of the day walking down mountain trails back to Grand Goave. Wesley is from that area and has many family and friends there that we were able to visit on our way back. We visited a house and talked to some people sitting on the porch. The smell of sugarcane moonshine was almost overpowering as we talked. Then I could hear chanting and drums inside the house. Wesley just stopped talking and said it was time to go and we left abruptly. He said they were performing some sort of voodoo ceremony inside.
His aunt was very sick with a serious leg infection. We visited her house and went inside to talk to her. I asked her if she knew the story of Jesus. She said she had never heard the story before. I asked if she would like to hear it and she said that she would. I shared the gospel message with her and she said that she understood. She also said that she had seen a doctor in the town and he had given her some penicillin. I prayed for her leg and her soul.
On the way back we passed by an obvious voodoo house of worship. It was a wooden building with a tin roof painted blue. It had several paintings on the sides depicting people getting their heads cut off along with pictures of snakes. I stopped, prayed for God to destroy this place, and build something beautiful in its place. Wesley explained that they call it a peristile.
There were also other arena type areas. Wesley explained that these are cock fighting arenas. Apparently a legitimate legal sport and form of entertainment in Haiti.
I have started making some good relationships with the churches and pastors in the local area. I preach every Sunday night at Mission of Hope International. This is our home church here. Every first Sunday I preach at the Nazarene Church – Pastor Titus (Bebey's dad's church). Every third Sunday I preach at the Pentecostal church. We have openly discussed our differences, but are all united on the foundational teachings of Christianity. I don't have anything to offer them other than biblical teaching, and this is what they are asking for. I'm privileged to be able to partner together with them.
On Sunday night my expository study on Romans led us through chapter 1 verses 21 through 25. I talked about the progression of suppressing the truth of God with sin. Worshiping the creation instead of the creator. I talked about all of the voodoo practice going on and challenged the church to do something about it. Evangelize and work for the eradication of the practice. Don't participate in it, and don't just sit there doing nothing while ignoring it.
Almost as in response to the message, a large storm full of thunder and lightning threatened us as we headed home on our three wheel motorcycle. As the first drops of rain began to pelt us we sang out the Rhett Walker song “All I Need” at the top of our lungs all the way home. We just kept repeating the line “The rain keeps falling down, as the waters flood this town, all I need, all I need is You!”. The lightning flashed and the thunder boomed. We were able to put the motorcycle in the garage, get inside the house and shut the doors only moments before the bottom fell out. God's perfect timing. God's perfect grace. Thank you, God for using a redeemed sinner to do your work. God be praised for ever and ever.