So much happens every day that it is difficult to keep up with everything. Lately just the daily routine of survival is almost enough to shadow out anything else. It could easily consume us if we would give in to it, but we are not here to survive. We are here to thrive and advance the Kingdom of Christ. Every hour the vision must be kept before us of marching forward in His name to certain victory. In our weakness He is strong. All glory, honor, and praise goes to Christ our savior and king.
About 3 days before our trip back to the United States a minor trauma occurred. More or less a small sampling of the many like it all around us that occur on a daily basis, but ones that we are shielded from by not being personally involved. I was talking to one of the other American missionaries on a Sunday afternoon between church services near the beach. I heard some yelling and looked toward the water to notice two boys fighting.
One of the boys was much bigger than the other one and was towering over the smaller one with a big rock in his hand. The smaller boy had a gaping wound on the side of his head and blood was pouring down his face. I knew the smaller boy with the wound, his name is Kendi. I didn't know the larger one. I went out to the two boys, immediately separated them, and grabbed the rock from the larger boy's hand. I then grabbed both of his arms and brought him eyeball to eyeball with me.
I told him in Creole that he was much bigger than the other boy and could have killed him. After this I took both of the boys to a flat area where Amy and I treated Kendi's head wound. It is common for boys to fight with rocks. There are so many hard surfaces here. Rocks, mountains, and dwellings made of cold, hard concrete. Structures are hard and cold just like life here. There is little value given to individual lives. Several times I have seen boys take the other boy they are fighting with by the back of the neck or head and smash the head into a concrete wall or concrete floor. The fighting can easily turn brutal and barbaric.
We took both of the boys home to their houses on the mountain. Very simple concrete houses. The mother of the boy who had the rock assured me that she was going to spank him and continue some severe punishment for what he had done. Kendi only has a mom and she is not usually around. No one continued care for his wound, so he showed up where we were staying for the next few days and Amy took care of it. She cried the day we left for the US because she knew that he was not going to be cared for.
Our trip to the US was packed, eventful, and full of emotion. It was such an unbelievable blessing to return back to our church home in Augusta, GA – National Hills Baptist Church. We moved back in with Mrs. Jeanette for a week. It was truly like coming home. Everyone showered us with love and food while we were there.
It was so amazing to meet with the many people that we were able to see while at home. People that God has connected us with over the years and has kept us connected with by His love and mercy. We drove our rental van from Georgia to California meeting with lots of people in between all along the way. After a little over a month we boarded our plane in Los Angeles to make our flight back to our new life in Haiti.
Our first Sunday back I started a new expository series on the book of Romans. Pastor Lex was kind enough to lend us his 3 wheeled motorcycle so that we could get to church for the evening service. Like good standard stewardship the previous person using it brought it back with just enough gas to get it to the parking spot. I couldn't even get the gas to slosh so I could check the level.
Pastor Lex's daughter Alexis, wanted to try to make it anyway because she was late for worship team warm up. Upon starting it I noticed that it would only work in 2nd gear. A minor inconvenience. We drove it just far enough so that it was too far to come back after it ran out of gas. Alexis called someone to come pick it up while the rest of us walked to church. The water was low in the river so we were able to hop rocks and not get our feet wet as we crossed. Amy didn't want to get her new shoes muddy so she took them off and waded barefooted. This is the river everyone dumps their trash. On a good burning day it resembles what hell probably looks like as you walk or drive through the piles of burning trash with flames licking the air, smoke billowing, pigs eating, and desperate people rummaging through. Through this river is the main route from Militon to the main town of Grand Goave. We made it to church just in time before the service started.
After service someone had brought the motorcycle to us. This time with the gear shift fixed and enough gas to actually get to the gas station. I couldn't figure out how to turn on the lights so I put on my headlamp and had Abby hold a windup light over my shoulder while we made our way to the gas station and then back home. The light problem was actually just my own ignorance. I just assumed they didn't work because of all the other problems I encountered.
Even after living here for more than 7 months, coming back was like starting over again. We have a new vision and new ministry. In so many ways it is like starting over again in life. After spending a little less than a week at the missionary guest housing with Mission of Hope International, we moved into our new rental house.
The day before we moved in I went to the next town over – Petit Goave – on the three wheeled moto with the help of Ruben and Wesley to find a few things we were going to need in order to survive in the new surroundings. Finding things in Haiti is kind of like a scavenger hunt, and when you actually find something you are looking for it is always an occasion to rejoice. We needed way to cook. If we didn't find some sort of stove it would be cooking over open fire. God provided and we found a four burner stove top thing that worked with propane. Made in China of course.
The problem was finding a propane tank. After searching all over town we finally found a second hand beat up tank. I paid for it, prayed a whole bunch, and by the grace of God the thing actually worked. We also found enough food to get us started. A sack of rice, a sack of flour, some cooking oil, and a couple of cans of Spam (score!!).
Our first night in the rental house Luke made this comment, “ I guess I just didn't realize that things were going to be this hard. I really thought we could just move in, hook up the generator, and live life pretty normal. Instead it's like camping, but with a house.”
The house is unfinished concrete. There is a partial concrete wall around about ¼ of the perimeter. There is a well outside that we bring up water in buckets. Once the buckets come inside each one gets some bleach. All of the drinking water gets filtered through two filters before drinking. Lance handles most of the water and it consumes about half of his day every day.
All of the clothes get washed by hand. This is Abby and Anna's job. They go up to the roof and we haul two buckets of water. One for washing and the other for rinsing. The clothes then they get put on the lines to dry in the hot, Haitian sun.
Amy is learning to cook with local Haitian foods. Because of the nature of the open market here, I have been doing the shopping with the help of Wesley. Every Wednesday and Saturday is market day where the farmers from the mountains bring their food into the town. There is no refrigeration so food must be bought shortly after harvesting, and all the food we cook must be consumed the same day we cook it. We are figuring out a system for this. We plan to have a refrigerator once we get our electricity figured out. For now we just run a small generator that a generous church member bought us in the US. We only run it when we absolutely need it. Our future plan is solar and battery banks. One step at a time.
The nights are hot so we sleep on the roof under our mosquito nets on the nights it doesn't rain. Last Sunday there was a local night club that had their music so loud that it rattled our windows making it difficult to sleep. They actually stopped the party shortly after midnight, but then the voodoo started. The voodoo was amplified and kept going until about 4 am. I figured God wanted me awake to pray. So I walked around praying fervently while the voodoo ceremony continued on.
The unfinished concrete floors inside the house continually cover everything with a fine layer of dust every time the wind blows. There are no screens on the widows so the mosquitoes feel free to come and go as they please like they own the place. We finally got the mosquito nets set up inside the other night when it was raining too much to sleep outside. They are all set up with small caribeaners so we can clip them on the roof or downstairs depending on the weather. God has gifted me with a resilient family. May His name be glorified.
Every flush of the toilet takes one 5 gallon bucket of water. If it is yellow let it mellow, if it is brown flush it down. Words to live by.
For showers we stand in the tub with the bucket standing by. We use a large cup to take water from the bucket and pour it over our body. A little to rinse, then soap up, and a cup to wash off. We are about 100 yards from the beach so we have started taking a dip in the ocean every evening before showers to wash the dirt off before coming back and washing away the salt with fresh water. It is much easier to get clean this way. Many of our neighbors follow this routine. The beauty of the ocean almost eclipses the harshness of the surroundings. The beauty is just as refreshing for the soul as the water is for the body.
It is about an hour walk to the market and to church from our house. The first trip to the market Lance and I went with backpacks and carried everything back. After this we all decided we needed to get mobile. After borrowing Pastor Lex's motorcycle we decided that one like it may be the answer to quick mobility. I called up a Haitian friend that is a motorcycle mechanic and he took me on his motorcycle to Petit Goave. We negotiated a price and I returned the next day to pick it up.
The three wheeled motorcycle truck came with a 1 month warranty and 1 gallon of gas. Praise God for His provision and His mobility. The only one that doesn't like riding in it is Amy. Everyone else thinks it is pretty cool. At 200 ccs it is more like driving a lawnmower than a motorcycle. Top speed before redline in 5th gear is 70 km hr on flat ground with the wind at your back. A little over 40 mph. I remember watching a movie one time about this old guy that drove his riding lawnmower across country. That is all I can think of every time a go somewhere.
While in the US Amy bought 10 solar yard lights. These are our main source of light at night. It is the twins job to round them up every morning and bring them to the roof for charging, then at night we place them strategically throughout the house. Amy said it feels like medieval times carrying torches through the castle.
The first day we moved in all kinds of kids started showing up. They are use to having free reign of the place because there is not a complete fence or gate. We had to establish some boundaries because our house became an instant fishbowl with eyes peering in every window to see what the white people were doing. Some of the kids turned out to be from a local orphanage.
The kids were obviously malnourished, had tattered clothes, and various skin problems. We have been feeding the ones that show up around lunch and they are always grateful eating every bite of whatever we give them. They are unsupervised most of the time and go wherever they want whenever they want. I visited the facility for the first time a few days ago. I am sure God in His sovereignty did not move us this close in proximity to ignore the situation. May He grant us wisdom and leading as we pray for guidance on how to get involved. One of the kids – Albertson – shows up every day.
We were burning garbage (because that is the only trash system available) one day when one of the kids picked up a brake fluid container sitting near the wall. There is trash all over the place and you never know what you are going to find. It turns out the container was full of gas – who knows why. He decided he was going to “help” and poured some of the gas on the fire right as Lance was leaning over. The gas exploded in a big flame ball which brought laughter from the kid and anger from Lance. Thank God no one was injured. I told the kid what he did was wrong and he needed to say he was sorry to Lance. He smarted off to me and I told him he had to leave and not to come back. I haven't seen him again, but the other kids got the picture that they needed to be respectful if they wanted to hang out here. I haven't had any problems out of the other kids since.
After being here for a few days I knew that we better start moving forward with evangelism or we could easily just be consumed with the daily tasks of living. I knew God would bless every step forward. We started a Friday night Bible study. We listen to 3 chapters of the Creole audio bible, and then watch three chapters of the English Visual Bible. Thank God for the generator. We sit on blankets outside and project the movie on the garage door of the house just like they did in Biblical times :)
We had a small gathering show up for the first night, but I know it is not about the amount of people that come. God brings exactly who He wants to be there and they get ministered to in the way that He wants. I am interested to see how things progress. God's Word never returns void. I know that every time we are listening to His Word powerful things are happening.
We drove the motorcycle to Respire Haiti the other day in order to take a look at a broken sewing machine. I wasn't able to fix the machine but we did eat at their cafe. I really think the cafe there has the best food in Haiti. I love the atmosphere there too. It is always refreshing to meet with the Respire group. The drive over took 45 minutes, but we made it back in 30. I'm getting better at driving and learning to navigate the Haitian traffic. Amy almost died of a heart attack several times but the kids loved it.
I met with Wesley and Ruben on Monday to begin discussions on focused discipleship. Both of them have been without work for some time so we are going to start by helping them meet their most basic needs – food and shelter. Wesley just got kicked out of his house because of failure to pay rent. He is living with friends until he has the money for a new place. Ruben has a house and a family but is out of food. There are a few small things around the house that I can pay them to do in order to get going, but I told them that the future will not be for them to work for me. The desire is to help them plan their lives and become leaders for Christ so they can then help others and change their surroundings and nation.
Please be in prayer for us that we would start seeing the light beyond survival. It was pretty depressing yesterday to reach the bottom of our well and start scooping mud while trying to fill our roof tank using buckets. It was totally refilled by the next morning, but I'm not sure what is going to be sustainable. Even with all of this the most difficult thing lately has been the constant asking and leaning on us by the locals. Please pray that we would always direct them to Christ and that we would be facilitators of change and never try to be the change. I can already tell that I am off balance in this area because I am feeling heavy weight from trying to carry too much, but God gives us more grace.
I see His mighty hand at work. May His name be praised. May His kingdom come and His will be done on earth as it is in Heaven. Praise be to the name of Christ.