Report by Philip McNeal
As I am writing this article, the rain is pouring down on the valley of Z’Orange. This is the second time this week. It rained all Monday night and Tuesday. This is my 5th trip to Haiti, and I have never seen this much rain. I’m not complaining, though. The rain sure has cooled the hot climate here, and has also been a blessing to the people in Z’Orange who depend on farming to live. Like back at home, it is planting season for them. The rain not only provides needed moisture but also softens the hard, dry ground so they can hoe it for planting. Yes, I said “hoe.” One of the amazing sites this week has been seeing several men lined up together on a rocky, sloping field swinging long handle hoes in unison preparing the soil for planting. The ground is too hilly and rocky for plows, so they have to do it all by hand. Farming is hard work for the Haitians, but many do it because it’s their only way to survive.
Earlier today we closed out the Pastors Conference that has been going on since Monday. What a blessing it has been to teach and encourage the Haitian pastors. They are so hungry to learn to be better leaders and servants for the Lord and His church. For most of them, this conference is the only training they have the opportunity to attend. They treasure the learning and the certificate that verifies their effort.
The other members of our team have been busy with VBS and holding a Women’s Conference. I’m so proud of every one of them. They all have adapted well to the culture and demonstrated the love of Christ to the Haitian people. No one has complained or been uncooperative, but all 11 have truly functioned as a team and reflected the body of Christ. It’s been great working with and getting to know each one. Tomorrow (Friday) we will be finishing our work and preparing for our return on Saturday. Leaving is going to be hard; however, it sure will be nice to see my wonderful wife Jackie, who I expect is anxiously anticipating my return. See you soon.
Report by Mikael Odum and Stephanie Hooker
Today some members of the team took a 2-hour hike up a mountain and 2 hours back down. To say the least it was one of the most memorable experiences. The hike up the mountain was very challenging. We had to take many breaks. We left at 7 o’clock and returned at 11:15. When we got to the top, we walked through some villages. As we passed through, some of us invited the children and mothers to join us at Jerusalem II, which is where we were going.
When we got to Jerusalem II, little children began to come join us at the church. We handed out fish that we had made and gave each child cookies, toothbrushes, and toothpaste. Each individual was very happy to receive the gifts which we had brought them. As more people began to come join us, we went inside the church and began to sing worship songs. When we finished singing we acted out the story of The Good Samaritan. The children thought Periton (one of the interpreters) was so funny. After we finished acting out the story we told the children God loved them and we each loved them very much.
Finally, we prayed together and told each child goodbye. One of the women who had joined us for worship lives beside the church; she let each of us go into her house, which she had decorated beautifully. We then began our journey down the mountain. The preacher from the church that we worshiped at joined us. He led us back down the mountain, which was extremely rocky and steep. Instead of going down the mountain the same way we came up, we went down the river bed, which was very rocky and dry. We are so blessed that we made it up and down the mountain safely. We all had a great experience and we are so glad that we got to have it together. We definitely bonded as a group, and by the end of the trip we were working as a unit. As Coach Riley would say, “We never leave a man behind.”
Report by Caroline Hooker
I shared a wonderful experience with about 12 women in the Women’s Conference yesterday. Some shared their testimony, we prayed, and we sang songs together. The women of Haiti are so sweet and loving. These women have the same struggles as we do. They enjoyed having someone to listen to them and pray with them. We gave away door prizes to the women, and they were so exited! All of the women were given books that had many Bible Stories with pictures in the Creole language, toothbrushes, and toothpaste. The Women’s Conference was a wonderful experience for us as well as for the women of Haiti.
Report by Pastor Jeremy
It was a joy to be part of our Pastors Conference. We had around 60 Haitian pastors and church leaders faithfully attend. The times of teaching during the day were wonderful, and each team member did a great job bringing God’s Word. The times of worship at night were powerful and we saw God move in amazing ways. When the conference ended, we had the joy of seeing the pastors receive their certificate of completion as well as a small gift. The joy on their faces was priceless. To see so little make one so happy humbles me beyond belief. When we concluded a Haitian pastor stood and thanked the American team for coming. “We have no money to give you, but we do give you our sincere thanks,” he said. I spoke for the whole team when I said, “My dear brother, we’ve been paid with the blessing of being here and knowing you. The joy was completely ours.”