Bonjou! I am back from Haiti! It was an amazing trip. The team and I experienced so much, from walking among the wreckage that still remains from the earthquake in 2010, to teaching some tent city women how to sew and bead (using charades), to feeding the cutest kids ever, to joining our Haitian brothers and sisters in songs of praise in English AND Creole… We saw God do some amazing things and I think I speak for all of us when I say we will never be the same.
I think these photos can tell the stories better than words alone… Enjoy!
We arrived in Haiti Saturday evening, rode in what looked like a cattle-truck/paddy-wagon to the guest house and got settled in. Jude, our host, made sure all us ladies were nice and comfy!
Sunday morning we headed to church. I sang “Hungry” by Kathryn Scott in Creole, praying I got all the pronunciations right! Apparently the message came across (yay!) and at the request of the worship team, I spent some time after the service teaching the song to them! Before I knew it, we had 3-part harmony and a band backing us up – amazing!! I took out the other songs in Creole I brought with me and it turns out they already knew them. So apparently the Lord lead me to sing “Grangou” (Hungry) in church that morning, which turned out to be the only song I had in Creole that they didn’t already know. Wow!
That night, I had the privilege of leading our team in one of the most powerful Seek and Soaks I’ve been involved in. We read Scripture on God’s strength and power and sang our thanks to Him as He washed us with His Word. It was so good to let go of our anxiety about the coming week and rest in His presence. One theme that came out loud and clear to us from His Word that night was this: Haiti belongs to Him. And while we are weak and powerless in the face of such need and darkness, it is HE who works in and through us to do wonderful things!
Monday we began working with the women at the Christian World Outreach center in Port au Prince. The women are enrolled in a three month program at the Feminine Training Center, where they learn cooking, cosmetology, sewing and other skills to help support themselves. Our team, armed with enough material to clothe a very flowery, brightly-colored army, showed the ladies how to create beautiful bags, decorate flip flops, assemble bead bracelets and make lemon cookies! Several of us also took turns leading devotions through a translator at the beginning of each day, sharing the Good News about Jesus with the ladies.
These women live in the tent cities along with hundreds of thousands who are still homeless because of the earthquake. Many of these women are hungry. Some have turned to prostitution to provide for themselves. Most of them have small children; many of them are single mothers and many of them are still children themselves. Rape is a huge problem in the tent cities, where there is very little security. Apparently there are some areas the police won’t even go because of the dangerous, narrow, maze-like paths between tents. It was hard not to become overwhelmed by the tremendous need and the apparent hopelessness of the life these women face every day. After spending the week with us, one of the women even asked a couple ladies on our team if they would take her baby boy back to the States with them.
Because of the language barrier (in Haiti, most people speak Creole, some speak French and very few speak English), we decided early on to begin our days with the ladies by singing for them the Creole worship tunes we had practiced. I think this really helped build a rapport with them (it’s probably not every day they get serenaded by a bunch of white chicks singing in their language). I also had the opportunity to share a couple songs with them, which was very well-received! So I was able to assist the team by being a bridge-builder of sorts, using the gift of music! Toward the end of the week, one of the girls ran up to me, threw her arms around my neck, kissed my cheek and said, “You sing beautifully!”
(Notice I had to improvise, since I forgot to bring a guitar strap with me…)
Throughout the week, on foot and from between the bars of our “paddy-wagon” we were able to see the still-very-apparent effects of the earthquake in January of 2010. Below are photos of some of the damage, including the president’s house and a huge, beautiful Catholic church in ruins.
Playing with and feeding the kiddos was certainly one of the highlights of the trip…
The guitar I brought with me was sent by my friend Brad Richardson with Mercy Music International to be given to the music school at the Christian World Outreach center. So at the end of the week, some of the students gathered for a special night of music with yours truly and before we got started, we officially presented the guitar to my friend Sadrackson, who helps lead worship there and teaches the music students. I wish I could have captured his reaction on camera – he was blown away!! He helped me teach “Grangou” (Hungry) to the students that night. When I asked him for the guitar to play the song, he held it away from me and said, “Alright. I will LEND it to you!”
To end our time at the center, we put on an honest-to-goodness, authentic English tea to honor and encourage the instructors that teach at the Feminine Training Center. We sipped tea, ate cucumber sandwiches and drew pictures for each other of our families. Barb, our female fearless leader, put to good use the French she learned as a long-term missionary in France and gave a message of encouragement from 1 Timothy and I served as the musical entertainment for the morning. We presented a bag to each teacher, lovingly handmade by Lisa from our team and filled with lots of goodies!
Some random moments…
When I wasn’t playing guitar or pretending I knew how to sew, I was usually trying to get my feet above my heart… Thanks a lot, cankles.
Jude, our host at the guest house, spoiled us with oatmeal made with genuine, pure Haitian vanilla, cane sugar and cinnamon…
…and the best coffee I’ve ever tasted, roasted by Jude and Barbara (our cook) right at the the guesthouse every afternoon.
Jude and Barbara. With some extra team funds and Jude’s help, we all decided to treat Barbara to a cooking course at the Feminine Training Center for her birthday.
And last, but not least, a frankly frightening moment, bravely filmed by yours truly:
Thank you so much for your prayers and support for this trip. The Lord is doing great things in Haiti! Please remember them in your prayers!