My first trip to Haiti was in 2005. It had just become safe to travel there again after Aristide had been removed from power. How strange and different this dusty place was, I thought. Haitian men and women passed along both sides of us wheeling wheel barrows of chickens, eggs, and other goods. Men carried stacks of plastic chairs on their heads to sell in Haiti. The children, many wearing nothing, danced along the dirt roads alongside of us shouting and pointing "blan, blan," which meant "white, white." Missions was foreign to me, but the Lord spoke deeply and quietly in my heart, during my several hours there and I knew this was it.
I began a journey of much prayer and joined G.O. in 2007. My first summer I traveled to Haiti several times. Each time I crossed the bridge, over the Massacre River into the Dominican Republic, my heart longed to return to a place I thought of as home... And then, nothing. For three years I waited to return to Haiti, but never did. Until last January, during our staff trip. I had never been to Phaeton. This was brand new for me and oddly, I found myself anxious, and not wanting to go. Much in my life had changed since my last trip and I thought I would be left to deal with feelings of remorse and mourning that my life's path did not appear to be leading me to Haiti permanently anytime soon. Oh, how my sweet Savior surprised me. It was an incredible trip! Instead of mourning and sadness I was filled with joy and praise for what he was doing in this tiny fishing community on the northern coast. You can read more about that experience here.
This year, as our team waited at the border to cross into Haiti while swarms of Haitians passed by carrying their goods to sell during market day, I breathed out a sigh of relief... I was once again for 5 days, in the place my heart knew as home.
I heard the familiar calls from a little girl named "Woodsline" as she ran up and took my hand in hers. This place is special. And G.O. is going to do mighty things here!
One of the purposes of our trip was to dig! We dug two trenches on the property where someday a ministry building will stand. It will be a church for the community, a nutrition center to feed the children, and dorms to house visiting short-term teams. Their will also be community gardens and an agricultural piece to the project.
The thing that gets me though, is that even if we didn't do all of this and we had no grand project for this place, the work of the Lord is still very active and present in this place! Without G.O.! He has chosen us to partner with Him in this great work to bring glory to His name and point others in Phaeton to the work He is doing. I read a great book (Velvet Elvis) that talked about missionaries using the term "taking Jesus to..." as if he wasn't already present there. We are not taking Jesus to Phaeton. We are pointing people to where he is already alive and present in Phaeton doing a might work through the local pastor, Lucner!
I've recently began meeting with another G.O. Staff member and we've been reading a Psalm a week. We meet, dissect it, pray about it, and discuss how it applies to our lives. It was no coincidence that during my week in Haiti we read Psalm 43.
1 Vindicate me, my God,
and plead my cause
against an unfaithful nation.
Rescue me from those who are
deceitful and wicked.
2 You are God my stronghold.
Why have you rejected me?
Why must I go about mourning,
oppressed by the enemy?
3 Send me your light and your faithful care,
let them lead me;
let them bring me to your holy mountain,
to the place where you dwell.
4 Then I will go to the altar of God,
to God, my joy and my delight.
I will praise you with the lyre,
O God, my God.
5 Why, my soul, are you downcast?
Why so disturbed within me?
Put your hope in God,
for I will yet praise him,
my Savior and my God.
The word that spoke to me the most is that 3 letter word in the middle of verse 5. Yet. "Put your hope in God," it says "for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God."
I find myself praying for the Lord to answer my prayers so that I may praise Him. That word "yet" hit me so hard as I looked around and saw a people who suffered in so many ways in a town that lacked every basic vital necessity for survival and yet praised him.
Oh how I long to have a faith like our Haitian brothers and sisters who praise even yet!
It was an incredible trip and time of seeing Lucner pastor his community and care for the many needs of others with such love and kindness. Lucner is an incredibly humble guy who shepherds his flock with true humility and kindness for the people in the community, continually looking to meet their many needs. We partner with Lucner and 6 other pastors located in the mountains of Haiti. We are grateful for Northeast Church who partner with Lucner and Phaeton.
Lucner and his wife Marie
It was also a blessing to work with our staff in purpose and unity as we were literally "in the trenches" together and I am certainly looking forward to 2013 in Phaeton.
Enjoy some pictures taken from our trip in Phaeton by Amanda Braisted, our ministry photographer!
Our construction work project
The sun setting over the remnants of the old sisal rope factory
A typical house
My friend Goody. She is pretty incredible and I am thankful and humbled to know her
This is where all the meals are cooked for the kids in the nutrition center currently feeding kids in the church
Children sat on tarps and ate their meal at the nutrition center, outdoor
Look at those eyes
I am a shrimp! We're inside the prison at the Citadel.
Team photo (minus Jen) at the Citadel
Kids meet and have school classes in the church
All ready for school
Many thanks to our many faithful supporters and prayer warriors! We would not be able to do this ministry without your partnership with us!