The 100%, all natural, purely organic alarm sounds off at 4:14 AM, sometimes earlier. Many other “alarms” follow the lead of this rooster from house to house and Haiti begins to stir. Soon the smell of charcoal smoke wafts into the room where I would still much rather be sleeping. I can hear the old yellow school buses, reconstituted from the USA as an oversized, overloaded taxi, carrying far too many passengers. They are traveling through the main street at a very high rate of speed, constantly blowing their horns while NOT slowing down. A quick prayer asking God that no one is run over, hit or killed. Dogs are barking as they begin their daily routine of scavenging food. Goats bleating and children are stirring. I crawl off my deflating air mattress and out from under my mosquito net. It was a better night of sleep due to the rain vs. the night before when it was 89 degrees in my room with no breeze and no fan. There is no electric here in Montrouis and after many years of traveling to this town, it makes life just a bit more challenging when it comes to…well, everything really.
We are here to conduct a DOVE International Regional Gathering with 27 Haitian churches. There will be many hungry leaders in attendance and we can’t wait to share God’s word with them through teaching, through a skit, through our love and acceptance of them, through handshakes and hugs and through one of their favorite things: a plate full of chicken, rice, fried green plantain, beans and pic kle’ (a local spicy, fermented cold cabbage slaw). It will be a good day and we pray that our Father speaks exactly what they are in need of as primary leaders of the many churches found within three different cities here in Haiti. And, my very favorite Haitian drink will be served almost cold – Coke in a bottle.
The training begins with an accordion and exuberant worship. They pray for our day like it’s the last day on earth. How do we follow such faith and such expectation? It’s a joy to love these men and women who live in dire need, but who love Jesus. I take time to share that Jesus knows our needs and how the DOVE family prays for their church family in Haiti. Their face speaks a nonverbal, “Really, us?” They smile and are warmed that someone(s) is praying for them.
There are far too many needs here to mention, but the greatest, in my mind, is the truth of the gospel that can lift them out of poverty, out of a hopeless condition and out of a mindset of certain thinking caused by years of poverty. What we offer is life changing, life-giving and life eternal.
Yesterday a little boy told me he was hungry and I gave him a pack of crackers. He smiled and ate them in front of me waiting for something else. He could not speak English and I could not speak Creole, but a hand to the belly means one thing and it was good to be able to share. A similar thing happened last night and we shared bread and banana with two men. I can’t imagine being hungry without any capacity to relieve that hunger. However, a far greater need exist here in Haiti and it’s what causes that poverty and loss: government corruption, crime, the lack of police reinforcement of any laws, generations of poverty thinking, the lack of an infrastructure for travel and utilities, blaming life needs and issues on others and not taking responsibility, a poor and fractured school system and so much more.
Quite honestly, without all the Christian missionaries, pastors, teachers, orphanages and poverty relief organizations, I have no idea where Haiti might be. But “relief” is only immediate and then the powerless Haitian needs more relief. We need more than relief here; we need schools, life training in business and technical training so jobs can be created. And then we need leaders who will lead with integrity, honesty and moral responsibility. Government leaders who will care more about the people who elected them than their multimillion dollar home they are building in the countryside. We are so thankful for some amazing DOVE leaders who work tirelessly and diligently to bring life to this nation. It is great to serve alongside them.
Speaking of an orphanage, we were able to visit with Dada, a friend of ours who is a nurse by profession, but who chooses to take in orphans. She has ten 18 year-old girls because those girls must leave orphanages at 18 and often find themselves on the street. She takes them in. She also has taken in 10 babies with various issues of illness and need. Some she has birth certificates for and others she does not, but one thing is for sure, they are receiving Dada’s love and care. Please pray for her as she attempts to feed and care for 21 orphans.
This is a beautiful and fertile nation that could lead in solar energy, hydropower, coffee plantations, sugar mills, tree farms and the like. Pray for Haiti.
Help us, Father, to change one life, one mindset at a time. Bless the DOVE churches who not only preach the good news, but who care for and educate the children Monday through Friday on so very little. Give us leaders in the churches, in the schools, in business and in government who will lead in integrity, caring for the people. Empower us to empower them. You have so many children here and so much is, can be and will be accomplished. Keep their faith strong in light of the many needs before them. In Jesus’ name.