Category Archives: Haiti – October 2014

Haiti 17-25 Oct 2014 / Day 8 Final Post

Today was our last full day in Caracol. It has been an extremely busy week. Many items have been crossed off our ‘to do’ list, still there is much work left to be done. We spent a wonderful day relaxing at Belly Beach. The warm water and sand was ours for the taking, as we were the only ones in attendance.

Our team consisted of 8 members, Mark (our team leader), Curt, Gerald, John, Lindsay, Penny, Steve, and Waldy. For five of us, it was our first trip to Caracol. We didn’t know what to expect, but suffice it to say, that we experienced Grace beyond expectations.

Not once, was a cross word exchanged between us, despite any individual frustrations we might have privately experienced. We each came with a heart for service which spilled over to our team members. This was evident, with our willingness to help each other with any task be it cooking, cleaning, or physical labor. We all seemed to be natural leaders in our areas of expertise, but far more importantly, we were good followers, never letting egos come into play. I personally witnessed (and will be actively practicing) from Mark and Steve their gift of encouraging speech.

Our strengths and weaknesses, complimented each other, and where there was overlap, we naturally stepped back and allowed another to take the lead. Mark lead by example and patience and set the tone for the team. Curt was our resident computer geek. Gerald, can operate and fix any piece of mechanical machinery. John, a pied piper of children was our designated team photographer. Lindsay, was our behind the scenes support, anticipating any need from a water bottle to pen and paper, note taker, and beloved by all the young girls at the school. Penny, our early morning riser had coffee waiting for us and ready to assist any of the men on kitchen duty, and resident blogger. Steve, probably had the most important job of all, water police. Steve ensured we had water for showers, informing us prior to every shower the amount of water available in the tank, (i.e. 1/3 full-very quick shower, 1/2 full-be considerate shower, or full tank-go for it shower!). And finally, Waldy, a Haitain born American, not only translated, but explained many nuances in the culture. But more importantly, Waldy entered every room with laughter, and with his rows of lotions lined against the bed, had a potion for any skin affliction we encountered.

We arrived, especially for the first timers in the group, noticing the extreme poverty which exists. We leave noticing the love of God and family, seeing their cups overflowing with the Holy Spirit. With our busy lives and routines at home, filled with distractions, I sometimes struggle with committing to my morning devotion and prayer. Yet, here, each morning and evening, there was praise and worship. This, despite the weary, labor driven lives led.

When initially learning of the CHE micro loans, my capitalist and cynical opinions surfaced. What incentive was there to repay the loans? Yet, in getting to know many of the citizens in Caracol, their sense of pride and integrity in keeping their word is profound. Though education is valued here, let us not underestimate the intelligence of those without formal education. The ingenuity involved in developing a business and providing for family is amazing. And all of this is done being fully aware, that is not for their extravagance (for that word does not exist here for the majority) but for the Glory of God.
For the first timers, we have made many new friends, and for the repeaters, friendships were renewed. I know that I will return in the future, and not only for the sake of those in Caracol, but for the renewal of my own spirit. We have truly experienced Grace beyond expectations!

Haiti 17-25 Oct 2014 / Day 7

According to our schedule, today is a day of rest. It is a misnomer, for today we must finish all of our projects.

Gerald, Steve, Penny and Waldy headed for the farm. Curt is putting the finishing touches on the media lab. Lindsay and John head off for the orphanage and must finish preparations for the children’s Bible study and movie night. Mark is finalizing all the reports for the CHE training and business meetings.

We’re all feeling a bit of urgency as this is our last work day and we are intent on accomplishing our goals.

At the farm, we prayed over the land before clearing two plots for the ‘Farming God’s Way’ concept. Jean Renee, Aly, and several others were also there and eager to learn. We measured out the rows for the corn and spacing for the seed. After getting ten rows and approximately 750 seeds planted, we headed for the next plot to repeat the process for the beans. As we prepared to gather brush for mulch, the farmers surprised us. They brought out bags of soft sugar can mulch. It’s sweet fragrance smelled of anything but mulch. Being a city girl, I’ve not had many opportunities to smell fresh hay, but the sugar can mulch reminded me of the smell of freshly cut hay, only better.

Sweaty, dirty and tired, we returned to the Mission house. Curt, also hot and sweaty (no a/c or fans in the media lab) had all three computers up and running. Curt mentioned the various programs installed. I would love to tell you more about the systems, however this is just as foreign to my tech-challenged mind as the Creole spoken here in Haiti.

Mark is now prepared for his final CHE meeting tonight and Lindsay has started on the 200 bags of popcorn needed for movie night.

Watson (one of the local workers) sped off on his bicycle through the village street to remind the children of tonight’s Bible study and movie. We thought of the Creole version of the town crier announcing “Hear ye, Hear ye!”

Row upon row of children filed in for Bible study. Lindsay and John spoke of the Creation from the book of Genesis in addition to John 3:16. The children raised their hands hoping to be called on.

After a rousing sing-a-long by Pedrine (Pastor Payot’s daughter), we were now ready to view the French version of ‘Frozen’. Young girls clamored around Lindsay and Penny seeking a small portion of their laps to sit upon.

We finish with a very late dinner tonight, but grateful for God’s grace in allowing us to accomplish our goals.

After a rousinf sin

Haiti 17-25 Oct 2014 / Day 6

Today, we faced our biggest challenge to date, both figuratively and literally. We braved the mountain on a trek to the Citadel. It had long been a dream for all of the team leaders for Haiti (not just our group) to take the children to the Citadel. Mission accomplished!

We loaded up 70 pbj’s, 38 sixth graders, 8 team members, 4 teachers, several CHE leaders, drinks and snacks into three vans. After being dropped at the mid point, we were ready to face the mountain. We all declined the use of a horse, as we wanted to walk with the children. We didn’t exactly walk with them, as the children and their guide reached the Citadel long before us!

Yet, we were determined and though tired never gave up. We climbed 3 1/2 miles to an elevation of 3000 ft., and what appeared to my Midwest flatlander’s eye to be at least a 45* slope. I thought of a verse from an old Gospel song, “…Lord, please don’t move my mountain, but give me the strength to climb it…”

After finally reaching the summit, we marveled at the engineering expertise involved in building this impenetrable fort. Built in the 19th century, under King Henry Christoph, it protected the island from its enemies. Latrines, dungeons, cisterns, and armory and much, much, more, all built on top of the mountain. This structure surely should be included in the list of ‘Must See’ wonders of the world.

After much marveling and many pictures later, we descended the mountain. This time with laughter and jokes, rather than the grunts, groans and panting which echoed on the way up. Never had a cold pbj, trail mix and a refreshing drink tasted so good!

Even better, was the look on the children’s faces. After replenishing their energy with lunch, they were eager to ascend the mountain a second time. The adults quickly quashed that idea. The children expressed their wonder of seeing with their own eyes such a significant part of their history. Seeing the magnitude and the majesty of the Citadel brought history to life and pride in their heritage. Hopefully, this can now be incorporated into every visit to Caracol.

After returning to the mission house, most of us needed a shower and nap, but not Curt. It was Curt’s turn to head the leadership training this evening. Curt was busy with his charts and lesson plans. As the training began, Curt walked in with his many rolls of paper filled with translations on the proper preparations of business plans. Curt, a natural teacher, with a strong interest in business added humor to the lesson. (note to Lisa – Curt explained his business plan for leaving the snowy Midwest and becoming a farmer in Haiti, growing corn and beans.)

Before beginning the evening, Shangela (Pastor Payot’s wife) prepared an amazing 5 star meal for us which included fresh lobster. (Thank you Shangela for all of your wonderful dinners!)

We discovered every Wednesday, Pastor Ernest holds a Midnight Praise service (loose translation). Long after our evening meal and devotion, we were blessed with songs of praise. Even though words and melodies were unrecognizable, what was recognizable was the Holy Spirit. Some of joined the service, while others let the joyful music lull our weary bodies to sleep.

Haiti 17-25 Oct 14 / Day 5

Pastor Kenth (Pastor Payot’s brother) met us bright and early this morning to take us to Roache Plate. There is so much need and desperation there, the experience tugged at our heart strings. When we arrived, we discovered the children had no food for lunch. God provided, and funds were given to purchase food for the short term while a long term solution is being sought.

The girls’ hair, adorned with multiple blue ribbons, matched the light blue tops and gray bottoms of the school uniforms. They were eager to interact with us as we passed out tooth paste and tooth brushes.

Chatting with the teachers, we recognized the pride and honor they possess regarding their vocation. Several stated they had mentors when they were students, who encouraged them to become teachers. These teachers feel the same responsibility to inspire the youngsters who are now in charge.

We sampled a cocoa pod from a tree on the grounds. The sweet outer coating covered the bitter chocolate contained inside. We also bought ‘Baptist’ mangos which Pastor Kenth insists are better than the mangos in Caracol. I think we need to sample many more from both regions before we can decide.

Later in the evening, back in Caracol, we held another training session for church member and CHE members. This training was led by Penny, (with much coaching from Mark). Attendees were given lessons, based on scripture, in regards to discernment and using their various talents to further their business ventures. The training went well and we all learned the difference between natural talents and Spiritual gifts.

Haiti 17-25 Oct 2014 / Day 4

Today was a great day. Mark can finally relax as his daughter Lindsay arrived safe and sound. We made headway in several areas. God is truly good! Three computers were installed in the media lab allowing the church to have internet access. Get ready Pastor Payot, you shall soon be friended by numerous persons residing in the Indianapolis area!

We experienced our own miracle today. Gerald and Pastor Payot went into Caphatian to purchase a pump for the ‘Farming God’s Way’ project. Unable to locate the proper type of pump, we thought the project would be delayed. Upon returning, to the mission compound, a pump was found in one of the buildings! We know that God provided this pump to further His plan for Haiti.

Later in the evening, The team conducted a Leadership training with church and CHE members. Mark’s exuberance during the training was the equivalent of the energizer bunny on caffeine! After rearranging the pews and taping charts on the wall, we were all encouraged (threatened) to participate lest we be there all night. His point came across loud and clear in both English and Creole. The training was a success, as church members learned how to better assist their Pastor. When asked how can they travel to other nations to be Disciples, Mark explained they can be Disciples here in Haiti (or at least Santo Domingo).

All in all, it was a fun (and long) evening, but worth it!

Haiti 17-25 Oct 2014 / Day 3

As the morning church service began, the song ‘Near the Cross’ was recognizable despite being sung in Creole. We admired the children dressed in their Sunday finery as they filed in for Sunday School.

Although the service was in Creole, the Holy Spirit transcends all language barriers. Pastor Ernest was quite animated while delivering his message. I smiled as he threw punches in the air, thinking he might be speaking metaphorically of fighting the devil. I sang along to ‘Amazing Grace’, recognizable in any language.

After the morning service we served lunch to the entire congregation. Plates of food were passed along the human conveyor belt until every child and adult had eaten.

Later in the evening, we attended another church service. This service was held at a newly built church, known as “The Church by the Tree”. Ironically, the huge tree that was next to the church was known for voodoo ceremonies. It appears that God refused to have his house desecrated, as lightening struck the tree and burned it to the ground. The sermon this evening was given by Pastor Payot and again the Holy Spirit was present in Creole and English.

After a wonderful dinner of beef stew prepared by Pastor Payot’s wife, Shongela, we settled down for our nightly devotion and rest.

Caracol, Haiti 17-25 Oct 2014 / Day 2

Our day began early this morning thanks to our local rooster who began a sporadic cock-a-doodle-doo in the wee hours and continued until we could no longer ignore his calls. (I’m thinking chicken for dinner!)

After breakfast, we met with several local farmers. Gerald gave us all instruction on ‘Farming God’s Way’. Our intent was to till a small portion of land at the mission to provide an example. We were unable to start the tiller, therefore we remained flexible in following God’s lead.

The broken tiller allowed time to visit the farm of one of the local church members, Jean Renee. A short 15 minute walk along the river gave us insight into the lives of the local people. Just as in the US, Saturday morning is typically laundry day. The brush along the river was lined with freshly washed clothing being sun dried. As women continued with the washing, children played
in the water keeping their distance from the sleeping pigs.

Reaching Jean Renee’s farm required us to wade in the knee deep river. The journey was well worth the trek. We arrived to see young banana plants and mature mango trees. A brief survey of the land revealed two spots which would be ideal for the ‘Farming Gods’s Way’ example. Plans are now underway to implement the concept. Also, we sampled freshly picked mangos from the trees. Never had we tasted sweet mangos warm from the sun. By the time we finished eating, we were like children, our faces and hands sticky from the juice.

On the trek back, once again we had to cross the river. Sitting on the side of the bank, preparing to put on our shoes, the farmers, cleaned our muddy feet with water. We all looked at each in awe, with the same thought- a Jesus moment! These humble farmers were washing our feet! Our leader Mark, in turn then washed the feet of the farmers. This was a touching moment for all of us.

Later, after lunch, we took a walk around Caracol, speaking to the recipients of the CHE loans. This would not have been possible without the assistance of Waldy a new comer to the group. Waldy, a Chicago Police Officer of Haitian descent, interpreted for us. With Mark’s credibility and and Waldy’s interpretation skills, it didn’t take long for word to spread that the dynamic duo was in town. People began coming up to us, immediately approaching Waldy with questions.

We finally returned to the mission compound ready for dinner, devotion and rest.

Haiti Oct 17-25 /Day1

17 October 2014

Day 1- Caracol, Haiti

As we stepped off the airplane onto the tarmac in Caphatian, Haiti, we were greeted with warm air, blue skies and sunshine – not the sweltering heat we expected (a welcome surprise).
After clearing customs, we were met by Pastor Payot who led us to our ‘chariot’. We climbed a make shift ladder to board the open air cargo truck (our chariot). We headed to lunch then on to the Caracol Mission House.

During lunch, the more adventurous of us tried the grilled goat and plantains, while others stuck with traditional BBQ chicken. Perhaps they will brave some of the local cuisine before we leave.
Our driver, Tinel, not only navigated the roads but guarded our belongings as we enjoyed our leisurely meal.

Standing in the back of the truck proved to be the best way to enjoy the ocean breeze and see the sights of both Caphatian and Caracol. Our leader, Mark, pointed out the sugar cane fields, mango trees, and other indigenous fruits and plants unrecognizable to city folk like me. Mark also pointed out the many improvements made in just two years from his last visit, paved roads, new colorful housing sub-divisions, cleared land and a university. We moved at a surprisingly fast pace along the new roads. We did have the occasional family seated on a motorcycle pass us on the right. Hopefully, they are aware of the speed bumps. (Yes, speed bumps in Haiti!)

Finally, we arrived at the mission house! Now the work began. After unpacking and organizing the supplies, we were ready for a nice cool drink of water. Our refreshing drink was momentarily delayed due to the purification test being negative. After a second bottle for the water cooler also tested negative, some of us (okay me) became briefly concerned. I reminded myself that we are here on a mission and God would surely provide. Those in the group who are seasoned Haiti travelers, knew how to treat the water with bleach. Within minutes, Voila!- drinkable water!

We now settle down for the evening to start our devotion and relax. Already the day had been exciting and we cannot wait to see what Day 2 has to offer.