Fairview Baptist Church
Wednesday, May 24, 2017
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One Day On a Haitian Mission Trip

Friday, March 18, 2016 When we first met on this morning at the pool of the guest house, I presented the devotional. I read from the fourth chapter of John about the woman at the well with Jesus. I said this is comparable to our situation, that like the water the woman drinks will not last (she will need more), the things we bring to the orphans, like soap and toothbrushes, will not last, and they will need more. But we also try to bring Christ, I said, hoping some will be saved, and Christ is the living water that will never run out. I compared Brother Johnny’s teaching the night before about the place Jesus is preparing for us to the living water Jesus spoke about in the verses. I also said it is remarkable that Jesus speaking to the woman at the well made her think of the promised savior before he even told her he was. We then prayed for Ann Doss back home, who was scheduled for surgery that day, and others. Brother Johnny said that at the school the day before, a seventeen year old girl had approached him and had asked him to be her father. She did not know her father, or whether he was alive or dead. He said he was torn about whether to try to be her dad or not. He said it takes many thousands of dollars and sometimes five years to adopt a Haitian child. He told her at least he would be her father while he was there. Brother Johnny said that on another trip he had talked to an eighteen year old girl. She had seen her parents killed in the earthquake, and her sister had ran outside, only to be killed by a falling utility pole. Three additional children had been left for her to raise. We ate breakfast (no scrambled eggs) and got on Bumpy Bus and rode back to the school. Children seemed to be waiting for us, and cheered when they saw us approaching. After we dismounted the bus, some of the children took our hands and led us up the stairs to the classrooms. Before the classes started, I saw Ronel on the balcony outside one of the classrooms. I asked him if he wanted an English bible (he had asked me about one the day before, saying he would like to have one so he could improve his English reading), and handed mine to him. He opened it and seemed to be looking at the print, and did not at first realize I was giving it to him. Then, looked at me and said, “For me!” He thanked me sincerely, and I said, “I only ask that you read it to many people.” He said he wanted to stay in contact. He had a sheet of paper and wrote his name and phone number on one end and I wrote mine on the other. I creased the sheet in the middle so it would tear straight and ripped the pieces apart and gave him the end with my number. He kept saying he wanted us to see each other. I said I may be back next year (I think I will be really disappointed if I don’t). After the classes that day, I thought I would like to have a picture of me and Ronel together, so I could text it to a Christian friend at the Eastern Kentucky University Police Department. I saw Ronel again outside the school, standing in the sun. I went down to him and asked about the picture. He asked if I wanted to get out of the sun. I just took my hat off and someone took our picture. I also saw a man who said he was some kind of manager at the school. He was thin and dressed in a black suit. We talked a little and then later when he would spot me anywhere, he would approach and say he liked seeing me. The last time, he said something like, “If I don’t see you again here, some day we will see each other in heaven,” pointing to the sky. I said, “I can’t wait, brother.” The small classrooms probably held forty or more students, jammed together on wooden benches with blue metal fronts and “Unisef” painted on them. While I was handing out the crafts for the day (hollow plastic crosses and various colored sand to fill them with), some of the children stood and tried to reach around the ones beside them to grab one of the kits before their turns. I tried to reach around them and give them out according to their places. Our interpreter, also a teacher, gave the children detailed instructions on how to fill the crosses with the sand; in Creole, he told them of the different colors of sand and demonstrated how to fill the crosses, which resulted in crosses with layered colors inside. These were much easier to put together than the crafts of the previous two days. The next class seemed to have even more students than the last, and we did not have enough of the crosses for all of them. One girl, from her facial expression, seemed to be especially disappointed. She was perhaps twelve years old. I asked the interpreter to tell them that we were very sad that we could not give them all one, that we did not bring enough. I tried to remember what the disappointed girl looked like, and her clothing. I hoped to be able to give her something. But you can’t give just one child something, because others may see you and mob you for gifts for themselves. Later, I found two of the crafts items in my backpack, and then started watching for her, hoping to be able to pass one to her discreetly. I gave one to another child. I went back upstairs to the room and did not find her. While I was on my way to go back down the stairs, a small boy spotted plastic protruding a little from my pocket (it held the craft). He pecked on my shoulder from behind, and when I turned he pointed to my pocket, and the plastic. I gave it to him. Two days before, I had met a man named Solomon Jean (his pronunciation of his last name sounded a lot like “John”). He told me he would like to go to Mexico. I asked him if he thought he would like to go to the United States, and he was interested. I asked if he knows Pastor Fritz. He didn’t. I said I would talk to Fritz about it. I later saw Fritz and he said he would talk to Solomon. Then on this day, I saw Solomon again; he wanted me to come back next year and needed me to write my address more clearly. I think he didn’t understand the US system of house numbers on roads. I went to take pictures of the classes our members were giving. Debbie was teaching a women’s class; Matt and Tim were teaching men, and Brother Johnny was teaching a pastors class. Brother’s Johnny’s class was handing out certificates to the students, and as they individually came forward, I took photos as the certificates were handed to them. Later, two girls approached me and said something I could not understand (I think the only word I knew in Creole at that time was “mesi,” for, “thank you”). After they made a few attempts to make me understand, I thought they may be asking what my name is. I said, “My name?” They nodded. I said, “Shel-by,” separating the syllables. They repeated it. After a few minutes, I was passing a classroom –no class at that time- and thought I heard someone say a word that sounded a little like my name. I turned and it was the two girls. I walked over to them and they wanted me to take their picture. I took the picture and showed it to them; they seemed pleased. It seems people here like to have their pictures taken and to pose for them, although they don’t get to keep the pictures (it’s my camera). They just like you to show it to them after you take it. Then later, I noticed the same two girls in the classroom. They were looking at me and giggling and talking to each other. I have no idea what they were saying. I’ve got to learn some of this language for my next trip here, if and when I come back. When we loaded onto the bus, the orphans and accompanying adults got on with us to ride back to the orphanage. Several of the school children came and stood outside the bus as we were leaving and waved and smiled as we rode away. One little girl yelled, “bye, bye!” After a short distance, the bus stopped and set for a while. We did not know then that we were caught in a Port-Au-Prince traffic jam. We sat in the heat behind a larger white bus, moving only a few feet, occasionally. Outside, street vendors began walking by the bus, holding up their items (some of which I could not identify) outside the windows. One item was sealed plastic bags about half the size of sandwich baggies, containing water. The bags seemed to be cold because droplets of moisture were on them. Twice, children in the bus bought the water in this manner: The vendors held up the water up to the windows; the children took the water through the window and then dropped what looked like small coins into the vendors’ hands. The children would then bite holes into the corners of the bags and squeeze the liquid into their mouths. These water bags are apparently common in Haiti, because these water bags were served in the school, hauled into the classrooms in wheelbarrows or carried in buckets. In the school, there had not appeared to be a lunch room. Meals were carried into the classrooms in lidded Styrofoam containers. In the traffic, the sun shone into the left side windows of the bus, causing the passengers on that side to suffer more than the ones on the right (I was on the right). Once, a large dump truck set on our left side momentarily, its exhaust pipe pumping diesel fumes into our space. Small boys sat next to the window to the right of me, and across the narrow aisle from me. Behind me sat a little boy next to the aisle and a woman at the window beside him. As we sat there, motorcycles and other vehicles tried to pass us on the right. The little boy beside me was grasping the open window with his hands, his fingers curled around the glass and exposed to the outside. The side of a bus trying to pass on our right began scraping the side of ours, about window level. The child and I both realized his fingers may be in peril. I quickly reached for his arms to pull them away, but with his quick reflexes, he removed them soon enough as I pulled his arms. We started to play little games: I showed the children around me I could fold my hands together and make whistling sounds by blowing through my thumbs. They also tried, but could not. The language barrier prevented me from helping them learn it, I think. One of the boys pointed to me, indicating I could do it, and then back to Tim Rednaur, who showed us he also could. The boy then pointed around to the people in the bus, and then to the outside, indicating, I think, that we were the only ones in Haiti that could. We played other hand games, and arm wrestled, and they arm wrestled with each other. One boy noticed my wedding band and said a word that sounded like, “Sold,” in a questioning tone. He then pointed to my ring and then to the woman in front of me. I shook my head and said, “No.” He then pointed to another woman and tried to tease me. He then hooked his arm through mine, indicating two people together and pointing to other women on the bus. I pointed to my ring and then pointed upward to indicate she was far away. I think he thought I was saying she was dead. I took my phone out of my pocket and showed him a picture of Karen, my wife. He seemed surprised. Then he took my phone and started swiping through my photos. Pictures of deep snow at my home caused curious looks on his and other children’s faces. Tim Rednaur took his guitar down from the overhead storage rack and started playing and singing Christian songs. Val came from the front and sat behind me with the Haitian woman, who was singing along in Creole. We sang Amazing Grace and a few others. I did not know all the lyrics, but sang along with the parts that I did. Finally, we reached the place near a bridge where the orphans get off the bus. After the orphans left us, Fritz came to the back where we were and played a melody on the guitar, showing considerable ability. He asked if we knew the tune. It took a little while for anyone to recognize it, although the tune was familiar. I have seen Pastor Fritz play a piano once at Fairview Church, a drum set last night at Airport Church, and now a guitar on a bus stuck in traffic. We continued creeping a few feet every few minutes until we finally reached an intersection where a Port Au Prince police officer was directing traffic, and after a left turn there, traffic seemed to be back to normal. Cheers from the sweaty group could have been heard for some distance when the gate to the guest house was sighted. Pastor Fritz sat with us at dinner and talked about his ministries: He has founded Airport Church (and several more), the orphanage we are to visit tomorrow, and some schools. Debbie asked him why he stays in Haiti. He said it is hard for a Haitian to obtain an American visa, because when Haitians leave Haiti for the United States, they do not come back. He said he could get a Paris (French) visa, but is obliged to stay here. By: Shelby Lakes©