November 5, 2012

Welcome Home

I just can’t to stay away. Somewhere in the brokenness and filth and poverty and overwhelming needs of Haiti, my spirit connects in ways that God says, “Welcome home.”

So “home” I went two weeks ago. To the people who have captured my heart, broken it and made it new. Along the way I’ve lost track if I go to Haiti to serve, or if by going I’m the one served. Honestly, I think it’s more of the latter. My goings feel far more like a reunion than an outreach.

To look at Haiti from afar, so many see a one-dimensional portrait of brokenness that’s so easy to paint with a broad brush. But as I’ve gotten closer and gone deeper I’ve discovered there is far more to this country and her people than meets the eye. For one thing, where Haitians lack material wealth they have been blessed with a richness of beauty—of their countryside and of their hearts.

I admire my Haitian friends’ joy, their faith, their perseverance, their passionate worship, their hospitality. I love their smiles. And I cherish their friendship. In God’s incredible creativity He’s united us together.

Safe in Haiti with Pastor Valentin, Annie and Wesley
On my most recent trip our team consisted of only four--Bob, Dave, Jim and me. At first I worried our group was too small, but as the trip unfolded, we all realized that “four” is exactly what God intended. As we traveled, ate, talked, worshipped, painted and sweated (A LOT!) together, each of us marveled at the ways, both large and small, that God shone His light so marvelously for us to see.

This was a different kind of trip. Slower, more intimate. More time for interactions and adventures.

While our team was in Haiti, Foundation for Peace held the inauguration for Complexe Educatif Men Nan Men (Hand in Hand Educational Complex). How awesome to be there for the opening of the school I’ve helped work on during the last year and a half—from ground breaking to final painting. The ribbon cutting ceremony brought together the community, future students, government officials, churches, workers and Americans together to celebrate something that doesn’t happen that often in Haiti—shared victory.

This project stands as testimony to what is possible when God makes a way and we work together. So many hands have dug, pick axed, carried buckets, poured concrete, laid blocks, painted and so much more to make it possible.

"Men anpil, chay pa lou." (Many hands [make] the load lighter.) 

The first phase of Complexe Educatif Men Nan Men is almost finished!

Ribbon cutting with Ken Culver (FFP), Hernery (construction boss), Mayor Ralph, Boniface Alexandre (past president of Haiti) andPastor Valentin.
The wall Woodside helped to build in March.
Besides getting the school ready to open, our team also visited our friends in Kwa Kok, Vilaj Kanez and Vilaj Mirak (formerly Camp Hope). We also made new friends on top of the mountain in Gwo Chwal (Big Horse)—a mountain top experience that will surely be a story to come.

Now that we’re home the challenge for our team is to assimilate our Haiti experiences and revelations into our every day realities. And try to figure out how God wants us to respond, grow and reach out differently.

Dave summed it up perfectly, “I definitely had several days, almost a week of ‘Haiti hangover.’ It was a time where it was hard to focus on anything here. My mind remained in Haiti. It was as if nothing mattered here.”

And so I will process these experiences, pencil to paper (or keyboard to screen) and continue to travel the journey God started me on in February 2010.

Some people say they admire me for going to Haiti, or that they’re impressed with what I do there. But the way I see it I’m just an ordinary girl who got on a plane because God nudged her to go. Along the way I discovered a place that breaks my heart in the world. And I can’t stay away.

Don’t we all need to find that place… No matter where it is?

Dave, forever changed in Vilaj Kanez