Tag Archives: Haiti

God is Good: The Haiti Report

After the dust had settled from their mission trip to Haiti, I asked Bethany and Esther (the two lovelies from this photo of the week!) this question:

“If you could tell someone only ONE thing from the trip, what would it be?”

They both (separately and unaware of their counterpart’s answer) said the exact same thing:

“God is Good.”

After initially (and might I add immediately) stating that God is good, Bethany said it this way:

“I mean, I could go over day by day all that we did and saw, and God was in all of it, but really, it’s a miracle in and of itself that we even got there.”

And then she shared their travel story – the aforementioned miracle – that is absolutely worth re-telling here, so in her own words…

“It could have been ugly, especially considering there weren’t any available flights until the first team was supposed to go home. But let me start at the beginning.

So we got to the airport, loaded all our stuff, and got on a puddle jumper plane bound for Miami. And then we flew and flew and flew (in circles) and it was the worst. flight. ever.

There was terrible turbulence. At one point we even dropped the length of 3 drop zones {those who have been to Carowinds may be familiar with this reference…} and the lady across the aisle in front of me wasn’t paying attention, so she came flying up out of her chair and practically did the wave. I’m pretty sure her whole body left the seat! It was so funny! Especially because I was laughing so hard while everyone else was scared for their life!

But since we had been flying around in circles for over an hour, we didn’t have enough fuel to make it to Miami, so we landed in West Palm Beach where we proceeded to sit and sit and sit in the airplane on the middle of the tarmac. They gave us more drinks, but then somebody flushed paper towels down the toilet so we couldn’t even potty anymore. True story.

So then they said they were gonna give us some fuel, so the fuel man pulled up to the airplane, but then he said “nope, can’t give you any gas.” At this point (three and half hours later), they finally pulled up to a gate so we could hurry off the plane for ten minutes and use the working potty while they fueled the plane. It was all so bad that the pilot kept saying over and over that if we didn’t want to fly with them anymore, we didn’t have to.

But after we got our fuel (four hours later, now), we were finally up in the air again. Headed to Miami. However, our flight from Miami to Port-au-Prince had already left 45 minutes earlier and it was, of course, the last flight of the day.

So we get over to the Red Roof Inn to stay at the “distressed passenger” rate, head up to our room where we think we’ll have two queen beds and a couch for all 5 of us girls who were traveling together, open the door, and find one, very small, king size bed. Ha! Yeah, we laughed. And then headed back downstairs to get a second room, which happened to be the last room available in the whole hotel.

The next morning, we got up at 4am, called the cab company and told them we needed a mini-van, and then proceeded to wait in the lobby for an hour waiting for the mini-van cab that never showed. At 5am, we just took the hotel shuttle back to the airport in hopes of maybe making it on the first flight out at 6:50am.

When we got there, we found out we were numbers 7-11 on the standby list, and the first flight was already overbooked. So, we waited around until the first flight, but as expected, no one got on. We got some breakfast, came back to the gate, waited a little, paid $8 to use the internet (yep, we did), then decided to talk to the gate attendant about empty seats.

She said, “Well, there’s nothing today, uh, nothing Tuesday…let me check Wednesday…no, nothing…the next available flight is July 29th.” No available flights for SEVEN days?!? We didn’t know what else to do, so we literally laughed out loud!

Feeling a little dismayed, we went and sat back down to wait and just planned on being there for several days. But then, they started calling standby names for the 10:50am flight – we figured we wouldn’t get on, but we thought maybe enough people would that we could get on the next one. Hope! And then they called the first person from our group, the second person, the third person…all the way to the fifth person. We might have gone just a little crazy in the airport! We’re talking hopping and jumping and singing!

But after all that, we finally arrived in Haiti, just one day behind schedule, ready to hit the ground running, and more excited than ever to just be there!”

And Esther summarized her experience this way

“God is good.

Even in the midst of extreme poverty and brokenness, God is SO good.

Throughout the entire trip, God constantly reminded and showed me how great He is. This trip was entirely about serving HIM. It was not about me.

I saw God as we interacted with the Haitian people, as we played with the local children who came to visit, as we worked with the Haitian staff, as we sat around the kitchen and chatted with Mr. Bobby and Mrs. Wanda, as we packed pills, and as we reflected on the day’s work. I found myself constantly saying, “God is good. God is good.” And I still say it.

It’s the best way I can really describe my experience in Haiti.

God is good.”

And those flip-flops from the pile in the middle of our living room floor?

They found their way to some precious little Haitian feet.

Yes, I couldn’t agree more …

God is good.

Amen?

**all photos courtesy of Bethany**

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They’re Haiti Bound {Again!}

Many of you who have read my blog for a while may remember that my roommate, Bethany (usually referred to as “B” on the blog), went on a missions trip to Haiti last year (after also going the previous year shortly after the earthquake) to serve as a nurse on a medical team with the North Carolina Baptist Men / Baptists on Mission.

This week, she’s preparing to go back to serve again, and this time, I got to hear the inside scoop about the trip from both her AND the trip leader, Rachel, who is in PA school. I hope you enjoy hearing what’s on their hearts as much as I did as they both anticipate returning to a place that they love so dearly.

{Bethany on the left & Rachel on the right … looking all official w/their scrubs & medical supplies}

When are you leaving and how long will you be there?

B: We leave this Sunday {insert huge grin here}, July 22. Rachel and I will be there two weeks, and there will be five other people joining us each week we’re there.

Where will you be in Haiti and what type of work will you be doing?

B: We’ll be staying in the same area as last year in a small village about 20 miles north of the Port Au Prince airport and we’ll be working in medical clinics with a very similar set-up to last year. {see this post from last year for a glimpse into a typical day at the clinics.}

What are you most looking forward to about this trip?

B: You know I have to be honest … I was thinking about it and because we’re staying two weeks, I’ll get to go back to church this time, and I’m excited about that! The first year I went, we got to go to church with the people at the orphanage we stayed at, and it was so neat to see how they worship. Even though we all live in different places, and speak different languages, and do different things, at the end of the day, we all worship the same God!

R: I think I’m most excited to see my dear friends in Haiti, to see my little girl Venia and her family, and to see baby Rachel and her mom. Baby Rachel turned 1 on July 12th – the same day I finished my last exam of my first year of PA school! {y’all, just for the record, Rachel helped deliver baby Rachel last year while she was in Haiti, and she is just precious!}

How are you expecting the Lord to work?

R: I’m praying that the Lord will use our teams to foremost share the Gospel and invite others to accept Christ’s free gift of eternal life. Then, I’m praying our team can meet the medical needs of the people. We have a young team of medically trained members and other non-medical members, but I’m praying God will use each of us and our gifts to assist our Haitian medical teams to see/treat all the patients.

What’s with all the flip-flops?

B: When I went to Haiti last time … well, there are obvious needs for medicines and stuff, but my Aunt and cousin really wanted to do something for the children. So when I got back we were talking about how they didn’t really have a lot of clothes and how they’d just be running around in whatever pieces of clothes they could find, and so my Aunt decided to make dresses for the little girls. My cousin got a few pairs of flip-flops, and my mom and I just decided to get even more because a lot of the kids don’t really have shoes either. It’s just a way to bless them!

Has the Lord laid any particular Scripture on your heart for this trip?

R: God brought back to mind 2 Corinthians 12:8-10. This was the lesson that God taught me on my last trip {to Haiti} in December. And this was the devotional I presented to my team challenging them that in our weaknesses, God can work through us and give us strength. And He gives the Haitian people grace in their brokenness and sickness.

“But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore, I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.” (v. 9)

Little did I know that this verse would become so powerful to me personally as I became very ill mid-week. I had to FULLY trust God to be with me in my weakness and trust His grace and healing power for me. When we are helpless, God’s strength and power is even more evident…when I was weak, on my knees and in pain, all I could do was look up to the only One who saved me and could be my stronghold.

How can we specifically be praying for you and the team?

B: For smooth travel. For safety and health during the trip … and for “cool” … especially since it’s gonna be so hot! That the stuff/supplies all make it there. And mostly that people’s hearts would be open, because yeah, we’re there to meet a physical need, but we’re really there to meet a spiritual need.

R: For preparations this week. For safety and health. For travel/flights. For cool breezes and quick acclimation to the heat (without AC…). For strength and excitement in sharing God’s love. That God will work in each team member’s heart to break and mold us into His likeness, so that we become bold and courageous…and that God would teach us, give us confidence and recall in what we’re trained to do, and that He would use us in a MIGHTY way! For sleep/rest prior to and during the trip. For the Haitian staff and our host couple. To see God’s glory and His hand at work in all that we do.

Anything else we should know or you would like to share?

R: I just get soooo excited and feel so at home serving in Haiti! I am so thankful for God walking and guiding me through this tough school year and now allowing me to return to Haiti. I’m also excited for my sister and brother to experience God’s work in Haiti with me and seeing my passion and calling being fulfilled.

I am so looking forward to hearing how God works in and through both of these women and their teams in Haiti over the next two weeks!

Would you join me in praying for Bethany and Rachel and their teams as they serve?

{all photos, except the flip-flops, are courtesy of B from her prior trips to Haiti}

On Missions and Serving Part 2: Willingness and Sacrifice

“And calling the crowd to him with his disciples,

he said to them, “If anyone would come after me,

let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.

For whoever would save his life will lose it,

but whoever loses his life for my sake and the gospel’s will save it.”

Mark 8:34-35 (ESV)

 

Haiti

 

  Willingness. Sacrifice.

Two words that exemplify the very character of Christ, which we as believers are commanded and called to model.

Two words that immediately escaped my roommate, B’s, mouth when asked about the biggest take-away from her recent medical mission trip to Haiti.

Two words that were brought to life as she sat in our living room the night of her return and shared about three doctors working at the medical clinics in Haiti.

Two words that have stuck with me ever since.

 

When B returned from Haiti, about 10 minutes after she walked through the back door, we sat in the living room and launched into a long and detailed (mostly because I ask a lot of annoying questions) conversation regarding her experience.

To say that I was deeply touched and amazed by the stories she shared of the Haitian doctors, with whom she worked closely at the medical clinics, would be a serious understatement.

Having attended medical school in Haiti, at least a couple of the doctors had the opportunity to do some type of internship or residency in the United States and at least one of the doctors has legal residency here. But rather than staying in the United States where they could likely get a high-paying job and live the so-called “American dream,” they each chose to go back and serve the Haitian people.

But these doctors don’t just serve. They sacrifice and they give. Of their whole life.

One of the doctors is in charge of running the medical clinics. Day in and day out. Week in and week out. A life dedicated to serving others. Regardless of the personal sacrifice on his time and resources.

Another one of the doctors has expressed a desire to use their land to build a more permanent medical clinic as well as an affordable school. That’s right, rather than focusing on building a home (and a life) for themselves, they’ve set their sights towards building a stable environment for others.

All for the glory of Christ.

When B returned from Haiti, the local church where I’m a member was in the middle of our “Missions Conference” week. The very next morning the choir (of which I’m also a member) was scheduled to sing this song:

 

“We will abandon it all for the sake of the call

No other reason at all, but the sake of the call

Wholly devoted to live and to die for the sake of the call”

(For the Sake of the Call Steven Curtis Chapman)

 

This is a song that we have done several times before, and while I’m not proud to admit it, I found myself becoming sort of “immune” to its message. But after hearing B’s account of the Haitian doctors, the weight of the song’s message became very. much. alive.

These doctors are doing just that.

They have quite literally abandoned it all – earthly riches and gain, comfortable surroundings, time for themselves – all for the sake of the call.

In a very real and practical way, they have taken up their cross.

No longer living for self, but for Christ.

Have you received the call?

(And just so there’s no question, if you are a follower of Christ, while your call may not involve going to Haiti and serving in the medical field, you have received the call to take up your cross, to abandon it all, and to follow Christ.)

Will you respond with the same two words and all that they require?

 Willingness. Sacrifice.

On Missions and Serving Part 1: A Haiti Report

Thank you for praying for B while she was in Haiti!

 

 

Enjoy (and be inspired by) this follow-up interview of her experience.

 

 

Describe your trip in one word:

Fantastic. Wow. Amazing.

 

 

Why did you choose that word (or those words as the case may be)?

Because Haiti…well…it’s crazy to think you can go four hours south on a plane and it’s a totally different world.  But the people are some of the kindest, most appreciative people on the face of the planet.

It’s so neat to see all of the work – the ministry – being done there.  Sure, there is a lot of hard work, but there’s a lot of mission work going on too.

And then these people who literally have nothing end up doing the ministering.  We’re there to provide medical care or build a house, but they’re so appreciative and we end up receiving a blessing.

It’s very rewarding in that aspect.

It was also neat to work alongside the Haitian doctors who continually sacrifice so much of themselves to work day in and day out to serve these people.

 

 

Describe a typical day working in the medical clinics.

 

5:30 – Alarm goes off.  Depending on our assigned household duty for the day, we start laundry, help with breakfast, or make sandwiches (PB&J’s) for the day.

6:30 – Breakfast.

7:30 – The medical team heads out to the clinic. 

Once we get to the clinic site (we went to a different location each day and were typically in either a tent/tarp or just outside in the shade), there are already at least 100 people already waiting, and we set-up everything – tables, chairs, supplies, anything to get through the day.

First the people sing hymns in Creole.  Then one of the doctors gives a short educational speech about cholera or hand-washing or an important topic regarding health.  And then we introduce ourselves to the crowd, and the real fun begins.

The patients come through triage first, where I and a nurse’s assistant take vital signs (blood pressure, blood sugar, weight, etc.) with the assistance of a translator.  Then they wait in another line to see the doctor (mostly for general aches/pains, high blood pressure, diabetes, and relatively minor conditions, but we did send one lady to a hospital for further treatment).  After that, they can get what they need from the pharmacy (medicines, clothes, food, diapers…we couldn’t just hand out items or there would be “riots” – in the least chaos – so the doctors wrote prescriptions for everything).

12:30 / 1:00 – We take a short break for lunch…very short since we felt bad sitting and eating in front of people who had been standing all day and who may or may not have known the certainty of their next meal…then back to seeing patients.

3:00 – We pack-up the clinic and head back to the compound where we help the doctors get ready for the next day, get a shower, put our feet up, and/or help with dinner.

6:00 – Dinner.

7:00 – Group devotions.

8:30 / 9:00 – Bedtime (so we could do it all over again the next day!).

 

 

What was one of the best experiences of the trip?

The whole thing.

Specifically, on this trip, it was eye-opening to see what life is like for the Haitians outside of the city.  Last time I was in Port Au Prince, and although the people had very little and the devastation from the earthquake was obvious, there was still the availability of stores, transportation, and resources.

But in the villages and mountains where we were this time, those resources are lacking, and the people live completely differently.  They might be able to make an occasional trip into to town, but they live on what they can grow or trade/sell at the market.  Electricity is sketchy, running water doesn’t exist (they DO have wells), and seeing the reality of this way of life opened my eyes to more of the culture and how some of the Haitian people really live.

 

 

Do you have any stories to share?

1) On the last day, there was a little girl at the clinic who was around 9, and she just wanted to touch your skin and stroke your hair because it was so different.  She pointed out my earrings, and without words “said” that she thought they were pretty.   While I was seeing her mom, she just stood there and rubbed my hair.  It was funny and too cute!

2) Riding in the tap-tap (a Haitian taxi) was quite the experience.  Basically, it’s a small pick-up truck with a covered back and a bench down either side of the truck bed.  It’s called a tap-tap because when someone needs to get off, they “tap-tap” on the glass so the driver knows to stop.  My tap-tap experience was slightly different because it was rented just for us, but minus tons of strangers crammed in together, it was basically the same.  While Haitian driving can be frightening, we typically didn’t get nervous until the Haitians with us showed signs of alarm.

On the way home from clinic one day, we were headed back to the compound and there was a LARGE dump truck full of rocks and stones barreling down the mountain going at least 1000 miles an hour coming at us head on. While trying to maintain an appearance of calm (but panicking on the inside), I happened looked at the Haitian sitting next to me and saw a hint of fear flash across his eyes.  At that moment, I wanted to scream, “FREAK OUT!!!” but decided to close my eyes instead.  Fortunately, the dump truck went flying past us and we continued to putter up the mountain.

 

 

What was your biggest take-away from this trip?

Sacrifice.  Willingness.

It may sound cliché, but just realizing the necessity of being willing in listening to and answering “the call”.  And then being willing to go and serve. It’s so much more rewarding and fulfilling to go and serve than to just stay in your comfort zone doing your own thing.

 

 

If someone reading this was considering an international mission trip, what would you tell them?

Just go.  Get the heck on a plane and go. 

 

 

“Now all I have I count it all as loss

But to know you and to carry the cross.

Knowing I’m found

In the light of the aftermath.”

(“Aftermath” by Hillsong United)

 

Check back next week for “On Missions and Serving Part 2”!

Interview with B re:Haiti

Exactly one year ago, in the aftermath of the January 12, 2010 earthquake, my roommate, B, went on a mission trip to Port Au Prince, Haiti with a group of college students and a medical doctor.  The team stayed at a local orphanage and served in the community through their interactions with the kids at the orphanage, assistance with some construction projects, and work in a medical clinic.

 

 

Exactly one year later, she has the opportunity to go back to Haiti and continue to serve and love the Haitian people through her skills as a registered nurse.

 

 

 

Rather than just filling you in with the trip details in narrative form, I thought it would be much more interesting to hear about the trip in B’s words, so here’s our oh-so-official interview (that may or may not have taken place in our pj’s a little too close to midnght) . . .

 

 

How long will you be in Haiti?

The trip is 8 days.  We leave on Sunday March 6th and come back Saturday March 12th.

Are you traveling with a particular organization?

Yes, I’ll be traveling with a team affiliated with the North Carolina Baptist Men.  Officially, we are “Team 64”.

 

 

In what part of Haiti will you be working and/or staying?

We’ll be staying in and working near a small village about 20 miles north of the Port Au Prince airport.  We’ll be staying in a house with most basic modern amenities – and by basic, I mean most likely really basic, things like “running water” (which based on my last experience, is somewhat open to interpretation), electricity, and beds – on the Global Outreach/Haiti compound, which is also currently housing Samaritan’s Purse.

How many people will be on your team?

There are eight people from another local church in North Carolina on the construction team and there are four of us from a few different churches on the medical team.

 

 

 

What type of work will you and the team be doing?

The construction team will be assisting with building temporary housing.

The medical team that I’m part of will be working in 2 mobile clinics alongside Haitian doctors and medical support staff that were set-up by the North Carolina Baptist Men.  We’ll mostly be doing triage, primary care, wound care, and pharmacy.

What are you most looking forward to about the trip?

Getting to go back! 

It’s different this time because I won’t be in the same place or working with the same people, but it’s a new experience in a similar situation, but also in a completely different environment, so I’m looking forward to working in the clinics there.

 

 

 

How can we specifically be praying for you and the team?

Safety and ease of traveling (security, baggage, etc.) to/from the country

Safety while in the country

Health of the team

Unity within the team

Personal spiritual growth for us as individuals

And of course ministry opportunities to the people we’ll be interacting with

 

 

Is there anything else we need to know or that you would like to share?

Psalm 77 comes to mind. 

It reminds me of how when we were down there before, we saw so many people who really had nothing to begin with, and after the earthquake, many lost what little they did have, and yet, there was such a huge revival/awakening/whatever you want to call it…

One day we went to a big tent revival, and I don’t know if the people believed in God or not, or what their religious history was, but there was a sense that a spiritual revival was sweeping over the people. 

In their distress and brokenness, rather than being mad or upset about their situation, although they may not have understood much about God at the time, they were ready to embrace hope, and that left such a wide-open opportunity to share the love and hope and sovereignty of Christ right in their moment of need.

 

 

“I cried out to God for help…when I was in distress,

I sought the Lord…has his unfailing love vanished forever?

 

Then I thought…Your ways, God, are holy. 

What god is as great as our God?  You are the God who performs miracles;

you display your power among the peoples. 

With your mighty arm you redeemed your people.

 

The waters saw you, God, the waters saw you and

writhed; the very depths were

convulsed…You led your people like a flock…”

 

Selected Verses from Psalm 77 (New International Version – emphasis added)

 

 

 

Will you join me in praying for B (and the rest of the team) as she serves the Lord in Haiti next week?

(All photos are courtesy of B from her previous trip to Haiti.)