This past month, my husband, Todd, our daughter, Hannah, and I traveled in with a team of nine to Saint Louis Du Nord, Haiti. We worked with Northwest Haiti Christian Mission and the amazing staff who serve there. This was my fourth trip to Haiti and I have learned that, every year, God has something new planned for us. Some years, I have come back with a story of something BIG that God did. This year, as I process all that happened, I realized that I couldn’t point to just one experience that defined our trip, but I can say, that God was working incredibly.
Two of our team members, Carvey and Tiona, are nurses at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital. They came with years of experience in the medical field, but they didn’t really know how much of that would be used. The Eye Team, that we traveled in with, turned out to be in need of nurses to work in the O.R. Carvey and Tiona dived in and worked day after day helping to assist in the almost 200 eye surgeries that took place over five days!
My husband, Todd, always throws himself into projects at the mission. He created a new style of walker that was needed for one of the special need children. He also repaired a door that was broken with a few of the other guys. On top of that, he, Nick and Zach, created a beautiful table, bench and chair. Dustin and Alex, the missionaries who oversee the orphans, wanted to create a space where they could do counseling with the kids. The furniture they made will give the kids a comfortable, safe space to share their hurts and pain.
Our daughter, Hannah, was amazing. There was something incredible about seeing our grown daughter embrace a completely foreign culture, people and experience. She loved on the Miriam Center special need children and never seemed afraid or hesitant. She loved with open arms. There was a little guy, Moses, who lived at the mission, who took to her right away. Many times, we would find Hannah with a sleepy Moses in her arms. Not only did she work closely with all the kids, but she spent time with the elderly, witnessed a birth and went to the prison with us- among many other things. It was awesome to see God work through her!
Mark and Nick, felt led to minister to the security team at the mission. The men guard the mission day and night and they had such a desire to learn more and refine their skills. Mark and Nick not only taught them some great basic techniques, but they were able to reaffirm the men just how important their role was. We were able to gift each of them with a Creole Bible and Todd even shared a bit of encouraging scripture with them.
One of the toughest experiences we had was our visit to the prison. It was loud, cramped and extremely overwhelming there. With over 360 prisoners split between around 10 cells, its hard to stay focused on what we go there to do. We bought 360 bars of soap and spent time at each cell sharing about the love of God and asking how we could pray for them. Zach gave the invitation for those who want to make Jesus their leader and forgiver and some of the men did! After we left the men’s cell area, myself and the other ladies with me, visited with the prison women who were out in the courtyard. They shared how they felt so devalued and were constantly treated poorly by the men in authority there. We prayed for them and then even exchanged worship songs (ours in English, theirs in Creole). Before we left, I wanted to hug each of them. I just felt so overwhelmed with love for them even though we had just met. We left money with the missionaries so they could bring more Creole Bibles to the prison.
My favorite moment was during our last full day in Haiti. We had planned to do a few fun activities with the special need children. I went down to find out what we needed to set up and saw that the kids were being brought into the courtyard. There were lots of smiling faces in wheel chairs lined up neatly, each waiting expectantly. I asked what was going on and Stephanie, the director, told me “they want you to bring a guitar”. That’s all the direction I needed. I ran up to the chapel, grabbed a guitar and a binder with chord sheets and quickly told our team that I was going down to sing with the kids. Hannah, Tiona and Bri (from the Eye Team), came down with me. We stood in the courtyard and worshiped with those beautiful kids. As they sang out making their own precious sounds , I couldn’t help but tear up. These children live in a society that believes they are not only a curse, but they are better off dead then living with a disability. Most of the children who live in the Miriam Center were left there by their parents. NWHCM has worked for years to change the perception of disabilities and because of that, each child there is surrounded by love, care and value. What a God moment I never want to forget.
There were so many other God moments for me on this trip. Walking hand in hand with two Haitian teen girls as we headed to Beyond Relief Trade School. Singing worship songs with some of the younger orphans who wanted to have their own little “concert”. Massaging lotion into the frail, leathery skin of a sweet elderly man and watching his face light up. Bringing groceries and Creole Bibles to families in the community and finding out they were more excited to receive the Bibles than the food! Holding hands and exchanging words in Creole with children who were extremely curious about the Americans walking around their town. Greeting people as we passed their homes and seeing their bright smiles when they heard us greet in their language.
I am beginning to realize that the biggest moments in my time in Haiti are really the smallest in significance- or so they appear. God doesn’t need thunder and lightening to move. He just needs willing hands and feet to do what He calls us to do.
Pay attention, open your eyes and ask God to show you what next step to take. You will be amazed at how He works.