Good morning! My dad sent me a reflection of his time in Haiti the past 7 days to put on this blog!
Like I had hoped, Francois and my Dad are quickly becoming BFFs. As Francois said the other day, “We are not brothers anymore, we are ONE. Thank you for sending your father to me. He is my best friend.”
As my dad went through pictures he had taken the first few days of the children, he broke down and cried. “The children are so precious. My heart is breaking over what breaks God’s heart.”
Mark Bell: Haiti Week 1
Day 1 – Sunday, February 19th
Traveled from Oregon to Ft. Lauderdale.
Day 2 – Monday, February 20th
Relentless Scripture: Eph 6:10-20
Relentless Focus: Turf Wars/Zone
Relentless Example: Airport Experience – “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against …” Woke up @3:45 am for hotel check-out and a 4:15 taxi ride to the Fort Lauderdale Airport. The Haiti flight was @ terminal #2, just right around the corner, so I had plenty of discretionary time for the 6:20 flight. The Lord showed me a young Haitian man opening up his Bible and using his discretionary time wisely. I followed this young man’s lead and God led me to Eph. 6:10-20. I couldn’t have asked for any better flight-plan to navigate my way to, in and from Haiti. Verse 18, I’ll pray in the Spirit and be on the alert with all perseverance and petition for all the saints, and you pray for me verse 19, “that utterance may be given to me in the opening of my mouth …”
I have now touched down in Haiti’s capitol city, Port Au Prince, where I get the joy of going through Immigration and baggage claim. Immigration to my surprise was very painless; however, baggage claim and finding my assigned taxi driver was another story in itself.
There are attendants to locate and retrieve your bags for a price … nothing self-service. Their jobs are to steer you into the gauntlet – a long corridor of ushers, usher’s assistants, usher’s coordinators, and taxi drivers in person whether an escort is needed or not. The Missionary Aviation Fellowship (MAF) had sent a trusted driver named Pierre to escort me from immigrations baggage claim to their terminal about a mile away. The MAF said to look for a man in a white shirt holding a sign with my name.
That sounds simple enough, right? … unfortunately, all these folks were on this brother man like white on Missionary rice. I felt like I was in my old stomping grounds of Compton, California – going through some ganged-up -on initiation with the Cripps ,Bloods, Pirus, and AC-DCs. I had 2 big suitcases, I small suitcase, and my computer bag with lots and lots of $ moo-la on me. I keep saying No Gracious, I mean No Thank You, and yelling for Pierre to no avail. So here I am holding on to every one of my bags being partially escorted by several ushers looking for Pierre. The ushers quickly turned into scouts as I approached the end of the gauntlet with no Pierre in sight or sound. Of course, I been praying all along and one of the taxi drivers asked me for a number to call. He dialed MAF, I talked to Christine and asked for Pierre’s where-abouts. She said, “ he’s there, I just got off the phone with him.” After asking several people to call on my behalf including a policeman, I found out that Pierre never held up his sign for me because he was looking for a White Missionary Man, not a Brother from a Different Mother. Finally, we got our color profile clear and Pierre showed up within minutes. Fortunately for me, my MAF flight to Pignon wasn’t schedule to leave until 1:00 pm … more discretionary time.
Tangible Need: Transportation (7-9 rows used Children School Bus International Diesel Engine)
Pray for Loving Haiti: That people would be delivered from the kingdom of darkness and transferred into the kingdom of His beloved Son Jesus.
Pray for Me: Armor on God on Daily; Mosquitoes Bites – Hands/Head; Sleep and Digestive System Adaptation
Day 3 – Tuesday, February 21st
Relentless Scripture: Matt 26:30-35
Relentless Focus: Denial Defense … it won’t happen to me.
Relentless Example: Guard Dogs & Roosters – “Truly I say to you that this very night, before the cock crows, you shall deny me three times …” I’m finding out early, really early, that this compound is on 24/7 watch dog support which means these dogs are on alert all the time. Any uninvited or no longer welcomed guest will be escorted out or at least stopped in their tracks by these dogs. They are not very big but they work very well together as a team and they do get their point across. I’ve seen it happen many times thus far, and I’m comforted by the bark as long it’s not directed at me. The only downside is when they start up, a whole community of dogs joins in and they continue to play a game called –“he who has the last bark wins.” Nobody actually wins unless they all start and stop at the same time. Now here’s where the social animal dynamics become interesting … the roosters, and yes there are many in the neighborhood, refuse to be outdone by any dog. So off they go crowing all day and all night if they hear the dogs competing. Pastor François has signs acknowledging the need to knock before entering this compound or on the doors within the compound; failure to do so will have the dogs barking and the cocks crowing. And as Peter found out, Jesus always has the last word, it’s an undeniable truth.
Tangible Need: Fence Work (North and East side of Compound Needs Fence Constructed)
Pray for Haiti: Security for this compound and Protection against Human Trafficking
Pray for Me: Broken Heart for these Kids – I can’t stop crying for them. Also, for a good night sleep.
Day 4 – Wednesday, February 22nd
Relentless Scripture: Col 1:1-17, 23-24
Relentless Focus: Works of Service
Relentless Example: Compound Workers – “And whatever you do in word or deed do all in the name of our Lord Jesus …” Life at the compound starts at 6:00am every morning with the workers arriving to perform their duties such as cooking, cleaning, watching and getting the kids ready for school, work or play; washing or ironing clothes, entry gate duty, watering jobs, or special projects that are on-going. Everybody has some task that they contribute to the social health and well being of the members. School runs M-F from 7:30-12 noon, so the teachers are also part of this community. The temps have been in the mid 80’s lately, although the trees throughout the compound provide shade to help keep it cooler. The work is manual, hard long and repetitive, but it is work. I just realized why very little of them aren’t really affected by mosquitoes or other pesky bugs–it’s because they are always in motion, doing something. So I started moving more myself and you know, it works! My goal is to work with everybody here doing something as an opportunity to get to know them and appreciate their work unto the Lord.
Tangible Need: $ for Extra Workers (1 day and 1-night care for kids; 1- day compound washer/cleaner)
Pray for Loving Haiti: New jobs created for the people who desperately need them.
Pray for Me: My heart is still breaking for these people, especially the kids.
Day 5 – Thursday, February 23rd
Relentless Scripture: Phil 4: 10-20
Relentless Focus: Road Warriors of Contentment
Relentless Example: “…and my God shall supply all your needs … “. Pastor François and I took a road trip to Cap Haitian, the second largest city in Haiti on the northern coast, to pick up some needed compound supplies. He and a missionary named Bill share the driving responsibilities every other week. Bill was out of town so I got the privilege of riding shotgun with him in what I now consider, literally, the ride of my life. We left at dawn. I noticed the heavily traveled road was lined to the extreme right and left edges with both people and machines walking or riding in/on their donkeys, motorcycle taxis, small Toyota, large Toyota or Japanese vehicles and massive buses. Apparently a neighboring town was having a Thursday market day, while in Cap Haitian, every day is market day! I saw women of all ages walking and balancing on their heads objects bigger and heavier than most men could bench press. Little kids from town to town were dressed up in their color coordinated uniforms headed off to school. There were goats, cattle, chicken, turkeys, home products like chairs and building materials; food products like, vegetables, fruits, beans, rice, etc … You get the picture, anything of value (no, low, or high tech) was headed for the exchange. Some of these people on foot or beast of burdens traveled 20 miles to get there up and down hills, because we saw them ten hours later headed the opposite direction in the dark. There’s no posted speed limit on these country roads and yet motor vehicles accelerate fast all the time. The roads are for the most parts not drivable due to the rough and uneven terrain, rain and mudslide damage, and rocks, rocks and more rocks. As mentioned earlier, the only drivable and walk- able spots are at the extreme edge where people, beast and machine have beaten down a small path for transport. Living on the edge has a whole new definition. Motorcycles and sure-footed people and animals have the best chance at arrivals unless they prematurely collide in the shared space with the big trucks and buses. I saw one of these small motorcycles taxis carry five adults and two infants in the arms of their mother, with no one hearing helmets. The bigger you are, the more people yield their right-of-way to you. Although trucks are bigger, they only have a fair chance, unless they run well in low gears and have excellent suspension and tires which most don’t; so you see vehicles of all make, and models and years lying in disrepair by the wayside. All must try to make it to the Market Place, their lives and others depend on it. Once goods and services are exchanged and consumed, they immediately discarded items right on the ground, ditch or waterway. I’ve seen some garbage sites in my day, but to see garbage piled up literally everywhere was a real nose and eye-sore! With decent roads this trip would have only taken 2.5-3.0 hours – round trip. This however took us 3.5 hours to get there and ~ 4.0 hours back. Pastor François was a true road warrior of contentment. He was just content driving in whatever circumstances he was in and getting whatever supplies he had money for, because he understands the recipe for being happy … whether having little or much, he remained happy because not only does God supply all our needs, but we can do all things through Him who strengthen us!
Tangible Need: Maintenance Cost on Toyota Mid-size diesel Truck (suspension and tires)
Pray for Loving Haiti: Road Safety for all and Garbage Management
Pray for Me: Literally – Sore Neck and Swollen Hands
Day 6 – Friday, February 24th
Relentless Scripture: Phil 4:8-10; 2Tim 3:16-17
Relentless Focus: Teach and Reach to One Another
Relentless Example: “Finally, brethren, whatever is true, what is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, …” In a world that has gone wrong, God gifts us with teachers to help make things right. Pastor François operates a primary school system for his Orphanage and children of the community. His numbers run in the neighborhood of 250 kids who have free access to education, led by 9 teachers and 1 director. This teacher/administration team meets 3 times a year to assess where they are, how they are doing, where they need to go. They work hard on their development and take their calling as teachers to heart, head, and hands. They evaluate students and curriculum, share what’s working and not working, and how they need to respond for the next term. During these 2-day Teacher Development & Training sessions, they also speak the truth in love and do their best in fixing their minds on things that are true, noble, right, pure, lovely, reputable, things that are excellent and worthy of praise. In a world that has gone bad for many of them, they focus on the best, not the worst, the beautiful, not the ugly, things to praise God for, not to curse. Pastor François generally ends these sessions with many words of encouragement and prayer for the leaders. It’s a beautiful thing!
Tangible Need: Books (Educators)
Pray for Loving Haiti: Only 10% is funded by the government.
Pray for Me: Sore Feet and Hands
Day 7 – Saturday, February 25th
Relentless Scripture: James 1:26-27
Relentless Focus: Pure and Undefiled Religion
Relentless Example: “… to visit orphans and widows in their distress …” Pastor François has many daily visitors at his compound requesting a variety of services or products. Today, three ladies with three little children (2-boys, 1-girl ~3-5 years of age) came forward to discuss their issues and needs. None of the ladies’ children were their own. They said 1 child’s mother is very crazy (mentally ill) and comes and goes all the time, leaving the boy unattended for who knows what periods of time. Pastor recognized the boy’s signs of malnutrition, picked him up after the boy started crying, and comforted him with his words and some crackers. As Pastor started asking more questions he handed the young boy over to me to feel how light he was and showed me some signs of poor nutrition and intestinal parasites. I’m not sure his age but I knew my laptop and bag weighed way more than he did. I kept him in my arms for the entire visit, praying in the Spirit for him and making occasional animal sounds in which all the kids love. The other boy also had signs of malnutrition and intestinal parasites, but he looked to be in better health from outward appearances. His mom had died and dad cannot be found or no longer can take care of him. He smiled a lot, I asked him his name, I told him mine and gave him five. The little girl was very quiet, cute, and looked in good health. Her aunt was now her caregiver; her mother had died and dad is nowhere to be found. Her aunt said that she may need some assistance from time to time in taking care of her. The other two kids were truly without a mom or dad. All the dads were biological fathers only, and definitely missing in actionL. Pastor provided the caregivers with some beans and rice and will continue to talk to them about the orphanage after more contacts have been made regarding relatives’ search and other logistics that are needed for a legal sign-over.
Tangible Need: Nutritional Evaluation and Health Care Visitation – Doctors, Dentists, Optometrist, etc…
Pray for Loving Haiti: Orphans in their distress and Fathers Missing in Action
Pray for Me: That they see Jesus in me, who is the image of His Father, the Father to the Fatherless.