Seventeen members from Holy Trinity – Troutman, NC, one guest, and two seminarians from the North American Lutheran Seminary went on a mission trip to Haiti. We all met at the Charlotte International Airport in the early hours of the morning on April 22, 2019. We flew to Miami International Airport in Florida and caught our connecting flight to Port Au Prince, Haiti. Jeff with Sundouloi Ministries (SMI Haiti) was waiting with his team to help us get our 28 checked bags that had our food and supplies for the week. We road on the school bus for about an hour and stopped at a mission house to get some amazing pizza in our bellies for dinner. This mission house was placed near the site where the bodies of hundreds of thousands who lost their lives in the 2010 earthquake were buried. We then traveled the last 30 minutes and arrived at the compound where we unloaded and got ourselves comfortable. For some of us that meant putting a mosquito net on our beds, for others that meant fixing the coffee table or just simply taking in the surroundings.
On our second day in Guitton we woke up and packed rice and beans as well as vacation Bible school (VBS) packets. We also assembled kits for expectant mothers. Once these were completed, we loaded the supplies onto the SMI truck and walked to the school for VBS. After the fun of dancing, coloring and playing games with the children we headed back to the compound and had lunch and rested. Some of us ventured out with our guides to the beach near our compound and tried fresh coconut cut from the tree and mango. These were so refreshing. Once back together, a group of us hosted a girl’s club. The men stayed back at the compound where they hosted a boy’s club. Both groups focused on biblical life lessons with other fun activities.
After eating breakfast and having devotions we made a trip to the school in Guitton to observe their daily lessons, we headed to the orphanage within walking distance that was actually one of our guides’ homes. He offered the use of his home as a temporary home for the children when their home was attacked by some men from the mountains and they were no longer safe there.
Some of our group played with the children while we were sizing them for swimsuits, everyday clothes and shoes. While visiting the orphanage we found out the children had been sleeping on hard tiles and thought that the quilts would make a softer place to sleep. Pastor Dieter and Pastor Heidi blessed the quilts for the children. Then the children sang “Jesus Loves Me” to us in Creole. After visiting the orphanage, we got to experience a Haitian market place. This was quite the experience to see how the Haitians purchase their goods. After lunch we tried to do VBS in Kamitan, a village troubled with spiritual warfare. Kamitan is also where SMI is building a new compound/medical clinic that will include a library containing the furniture that was built by another group that was with us and a few of our own. For our safety, Jeff removed us from VBS after several failed attempts to control the situation. We got on the bus and he talked to us about why he removed us, stating that it was to teach them discipline, due to them not ever being in an educational setting before. After this we had a few minutes to sit and regroup before dividing into teams to deliver rice and beans to the village. As we were delivering rice and beans, we prayed with the families according their specified needs.
Day four started with an early morning. The women loaded back up on the bus our supplies for the women’s retreat in Kamitan. Also, some of us helped Jeff with painting the clinic and mixing concrete to build a wall around the new compound.
After dropping us off at the church in Kamitan, Jeff arrived with a group of women from Guitton to help us with the women’s retreat. Pastor Heidi lead a beautiful Bible study. Mwen Pa Esklav Anko, I’m no longer a slave to fear, became the anthem for the women for the day. The women sang this in Haitian Creole. The women had beautiful voices, and it was so great to hear them sing with so much passion.
We went to the compound for lunch and returned afterwards for the breakout groups. There were four group rotations for thewomen. Amber Ervin lead a group about prayer and meditation. Gina Parker lead a group on personal hygiene. Tamara Snegosky lead a group on stress relieving stretching and Tina Thrasher lead a group on self-defense. The women had a blast laughing and bonding with each other. After dinner that evening, a few of us fell sick and went to bed. The children from the orphanage and children from the village came over to play in the compound yard. We played games with them and talked till the sun went down. It was a great evening spending time with and getting to know the children.
On our last and final day, we all went to the village of Norwash and delivered the last of our rice and beans to families. As past times we prayed with them when giving the rice and beans. It was heartwarming and joyous to see how this simple act can brighten their day. After lunch the orphanage children came to the compound where they were given their bathing suits and water shoes for our trip to Wahoo Bay Resort with the children. It was a great time to see the children splashing and playing in water that was safe. Their smiles were big and bright enough to light up anyone’s day. We took them back thoroughly exhausted with many of them falling asleep in our laps on the bus ride home. After returning from the beach, we got to see the beautiful handcrafted tables, magazine stands and examining table.
At the end of the day we met for devotions on the porch as a group. Here we reflected on the day’s events sharing how we were feeling and what we had seen and felt that day. For our last meal we ate a traditional Haitian meal. It was amazing and we were blessed. After dinner we packed up for our return trip home. In the early morning hours, the next morning, we very uneventfully flown from Port Au Prince to Miami. But once arriving in Miami, customs took forever, and Pastor Dieter, Pastor Heidi and Tony Parker missed their flight to Charlotte due to customs, TSA, and bag check. Thus, causing the three of them to sit on standby waiting for a flight home.
Taylor Rister — One of our Two Seminarians
The day before we left for Haiti, I asked my grandma if she’d hit me with her car, so I didn’t have to go. She politely declined. I was a bundle of nerves and apprehension walking into this trip, which in some ways, was a normal reaction. What I didn’t realize is that Haiti would be such a blessing to my ministry. In the week that I spent on that little island, a lot happened. I made new friends, tried new foods and learned new customs. But at the same time that I was enjoying the genuine kindness and love of the Haitian people, I was forced to look poverty, suffering and evil in the eye. In the face of such darkness, it would be easy to lose hope. The world has already lost hope for Haiti. It’s classified as a “fourth world country,” a country with no hope of recovery. I’m here to tell you that isn’t true. There is hope for Haiti, it’s just not found in policy, US aid or a new election. It’s found in God. God has not abandoned Haiti but has poured out His spirit on the people that live there.
There are hungry bellies, but there are also Christians praying over the rice and beans that they will deliver to villages. There are abandoned children, but there are also Christians opening up their homes to the smallest amongst us. There are Voodoo temples, but there are also Christians praying away evil with musical voices as soldiers of God. The Haitian Christians have not lost hope because they know that their hope is found in God. While I have always known God’s mercy and goodness to be true, I didn’t learn it’s full extent in a Sunday school class or a seminary text book. (Though those things are important!) I learned it from Haitian brothers and sisters, who know fully that no matter how bleak and exhausting and overwhelming tomorrow may seem, we can rejoice alongside our lamentation because God’s got this, and His love for His children knows no bounds.
Jodi Barkley — First Time Mission
In the days leading up to our departure, I was burdened with worry. Was I prepared for what I was about to see and do? I browsed through photos taken last year. I studied the language. I prayed. Yet, my heart was anxious. That first evening, I watched the hours go by as I sat up in my bed listening to the metal roof clamor in the evening heat. I was desperate for some sleep knowing that the next day would be busy and hot. I prayed that God would give me the strength and energy to do what I was called there to do. It was after that first day, that I had realized that God had indeed equipped me to be a light in a dark situation and he would not let me grow weary. I spent the rest of my time following God. I had decided that my “AHA” moments would come later; days, weeks or even months later after returning home.
Every day, I journaled what I was feeling, what I saw, smelled, heard, touched, tasted and what new Haitian Creole words I learned. When I close my eyes, I can smell the burning of garbage, I can feel the touch of a child’s hand, hear the sound of the girls singing Mwen Pa Esklav Anko, see the early morning sun coming over the mountain and taste the sweet juicy mangos. I felt God’s presence in each moment, even when at times it might have looked like we had been defeated by the devil. I stepped out of my comfort zone and prayed over those that we delivered rice and beans to. I watched as children got excited over crayons that were handed out. I saw the desperation in young mothers’ eyes as they talked about their fear of voodoo and the need for financial support. I laughed alongside Wilnes, a young boy, as we made fun of my nose and teeth. I held a young girl, Belle, in my arms as she fell asleep while standing in the salty water at Wahoo Bay. I befriended a young mother, Mari, whose son has swelling on his brain causing blindness and tremors. So, was I prepared for any of this? Absolutely not, but God was. Would I go back knowing what I know now? In a heartbeat.
Pastor Heidi Punt — Struggle with Spiritual Warfare
Vacation Bible school is an illusion of controlled chaos at best, no matter the cultural and geographical boundaries we may draw around it; children are children! After successfully completing VBS in Guitton, the day before, few of us expected it to be any different in Kamitan. We arrived in the village with materials and a plan in hand. With more than just a little motivation, we finally got the children sitting in a circle. It was almost immediate that I began to feel a sense of restlessness or perhaps it was urgency. It seemed I could not get our wonderful volunteers focused, needless to say, the children seemed fidgety. Finally, after what seemed like an eternity, there was a moment when God’s Word broke through the turmoil. At the exact time, three young men walked into the space and I felt like I had physically hit a solid wall of water. With all that was in me, I could not fight through the spirit of darkness that was brought into the space by those three men. Almost spontaneously and definitely simultaneously everyone in our group reacted differently; some of us had severe headaches, others felt sick to the stomach or felt like they needed to be on defense, while some even started organizing stuff.
Fortunately, Jeff summed the situation up rather quickly and removed us from the space and piled us back into the bus. Something happened that day! It was only later that night, during our devotion time, that we realized what had happened. We had experienced spiritual warfare. You see the village is not Christian yet and while there had been people there to help build stuff and play with the children, they had not gone with the sole purpose to evangelize the little children. The devil did not like it! He was not going to have us bring the love of Jesus to those children, so, through the silent presence of those three young men He brought in a cloud of darkness and disruption! What a powerful lesson we learned from that encounter. We need to go more spiritual prepared and guarded. God is our amour and His word our sword, prayer is our shield and the Holy Spirit our anchor. While we did not go back to do VBS, we did get to return and lead a women’s conference the next day and that time we were prepared, and God overcame the darkness. Something happened that day!
Pastor Dieter Punt
You have received a small sample of what happened on our six days in Haiti. Days filled with joy, hope, anxiety and even fear, but in all those times and moments we learned to trust that God has our back. God has the promise of a new creation. We continue to pray for our brothers and sisters in Christ. We continue to pray God’s blessings on the people of Haiti. We continue to pray and work for God to do great and marvelous things in Haiti. God’s got this.
Thank you for your support and prayers, thank you for allowing us to be God’s hand and voice and representing you as a child of God in Haiti. – Your Mission Team from Holy Trinity Troutman- preparing our next trip for 2021.
For additional information on SMI Haiti or to learn how you can partner, please visit: www.smihaiti.org