SHEPHERD OF THE LAKES
What I Learned in Haiti
By Pastor Dave Martin
Our mission trip to Haiti didn’t magically transform the country. It didn’t forever change the people in the suburb of Simon Cayes or radically change the faith of the people in the church where we ministered for five nights. But I daresay it radically changed the four of us, who went on that trip. God taught us a lot. The paragraphs that follow are my attempt to share three things God taught me.
The first thing I learned was that Haiti was not quite the hellhole the media made it out to be. Yes, there was still amazing devastation in the area that had been the earthquake’s epicenter. Yes, there were still massive problems with the country’s infrastructure. And yes, there was still evidence of the prevalence of voodoo in the country. But there was also an irresistible beauty about that ravaged land and about its downtrodden people. You could see a spirit of resilience in the people of Haiti—a spirit that kept them persevering in the face of overwhelming challenges. There was something in these people that kept them joyful despite their abject poverty that lent them dignity in the midst of very undignified circumstances.
The media paints Haiti as a terrifying place—and I’m sure there are parts of Port au Prince and other large cities that are terrifying. But there are also places in New York City and L.A. and Chicago and Milwaukee and countless other places in the U.S. that are equally terrifying. We found that if we just exercised basic common sense that Haiti wasn’t terrifying at all. We walked freely about Simon Cayes without Haitian escorts and didn’t experience any threats or harassment. We interacted with lots of Haitians—shaking their hands and hugging them—and we didn’t contract any diseases. We ate lots of Creole food and discovered it was delicious! (We tried to figure out a way to bring our cook, Rose, back to the States with us but were unsuccessful.)
The second thing I discovered was how faithful God is when we are willing to trust Him. I preached five nights in a row through a translator. The first night I was afraid I would get lost so I came with a prepared manuscript. There was little reaction to the message. The next four nights I preached directly from the Bible with no notes—trusting in the power of God’s Word and in the power of the Holy Spirit. As soon as the translator interpreted my words, there was immediate reaction from the congregation—lots of “Amens” and “Hallelujahs” and head nodding. The messages connected with people not because I’m a great preacher—but because God is a great God and His Word and His Spirit have power. God allowed me to preach messages from texts I had seldom or never preached from and still touch people’s lives because He knew what they needed to hear.
The third thing I learned (again) was that love needs no translation. It is evident in the faces of those who walk in it. We could see the congregation’s love for God written across their faces as they worshipped him with joyful singing, boisterous clapping, and vigorous hand waving. We could see their love for us in their hugs and their willingness to trust each one of us to pray for them. We could see the hunger for love in the beautiful faces of the many orphans we held and hugged and loved on. And I believe the people of Haiti could see our love for them—and in the end—I believe that’s the measure of a successful mission trip.
2011 starts out with an AWESOME group of men from Shepherd of the Lakes, Waupaca, and Fond du Lac Wisconsin .
Team Haiti/Waupaca-Fond du Lac takes Haiti in stride as they worked together with the Haitians. The team helped stucco school rooms; they helped fill 250 school bags with school supplies, vitamins, wash cloths (made from churches in the Wisconsin/Illinois area) tooth brush and toothpaste, soap and distribute the school bags as well as distribute (FMSC) food for the children to take home for their families; they visited and prayed over the sick at a local hospital; visited ESPWA (project Hope); Arise Haiti (who hosted a lunch for the team); fixed and installed many things for me in my home; they played and worked with the children in the community; and brought lots of love to the children at The Big House Orphanage; and at night they brought the message of "God's love" in a 4 day conference ending with a prayer call.
What a blessing they were to the people of Haiti . Thank you Pr. Dave, Dave, John and Jim.