It’s good to be home. To sleep in my own bed, next to my husband, and away from those nasty creepy crawling things that kept the covers over my head each night! To be greeted way too early in the morning by little faces that missed me in place of feeling my way in the dark because the electricity had gone out again. But as much as I’m grateful for home, I’m grateful for my time spent in Haiti. This is my fifth trip since 2011 and each return brings me both encouragement and sadness. I’m encouraged by the progress I see as the country slowly rebuilds itself after the devastation of the earthquake, the resolution of the Haitian people as they make lives for themselves and their families, and the warm smiles that always welcome me at the gates of the orphanage in Gonaives. Still though, I can’t help but feel sorrow with those who suffer at the hands of corruption, neglect, and disease in ways that seem so distant from my life here at home. This trip was no different.
On Thursday, March 19th, a team of 7 women took off for Gonaives, Haiti. Our primary purpose was to assess the progress and needs of the orphanage. As most of you know, TOG is new to the sponsorship program. Along with doing some initial footwork that we hope will lead to a more efficient administration of the program, much of our time was spent updating photos and gathering information on all the children.
The kids look well. Thanks to such generous donors, we were able to collect well over our goal of $500 for medicine. We purchased all the meds in Haiti except a few we that we knew we could not get there. We were able to give a very large, much needed stock of antibiotics, Tylenol, medicated ointments, bandages, and deworming medicine to the orphanage we support. With the excess, we also were able to help out a small orphanage in the city and a local school.
As God continues to remind me, He is able to give above and beyond my expectations. We knew before we left that we had more than what we could responsibly spend on medicine for the orphanage without contributing to waste due to expiration and storage capabilities. We began praying even before we left that God might show us a specific medical burden that we could ease, whether great or small. One of the team members was raised in Haiti and her parents continue to serve in the city of Gonaives. Their contribution to the success of our trip cannot be overstated. It was through her father that we learned of a pastor in the area who had gone through his bible institute. The pastor and his wife have lost 3 children to disease and now their 18-month old baby has been diagnosed with cancer. Surgery and continual clinical visits have taken their toll on the family and they now owe $1600 in medical debts. We began to pray about this need and I prayed that we might be able to meet them before we left. After church on Sunday, it was brought to my attention that the mother and baby were there. As we believe God is at work in all things, we were introduced to this sweet lady and her baby. Table of Grace gave $800 to pay off half of their medical debt. We would like to work toward raising additional funds to pay off the remaining debt.
Over the past month, the TOG staff has been praying for wisdom in running the Care program in a manner that is both efficient and accountable. We have prayed specifically for direction in food delivery to this particular orphanage. That direction became clear as we visited a food delivery service centered not far from the orphanage in Gonaives. After meeting the staff, and experiencing a few ‘it’s a small world’ moments, we are moving forward in using this organization to deliver food to the orphanage every other week.
Some of you may remember collecting money for Wilbert and his twins. His wife died unexpectedly right after giving birth 3 years ago. TOG partnered with Pathway Church, Hazelwood Baptist Church, and Lot127 to help raise funds for him and secure a down payment for land. We were able to visit his property and see the progress he has made on his one room house! He is so excited!
We were also able to reconnect with a few other existing ministries and people working in Haiti, praying with them and over their ministries. I am always encouraged by the witness of the faithful and the Love they represent.
With each trip to Haiti, I am humbled and encouraged by all that God wants to teach me. I find myself too easily feeling overwhelmed by the many needs I see around me. Sometimes, or more honestly most times, I feel small and insignificant when I compare what I think I can do to the outstanding work that others have given their lives to. I struggle to know my purpose and the impact that I leave. This trip reminded me, in the little things, that it was never my work to begin with. God uses all who are willing, both the landowner with stature and a boy with some bread and a few fish, to bring beauty and life to this world. It is not our goal to change Haiti. Our goal is to be faithful. If I am faithful in showing the love of Jesus to the few people that God has brought before me, I have succeeded in my purpose. Jesus doesn’t ask us to save the world. He asks us to do what we can, to love, to serve, to trust. He doesn’t promise it will be easy or free of trouble. He does promise, however, that when we pass through the water He will be with us; and when we walk through the fires, we will not be burned; and that it is He, the one who has called us, that is faithful. He doesn’t call everyone to Haiti or to Africa or to do what the world may deem “great things.” But I do believe He asks all of us to use our freedom to serve one another in love. I’m learning that He can use me wherever I am if only I am willing. I came across this quote recently, “great people do not do great things. God does great things through surrendered people.” From the perspective of a not-so-great person, I find that comforting.
Special thanks to Lindy Scott for taking so many beautiful pictures!