A couple weeks ago, Zach and I were able to fly to Haiti and visit Jake. We were also blessed to have a travel companion, Grayden. Grayden’s family lived at Mission of Hope (MOH) for three years and this was his first trip back since they left in the summer of 2011.
While Grayden spent most of his time with his close missionary friends on campus, Zach and I spent our time with Jake. This was our chance to visit Jake and see him in his role of being a team leader. It was also our chance to be just a team member. It was a different side of the mission I did not experience much while being on staff there.
A usual team comes into the mission to do several things that all come together to help the people of Haiti. There are always several projects to do, paint homes, prepare for upcoming events Vacation Bible School (VBS), evangelize, construction, organization of supplies, etc. We did a little of everything.
Jake had a small team of 8, including us, for the week. We normally went out with Jake, and interpreter and another Haitian who helped organize things in the villages we helped in. Anyone who has been to the mission knows John Marc.<John Marc was with us all week helping interpret and lead discussions. It was awesome to spend time with him again. He told me he had never seen the non-serious side of me. He only remembered the medical professional side. We had a lot of fun.
The other people on our team were a family from Miami, originally from the Philippines. The father was a pastor in Miami. They were an awesome family to spend time with and great Christians that helped spread the word while there. Not only did they challenge the Christian thoughts of our Haitian friends they also challenged mine!
During the week we spent a lot of time in Cabaret. That is a larger village not far from the MOH main campus. We spent a lot of time just walking through the village talking to people that were open to talking with us. I believe the villagers asked us more questions than we asked them! Some of it was light hearted fun and questions about their culture. Others became very deep and personal about their faith with Christ. We never approached it as being pushy about our own walk with Christ, just kept the door open for honest open discussions. It was amazing the responses we got from them. The usual open door question into faith came with questions about why we came to Haiti to do this. The reception was always warm and inviting. A few even brought us into their homes to show us, with a lot of pride, how they lived with Christ in their hearts. As you can imagine the people don’t live in houses as we Americans know. Most the homes we saw were in a “city type” setting, which typically meant no spaces between the homes. Some the only access was a 2 foot wide path to walk down. Everyone is very community oriented. They watch out for each other. Something I see Americans getting away from. While they seek their neighbors for support and companionship, we seek privacy with fences and not wanting to “hang out” with our neighbors. For a country living as the most impoverished country in the western hemisphere, they are a very proud people with joy in their hearts.
We also spent an afternoon painting a couple of rooms for a family who could not afford such a luxury. During the time doing this we spent time to talk to them about their home and the things in it. They, again, were proud to show us their belongings. Most items collected over many years by their family, some very precious things. We also spent an afternoon playing soccer with a group of local kids. We just went to a local church area that had an open playground and started messing around. The kids just started showing up and we played for several hours. Just loving on them and having a good time.
There were also some other work projects we did as well. We assisted in organizing some medical items and took wooden benches out to the Bersy campus for the upcoming VBS. The first day of VBS happened while we were there also. I’m not sure how many children were there but it had to have been around 200-300. They come from all the surrounding villages. MOH provides buses/transportation to and from the mission for them. They do the usual various activities and get some food to eat.
Now another fun event happened right after we got there, a surprise July 4th celebration for all the interns! Liz had an idea of doing a cookout for them and from there we set it all up. I took down frozen hotdogs, hotdog buns, and chips. With a borrowed grill, music, and some extra goodies, the interns had a great little get-a-way party for a couple of hours.
If that feels like a lot of things happening in a one week span, you’re right. This is the main reason why Jake has not blogged or even emailed people like he wanted to. His day starts around 530am and ends around 10pm. He doesn’t get many days off either. So please understand if he has not been able to connect with all of you like he had hoped to.
Yes, I also spent some time at the clinic and assisted on a few medical calls. My main time there was with Jake though. Now, let me be a proud father for a few lines. Jake has always been mature for his age. He was always very independent and a hard worker, when he wanted to be . What I saw down there is a boy who is now a man. He has grown so much in his leadership, manhood and faith. Everyone I talked to had nothing but positive things to say about his work ethic, his maturity, his willingness to just do what needed to be done without being asked, plus his leadership abilities with his peers and the visiting teams. During his childhood, I told him many times of how much I loved him and how proud I was of him. This was the first time I told him those same things Man to Man. I’m not ashamed to say we both hugged and cried. Jake, you’re an awesome man! Your faith in our Lord and Savior is amazing and I love how you share that with others. God has many works for you in the future. As Jake and I sat with some friends one night there one said, (paraphrasing) “You are very strong with God and he has made you a strong leader for Him. You will do great things”
Thanks and blessings to all of you who helped send Jake there this summer and all of you who continually pray for him and his works there.