First Trip to Haiti-Part 2

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This week was an awesome experience spent with some incredible people.  I am amazed at God’s timing and His perfect plan. I have had four months of waiting, planning, and preparing for this “first step” trip.  He has challenged me and given me the faith and patience along the way for it. He has sent people to encourage me and keep me moving forward to drown out those who discouraged and were negative. He has opened doors and given me peace throughout the journey.  I’ve said this before, but this season is the most I have ever felt like I was right smack in the middle of where God wants me to be. I wouldn’t be if He wouldn’t have brought me here. I have done a great job of keeping myself really busy so I can conveniently not hear a call from God that I’m not ready for; that I’m afraid of.  I’ve gotten really good at it.  The last ten years, I’ve heard it but I never allowed it to get too loud, that way I could pretend I missed it.  I am so grateful to God that He didn’t let me keep spinning my wheels. I am so grateful that He was gentle with me as He woke me up.  As He quieted the relationships, jobs, circumstances, and materials around me to get through to my heart. I am so glad He chose me.

Haiti is a hurting country full of beautiful spirits. The smiles on the faces of these people will melt your soul.  They are straight from the heart of God.  Your life changes forever when you are laughing and playing with a child that has no shoes on, clothes barely holding themselves together, a tent to go home to after school, with only one parent left living to take care of them and their four siblings.  I met a gorgeous little girl whose Dad was recently decapitated over a land dispute and her Mom has been so mentally unstable ever since, that she can’t take care of her children anymore.  I met more than one woman who is watching over her own family of five or six and took in two to three more children whose parents have both passed away. When you see the homes and circumstances these families live under, you can barely wrap your mind around them housing all of these kids. Yet, they are happy. They are content. This is the only life that they know. The earthquake itself claimed so many lives, that it is nearly unbearable to think about as you drive past the rubble and partially standing buildings that remain from it, and hear the stories of where and how these people lost a loved one during that horrible day almost three years ago.

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I’ve been to other countries on missions trips and there are always similarities of impoverished countries.  One thing that struck me about Haiti though, is how generous and caring they are. I was told so many stories of helping hands and was able to witness many.  Instances like getting a vehicle completely stuck in an open manhole and fifteen people immediately rushing over to pick the truck up out of it and make sure they’re not hurt. I witnessed things as small as giving a few pieces of a snack to a child and watching them share it with as many others as they could.  These loving people are so generous with everything.

One of the biggest blessings on this trip was getting an opportunity to see a quality organization and how they operate daily on the ground in Haiti.  The organization I went with is called World Wide Village and they been operating in Haiti since 2001.  Though they have worked with many organizations over the years providing shoes and food and such, their main focus and purpose is to give a hand up, not a hand out. They have 85 Haitians as part of their staff on the ground in Haiti and do everything to teach, train, and empower. A few of their focuses that I was able to witness this week are Christian Education, clean water, housing construction, and economic development.

It was a treat to be able to work alongside some their Haitian staff this week.  We spent a lot of time at the elementary schools with our translators.  One of my favorite moments of the week came on one of those days with a gentleman named Patrick.  He was working that day to help bridge the communication gap between our team and the Haitian students. We were walking around the campus waiting for the kids to get out of school when I overheard a conversation between my team member Cheryl and Patrick.  She was inquiring about the contents of the student’s curriculum and she asked him if they teach the kids Religion as part of their studies.  His response left me speechless.  Patrick replied, “No. We teach them about their Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.”  He recognized the difference, which many of us do not.  Now, I know that that was really what Cheryl was asking, and it was just the wording she chose, but it was awesome to hear.  That is the true gospel right there.  That is what the struggling people of Haiti need to hear about.  Hope in their Savior.

Haitians are a very able, hard working people and need help to get them moving forward.  I see so much promise for these people.  I see God’s hand working and I have Hope. I have Hope past today.

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There is a way, right now that you can help.
In Haiti, 47% of the population is illiterate. An estimated 80% are termed “functionally illiterate”, meaning reading and writing skills are inadequate to cope with daily life. The average female in Haiti has attended only 2 years of formal education by age 25.  Education is a huge start to ending the cycles of poverty and helplessness for these people. If you would like to know about sponsoring one of these beautiful faces through World Wide Village for only $28 a month, please email me at CynthiaAnnFoster@gmail.com and I will forward the information to you.

*All pictures taken by me on my trip

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First Trip to Haiti- Part One

Haitian girls

Port Au Prince

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I am officially in Haiti as I write this. It seems to have been the longest road to get here but definitely intentional. I have realized so many times since I have arrived why it took so many months for God to prepare me to come here, but not at all in the ways that I would have thought.

I am well seasoned with missions trips, though it has been a few years since I was on one. I am on a team of eight people this week. There are two couples, David and Sue who are older, and a younger couple named Kyle and Cheryl Schow along with their two teenagers, Bailee and Ben. They are all from Nebraska and awesome. The older couple have been here four times before but the Schows have never done anything like this.  Being here alongside this family and their first experience has been such a blessing for me.

Sunday was our first day here and we didn’t start any real work until Monday so I wasn’t sure what to expect from that day. We went to an English speaking church and then went to a restaurant for lunch. We spent the rest of the day driving through the capitol city of Port Au Prince. The bottom two pictures above is an idea of what it looks like everywhere in this city.  It is interesting watching the Schow family and their response to the poverty. They keep saying how overwhelming it is. What is odd is how NOT overwhelming it is to me. It’s really interesting. I know I have been to foreign countries before and am not ignorant to poverty, but it’s like my heart is numb to it a little. I was talking to Kyle that night who was just seriously rocked by the things he saw that day and he asked me what I thought about it. I told him how surprised I was at my own reaction and I started really thinking about it. At first, I was worried…aren’t I supposed to be really “touched” by this?!? I mean…this is supposed to be my calling!! Where are the tears?? The gasping for breath?? When I started saying my reaction out loud, it made me think of when I used to work with Foster Kids. I always said I didn’t want to be a Social Worker because even though they’re doing it to help the kids, they have to separate themselves emotionally in order to survive doing that job. I never wanted to take the emotion and love I had for those kids away. I felt like God was pointing that out in my mind to make me realize that this has been the last 4 months of preparation. I have been really emotional about it at home but I can’t really be that way here when I think about living here. I wouldn’t survive and be as effective.  My heart is so here and with these people but I’m not paralyzed by it.

I will post again while I’m here but  if you’d like to see my pictures, here is the link to my Facebook page.
http://www.facebook.com/cynthia.ann.foster
If we are not friends on FB and you can’t see them, send me a friend invite:-) I would love to share this journey with you.