by Elizabeth Clarke, first time trip participant

Today was another blessed day in Haiti. This was our first full day in country, which also happens to be my 30th birthday. In preparation for the trip, I knew my birthday would fall during my week in Haiti, but I wanted to keep it hush-hush. The trip was my present; I didn’t need anything else. But God wouldn’t let me get off that easy!

The story actually starts last night when we were invited by Dr. Guy (the man who started the hospital here in Pignon) to a party at his house. There is a group of doctors and nurses visiting from the states this week. They have been helping teach the Haitian nurses and doing some surgeries. Since they leave on Saturday, Dr. Guy set up a party to thank them for their work. He invited us to the party too, since we had just arrived to town. What a treat!

When it came time for dinner, we walked up the hill to Dr. Guy’s house. On his deck sat a table full of traditional Haitian foods: seasoned rice, mixed vegetables, noodles, roasted goat, fried plantains, scalloped potatoes, pasta salad, coleslaw, and Duce to top it all off! Duce is a sweet coconut cookie, similar to a macaroon, that is so tasty! As if this wasn’t enough, a cake sat at the end of the line. And not just any cake. This was special. It was a birthday cake! There were two other nurses, one American and one Haitian, whose birthdays were also that day. My team talked to them, and they were more than gracious to allow me to celebrate by helping blow out the candles. Wow! Bondye Bon! (God is good!) What a good God we serve. Needless to say, we went to bed happy with full tummies and had a good night’s rest.

This morning, our day started with breakfast and Haitian coffee. After that, we set out on the back of a pickup for the nearby village of Savanette where the MH4H team facilitates the Thrive for 5 program. We pulled up to find around 60 babies with their mothers, patiently waiting to worship and receive a bible lesson before they were fed. For most of these children, this will be their only meal today. Nevertheless, the children and their moms joyfully sang and danced to our Lord and quietly listened as Woody shared the story of David and Goliath. After lunch, they trickled out for home. Some travel for an hour or more every day to receive this meal. Wow.

After lunch, we went for a walk across town to the MH4H Sewing Hope center. This was awesome! The program serves ten women at a time and teaches them to sew and cook. Today, the women were cutting circles out of a silky material to make little decorative flowers. The guys bought a few, and Tim Van Maanen handed them out to a few women on our way back home. He’s quite the ladies’ man; everywhere we go people remember him. Although after greeting him, the first words out of their mouths are usually, “Where’s Lucia??” (Tim’s wife).  Next, we stopped at a little store to pick up some PVC pipe for the men to build a soccer goal. We were able to get enough pipe to almost complete one goal. We would like to build four goals for the Savanette complex.

 Above: Tim Van Maanen watches as the women at Sewing Hope make flowers.

After dinner, we did a lot of debriefing. Despite our small group, we have good talks, abundant ideas, and overall unity, another blessing prepared in advance by God. Then, we did something that has never been done by any other team to Haiti before…

We went out for ICE CREAM!

Before this year, electricity and paved roads did not exist in this part of Haiti. Now that it does, people can have things like refrigerators, freezers, microwaves, fans, etc. Hence, we were able to go for ice cream. We met up with Cassidy and Heather and attracted a small crowd on the way to the shop. By the time we finished, the shop was packed! Zeke even brought his new puppy Bolton over. (If you’re wondering, yes, the dog is named for Michael Bolton!) Everyone was so kind, and they sang me Happy Birthday.I even learned how to say Happy Birthday in Creole — Bon Aniverse! Great fun was had by all.

Bolton Above: The newest member of the MH4H team, Bolton. 

Thank you Jesus for such a spectacular birthday! You have shown me that just because I am Your child, You want to lavish Your love and grace on me. You love is more than I could ever understand. You are an amazing God, and I pray the Haitian people will experience Your love through our team this week.

In Jesus’ precious name I pray.


Click here to read Tim Van Maanen’s take on day one in Haiti.