Doug, with the Aberdeen team, shares of his worst fear as the time for his mission trip to Haiti drew closer. When he arrived, he recognized that his preconceived ideas of the country extended beyond spiders. Keep reading to discover how Doug has been challenged to view his surroundings with new lens.

Have you ever seen a spider? Not one of those little ones who make a web in the corner of your garage, but a BIG, HAIRY, MULTI-EYED WHOPPER! Yeah, me neither. But my biggest fear in coming to Haiti was that one of those buggers would attack me in my bed and send me home paralyzed on my left side for the next 6 weeks. You know what? That’s not going to happen. I don’t even think there’s a spider that has venom that does that.

You see, I had an idea about spiders, specifically about Haitian spiders, but while I have seen 2 big ones, they are nothing that are going to harm me, or send me home early.

I also had an idea about Haiti before I came here, but nothing could prepare me for the sights, sounds, smells, tastes and touch of Haiti.

When we were arriving I was not ready for the smells that immediately hit. The sickening sweet smell of rum stills. The oddly Haitian smell as you enter into the dirt-floored homes. Even the water has a distinct and indescribable smell. The smell of motorcycle exhaust as they beep-beep and pass you on the gravel roads. The smell of frying plantains in the market.

Then there were the sights. The sun scorching high in the early afternoon sky. (I see why many areas take siestas) The people walking along the road, many of whom are women adeptly balancing on their heads piles of laundry, giant tubs of water, or whatever else they had to get from one place to another on those motorcycle infested roads. There are men sitting and chatting, standing and chatting, and walking and chatting. All around a friendly people willing to smile and wave from the youngest to the oldest. There are children unashamedly bathing naked in the river as you cross precariously a bridge that Indiana Jones himself wouldn’t dare traverse. (Yes, that is where the loose board is. Thanks for showing us, Kevin…and not falling through the hole.) There is the crowded market full of animals (What a CUTE pony, Miranda! NO, you can’t bring it home!), shops (Maybe the guys and girls SHOULD have split up eh, Anthony?), and CROWDS of people and motorcycles pushing their way through. (Did Doug fall behind again? It’s okay, Miguel has him.)

There are the tastes. A bread served at each meal by our cooks that is amazingly tasty and amazingly versatile as it has been used for sandwich bread, french toast, and garlic bread. Best when warm, but great any time. We’ve had native foods like plantain, coconut, and mangos. (which grow on the trees here on campus) We’ve had rice, an amazing gravy for it, and SPAM! (I know, but it’s MY blog post sand I LOVE it, guys) We’ve tried pops like Limonade (pronounced Lee-mo-nahd), a Fruit Champagne (Think Sparking grape juice that tastes like Banana Laffy Taffy. Right, Mo?) and Coca Cola from Haiti.

The sounds are constant. Cicadas droning through the night. Bats that cheep just to let you know they’re there. Gnats buzzing in your ear. Donkeys and Mules braying before dawn, and roosters joining the chorus. Guard dogs that bark through the night to scare off the chickens. (And run off with your shoes, Trey) There is the chorus of Haitian pre-schoolers here on campus practicing their song for their program on Wednesday, and the praises of a small church singing of and to their Savior in worship this morning accompanied by an accordion, a homemade kazoo, and an auto-tune device created by what looked like scraps from a motorcycle engine. (At least that’s what Anthony thinks) Motorcycles buzzing, music playing, people talking.

And then there’s the touch. I was warned before coming to Haiti that my personal space would be invaded. (and not only by spiders) It would be by a people who touch. They hug, handshake, cheek kiss, shoulder grab, sit on you. (Austin, you’re just a big teddy bear!) And if you get in the back of a Toyota pickup to ride somewhere (Watch OUT for the GATE, Tracy. Too late. Sorry.) you will be touched by someone, whether sweaty Kevin or Doug, one of our guides who usually sit in a place where they are resting on your leg or shoulder or lap (Seriously, Austin. You ARE a big teddy bear!) or you have someones leg in your back, foot in your side, or face in your armpit. (You hope not the other way round) Kids come up and hug you, mostly around the waist, except Miranda and Trevor who see eye to eye with most. (Are all of you over 15? I don’t know, Miranda. Are you?)

But the touch that was not anticipated was the touch to the heart that has happened since being here in Haiti. For all of the fear of spiders, nothing could keep me from being here with these people. Orphans with whom we played for an hour, but were touched by for a lifetime. The pastor and his staff who dedicate themselves to raising these children. A church of Haitian believers led by a young man whose passion could be heard in his Creole praises to His Father in Heaven. Families in homes where mattresses and food was delivered. And the young man named Richelon whose passion and heart for his people is evident in his sacrificial giving and desire to minister to them with his whole life. The young men who lead us each day and translate for us, who are just young men wanting to make a better life and use their time to serve God in this way. Each family and person you see and meet along the way each and every day as you travel along the road, go to their homes and meet them in the markets. Each smile, each wave, each Bon Jou (Wait! Is it Bon Jou, Amanda?) from these friendly people touch you and make you realize, God is here in Haiti too.
You see, I expected to find spiders here, but what I found was God at work. Was I surprised? No. Maybe, just a little at how MUCH He is here. This land is not infested with spiders, it is abundant with people desiring to show God’s love. I am but a small part of it, but isn’t that how God works. We are all small parts of His grand work, but each one doing what God has faithfully called us to do will change the world for Him. And for this week I and my team have been called to touch and be touched by the people of Haiti.

I kind of want to see a spider now, though. (Seriously, Ame!)


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