Day 2 of the shared experiences of the film and media team working to document the stories of the people being transformed in the community of Pignon by the work of MH4H.
Photo contibutions by John Essary, Josh McCausland and Rob van Beek
6:00am and we start our day and get ready for devotions on the Sylvain campus. Most of us have been up since 5. The animals outside are noisy and won’t let us sleep. I remember that Heidi, Christi and Craig deal with this daily. We are ready by 6:45am and move outside to the motos. I ride on the back of a bike that is being driven by Jean-Rene. He smiles as we board the motorbike with him. “Mwen Zami” he says. “My friend”. We weave around the potholes as we pass kids walking to school and adults carrying supplies. Massive bundles of wood on donkeys, huge baskets and bowls on many ladies heads are normal here. The air is crisp and the smell of fire lingers in the air.Riding the roads of Pignon on motorbikes
The short trip gets us to the campus and seeing it for the first time we are stunned at how much has been done already. Five months ago this land was empty. Now it is a hive of activity as workers arrive to cook, farm and build.
Equipping Center is almost complete Equipping Center from the side. The Gazebo to the left.
We are here for morning devotions, and the friendships that Craig and Christi have cultivated are bringing people together. They have been very intentional in making sure the Haitians are running the study. Fely is distributing the Creole Bibles and song books. Rosita and Irena walking in smiling and sharing in greetings. Woody, Appolon and Claudin arrive and hug. Kalou the campus security guard has started coming because he always has questions. He is reading through Romans at the moment in his Creole Bible.
Appolon leads the study and does a fantastic job and everyone is engaged. They are currently working through Luke. The gospel is being shared daily.
We finish and Jean-Rene takes us over to Rosita’s kitchen, she was employed to cook for the workers. Her kitchen is out in a field and under a tree right near the Equipping center. Rosita works hard and we watch her prepare the meal as smoke starts curling out of her cooking fire. She gave her life to Jesus 3 weeks ago. She doesn’t speak English but we can see the joy in her smile.Rosita cleans and prepares for cooking
Next is a tour of our agronomy fields. The plantain trees are waist high and growing strong. There has been barely any rain in Pignon for months now and that is unusual. But somehow God is sustaining the crops and the people at the campus are thankful. We watch as 4 Haitian men bend low to harvest the peanut crop. The plants don’t look like much but when you pull them from the rich red earth, little groups of peanuts cling to strong roots and gleam white in the sun. The men give them a shake and place them in piles. They need to be dried.
Peanut and Plantain fields Harvesting peanuts A worker holds the peanuts they are harvesting About how many peanuts you get from one plant
We move into the goat pen find our goats. They are hiding somewhere in the overgrown scrub. We have to jump a barb wired fence to get in, which is hard to do with all our equipment, but we want to find those goats! We find them eventually as they scatter into the scrub. They are healthy and well.
Soon we meet with Claudin, our campus agronomist. He shows us with pride the lush green cabbages that are blooming like giant flowers. He tells us how important all this is and emphasizes benefit this food has for the kids in Thrive for 5. “The community needs this. God has been good.”Claudin working in the cabbage patch
Next we visit Kalou and his house. As the campus security guard he lives right by the entrance. He has a wife and 9 kids. His wife explains that she is so happy that Kalou can have a job where he doesn’t have to travel anymore. The kids now see him all the time. We are starting to see the individual impact that Many Hands is having in the community. Work means so much to Haitians but God is providing Kalou something more. So much more.Kalou, one of the regular faces on the Sylvain Campus
We head back to the dorm and enjoy an amazing lunch prepared by Beatris. She has a smile as she finishes her preparations and rings the lunch bell. The bell means that it’s time to drop what you are doing and come together to be thankful. We pray and eat.
After lunch we have a long afternoon planned; we are visiting people’s homes. We take 4 motorbikes and make our way along the rough roads to Tibens house. He is someone we heard might need a new cement floor.Josh and I swamped by some local boys on the way!
After turning down several dirt roads and tracks we arrive. We aren’t prepared for what we see. Tibens and his family are waiting out the front. His house consists of sticks and mud crowned with a rusty scrap metal roof. His 3 kids have no clothes. Each of their noses are running and their son looks listless.
Tibens himself is quiet, wondering why we are there, cameras in tow. We explain we want to see their house and ask them questions. They are willing to do so. Even in this squalor they are gracious hosts. Tibens invites me to go inside. I find myself standing in a 6×7 room. A table, small shelf, and two beds covered in dirty sheets adorn a dirt floor. That’s the entire house. Tiben’s son in now lying in his bed. He barely responds to me when I try to smile at him.
Tibens and his family outside the house that he built The family inside their home Tibens son laying sick in bed
We are moved. Tears start to blur each of our eyes. Tibens is known by Craig and Christi. They know that he is trying his absolute best for his family; this is not always the case with fathers in Haiti. He built this house with scraps after being kicked off his uncle’s land. No-one should live like this. We decide to change that.
Craig and Christi start talking to Tibens. Soon you can see him go quiet. Craig tells him we aren’t going to give him a new cement floor, but that we are going to build him a house. They are moved. It takes 15 minutes for the news to sink in. Soon Tibens is laughing for joy. God led Craig and Christi here to be His hands and feet. God has not forgotten Tibens and neither will we.Tibens with Craig and Christi after they break the good news!
We say farewell and go to visit others who have had cement floors put in. What a stark contrast. The kids are healthy and smiling and each person is grateful. They understand how life saving these floors are.
We visit 3 other houses that afternoon and we see the same stories everytime. Widows who have lost loved ones. Grandparents caring for orphans. People in such need. A need for loving kindness and hope. I am now starting to understand more keenly “How beautiful the feet of those who bring the Good News”.
A widowed mother and her daughter who received their floor a year ago John shows the inquisitive kids how his camera works Teme and his mother who received a floor. Teme works to lay floors for other families now.
It is late when we get home. We are physically and emotionally drained. The needs in Haiti are real and urgent. I’m understanding the Many Hands vision statement: “Making God real in a broken world.” This is indeed a broken land with a people crying out. And that call is being answered.
As I get under my mosquito net and get in bed, my mind inevitably drifts back to Tibens. My prayer is that God will move us to reach out to everyone like Tibens. To bring them the Gospel in word and deed and bring hope for the future.