Day 3 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
Today we were woken up by Pignon’s alarm clock: a dozen chickens calling to each other. Everyone slowly emerges from their rooms after another hot night. We are ready and soon are riding the road to Sylvain campus for devotion. The study is on the calling on Peter, and we are reminded that Jesus calls us to listen first before we take a step before him. Very pertinent to our goal for the week.
After devotion and breakfast, it’s time to meet the children of Thrive for 5. We arrive, and some of the moms are there early. The sounds of happy children are starting to fill the air. These kids are the lucky ones and we can tell. They seem much healthier than the kids we saw yesterday. There’s a runny nose or two but they all seem content. The program starts with prayer and song. The parents and children join in singing praises to God. I ask Woody to give me a rough translation, he says they are saying “God the Father is good.”
Mother praying before Thrive Woody During Thrive children play with toys to assist with their development One of our regular mothers attending Thrive Boy and girl listening to Heidi’s lesson
Soon Heidi is up the front and introducing us to the parents. We are embarrassed but everyone is very welcoming. She tells them we are taking their pictures to show everyone back home. Everyone is quiet, but Heidi tells me they are all excited. The mothers love the chance to get a photo of themselves and their child.
Isaiah 54:13 “All your children shall be taught by the LORD, and great shall be the peace of your children.” The children aren’t the only playful ones. One of the devoted dads who brings his daughter
Everyone sharing in the meal prepared for the day Many have never seen themselves in a mirror let alone through a camera
We watch as Heidi and Woody explain the bible story. You can see how engaged the adults are. Heidi has told us that every week these families are getting more and more involved. She attributes it to building trust in community and God blessing her with a sudden understanding of Creole. God is bridging gaps between us all.
Our Thrive cooks work hard each day to make over 100 meals God is blessing these children with food for body and soul Not one mouthful is wasted! Many of the children have put on healthy weight since Thrive started Heidi and her Thrive team
After Thrive for 5 is finished, we follow Louiza and her grand-daughter home. We want to see her house and talk to her about her thoughts on Thrive. We walk the cactus fence-lined back roads of Sylvain. A large group of school kids has been building up behind us. “Blanc! Blanc!” they yell and smile. We wave back. Several of them hold their hands out for us to hold them. They are very trusting and affectionate.Some of the challenges of filming in Haiti
By the time we arrive at Louiza’s house the whole neighborhood is out watching the ‘blancs’. Kids and adults alike greeting us. Heidi spots a little girl she has never seen before; she is not walking properly. We talk to her and her mother and find out she has been like this for a while. We talk and think she will be a perfect candidate for a new P.E.T. wheelchair. Going out into the community is so important.Heidi and the girl we hope to give a P.E.T. to soon
We start to set up in Louiza’s front yard, a dirt patch with a tree and canopy. We soon notice a few odd things strewn around the yard. There’s a black painted cross on a door, a giant wooden cross covered in markings and faces pitched in the middle of the yard, red and black flags adorning a tree and several human skulls surrounding the coals of a recent fire; signs of voodoo worship.Preparing for the interview at Louiza’s house
We ask if we can take pictures and explore the property. Louiza is very welcoming and invites me to go into her hut. I pull the cloth back and find a man lying on a wooden cot staring blankly at nothing. I look into his vacant eyes and say bonjour. There is no response. This is Louiza’s husband. He has had back troubles for a long while and we assume that he has taken part in a Voodoo ritual last night to cure him.
We set up for the interview. I am sitting under the wooden cross with a human skull right by my foot. I want to ask Louiza about everything we are seeing, but first we need to talk about Thrive and find out just how helpful the program has been for her. She says she has seen a huge improvement in his health and growth. She loves going and is thankful to God for the opportunity to be in Thrive. But my mind is still on those voodoo idols.
I decide to ask her flat out. “I don’t know what they are.” She tells us. It’s hard to tell if she is being truthful. Many men practice voodoo but it might not mean their wives do. We have to give her the benefit of the doubt. I then ask about the skulls in her yard and where she got them. She laughs out loud. “I like you. I like that you are interested in us,” she replies. “We got them from the graveyard.”The harsh realities of voodoo
Unfortunately this is a normal occurrence here in Haiti. Voodoo is the national religion. We wrap up the visit and thank her. We hug each other and Woody reminds her that God is real and has blessed us to be here.
And we are. Without Thrive and without our presence in Sylvain, people like Louiza would not receive the health care and spiritual care they so desperately need. It is amazing that Louiza comes all week to Thrive for 5 and hears the Gospel every day. And even if it seems hopeless, we have to remember God is a God of hope. And if we are obedient He will answer. So we will keep sharing Jesus with Louiza and pray that one day she will receive Him and set aside the idols of her life.