Lindsey Overton, a Mango Tree volunteer, shares why she came to Haiti and the impact her first week has had on her. 

To say, “I’m pumped!” to be in Haiti right now is an understatement. I decided to cash in my points from volunteering at the Mango Tree. In April 2014, I was contemplating volunteering at The Mango Tree  in Oskaloosa, Iowa and I just wasn’t sure. I decided not to, because I’m just so busy! God kept prodding me along and I finally went to an orientation with Liz Clarke. I was hooked. What an amazing organization! I wanted to be a part of it in any way I could. I began lovingly calling the store The Mango and became part of the Wednesday night crew (along with a few other shifts).

Soon enough, I recognized how much of a hand God had on Liz’s life. I felt God calling me to be her friend, so ok! That was an easy decision. We became fast friends with so many points in common with our current walk with God. When she was asked to move to Haiti in January 2015, I was happy she was becoming a missionary and oh so sad to lose such a wonderful friend.

I have been a believer for 11 years now and wanted to be a missionary since day one. I have pursued training and multiple avenues to make it happen, but God is keeping me in the States… not just the States, but He asked me to move back to my home town. I thought I was on my way out of the country after moving to Washington, DC back in 2005. That was just not the case! I am humbly moving in to a new phase of life where I am embracing one of my skills: encouragement. I made a decision before coming to Haiti that I was not going to look for ways to move here, but to be an encouragement to the missionaries. OK! Here I go.

I have coordinated the Perspectives on the World Mission Movement class twice in DC and one of the important take home points is how we can all be involved in missions no matter where we are in life. 1. GO! 2. Pray 3. Welcome (help them adjust when they are home for a visit) 4. Mobilize (help others catch the vision) 5. Send (encourage them with letters, packages, $, etc.). Although I want to GO! God is telling me I need to work on the other areas first. I have decided to encourage people in the field who are working so hard to spread the Gospel.

Grocery store in Port Au Prince

Grocery store in Port Au Prince, buying lots of baby formula for Thrive!

Why did I even come to Haiti? I wanted to see first hand what Liz’s life is like here as she is striving to make the Do Something Concrete project a success. How can I be more specific with my encouragement and prayers? WOWIE! Have I been blown away. Can you believe this lady has learned to speak Creole so well in only four months? Can you believe she has helped change the lives of thousands of Haitians? Everywhere we go, people young, old, men, and women are drawn to her and are seeking her attention. They receive a hand shake, Bonjour!, and a welcoming smile as the conversation begins.

The Crew

God is moving mightily here in Haiti through this Many Hands team. Each day ends with me thinking it was a perfect day. It’s been hot, rainy, dusty, smelly, buggy, bumpy, but, I have felt so close to God as I see His hand moving through the people here.

One of my passions focuses on children with disabilities. Liz and I walked down the road one day last week to deliver baby formula to Baby Nadia. (Heidi left Liz in charge while she is on furlough) Her mother is very sick and her family is struggling to take care of both the baby and mom. We spent some time with the family and enjoyed them. As we walked back to the house, children came pouring out of the woodwork to walk with us. Of course, we were all hand in hand moving as a unit. We passed one house and a lone girl was sitting inside of the cactus fence. She was smiling and waved at Liz. As we walked in to say hi, all of the children with us came too. The little girl’s name is Jezula and she has some form of cerebral palsy. She can not walk and will be getting a PET cart soon. Her face was overcome with surprise as all of these people came in to visit her! We spent a few minutes talking to her and I hope she felt encouraged and loved as we left.

Witnessing God’s providence – Baby Nadia growing Baby Nadia and Neighbor Kids

One of the most impactful things I have noticed is the lack of joy in this country on the faces of adults. Everyday, I scan the faces we pass searching for joy in their eyes. I have found a few people here are there. One of them I lovingly call Dimples, because I can’t think of his name fast enough. He hopes to be a pastor one day and will be starting Theology school in the fall. He and I discussed joy in the culture and he agreed that people do not have it. He and I prayed for the unexplainable joy that only God can give to penetrate the lives of the people here regardless of their struggling and suffering. That continues to be my prayer every day.

I have seven days left and I am soaking in everything as I try to learn a few new words each day. The phrase for today: Mwen vle mango. (I want mangoes). I am loving mango season and mango moments each day with Liz and her wonderful crew: Jean Ronel and Jean Rene. I can’t wait to start exploring Thrive in the next week and getting to know the other areas of MH4H.

Mango Moment