Day 3: Saturday, March 15

Written by Courtney Nikkel, MH4H trip participant

Today was a very full day! We left the compound at 5 am to go climb Mt. Pignon.  With flashlights and headlamps in tow, we plowed our way through brush to get to an amazing view.  When we finally reached the top, we sat on the little concrete structure at the very top of the mountain and marveled at God’s beauty in the land of Haiti.

Part of the group on top of the radio tower structure on top of Mt. Pignon.

Next was the market in Pignon, where we hustled through the throngs of Haitians bartering and buying.  As we walked through the streets, children started to surround us as usually happens when “blancs” (white people) walk through.

The market is a busy place on Saturday!

After seeing and smelling the things of the market, we started walking towards the river.  As we walked, we collected more and more children who joined the crowd or grab one of our hands.  In Haiti, there is such a sense of community as you just walk through the streets like everyone else.  During the walk, we got Creole lessons from Aben, a teenage boy who likes to practice his English while helping us with our Creole.  A pretty good trade I’d say!  Even with our few basic phrases of Creole, it is amazing how much we can communicate with the kids and make them smile and laugh.  We stopped at a rum factory along the way and got a tour from the owner.  It was fun to see him light up as he talked about his work.

When we got to the river, all the kids led the way, jumping and splashing and throwing Frisbees in the river.  Jimmy, a little Haitian boy who is like a little energizer bunny and needs to run a couple laps around the town to even put a dent into his energy supply, practiced his kung fu with me that we learned from Kung Fu Panda last night (the movie we showed at Pella Christian).  The river really is a special place for all the people of the community to just hang out on a Saturday.  All the moms get together, talk, and wash clothes, while the kids play in the water.  The men drive their trucks into the water and wash them (even the inside!). Some even take baths.

The river is the source of life and social activity in Haiti.

After leaving the river, we saw Pido Pierre’s photocopy shop, where he makes copies for people for a living. We also just hung out with the kids – talking, hugging, and teaching each other games.  Our Creole is getting better everyday!

After going back to the compound for lunch, we put a second coat of paint on the compound walls and painted the doors green.  It started to rain and Carrie and I were hoping for a rainbow, since we had just explained the meaning of rainbows to the kids at Pella Christian with our bible story of Noah.  And after journaling, Carrie pointed to a bright rainbow right above Mt. Pignon!  A great end to our day was praying for Zeke and Babe after dinner.  The cooks and Woody are next!

Written by Bryan Nikkel, MH4H trip participant

As Courtney has already told you, we had a very full day today.  This is my second time to Haiti, so it was full of “second” experiences, but also some “firsts” for me. A first was climbing Mt Pignon.  Last time we were here, I didn’t climb it, but this time I decided to take on the challenge and I’m glad I did.  When we lived in California, I always loved the mountains and although Cindy (my wife) loved them too, she preferred the ocean.  I was reminded that there’s nothing as awesome in God’s creation as a mountain view.  Another first was building benches for the Thrive for Five program.  Steve and I got Noah and Zak involved in this project and they did a great job.

Seconds for me included the market, the rum factory, the river, and catching tarantulas at the Minnesota house. This was the first time however, that the kids let them crawl on their hands (thanks to Larry Madole for demonstrating that!).

Haylee and Morgan playing wth tarantulas in the Minnesota/Iowa/Mission House compound. Morgan gets kudos for letting the tarantulas crawl on her. Wow.

One of the benefits of doing things the second time is that you can focus on different things this time.  Since I wasn’t focused on taking in all the new experiences and scenes, I could observe the people better.  I watched the “first timers” in our group as they took this all in.  I watched the Haitian people in the market to see their reactions to us.  I watched the little children as they clung to our teenagers.  In almost all examples, I saw the joy of our Maker spilling out from his “creatures”.  Thank you for your prayers, they are coveted.

Bryan praying with one of the families in Pignon/Savanette.