The team are challenged by their work and experiences as they bring joy through the Color Blast but are also confronted by the stark realities in Haiti. Lori Taylor shares:
Cindy and Calista just prayed with me, and for me, as I search for words to write this blog.
For those of us “newbies”, this trip to Haiti has been full of “firsts”. But the entire country of Haiti experienced a “first”. On day 3 of our trip, MH4H hosted the 1st Annual Colors of Hope Color Blast! One hundred local young people, ages 15-25, were invited to participate in a race, running from Pastor Francois’ church in Pignon, through the town, and ending at the Many Hands compound in Sylvain.
At four stations along the route, paint powder was sprayed on the runners. Posters with inspirational sayings had been thoughtfully and artistically drawn by Maddie, Emily and Carly, with help from some of the Haitian staff. By the time the runners reached the compound, their arms and legs were as colorful as the tye-dyed t-shirts we gave them!
Making the posters for the race Filling up the squeeze bottle with paint powder One of the color stations along the route
Before the race started, bananas, peanuts and juice was given to all. Pastor Francois prayed for the group and gave them a short message. After the race, Heather and Mercy gave a short message about how the race compares with our attitude towards life, and our relationship with God. Songs were sung, before delicious rice and beans were served to all. As the runners left, drawstring bags with a solar powered light and Creole Bible were given to each one. It was a terrific success, due to Karmen’s and Shelly’s organization and planning, and God’s blessings on everyone involved! Leftover paint powder has already been earmarked for the 2nd Annual Race!
In the afternoon some of the team went to the market with Christi to experience the sights and sounds, and smells! I will never complain about the grocery store being busy again! Later, Christi took a few on a hike up the hill overlooking Pignon.
After supper, the community was invited to movie night! “Open Season” was projected on a screen in the equipping center, in French with English subtitles! The Haitian boy seated next to me wanted to know if the animals in the movie really existed…squirrels, skunks, porcupines and beavers. I thought about how in some ways “our world” is so very different than “their world”. BUT, right before the race this morning, Pastor Francois led the kids in singing “How Great Thou Art” in Creole. In that moment, our world got very small, and we all worshiped the same, very big God.
The following morning we worshiped with Jean-Jean and Kristi Mompremier. The service was in Creole, of course, but some of the songs were familiar (I Have Decided to Follow Jesus), and Jean-Jean announced the Bible verses in English, so we could follow along…sort of. The congregation was so enthusiastic, that even though we didn’t understand the words, the emotions and the physical expression of their love for God was crystal clear.Getting ready to go out into the community
After church, we delivered food to 10 families, which had been identified as the “poorest of the poor”. We also presented each home with a solar powered light, and a Bible in Kreyole. This is where words fail me. Stick homes, with mud walls and dirt floors. One room homes. One woman had not eaten in 5 days. One woman had just lost her husband and two children in the last month. One woman was blind. One was too crippled to stand. They were all so grateful that God had answered their prayers for food, but two of the elderly women squealed like children opening Christmas presents when they were given the Bible. As we were driving away, one woman ran out in the yard and yelled to her neighbors that she got a Bible!
Were any of us that excited to receive a Bible? How many of us have gone 5 days without food? Would we have been more excited about the Bible than the bags of food? Do any of us have holes in our roof, patched with plastic table cloths?
Later in the afternoon, we visited Bill and Jennifer Campbell’s orphanage. They have 30 boys and 15 girls in their care, and almost none of them are truly orphans. But they have beds, and food, get medical attention, go to school, and are taught that Jesus loves them.
How big does a heart have to be to care for 45 children that aren’t yours?
This is my first trip to Haiti. I was not totally ignorant to the poverty and third-world conditions, but my eyes were wide open today…usually with tears streaming out of them. Praying for God to use us, offering ourselves to be the hands and feet of Jesus, from the comfort of our air conditioned, padded church pew is worlds away from standing in a mud hut with a woman and her 7 children, offering her food that may last a month. Not everyone is called to be a missionary in the field…there have been times in the last few days when I’ve questioned whether I should be here. I know God is changing my heart, and my prayer is that I (and the entire team) are showing the Haitians how much He loves them and how much He desires a personal relationship with them.
Right now Haiti is in the middle of Karnaval, a national holiday that is steeped in satanic traditions. The fight between good and evil is real, and visible in the streets. But our God is a mighty God, and He reminds us “Do not fear.”
As our prayer support back home, you also should not fear. God is with us. We feel it, and we see it. From the youngest teenager on the team, to the oldest seasoned Haiti traveler, we all have felt His presence, His protection and His love.
Bondye Bon! GOD IS GOOD!