by Tanner Van Maanen, trip participant with MH4H

Today was a big work day; we began the day by starting various jobs that we have been continuously working on throughout our time in Haiti. The females of the group have taken on the challenge of caulking the windows and doors in the dorm. We’re hoping this helps with mosquitoes; they really love American blood. The males have been building shelves for the depot (storage garage), the cook’s storage room, and the main dining room. We didn’t work too long, because we didn’t want to miss helping pour a cement floor in a house that MH4H recently built for a rural family.

When we got to the house, they were just about ready to pour the floor. A couple of us jumped in and helped carry buckets full of cement, water, or rocks. My dad was talking a little bit to Burns, MH4H’s construction coordinator, about the house and family. Burns told us that the deal was that MH4H would buy the material, but the family had to help with the house and get the material that MH4H had purchased. It was a really cool way to get the family involved in the work, rather than just giving them a handout. It is so beneficial to involve them and put some responsibility on them.

The brand spanking new compound that we stay in has been built almost entirely by locals. Not only does this provide jobs and an income, but it gives them ownership. They take pride in their work, and instead of the Americans doing stuff for Haiti, we are working with them and building relationships.

I did an internship with Pella Corp. through my school, and one of the department managers who ran a line in the factory told me that he was a history major in college and going into his job, he knew absolutely nothing about manufacturing. He told his crew on the first day that his only purpose was to support them and their needs. He was there to serve them.

When it comes to Haiti, we will never truly understand their culture or poverty in general, but God does, and it is an amazing opportunity to be able to be the hands and feet of Jesus to the people of Haiti.

We soon left the house and headed back to the compound, because the women had prepared a craft for the Thrive for Five program. It was a great experience to see all the little kids and their parents, usually the mother, gather in the Thrive for Five building. It was so fun to talk to all the mothers; for some reason they think Americans are really funny. Thrive for Five is an awesome program that gives children an opportunity to excel in life. Every child deserves the same opportunities that we in the U.S. have been blessed with.

The rest of the day we continued our various work projects and got a lot accomplished including cleaning out most of the depot, which was a huge job. At night, we sat around the table and shared how we were feeling about the trip. A conversation with Zeke yesterday really stuck out to me. We were talking to Zeke, MH4H’s community director, about how he got involved with MH4H and his childhood. He told us about his schooling and how he had a sponsor family when he was a boy so he could go to school. Without that sponsor, he probably would never be where he is at today. (Want to sponsor a child? Click here for more info!)

Zeke is such a great leader to the people of Haiti, and it really struck me because I often hear people comment on how one person can never make a difference, or that the problem is too big in Haiti. But the truth is that God is bigger than all of our problems or the poverty in Haiti, and He invites us to be a part of all the wonderful things He is doing.

God is so good.

Want to learn more about this team’s trip in Haiti? Click here to go back to the very start of their trip!