We are back in Haiti after a two and a half week unplanned exit from Haiti due to violent protests and civil unrest in parts of Haiti. We did not want to leave but agreed that it was the best decision at the time given the situation and other circumstances. We are now glad to be back and especially thankful that the protests and unrest have subsided, hopefully for a long time. These types of things have been a part of Haiti’s remarkable but tragic history for 225 years. Being that the time since our last newsletter has been so fragmented, this month’s Kairos update will be on the shorter side.
Many people ask us when they see us how things are going for us in Haiti and the response has been this; “We have not been surprised by anything. We hoped and assumed that it would be really good and it is. And we assumed it would be really hard and it is.” There are daily joys and daily challenges that we have to believe exist in every long-term mission setting. If it were all rosy all the time there would not be a shortage of missionaries in the world.
One of the biggest challenges we face almost daily, and one that is very difficult to navigate, has to do with demonstrating love and care for Haitians in tangible ways without creating, or at least adding to, a dependence on us (or others like us) for things. This is true for adults and children alike. Here is an example; Last Saturday we went to the market (which is an experience in itself for sure) to buy our groceries, produce mostly, for the week. Within a couple minutes of arrival a young Haitian boy who was about 10-12 years old began to follow us. He followed us everywhere we went and did what he could to be helpful. This included offering to carry a bag, moving us out of the way of a wheelbarrow or motorcycle that was coming close to us, etc. At one point he seemed to be hinting that he wanted us to buy him something. Herein lies the tension.
Part of us wants so much to purchase a drink or a small bag of peanuts as a way of saying “Thank you” for helping us in the market. But part of us knows m(or at least thinks) that if we do, he’ll be looking for us EVERY week to show up to do it all over again. And we wonder if the other 10-15 Haitians (young and old) who saw us purchase that drink and food will be circling us and wanting/expecting the same treatment. And next time we might have 5-10 “followers” in the market trying to be helpful.
Another example is right in our campus as we interact with any number of our 52 Haitian staff members. How do we share from our abundance (relative but a legit description when comparing with what most Haitians don’t have) without setting some sort of precedent and expectation that this is what we will always do. This is such a dilemma for us and we are doing are best to learn from our colleagues who have been here longer than we have to teach us how best to handle these kinds of situations. It is a learning process for sure and we are grateful for great fellow expats who we live and work with and who are willing to share what they have learned and how they operate in these situations. The language barrier continues to be a factor too and adds to the challenges we face daily. It’s coming but slower than we’d like. Not because of desire or effort but rather because of age. Ha ha.
Shelly enjoyed a visit from her mom in early February. She continues to develop new ideas and spaces for people to pause, reflect, and consider. One of her goals for the next few weeks is to begin to meet one-on-one with some of our Haitian staff to begin to form relationships and to encourage them in their work and spiritual formation. She is so good at this and God is using her gifts in establishing things like the prayer path guide that you read about last month, a new staff prayer guide, and designing new spaces on our campus where people (staff and guests) can just be and let God….
Darryl is busy working on a few agronomy-related projects (two that are brand new) as well as overseeing the education aspects of the MH4H ministry. We just distributed the last of 63 pregnant goats to parents in our Power to the Parents program. They were very, very happy and grateful. That was fun! Darryl is also working on hiring new educational staff to cover an upcoming maternity leave as well as hiring of new teachers and helpers for the next school year. He is also beginning to work on the details for the graduation ceremony for our very first graduating preschool class in June.
Please keep praying for Haiti, for Many Hands for Haiti, and for us. Here are some specific prayer requests for the month.
- For continued peace in Haiti which will happen if the Haitian government continues to make the right selfless decisions on behalf of the people.
- That with this continued peace the Level 4 Travel Advisory can be lowered which will allow teams to start coming again (we have not had a team here since mid February).
- For health and safety and protection for us and for all of our colleagues (American and Haitian).
- For patience and determination as we continue to learn the Creole language.
- For the MH4H ministry in general and that our mission and vision can be realized through our work and that God’s Kingdom may come and His will be done in this part of the earth, as it is in heaven.
Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! We are so appreciative of the love and support that we feel from you every day. We love receiving your messages, texts, cards, and calls. Thanks for reading our updates and for your faithful prayers. This is truly “our” mission field. Shelly and Darryl might be the ones who were sent but you people are our senders and we would not be here, or survive here, without your love and support.
UNTIL NEXT MONTH…