Bob Vaughn, a farmer from Urbandale, Iowa, has taken multiple trips to Haiti and is no stranger to the country. He recently stayed at our new campus for the first time and gives this overview of the work MH4H is diligently carrying out in Pignon.
Something new – something different. I traveled to Haiti in February with The PET Pella Mission Team. We stayed at the Many Hands for Haiti (MH4H) Campus in the community of Sylvain.
Here is the Guest House at the beautiful 5 plus acre MH4H Campus in Sylvain. Sustainable is the big word in Haiti and this beautiful building is environmentally friendly with a 36 section solar panel on the roof to provide a clean and efficient energy source for electric power and lights.Guest House
There are lots of good things going on here and these two are the glue that holds it all together. The in-country Mission Directors are Craig and Christi Gabhart, who gave up their jobs in Spencer, Iowa to become full time missionaries in Haiti.Craig and Christi
Their work motto is “to love and serve the people of Haiti and ultimately lead them to a saving knowledge of Jesus.” Their commitment,”God called us here and we will be here until He calls us back.” You know what I think? They will be there for quite some time.
The Well House is so named because it houses a 180 foot deep well that provides abundant fresh water for drinking, cooking, showers and irrigation. This is my first trip to Haiti where I could drink water just as it came from the tap. The Gazebo is the place for community and staff devotions every morning. It is also the gathering place for meetings.
The Well House The Gazebo in used for meetings and devotions
The Agronomy Training Center. This is a developing project. For now it is used mostly for storage and work-space. The team did woodworking and painting projects when not busy with other things.
Agronomy Training Center Jeff building shelves
The Equipping Center. Look at the solar panel on the roof. This is a multi-use building for Thrive for Five, leadership conferences, pastor conferences, community gatherings and worship.
MH4H calls this program Thrive for Five. I call it wonderful. It serves those who cannot serve themselves. Iowa missionary Heidi Schulte supervises this program. About 60 children and 60 caregivers gather here each morning Monday through Friday for a time of fellowship, singing, and bible study followed by a good meal. It may be the only food they have today.
Heidi (left) and Paula (right) – you can see by those smiles they are ready for a new day.
I felt so privileged to be guest speaker for Bible study Wednesday morning. Look at those attentive faces! They are so eager to hear the message!
I am a farmer and feeding the hungry is one of my passions. However, it is even better when countries like Haiti can produce their own foods. Agriculture is a very important focus for MH4H. About 2-1/2 acres is dedicated to a beautiful banana plantation. Agronomist Claudin is in charge. When the rainy season starts he will plant peanuts under the banana plants and make peanut butter for the feeding program.
When I was here in October this was a beautiful cabbage garden — the cabbage was harvested and now it’s leeks. In Haiti farming is sustainable and crop rotation is taught to provide a variety of crops and a better yield.
The goat corral — goats are the meat animal of choice in Haiti. These animals will provide both breeding animals and food for the community.
Liz Clarke is the new kid on the block. She began her mission assignment in January, and she hit the ground running. Liz supervises construction of concrete floors for the homes in the community. Most Haitian homes have dirt floors (mud when it rains). They are a breeding grounds for bacteria and disease, so this is such a great project. Liz’s team has already poured 125 floors and her goal is over 700. Seeing her enthusiasm — my guess is it will be 1000! No questions asked, no conditions to meet, the floors are laid out of love. It doesn’t get any better than that.
Jean Robert supervises the Five Loaves program in Pignon, which could best be compared to social services in the United States. He seeks out the most needy and recommends priorities, such as health care, feeding programs, personal and housing needs – just to name a few. I think Jean Robert knows everyone in the Central Plateau of Haiti. He serves them with love and compassion. Sunday we went to Jean Robert’s church. It is such a beautiful and peaceful spot in the countryside. By American standards the building lacks a few of the amenities, but who cares! You can feel the Holy Spirit there!
Saturday is market day in Pignon, Haiti. People come from miles around to sell or barter their goods. For most, that is their only or primary source of income. We didn’t buy food, we bought 21 goats. MH4H has a goat project and these pregnant female goats will be distributed to the needy in the Sylvain community. The recipient will bring the first baby goat back to the MH4H farm and then it’s all theirs for breeding or eating. Seeing the hunger and poverty, I suspect this will be a last generation animal.
The MH4H guard at the gate. I do not see a gun, but I can tell he is well armed.
The Story of a Random Act of Kindness
A Haitian lady is building this house for herself and her family. She has spent countless hours gathering the sticks and weaving them together for walls. She will “mud” these walls inside and out and this will be a sturdy home. She came to Liz and requested a cement floor. One problem, why pour a floor if you don’t have a roof? So the story continues! One of our mission team members, Harold Van Wyk, struck up a conversation with a lady, on the flight to Ft. Lauderdale. She was so pleased Harold was going to Haiti, and she gave him a $100 bill and asked him to use it as he chose in Haiti. What a better use! Harold put the $100 toward the new roof and several team members matched it until it grew to $500, just enough for the roof. I expected this story to have a very happy ending.The house with the new roof!
A Story of Love and Compassion
Here is the MH4H PET Team trip leader, Tim Van Maanen, with Wizda. I already knew Wizda because the girls in our Creekside Mission team took her under their wing when we were visiting Pignon, in October. Tim’s wife, Lucia, had developed a very close bond of love and compassion for Wizda, and her mother, Finette. The family had so very few material possessions and the mother had very many severe health problems. Here lies the rest of the sad story. Finette died suddenly a few weeks ago, and little Wizda was left in the care of her grandmother. Lucia had developed such a love for this family, she requested the funeral be delayed until she could get there. Lucia took the first available flight all the way to Pignon and was there to support little Wizda and her family in this time of need. Now you know why I call this a story of love and compassion!
My view for the month: love in action, “love your neighbor as yourself.” Your neighbor is not just the family living next door, but rather, your neighbor is everyone in the whole world that isn’t you. I saw that play out in real life this week as I witnessed the entire MH4H Pella Team love on the people of Haiti. Then I had a smile on my face as I watched our Haitian friends love them back. We in America have so much and they have so little and yet I saw that common love bind us together. I hope we can all apply this to our daily walk when we are back in the chaos of what we call “the real world.”
Teacher, which is the greatest commandment of the law? Jesus replied: “Love the Lord your God with all of your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: “Love your neighbor as yourself. All of the laws of the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” (NIV) (Matthew 22: 36-40)
This blog originally appeared on www.viewsofafarmboy.com