Monday, October 03, 2011

Day 1 - First Impressions of Haiti

 We arrived in Haiti at 9:00 this morning. It was a great trip –everything was smooth. Dan is fantastic to travel with. We woke up at 3:30 AM to catch our flight – so right now at 10:00 PM I’m a little tired! But I wanted to capture some thoughts. We drove around right away to check out some new schools that had just been built in some of the remote regions around Cap-Haitien.

We then met with Pastor Migueloson (38 years old) and Pastor James (32 years old) to discuss a potential partnership. Our advance teams did a great job in selecting these Pastors and this church, The Eglise Evangelique Baptiste Sion. Their hearts were so aligned with our hearts it nearly brought tears. We talked for about 2 hours about our respective churches and our dreams for the future. It was interesting that they have been framing their vision thoughts around the year 2016 which I also recently did at Grace. We then went and visited their church. It is a second story open-air facility with basically one room and a small office. They have about 100 people worshiping with them. Their dream is to have 2000 in the next 5 years. I love big dreams! But they’re not just empty dreams, they have plans and strategies to accompany them. I’ll try to post tomorrow about what they perceive their biggest community needs and challenges are. Very fascinating. Even though there are dramatic cultural differences between our churches - many of the challenges and issues are exactly the same.  Our conversation flowed easily and passionately!

Then we walked the neighborhood with them. If there had been any hesitation about the partnership before that – it would have completely evaporated as I watched how people responded to them in the streets. They were the heroes of their community. It was a really beautiful scene. We got to enter several homes and pray with some of the members of their church – several who were sick or dying. One particular woman stood out. She was a former prostitute who recently found Christ at their church. She has been healed and restored from her former life- she is the woman Jesus would have hung out with.  When we started praying for her, she immediately fell to her knees and then her face on the ground in honor and humility before God. Jesus is alive and well in Haiti.

Some initial observations:

1. It is incredibly hot here. Even though it was only around 90 degrees today – the humidity was stifling.  And it's buggy - there are bugs almost covering my laptop screen as I'm typing right now and I'm in a full sweat just sitting here typing!

2. The constant poverty is overwhelming. I know this is cliché but it’s something you can’t understand until you see it. It’s not just the level of poverty but the constancy of it. I have read that Haiti is a “4th World” country because the poverty is so pervasive that they will never be able to get themselves out of it on their own. It was shocking to fly in on the island and overlook breathtaking mountains and beaches that looked like they should be covered with multi-million dollar condominiums and resorts with nothing but poverty as far as the eye could see.

3. The people are beautiful. They are well-dressed, hard working, quick to smile and even quicker to extend a hand or a hug in greeting. As we walked the streets, it could have been very awkward and gawky and instead it was very natural because of peoples' friendliness and acceptance. Even though Americans are rarely allowed in the homes of Haitian people because they are proud and don’t want their poverty ‘on display’ – we were welcome because we were guests of their pastors. Deeply honored. 

4. There is spiritual oppression here that’s unexplainable other than appealing to the existence and activity of God and Satan. We heard story after story of the spiritual activity in this area. It’s real.

5. These missionaries are modern-day heroes. The people who have given the rest of their lives to this island have blown me away. I want to have their love and devotion to the Savior when I grow up.

Please pray for me tomorrow as I’m speaking at the Radio Station. I'll be speaking from Romans 8:18-25 on 4 Habits of People with Hope.  I’ll also be visiting the school where our missionaries Kate and Erica teach. Looking forward to a great day.


aaron said...

thanks for the update D, thinking about you guys and praying hard.

rachel said...

Thanks for sharing Derek! I will definitely be keeping up with your trip here. I can't imagine the heat, humidity, and poverty. Keep spreading that vision!!

Kim Montero said... everything...the heat! The people!!
....the love...
...the need....
I'm reliving my time there with you...and wishing I WAS there!
I am SO excited that Grace is stepping up to get even more with our family in Haiti.
God is sooo good...

Anonymous said...

In awe of your words... speechless.
Reading your heart in this post, made me feel like I was walking right beside you, there in Haiti.

Keeping you and Dan in prayer,
P Cobb

Brenda Glazier said...

What an incredible description of your observations and revelations in Haiti so far. I pray the Lord reaches many ears and hearts through your experiences there this week.

Fully take in the humble reason for our existence while you are there.