Recently, my wife and I went to Haiti on a mission trip with 10 other people from our local church. While I knew the conditions in Haiti were bad, I really had no idea just how bad.
Upon arrival to the country, our first experience was to load onto a school bus and head out to the Mission of Hope Camp about 30 minutes outside of the capital city of Port-au-Prince. Driving in Haiti, well, that was an experience you have to witness first-hand in order to truly understand it. Let’s just say, “if you have a big vehicle and a horn then you pretty much have the right-of-way.”
Upon arrival at Mission of Hope, we gathered ourselves from the exhilarating experience of the drive and we unloaded our stuff and settled in for the evening. This included some food, orientation and room assignments. We quickly figured out that it is hot in Haiti. With no A/C and some really thin bunk bed mattresses, we retired for the night.
The next day, after not much sleep, we were all anxious to get busy doing what we went to do. We were going to the local village of Source Matelas to paint a home. The trip into the village was the beginning of an entire mind and heart change for me. To witness that kind of poverty was overwhelming. My mind was on overload as we drove past the small concrete huts and blue tarp houses. You can’t fully understand it, until you are immersed in it.
We arrived at the home and began to work. The local children were immediately engaged with us and it was such a joy to see their smiles and interact with them. Some of the local children brought us some fresh-cut sugar cane and some of our group tried the sweet cane for their very first time. We worked hard to paint the inside and outside of the house and the people were so very thankful and overjoyed to receive such a blessing.
We quickly found out that these people were rock solid in their faith. Even in the face of such terrible heartache and poverty, they smiled from the joy they had inside their hearts. Many times, we heard them say, “God is so good to us and has blessed us.” Now, mind you, most of them have absolutely nothing as far material things and even basic comforts such as running water, bathrooms, and sometimes even food are often rare. Yet, they still smiled and shared the joy down inside their soul. Oh, how I wish we had that kind of trust in God.
As we were about to finish, a lady walked into the home and grabbed her face in amazement of the transformation a coat of paint had brought to this humble little home. My wife asked her if this was here home and she indicated “no” by the shaking of her head. She was just a neighbor who had come by to see what God was doing next door. She was overjoyed that her neighbor was receiving such a blessing and was so happy for her that she glowed from ear to ear with the biggest smile. Imagine that, someone who celebrated another’s blessing and wasn’t complaining that she wasn’t getting the same.
After a lunch break back at the camp, we headed back out to the village with a different focus in mind. We had raised money to plant fruit trees for several individuals and we enthusiastically set out to complete that mission. Fruit trees are a great commodity for a family. Not only can they use them for food, but they can take the excess fruit into the market and sell it for much needed financial support.
We walked through the village and encountered many local children who were absolutely precious. We would be walking along and all the sudden we would feel a little hand slip into ours as they walked along, all the while looking up at us smiling. Our hearts were forever changed and our prayers forever offered up for these precious youngsters.
The adults who received the trees were so very appreciative and each of them opened their homes to us and made us feel welcome.
At the end of that first day we were all really tired. The heat, the emotions, the circumstances these people lived in, and the hard work had taken their toll for the day and we were all ready for a shower and something to eat.
I knew after that first day that I would never be the same again. I had witnessed the most horrible situations and circumstances you can think of; yet, what I encountered was faith like I have rarely seen in the U.S. Even though these people had been through earthquakes, hurricanes, and the most horrible poverty I’ve ever seen, they had joy, and smiled as they walked up hill for a mile carrying water for their family. They smiled as they took care of an ailing man who was blind and crippled. They smiled even though they had not eaten in two days. Psalm 62:1-2 says, “My soul finds rest in God alone, my salvation comes from Him. He alone is my rock and my salvation.” They know where their hope came from.
That night I laid in my bed thinking about what I had experienced and a smile came over my face. It gave me such joy to see what true faith looks like. Their faith didn’t depend on having everything they needed. Their faith didn’t depend on nice church buildings with A/C. Their faith didn’t even depend on having enough to eat. They simply celebrated Jesus, or “Jezi” as they call him. What he had done on the cross to save them was enough for them.
True faith trusts in every circumstance, hopes in spite of trials, celebrates even in the face of adversity.
This was day one in Haiti; be looking in the upcoming weeks for days two through seven. I hope you celebrate your many blessings in the Lord.
God bless and have a great week in the Lord.
Wade Phillips is a pastor and evangelist with 3in1 Ministries.