Archive for the ‘Haiti’ Category

Contrasts | photo of the week

Monday, February 15th, 2010

It’s been over a month since the quake but Haiti is still on all of our minds. This photo was taken after exiting the public market in Mirebalais. We  made our way through the crowd, passing by the charcoal vendors . The road suddenly ends and opens up to an expanse of green.

Life here on the river’s edge was so peaceful and simple, a tremendous contrast from the busyness of the market where your senses were assaulted from every direction. Two seemingly different worlds, only meters from each other.

Praying for Haiti

Wednesday, January 13th, 2010

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In a country where nothing could get worse, it just did. Our hearts and prayers are with Haiti today.

We were in Haiti for two weeks. But it had an impact on me that will last a lifetime. The people we spent time with were amazing, compassionate men and women dedicated to pulling Haiti out of the muck and mire one soul at a time.

And now, they face a horrible reality in the wake of destruction left by devastating earthquake. It’s hard to imagine the country ever rising from such rubble. But through God, all things are possible. Pray that the Christians in this country will be a beacon of hope to the communities. For our friends at HaitiARISE, pray they can help in the time of need and that God will provide more than they can hope or imagine as they reach out to the community of Grand Guave. Praise God that HaitiARISE director Marc Honorat is OK as is a team from Nelson, BC (non HFL) that arrived just hours before the quake hit.

Pray for these things, pray for whatever else God sets on your heart as the news rolls in. Just pray.

He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire; he set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand. - Psalm 40:2

If you would like to donate, please click here to be re-directed to a secure donation page, and in the “Donation Designation” section, select Projects – Haiti: Earthquake Response from the drop-down menu. As with all Hungry for Life projects, 100% of the funds given to this project will be used for this project.

Getting there is half the fun?

Saturday, May 16th, 2009

I want you all to know. Travel is not glamorous.

I share that because many people we have talked to about the Pockets of Change project have remarked at ‘what a grand adventure we will have ‘, and ‘aren’t we lucky to have this opportunity’ and so on.

I agree. Wholeheartedly.

But. The getting to the adventures? Oh my.

I write this in my notebook at 3 a.m. in the Miami International Airport. I’m laying on a bench that reminds me of a doctor’s office bench. I’m listening to a mix of really bad jazz and security notices about watching your luggage, announced in English and Spanish.

We’ve been trying to get to Peru for more than a full day now. We left our hotel in Port Au Prince at a prompt 8:45 a.m. around 9:15 a.m. because our hotel staff couldn’t quite agree on just how it is we’re supposed to get to the airport in the free airport shuttle.

Ok. So we do get to the airport. And hurray, no problem with the famed ‘Red Hatters’ – men who try very forcefully to “help” you with your luggage for a fee. No thanks guys, we’re missionaries and not really flowing with extra dough!

Customs, check-in, and all the rigmarole. No problem.

Wait for 2.5 hours for our flight to depart. No problem.

About to take off on the runway when dog and hazardous materials are found to be in the same cargo container.

Shuttle back to terminal, move old Fido away from the liquids, and by then we’ve burned through 2,000 lbs of fuel. Captain, in his southern drawl, shares with us that he “hopes” the fuel tank is on its way.

No problem. We’re off again, about an hour past initial take-off time. Back to the runway, picking up speed, just about to lift off when lady two rows up has a very serious asthma attack due to the very hot and smelly cabin we’ve all been sitting in together getting cozy. Good Lord, this is starting to be a problem.

Ok. Back to the terminal, where five paramedics clamber aboard and take the woman off, and Captain says once her luggage is found we’ll be off.

We rumbled down that ol’ runway just over two hours after our scheduled time, headed for Miami.

Leg one done, and we’re feeling positive about it all.

We decide to hang it out at the airport for four or five hours before check-in. We pick up a few needed items, grab a bite to eat and wander for infinity a couple hours, then casually check the departures board again to confirm our gate. Bright yellow letters inform us that instead of leaving at 12:05 a.m., we are leaving at 5 a.m.

It’s a long walk down that corridor and back to the main terminal.

The good news is in Miami the airline company gives you a hotel stay for free. So we got to spend about three hours at a hotel complete with a voucher for the hotel restaurant. Since it was about midnight when we got to the hotel we ate two delicious pieces of pie (key lime and cheesecake) with two tall glasses of chocolate milk.

While the airline told us to get on the airport shuttle at 2:30, security wasn’t open until 3:30 a.m. And thus it is that I wrote this post, laying on a hard red bench in the Maimi International Airport, listening to really bad jazz.

I’m loving the project, and feel overwhelmingly grateful. And we’re excited to get to share our experiences with people through this blog. So, to come along on the ride, I wanted to share with you some of the bumps we face along the way so you’re truly a part of this.

This blog post was written in my notebook at the Miami airport. We’ve since landed and left our destination in Peru, and will hopefully post more soon. We had limited internet access this last week, and expect to have better access at our next stop. So check back soon!

Life in Grand Goave

Monday, May 11th, 2009

Our time at HaitiARISE was amazing and it was so hard to narrow down the photos for this post. I hope you enjoy this brief glimpse of life in Grand Goave.

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Journey from Grand Goave

Sunday, May 10th, 2009

Rumbling through the streets of Grand Goave in a15-passenger van, I contemplated my surroundings. We had a couple hours to reach Port Au Prince, with lots of time to observe.

The smell in the air was the most powerful: a mix of car exhaust, rotten mangos and something indescribable mixed in. It filled my head with each breath.

The sounds of Haiti if you are driving include a great deal of honking – it seems the biggest vehicle gets the right of way and everyone else scoots around whatever car they can in the opposite lane of traffic. Drivers honk at just about anything in their way. Pedestrians definitely don’t have the right of way here.

Our driver Juliom whipped past motorbikes carrying anywhere from one to four people, close enough you could reach out and high five them. He honked at ambling bikers to get off the road and slowed down as we caught up with Tap Taps full of people piled inside squished shoulder to shoulder. Some sat on top, the wind whipping at them as they hung onto metal railings. Delivery trucks also seem to be passenger vehicles here. We watched as one man leapt onto the back of a truck using a knotted rope as support, flipping his body at least four feet up to the bed of the truck as it bumped along the road. Not exactly Canadian standards of safety apply here.

The other thing you hear a lot of is ‘Blanc, Blanc!’ People shouting ‘white, white’ as Justin and I sat in the second row of the van looking out. We’ve heard this phrase often since arriving. It’s a novelty having a group of white people. When we were in Mirebelais with the team from Chilliwack’s Southside Church, we heard this shout even more. Sometimes the team leader would smile and call back, ‘Yes, black!’ Many giggles from kids would quickly follow.

Along the sides of the road, there were always people. Some areas were teeming with people – women carrying buckets and baskets and bags on their head; children playing naked in the streams and along the roadsides, and men on their way to work, or sitting in the shade because there is not enough work for all. There is more than 80 per cent unemployment rate in this country, so there is a lot of sitting, and waiting, and wandering that seems to happen here.

Haiti has been an interesting country in which to start our Pockets of Change project. We had been warned of the dangers that exist in this country, and I believe there were angels protecting us as we walked and drove and slept in this country. Yet at the same time I saw such hope and such vision from the Christians here. They believe in a God that will save their land, and that’s encouraging to me. Yes, there’s poverty, spiritual darkness and many other problems. But God is bigger than all of that. And the Christians in this country know it. Praise God!

Under the mango tree

Saturday, May 9th, 2009

Hey everyone, turns out we didn’t have internet for the last two days as we were in a remote village called Perrca. More on that later!


In Haiti’s Grand Goave, a coastal community about two hours west of the captial city of Port Au Prince, there sits a strip of land no more than four acres. The 15-foot walls surrounding this property encase a lush green space with dozens of palm trees, kid goats scampering below the boughs of giant mango trees and a host of other tropical plants.

Inside these walls, Haitian men and women are learning the Word of God and gaining technical skills to go and support their families.

There is a particular mango tree that sits in this property. It’s an area where people often gather to swap stories, to talk faith, to impart wisdom. During the hot and humid days, the shaded boughs offer a cool comfort and the vantage point is optimal to see all that goes on at the compound. The dirt driveway cuts the mango grove from the guesthouse where teams come to stay and a long-term missionary couple now live. To the left you can see the technical and Bible school compound. Behind the school you can see the edge of the outdoor church where more than 400 people fill the pews and spill out into the grass as hundreds kids pile into one room for Sunday school.

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Bon appetit

Thursday, May 7th, 2009

If you’ve ever been out for a rich and chocolatey dessert with me, you’ll know that I sometimes order more than I can chew. I am a big fan of decadent desserts; layers of silky smooth fudge and rich chocolate cheesecake, whipped cream on the side and a drizzle of syrup across a crisp white plate. That is my idea of a good evening out with a friend.

But most of the time, I order the most delectable dessert I see then about halfway through realize I should probably not finish it. A friend of mine once told me when we were out on such a treat night, “Lorene, you can’t let it conquer you.” Of course she was speaking in jest. But I still like to think of that. If I plan to do something, I can’t let it conquer me.

Pockets of Change is kind of like that enticing piece of pie. I know it will be great, I know I’ll enjoy it along the way, but it could conquer me before I conquer the project.

OK, enough about dessert. All that to say I feel I’ve bitten off a sizable chunk of interviews already and have yet to digest them for your enjoyment. (Do you like how I used digest there as a double meaning? Oh my, perhaps I need to get out more…)

We’re now finished our time in Haiti. In fact, we’re not even in the country anymore and I have yet to tell more about Mirebelais, all the excitement of Haiti Children’s Home and the people we worked with from Chilliwack’s Southside Church. I haven’t even mentioned Grand Goave, our meetings at HaitiARISE Ministries and the amazing things God is doing through this organization. I could write about a dozen more things too, such as the trip to Port Au Prince, our time with the very first project partner Hungry for Life every had, the antics we have had along the way and what we are learning from the experience.

Like I say, it’s a big piece of cake. I now realize I’m not going to get to share every bite with you along the way. But with one country down and three more to go, I’m going to focus on the most tasty morsels from now on to share on the Pockets of Change blog. For now, we’re going to give you a three-course meal in quick succession to fill you up. We’ll have a few posts here next time we have internet to give you a taste of Haiti, then the blog topics move to Peru.

Bon appetit.

A snapshot of Mirebalais

Sunday, May 3rd, 2009

I can’t believe it’s only been 10 days since we stepped on to Haitian soil. Our first week was a busy one, taking part in the Southside Team activities in Mirebalais; visiting the Haiti Children’s Home, handing out bread at a local poor house (where Lorene had the opportunity to share her testimony) and seeing the school where the Southside Church will be setting up a sponsorship program.

I wanted to share with you some of what I have seen and experienced through the lens of my camera during our time in Mirebalais.



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Recognition

Wednesday, April 29th, 2009

25 years of employment is something to be celebrated.  Companies often give employees a pat on the back, or recognize them for their service with a certificate, a pin, maybe even a gold watch.

For Patricia Smith, the 25 years of employment have gone by quickly and have indeed been a success. But perhaps not in the traditional sense of the term.

Patricia rates her success on the number of children she’s helped, not on the number in her bank account. Her success is found in the smiles on the faces of those she helps, not the pats on the back by important people. Patricia and her daughter Melinda run the Haiti Children’s Home, an orphanage for about 45 kids right now. And for her 25 year celebration, what will Pat do? Probably change some diapers, do some cleaning, feed some hungry mouths and work to keep this faith-based ministry running, she says with a laugh.

Wearing an ankle length denim dress, her white hair pulled back in a bun, Patricia sits in a rocking chair to chat with us. You could take her out of her room in Haiti and drop her in a southern U.S. small town front porch and she’d fit right in. But while she is an American, Patricia spends her days and years in Haiti, helping some of the poorest of the poor.

Children in Haiti don’t have a lot of options. Patricia and Melinda provide a safe home with loving caretakers, a strong Christian focus, three square meals a day and even birthday cake for each birthday boy and girl.

They never know where the next amount of funding will come from. But, as Melinda says, the Lord has always provided when they have been in need.

In the past, I haven’t been willing to sponsor even one child because I have been afraid of running out of money when times have been tight for Justin and me. Yet these two women take care of 45, plus help countless others in the community with medical issues, on little more than faith and a prayer. It makes me wonder what God could have accomplished through me over our last eight years of marriage if I had stepped out in faith a little more instead of counting my pennies and hoarding them.

While Patricia might not get a gold watch or even an ‘Atta-boy’ for her 25 years of service, I am sure that God has a special seat for her in heaven. And that’s better than any earthly recognition.

Catching up

Monday, April 27th, 2009

We haven’t been having much luck with internet, I’m sure you’re all wondering what we’ve been up to! I’ve got about 10 minutes before lunch so I’ll make it quick. On Saturday we went to the market in Mirebelais, a short walk from our hotel. It was an incredible experience, full of people and wares for sale and lots and lots of stalls. We bought bread and brought it to the Poorhouse to share with people. I got to share my testimony there with the people which was definitely a trip highlight for me so far.

This morning we saw the school that Chilliwack’s Southside Church is helping to operate. There are 75 kids there who could not afford to go to school without Southsides’s support, so that was pretty neat to see.

At Haiti Children’s Home, Justin and I had a chance to visit with the women who started and operate the facility. I’ll share more about the women there in another post when I have some more time.

Saturday evening and Sunday morning we had the priveledge of attending Southside’s sister church in Mirebelais. There was such an energy in the air, and the people there were glad to have us in attendance. Our translator was able to translate the service for us, which our team leader Steve says is a real treat as he has never had that before. It was great to be part of the service here and enjoy a different culture’s way of doing church. There were many similarities, such as having a singing and preaching component. But there were definitely differences, such as the women and men sitting on different sides, and the loudness of the preacher!

I could write so much more, but now I’m late for lunch. Suffice to say, it has been an incredible experience so far. Steve has had better luck with posting (there’s internet at Haiti Children’s Home), so feel free to check out their blog here if you want to see a little more.

Tomorrow we head to Port Au Prince to meet up with the next project partner, Lisa and Marc from Haiti Arise Ministries. As soon as we get another chance, we’ll post again.