By Amy Bentz
On August 1, 2018 our team departed PDX and began our journey to Haiti. Our team consisted of twelve members coming from all over Oregon. The main purpose of our trip was vision casting and building relationships within the community of Camp Marie, Haiti, the community where Project Living Hope is based. Because we believe Christ intended relationships to be the building blocks for change, we want to be known as an organization rooted in relationships.
The first stop on our trip was to The National Museum of Haiti, where we learned about the history and the people of Haiti.
Our next stop was Extollo, an organization we are partnering with. We currently have four men from the community of Camp Marie enrolled in their masonry program. We toured the facility and were able to see first-hand the ways they are teaching and empowering Haitians to learn masonry and carpentry skills.
We arrived at our guest house that evening. The Ortlip guest house is located 10 minutes from Camp Marie in the neighboring town of Montrouis. It’s a beautiful location and we enjoyed our first Haiti sunset.
Day two, Julia began giving violin lessons. The students were eager and learned so much!
Then we hiked the PLH property and picked some watermelon to have with lunch!
We ended our day with a cooking class. We first shopped for the ingredients in a Haitian market. Then we worked side-by-side with Haitians and learned how to prepare plantains, bread fruit, and pikliz. It was a great experience, we all enjoyed working together to prepare the food and then eating together. It was definitely one of the highlights of the trip!
On day three, we attended church in Camp Marie. Pastor Marcel delivered a beautiful sermon on the importance of a strong church - one with spirit-filled leadership, doctrinally sound messages, uncompromising convictions, a strong emphasis on faith and prayer, faithful and generous giving, people who serve in the strength of their spiritual gifts and who value relationships, and a vision for the lost world. The worship was beautiful and our own team member, Julia, played violin with the worship team.
After church, we walked into town, visited a few of the PLH staff members’ homes and met their families. We also were able to introduce the team to the magistrate of Camp Marie, Marielourdes. She welcomed our team and expressed how excited she is to be working with PLH.
After lunch, we set out for the Olympic Center to watch a soccer game. After we arrived, a tropical storm blew in and the game had to be canceled. It was quite a storm! It even hailed, which is a very rare occurrence in Haiti. The children were running outside and catching it in their hands and eating it. While we didn’t get to see a soccer game, there was no shortage of entertainment. A group of young men entertained us with some street dancing.
Day four, our team split up. One group stayed in Camp Marie and the other traveled into Port-au-Prince. Mike and Julia had their second day of violin lessons. The church’s music director was there helping the kids learn and his son took lessons that day.
Brad, Walky and Ian took video and measurements of the road. They got to speak with Marielourdes, the magistrate, about our equipment needs and plans for the road. They also got to meet a number of community members who live near where the road will be built.
The rest of the team visited GOEX and LIFE SA, two apparel production facilities. We met our operations manager, Thonny Fabien there, so he could see the two companies that make t-shirts and sports uniforms.
In the afternoon, we went to a village near Croix-de-Bouquets where a number of artisans make and sell metal pieces made from old oil drums.
Day five, half the team went to Port-au-Prince while the other half of the team stayed to work on the road and for day three of violin lessons.
The team that stayed in Camp Marie visited Clean Water for Haiti and the PLH property. They were promised that the equipment for the road would be available on the weekend, so the Camp Marie team offered to go talk to the director of ODVA (the department in charge of road building in Haiti) to discuss our needs. While they were there, they worked out an agreement to send a bulldozer down to widen and extend the road to our property the very next day! Praise the Lord!
The Port-au-Prince group went to two companies, Haiti Design Co. and Deux Mains. We took an artisan workshop where we got to learn how to make Haitian jewelry.
Day six was our last full day in Camp Marie. Before we left for Camp Marie, one of our Haitian team members, Obenson, led our team in a prayer for the road.
I think we were all nervous that it wouldn’t actually happen. But, when we got to Camp Marie, the bulldozer was there! He cleared the road while the community members watched and cheered!! Praise the Lord for His plans that happen in His time.
All the violin students came together for one last lesson. Two were able to play “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star” for us. And Julia gave the students a mini recital to show them what they are striving for.
In all, the PLH vision trip was a tremendous success. We were welcomed into the community and the relationships that were established further unified PLH and the community of Camp Marie. It was exciting to be a part of this trip and to see God work through our team.
We gathered together yesterday, with our families, one month after returning home, to reflect on our trip and celebrate the relationships we established as a team and with the beautiful people of Haiti.
We praise God for opened doors that allowed for the road to be built out to our property. Having access to the property is huge and will now allow for soil testing to be done, getting us one step closer to construction! Our soccer teams have been doing well and we just launched our young men’s league on August 12. Our English classes will resume in September and we look forward to expanding into new job skills and sports in the upcoming months. Thank you for your faithful support of Project Living Hope!