Our team traveled to Haiti in early April 2019. It was amazing to watch the Holy Spirit powerfully orchestrate our time in Camp Marie, Haiti and with the Haitian people. Below are a few testimonies from our trip.
Haiti Unexpected Beauty
By Janci Burns
If asked to sum up my trip to Haiti in one word, that word would be BEAUTY.
The landscape was beautifully vibrant with vegetation, blooming flowers, banana trees, hills, beaches and oceans. In the simple life lived in Haiti, there is beauty. The homes and businesses are full of brightly painted walls, carefully crafted pillars, and beautiful metal work. Although there is much debris strewn around, even in that there was beauty by bits of color popping up here and there. Where it was least expected, their ingenuity in using what is available to them showed their creativity which added to the beauty.
To say that the people of Haiti are beautiful is an understatement! One afternoon I asked a little guy if I could take a picture of him, his friends, and my son as they were making bracelets together. Through a translator, he told me no because his clothes were dirty. I instantly tried to explain to him that the clothes didn’t matter one bit. My clothes didn’t matter one bit. “Ou beau”, I said. “You handsome”. It was so important to me that he know that he was handsome regardless of what he was wearing. “Ou beau” and “ou bele” became phrases that I repeated over and over to each person I met. One little boy was so serious in talking with him until I told him he was handsome and then the sweetest smile spread across his face. (And oh, the smiles are beyond beautiful!) It brought my heart such joy to see him accept and relish the truth of who he was. They are created in God’s image and that makes them beautiful.
What a blessing to see the beauty of God’s creation in Haiti!
Relationships the Building Blocks of Community
By Bonnie Taylor
We took part in a cooking class from Madam Leon in Camp Marie. We made fried plantains, fried breadfruit, pikliz and rice and beans. This was such a fun experience to learn how to cook some of the yummy Haitian dishes that we all love. The best part of the experience though was just building relationships with our team members and Madam Leon's family. The children were playing hand games, tag and making friendship bracelets together while the adults worked on the food. Later we got to enjoy the meal together. I am grateful for the friendships that were formed and look forward to making them stronger in the future.
After the class we set up and hosted Project Living Hopes first color run! We had 85 participants that ran down the PLH road and onto the newly excavated property. Grant Burns and Guesly Dessieux were brave enough to run the race, while the rest of the team split up and helped at all the color stations and the finish line. It was a great experience to watch the community come together for such a fun time. Before the day was over, the community was asking about if we plan to return to do another fun run. As a team we are already brainstorming on how to set up the next one so it can be bigger and even more successful.
Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday afternoon Judy, Tammy and Katie led a parenting seminar. They were very prayerful about the planning of the seminar. We wanted to create an atmosphere that stimulated conversations within a community. We wanted to empower parents to build stronger families.The team was met with such grace, an abundance of joy, and a welcoming into this new community of parents. Conversations were started. Some of their ideas were met with, “how would that look here?” rather than a “that will never work here.” As a group this community began to build stronger families. They encouraged each other, and you could see the ideas taking root in their lives. At the end of the 3 days we were able to give out the Creole storybook bibles that you all donated. It was great to watch them gently turning the pages of this children’s bible. Their faces full of joy.
During the parenting seminar, while the rest of the team put on a kids camp nearby for the local children. We went down equipped for lots of fun. We had parachutes, gunny sacks, playground balls, chalk, crayons and friendship bracelet making supplies. Leading kids can be difficult at time and is even more so when you have a language barrier. Sara Dessieux was a vital component here. She was able to communicate so well and switch up the games at just the right time to keep everyone involved. My favorite memory from the kids’ camp was after a bible story was read and we handed out crayons and coloring sheets. Haiti is such a poor country that even having a selection of crayons to color with is a rarity. Even the older boys in attendance poured their heart and soul into their masterpieces.
One morning the team was invited by Wilson, one of the PLH employees to attend a PE class. Wilson is a teacher at a local high school and was giving exams on a dance section. After the exams, we were taught some Haitian dance moves and some of us even got a chance to lead the class. The rest of the time in Haiti was spent getting to know the country and local communities, helping to prep for the Project Living Hope youth soccer league that started shortly after we left and touring some local attractions.
So many people don’t understand the importance of when we take the time to work alongside others around us. I love that we are given the opportunity to build and foster relationships with our brothers and sisters in Haiti. It was such a joy to be able to watch God working in our team and in Haiti……we are so glad we get to join Him in this work. I loved watching everyone fall in love with Haiti.
Encouraging and Strengthening Families
By Judy Buss
Before leaving for Haiti, I started to have some strong doubts about my going. Did I really have anything to offer? I’m just a white, American with BIG ideas. Will they just see me as that only? Or someone who truly does love God and wants to put into practice loving others? People (and the voices in my head) kept telling me “what you are sharing is so counter cultural…they won’t get that concept…..are you sure you should be going?” But I kept my head down, my heart open and my ear turned toward God. I got an overwhelming sense I was doing EXACTLY what God wanted me to do. I started to doubt again when we started with only 3 parents in attendance……but that quickly grew to 29! People nodding as we spoke, feverishly writing notes, sticking around afterwards to introduce their families, .ask more questions and be together. I had a huge ah-ha moment was when I shared the difference between punishment and discipline as “punishment is external, and discipline is internal. We want to help our children make that internal “heart” change…” Our translator turned to me with eyes and mouth wide open ”oh that is good! I understand now!” And as he translated, I saw the “light bulb” go on in all the eyes turned towards us in that room. Yes, parents all over the world want to raise up good children. Children that will grow up in to be productive, loving, hardworking individuals. Parenting is hard. No matter where you live. The concepts and strategies we shared translated to yet another group of parents needing hope, encouragement and affirmation. Being a part of that is something that has forever changed me. Children and their parents have always been near and dear to my heart, but I now know that God has equipped me to take that love and knowledge to families near and far. My heart was reminded that God will grant me the strength and words needed to do what He has called me to.
I was also so inspired by the work of PLH in the community of Camp Marie. The clear vision and practical effort to empower Haitians there were both so evident. So compelling. I am so thankful to have played a small part in that vision. I have been asked if I would go back to Haiti and my answer is a very LOUD and enthusiastic YES! God is working……so glad we get to join Him in this work.
By Katie Walters
We live in an age where race, color, and culture are all very sensitive topics, and navigating them can be hard. Instead of embracing the difficulties in discussing the differences, we can easily just stay in our comfortable bubbles and let life roll on. I couldn’t do that in this moment. I couldn’t stay put. God called me to be a part of this team heading over to Haiti. And although it meant comfortability would be worn like a favorite jacket for a while, I wasn’t going to tell God no. Not this time.
We came together in prayer and honest conversations. What would this look like? What is God leading us to teach? Even though our skin and our culture may be different, we all want the best for the children in our lives. That fact doesn’t change across the miles. Instead of a parenting “conference,” we wanted to create an atmosphere that stimulated conversations within a community. We boiled down our thoughts into one driving force: we want to empower parents to build stronger families. And the work began…
At the end of our time together on the last day, a deacon of the church we were using spoke up. He said he wished everyone could hear what God had brought us here to teach. He said there were so many good things, and thanked us for coming. He brought a tear to my eye as he confirmed God brought us here. God opened the doors, and we are now all part of this community in Camp Marie, Haiti.
We handed out Jesus Storybook Bibles, in Creole, to every family who attended the conference. Everyone was leaving and saying goodbyes. I was holding onto a baby placed in my arms and loving every moment of it! I looked over and saw that same gentleman, the deacon, gently turning the pages of this children’s bible. His face said it all – joy. That moment, that face, and that feeling, is one I won’t forget.
Project Living Hope’s Vision at Work
By Tammy Henderson
What a great trip to Haiti. I have been supporting and following Project Living Hope for the last 3 ½ years or so. Their vision for the Haitian people is amazing. They come alongside and encourage the Haitian people. Not to just do the work and provide them stuff, but to work alongside and to help them see a better future.
What a great experience to be there and to see the property now that it has finally been acquired and excavated. Just standing on the property was a humbling experience. God has worked miraculously this last year through PLH in Haiti.
It was a wonderful to watch people enjoying the PLH property. Guesly and the other PLH staff are working alongside and encouraging the Haitian people to take pride in what they are doing. How humbling it is to watch and appreciate these families. I am feeling very blessed to have been apart of this trip.
These are just a few stories of what God did through our team while in Haiti. It was powerful having the privilege to minister to the beautiful people we encountered. If you'd like to hear more, ask any of the PLH team members about their time and they will be sure to share with you even more.