Tag Archives: Haiti

The Humorless World of Haiti, Part 2

You only need to cross the border to know you’re in a different world.  The first impression of the country is not unlike the Mad Max movies, or more recently, The Book of Eli.  In other words, there is a feeling of anarchy, of the world of the book of Judges, where “everyone did what was right in his own eyes.”  Men and women, boys and girls, wander the streets without purpose. Trash is everywhere.  And laundry is done at the polluted river side (see the photo from part 1). Roving trucks with U.N. are all over.  Many Haitians are none too pleased with the United Nations – it was U.N. soldiers from Nepal that introduced deadly cholera into the country.  The Nepalese soldiers were kicked out.  The cholera stayed.

It took us another hour to get to Phaeton – thankfully the main road had been paved since the earthquake, the work of the European Union – but our driver and host John prepared us as we turned onto the dirt road that led to Phaeton and only to Phaeton, “It’s going to get bumpy.”

Three New Friends

Our three Haitian friends we picked up on the road to Phaeton

Abruptly he pulled over.  There were three Haitians on the side of the road hoping for a ride to the village, and John, always on the lookout for a way to help or share the gospel, stopped to do just that.  As we drove along, with Schera translating, we found out that Haitian children from Phaeton who want a high school education must walk – this still seems unbelievable to me – 4 hours each way to school…every day.  These three (mom, dad, and daughter) whom we picked up had made the long trek to the main road earlier in the day to sell some sort of wares and buy rice.  It had been possible to make the trip out from the village, but carrying the heavy load of rice made the trip home nearly impossible without transport.  So they sat by the side of the road and hoped for someone like John to come along.

“Hoping for someone to come along” – that’s life as a Haitian, it seems – a world full of “strangers on the side of the road” dependent on the good Samaritan who will stop to bandage their wounds, pay for the inn and take care any future bills.  But what if the good Samaritan walks on another road?

After a 15 minute drive, we arrived in the village.  Phaeton is a sea-side village that had one day been “thriving” because a group from the U.S. set up a factory here to make rope out of a local plant called sisal, but the invention of nylon rope had eventually driven them out of business.  Now, the people of Phaeton had one industry: fishing.  We dropped off our hitchhikers, and headed to the home and hospitality of Pastor Lucner…

To be continued…

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Posted by on May 29, 2012 in Uncategorized


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Off to Hispaniola

It’s Tuesday morning, 7 a.m., and there is much to do. We’ll be taking off for Chi-town later on this evening, and catching a flight out of O’hare Wednesday morning to the Dominican Republic, where we will meet our long-time friend and missionary John Martinez.  John will be our host over the next week and a half as we minister to local pastors and kids.

It was probably a couple of years ago that I proposed the idea to John about making this visit. Or did he propose it to me?  Who knows, but it was a great idea. Over the last 10 years or so, I had gone on two different trips to Belarus, the one-time satellite of the former Soviet Union, where I twice taught a course to Bible students on pastoral duties (preaching, praying, leading, and loving). John and I thought this course might work well with the pastors to whom he ministers, so we had a basic plan, but lots of pieces needed to fall into place first.

As the trip started to become more and more of a real possibility, it was only a few months back that I began to talk to Diane about coming along.  She and John were friends in graduate school before I was even in the picture, and it seemed only natural to have her come along and minister in some capacity also.  Then one Saturday afternoon a couple of months ago, she and I were beginning to think through a tentative plan for the kids in our absence, and we started to feel that we should actually take them along. They’re all old enough to make a great contribution, and we’re trying to pass on a heart for the world to them as well.  It all seemed to fit.

Then our youth pastor Jamie Thompson came into the picture about the same time.  He’s going to teach the pastors a different seminar on youth ministry, while checking out the ministry and locale for the possibility of bringing the youth group next year.

So now, here we are, about to embark on the great adventure of missions together.  While I teach pastors this course on pastoral duties, the family will be ministering to local kids at 4 or 5 different locations around Santiago. We’ll have about two hours at each site with a total of 300 kids, and we have prepared a little VBS-type teaching, complete with crafts and songs on that famous “wee-little-man”, Zacchaeus.  I think it’s going to be terrific.

John and a friend enjoying his company

Though I’m not sure how it’s all going to fall together, there will be other experiences: We’ll make a day trip to Haiti to see John’s work there.  Josh and Diane will doing some medical missions (he’s planning to study pre-med), and all all of us will be taking part in some construction work, likely on Tuesday of next week.

At the end of the week and a half, we’re going to have one overnight at a beach resort on the northern coast (we have paid for this portion of the trip ourselves).  It’s funny: thinking about it a year or so ago, I really wanted to do this trip in January.  That’s a no-brainer – if you’re going to go on a mission trip to Hispaniola (the name of the island shared by the Dominican and Haiti), you might as well go in the winter. But we didn’t have our act together, so we’re off to the tropics, basically in the summer.

But then again, our timing is not so bad.  On Wednesday, May 30th, serendipity descends.  As our time is winding down, and we are driving through the mountains and arriving at the beach for a day of R & R., Diane and I will celebrate our 20th anniversary.   And, truth is, we couldn’t think of a better way to celebrate…serving the Lord with our children in Hispaniola.

Final note: We don’t have wifi in the dorm where we’ll be staying, so I’m not sure how it’s going to work, but I’m hoping to make two or three blog posts over the trip, to keep those who are interested informed.  Either way, we’ll be making a family report at the worship services at Edgewood on June 2nd and 3rd.  And lastly…we would really appreciate your prayers!


Posted by on May 22, 2012 in Uncategorized


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