Haiti Mission - July 22-29, 2014

“A man’s heart plans his way, but the Lord directs his steps.” Proverbs 16:9

Hands & FeetIt is an indescribable blessing to have been the Lord’s servants in Jacmel, Haiti at the Hands and Feet Project Children’s Village for a fourth summer. This year’s team of fourteen was not only the largest, but also had the most experience as five were returning for at least the second time. There were also three families that comprised a significant portion of the team: two parents each with two of their own teenagers and one set of amazing sisters. The joy of watching God call the individuals of these teams together each year is nothing short of astonishing.

It has been nearly five years since the devastating earthquake that received so much international attention and significant financial outpouring, however like so many similar events, the response has faded. Haiti’s needs were significant prior to the earthquake and those needs continue today. The level of poverty that exists has often caused them to be referred to as a “4th world” nation, as it is of the poorest in the world. Despite these woeful truths, the Haitian people have shown unprecedented hope and resilience as they build their country back. Particular attention is given to providing children with an early and excellent education that begins at age three. Numerous Haitian adults who have benefited from a consistent education throughout their lifetime are working toward improving educational opportunities for people of all ages and levels of social status.

One such adult is Fanel Leme, who has been our interpreter each summer at Hands and Feet. He is an incredibly well educated young man (31 years old), having traveled to the US, and abroad to acquire any licensure and instruction he needs. He is fluent in five languages and recently completed an additional degree in school administration so that he could open a pre-school/kindergarten in the most impoverished part of Jacmel. His love of Haiti and devotion to the Christian faith has made this school his life’s mission. He has been responsible for every aspect of it; from drawing out the floor plan to the hiring of seamstresses who measure the children and sew their school uniforms. He has accomplished this all while working for Hands and Feet as well as the local government as an educational consultant. This September he opened with a full enrollment for his second year.

Returning to the same children’s village each year has allowed us to become familiar with their operations, and develop significant connections with the staff and more importantly, the children. We also have the opportunity to participate in and witness the numerous improvements that are occurring throughout Haiti as a whole and within the Hands and Feet organization. Two years ago new construction began on the property directly behind the original campus. The family style care of the orphaned children has been a significant focus of HAF.  Improved family units are being built with kitchens and running water so that the children experience life complete with chores, bedtimes and healthy relational attachments. Each “family” consists of 6-8 children of various ages and a Haitian woman who has committed her life to their care. She also has a nanny that will assist her with laundry, meals and other cares for the children.

The new family units should be complete by the summer of 2017 and the building on the front property will then be converted to classrooms and dorms for those children who will eventually “age-out” of orphan care and need a place to live and continue their education and vocational endeavors. There is already a small computer center in one of the vacated buildings. Children are instructed in keyboarding and practice language, math and reading skills during the summer.

This summer’s mission work was marked by the accomplishment of more tasks and activities than could possibly be documented. The typical maintenance chores of painting, plumbing, cleaning and hauling were sprinkled among unique tasks such as a puppetry VBS, portrait painting, moving one of the missionary families to a new location in the community and unloading a semi trailer filled with 800 boxes of packaged meals from Kids Against Hunger.

The entire Hands and Feet family was also preparing for an event celebrating 10 years of orphan care and introducing the new Village Values~Be Loving, Be Honest, Be Obedient, Be Responsible. Both campuses would be joining together for a day program, soccer games, field day, and the grand finale of Audio Adrenaline in concert and fireworks. Our team was assigned the responsibility of building the stage for this event that would need to hold not only the energetic band members and their musical accouterments, but also bouncing, dancing and singing children.

The event occurred just days after our departure and was an amazing success. We returned home having given every ounce of time, talent and energy “being confident of this, that He who began a good work in us would carry it on to completion . . .” Philippian1:6. Most of what we thought we would spend our time doing was actually accomplished. Instead much more was completed as we resigned ourselves to the message of Proverbs 16:9 ~“A man’s heart plans his way, but the Lord directs his steps.”

Thank you Mt. Olive! None of these trips occur with out significant support from our Mt. Olive church family. Financial and prayer support are recognized and immeasurable assets to our mission team. We also treasure the selfless giving of school and hygiene supplies, shoes, clothes, books, toys and food that are gathered for us to take to the orphanage.

The Haiti Trip for 2015 is scheduled for July 14-21, 2015. There will not be a trip in 2016 and if God wills it, a team will be formed for the summer of 2017.