Today was good. We left at 7:30am to go to our job site. Our construction team is Stephen, Chase, Larry and me. We left with our driver, Miguel, our translator, Andy, and our security guard, John, who also spoke English and helped out quite a bit with the building. We got a bit of a slow start. We went to the wrong site first and were setting up to start work when we found out we were at the wrong site. It was kind of hard because we had to tell the pastor of that church that we couldn’t help him because we didn’t have any materials there. We left and drove to the correct site, where we started on finishing up the building of the “Philadelphia Church.”
On the 30-minute drive across Port au Prince, we got to see quite a bit. Even though the earthquake happened 13 months ago, it looks like it could have happened a week ago. There is rubble everywhere; people are living in tents all over the place. Some people are living in tents because they are too afraid to live in the structures that are still standing. Trash is all over; dust gets kicked up everywhere; exhaust and pollution is pretty bad and sometimes it is a little hard to breathe. The smells are also quite interesting: there is open sewage and trash lying around. The incredible thing is that life is still going on. They go about their business and life as best they can. These people have many temporal needs, but their greater need is for Christ. Pray that God would do a great work in Haiti. The people don’t have material inhibitions and so are much more open to the Gospel.
We were finishing up the second floor, and it took us a little while to really get going because it took a while for the pastor to get there to open up the bottom part of the church to get to the building supplies. Once we got going, though, we were really able to get a lot done. We will finish up the church tomorrow. There was a Haitian family next door and the kids watched us work. They talked to us and asked us our names and in one case even for my phone number. One of the kids wrote my name on his shirt. It was really hard to have to not be able to give them water and other things when they asked, due to the fact that in Haiti you can start a riot by handing out food or water. Knowing this doesn’t make it any easier to drink clean water and eat food while not being able to give any to the people around.
There were some really cool things that God showed me today. First, it was incredible to see the happiness on the kids’ faces amidst the complete destruction. It was really cool that despite the fact I speak like three words of French, you could still smile at the kids and their faces would light up in really big smiles. Love and friendliness do not require translation. The second thing I learned occurred when the pastor arrived. He came up to where we were working and went to each member of the team and shook our hands, thanked us for helping, and he prayed blessing from God for each of us. It was really humbling because we were there to help out his church, but he was asking blessing for us. Third, the poverty and destruction was really shocking. I have never seen poverty like this before in person. I pray it will always make me thankful for all of the things I am so apt to take for granted and to not complain as much since I really have nothing to complain about by comparison.
There were several things that I really enjoyed as well. The food that we have been eating here at the Baptist Center where we are staying at has been really good. I am a big fan of Haitian food! One of the other really great things has been riding around in a “tap, tap.” This is a pickup truck that has a cover and seats in the back. As best as we can figure, the name comes from the fact that when you want to go you tap twice on the side to let the driver know to drive. Haitian driving and traffic is nuts, but incredibly awesome. There are very few lights and people just honk a lot; there don’t seem to be that many rules that are followed when driving besides roughly what side of the road you drive on; there are many potholes and rubble in the roads. There seems to be remarkably few accidents, though, and I thought it was really cool. It was like an exciting car race with oncoming cars and people pulling in from everywhere.
Continue to pray for our team and for Haiti. Thanks!
Written by John Mark Hannon