Last month, Bill arrived back in Haiti with our grandson Anodos and three friends, Jim, James, and Raphael. They arrived to find a severe fuel shortage, a sawmill engine that needed worked on, and many obstacles to much of the planned work on the two church buildings we are working on. James and Raphael were there to help for one week. During that time, they made a trip up to Janou to check on the progress of the church/school building and take some measurements for future construction.
In this update, I want to let them speak about their time in Haiti with Bill and Just Mercy. Please take the time to read James and Raphael’s words as they express it so eloquently.
The Impact of Consistency – by James Padron
I have been to Haiti a few times, and like most things that we grow familiar with, we can grow disconnected with the actual effect of the thing. Haiti is different. No matter how many times I have been there or how long my trips have been, every time there holds a uniqueness all its own. Perhaps it has to do with how life there is far more connected to our primary experiences than here in the states. One thing that really stood out for me this trip was the importance of commitment in order to see long term change.
Walking through Kaykok and watching Bill weave his way through the dusted foot paths, extending a gentle hand as he passed familiar faces, or stopping to connect with an elderly lady instead of just a curt gesture and polite platitudes shows how Just Mercy is now a part of this community and this community is different because of them. My interactions with people from Pierre Ouselle to Estane, Ermite, Theiry, or Michlen made one thing clear. They all have a confidence, a hope, a stability and a trust that has grown over the years since I was there last.
Every day still brings the same type of problems. Everything always takes longer than you thought. Nothing is as simple as it could be, but one way or another with persistence and the Holy Spirit the job gets done. One of the more impactful parts of the trip happened when we first arrived.
We were met by a family that was in immediate need for their baby. The baby was bloated, bleeding and struggling to breathe. They had tried to get help, but they had come up against small, seemingly insignificant problems, problems we would never accept here that kept them from getting the help they needed. Were there other people there who could have helped? Yes. Were there people there who should have helped? Yes. Did they? For reasons that seem too foreign to me, no, they didn’t receive the help they needed.
It’s easy to blame and get angry that this kind of thing could happen. When you stop and take a moment to ask the question “How could this be?”, the one blaring reality that comes back is that we all do the same thing. We all have this bent in us. It’s harder for us to see because our level of wealth, comfort, and accessibility is far higher. It is an over-simplification to villainize one person and not see that same villain in us.
There is a quote from a book you should all read. “Until we embrace our mutual brokenness, our work with low income people is likely to do more harm than good. I sometimes unintentionally reduce poor people to the object that I use to fulfill my own need to accomplish something. I am not okay. and you are not okay but Jesus can fix us both.” – When Helping Hurts
The real antidote to this way of thinking is the humility of Christ. Recognizing we are just as equally in need. These are the conversations I have with Bill. These are the thoughts that drive him to do what he is doing. These are the stark realities that are growing the deep conviction that we only need Jesus. We are utterly dependent on the Holy Spirit to help us carry out the Kingdom.
What happened to the baby? We prayed, we got them on a boat with the biggest motor we had, sent them off to the closest hospital with the money that they needed… Then we waited. The child died. These are the jarring realities we have insulated ourselves against.
That evening I stood in a dark room, the air filled with wailing, watching Bill sitting on the floor bringing the comfort of Christ to the baby’s family. We can’t always fix the problems, but we can always bring the One who can turn it all to good. This is the hope I am watching Just Mercy bring. This is the confidence the Haitians in the community are growing in. This is how we stay connected to the need that is not just around us, but within.
Haiti Trip – by Raphael de Souza
This trip was my first time in Haiti. What a trip it was . To be among the people is what was most impactful. To see God’s word come to life no matter where you are or what circumstances arise. It was a blessing to see the Joy that the people of Haiti had and there was a sense of Hope rising that God is going to continue his faithfulness toward his people there. It was a real honor to be alongside Bill on this trip and to see the impact that God is using him to bring. They are springing wells of new life in Haiti with the projects they are doing there. The buildings will bless so many people and bring refreshment to those communities. We will be praying that God would provide all that is needed to continue the work there and that God would raise up many men like Bill to continue the faithful work he has set on his heart to do.
I plan to have another update out soon about work done on the trip but I wanted to let you read about the impact a visit to Haiti had on two young men who came to serve.