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When People Open Up

Written by Brena

Have you ever had expectations for something – and God took it and did more with it than you ever could have dreamed?

“Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us…” (Ephesians 3:20)

Trying to find the words to describe what God has done here – and specifically in the past two days – is incredibly difficult, but here it goes!

As mentioned before, we are here to encourage community here in Haiti, and for a short time to do life with the people that God has placed in our path. Not only have we had the opportunity to have conversations with people in the surrounding villages, but the kids living in the Village of Hope here at Mission of Hope are also learning to form their own community groups! Last night with them was so sweet: The girls and guys broke up into groups just to share what was going on in life and what God has done in all of our lives. The girls broke up into one-on-one conversations – and in debriefing with others, man did God move!! These girls opened up and shared things and allowed us to pray through things with them. To be honest, it is going to be hard to leave after forming these bonds.

This morning our sub-team split up, and some of us went into the village to finish a conversation with a woman we spoke with yesterday. She is Catholic but very open to the grace of God, which several of our team had the joy to talk about with her. 6 girls on the whole team stayed back and did life with the “mommies” of the Village of Hope kids, and we just got to brainstorm how to open the girls up more. (Teenagers, am I right??) Being a teacher myself allowed us to all relate with each other, as we see different things from kids day-in and day-out. After that, we got to do laundry and cook with them, and it was such a sweet morning. In the afternoon, we participated in our last Kids Club of the week, sharing the gospel with the children through jelly bean candies!

God is so good, and we have also been encouraged by the number of fellow believers we’ve met along the way. I can’t believe our week here is almost over, and I am beyond thankful for what He has revealed to us here, in and through the people of Haiti!

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Community with Haitians & with Each Other

Written by Krysten

We’re in the full swing of things here in Haiti – and wow, the Lord is using us in a way that’s truly indescribable. It’s Wednesday, and we have been to Titanyen two days in a row. We’re currently en route to Canaan for an afternoon with some precious kiddos!

Serving the people of Haiti has been nothing short of amazing; it’s only Wednesday, and the stories that our whole team could tell deserves a website of its own. From meeting with a voodoo priest, to praying over the sick, to encouraging young adults that have chosen Christianity over their parents devoted voodoo practices, to helping those in the villages with pumping water and cooking… this is purely the Lord working through us young adults.

Our main focus this trip was to instill the importance of community in the people we’re serving. With that, having small, intimate gatherings with the young adult orphans of Mission of Hope was imperative for us. We broke into teams and truly built trust, enabling them to share some things they may have never shared before. We talked about our own struggles and how we’re not that much different from each other even though thousands of miles normally separate us. We all struggle with different things, but one thing that we have in common is that we have a God who is absolutely wild about us.

We have made a tremendous amount of progress and this is just the start! We’re even using resources from Watermark that have been translated into Kreyole so that the “mommies” of the orphans are better equipped to lead these kids. HOW AMAZING IS THIS?

In our downtime, we’ve been playing some pretty intense games of Farkle that have resulted in some pretty embarrassing dares. A few people have lost some of their personal items – and to earn the items back, some pretty amazing interpretative dances have been performed during our breakfast time! The encouragements, laughs, memories, and fellowship have truly been amazing. All of this is possible because of our love for the Lord. We’re all doing amazingly well and can’t wait to see what else God will do in the coming days.

Until next time, LET’S GO CHURCH!

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A Travel Day Reflection

Written by Frank Colarusso

We leave the airport and pile into the 1995 rusted school bus. Everything and everyone made it – except that one exploded jar of tomato sauce… and everything in the tomato sauce’s suitcase. The dusty road enters your heart as the bus passes concrete houses and traveling villagers. You make eye contact with a boy no older than 14, possibly on his commute home from school.

Does he know Jesus? Does he know he is loved? The rickety bus travels deep into the country, bringing with it the chance to share our hope and our hands with the beautiful people of Haiti.

You pull up to Mission of Hope after dark. Through the light of the headlights, you watch the rusty gate open and 12 interns in red polos run up to greet you with smiles. It’s past 7pm and you’ve been awake since sometime before sunlight – like WAY before sunlight – and their hospitality warms you.

Out of the bus you roll. Into your beds you fall. 6am roosters start calling WAY too soon… wake, devo, breakfast, tour, church, introductions and games with the kids at the Mission of Hope campus, dinner, games, pray for Team 3 (who must dance at breakfast as a result of losing a Farkle game).

Overall, the Watermark Team is in great spirits. Tomorrow we begin ministry with the orphans and go into a village. Pray His name would be known. Pray the people come to understand that they are known.

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A Sunday That Truly Meant Rest

By team member Chad Swank

In Dallas, Sundays can be a brief distraction to the busyness of life. But rarely, at least for me, is Sunday a “Sabbath” experience.

Here in Haiti, removed from the trappings of my life in North Texas, I was reminded of what it could be. We rested… and not just resting in the absence of work projects or sporting events or social media, but resting in God’s goodness and mercy.

The day started with corporate praise to our God who is able to save both Americans and Haitians. Our team then decided to spend time together sharing our stories of life transformation. That time has been my favorite so far. I was encouraged by hearing about the power of God to forgive sinners, restore families and relationships, and provide an eternal hope for today and for the world to come.

Lunch was followed by a time of intentionally engaging with other families and teams here at Mission of Hope, as well as with staff and orphans. Our team played basketball, made jewelry and other crafts, and sought to initiate conversations with our “neighbors.” Evening was spent reflecting on all that God has taught us and done through us, and being challenged to be “Village Champions” where God has placed each of us in Dallas. The day ended with fun games of Uno, Farkle, and Mafia.

Rest! Not simply the absence of activities, but the intentional pursuit of loving God and loving others. Jesus calls to us who are weary and heavy laden, and He promises rest. His promises are true.

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Remembering Our First Day in Haiti

Written by team member Gracie Michael

Sac passé? (What’s up?)

As I write this, we are wrapping up our third full day in Haiti right now and reflecting on the time that we have had, as the Lord continues to reveal more and more of himself to our team through the Haitians and their lives.

Our first day, we spent our time in a village called Labordri. Our team spent the day planting trees for the people in the village, and we spent time getting to know the men, women, and children that lived there. For the second half of the day, our team was split into two groups, and we led kids’ clubs at two different churches in the village. This time was spent loving on the sweet kiddos that we often see running throughout their homeland. Ridge, one of the four Thomas kids serving on our trip, developed a really cool relationship with a fifteen-year-old Haitian named Berlonto. I was blown away by the way that Ridge loved on this kid, who was three years older than him. He didn’t do or say anything extraordinary, but he made an impact on this fifteen-year-old by just being a friend who would hang with him, ask him about his life, and play the beloved game of fútbol with him. It is so cool to watch even the younger kids be the hands and feet of Christ by using their gifts and being faithful where the Lord places them.

One of the biggest encouragements from being in the village came from the actions of our village translators and our village champion. Two men in particular, Nixon and Geff, led our group boldly and intentionally, and in such a way that furthered the advancement of the gospel. Towards the beginning of our time in the village, you could tell that everyone felt a little awkward, or nervous about what these conversations were supposed to look like. The desire to clearly communicate the gospel despite the language barrier was in itself enough to create angst and discomfort. Despite this, Nixon and Geff continued to spur us on to be bold and to take advantage of the opportunity to encourage their people. After briefly talking to a woman named Wilda, Nixon asked us, “What else do you guys have to say to encourage her?” Nixon went on to talk about how he loves that he gets to take us into his village, because he knows how badly his people need to be encouraged to continue to trust the Lord each and every day. He challenged us to dig deep in conversation with the people and to speak encouraging truth to them, because that is what we are there to do.

I was blown away by these two men and their boldness and commitment to the message of the gospel. They were walking through their own village, a place where they have lived their entire lives and had relationships with every villager, yet they continued to throw away everything to follow Jesus. This would be equivalent to me walking around my high school, JJ Pearce, interpreting the gospel to each and every person I knew. This is ultimately what Jesus asks of us and reflects his calling to “drop our nets and follow Him” as talked about in Mark, chapter one.

Unfortunately, tomorrow is our last day in Haiti, and we will be wrapping up our time here while spending the day at the beach to relax, spend time as a team, and reflect on the past few days. Continue to be praying that we would be bold in our conversations with each person we meet and that we would continue to live on-mission even as we come back home to Dallas. All in all, our prayers for ourselves and for every follower of Christ are that we would live each day in light of the radical nature of the gospel – because it is a message that is, indeed, radical.

Au revoir (Goodbye!)

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…Until They Know How Much We Care

Here’s the first blog we’ve gotten from the Single Adults team in Haiti, written by Aaron Young. (The internet – and time to write – are always a little unpredictable down there. The photo is from the airport on the way to Haiti.)

Process matters.

Today was our first field day in Haiti, and we experienced first-hand the truth that people really don’t care what you know until they know you care.

We were the first group from Mission of Hope to go into the village of Robert in Archaie to do “ministry reconnaissance.” We went to gather the general sentiment of the people – such as where they are spiritually, how much access their kids have to education, if they have access to health care, etc. Mission of Hope’s vision is to bring life transformation to every man, woman, and child in Haiti under the leadership of Jesus Christ. And so, the gospel is to be present in all steps of the process.

As my team approached the first house, the translators told us the homeowner didn’t want to accept Christ today. We quickly found out that a part of our team had started off by asking her if she knew Christ and if she wanted to accept Him today. Since her answer had been No, our translators told us we should move onto the next house. But we told them we wanted to continue speaking with her to get to know her. Throughout the next hour, we were able to articulate the gospel and two personal stories, but for much of the time, the lady of the house had her arms crossed. We were not able to make much headway with her, but were able to pray for her infirm lower leg.

 

Our afternoon activities proved to be more successful in terms of connecting with the villagers. We were able to use a more indirect method. We first built up a rapport with them before diving into their spiritual health. Though our intention both that morning and in the afternoon was to love well, our strategy change for the afternoon proved to be more successful in building a relationship with people. We worked to find a common bond rather than try to get a salvation conversion right away.

 

The Gospel can be something boldly declared, but when we can, we want to get to know the person, develop a relationship, see if there are connections, and continue to invest in the person. That’s what Paul did when he revisited his converts. It is a privilege to be a small part of Mission of Hope where we can be one of the many touches, knowing this local sending station and future teams will be back. The Gospel is not a short-term investment. God’s mission is not a short-term work but a long-term investment.

This is not the end of the story for these families. Pray with us that the people we visited today will soon be fellow worshipers our great Lord and Savior.

 

 

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Throngs Have Become Individuals We Love

Written by Mark

As the work continues, the throngs of children and people have become throngs of individual faces with individuals stories. The Lord has put a yearning on our heart to have the ability to communicate well with these men, women, and children – to share the love of Christ with them. Opportunities have arisen today.

Sekal, approximately 17, who had been entrusted with one of our cameras early on, showed his artistic prowess by taking photos of his friends and sharing them. Today, he took part with one of his friends in reading the verses of the Romans Road to a gathering that began with 4 or 5 children. At the end, 6 more children had joined along with what looked like a husband and a wife holding their children, all listening attentively to Sekal and his friend read the Romans Road.

Times like this saw some faces enthralled, and some who nodded along – knowing the story of grace.

As metal tin rang with the sounds of drills above from our team’s work, Gloria shared, through a translator, her story of having 6 children with no father in their lives, a sister who passed away last year, and shortness of breath that comes most acutely when she thinks of her sister. She is a believer, and we were given the opportunity to pray with her.

This kind of opportunity has been given to us around the town. As team members work on the home, others are able to share the gospel with the homeowners and neighbors.

Moise, an 8- or 9-year-old boy, sat helping one of our team members practice Creole, as they worked through the Romans Road, stopping to memorize. Moise was dressed well, but as time went on, Olven, about 14, came by to ask for all of the accoutrements that had made his clothing stand out – belt, glasses, watch, phone. Olven put them on himself, and stopped to talk. As they continued working on the Romans Road, our team member shared that “Jesi renmen ou” (Jesus loves you). They smiled broadly with acknowledgement and say “oui.” “Ou renmen Jezi” (Do you love Jesus?). They shake their heads “yes” also.  Olven left quickly then came back with a notebook and a pen, and Moise helped Olven write Romans 6:23 down in his notebook in English. Moise was present again later in the day to help read the Romans Road verses to a new crowd of kids.

Hammers, drills, talking, playing, speaking Creole (trying), and serving one another. These are some ways we share Jesus, for His glory and for those he loves. He loves these people passionately.

Please pray for our continued ability to communicate the love of Christ to these people. Particularly, we would like to see the translation barrier passed. More than our time here, please join us in praising God for his work in Haiti. Please pray the Lord would continue to make the gospel known, and to strengthen the Haitian people and those He is leading to partner with them to see that every man, woman, and child be transformed in Jesus.

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Slow Work & His Work

Written by Jen

Confession: I like things to go my own way and on my own timetable sometimes. Especially when we are trying to repair roofs here in Jérémie, Haiti. But God is quickly reminding me that He is always on time.

Our house today was a complicated house to roof, but it shouldn’t have taken us the second half of the morning plus all afternoon to get through it. But with batteries continually dying and the heat radiating off the tin, it did, and going into day 3 of working we will have to still go back and complete a few things.

But the best part of the story comes from a question I asked at lunch: Where was the family? This was later answered by Charles, our security guard, when we were packing up the site for the day. Charles said, “Don’t you want to meet the family?” and anxiously began seeking them out.

And in walked the mother & her 3 boys, Wal, Wilson, and Diene. The mother asked that we pray the boys would come to know and walk with Jesus – and not get caught up in the gangs here in Jérémie.

Before we prayed Raul asked if he could share his story with the boys. He gave a short account of his turmoil due to self-seeking actions, which ultimately left him at rock-bottom. But Jesus was there and began to bring him back up. We were then able to pray for the boys as we stood in their house. We planted seeds today; we showed the gracious love of God today.

There was a reason it took us so long today, and there was a reason those boys didn’t show up until then. For His thoughts are not our thoughts, neither are His ways our ways (Isaiah 55:8-9).

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Bringing Light

We arrived in Haiti on Sunday, and at our destination, Jérémie, all safe and sound Monday morning after two flights, a bus ride, and a boat ride.

Monday was our first day working in a neighborhood in Jérémie that was hit with the hurricane. After the Haitian homeowners put up the rafters, we work with Haiti Bible Mission to screw on the new tin roofs, giving the families

protection from the rain and shelter from the sun, etc.. The Haitians working with us are pros—they couldn’t even tell us how many roofs they had put on because they have lost count.

Looking at the island from our boat, there are far fewer lights than people, a stark contrast to the brightly lit nights in the States. I cannot quite conceive night with so little light, and it makes me think of living without the

light of Christ, without the word, which is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path. My prayer is that through the relationships developed and continued through the local church, Christ would change lives and bring light to this dark and heavy place.

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A Long-Awaited Meeting & a New Sister

Written by Callie Summers, Team 6

I first came to Haiti in 2016, and I started sponsoring a child through Mission of Hope. Her name is Louina, and I help pay for part of her schooling and her food and supplies while she is at school.

When I knew I was returning to Haiti this January, I applied to visit my child, and got the confirmation shortly before I left for Haiti. On Thursday, two other ladies and I got in a truck to visit our kids at their schools. We faced quite a few barriers to getting there: transportation and logistical difficulties, the Education Champion’s last day on staff was supposed to be Wednesday, and trying to find our way to our destinations. After some extremely interesting roads up a mountain and a car change (4-wheel drive was needed), we arrived at my girl’s school.

My friend Lauren had my phone to take pictures, and the principal brought Louina outside to meet me. We hugged and sat down on a stoop to chat. Our Education Champion was also our translator, and Louina and I began to get to know each other. Her favorite subject is Science, and she wants to be a nurse when she grows up.

I asked her if she went to church with her family, and she said she used to go to a Catholic church but it had gone poorly, so her family stopped going. I asked her if she knew if God loved her, and she said no. She knew the name of Jesus but nothing else about him, so I started to share the gospel.

I told Louina that we all make decisions with our thoughts, words, or actions that hurt others and ourselves, and that those things don’t please God. Even though He is our Father and wants so badly to have a relationship with us, sin separates us from Him. But He sent His one and only Son, Jesus Christ, to live here with us. Born of a virgin, He lived a perfect life, died a perfect death on the cross, and was resurrected on the third day. He paid for all our sins. Jesus made it so that we could be reconciled and have a relationship with God, who loves us dearly and wants to have a relationship with us.

I told Louina I am not perfect by any means, but God forgave me of all my sins once I accepted His free gift and accepted Him into my heart. I asked her if she had heard that story before, and she said no. I took a deep breath and asked her if she would want to accept God’s free gift and accept Him into her heart as well. She said yes, and I almost began to cry (but held it together). She said she would go to church on Monday and talk to a pastor about her decision! Praise God.

Despite all the opposition we faced to get there, our 20-minute conversation changed Louina’s life and mine forever. I have a new sister in Christ and am looking forward to continually investing in her life for years to come.


Interested in sponsoring a child through Mission of Hope? Check out this website!

 

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