A lady from Minnesota is staying at my guest house with several soccer players doing a community development program. Yesterday she was trying to find Creole proverbs to encourage them. In trying to give the Haitians an example of what she meant, she said, “In America to wish someone good luck, we may say, ‘break a leg!’ What do you say?” She got a puzzled look from her friend. She realized he heard…”If you break your leg, good luck!” She did finally stumble onto a Haitian proverb, “Better to be exiled than to be shot.” Well, I guess they have a point there. Good luck relating that to soccer.
Communicating is fairly hard in Haiti but it’s not the most difficult thing. For me, it’s been hard slowing down my brain and leaving the cares of home behind. Haiti is very chill and slowing my body down has not been the tough part; adapting to the pace of daily life here is refreshing. What’s hard is turning the mind off. If anything, it has even more time to ponder and stress out. In the US I’m caught up in doing. In Haiti I’m caught up in thinking. And sometimes along with thinking comes anxiety. It’s not a freak out anxiety but more of a nagging distraction anxiety; it takes my mind into thought patterns that don’t go anywhere. I can dwell on a lot of “what if” things but I’m not where I can do anything about them. That’s not a good combo for me.
When the ocean’s tide recedes we see what’s under it. Well, the tide of my normal life has receded. All the appointments, duties, responsibilities, and goals have gone – they are thousands of miles away. And now I can see what’s there when those things aren’t. And I can see an anxiety rock, a worry coral, and stress weed. And what I want to see is more love, joy, peace, faith, and on and on.
I’ve learned being quiet and reflective is a good thing. I have no choice but to be reflective while in Haiti. I think a bigger trick will be re-creating some semblance of this in the states. When I find quiet I tend to see better and see more. When the tide is gone I can see what’s there.
That dang tide! I know it’s going to come rushing back in as soon as I land back home. And that’s okay to a point. I’ve just got to find ways to send that tide back out on a regular basis or I’ll lose track of what’s under it.
Jokingly I said to Pierre, “Pierre, you and me could be brothers – we are about the same!” He says, “Yes, but I may be a little more handsome.”
Brotherhood is about what it takes to make it through a project in Haiti. I suppose there are ways to blow in and blow out without it. But I don’t think that’s the point. Blowing in and blowing out leaving buildings in our wake would imply that’s the reason we are here – to build stuff. We are here for so much more and I am only beginning to understand. I almost feel foolish in how much I don’t know. I am like an uneducated 16 year old walking straight into a freshman class; the amount of catch-up is insurmountable. The only thing to rely upon is God and friendships.
At first glance Pierre and I are different as night and day. But at second glance, we are the same. We are both men who love our wives and families. We both want to do well at our job. We both love the Lord. We both love to laugh. We both value friendship. And we both try to dream.
As I entrusted my life to Pierre on the psycho roads of Haiti yesterday, we spoke for hours about faith, family, and our dreams for Haiti. This was day two and my grip on the door handles had eased a bit; I was able to relax and think about more than dying. Our thoughts turned to Haiti, the orphaned kids, and our dream for them. It’s going to be awesome.
And through it all we were in such good spirits I did not have the heart to tell Pierre….maybe I am better looking.
LHC is trying to build a large complex that will bring hope to children and equip them to live a joyful, purpose-filled life. As I have poured over the architectural drawings, budget projections, and assets from my home in MT the job has seemed pretty big. Yet as I drive the streets of Port au Prince and see the overwhelming task of bringing the total country into prosperity and self-sufficiency, our little job seems much smaller. It’s like viewing planet earth as huge until you compare it to the sun. Yet as I’ve viewed our vision as large it’s always been attainable and very realistic in my mind. And now it feels even more attainable as I view our project as a tiny, but ever significant, endeavor on a small corner of the earth where it’s needed most. So ironically as I view the massive devastation and poverty my hope grows – I believe we can do what we’re attempting on our small seven acres. We will do this. Time will tell how the details are secured, but we must endure – we have just begun but success feels so possible. And when we succeed, thousands of children over time will receive hope and lives will literally be saved.
March 27, 2013
First day in Haiti! 3 hours sleep, zero food, hot…but GOOD; I was with our brother Pierre all day. We went to the embassy, did some work at the Social Welfare Office, booked a church for a funeral Saturday, drove a lot, got stuck once, and went to the orphanage. A normal day for Pierre. Goal #1 for me is to learn and understand as much as possible. Goal #2 is to make major project decisions with Pierre. We are beginning those discussions tomorrow. My video files are too big to upload so you’ll have to settle for the only pic I took today. I was born and raised in AK so in the orphanage these caught my eye.
PS – as I upload this the power has gone on and off 19 times. Each time I lose internet connection. 20. 21…
Marc Spear, LHC Prez
We made it home! We are so thankful for all of God’s blessings throughout the trip. Our family grew so much and really learned a lot. There are some great things going on in Haiti associated with Love Has Come and For His Glory. We have partnered with a great man in Pierre Alexis, and God will continue to do great things through him. Eric Lopez
First thing in the morning, we had to move to another guest house. Christy and Nate decided to stay at the guest house throughout the day because Christy was not feeling well. Ryan and I joined the baseball team for another day of work at the future orphanage site. We cut out early from working at the site and drove to a nearby beach. The first beach we went to was a resort. It was like something you would see in the states. They wanted $40 per person to use the beach for an hour. We tried to bargain, but the manager would not relent. So, we left and headed to the Obama Beach Hotel, where they let us swim for 5$ per person. We had a great time just lounging on the beach and swimming in the water. The salt water did wonders for all our cuts and scrapes. After we got back to the guest house, we went to dinner with another team that was also on a missions trip. We went to a fast food restaurant that was insane (for lack of a better term). You pay first and they give you a receipt, then you have to fight your way to different stations (that aren’t marked) to collect your food items. The overcrowded restaurant was indicative of life in Haiti: an overcrowded and unorganized free for all. Once we got our food, everything was fine, and we enjoyed our dinner with our new friends. Eric Lopez
Happy New Year everyone! It was another good day of work at the new orphanage site. It was interesting to watch the guys from the baseball team struggle for 45 minutes trying to remove a huge stump; then watch the Haitian workers get it out in 10 minutes, When we got back to the hostel, we went and played baseball and basketball with the local kids. Another short term missions team arrived at the hostel today. It was an all-female team from Indiana University. Needless to say, the guys from the baseball team were quickly distracted. At one point they were all sitting in a circle talking, and Nate and Ryan joined them. As I walked by, I noticed that the group was telling jokes. I quickly whispered to Nate that he shouldn’t tell any jokes and let the big kids talk. Nate quickly said, “Dad, I already told three!” Eric Lopez
It was a crazy day! But, it was a great day! The day started with the entire team leaving me behind at the orphanage when I went in to get something! Luckily, Pierre had not left yet, and he drove me to the site. Once we got to the site, I got everyone lost trying to get to the post that marks one of the corners of the land. Finally, we got going, and the team did great. We were cutting brush and trees with machetes and clearing the land for the orphanage. We had 15 Haitian men working with 13 of us. We all are covered with cuts and scratches from the ferocious thorn bushes, and we are dehydrated from working in the 105 degree heat index. After we finished at the site, we headed to the orphanage so the baseball team could deliver 150 pounds of flour they brought from the states. They also spent some time with the kids. After another great dinner, we spent some time discussing what we learned during the day and did a short devotional before heading to bed. Eric Lopez
We got up this morning and drove for an hour to Pierre’s Church. On the way, we drove past Sun City in Port au Prince. During all my time in Iraq and Afghanistan, I have never seen poverty like this. This was the area that was hardest hit by the earthquake in 2010. It was an incredible site. After we arrived at the church, we spent time singing and an American Pastor gave the message and Pierre translated. After church we drove back to the hostel, and we relaxed until 6:00pm when 9 members of the Covenant College Baseball Team arrived. They are going to be working with us on our project to clear the land for the new orphanage. I gave them an inbrief, and then we ate dinner. After dinner, we went to a street revival. It was a spectacular sight. A band was playing and different ministers were preaching. People were dancing and singing everywhere. Haiti is truly on the frontlines of spiritual warfare, and this was very evident at the revival. After the revival, we got back to the hostel at 10:00pm and crashed into bed. Eric Lopez
29 DEC: We had a decent sleep for our first night in Haiti. Thank goodness Christy brought earplugs. There was so much noise (roosters crowing, dogs barking, car horns, etc) through the night and it got louder as it got closer to dawn. Christy and I both woke up with headaches from being hot and dehydrated. After a good breakfast, Ryan and I played soccer with a bunch of kids while Nate and Christy took pictures so Nate could show his class upon returning to the states. Pierre (CEO of the orphanage) picked us up and we went to Eko Depot (like Home Depot) to get supplies. Then we drove out to the future orphanage site to do some reconnaissance. We were totally unprepared. We were wearing shorts and sneakers, and the site is covered with thorn bushes. All of us got scraped and cut, but we succeeded in marking the areas that we are going to clear starting Monday. Following that adventure, we drove to a Christian conference center where the women from Pierre’s Church were having a retreat. It was a beautiful place overlooking the bay. We drove back to the hostel where we ate dinner with some great people who are staying at the hostel with us. Eric Lopez