I was seriously so blessed to spend my time in Haiti. It feels like home more than anything else. As I walk the streets, I’m filled with love for the Haitian people. The children bring a smile to my face on the hard days and rejoice with me on the better days. To look down and see a child’s big brown eyes looking up at you with his arms outstretched is the most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen. It’s amazing how two completely different types of people can have so much love for one another, despite the cultural differences. Praise God He unites ALL of His people.
“My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me.” (John 10:27)
It’s as simple as that. We’re all striving for the goal together, running this race side by side. Think about it, when we go to heaven it’s not just going to be a gathering of Americans. It’s going to be people of all different races and backgrounds, people groups from the other side of the world who we’ve never met before. That just blows my mind.
I want to tell you all the unexpected friends I made. And all of the things God had planned for me to do besides helping at an orphanage. This wasn’t your average summer for sure. One thing I’ve learned about missions is to expect the unexpected and the picture you allow God to paint will always be breathtaking.
One of the biggest lessons I learned came from meeting so many new Christians. A new team came into Cross to Light every week so I met approximately seven teams (actually a few more because we doubled up for a couple of weeks). At home I tend to get caught up in the motions of everyday life and I don’t really see the power of the body of Christ. Being away from my familiar church home showed me how diverse the body really is. Many of the teams did the same activities for the most part which especially included VBS, orphanage visits and other outreach activities but they all seemed to have their own way of doing it. For example with the VBS, some used puppets, others used plays or paintings, and others used memory verses. But every single lesson touched the kids. It left me speechless to see the body of Christ work like that, for them to use their God-given strengths to reach out like He calls us to (Acts 1:6-8).
Some of the outreaches I was involved in included medical outreaches, hospital visits, an eyeglass clinic, trips to the orphanage, mobile evangelism, tent city ministry, praying for Haiti, and VBS.
The medical outreach was at the missionary training center and lasted a couple days. Most of the patients were from the nearby tent city. We had people checking vitals and then the patient would go see one of our doctors and after he had diagnosed the patient they picked up their medicine from us for things ranging from stomach aches and headaches to blood pressure problems to various cases that needed painkillers until they were able to see a doctor at the hospital. From there we would pray and minister to them.
For hospital visits we went out in a little group. Only about six of us could go at a time. I was blessed enough to tag along with the team nearly every single time. When we got to the hospital we would go visit the abandoned babies first. There were five total; three older ones and two newborns. We brought them diapers, clothes, toys, food, and bed sheets. Once they were taken care of, we also handed out supplies to the mothers who were staying in the hospital to watch after their children. We prayed and shared the word of God with them if they allowed us to which nearly all of them did and handed them bibles. The people in the hospital really don’t have much else to put their hope in. Many of them can’t afford the medical attention they really need so they accept prayer wholeheartedly.
Some days we would go around to other rooms with adults of all ages in them. Each wing had two rooms in it, one was for the women and the other was for the men. You could smell infection in the hot, still air. Some people laid in their hospital beds looking sad or bored while others were unconscious. A few of them greeted us warmly and with enthusiasm, excited for some form of interaction. I found myself wondering how many of those people were going to walk out of there all better.
Oftentimes when wandering around the hospital to visit these people we had to dodge the doctors because they would always kick us out if they caught us. We prayed for everyone we got the chance to visit and the last time I got to visit the hospital I met a woman who will probably change the way I see life. There was one other woman from the team in a room with me and we went around interacting with people individually. I came across this one older woman and in my limited Creole asked if I could pray for her. She said yes excitedly and with an expectant look on her face. I told her I couldn’t speak Creole that well so I was going to pray in English and she was okay with that. As I bowed my head to pray and took her hand in mine, I had no idea why she was in that hospital. I didn’t even know her name. But God didn’t need that information because He already knew it. I prayed that God would just work out His will for her life. When I was done I looked up at her and she was watching my face. She thanked me and kissed my hand. Then, as I was walking away I heard her quietly speaking Creole and I believe she was praying for me.
My church family, Calvary Chapel Fredericksburg, came in to provide an eyeglass clinic. I was so ecstatic to see them because I realized how much I need their support through everything. I feel like I used to take them for granted honestly but I won’t make that mistake anymore. They’re an amazing group of people and I’m so blessed to know them. Throughout the week I watched the older few mentor the younger teens as they taught them more about Christ and helping others. I watched my peers step out of their comfort zones as they let God work through them. And although I felt helping an eyeglass clinic didn’t hold much for me at first, I met two women whose situation left me speechless. They taught me about loving others when it’s hard.
An old woman had been escorted in by someone much younger. These two people had gotten word we were doing an outreach to help with sight and that’s exactly what the old woman wanted. But she didn’t want fuzzy vision cleared or colorblindness fixed, she just wanted to see something, anything because she was completely blind. So we had to sit her down and explain that we didn’t have anything to help her that day except to pray. So a big group of people surrounded her as one of the group leaders prayed. Immediately after, the woman’s condition hadn’t changed and we told her maybe it never would but that she needed to keep her focus on God and continue praying. Thankfully she was already a Christian and knew of His love for her and completely understood those words and what trust was like. In fact, the younger lady that brought her that day was her adopted daughter who takes care of her every day now. So as we continued to talk to the couple the bigger group around us died down and I was filled with awe for this young woman’s love for the older woman despite lacking any kind of biological relation. I ended up asking if I could pray for her and she said that would be fine. Since we had translators there, this time my prayer was fully understood. I prayed specifically for renewed strength and patience. She was truly an inspiration to me.
Of course this is one of my favorite parts of going to Haiti. I absolutely love the orphanage kids. I spent a fair amount of time with them listening to lessons from different missionary teams, helping them with crafts, playing games with them, and of course just pouring out love on them. But sometimes it’s not all about what you do for them. As children they tend to surprise you. They really shock me sometimes by simply giving an example of how to have childlike faith.
One day as we walked up all the kids were sitting on the top of the handicap ramp, which goes up my waist. So I walked over and held my arms out and called to this one little boy. He put what he was doing down and started walking over to me smiling. The little boy next to him though got excited and immediately put down everything he had and started running to me. When he got to the edge of the ramp he jumped into my arms and climbed me like a tree.
That little running boy had no reserves whatever and I started thinking about how that could relate to our walk with Christ. Isn’t that how He wants us to follow Him? To not hold back in any way? What if we just dropped everything and jumped in the water like Simon Peter? (Matthew 4:18-20) What if we lived like that? How radical would that be? How would our lives change? Where’s that passion?
About once a week we would go mobile evangelizing which is where we get on this giant truck with the whole missionary team and drive into a crowded area in town. There we park and have a church sermon taught by a pastor or maybe even a married couple and we hand out bibles. This reinforced the lesson I learned from my little orphanage buddy because so many people would just surround the truck desiring a bible. They knew that was all we were handing out. We weren’t handing out food or clothing or anything else but bibles. We had people reaching out from where they sat selling their things on the side of the road and people from the back calling out to us hoping we would throw them one. We were able to fill that desire and provide thousands of people with bibles throughout my stay.
I’ll tell you every time we went out, the people never lost the desire for bibles. They always had that hungry spark in their eyes and they would walk away with their noses buried in its pages.
I pray they really take what they read out into the world as they live it and hopefully tell others the good news.
But to be a little thought provoking for a minute, would you ever reach out for a bible like that? Are you that anxious to open up the word of God?
Tent City Ministry
A couple of times during my stay we went to the tent city and did different things like a VBS, a women’s conference, and a feeding/prayer outreach, which I found I liked the most. The feeding/prayer outreach allowed us to really get personal with the families and I liked that a lot. One woman I met was home with her children. She seemed to have a few. I asked her if she was a Christian and went to church. She responded that she was a believer but that she didn’t go to church and when I asked why she didn’t, her answer left me stunned.
This woman didn’t feel she could go to church because she didn’t have any nice clothes. She was too poor.
In the Haitian culture everybody dresses up in their absolute best to go to church so since she felt like she didn’t have a “Sunday’s best” outfit she just didn’t go. I told her no matter what people around her say or think it’s really important that she goes to church because we need to stay grounded in the Word and continue learning. I also told her God didn’t care what she wore. Meeting with her would always be a pleasure. God loves His children period. He doesn’t look at your clothes or your makeup, He looks at the heart, because in the end that’s all that matters. So I prayed for her and then let her know about the nearby church that one of the bible training center students started. I asked her if she thought she could just try it once and she said she would. I tried going back one day to find her, but she wasn’t home. I can only hope and pray she will go and that she sees that the church does have a spot for her and many other women just like her.
Praying for Haiti
About every other week we would take a missionary group up to the mountain to pray. From there you can see all of Port Au Prince and it’s absolutely breathtaking. The team would have some fellowship around the restaurant up there typically with sodas or water in hand and then after a while would gather to pray. Each person that wanted to pray had their chance whether it was for an individual, the city, or the country. It was just an amazing opportunity to gather together. On the way back down, the worship continued as we blasted praise music from giant speakers and sang along having a good time with Christ and each other.
The events having to do with kids are always my favorite. We did a lot of lessons with the kids over the summer and crafts to help them remember what they learned. We were able to give them snacks and hygiene products most days. On other days they got toys to keep them entertained and out of trouble and they watched plays. We danced and sang and played around. I know a lot of people say a Haitian VBS isn’t like an American one, but in many ways, I think it is…minus all of the extra stuff we have here. It’s still a fun group of kids gathering to learn about Christ and have a good time. Culture won’t change that.
Upon My Return
I came back on a Thursday and started school four days later. So, I tried to cram as many last minute summer activities as possible into those four days. Saturday our church youth group was to do a destination unknown which is when the youth leaders pick a special place to take the youth group and we don’t know where it is. As a teen I’m all excited to go out and do something super cool on a Saturday night. Then I found myself sitting in a church pew and I’m thinking to myself: Really? This is what I was excited about? I go to school Monday! I don’t want to spend my last Saturday night in church! After maybe half an hour or so I realized this was going to be a long night if I didn’t get my heart right and so I bowed my head to pray. I just decided to be real with God and I confessed I felt bitter about my situation and asked that He would soften my heart because I was there for a reason. He followed through and I ended up having a GREAT night and the message and worship couldn’t have been better. From that evening I took away the importance of being real. I feel like the church has masks over it in some ways. We cover up things that are ugly in us and come to church acting like life just couldn’t be better. But realistically there’s no way things are always like that.
If we can’t feel safe and be real in our churches where do we turn for comfort?
I think it’s time to break out of our shells and be real. Get plugged into things and be genuine. Build real relationships and be there for others.
Honestly, before I left for Haiti I was walking around bitter on the inside. I think I tricked a lot of people into thinking everything was just peachy, and it wasn’t. This bitterness ate away my love for so many things. It negatively affected way more than one area in my life. But preparing for this trip taught me you can’t go out and do God’s work well if your heart isn’t in the right place. You have to let God change you before He’ll work though you to really reach others. If not, you’re not going to reap all of the benefits God had in store for you, and He wants the best for you. I did get my heart right about a month before I left and I found it’s so much easier living without that burden. Holding onto that did nothing for me. It’s easier to be genuine and connect then to be stuck in a bitter shell.
Some Concluding Thoughts
Overall, being a longer term missionary taught me lots about the workings of ministry and how spiritual warfare can get really rough so constantly staying in tune with God is SO important. You won’t succeed in doing any good if you don’t. I learned lots of lessons that I can continue to meditate on now that I’m back. It’s given me beautiful memories of a summer that I wouldn’t have traded for anything, and it’s given me an even greater desire to return yet again. I’ll continue to wait on the Lord and trust that He has the next steps for me already. God is never late and if I stay ready and say send me, He’ll match the desires of my heart to His plan. I haven’t just found friends and family in Haiti, I’ve found a home.
~Romans 12:12~ “Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer.”
Written by Kelly Simpson