Editor’s Note: Regular AJT church page contributor Tina Hughes and her daughter Faith recently returned from mission work in the nation of Haiti. The following is the story of their experiences on the island nation.
My daughter Faith and I just returned from a mission trip to Minoterie, Haiti. Two years ago, I was blessed to be a part of a team that started a mission-funded school in Minoterie.
There is no public education in Haiti. Kids do not get the chance for education unless they have the money to pay to attend school. Minoterie is an extremely poor village. When the school started two years ago, it served 150 students in grades K-3. It now serves 300 students in grades K-4. It is completely funded through missionaries and private donations. As part of this experience, we got to participate in the first Kindergarten graduation for the school.
Since I have traveled to Haiti before, I got to see it fresh through the eyes of my daughter this time. After landing in Port au Prince, we were presented with the extreme contrast of life in America vs. life in Haiti. Tears immediately came to Faith’s eyes while looking out the window as we drove along. Life is so incredibly different in Haiti. They don’t have the comforts to which we are accustomed. We saw women carrying large amounts of food on the heads in pails. We saw people riding stacked in trucks called taps-taps as the main mode of transportation. We saw small children walking with no shoes through rocky terrain.
We arrived at the orphanage at which we were staying only to be “attacked” by 15 very excited orphaned children. They were so excited to see our team and just be presented with love and affection.
We spent the first day in Haiti visiting the villagers. We prayed with families and distributed food tickets that could be used to collect food during our food distribution we had planned. The village children gather around the missionaries while we are walking. They crave affection and just want to hold our hands.
A small boy, probably around four years old, had followed us around that day. We had visited nine homes and walked probably about four miles in 103-degree heat. We were at our last house. The little boy pulled on one of the translator’s hands and asked if we could walk back to his house. He wanted his family to have the opportunity to get a food ticket. The translator told him no because his house was about a two-mile trek in the other direction.
I knew that I had one ticket left in my pocket. I also knew, at the moment, that ticket was meant for him. I asked the translator if I could give it to him. He told the little boy that he was going to give him a ticket, but he had to make sure to give it to his mother. The little boy took the ticket, put it in his pocket, and very carefully buttoned the button on his pocket.
The second day, we spent time playing games with the orphans and preparing to teach the school children. We decided to teach a lesson on the fruit of the Spirit. We wanted to combine colors and counting while teaching about God.
The next day, as the schoolchildren entered the gates of the orphanage, I became so excited to teach at the school that God used me to start in a third-world country. Through the help of my translator, the lesson was great. The students drew a pear, wrote the fruits of the Spirit, colored each a different color, and then counted how many there were. Later that day, we distributed more food tickets in the village.
On the third day, we again had the opportunity to teach a lesson to the schoolchildren. This time, we decided to make salvation bracelets with them and explain what the colors meant. We also played some games and took school pictures. That evening, we packed bags full of food to hand out for the food distribution. The main staple in Haiti is rice. We packed rice, beans, corn meal, cooking oil and bullion.
The next day, the families came to pick up food. We had given out 20 food tickets while one of the local pastors had given 10 tickets. Some people walked more than four miles for a small bag of rice and beans. After giving one young woman her food, I asked if she had anything I could pray for her about. She told me that she didn’t know my God and she wanted to know about the God that offered love like that. I was able to witness to her and she accepted the love of Christ into her life on the steps of the orphanage.
The next day, families were invited to participate in a water filter demonstration. The water in Haiti isn’t safe to drink. There is no running water in houses. Families get their water from pumps located throughout the village. They must pump the water into jugs and then carry the jugs back to their homes. The water filters allow them to turn the water from the pumps into safe drinking water. Ten families were invited to participate in the demonstration, and each was given a filter and two buckets to take back with them. For under $10, the ministry is able to provide safe drinking water to each family.
Finally, the day of Kindergarten graduation arrived. I had no idea what a celebration it was going to be. More than 500 villagers streamed through the gates of the orphanage. We had converted a large chicken coop into a convocation center, complete with a sound system and stage.
Twenty-eight excited Kinders danced through in their graduation gowns. There were dancing and singing. They recited scripture and poems. The event was much larger than any high school graduation that I have attended in my 21 years of being a high school teacher. The cooks at the orphanage prepared lunch for the 500 attendees. Everyone got a hearty meal of chicken and rice. That was probably more of a meal than most had had in years.
So, during my time in Haiti I learned that even though the culture is shockingly different, God is mighty. Celebrations happen in 103-degree weather that include praise to God and what He is doing in their community. A school has doubled its size in less than two years. A small boy takes care of his family at all costs. Missionaries make a difference in the life of others. My 13-year-old daughter has a heart of gold and got to experience the culture shock that will shape her future endeavors.
If you would like to help sponsor a child or help the ministry, all proceeds go whatever you specify. You can sponsor an orphan, a school child, water or food by clicking to www.reallovehaiti.org and click on “donate.”