This past week has been a crazy one around here! We just said good bye to a 30 person team from Lancaster County, PA.
We had a whirlwind of an adventure!
Sunday was a very important day! A village that YWAM has been working with for a very long time was going to be putting on the finishing touches to their very own church and dedicating the building to raising up the people of Balalay for God's service. The village had been one of the most steeped in voodoo in the 5th section. Extreme poverty was the reality and the village was shrinking year after year. Now, some half the population has professed Christ and even the village witch doctor has stopped practicing voodoo. (Please keep him in your prayers. He has stopped practicing voodoo, but he has said that he will not accept Christ until God reveals himself to him.) The village is steadily growing now and some of their mud huts have been replaced with concrete homes. The dedication was fantastic with the whole village in attendance and pastors from the surrounding villages coming to pray that God would bless the church and show their support.
Monday was spent with a majority of the team packing some 300 containers of food to take to 3 villages in St. Marc's 5th Section. The poorest section within the city.
Tuesday involved the team distributing clothes and household goods to the village of Balagay. (There wasn't a typo, Balalay and Balagay are two different villages. The names sound so close that we have had some confusion in the past about it) There were some construction workers within the group so we put their skills to good use! We started their morning off by chopping down a 50ish foot palm tree that had died in the middle of town and finished up by installing the doors and windows in a building we own in the 5th section.
The team went to Poirre to distribute the remaining containers of food to massive success on Thursday. Poirre is also a village within the 5th Section that is normally known for gangs. Without fail, whenever a problem occurs for us in the 5th Section it's always in Poirre. The team did great and the people were more receptive than we could have imagined. In all, 40 people gave their lives to Christ in Poirre that day and there was even an offer of land to build a church in the village!
I was sad to have missed the Thursday distribution in Poirre, but there was other work to be done that day! We had an outreach team from California in a mountain town called Saut D'eau. Saut D'eau is about 2 hours east of St. Marc where we are living. The team had been up there for almost a week and it was time to take them to another little village for almost a week before they return to St. Marc on Wednesday. I said Saut D'eau was 2 hours east, but that day it turned into a lot longer of a trip. A town along the road to Saut D'eau was unhappy about the government not paving the road through town so they barricaded the road in a couple of areas that prevented anyone from driving through. (Try getting away with that in the States!) After a few minutes of figuring, the pastor that was traveling with me and myself decided to cross the barricades by foot and continue our journey via tap tap to collect the team. (Tap taps are a mode of public transportation that involves packing as many people as possible in the back of a small pickup and when you are approaching your destination you "tap tap" the side of the truck and they stop to let you out.) We managed to pick up the team in the tap tap and drive the 9-man team all the way back to the barricades. This is where things got a little interesting. There was about 2 miles of no man's land between the barricades that we needed to cross before we could get to the truck. The team were all such troopers! They carried all their luggage, their tents, and themselves across the 2 mile dirt road to get to the truck! At the end of the day, what was supposed to be a 4 hour round trip pick up ended up being a 9 hour adventure across Haiti! (It reminded me of the time that it took us hours and hours to get back from Winterfest that taught me to pray a few years back!)
Whew! A lot of things happened this past week and we are very blessed to have been a part of them. We plan to take full advantage of the couple days off that we have before two more teams arrive on our campus on Wednesday. Hopefully I didn't talk your ear off just now!
The Christmas/New Year holiday break has officially ended and so has the somewhat slow pace of the base. We just wrapped up a three day staff conference here in St. Marc on Wednesday. It was an amazing time to connect with the various people that comprise YWAM Haiti. Each morning started with breakfast and worship and then some teaching from Rod Smith out of Indiana. We would break for lunch and come right back into it in the afternoon until about 3. At 3 we were whisked away to the National Leadership Team (NLT) meeting, because of the vision that Kate and I have for starting and operating a YWAM base in Haiti in the future.
As good as Rod Smith was in teaching, it was the NLT meetings that really caught Kate and I's attention. We were able to meet with everyone that is currently directing (or proposing to direct) a YWAM location. We got to hear everyone's vision and even share our own amongst this group of movers and shakers. The greatest part about it was the discussions and teachings from YWAM Haiti's founder and current National Director Terry Snow. We dove into everything from finances to identifying the needs in the community and how our ministries can meet those needs. Those meetings have given Kate and I a lot of confidence as we begin to plan for our own future ministry and a great community of leaders to engage with.
That's not all we had going on this week.
As I write this, we have foreign students arriving for this year's first Discipleship Training School (DTS), an outreach team from Mendocino, CA, and Haitian students arriving for the Foundations of Christian Character (FCC) school. Kate and I will not be directly involved with the DTS or FCC at this time, but we will be with the students at various times throughout our day.
The outreach team from CA will be with us for the next two months and have already plugged right in since they arrived on Friday. They were working around the base yesterday and will be at the city's prison today. I am looking forward to get to know the team (there are 9 people on the team, 4 guys and 5 ladies) as we minister together around the city and surrounding villages.
We'll be sure to let you know how things are progressing with the team and I do apologize for not having the tour of the base video ready for you. I'm not sure when that might become a reality, but we will certainly try to make it happen.
P.S. Enjoy these photos of Isaac and his first adventure in swimming! (He didn't like it at first but he kinda warmed up to the idea after a little while.)
We have had so much grace these past few weeks. From the manageable weather to the relatively lax schedule, but come Monday, everything hits full force. While we are still in the calm, I figure I would bring you all up to date on what we are diving into!