My teenage daughter and I were looking for an opportunity to serve on a mission team over the summer. We were fortunate because our good friend Shelley Herrmann happened to be organizing a group to go to Haiti for eight days in August. Once assembled, our team consisted of 14 people: two men, four women, seven high school students, and one middle school student. We were looking for a chance to see God at work in a totally different environment – and that’s what we got. What I didn’t anticipate was the profound impact of this trip on my perspective on how God can work in our lives, no matter where we live.
Our first experience with Haitian culture was during the van ride from the Port-au-Prince airport to Villa Ormiso. It was overwhelming. People seemed to walk randomly through the traffic, and the main thoroughfares were chaotic. Trash was heavily strewn everywhere in the streets, and there was no sanitation system. The houses in the city and urban areas were small, tin roofed structures that had been patched together with rags. As I took in the poverty, I was surprised at how the Haitians were so well-dressed. The women wore dresses, and the men often wore suites. Even those wearing jeans were well kept.
The main purpose of our trip was to teach VBS to girls in an orphanage, to several churches, and mountain villages. (Sometimes God also provided opportunities to engage with folks in places we least expected!) To get to these different locations, we usually endured a two or three hour ride each way in the back of a large truck fitted with seats. Our group made the best of this experience which gave us a “fun” way to get even closer to Haitian street life! Once at our destination, we shared the Jesus-feeds-the-5,000 story (John 6:1-14) with many Haitian children and women. Even some of the men joined us. To help illustrate the story, we brought several different crafts with us.
Our primary activity included showing them how to sew a “stuffed” fish together using felt material and other items we provided. This helped teach them a sewing skill. More importantly, it reminded us all of the Bible story illustrating that God can do much with very little. The Haitian women and children learned quickly and many developed their own creative designs for the fish. Also, a group from Waco, Texas, had recently sent sewing machines, which had been distributed to the villages through the skillful coordination of Madame Charlotte. So we instructed the groups on how to make a handbag from the brightly colored t shirts we had brought.
For most of us this was our first mission trip, but for Bill and Janie Glace, this was like coming back home again. Many years ago as a young husband wife team, they lived in Haiti and developed relationships and spread God’s word. Since then, they have returned often and have increased their visits after the earthquake to help rebuild. They continue to invest themselves in these amazing people and were invaluable leaders and resources during our trip. We are indebted to them, to Shelly Herrmann, and OMS- MFM for the opportunity to go on this life-changing adventure. This trip has strengthened me and opened my eyes to the many opportunities we have to serve Christ every day in all situations.