Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Wednesday's Walk ~ Haiti Mission Trip

Today is Wednesday and I'm joining Lynnette of Dancing Barefoot ...on Weathered Ground for Wednesday's Walk Down Memory Lane.

I'd like to share some memories of a mission trip to Haiti. It was 1980 and a very turbulent time in Haiti's history. I know I'm dating myself but ...that's OK.

I was sitting in church one Sunday and the pastor was telling us about the desperate need in Haiti. I was living in Florida at this time. Pastor Charlie asked the congregation to pray about how we might help. He had received a cry for help from a pastor in Cape Haitian. By the end of the service, almost everyone was in tears and I was ready to sign up and go. After all, I was a nurse.

Little did I know that my parents and my Uncle Ivar and his wife signed up too. There were about 25 of us, along with Pastor Charlie Martin and his wife Stephanie.

We arrived at Port au Prince Airport and boarded a rickety old bus that looked like it would fall apart. We drove for several hours sitting on seats that were broken and the springs were sticking out. The roads were rough as our bus navigated around hairpin turns and along mountain edges. A little scary for me but who could complain? When I got a glimpse of how the majority of people lived in Haiti, I was overcome with such sadness.

In 1980, Jean-Claude Duvalier (or Baby Doc as he was nicknamed) was the President. His father had been the previous President and had been loved by the majority of the people. But when Baby Doc came into office, he married a woman named Michele Bennett, who was a mulatto divorce with a questionable background. The wedding cost about $3 million US dollars. Meanwhile, the peasants lived extreme poverty.

These were the kinds of shacks in which many lived. This was also a time of great fear because of the outbreak of AIDS. In 1980, there was much misinformation about this disease. And at the same time, there was a scare over the African Swine Flu (ASF). It plagued pigs in this area and there was widespread fear because it was contagious and fatal. The US was concerned it would spread to our country. So Baby Doc had the Haitian pigs slaughtered. The peasants were very upset about this because was their livelihood.

Prior to departing on this trip, I had to obtain all kinds of immunizations including malaria shots. Here I am working in a makeshift medical clinic as the women brought their babies for treatment. The mortality rate for babies was so high. There were so many tiny coffins that were made and I could see them in the villages. Many contracted malaria and the little children's bellies were swollen from malnutrition. I remember feeling so helpless by the overwhelming needs. There was a great voodoo influence in Haiti along with many superstitions. I could almost feel this dark influence.

My dad and uncle joined the construction crews to help build housing for the pastor of the Baptist church.

The Haitian pastor got all dressed up for Sunday services, despite the heat and humidity. There was no air conditioning either and the services lasted for hours.

But these people didn't complain. They were so excited to have the opportunity to worship God. I never heard people sing with such joy. I had seen where they lived and the death and poverty that surrounded them every day, along with the evil influences. And yet, here they were ...singing their hearts out to the Lord.

My mom always had a way with the little children.

And here she is getting ready to get on the back of a mule. We rode the mules to the top of a mountain to a deserted fortress that overlooked the ocean. What a view!

We eventually arrived back home but I knew I would never be quite the same again. I remember thinking about all that I'd been blessed with. And after eating goat and pineapples for the entire time in Haiti, I lost about 10 pounds. Believe me, that's not the way to lose weight!

Maybe you've experienced a different culture or adopted children from countries such as this. I know that my heart was touched. And it causes me to be so grateful. This was an experience I've never forgotten. And it's a perfect post on the day before Thankful Thursday. Now how could I not have much to be thankful for?

I hope you'll visit Lynnette to link to other participating bloggers' posts on Wednesday's Walk Down Memory Lane.

Wednesday's Walk ~ Haiti Mission TripSocialTwist Tell-a-Friend


Phivos Nicolaides said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Phivos Nicolaides said...

This is a great post Debbie. Kind regards, Philip

The Real Me! said...

Wow! I don't think one can really grasp what it's like until they've been there but your post and pictures brought me pretty close. I would be bawling like a baby!
How wonderful that you had that opportunity to serve in such a way.
My Aunt and Uncle lived on a missionary boat and were in Haiti in the 80's as well.
Hugs to you my sweet friend.

L-Jay said...

What an amazing life experience. I think it is so much more important to give of your time and talents. It shows more love and appreciation. A great story!

Smelling Coffee said...

What a wonderful summary of a life changing trip. I'm glad you added the historical background too. It's been too long since I've been out of my comfortable world and served others living in poverty as they retain the joy of the Lord! Thanks for sharing this today, Debbie!

hk said...

Wow Debbie, this was a wonderful post. I never realized the impact this trip must have made on you. Also, what a blessing to have been able to share it with your mom.
We have so much to be thankful for;
we often take it for granted, but what a blessed people we are.
Thanks for helping me take time to
"think on these things."
Have a good day!

Linda said...

Debbie, thanks for visiting my blog today and leaving such a nice comment. I also enjoyed reading your post from your trip to Haiti. Oh my,...I know that would change a person forever to see the conditions there. And it would,...or should make one forever thankful for all they have in the USA. The people in the picture were beautiful. I am so glad that they were open to the Lord and singing with hearts of joy.

Your mom looked sweet in the pictures. I am glad that so many of you could go and reach out together in the Lord's work.

Have a good evening. I am headed up to my daughter's house tonight. (Lynnette Kraft) I am missing her and her sweet family. We are going to go to garage sales in the morning. (:>)

Take Care,
Linda @ Truthful Tidbits

Beth E. said...

What a powerful post. I enjoyed looking at the pictures, too.

I just wanted to stop by and say hello. I've often read your comments on mutual friends' blogs, and I am always blessed by what you write.

You are a great witness for the Lord...not only on your blog, but others as well!

Beth E.

Chris said...

Thank you for your service for the Kingdom!

Rebecca. Harlan, IN said...

We visited an orphanage in Haiti one day while on a mission trip to the Dominican Republic (which shares the island). It would have been about the same time you were there, I believe. I also spent some time in Burkina Faso West Africa when our youngest daughter spent a year working in a dormitory for missionary children about 10 years ago (time flies! Seems like yesterday.) These experiences never leave a person's mind, do they?

Kate said...

That's awesome that you got to experience a different culture, and you were moved enough to go help! Thanks for sharing with us today!

Rhondi said...

Hi Debbie
I saw your comment on Daisy Cottage and wanted to stop by and say hello. I liked your post about the mission trip. I went to Swaziland on a mission trip a couple of years ago and it was life changing for me.

Lynette said...

I enjoyed reading this today - I experienced many different cultures growing up and it definitely changes your outlook forever. I've never been to Haiti though - it looks like an amazing place.
Thanks for sharing,

Denise said...

Such a fantastic post.

Karen said...

I love testimonies and especially missions stories. I know you will always treasure those memories and just think what has come of the seeds all of you planted!

Personalized Sketches and Sentiments said...

Thank you for sharing this experience and the photos to show with it.

My hubby did many different support missions as an Army pilot and all our 3 children have gone on dental and service missions...I look forward to the opportunity to go on one.

What blessings your family were and how wonderful to have done it together. (Your mom is beautiful.)

Blessings & Aloha!

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I love this place...Carmel, CA

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