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Reflections - 30 November to 7 December - Haiti Lambi Team

"Today I saw the extreme polemic which is Haiti...from those who have little or nothing  to those who engage in the sin of over indulgence and have so very much.   And then I understood...America!"   Rev. Dr. Keith I. Jones

Two teams merged on the mission field at Lambi this week, Clifton Park Baptist Church and 100 Men 10 Houses, 'Men on Missions' Team.  Ten individuals shared the work of completing the construction of the eighteenth (18) duplex in Lambi Village.  The November 9th Men on Missions team laid constructed the walls and raised the trussess to the roof.  These teams completed the interior foundation, placed the roof and painted the entire structure.  On Thursday, they dedicated the homes to two widows and their families: Madame Jeune and Madame Islamde.

Clifton Park Baptist Church participants: Dr. Earl Armstrong, M.D., The Peoples Community Baptist Church, Silver Spring, Maryland; Phyllis Basden & Randi Pascal, both from Clifton Park Baptist Church, Silver Spring, Maryland; and Te'lisa Singleton, St. Paul Baptist Church, Charlotte, North Carolina.  

Men on Missions participants: Ervin McDaniel & Ralph Taylor, St. Timothy's Christian Baptist Church, Baltimore, Maryland; Vernon Hammett, Alfred Street Baptist Church, Alexandria, Virginia; Rev. Dr. Keith I. Jones, Shiloh Baptist Church, Norfolk, Virginia; Tony Taylor, Convent Avenue Baptist Church, New York, NY; and Roland Williams, Mt. Olive Baptist Church, Centreville, Virginia. 

The following Men on Missions update was submitted by:  Vernon Hammett, Alfred Street Baptist Church, Alexandria, VA

I opened our 6:30am devotions with the song "I Woke Up This Morning With My Mind Stayed On Jesus". It is truly where I was first thing this morning. We left our lodging for Grace Village in Lambi around 7:30. Because we are staying near the airport in Port Au Prince we have about a 45-50 minute ride across town. Arriving at the village was like coming back to a very familiar, very warm and inviting place. Immediately I saw faces and people I recognized from my previous trip AND they recognized me! I felt like I was seeing some of my relatives I haven't seen for a long time (you know, the ones you like and WANT to After our hellos, we gathered in a circle and were introduced to the villagers we would be working with and the homeowners whose homes we will work on.

Each day at the worksite we gather to get our instructions and assignments for the day and we all introduce ourselves. We have to pay attention because the villagers have to remember
our names and we have to remember theirs. Its a wonderful icebreakers and a fun time. We close this part out with prayer and begin work in earnest. Mrs. Jeune, Cynthia and Islande are the three widows and homeowners we will be assisting this week. We are pourig the concrete floor today for Mrs. Islande, constructing and installing railings and window screens in Mrs. Jeune's home and painting Mrs. Cynthia's house. When we talk about pouring concrete in Haiti there are no concrete trucks which are hired to deliver is a portable mixer on site and the cement, sand, gravel and water are put in the machine then dumped on the ground. From there a bunch of us, with 2 gallon buckets scoop it up and pass it along a human conveyor belt until it reaches it's detination. ALL OF US, but particularly the homeowner who is woking twice as hard as everyone else, are covered in concrete as the mixture sloshes out of the buckets as it is passed along.

As you can tell this process is labor intensive but, if you were here you would also know that it is very festive. We're encouraging each other and singing songs. "This Is The Day" was a favorite with the Haitians singing in Kreole and the Americans in English. It's a celebration because it means a villager is one step closer to becoming a home owner. If all goes smoothly, we will dedicate Mrs. Islande's home on Friday.

For the remainder of the day my work assignments included painting the ceiling of Ms. Cynthia's house and cutting wood to make the screens for Ms. Jeune's house. But the real work was interacting with the residents. We found out there were a coupke of people who were ill in the village and went to have prayer with them. One was a young man who was experiencing severre headaches. The other was a very young child who was running a fever. We prayed and laid hands on them believing that God would heal them.

The children started coming back to the village in the early afternoon and they were as excited to see us as we were to see them. I saw quite a few of my friends from last year, Edson, who became my photographer had the biggest grin when I saw him. He stayed with me the remainder of the day...whatever task I had, he was there working along side me. I was deeply touched to see David, the young man I adopted last year coming from school in his uniform. Wow was I proud...and so was he. David speaks English pretty well but is very shy. We talked about school and how things were going. He told me he is very thankful and happy (not any more than I am). Later he gave me a letter and signed it "I love my father". I hugged him and cried, and hugged him and cried some more. He doesn't know it but I bought him some shoes and clothing, including a belt, underwear and socks. I will bring them with me tomorrow when we go to the village.

We left the village around 3:30 to head back to our residence. None of us got as much  work done in the afternoon but we accomplished quite a bit if you get my drift. Our ride back was quiet because we were all exhausted both physically and mentally. We always get together in thw evening to discuss our day and plan for tomorrow. I could tell from the comments that God had done a marvelous job on our first day at Grace Village in Lambi, Port Au Prince.

The following was submitted by Clifton Park Baptist Church team member: Randi Pascal, Clifton Park Baptist Church, Silver Spring, MD:

I've never seen so much love, community, and determination. They live in such hard conditions but that doesn't stop their spirit. We have a lot to learn from the people in the Lambi Village. A young boy, maybe six years old, touched my cross necklace and said something in Creole. I said, "Jesus". He said, "Jesus thank you?". "Yes, Jesus thank you." The cross resembles exactly that, Thank you Jesus.

The children have so much love and joy and were by my side whether I was walking around or painting a front door. I taught two boys to paint, they were just so eager to help. And to be with us.
While we were pouring concrete, our group started singing "This is the day that The Lord has made," and the Haitians joined us singing the song in Creole smiling from ear to ear. GOD is in this place.

The following was submitted by Men on Missions team members: Rev. Dr. Keith I. Jones, Shiloh Baptist Church, Norfolk, VA:

Typical counseling...A couple struggles with trust issues; a father does likes like his son's life choices; a family is enmeshed amidst the son's depression. Very typical. But when compounded by daily struggles for food, and housing, resources that cushion us against the typical blows of life, these small issues can be devastating to families. These issues come in all of our lives. Our Lott Carey mission here is to restore the cushions that can soften life's blows so that folks can just plain cope. on another level, I am learning anew, not to take the simple blessings for granted.
22 hours ago

Wednesday.  As we painted, the future owner painted beside us with great energy and almost giddy with excitement. Afterll, this was to be. Her home after living in crude tents for more than two years. This what hope looks like!  How glad I was to be a part of it. After we finished, I looked back and the sparkling newly painted bungalow, glistening in the Haitian sun and there she was, sweeping off the porch clearing away remaining rocks, making this home. I've been in ministry a long time and there are many days that I go home wondering what useful thing I accomplished.  I did not have to wonder.  Today, I was useful! Thank You Lord!  Thank you, Lott Carey!

Thursday. We completed and dedicated a duplex for two families, now freed from the tents and now given a place that they can call their own! What a wonderful experience to be a part of this moment. The keys are given to the women, as the leaders of the house. The Bible is given to the man to suggest that he is responsible for the spiritual health of all who dwell therein. The families came dressed in their best, the little boys with shined shoes (not a small task in this dusty dirty world); the little girls with big hair bows ans pastel colored dresses. You could see this was to be a life changing moment. Many of the villagers gathered to celebrate with these two families, joyful as though it was their blessing as well. What an honor to represent our team and Lott Carey in this event.

It is raining tonight, a torrential downfall. I cannot help but think that there are two families that will not have to endure water leaks, muddy tent floors and washed away roads. Two families are safe. Praise God!

CLOSE OF FRIDAY:  Today we saw the extreme polemic which is Haiti.  The camps where hundreds still live, since 2010, with their dwellings put together with whatever they could find.  One person called them refugees, but in the true sense they are survivors.  They have lived thru unimaginable peril and persist to this day in whatever manner they can.  I have not recognized them as lazy, but as industrious, seeking some modicum of dignity despite a life that seems to want to rob them of the same.

We visited schools and I came to appreciate the extreme sacrifice some families make to afford their children an education. And rather than the sense of entitlement that so many of our children seem to have, these children see the ability to go to school as the privilege that it is.  They were enthusiastically alert.  The family hope is that, with education, each successive generation will do better and parents are willing to go without, to delay gratification for the future of their children.

We saw the orphanages, where scores of children are without parents, losing them to earthquake related deaths.  As we walked the halls the children would quickly take our hands holding onto us tightly.  I came to understand that every single one desired a home and perhaps saw us as hope. Then I understood the true injustice of all of my fellows who will look to Russia, China, Vietnam, to adopt when Haiti is at their backdoor.

We visited the Baptist Mission which for years has offered the Gospel through education and health care to the people of Haiti.

And then we saw a Haiti that we had not seen.  This Haiti had posh restaurants and stores, hotels and clean streets. No squalor and people who were well clad in the most contemporary clothing. Cars which were shiny and without dents.  Gated huge home estates behind large securty walls.  We stopped at a mountainside cafe, overlooking almost the entire country and we saw folks who looked very well off.  This was the Haiti that seemed not to have a care in the world and I wondered, what does this Haiti have to do with that Haiti? Is this Haiti even cognizant of the suffering that is just down the hill?  Do they ever get their hands dirty to help the villagers build their next home?  Do they ever seek to be a part of the remedy to homelessness and deprivation?

Today I saw the extreme polemic which is Haiti...from those who have little or nothing  to those who engage in the sin of over indulgence and have so very much.   And then I understood...America!

The following highlights of his day was submitted by Ervin McDaniel, St. Timothy's Christian Baptist Church, Baltimore, Maryland:

Haiti Tuesday December 3rdUp at 5:45
Devotions at 6:30
Song "Every Praise Is To Our God"
Scripture : James 1
Breakfast - oat meal, banana and juice
On the bus at 7:30
Arrived at the work site at 8:23
Meet at the center of the village for prayer and work instruction.
The team went into two groups:
Group one painting
Group two making railings for the porch.

I was on the paint team. We painted the windows, and the bottom level of the home.
It is a warm day. All the residents near the house we were painting jointed us in painting - both the young and old pitch in to help us paint .
We broke for lunch at 12:00 noon. Before eating, we did a flash song "All praises to our God". Some of the community members joined us - but all who was out enjoyed the signing.
After lunch, we continued working until 3:00 PM.

Highlights of the day:
During one of my rest break a little girl asked me if I was ok. I said yes them she offered me a cookie. Someone who has so little is offering me some of her little - that's love.
While I was walking to the water cooler to refill my water bottle, I saw a little girl at the community well pumping water, I said I am going to pump the water for her. She had a 5 gallon bucket and a one gallon jugs. So I start pumping to fill the 5 gallon bucket. After pumping the water I was warned out. She smiled at me and pumped two more 5 gallon buckets for her friends - that's love.
Throughout the day people of the village was displaying their love to each other.

Back at the rooming house, we had dinner (goat, potato salad, garden salad .
After dinner we celebrate one of the cook's birthday with cake and ice cream.

Here is a link to the flash song.