Details from Brian and Alisa Kay's trip to Haiti with the Monadnock Bible Conference and Partners with Haiti, June 24 - July 4, 1999
On our trip, we were exposed God's workings in Haiti. On and before arrival, our opinion of Haiti was shaped by our knowledge that this is the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere, with a long and bloody history of military dictatorships. We had read media accounts which detailed only the bad news, and none of the good.
During our trip, however, we were overwhelmed by the kindness and grace of the Haitian people, including those with whom we worked directly at the church, and those we encountered on the streets, and in our travels. Especially striking was the power of the Gospel to produce Haitians who worked tirelessly to minister to their people. We visited several ministries that have produced oases of joy and hope.
Our trip was made possible because of the long-term cooperation of Monadnock Bible Conference, Partners with Haiti and several Haitian churches and organizations. Our team leaders, Russ Bryant and Nancy Turner have extensive experience bringing American work teams to Haiti. They put us under the protection of Haitians, who were able to shepherd us through the experience with the greatest safety possible.
The purpose for our trip was to gain a first hand knowledge of Haiti's needs, to help with a construction project, and to receive a spiritual revitalization from the strong faith of the Haitian Christians. Brian also brought two trumpets and two trombones to donate and teach to musicians at the church.
We stayed in the home of Pastor Rigaud Antoine. The pastor and his extended family have built and outfitted their home to be used as a guest house for much of the year. We stayed in several large rooms outfitted with bunk beds. Tanks on the roof, which were filled by truck provided shower, sink, and toilet water, and 5 gallon containers of Culligan water in coolers provided drinking water. We had electricity for much of the day, although the power generally went out between 7 PM and midnight. The facilities were spartan, but clean, and we had everything we needed.
The love of the Antoine family for us was manifested in many ways, but especially in their cooking. The delicious, nutritious, and substantial meals gave us plenty of energy for the day. They made every effort to prepare food that was safe for us, including very selective shopping, and wearing latex gloves as they prepared our food. It was humbling to be fed so lavishly by those who are used to much hardship and to eat our meals a stone's through away from those who couldn't eat well regularly. When we guzzled our purified drinking water during the day in our attempt to get used to the hotter weather, we were watched by those who didn't have access to water so clean.
This is a view of Port-au-Prince from the mountains. The smog is partly a result of many individual charcoal fires for cooking.
Good drinking water is scarce in Haiti. These girls are gathering water from a cistern.
On our way to the work-site on the first day. We are delivering trombones to be donated to the church.
A good view of the work site. We helped the Haitian workers carry and place mortar blocks and cement. On Thursday, July 1 at 11:00 A.M., a 24 by 10 foot section of the roof collapsed due to the weight of the wet concrete and inadequate bracing. 2 Haitian and 2 American workers went down with the roof. Miraculously, they walked away from their 15 foot fall with only scratches and bruises, and the timing of the collapse was such that no one was crushed underneath. It was a very tense time after the collapse until everyone was accounted for and the wreckage was cleared. None of the small children that were playing in the area had been crushed underneath.
An accident that would be expected to have taken several lives produced no serious injuries! This event over-shadowed all others of the trip, and was evidence of God's power to protect those doing his work. It also forced us to ask ourselves how we would have felt about God had there been death or serious injuries.
The 7,500 pound wreckage of wet concrete, bricks and steel, representing the destruction of three days work, had to be cleaned up before the concrete dried. We, and especially the Haitians, worked overtime to use the materials in smaller section of roof, which we were able to complete.
The church has invested in a cement mixer and brick making machine, which will provide much needed jobs for Haitian men.
These 25 pound bricks were passed bucket brigade style to the roof where we stacked them for later use.
Exhausted at the end of the last work day.
The mountains outside Port-au-Prince are home to the wealthy, with many impressive homes. Although currently an ecological disaster, parts of Haiti are quite beautiful. What is most beautiful, however, is the warmth, kindness, and community of the Haitian people. God has worked through some hard-working Haitian individuals in the evangelical churches who have a vision for a better Haiti.
Horns for Haiti: Information on the brass teaching project. We donated two trombones and two trumpets to the church, and Brian spent much of the week teaching the instruments to enthusiastic Haitian musicians.
Our fellow traveller, Jocelyn Turner made another excellent page on the trip.