December 2011 - Men's Team Trip Blog
God, as we start this journey we commit ourselves to You. Help us to be faithful. Make us passionate for You and the people of Haiti. Give us the insights and strategies we need to be a blessing to all those we meet in Haiti. In the powerful name of Jesus we pray, Amen.
Sixteen African American men arrived at the air port in Port Au Prince, Haiti on December 1, 2011, in route to Pignon, Haiti. Pignon is located in the northern sector of Haiti and is about 85 miles from Port Au Prince. It took about four hours to drive from Port Au Prince to Pignon. The main highways are good, but once you get off of the main highway the roads are unimproved dirt road with many pot holes and boulders.
The Mission Trip was sponsored by the Lott Cary Foreign Mission Convention. Our host was Pastor Jepthe who is the Pastor of sixty-four churches, twenty-two schools, and two orphanages. The purpose of the mission was twofold, first to provide Christian fellowship to a group of ministers and church leaders in the area and second to build benches, desks, shelves, closets and hang doors for the school, church, and the mission house. The desks will be used in the school while the benches will used in the churches.
You may ask how one man can pastor 64 churches, the way it is done is that the Mother Church is called Jerusalem at Pignon as additional churches are established they take the name of the Mother Church Jerusalem and attach it to the name of the town in which the church is located. If a church is located in Lacaste, the church would be named Jerusalem at Lacaste.
Day 1 – Thursday, December 1, 2011
It is 1:15 a.m. Deborah and I are on our way to Ebenezer Baptist Church to catch their church van for a trip to Reagan National Airport. We are at Ebenezer Baptist at the intersection of Guilford and 22nd with one other person, others start arriving to board the van. We packed our bags on the van, say our goodbyes, and we are headed to Reagan. The drive from Baltimore to the airport is about an hour and a half. Our plane leaves Reagan at 6:14 a.m., but we have to be there two to three hours in advance in order to get through security.
On our way to Reagan, the driver got lost and which took us a little longer to get to airport. Once at Reagan, we unloaded the van and proceeded to check-in. We met the team leader, Bernard Lott, and other members of the team who do not live in Baltimore. We all had e-tickets which were a challenge for those who were not computer savvy. There was someone present to help with the e-tickets which were both a life and time saver. We got our boarding passes, checked our bags, and were ready to go through security – shoes and belts off, all metal out of our pockets and through the metal detectors. It is about 5:15 a.m. and we are boarding the plane for Miami to connect to Port Au Prince.
We arrived in Miami safe and sound and made the connection for Port Au Prince. On the plane to Port Au Prince, there is a 45 minute delay because of a runway mix-up. On the plane headed to Haiti, the plane is completely full with some nationals and others who are missionaries. I met a Haitian who stated that he was pleased to see so many Black Americans going to Haiti. He stated that most of the missionaries are white and it was good to have Black Americans supporting Haiti.
On the plane we were give a corn muffin, a beverage, and immigration forms to complete before arriving in Haiti. On the ground in Haiti, we are in a group to go through customs. Going through customs was long and uneventful. Once through customs, we gather to gather to exit the airport. Pastor Hancock from Ebenezer gave us a briefing before exiting. He said stay together and do not let anyone take or touch you bags. As we walked from the terminal to the parking lot, guys asked to take our bags.
We were in the parking lot when we met Pastor Jepthe for the first time. He introduced himself and welcomed us to Haiti. There is a van, a truck, and an SUV to transport us from Port Au Prince to Pignon.
The ride to Pignon is about four hours. The ride on the main highway was smooth. Once we left the main highway, the secondary roads were very bad – pot holes, boulders, and stream crossings.
We are in Pignon – unload our bags enter into the mission house were we will be living for the next nine days. The house is three- story concrete. We will stay on the first floor. The first floor has six bedrooms and a large dining room. Each room had three to four bunk beds or two double beds. The room that I slept in had four bunks beds. There were three of us sleeping in that room. After choosing our rooms, we had evening devotions and dinner. Dinner consisted of rice and beans, chicken, potatoes, and a vegetable salad. The food was good and plentiful. Off to bed.
Day 2 – Friday, December 2, 2011
It is about 4:00 a.m. in the morning, my roommate woke me to ask if I had a flash light. He needed a flash light to see his way to the bathroom. He stated that he gets up at 4-4:30 a.m. every day. I told him no I don’t. After being awakened, I did not return to sleep. I got up about 6:30 a.m., others were already up and moving about.
We had morning devotions and then breakfast. During devotions, the team leader- Bernard Lott led a discussion on our purpose in Haiti. We are here to glorify God and not ourselves through our work and fellowship with the people of Haiti.
Pastor Jepthe stated the he wanted to divide us into two groups, one group to visit the site (the school, church, sewing school, and orphanage) and another group to work on site. After some discussion, he stated that there should be three groups, one to visit the sites, one to work, and one that sits and do nothing. His reason was based on the fact that some people were there just to be there and was not going to do any work. The work projects would consist of building benches for the church, desks for the school, a closet for the sewing school, doors and shelves for the mission house. Pastor Jepthe talked about his life and his vision for Haiti. He stated the Haiti will change because of Christians working with God’s help and not the government. We will improve Haiti through the power of Jesus Christ. Many are called but few are chosen.
We all ended up going on the site visit –tour of the church, school, orphanage and part of the town. As we walked along the dirt road of the town, we were passed by young men speeding on motor cycles, people walking carrying water and other goods, and people walking up and down the street.
Most of the homes we saw were one-story cement on board or concrete.
At the end of the tour, we returned to the mission house for lunch and to begin work on the different projects. By day’s end, we had constructed two and a half desks.
Day 3 – Saturday, December 3, 2011
After morning devotions and breakfast, we divided into two groups – group one made benches and desks, and group two made shelves for the indoor kitchen and doors for the upstairs bedrooms. I was with the group that made the shelves for the indoor kitchen. This group consist of Ralph Taylor, Claude Williams and yours truly, Ervin McDaniel.
Doing construction in Haiti was a challenge. There were tools with missing parts; we had to share electricity from generators that would die at any time. But in spite of the challenges, we worked hard and enjoyed working on the projects. Here in the U.S. if you need something you would just jump in your car and go to Home Deport or Lowes. In Haiti it is not that simple.
Day 4 – Sunday, December 4, 2011
It is Sunday morning. On Sunday morning, Christians go to church. After morning devotions and breakfast we all went to church in three locations. Pastor Hancock went to preach at the mother church, Minister Williams and Elder Taylor preached at two other churches. Deacon Ralph Taylor and I went with Minister Williams.
When we got to our church, they were in the process of praise and worship. When I say praise and worship I mean praise and worship! There was a praise and worship leader whose job was to lead the congregation in song and pray. Praise and worship is not for 15 to 20 minutes, but for an hour or more. Since this was the first Sunday, there was communion. Communion is given only to those who request communion the Friday before the first Sunday. After praise and worship, there is collection, and song by the choir. After this the preacher comes with the message. In our case, we had the preacher, Minister Williams and our interpreter, Joe.
After service we returned to the mission house for lunch. After lunch, we visited an orphanage that Pastor Jepthe runs. The orphanage is the home of 40 girls and three pastors and their families. The homes at the orphanage were very modest. Cooking is done on the outside and the restrooms are also located outside of the house.
Then from the orphanage we went to a fashion show. The fashion show was a project for the final grading of the students. The place was packed – standing room only. The models would come out, walk before the crowd, and then stand before the judges for the final grades. The judges would look at the seams of the garment and the general appearance.
Day 5 – Monday, December 5, 2011
This is the first day of the conference. We spent all day at the conference center – the Camp. The Camp consists of a church, several out building – kitchen and dining room, and several dormitories to house the conference participants. Pastor Jepthe stated that this was the first time that they have a conference where they had multiple speakers. The conference had two sessions a morning session and an afternoon session.
On the first day, there was praise and worship followed by an opening session where Pastor Jepthe welcomed the participants–pastors, deacons, and lay leaders and gave them an overview of the speakers that will be presenting. The praise and worship were given in French. After the opening session, there was lunch followed by the afternoon session.
Elder Taylor made a presentation regarding the “What does it means to fear the Lord. There was an interpreter who interpreted his message from English to French. Judging from the reaction of the audience he was well received.
Day 6 – Tuesday, December 6, 2011
We spent all day at the conference. We presented at both sessions. At the morning session Brother Ruffies spoke and Deacon White spoke at the afternoon session. Brother Ruffie’s subject was “A leader who serves God in truth with all his heart” and Deacon White’s subject was “What is the source of blessing for a man of God.
After the afternoon session, we went out on an evangelism walk through the community. We had an interpreter with us. We witnessed to four individuals. All of the individuals wanted us to pray for them. All but one accepted Jesus as their Lord and Savior.
While we were witnessing, we approached a young man who had a machete. As we approached him I saw the machete in his hand. This was not an ordinary machete. This was the kind of machete with a wide blade at the bottom and got narrow at the top. The man had a look that said I do not want to be bothered. When asked do you know Jesus he said yes – so I got close to him. When asked do you want to accept Him he look at his machete and said no, then I stepped back. But when he asked us to pray for him I step closer and touch him for prayer. This holds true the statement that God prepares the heart of those to whom you witness.
Day 7 – Wednesday, December 7, 2011
I did not go to the conference today. I spent all day working at the mission house. I was working on finishing the shelves for the kitchen. After working, I went to the waterfall. The waterfall is a man-made fall and not a natural fall. The waterfall is where the stream is dammed up then pumped up in a pipe. At the waterfall, people bath and get water for their personal use.
Day 8 – Thursday, December 8, 2011
Today is a half day of leisure. Before we went to the conference we purchased goods from the local venders. The venders had paintings, carvings, dresses, bookmarks and other assorted goods.
The conference ended today at about 2:00 p.m. Deacon Taylor presented today. His topic was what God has done thus far.
After the conference we went into town. The highlight was the people. All of the people smiled at us as we walk pass, some tried to talk to us. We visited the town jail which is a two cell jail. There were two inmates in the jail, one male and one female. Most of the roads were paved in town. There were capital improvements in the progress in town mostly roads and sewers.
Day 9 – Friday, December 9, 2011
Back to the U.S.A. up at 3:30 a.m. - packing the van and SUV for the trip to the airport in Port Au Prince. 4:30 a.m. on our way to the airport. On our drive down the mountains to Port Au Prince we see the country side and it is green and beautiful. When we reach the outskirts of Port Au Prince we made a stop at a tent city where pastor Jepthe is in the process of building a church and an orphanage.
Arrived at the airport – guys in red shirts all over the place. We were told not to let anyone touch your bags or to give any one your passport. Check-in was a breeze. They had our tickets waiting for us at check-in.
Once we got our tickets, we checked our bags and went through security. We went through three security checks. Each check involved taking off our shoes and belt three times. If I had known I would have kept my shoes and belt off. Going out off Haiti is easier and faster than getting into Haiti.
Black Men Traveling in as a Group
As we, a group of 16 men, arrived and moved through the airport at Reagan National and Port Au Prince, people took notice. I was approached several times as to what who we were and what we will be doing in Haiti. People were surprised and amazed that 16 Black men would be on a mission for God. Black men do positive things all the time.
The Spirit of Haitians
Haiti is known as one of the poorest countries in the world. Haiti is poor when we measure its wealth by income and material goods. But if we measure wealth by the spirit of its people, Haiti is very rich. The people of Haiti are hard working, very proud of their country and heritage and have a strong faith in God.
Food and Water
Water – we did not drink the local well water. The water we consumed was bottled water. We used local water for bathing. Cold water showers – you get accustomed to cold water after a couple of days you don’t notice.
Food – the food was great.
Dinner: rice and beans, rice, chicken, mystery meat, soup, lasagna, macaroni salad, vegetable salad, potatoes, pasta
Breakfast: oatmeal, banana, eggs, bacon
Lunch: hot dogs, fries, okra
Doing a Lot with a Little
Pastor Jepthe is doing a lot with a little. Here is a man of God who is pastoring 64 churches, running 2 orphanages, 22 schools and a number of other programs for God. How does he accomplish all this? He says he get it all done through his faith in God – with God all things are possible. Continue to pray for Pastor Jepthe and the people of Haiti – he also needs our funds.