Christmas in Haiti 2013
By Rev. Robert Smith, Jr. | December 31, 2013
Christmas in Haiti - December 16 - 20, 2013
Thanks to you the trip to Haiti this Christmas was a joy divine. Things went well and better than expected in many cases. The people that went with me were strong Christians and determined to do all the good they could for the Kingdom of God in Haiti. They served with joy and happiness and they seem to never get tired.
Helping make Christmas for the “least ones” of Haiti were three wonderful Impact Ministers from the Rosedale Park Baptist Church and a strong soldier from the New Bethel Baptist Church. They were Brother Roy Harlin, Sister Tammy Terry and Sister Florence Hunt of Rosedale Park Baptist Church and Minister Juwah.
On December 16, 2013, we arrived in Port Au Prince, Haiti a city of 898,000 that seems to have 3,000,000 people at every intersection. Because it was the last evening flight, the exit from the airport was a little more troublesome than usual, but all the travelers were veterans. They handled the chaos well and we got out of the airport parking lot with all 16 suitcases and five passengers. It cost a little more than most arrivals. Besides my nine standard helpers I take care of each month, there were six others I had to give something.
As we rode down the street we had many come to the truck and van with painful looks on their faces and their hands out for anything you could give. You have to wait until you are moving to give because each time you give, you draw a crowd. This is one of the more painful parts of the trip, because you know that the little you give means so much to the receiver, but leaves them in the same shape. They are hungry and homeless with little or no love.
We arrived at the house after a hard drive in the crowded, broken streets where the only rule is ‘there are no rules’. The intersections are the test grounds to see who is willing to take a chance on going on or getting knocked out. Somehow, we made it time after time. The workers that met us at the house were excited to see new faces, new faces bring hope that things will change for the better. There is no telling what a new friendship will bring to a person that lives off hope each day, day by day.
The Impact Ministers who were at the house for the first time were so nice and willing to do what was necessary to make things work. They all took the rooms provided for them with a smile. All of them worked to make each other comfortable. I tried to give my room to a first timer, but they refused and made the best of the three rooms we had for four people. Minister Juwah got to try the new bed in the spare room. The spare room is in the guest lounge off the living area. I am hoping to add three rooms to the open space we have left on the compound in the near future so that we may have more guests at the same time.
We brought all the 16 plus packs into a room to start the process of dividing things up for the different places we needed to go to serve. It was a hard job but the team was ready and willing. I got to watch it all. My, did they work hard! They worked so hard that we couldn’t make church that first night because of the long, hard road. It’s called October 15. We would not have been able to get to the church at Pernier until after 8 p.m. and there is no light after 8 p.m. Instead, we worked through the night getting things ready to hand out the rest of the week.
After, a good night of sleep and a good breakfast things started happening. We were off to the battle grounds. The roads were packed and the danger ever so present, but I live to see the orphanage that made the trip worth taking. You have to be there to know the joy of doing God’s work, “for those that give to the poor lend to the Lord.” When you enter you see fear on the faces of children that just don’t know what is happening, but soon their faces light up with unspeakable joy.
Croix des Bouquets is the place where I live and we have a church there that started as the earthquake church and we have this orphanage. We left boxes of gifts for the pastor of the church to give to the community for Christmas, but we passed out all kinds of gifts to the smiling faces of the children in the orphanage.
We went to the place created by the earthquake and now is known as Odenville. You can see the earthquake money spent there by the foundations and World Bank that President Clinton is in charge of for the Haiti Earthquake Relief. There are 1000’s of new homes with curbing and street lights. It is one of the bright spots in Haiti that gets little attention.
The Haiti Mission Alliance is building an orphanage, school and church there, it is the largest project that I am involved in and is supported by churches in Florida and Atlanta. We started worshipping a week before Christmas and we have more than 64 members already. When we got there people start coming from every direction, including a truck with loud speakers asking people to come to the Pentecostal church.
We, or they, gave out clothes and toys to hundreds of people in a turbulent situation, but they wouldn’t stop giving out the things they brought for the “least ones” in Haiti. The ladies along with Bro. Roy, Pastor Olistin, and the Pernier school principal stood their ground as people desperate to get any item of any kind of any size pressed for an item of any kind. I stayed back and gave out a little candy from time to time. When we drove away children and adults alike followed the van to catch candy as the pastor stopped from time to time to drop candy. It was a joy to know we made the day for so many that have nothing. When a little is enough, joy is not hard to find.
The night came and that meant church in Pernier. The hard part is the drive up October 15 because the street is always crowded and the driving is nerve wrecking. You have to be a dare devil to drive or ride. Once we got there the people start coming in from all directions, including the dog that has never missed a service in eight years. There was singing, preaching and praying. All the Impact Ministers helped to make the night special but Minister Juwah was able to involve the audience like no other. I wish she could make every trip.
Of course, after service we passed out candies to the children, and the clothing and toiletries. What a delight to see them as each man, woman, boy and girl received, not just one, but several items including clothing, underwear, flip flops, toothbrushes, toothpaste, shampoo, and spiral notebooks/crayons.
The next day we were up early to visit more churches/schools/orphanages. We were at the mercy of Pastor Olistin, so we followed his lead on where we should go next. We also visited the Mother Church at Croix des Bouquets and again gave gifts to the children (and teachers!). By the time we got there, some of the children were dismissed after the morning session, so the rest of the clothing were to be distributed later.
We were also able to visit the C & S Mission. School was in session, so we left one of the suitcases to be distributed later. It was a pleasure to see some of the old faces, and to meet the new Principal who was from New Jersey. Sister Tammy, one of the Impact Ministers, was touched to see this orphanage and walk where Mother Moffett, a close friend of her mother-in-law, walked. By the time we got back to the house a delicious meal was waiting then it was almost time for us to make the ride on October 15 back to Pernier. This time we took part in a praise, worship and deliverance service, and afterward served meals of rice, beans and meat for everyone. What a gratifying evening. I was a true joy to see all the Impact Ministers and Min. Juwah serving ‘the least ones’. We were all in our calling, serving and not being served!
After the service the ministers (I stayed behind and enjoyed the company of the children!) toured the unfinished basement where the food was being prepared and the second floor where the future church is expected to be completed in 2014. They were taken back by the work still to be done - roof, windows, interior work. It is a sobering experience to see that an unfinished building will not stop the praise, preaching and worship. I believe that we would not even consider service until everything and everyone is in place. But here we are in a makeshift church/school praising God and knowing that God hears and answers prayers!
The next day was my day of rest, but the rest of the team went sightseeing with Pastor Olistin. He gave them a tour of downtown still in disarray after the earthquake. They also shopped for souvenirs, and were driven around to see the scenic side of Haiti - the mountains, the President’s house, the trendy neighborhoods. By the time they got back to the house, and ate the delicious supper, we were all to tired to make the final October 15 drive back to Pernier for the last night of the revival. So we had a little prayer circle at the house before Pastor Olisitin and his deacons left us for Pernier. We pack what little we had left and got ready for an early start for our return to Detroit.
All in all it was a fruitful trip seeing the faces of the children light up with the gifts, seeing the Impact Ministers full of joy (that was their theme for the journey). And of course I’m ready for the next trip.
Thank you to all who attended the Christmas in Haiti Revival 2013, and those who contributed monetary support for the trip, including support for the teachers at the schools. Thank you to the pastors of the 5 churches whose support was heartfelt during the 5 Revival nights. Each pastor blessed us in a different way each night raising awareness for the needs in Haiti. Special thanks and God’s blessing to Pastor Reid (True Light), Pastor Seay (Greater Community), Pastor Campbell (New White Stone), Pastor Chambers (Pilgrim), Pastor Proche’ (Tree of Life), and of course the New Bethel Church family.
I also sincerely thank Pastor Hamon Cross of Rosedale Park Baptist Church for going that extra mile to allow his Impact Ministers to participate on the last night of our revival, and to travel on this journey to personally see the end result of the fruits of their labor. I sincerely thank you, and ask abundant blessings on all and on the Michigan District Baptist Association for the thoughtful gifts of clothing and footwear for Christmas in Haiti 2013. And I thank God that He was in the midst of all we did to make Christmas in Haiti 2013 a success. How good the Lord is!
Robert Smith, Jr.