2017 Haiti Trip in final planning stages
It's 84 and sunny today in Cap Haïtien, Haiti--a pretty typical January forecast. Fifteen* of us are getting ready to get up close and personal with Haiti's weather and beautiful people, especially the many children at the Kids Alive Children's Village. All indications so far are that we will be working on the second floor of the school that our teams began building last year about this time. (Construction in Haiti can take a long time--there are no bank loans to pay for a project up front, so you build as the resources become available.) We've been told that the second floor will have been poured by the time we arrive, and that our task will be to begin laying block for the walls and partitiions on the second floor. It's hard work, and the sun, the heat and humidity can wear you down quickly, but what a joy to know that this work will result in a better school facility that will serve many more students and grade levels!
Cap Haïtien is the second-largest city in Haiti, and during the French colonial period (during the 17th and 18th centuries), it was among the richest cities in the Caribbean--today it is one of the poorest places in the western hemisphere. And the Kids Alive Children's Village is located in the neighborhood of Balan, one of the poorest sections of Cap Haïtien. Unemployment is around 70-80%, and the level of government corruption in Haiti is among the highest in the world. As you can imagine, there are many, many needs in Haiti. The 2010 earthquake devastated the region around Port-au-Prince in the south, and affected the whole country in many ways (many of the children at the Kids Alive children's village came from Port-au-Prince after the earthquake); by 2016, nearly all of the people who were living in tents after the earthquake had finally been moved into homes, but the hurricane of 2016 in the southern peninsula destroyed homes, farms, and crops, killed hundreds, and left many thousands without homes. Haiti is a difficult place to live.
Here's a breakdown of our trip, which is typical of most of our trips to Haiti:
We're leaving Lawrence on January 28 and returning on February 4, assuming all of our flights work out as planned. We should arrive sometime Saturday afternoon, and our team hosts will most likely take us to a Haitian restaurant for a late lunch (or early dinner), then we'll settle into our team house and rest. Sunday morning we typically go to the large Baptist church that is attended by most of the administrators and teachers and house parents at the Children's Village, then we usually have lunch at the Kids Alive compound and tour the compound and the construction site. Sometimes a neighborhood walk is part of the Sunday afternoon schedule.
On Monday morning, we fix our own breakfast at the team house, gather for a team devotional and prayer time, then load up in the bus/van/tap-tap to head to the Children's Village to begin the work day. We work through the morning, then have lunch, which is prepared by the cooks who cook for the neighborhood kids who attend the school. After lunch we head back for the work site and work until late afternoon. After we are taken back to the team house where we clean up (cold showers!) and have dinner, which is brought to us (or prepared at the team house) by the Kids Alive cooks. After we clean up and do the dishes, we often play card games ("Boots" is a traditional favorite) or read, or chat, and generally rest until bed time, which comes pretty early for most of us, since we are usually pretty tired from the day's work.
The rest of the week proceeds pretty much the same way--though often we will split the team up and go in pairs to one of the homes on the compound for lunch, getting some one-on-one time with the families who live there. Friday afternoon is different--after lunch we are taken back to the team house to clean up and then we come back to the compound where the children have their weekly chapel service. This is a worship service prepared by the children, who do the Scripture readings, the music, and most of the other presentations. This is usually a time when a representative of our team is asked to speak (through an interpreter) to the children, and afterwards we all say our goodbyes and head back to the team house to pack and rest up for our Saturday flights home.
Would you be willing to pray for us while we prepare for our trip and while we are in Haiti? There are many things to pray for:
- health and safety for our team
- safe and on-time travels
- success in our construction work
- all of our interactions with the children and adults at the Kids Alive compound
- our ability to love everyone we meet with the love of Christ
- renewed compassion for the poor
We realize that it is a privilege to go to Haiti as part of this team--it's not something that everyone has the opportunity to do--but you can minister to Haiti through us as you pray for us. Your prayer support is a vital part of our trip. Within the next few weeks, there will be prayer cards for each team member in the lobby at LFMC--would you pick one up and commit to praying daily for that person? It would mean a lot to us!
Would you be willing to donate some items for us to take with us to the children and staff at the Kids Alive Children's Village? Watch this blog and watch the LFMC bulletin for information about items that you can donate--each team member will have an extra suitcase full of donated items to take on the trip.
While we're there, we will do our best to try to keep this blog updated, but please understand that Internet access in Haiti is not at all reliable. Some days we may be able to send a photo or two, some days we may not. Some individual team members may be able to update Facebook pages and such from their phones, depending on availability of service and whether they have plans that permit international data use, but bear in mind that Haiti is very much a third-world country. We'll do our best!
Thank you for visiting this page--the fact that you are reading this means a lot and shows that you care, and that is important. God is doing good things in Haiti, and we can't wait to share with you!
Blessings, Doug Heacock (on behalf of the 2017 team)
*Susan Anderson, Angie Bird, Taylor Bird, Richard Erickson, Doug Heacock, Kenna LaRue, Taylor Manning, Judy Rahn, Kim Riffel, Rick Riffel, Randy Roy, Amber Temple, Stephanie Temple, Larry Wedman, and Tasha Wertin.