As prayer partners of OMS Haiti missionary Colleen Taylor, we have been interested in Haiti for many years. When she wrote, asking for ESL teachers, we took up the challenge and arranged to go to Haiti for two months. Our first event, one hour after our arrival, was the weekly OMS missionary prayer time. We received an immediate and warm welcome, and we saw the genuine support that missionaries give to one another. This was followed in a day or two with the monthly prayer time in Creole for the many OMS ministries, including 4VEH Radio and TV, Cowman International School, Bethesda Medical, Maternity and Dental Clinics, Emmaus Biblical Seminary, the Starfish kids and the English Classes. Soon reality began to set in. We lived in a completely different environment, of not knowing what was safe and what was unsafe, and having no opportunity to return home for 2 months. We had a whole new appreciation for the mission staff who leave everything and simply come, having no guarantee but God.
As we learned more Creole, we learned to talk with people, and they wanted to know about us. Many knew Jesus and we shared the blessing of his presence. What we came to realize was that, although there is a history of dark involvement and although there are still strong evil forces, the power of the gospel is evident everywhere. People have hope in Christ, even when they have little else. As we spoke a word of blessing, “Bondye beni ‘w,” people would eagerly respond.
On an evangelism trip into the mountains, we had a real taste of the remoteness of village life. The road was the riverbed. The water supply was the river. There was no electricity, and the primary cash crop was cocoa beans. As we visited people, we asked, “May I tell you about Jesus?” We received a “Yes” reply over and over again. Not only did people receive Christ as Saviour, one woman renounced her previous dedication to Satan and smashed a whisky bottle which was to be used in an upcoming ceremony. People received solar radios, tuned to radio 4VEH, and with an MP3 recording of the entire Bible.
The English classes led to warm relationships and friendships. They were for 4VEH staff, and others that they invited. Most participants in the 2 month program were able to achieve a certificate of having achieved either Level 1 or Level 2 of ESL training. The readings were from scripture passages, and we sang and prayed together, and grew in Christ. The work at Cowman International School included classroom support, office supplies organization, and reshelving library books. Pat found herself eating lunch with little friends, some of whom were also our neighbours on the OMS grounds.
God is powerfully at work through the work of OMS in Haiti. The need is great, and because of that
need, people’s hearts are wide open to the Grace of our God, and the Salvation found in Jesus Christ.
Mesi Seyè! Thank you Lord!
-Lucas and Pat Van Boeschoten
My experience in Haiti was different wherein I chose to go with a missionary I had befriended, rather than a team. I did not know details whatsoever on the things I would be doing, only that it would involve something along the lines of pitching in and lending a hand at Cowman International School. This being my very first mission trip in another country I was naive to all it would entail. Little did I know, that though I was going with an attitude to be a blessing, I would be blessed upon a hundred times more.
Upon arrival, I was welcomed ever so warmly by the many missionaries on the compound, fed to the brim with authentic and delicious food, not to mention home-made fruit juice, and patiently toured around. And then, introduced to the people of Haiti. My heart was captivated, to say the least. I must admit, it was a challenge for me to grapple their living circumstances and loving hearts at the same time. I would look around and a sense of hopelessness would begin to creep in, only to have it vanish when I had a child look up to me grinning from ear to ear. As days turned into weeks I found myself to have established various relationships.
During the day, I would lend a hand in the kindergarten room at Cowman. The young ones had been tugging on my heart strings since the very get go, and so it did not take long for friendships to blossom soon thereafter. It was the moments of playing duck-duck-goose, having them braid my hair, or sharing a chocolate cake, that made for those cherished memories. While I was technically teaching them about math and english, they were instructing me all the more about the definition of unconditional love. However, the relationships did not end with the kids. While working in the classroom I had the privilege of befriending the lead teacher and assistants. Their ways with the children were absolutely phenomenal. I saw in action so much passion, that at times I caught myself simply observing in processing. It did not take long for me to realize that the environment was carefully crafted to create a place for kids to stretch academically, but then also be discipled spiritually. For the time being, those people in that beautiful atmosphere became my family.
My three weeks in the incredible country of Haiti taught me oh, so much! I was made known that the life of a missionary does not have to be terribly extraordinary. Sometimes, it is simply taking a walk with a young boy, talking and eating an unbelievable amount of fresh mangoes. Other times, it is playing a good ol’ game of basketball until you’re out of breath. And still another time, it is hugging and holding tight the dear child crying. All in all, it is choosing to live day by day with the people Papa God has designated to be your people. It is the making of relationships, that doors of opportunity open wherein you get to share about your Jesus. It is the walking in His love in the land of your mission, however near or far that may be.
My mission trip to Haiti stretched me to new borders, grew my abilities, and revealed unto me many many things. I came home with a fresh perspective, knowing that my divine purpose will take me yet again to a faraway country.