Sunday, 14 February 2010

Yesterday's Trip to Haiti

Thank you very much for your prayers for us and the MSC team as we headed to Haiti yesterday to deliver medicines, food and clothing to Pastor Noel in Terrier Rouge. It was a day of success, disappointment, frustrations and being reminded that at all times, we must leave things in God’s hands. Here is what happened yesterday.

Paul and I had spent a good week planning and working logistics for yesterday’s trip. We knew who we were taking supplies to (Pastor Noel in Terrier Rouge for his church, feeding program and refugees who have shown up at his church), some Dominican missionary friends of ours have many contacts in the border town (Dajabon, DR) and these contact had spent time last week talking to the Customs and Immigration officials at the border crossing. On Thursday, we received word that these contact had obtained permission for us and our team to cross the border on Saturday. We rented a van and at 7 am, we left the team house in Jarabacoa to head for Dajabon in the North. We arrived in Dajabon at about 10:45 am and went to the border crossing. Pastor Eddy and Rosie were waiting for us upon our arrival. Pastor Eddy is Haitian and he has a church in Dajabon as well as a church in Ouanamithe. Ouanamithe is the border town on the Haiti side. Pastor Eddy speaks Spanish and Creole and, even though he does not know Pastor Noel, he agreed to go with us to show us the way and be our translator. Our driver, Paul and Rosie (who is a lady from the Dajabon church and her brother works for Immigration) went into the Immigration office to get passports stamped and obtain clearance to cross the border. This is when all our days of planning and working on logistics fell apart.

When Paul, Rosie and our driver exited from the Immigration office, the look on their faces was not encouraging. An immigration officer was with them and they went to the van and jeep to see the supplies that we were taking to give to Pastor Noel. The supplies we were taking in totalled about $2000 in value. Upon checking this out, the officer then told us that our donation was too small and he could not qualify it as a donation, therefore, he was going to charge us a total of about $400 in order to cross the border with these supplies. He said that is was $10 per foreigner and the balance being a tax for exporting these supplies from the DR into Haiti. We were very surprised because Rosie and Pastor Eddy had obtained permission for us earlier in the week but now those officials were saying no – we had to pay. We then asked if there would be any charges for our driver (who is Dominican), Paul (who holds Dominican residency) and Pastor Eddy to cross the border and take in these supplies. They said no – this fee for the supplies, because there was not enough to qualify for a donation, would only be applied if the foreigners went but not if Dominicans and Haitians went. We talked about this, said a quick prayer and decided that Paul, the driver and Pastor Eddy would go to Pastor Eddy’s church and leave the supplies there. The team and I would stay in Dajabon and wait. It is because the team would be waiting that we decided not to drive all they way to Terrier Rouge. We all felt that paying this “fee” would have been a bad steward of the donated funds that we had and that $400 could go to a lot food or medicine for our next trip.

While I took the team to Rosie’s house to eat our sandwiches and wait, Paul, the driver and Pastor Eddy went to Pastor Eddy’s church in Ouanamithe to leave the supplies there. We called Pastor Noel and he said that he could easily get to Ouanamithe to pick up the supplies in the afternoon. When they arrived at the church, the church was in the middle of a service. Pastor Eddy explained that they have church services like this every day and that the demand for the service and the number of people attending them has increased a great deal since the quake. I have attached some photos of this church service. Paul said that it was moving and incredible to see these people, about 700 of them, all worshiping the Lord with their entire hearts, in the heat, on a Saturday afternoon. Thanking God for how the hearts of so many Haitians are changing and how Haiti is changing to turn more to God every day. It was amazing!!! This is why we do what we do here – to see people turn to God with all their hearts like we saw many ways yesterday!!!!!! It is all God!!!!

Near Rosie’s house is the church that she attends so we took the team there to meet their pastor, Pastor Manual. Pastor Manual shared with the team about how God called him to be a pastor at the young age of 19 and here he is, 10 years later, pastoring this church in a ghetto of Dajabon. They now have 108 children in their kids program which includes teaching, sharing about God and feeding them twice a week. Their goal is to have 300 kids in their program. After Pastor Manual shared, he and the group that was at the church at the time, prayed for each one of our team members then our team members prayed for them. It was a new experience for most on our team and each person was touched by God. It was a great time.

We can not explain why what happened at the border, happened. This border crossing is in the north and about as far away from Port au Prince as you can geographically be in Haiti so they have not had as many people crossing here to go into Haiti to help. The day before was the one month anniversary of the quake and we are now hearing rumour that the Dominican border crossing is going to start going back to the tough rules that they use to have for crossing the border pre quake times. We are pretty certain that these officials were just trying to get extra money for themselves when they saw a stack of foreign passports. If this is not true, then why did they not charge anything for Dominicans to take the supplies across? However, no matter what man does in his flesh, God is mightier. If all this did not happen, Paul would not have seen Pastor Eddy’s church, the team and I would not have met and seen Pastor Manual’s church. Now that we have seen these churches, we are praying about what God wants us to do to help these three churches: Pastor Noel in Terrier Rouge, Pastor Eddy in Ouanamithe and Pastor Manual in Dajabon.

In the end, God always wins. We received word this afternoon that Marie and Pastor Noel were able to get to Pastor Eddy’s church yesterday afternoon to collect all the supplies that we donated. They have already begun dividing up the food and giving it to those in desperate need as well as the clothing. We are also praying for Pastor Eddy and Pastor Noel that now that they have met, they can be a support, help and encouragement to each other as they both lead good, strong Christian churches, are Haitian pastors and just want to serve their people as God has called them.

Our next venture is working with our local Dominican church and putting together a team of builders to go to Haiti Children’s Home to repair their walls and get these 32 orphans out of their tents and the dirt and living back inside. Our tentative dates are about 27 Feb to 2 March. Your prayers as we plan and prepare are really appreciated.

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