Mon. Jan. 2 Our trip to Haiti began in the wee hours of the morning. We met our group, James and Janet Shetler, Steven and Sharon Wagler, Doris Miller, and Vicky Nisly at Cedar Crest at 2:30 am with Phil Wagler who took us to the airport where we checked in and breezed though security with little problem. Our 5:00 am flight to Dallas was significantly delayed due to stormy weather there. Because of this delay we missed our flight to Miami. They booked us on a later flight, but that one got us in too late to make our Haiti connection for that day.
Tues. Jan. 3 We left the hotel soon after 5:00 am on the airport shuttle for our 7:00 flight. Things went well. We arrived around 8:45 in Port au Prince. We were welcomed with warm humid air, forms to fill out, and immigration to clear. We gathered outside in front of the airport where we waited for Randal and Rachel to come pick us up. After they arrived, we loaded luggage and people on the back of the two-seater pickup and headed out. There were five of us in the front with six passengers on the back. After around 5 hours on the road we arrived at Cotes de Fer, Haiti. We landed at the guest house where Randal and Rachel are hosts. The guesthouse is newly finished and very nicely appointed.
Wed. Jan. 4 The view from the rooftop of the guesthouse is splendid with the ocean a short distance away to the south and the mountains toward the north. Little houses dot the countryside here and there. The early morning sunrise from the housetop was beautiful. Many goats meandered the neighborhood, while their darling kids loitered and periodically scurried while bleating as they rushed to catch up. We watched people come and go; some walking, some riding donkeys with woven saddle baskets to carry things. Smoke curled up from open fires as women cooked breakfast. Donkeys brayed. Roosters crowed and morning had come to Haiti.
We spent time that morning in study and prayer, preparing for our talks of the day. Breakfast time together gave us a chance to catch up with our visiting with others on the team. After a bit, Lysner, Dorothea, Vicky, and Doris joined us for devotions and to discuss the plans for the day. We headed to church for the 9:00 starting time. It took quite a while until enough of the crowd had assembled to begin the sessions. Finally, we ended up with around 120 Haitian attendees for the youth seminar.
After a little singing, a lot of introductions, and announcements, Lowell began speaking about 11:00. He addressed the whole group, speaking on Coming to Peace with How God Made Me; Dealing with Life when it Seems Unfair. Lysner translated to a mostly, very attentive crowd. It seemed to go well with a clear message that was well received by the listeners. The session wrapped up with a look at the Apostle Paul and his testimony in Phil. 3. Following the first session was a brief question and answer time, after which we split for the segregated session, as the noon meal was not yet ready. James addressed the young men outside in the shade, speaking from the remarkable life of Joseph and how he was a wonderful example of integrity especially as he faced temptation. Judy addressed the young ladies speaking on Broken Pots; Broken Lives. At the end of the introduction, she threw a clay pot onto the floor where it broke into many pieces. A gasp went through the crowd, but she had their attention.
We left for home around 3:00. It felt good to be done for the day and try to relax in the warm muggy afternoon. We gathered at Lysners for supper. We had lots of fun and laughter around the table.
Thurs. Jan. 5 We got started earlier than the day before with bread and drink for the youth, followed by the first session. In the joint session, Lowell talked on Forgiveness. It was hot under the tin roof, but it seemed God blessed the presentation. The crowd had swelled quite a bit from the first day to around 175. Judy spoke on becoming Light Bearers for Jesus. James continued from the life of Joseph continuing the theme of Forgiveness. Quite a few questions were raised during the Q and A session that followed. Thursday's lunch consisted of rice and beans topped with a vegetable gruel and a small piece of chicken. Vegetables were cooked in huge vats out behind the church house. After lunch we headed back to the guest house.
Fri. Jan. 6 We met again for devotions following breakfast. During the first session at church, Lowell spoke on the subject of Trade-offs. It was a practical session looking at things like the choosing of a life partner, and many other smaller choices that each come with a set of consequences. Lysner had requested that an invitation be given. Following the message, Lowell asked for a show of hands for those who wanted to commit to
following Jesus and His way. Probably 12-15 raised their hands. Later when Lysner asked for those who wanted to come forward for help, apparently, no one was brave enough. It seemed to have been a relevant and powerful message that God used to speak to the hearts of the youth. In the split session that followed, Steven Wagler addressed the young men under the shade in the church yard, giving a character sketch from the Life of David. Vicky read the Norman and Sidney story that Lysner had translated into Haitian Creole. The story is a basic one describing God's Love for us in spite of our own shortcomings and failures.
Sat. Jan. 7 After breakfast we went to the market in Cotes de Fer. This was a typical third world market with lots of vegetables, grains, and meals, with some meat still on the hoof. Many of the market offerings had come in by donkey from the surrounding area. 20-30 donkeys and mules waited in a lot
for the return trip home after market. They had a fascinating dry bean with beautiful variable markings on them. Rice, corn, coffee beans, root crops like sweet potatoes, tiquisque, malanga were spread out along the ground.
In the evening we went for a pizza supper at Lysners, where Judy chatted with Wanik, Lysner's 21 year old niece. She is a very sweet girl who is going to school to learn English. She told Judy, “You are a good teacher, your story touched me.” Lysner shared the leftovers again with the people hanging around. Many young people and children love Lysner, who seems to have the respect of the local people.
Sun. Jan. 8 We went to church around 9:00, about one hour after their Sunday School begins. A lady was leading the singing of songs with some tunes familiar to our ears, like “In the Sweet By and By.” To our untrained ears, the songs seemed to have many verses with a lot of repetition. It was a blessing to hear their fervent singing and worship with them even when we couldn't understand the words. They had some announcements, more singing, and testimonies by visiting ministers from Haiti. There were introductions of the visitors from the USA. Finally, Lowell got called up to preach. He preached on The Church as the Body of Christ. People were very attentive and seemed to really appreciate it. Different times the “Amens” rolled, especially from some of the women. God seemed to bless the message to the audience.
Mon. Jan. 9 The sky looked somewhat threatening on leaving Cotes de Fer and sure enough before long it started to sprinkle. The rain, traffic, and distance combined to make the trip a tiresome one. We were heading for the Son Light Mission for the night.
Tues. Jan 10 We got to the airport in relatively good time in spite of several long waits in traffic. The flight to Ft. Lauderdale, FL went well.
All in all the Haiti trip was a good one. The youth seminar was a blessing as God used many different players to make it happen. It was an honor to have been invited to join the group and to have been a part of that blessing process. God protected us from major harm and we made many new friends and good memories.
--Lowell and Judy
Anabaptist Teaching Ministries paid for the airfare for Lowell and Judy Miller on this trip.