January 9th I fly into Port-Au-Prince for the sixth time. I am filled with excitement, gratitude, expectation, and (as always) a little nervousness.
2018 has been a memorable year. A year including tears and heartbreak, but also joy and laughter. It has included the start of many new things.
Ministry Highlights from 2018
- Playing a major role in caring for an AIDS-infected baby. When he first came under my care he was 7 months old and weighed 10 pounds. We didn’t know if he would make it. However, the sleepless nights and exhausting days were worth it to see the transformation in his life. I watched him go from sickly, needy, weak, and fighting TB; to eating solid food, walking, and babbling.
- Caring for a man who suffered a debilitating stroke. We found him sitting in his own filth, scorned and mocked by those who passed by after he had been abandoned outside the hospital to die. He was unable to care for himself, talk, or stand. Being a part of taking him in, getting him a wheelchair, and giving him back his dignity was amazing. Now he feeds himself, can use the bathroom alone, gets in and out of his chair without assistance, and can speak a few words again.
- Helping an elderly woman and her disabled son move from their falling down stick shack into a new concrete home built by volunteers. She was radiant. Her beauty in worship took my breath away. She danced, sang, and praised God with joy. No one there was dry-eyed. That event strengthened my faith.
- Getting to serve a central role in weekly Infant Nutrition programs. Each week we weighed, measured, and held babies. We taught the mothers healthy practices and the needs of their children (both nutritional and spiritual). We distributed formula, vitamin-packed peanut butter supplements, rice, powdered potatoes, vitamins, thermometers, and information flyers. Seeing the babies progress and even graduate the program was rewarding.
- Being a hostess for US teams. This included forming relationships, answering questions, organizing grocery lists, and leading outings. I consider it a privilege and an opportunity to meet many amazing people who share a burden for orphans.
- Home visits and community distribution was one of my favorite aspects of ministry. A team went out into a rural community on a regular basis. We distributed food and other supplies to families who are materially lacking. Or we’d just visit to check up on them. I treasure the times we spent praying, singing, and talking with them.
- Informally helping young people practice their English. This looked like: practicing English phrases with teenage boys at the school, practicing on the chalkboard at the house with whoever was willing, and going on walks with a friend from the neighborhood while speaking English.
- Supervising the new school building roof being built. This was a blessing! I dealt out screws, passed out water, hammered nails, swept floors, and built relationships. It provided opportunities to interact with the neighborhood kiddos drawn by curiosity.
- Participating in lots of school prep. This included cutting, printing, organizing, coloring, and gluing. While this wasn’t the most exciting task, it grew my art skills.
- Walks, walks and more walks. My favorite past time. I walked nearly every day. This aided in forming relationships and getting to know people. I walked with the babies (two-year-olds), school-age kids, older kids and teens, neighborhood friends, volunteers, or whomever. The neighborhood kids now call out my name as we pass.
- I also took many trips to the hospital (with other people as patients). My time spent there totaled more than 40 hours! The local hospital leaves much to be desired in the area of compassion, cleanliness, and treatment options. It is not an enjoyable aspect of ministry. Yet, I spent some of my favorite moments in that facility. And I truly love the medical side of missions.
- Finally, some of the most faith-building times have been worship nights. Americans and Haitians lifted their voices in different languages under the stars, praising the same Maker. A Maker who brought us all to the same place, on different paths, and from different backgrounds for such a time as this.
I am looking forward to all God has in store for ministry in 2019. I am also excited to develop more fluency in Creole.