Well, it’s been a week since I flew to Haiti, so here’s an update on my experiences here.
Missionary Flights International was awesome to fly with and their entire staff have servant’s hearts. We took off from Ft. Pierce, Fl in two DC-3 airplanes. Landed almost two hours later at Exuma Island, Bahamas to re-fuel. Everyone had to get off the plane and go through security, then right back on the plane. We then landed in Cap-Haitian on the northern shore of the island, where we went through immigration and most of the people onboard disembarked for good, while the final three of us (and a group returning to the U.S.) got back on the plane for the 40 minute flight over the island to Port-au-Prince.
From the internet and talking to others who have been here, I expected more people to speak English than do, so it is a struggle to do even minor tasks, such as exchanging money or ordering food.
Over the past week, I have walked a great deal of Petionville, marking in my GPS the location of restaurants, markets, other NGO’s, as well as places to avoid at high traffic times.
A few other groups from the U.S. have come through the guesthouse, and it has given me an opportunity to ask many questions concerning organizational operations in Haiti. There was a big presentation to one group by a leader in Haiti from “Catholic Relief Services” that I was invited to set in on. Other groups have included medical teams and school projects. These conversations will definitely help me have a better mental framework for how things get accomplished once I move to directly working in our orphanage.
One group that came through went on a tour of the city on Sunday afternoon to see some of the effects of the earthquake, and they invited me to go with them. This was nice since to do so myself would have cost me at least $60 for the car and driver rental. I tagged along with them for free.
We saw what remains of the Presidential Palace, the National Cathedral, and the main Episcopal church. (It was an Episcopal church.) We then had lunch at the historic and somewhat famous Hotel Oloffson in downtown, then headed up into the mountains to see the historic Fort Jeacques.
At Fort Jeacques I was “accompanied” (or maybe this should say, “followed around by”), a man on crutches who was a “self-employed” tour guide. He was very knowledgable about the history of the country and did tell me a lot about the area, so I walked slow enough for him to keep up. When the group was ready to leave, I tipped him some money for the tour and asked if I could pray for healing for his foot. It turns out that it was crushed in a car accident six months ago, but he can’t afford a doctor. I prayed for him, then left., but perhaps the Great Physician has attended to his needs since I left.
The location of Fort Jeacques is near the orphanage, so I was keeping watch to see if I recognized any of the area from pictures I’ve seen, but I didn’t. We also stopped at the big Baptist Mission near Kenscoff, but it was closed for the day. We still enjoyed the amazing view, though.
Yesterday I had lunch with Pastor Benite Jeune, who oversees a network of about 150 churches across Haiti, as well as a school and other community projects. He was very friendly as we talked about ministry strategy in Haiti and obstacles to be overcome. He also invited me to come preach in his church sometime, but we did not set a date as he lives quite far from here.
I have sent out a couple of emails to other orphanages in the area, hoping to meet with them and observe their day-to-day operations to be better equipped when I move to our orphanage. If anyone has direct contact with another orphanage in the Port-au-Prince area, I’d be very grateful for an introduction.
Overall, I think this week has been beneficial for me to learn my way around, figure out how to use the local transportation, begin learning some Creole, and start making contacts in country.
Please continue to pray that my time will be spent wisely and that God will open the doors to meeting people I can learn from or partner with before moving up to Kenscoff.