Haiti 2017 - The Seventh Day
Genesis 1 teaches that God completed the creation of the heavens and the earth in six days (the seventh day was a day of rest). It’s a good thing it was Him and not me. I can’t even get seven days (eight, counting our travel day, which will be the final post from this year’s Haiti mission) worth of blog entries completed in less than two months!
Our seventh day in Haiti was Tuesday. It began as most, with private devotions. In Numbers 27, Moses asked God to provide a leader for Israel to succeed him. A few chapters earlier, Moses let his ire get the best of him and as a result of events at Kadesh, God would not allow Moses to enter the Promised Land.
The devotional commentary focused on the importance of developing leaders who will step in after we are gone. The people in Haiti continue to call me Pastor despite all the times I’ve told them otherwise. Yes, it’s predominately used in the sense that I operate in the role of a ministry team leader, but the ah-ha moment I experienced on this morning had to do with all the things that are lacking from my performance as a leader. Who will lead mission trips if I am not able or if we move away? What have I done to document the history of the WHBC Haiti ministry so that my successor can step into the role and build on the strong foundation laid by those who came before?
As I prayed and pondered, I didn’t know (and still don’t) if God was telling me that I need to step aside or just get busy cultivating new leaders. Or maybe, just be a better leader myself. Today would be our last workday. We had a pretty good idea of what we needed and stopped at yet another hardware store (Eko). If MSC is the Haitian version of Home Depot, Eko is Lowe’s. They had just moved into a new facility and it was plush. After some back and forth, we felt like we had everything we needed and headed to the checkout.
This is probably a good place to talk a little bit about Haitian money. One of the most confusing things about Haiti is the money. The official currency of Haiti is the gourde (pronounced goo-d… which sort of rhymes with ewe, as in g-ewe-d). During our visit, the exchange rate was about 62.9 gourdes for every one US dollar. But there is another currency in Haiti that is widely used – the Haitian dola (like dollar, without the r). Despite being a part of everyday life in Haiti, the dola is a concept only.
What do I mean by that?
There is no official coin or paper money in Haiti that bears the name dola. Despite this, there is an exchange rate that is supposedly fixed “forever”: 5 gourdes equals one Haitian dola. As a result, one can walk into a shop and be told something costs 12 dola, but because the actual money in your pocket is gourdes, you have to do the math in your head… 5 gourdes = 1 dola, so 12 dola = 12 x 5 = 60 gourdes… I finally figured all this out the day before we left, while we checked out at Eko.
Simple, right? Just don't get mixed up between Haitian dola and American dollars (which can also be used to pay for most things in Haiti).
I rode to Marianie in the back of the truck, talking to Patrick and Guerrier. There’s nothing earth-shattering to record about our conversation, really. It went about like most conversations I have in Haiti – talking about the country, the people, the challenges they face, every-day life – just trying to learn whatever I can and maybe pick up a new word or two in Creole.
We arrived, parked at the base of the mountain, and carried our materials up to the house we would be working on that day. The folks from the church had brought our tools down and were waiting when we arrived. After greeting the family, we discussed the project and how they (the family) wanted the system to work, prayed, and then got busy.
Yesterday’s post (Haiti 2017 – The Sixth Day) showed the before picture. With able assistance from Keith and others, we were able to install a modified gutter system, to which we secured a threaded elbow that allowed us to attach a flexible hose leading down into a 50-gallon barrel positioned in one room of the house.
Unfortunately, we couldn’t test the system to see how it would perform during a rain storm… something we thought about later that night as thunderstorms rolled through the capital. This is an illustration of something important that all of us need to remember: God doesn’t always let us in on the payoff. In fact, God doesn’t need any of us to accomplish anything. However, when we surrender ourselves to Him, He does use us. Remember that scene in Numbers 27? What do you suppose Moses thought about working through all the heartache of leading the people out of Egypt, listening to them gripe and moan for forty years in the wilderness, and then not being able to see the Promised Land?
He did all the work and didn’t get to participate in the big finish!
At least, that’s the way we humans think about it. But consider the things that Moses did get to participate in. And what about in Deuteronomy 34, when Moses and God stood atop Mount Nebo and looked out over all that land that would be Israel’s home. God reminds Moses that this was the land He promised Abraham hundreds of years earlier. And now it had finally come to pass. At that moment, I suspect Moses felt the weight of history, the passage of time and the great faithfulness of God all vying for his heart. He may not have been able to enter the land, but I believe Moses knew his impact on history had been significant.
With God’s blessing, we’ll return to Marianie next year and see the fruits of our labors, but more importantly, we hope to sow more seeds. Yet, the results won’t happen because of us, but because of God. Without Him, as with Moses, we would never have been there in the first place. It’s amazing, really, to know that in some small way we have been a part of something so much larger than ourselves.
After we finished, we sat on the patio of a simple Haitian home and enjoyed a cool drink of water. Far below, we could see sparkling Port au Prince Bay. A cool breeze blew across the face of the mountain and I wondered at the value of this home had it been located in California or somewhere similar. It’s ironic that, save for geography, we sat in what would likely be a million-dollar home most anywhere else. The family, unaware of this dichotomy, was happy here… there is a lesson there, as well.
Before we said our good-byes, Pastor Pelege gave a benediction. Then Berdy and Patrick led us in a song of praise and thanksgiving. Hugs and handshakes were followed by our last walk down the mountain - at least, for this year. As always, we greeted those we passed along the way with a friendly, “Bonsoir!” and a wave or tip of the hat.
The next post will be the last from this year’s trip. As always, I will try to encapsulate what I’ve learned, how I’ve grown and what God has shown me through our service. There will also be an interesting story from our time in the Atlanta airport, but you will have to come back in a few days to see how it all ends. Thank you for reading this far… à bientôt!