Haiti – Day 1: The gift of tongues and a crazy van ride

As you may know, five of us from Genesis have traveled to Tabarre, Haiti (an area near Port-Au-Prince) to spend a week doing missions and serving people in this area.  For me, this is my first adventure into a third-world country to do missions among the poor.  We are all excited about the possibility of serving and making a difference here.  Our group is working with a Christian ministry called Amer-Haitian Bon Zami.  They run an the House of Hope orphanage for girls, a Christian school, and a medical clinic.  The group is made up of Mike & Andy Hubbard, Scott & Aaron Holdegraver, and Erin Bounds.  Our group is doing a whole bunch of odd jobs, some painting and fixing things…

Of course the first day of any mission trip is mostly travel.  A flight into Miami and then from there to Port-Au-Prince.  As we hung out in the Miami airport, our group got to talking about the things that excited us and the areas of apprehension we had.  For most of us, the thing that has us a little worried is that we are going to a place with a pretty significant language and cultural barrier.  There are 24 girls here and they speak Creol with French mixed in.  Scott is the only one who had been here before, but all of us have a desire to connect with the girls and demonstrate love to them.  The question for us is how we do that when we do not speak the same language.  So we got to thinking about Acts 2 and the story of the coming of the Holy Spirit on the early church.  On the day of Pentecost Jewish people had gathered in Jerusalem from all over the world to celebrate the Jewish festival.  Even though they were from Jewish descent, most of them did not speak Aramaic which was the cultural language in Jerusalem.  Meanwhile, Jesus disciples were in a room contemplating the events of the past month and a half, including the death and resurrection of Jesus.  It was at this time that the Holy Spirit, the very presence of God came and made His residence in their lives.  The result was that these people began to speak in other tongues, other languages.  They spilled out into the street and began preaching, and all of these people began to hear the Gospel in their language.  God bridged the language and culture gap!  So we prayed and asked God to accomplish the same thing in us.  It may not be that we are able to speak in tongues in a literal sense (although God could do it), but our prayer is that the same miracle would take place.  Join us in this prayer.

We arrived in Port-Au-Prince and worked our way through customs, which was an adventure in and of itself.  Three different forms to fill out, and with teenage boys who don’t really want to read directions, they kept having to start over.  Erin did hers in pink pen, which they wouldn’t take, so she had a redo as well.  Once we got done and went into the street, we were confronted with the nature of this country for the first time.  As we walked out of the airport doors into the street, there were hundreds of people standing around, hoping they would be able to carry our bags for a few bucks, sell us some worthless goods, or provide transportation.  It was fairly intimidating just because of the sheer mass of people.  We moved through the crowd with all our bags and then waited on our ride which came in a few minutes.  It was a Chevy mini-van, which we loaded with ten check-in bags (each of us brought one but checked a second bag with goods for the orphanage) along with our carry-on bags.  This filled the back of the van and pretty much all the back seat.  Aaron sat wedge in beside all these bags in the back, and the rest of us crammed with three from House of Hope  in the middle seat (four of us including me on a seat designed for two) and the front.  I guess they missed all the stuff about a seatbelt for every rider.  But that wasn’t the craziest thing about the ride.  The van ride here was absolutely nuts.  They driver just kept honking his horn, weaving in and out of traffic, almost running down people and other cars all along the way.  Red lights were merely suggestions, which he pretty much chose not to follow.  And lanes are nothing more than a figment of our imagination.  Right side of the road, left side, middle, wherever there is an opening, go for it, whether there is oncoming traffic or not.  Just hit the horn!  We arrived safely, but a little nervous, and all is good.

That’s enough for today.  The girls are beautiful, but the orphanage is in a run-down neighborhood.  They have fifteen foot cinder block walls with razor wire on the top.  And Scott told me that this is the “middle class” neighborhood.  Keep us in your prayers this week.  We will post a blog most days this week, and in the next day or two we will get some pics up our Flickr account.  God bless.

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