More from Joel Troyer's trip to Haiti...
Haiti - June 9, 2011
By Joel Troyer
Kanez. What can I say? It was so very desolate and impoverished, but so beautiful.
After a long, hot, dusty ride to Kanez we crested the tiny dirt path and saw a massive natural lake that had the same color as the Caribbean waters. There were massive mountains in the backdrop on the other side of the lake with cactus all around us in a desert-like atmosphere. It WAS the desert!
Brent said the water was brackish, meaning it was half-salt and half-freshwater. He also said the mountains to our South were Dominican land. I think it was one of the most beautiful settings I have ever seen. I literally had to catch my breath and gather myself.
Kanez has such simple beauty,
but had so much malnutrition and poverty.
Easily the poorest place I have ever been.
We drove on down the hill into Kanez which sat directly on the water’s edge. The village was made up of simple stick, grass and mud one room huts. We parked under one of two trees that provided shade. There was a group of women and children under the tree farthest from us and the men were all playing a game of chicken foot or Haitian dominoes as they called it. They barely even noticed we were there and just kept playing. Which I thought was cool. That means the missionaries are doing their job if they are used to having us there.
I did notice that one of the men playing (there were 4 actually playing) was wearing plastic clothes pins all over his face and he had it in the shape of a beard. I thought maybe it was some form of voodoo ritual or something, but I was very wrong. I asked someone and they called him the dog or “chen” in Creole. The loser of the last game had to wear the pins and was the chen. Made me laugh actually but that had to hurt.
The "chen" or dog. He lost the
last game of dominoes.
The children immediately came to us and we began playing with them and holding them. You just have to when they run to you like that. Just little souls that want some attention. They just want to be held. Loved them in that village.
We were waiting on a truck full of rice to arrive to hand out to the people of the village. However we were early and the truck would be late so we had time to kill. We all just sat around together and kind of mingled if you will. Not much we could say so we just did what we could. The cool thing is that you could kind of tell that we were all brothers and sisters in Christ. These people knew God and they had a peace about them that even though they knew we had food coming they weren't demanding or pushing or anything of the sort. They were more than polite and just seemed happy to have us around.
We sat there for a while just to get our energy back from the ride and to get out of the blistering heat for a bit and then we took about a ½ mile walk to the next village up. I noticed a lot of livestock on the way over there tied to cactus or bushes and just grazing on local vegetation. Brent said there weren't that many the last time so he thinks they may be taking some of the supplies brought in and trading it for livestock. Which is really awesome. If they are breeding it that means they can have livestock for a long time to come.
In the next village, the name of which I don't know, we found a nice little fishing village. Operation Blessing had recently been in there and made them new fishing equipment made of a plastic netting connected to PVC pipes and in a square shape. They were actually some nifty-looking devices. Pretty good sized but light enough to carry out by walking and setting up with bait inside.
We talked with the villagers for a while and also admired a new pavilion that had recently been put up for them so they could have a place to worship. It was nice and I got some really great shots. I enjoyed the kids as well. Drawing stick figures in the dirt with a stick was a fun “game” for a little bit and it finally got one of the little boys to actually smile.
We began walking back to Kanez and the people in that village followed us as they were to receive rice as well. I discovered that Kanez is not allowed to fish as they are too close to the other village, hence they had all the livestock and the other village had the nets. I guess that's fair. But one supply is a bit more abundant than the other so I would think a compromise will have to be reached somehow.
We arrived back at the village and the kids were waiting. One little boy came up to me and put his arms up to be held. I, of course, did and he just put his head on my shoulder and that's where it stayed for about 45 minutes. Awesome.
Finally the truck showed up with the rice and the people gathered around. The list was handed out with the name of each family on it so one person would call the name and another would check the name off the list. Everyone bowed their heads after Brent spoke to them a bit and then we prayed for God to bless the villages with abundant harvests as well as to bless the rice that would feed 120 families for about a month.
Villagers praying in thanksgiving
for the rice they were receiving
The rice was handed out and the people were very patient and kind. Not what I expected really. No pushing or anything. These were genuinely great people. I loved it!
A woman carries rice back to her home.
After the rice was handed out Brent told me to go with Jenny who was the nurse on staff for BGM in Haiti who had traveled with us. We walked over to a little hut and once inside I saw a little girl maybe 4 years old. She was lying in the hut and looked somewhat crippled and her head was very big. She didn't smile at first and just kind of looked at us. Josh Evans came with us as well and we immediately took some pictures.
Her name is Zsu Zsu. She has hydroencephalitis. It is a condition that doesn't allow fluid to flow away from the brain causing major swelling and eventually brain damage and death if not treated. When I first got the camera out she gave me a huge smile and my heart immediately melted. She was one of the most precious little girls I have ever seen. She had a pretty bad upper respiratory infection that was causing her a lot of problems and you could tell this little girl just flat out didn't feel good. You throw a cold on top of something that can kill you and you just wonder what God is doing. But after Jenny went back to find some medicine I looked at Josh and told him we were laying hands on this child and praying for her. - which we did. She was just looking at us the whole time. I'm sure wondering what we were saying, however she had a peace about her so that was very obvious and I believe this child had the presence of God on her life very strongly. I held back the tears and we walked away from her. It's so difficult because there is nothing you can do. Nothing. But when you think about it that is thinking in such human terms. When Josh and I prayed for her we did something the doctors won't do. We were praying for complete healing from the greatest doctor of all, Jesus Christ. We claimed the stripes that Jesus bore for our healing. We claimed that power on her life. Man it's powerful! I love it!
Sweet, sweet little Zsu Zsu.
So sick and still smiling.
I will be praying for Zsu Zsu for a long time. I saw my niece, Gracie, laying there. Blessed my heart even though it broke it. The time came and went all too quickly and we had to leave her laying in the hut. Such a sweet child.
In fact driving away from Kanez, Brent asked me who I saw in Zsu Zsu. I told him I saw my niece, Gracie. He just kept looking ahead and said "That's why I asked you to go with Jenny". He knew my soft spot and I guess he knew my prayer would be genuine. We dropped Peter (one of our interpreters and guides) off near Port Au Prince as he was heading home to Leogone for a few days to spend time with his family. We said our goodbyes. I hope it's not the last time I see Guerson....I mean Peter from Wisconsin :)
Headed out to the crèche again tonight to play with the kids. It's such a nice way to come home. A bunch of crazy orphans who are thrilled to see you! So much fun. Tiring.....but fun. That little one saw me coming down the steps and grabbed the ball right away.
They know how to make you feel wanted that's for sure.
Thoughts and Devotion:
Tonight we discussed how the people in Kanez really didn't ask prayer for themselves as much as those around them. It showed a selflessness that you don't often find in people. Another thing was their eyes. These were the poorest of poor of the people in Haiti, but they were so happy. They had eyes that were tired. yes, but you could tell they had a depth to them and they seemed to know that Jesus loved them and there was no need to panic or get excited, God had it under control.
It was pretty cool to see them react to us the way they did. Brent said it wasn't that way the first couple visits, but now they were learning. They were being discipled and taught how to survive and make it on their own. And from the looks of it they weren't wasting the opportunity. Once again Eleanor's words were being put into action. We were the enablers.
I actually did speak tonight at devotion. What a great way to intro Peter to the group. To talk about his life fishing after hanging out at a place all day that looked like the Sea of Galilee. I mean there were fishing boats with nets and sails for cryin’ out loud. God seems to know what He's doing, doesn't He?
I didn't speak long, just talked about how we are out of the boat walking on faith towards Jesus. And that is what we are supposed to do. We are all going to die someday. Do we want to die in the boat rowing against a storm worrying about whether or not we will sink like everyone else? Or do we want to step out and stand on top of the waves? I love being out of the boat. I have found a new way to live and I love this.
After devotion, a couple of the girls came up to me who hadn't really talked to me all week except in short cordial conversation, and hugged me. They told me they loved me and that I was an awesome person. Kind of caught me off guard but it meant sooooo much to me. What an encouragement. They blessed my heart with those words and hugs.
I was with a great group this week. I am blessed to know these people and hope to stay in contact with them for a long time to come. I was spoiled this week with a small group. Got to do and see some things that a large group can't experience.
Spending time with one of my dearest friends in the world, Brent Gambrell, has been such a blessing as well. I love this man of God and love what he is doing not only in Haiti, but across America as well. He has sacrificed a "normal" life to simply build the kingdom of God around the world. From South Korea to Haiti and North Carolina to California. He has a passion for God that is hard to match. I'm honored to know Brent as well as I do and proud to call him not only my brother in Christ, but my friend. I have learned so much from him over the years. Can't wait to do more for this ministry and help all of them in any way I can.
Tomorrow will be a day of touring Haiti a bit. Going to Fort Jacqes that the Haitian slaves overthrew in 1783 as well as the Baptist Mission to meet with Chris Lieb. I think he's going to love the idea I have for BGM and BHM. I want to raise that money for that machine to help them build for Haiti. They could do so much more with that machine and ultimately save lives with a better quality cement. Let's do this God! Gonna need you to come thru big for me!
Only one more day left.....and I'm sad about that.
Here's how you can help Joel make a difference in Haiti.
Worship in Kanez