After reading today's entry, I have to say this... If you feel like you have little meaning or purpose in life, let this change you. There is a lot of sorrow and disappointments in life - but the truth is, the more we sit and focus on our own pain, the more pain we'll feel.
Getting involved in helping make others lives better is not hard - there are opportunities at every turn... and the joy of seeing someone else's eyes light up for the love that you bring... it's indescribable.
How will you make a difference today?
Haiti - JUNE 6, 2011
by Joel Troyer
Today started with great weather so I knew we would be building the house, or as the missionaries on the ground call it “Doin’ Work”. We loaded up and headed to Calabasse, which is a tiny farming village well outside Port Au Prince and literally on the side of a mountain.
We dropped 3 of the girls off at Wings of Hope which is a home/orphanage for mentally disabled kids and adults. These people have little to no chance of getting adopted. At the end of the day the girls said they were honored and blessed by going there, but they didn't think they wanted to go back. I can't imagine what it was like in there. I'm impressed with high school girls even taking that step to go and help in a place like that. One girl from Nashville, Paris, actually passed up on a trip to NYC to come here. She even had Broadway tickets and everything. She didn't go because she felt called to go to Haiti. Wow.
Paris’ friend, Reagan, had a major issue in dealing with bodily fluids and smells. For her to overcome that was huge. Only God could have got her through that experience. I don't know if I could have made it myself.
We stopped by the Calabasse Baptist Church to pick up Pastor Charlie (pronounced SHARL) and then we unpacked all the gear and tools and started the long walk through the mountains to Kalbasse - the work site.
Our team making the long walk
to Calabesse to the building site.
The men who had been chosen by the church to work had already made good progress and had the foundation leveled and stones set. All that was left was a lot more blocks to carry, a lot more cement to mix, and a lot more sweat.
Dude, it was muggy up there. We were literally in the clouds. Pastor Charlie introduced us to Maseur Antoine. This was the man who would be getting the house. He was an elderly man, I'm guessing at least 80, but there is no way to know as they didn't celebrate birthdays. The only thing you could ask is who the president was when you were born. He was a widower whose home was destroyed in the earthquake. This was to be a home he could hand down to his children and his children's children.
Pastor Charlie. We were taking
shelter from an afternoon
rainstorm in one of the tin huts.
Most of the homes in the village were either thrown-together-tin-and-tarps or maybe some cement block if it wasn't destroyed in the quake. The rooftops were tin or tarp as well with some sticks and held down with rocks, which were plentiful where we were at. I noticed immediately how clean the places were for being so dirty. They did sweep a lot of dirt. At one point a mountaintop downpour snuck up on us and we were pushed inside one of the shacks of the local villagers. He was really proud to have us in his home - which was made up of thrown-together tin.
Outside the man’s front door, I noticed three plants in makeshift pots. He loved gardening. I imagine we would pay a lot of money for those plants here in the states. He had enough room for two small beds which were nicely made and very hard and some small shelves on the walls to hold personal items like some soap or a toothbrush and toothpaste.
Brent said this man would tell this story of how the Americans came to his home for years to come. We are now good friends of course. They were so proud we picked their village to build in. There was no jealousy that Antoine was getting a home. It was pure pride from everyone that we were there. Humbling.
I'm so thankful for my dear friends from around the country and world that gave. It was moments like this that really made it all worthwhile. It was the men from the village who really built this house and it was the money raised that gave them income to do it. How awesome is that? We were just there to enable and pray. That was our job, however I decided I would not stand by and watch. I grabbed a shovel and mixed cement with it for pretty much all day as well as carried buckets to the house so the village men could continue laying blocks.
Our team removing rubble from
the original home that was
destroyed in the earthquake.
Others from the group formed a brigade line and moved rocks to a pile so Antoine would have a level surface to walk on. Nathan Drewry did a lot with the pick ax as well to level the ground. What a solid young man he is. West Point cadet, solid Christian, and just an overall good guy. Proud to have worked with him. Loved his family too.
Man, it was a long day of hot, dirty, sweaty, work........but God was smiling. If the thought of that doesn't make you labor on and the face of Antoine looking with pride on his new home, I swear to you nothing will. You don't have a soul.
It was so fantastic to see the Haitians and the church doing the work. It was such a morale builder for the church in Calabasse and it really legitimized Pastor Charlie. He told them we would come and we did. If we hadn’t, they would have lost a lot of respect for him. These people have been hurt so much over their lives. We got a lot done on the house today and the walls came along nicely.
The foundation for Antoine's new home!
(He's so proud!)
Antoine watching the progress
on the first day of building
Towards the end of the day, I noticed the children from the village in their matching checker print dresses and bows and the boys in their checker short sleeved shirts coming down the mountain after their day in school. Except these children (and I mean some of them had to be 5 or 6 years old) were all carrying cement blocks on their head. I mean HEAVY cement blocks!!!
They came, one by one, stopping at the house and leaning forward slightly to allow someone to remove the block for them and put it on the pile to be used for a small piece in the 250 square foot puzzle. Each child helped either by carrying a block or carrying the schoolbag of a child that was helping.
I would come to find out that this was by design from Pastor Charlie. He wanted the children to see Haitians helping Haitians. To work without being told what to do like the slaves they once were only a generation or two ago. To see the kingdom being built, not only physically, but also spiritually. DUDE!!!
What a sight to see. I held back tears as I watched them come. All carrying blocks. God, You are so wonderful. How many lessons can be learned from this simple sight? How many sermons preached? How many lives changed forever. I am one life that is changed. I was so honored to be witness to that moment. It was so close to Heaven on this earth. Beautiful mountains in the backdrop of these beautiful children learning to help one another. It brings tears even now out here on the patio as I write this.
Even other men from the village came, and though they weren't getting paid, they wanted to do what they could to help so they made the long walk up the steep mountain to gather blocks and bring them back down.
Man, if you told me that I would see this when I came here I would have laughed at you. This was beyond my wildest dreams and it was everything I hoped it would be...yet it was so much more. Thank you God for this day.
When we loaded back up in the tap-tap there were still kids grabbing blocks to take them down the mountain. So tonight, when Brent, Pernos, Peter and I went to the Giant to grab some things. I purchased more trowels for the guys so they could be a part of the construction tomorrow. I think it's important that these men have some tools of their own. Nothing makes you feel like a man more than brand new tools that belong to you right? RIGHT!!!
Nice to be back at the Bernard's. The kids in the crèche were as beautiful as ever.
One little girl and I really had a good time playing with the ball tonight. Just rolling it back and forth and swinging on the swing set. I wish I knew her name. I wish I could talk to her. I really love those kids. There is an ornery twinkle in that little girl’s eye that reminds me of a few pictures of me from when I was her age. Love it.
Tonight Brent told me that Dr. Bernard spoke with Pastor Charlie and he decided he was going to add a toilet to the building project since I raised the funds for the house myself. The house was at $3000 and the toilet would be another $500. The other $1000 goes to the materials to finish the roof and to pay the men for their labor.
He said Dr. Bernard would provide the labor and everything for the outhouse which includes a lot of drilling into the mountain for the pit under the toilet - hard work. He said he would do it as long as Brent paid for the rocking chair for Maseur Antoine. How awesome is that???
The $4000 will be used completely and to have Dr. Bernard help add a luxury like an outhouse is such an honor to me for going above and beyond what I was called to do. I wish I had the words to describe the closeness I saw today. What a sense of pride they had, and how can I forget the smiles of those wonderful people? They knew Jesus. From the babies to the grandparents they all had that smile of Jesus. And the smile was coming from their eyes.
Jezi bay-n la jwa!
Didn't get a lot out of devotion tonight. My mind was wandering back to the mountain. I was thinking of those people and the fact that we really are making a difference in Haiti.
The eyes said it all today. The eyes of hope and of salvation. Eyes that managed to speak to me. Telling me that even though we couldn't communicate, they were saying “thank you for coming 2000 miles to help us”. Isn't that what Jesus would have done? As long as he wasn't scared of flying, I think so. Man I love making God smile.
This was like nothing I have ever experienced. I admit I was a bit disappointed this morning when I found out we weren't really doing the actual construction on the house.......boy, was I dead wrong. And I ended the day with more joy and satisfaction in my heart than I ever imagined God could give a man.
I worked hard, anyway. Laying blocks isn't as hard as mixing that cement with a shovel on the ground. I can't wait to get started on that Concrete MD project. This kind of mixing has got to stop. It's not about the labor because even I can handle that. There’s just so much more we could do and be able to build such safer homes with that machine.
I hope Chris at BHM is interested in helping. I hope FFM is willing to help. Is that a sunburn? I better go to sleep now. More to do in Calabasse tomorrow. How He loves us.
See ya later day 3.
UPDATE: The nurses got their generator. Less than two weeks later actually. Joel made a call and someone donated it. They can now have lights in their little box they call home. Awesome stuff!