In March last year, our family of seven went on a mission trip with Family Missions Company to a small mountain village in Haiti. We had been thinking about doing a mission trip for quite some time, but going to Haiti seemed like a pretty big first step into missions. Still, everything just fell into place.
We stayed in a small two-room house with bunk beds (and mosquito netting) on the church grounds, which also had a school, a kitchen building and a playground all set on a hill in the mountain village of L’Asile.
When we settled in after a long journey with our five kids, it seemed our whole family had a certain kind of peace about us. We were blessed to be around the gentle souls in Haiti, and to be surrounded by beautiful full-time missionaries and other mission trippers living out the truth of the gospel in prayer and service.
Each day we began with songs and prayer in the church followed by breakfast in the kitchen building. We would then split off into groups for service. One of the projects involved painting and cleaning out the Ezekiel Home, which is a building they’re renovating to make a place for kids to go to after school. We helped host a party there before we left, with toys and games for the kids to play with, and a boxed meal for each kid.
We also went on home visits to outlier villages. We drove in a pickup truck across rocky roads, we walked across rivers, and walked through villages to visit newborn babies, elderly and sick people. The kids usually played with any other kids that were around. We spent time talking with them, and the full-time missionaries assessed the needs of their friends for their next visit. One of the mornings we gathered at the home of our missionary leaders and made up a bunch of what they call “dispensas,” which are bags of basic food pantry items for people in need.
The afternoons were spent visiting close villages and inviting people for prayer services. Our mission trip leader brought his guitar and everyone would sing – and can the Haitians sing! We also took prayer requests and prayed over them. This was hard to hear, as they are longing for things so many of us take for granted. We heard from the missionaries that on a return visit to that village, a woman told them she had asked for her wrist to be prayed over because she was in such pain. She said the next day her pain was completely gone! She told them, “I want to thank the whites for praying my pain away.” Praise God!
The poverty was heartbreaking. One little boy was wearing an adult size ripped polo shirt, half hanging off. Many were living in make-shift shacks while they were trying to rebuild their home beaten down by the hurricane. Despite the hardships they’re enduring (and what sticks with us the most), was the warmth and friendliness and dignity of the Haitians. What very little we could communicate with the locals was worth every effort. A simple smile and their faces lit up with joy. It was easy to be around this easy-going culture. It was also easy to gaze upon the gorgeous views of the landscape, whichever way you looked. Best of all was the grace of God that seemed to surround us continuously. It was very hard to leave and say goodbye to our new friends, especially for the kids (they cried).
Because of the money that was raised for this trip, we were able to help provide a home for a family in need. We were able to assist in digging the foundation while we were there. It was so neat to see and realize that because of the collective generosity and prayers of family and friends we were able to be a part of working on such a meaningful project. God is good!
There is no way we could relay everything that happened in those seven days. We partook in everything we could, but sometimes it was difficult. It made us question being there at times. These doubts were suggestions from the enemy that I was doing it all wrong. That I wasn’t engaged enough in the locals’ lives. That I couldn’t even speak their language, so what I was even doing here? But these are misleading thoughts that are not from God. We don’t do anything. He does. God can work wonders through a simple smile. I know because I have received such a smile.
Our trip is still changing us spiritually. In the beginning we were challenged to trust on a level that we had never known before. We were questioned by well-meaning friends and family on our decision to go. We were forced to lean heavily on God, through prayer and scripture, leading up to the trip and through it all. Every time I doubted that I should bring my family of five kids to a third world country, even though I felt strongly about going in my heart, I grabbed my bible seeking words of wisdom. I was like Peter sinking in the sea and His word was Jesus grabbing my hand and pulling me up. And when we arrived, all that fear dissipated and transformed into a deeply felt peace that we were exactly where God wanted us to be.
It also revealed to us a false sense of security that we didn’t even know we had, and highlighted the fact that our only true security is in God. Should we remain safely in the comforts of home at the cost of leaving our brothers and sisters in need? Isn’t it worth it if even one soul is helped through the work God is allowed to accomplish through us? We had to force ourselves to forgo caring about what others thought of our decision to bring our five little kids on a mission trip to a third-world country, and it was the best decision our family has ever made.
Finally, we’d like to share with you what the kids had to say about our trip:
Zach (9): We made a ton of friends, some of them were very poor. I made a friend named Johnson and he could kind of understand me. Like the words come, go, and I’m busy. We always had lots of fun, like climbing trees, watching the birds, and running around the playground. Then me and Johnson went to paint the Ezekiel house. He followed me there and we did a lot of work. It was for the kids who had no parents to play with after school. Then we went to a church on a truck ride. It was scorching hot and I got to ride in the back of a pickup truck. On the way, it couldn’t get up a steep hill so the adults had to get out and push it up. When we got to the village, there were lots of chickens and pigs. We went up to each person’s door and we invited people to come and pray with us in the church. At the church there was music and a lot of prayer. Then afterward we played in the back of the pickup truck. We also had a lot of suckers. They were from the festival at the Ezekiel House. There were a lot of games there and we invited a lot of Haitian kids from school. It was super sad when we had to leave. I cried for an hour because I missed Haiti. I told my mom it was a lot better than living at home and that I wanted to live there.
Elizabeth (8): When I saw a boy, I saw Jesus in him, and how he was so poor, and I was really sad because seeing that face wasn’t what I expected. He was wearing a man’s shirt probably that he found and it was really, really sad to see because when I picked him up to take him off of the truck, he wasn’t wearing anything else other than the shirt. It made me really, really sad. When we were at a church in the village, I handed out rosaries, and it made me very happy because everyone wanted one. When we did the prayers, it made me so happy I almost cried. Making friends with the missionaries was very joyful for me, and when I left my friends we were all crying and I didn’t want to leave. I was too sad to even say goodbye. But I am glad I went, and if I didn’t go I wouldn’t meet them. I’m so happy I even came, because if God didn’t even call me, I wouldn’t be there in Haiti. And after church Mom and Dad took us to go get pop. I was so happy.
Aaron (6): We donated all our clothes (ha!). We went on the side of the church and Benny fell. Me and Eliza and Zach said funny things. We saw the ocean. And Dad danced with Luke at the Ezekiel Home to the songs. We digged a home for a family. My favorite part was the games and we got to go in the back of a truck. I learned to be helpful. I felt Jesus and I was happy and I liked it.
Benny (3): I fell down. I give Dane my shoes. He’s my friend. We got there in a hairplane. It was fun.
As for Luke, although he can’t talk, I will vouch for him. He was a little over a year old in March. They say kids make the best missionaries, and while I saw that with all our kids, Luke was the star of the show as far as ice-breakers go. Everywhere we went smiles lit up at the sight of this little white baby. Groups of kids would surround us and try to communicate while feeling his skin and hair. They also would grab him out of my arms and snuggle him up close. I was shocked at the difference between Haiti and my home in regard to children. There were kids everywhere, and they loved to see ours.
We are so grateful God gave us the experience of being among full-time missionaries in Haiti. Our faith has grown as a result and we are left with a deeper longing to do God’s will and to truly strive to live out the Gospel no matter where we are. May God Bless you all and inspire you to do the same!