Thank you for your many prayers and support for our team in our recent trip to the island of Haiti. The Lord’s hand of guidance was evident throughout our road trip to and from Florida, as well as our entire ministry time in Haiti. Arriving in Cap Haitian on Tuesday afternoon, we were able to get settled into the mission compound where we were staying. After finishing the preparations for our classes and receiving briefing on Haitian life, we were turned in for the night with a great anticipation over what God had in store.
Wednesday began our first day of teaching. Our team of 5 split up into two groups and drove to separate schools where we began training Christian elementary school teachers in how to incorporate biblical character into their lessons. Everyday, our team, along with our trusted translators, spoke to dozens of teachers of over 1,400 students on the character of Christ and how vital it is to demonstrate it in our everyday lives. Most of the teachers had no idea what character was, so our first assignment was to explain the meanings of the various character qualities. Then, we were able to pass on our vision and enthusiasm for building Christ’s character in the lives of their students.
Each team member experienced many challenges during our time in Haiti both physically and spiritually. The weather, thick with humidity, registered at 85 degrees but felt more like 105, which required some adjustments. In addition to the weather, in any missions work, translation is invariably an obstacle, as it was for us the first day. The teachers seemed to be oblivious to the truths we were trying to communicate. But after fervent prayer that evening, we were amazed at how God opened the eyes of the teachers on the second day so they were able to comprehend a vast majority of what the interpreters translated. Furthermore, cultural dissimilarities was also a challenge. The mentality of the Haitian teachers is often skeptical to our American perspective on education. Before arriving in Haiti, we were briefed on the cultural differences, which prepared us for this obstacle. Our goal was to relate to the Haitians on a level that they could identify with, and encourage them to catch the vision of how they might impact their students, who would then impact their families and villages, and ultimately their nation.
BY CHAD CHRISTIANSEN
“The people who walked in darkness Have seen a great light; Those who dwelt in the land of the shadow of death, Upon them a light has shined.” (Isaiah 9:2 NKJV)
“We’ve heard in the news in recent years how the people in Haiti have been through very difficult traumas. Loosing over 300,000 lives during the earthquake that devastated the southern part of the island took a toll on this fragile country. Yet even right in the midst of this national catastrophe there were multiple accounts of corruption and self-enrichment at the expense of those in dire need of food and medical supplies. Why? This verse in Isaiah reveals the true needs of this beautiful land, for over two hundred years people have been walking in deep darkness. Not physical darkness, but spiritual.
Having an opportunity to travel to Haiti was a great honor and an amazing opportunity. There are great physical needs throughout this land but these needs often mask the root problems in the hearts of these beautiful men and women, boys and girls. They need Jesus. They need to learn to walk in His ways.
Equipping the teachers, at each of the Christian schools we taught at, how to clearly teach Christ’s character was so exciting! Children in these schools have the possibility to reach the top educational institutions in this country and hence have a high possibility to succeed in reaching key leadership roles in government, business, education, and even in the church. These children will be the next parents, employees, employers, and leaders in their communities, region, and even the nation. If they can learn to know Christ and walk in His ways, this entire country will be completely transformed!
We had been praying long before this trip and also during it that the teachers would catch a vision for what we were training and to wholehearted embrace this opportunity to teach their children Christ’s ways. During the last class one of our teachers asked an amazing question. He wanted to know what they were going to do next school year. I inquired further and it turned out he was so excited about the potential impact this was going to have on his students he wanted to see if they could keep teaching this for years to come! God had answered our greatest prayer! He showed up in a powerful way and the vast majority of our teachers caught the vision! Please keep them in your prayers as they have now begun teaching their children Christ’s character.
BY VICTORIA HOWELL
The trip to Haiti was a transformational experience. It was amazing to see how God worked through us to equip and inspire the teachers. It was an honor to share with these teachers the character of Christ! I loved the food, scenery, and unique culture. God greatly used this trip to broaden my perspective of Him! It was amazing to see first-hand how the gospel transcends culture. My favorite part of Haiti was listening and talking to other believers. Even though we were from different countries, backgrounds, and cultures, Christ brought us together in ways the world would deem impossible.
BY CAMILLE GOMEZ
One thing that we had been specifically praying for before we left for Haiti, was that God would give the teachers a passion and heart to teach character in their classrooms. It was amazing to see the ways that God worked throughout that week! The first day was a little dry, and it seemed that the teachers were only mildly interested. As we were preparing our lesson plan that evening, we prayed that God would give us wisdom and place a vision in each teacher’s heart to apply the training they were receiving. Through the next few days it was amazing to watch the transformation come over the teachers. They became excited about the lessons we were teaching, they saw the benefits that it would have on their students, and by the end of the week they couldn’t wait to get started incorporating character in their classroom! It was such an incredible answer to prayer!
BY VICTORIA MEDINA
Albert Einstein once said, “The measure of intelligence is the ability to change.” It was apparent that flexibility was going to be a key aspect of this journey as details of our trip were continually altered and modified and our team had repeatedly written, rewritten, and redrafted our training materials. We knew that the first character quality that we would be explaining was Orderliness, which is essentially a foundational quality. We demonstrate Orderliness by picking up our things, by folding our clothes neatly, and by completing tasks efficiently. Children in the United States need to demonstrate Orderliness in these areas, but how do children in Haiti apply Orderliness to their lives? Living below the poverty level, they don’t have toys to pick up, or excess clothes to neatly store. How then, could we relate this quality to their lives?
That’s where flexibility became important. On our first day of teaching, our team felt as though our audience did not quite grasped how the character trait of Orderliness could relate to their students. That night, we spent time in prayer, asking the Lord to guide our thoughts and words the following day. We asked the Lord to facilitate the teaching and we submitted our ideas to be directed by the Holy Spirit. As class began. the Lord brought an idea to mind. Why not have them practice what we are teaching? We asked the teachers to get up and share how their students struggle with Orderliness. They began describing how their students often litter, come to class with disheveled appearances, and often don’t put items back where they belong. We were able to modify our lesson to fit what their students were struggling with! Each moment we were learning to be flexible and learning to adapt to our unique teaching situation. Having the opportunity to adjust and alter our lesson plans taught us a lesson in flexibility. We all returned home thanking God for the privilege not only to teach Christ’s character, but we were also challenged to redefine character for a culture totally foreign to our own. Lesson learned!
BY ANGELO OLIVERIO
Using a blackboard and chalk to teach, speaking through an interpreter, and riding in the back of a truck everywhere I went were not, as can be imagined, activities I practiced regularly. Not even close. But these things only added to the novelty of the trip, and aided in the fact that I now view my time in Haiti as a highlight that I’ll never forget. This was an extraordinary time of learning, growing and ministering that will impact how I live, and view the world from now on.
I was incredibly blessed during my time there, and I’d have to say that the greatest blessing was witnessing the teacher’s comprehending the lessons that we taught them. There is nothing as rewarding as witnessing the lines connect in the minds of your students. It is one of the most fulfilling and satisfying feelings that I have experienced. Even through the interpreter and language barrier, God allowed our message to be heard and understood. Because of this God-orchestrated trip, hundreds of Haitian children will now have the opportunity to hear more about Christ’s righteous character, and how they themselves can practically live a life that is pleasing to God.
Though the culture was different, the language foreign, and the customs new to us, we met like-minded Christians who we encouraged and were encouraged by. God was with us, and the prayers of the team and you, our friends and family, were felt as we taught and interacted. Thank you for your prayers!