youth ministry advance team: haiti – day 1

this morning, we left santo domingo at 5:30am, and began our trek to haiti, with a handful of stops along the way. our team is getting along great — such a cool mix of people.

our first ministry stop was on the dominican side of the haiti border, where a complete hospital had been set up in tents on the compound of a ministry organization. the hospital was being run by “u.s.aid”, a u.s. government funded agency. the nurses and docs were wonderful — all there as volunteers. a highlight was sitting with a haitian man who was healing from a broken femur, and listening to him sing bob marley’s “redemption song” (watch a video of this moment here). the man had taught himself english by listening to english-language music, and he had a beautiful voice. all of us, including the nurses, were in tears by the time he finished.

our first stop in haiti, just barely across the border, was at a church that is housing 30 refugee families, and also runs a hospital. with so little medical care in port-au-prince, thousands of haitians have made their way to these care facilities outside the city. yesterday, the place had 6000 people on their grounds fasting and praying! the place was just not that big — so that must have been an amazing thing. we toured the hospital, and prayed with a couple of the patients. one woman told us her story through an interpreter. she’d been trapped in rubble for 24 hours. when the ground started shaking, she grabbed her twin 17 month-old boys, holding them to her chest. but when she was pinned under the rubble, she could tell that one had instantly died, and the other only lived for the length of a few cries. the story got worse than that, but i don’t think i’ll share all the details here. but she talked about calling out to jesus, and how she was rescued. when we asked if we could pray for her, we discovered that the man sitting in a chair nearby her was her husband, and he came up and sat next to her on the hospital bed. as we laid hands on them and prayed, her husband began crying and shaking, speaking out, “why, jesus? why, jesus?” of course, it was a heartbreaking story, and i felt a small bit of the pain this couple must have been going through. i was thinking of my own two children.

after a flat tire on one of the cars, and then the donut spare going flat also, we had to rearrange things; but we made it (a little late) to a meeting with about 40 pastors. we were meeting with them to explore the possibility of setting up church partnerships between their churches and u.s. churches. there was lots of story sharing (including some painful ones of pastors who’d lost family members). we handed out lots of packages of supplies (everything from toiletries to medical stuff to diapers), as all of these pastors are housing or taking care of families who are now homeless and without resources. we filmed short videos of each of them, for the potential church partners, and took photos of them, and prayed with them. the whole time we were meeting in the church, there was a youth group meeting in a little shed-like space on the other side of their yard. it was awesome to hear the youth group singing “you’re all i need” to jesus, especially when they all clearly have so many needs.

we’re staying at a mennonite guest house in port-au-prince, where we just made our team dinner and had a good time of sharing. i only got about 2 hours of sleep last night, so am looking forward to a bit more tonite.

to see posts from the rest of the team, check out our facebook group (where posts will be linked in the next 24 hours or so).

3 thoughts on “youth ministry advance team: haiti – day 1”

  1. Hey old friend! (lisa (page) nelson:) So great to hear updates of how things are going. Thanks for taking the time to write. Praying for the trip to be all that God intends for your team and those you encounter. Bless you for being obedient to go and keep the updates coming!

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