We were told not to travel to Haiti, but we felt led to go.
The US government travel alert was at level four because of the recent rioting which means many NGO's (Non-Government Organizations) were banned from traveling to Haiti. It was obvious when we boarded the plane from New York; we were the only "white" people on the plane and we didn't see any team shirts from other mission groups or any aid workers. Normally the plane to Port Au Prince is 2/3rds full of mission teams.
Arriving in Haiti, we heard over and over from the locals how help is needed and that no one has been coming. We were asked to bring supplies to the malnutrition clinic because other teams who were bringing supplies had canceled.
We were so thankful we were able to go! It was such an amazing trip! Ricky, one of our team members from Texas and Co-Founder of the Luken Foundation, said a number of times, "If you don't step out of your comfort zone, God isn't going to reveal Himself". When you take courageous steps of faith, God will show you miracles! He was right, as we saw many incredible God moments and were totally protected all week. God is so faithful.
We stayed for a week and kept really busy. We spent Wednesday and Thursday in the slum of Cité Soliel where things were peaceful. The people are always so friendly towards us. In fact, the main gang leader in Luken's sector of the slum met with us and thanked us for all we were doing. It was a bit surreal to give this man "packing heat" a hug and tell him I loved and cared about him and have him reply, "I love you too!"
In Cite Soleil, where Luken's facility is, there's no electricity but Todd, one of our team members, got it in his head (and heart) that Luken's facility needed electricity! He started buying all the supplies; an electrical box, outlets, cords, etc. Wednesday night he told Brandy to send out an email to our small group of family and friends that were praying for the trip. The email said, "We need a $1500 generator by tomorrow morning so we can get this thing done!" Brandy was tired and didn't feel like sending an email but knew she had to. The first thing I awoke to on Thursday morning was a text from someone saying they would give the $1500! There were tears streaming down faces at breakfast that morning as I shared the news! Now the students can stay later, study later and be safe!
Cite Soliel is considered the most impoverished slum in the Western Hemisphere and many Haitians are fearful to go into that area. Some Haitians were able to join us in Cite Soleil for their first time, as translators. We walked through the tightly placed, makeshift shacks inviting the residents to join us the following day to hear some testimonies and teaching about what God has done and to have a meal. One of Brandy's favorite Haitians, Danex, joined us for his first time. His heart was so impacted by the poverty and the children he saw, he had to go back to the van because he couldn't hold back his tears. He is such a gentle, wonderful man with a tender heart. On Thursday 150 adults ended up coming for the event! It was awesome to have more people than we thought come! It was such a good day. God is so good.
Friday and Saturday was a different story in the slum, as gangs started fighting. Ricky and Luken wanted to go back Friday to deliver the generator but were told to stay away. They waited until Saturday and then took their chances. Here is a text I received from Ricky, "We finally went in and had a great time with the kids. All the street markets were closed because of the gunfire, it was like a ghost town. For the first time, I heard gunshots and they were close. The last three shots made me duck. God is great and I am glad we went in!"
Co-Founder, Java Relief