This is the main line of communication that we’ll be using to keep you guys and everyone else up to date on how we’re doing and what’s going on. Feel free to forward this email to whoever you would like. I think the team has put together a pretty good list, but we may have missed someone.
First some background: the trip was organized through the Virginia Baptist Mission Board (VBMB) as a follow-up to a trip last summer. Two members of the current team were on the trip last summer – Jesse and Rebecca. The team is composed of 6 people:
- Jesse Alley (me) – Virginia Tech
- Rebecca Williams – Virginia Tech
- Josh Hickman – Virginia Tech
- Rebecca Warren – Virginia Tech
- Kristen Slade – Bluefield College
- Nichole Prillaman – VBMB
The team arrived safely in Haiti yesterday (May 27) after 7:00 am flight out of Richmond. Getting through customs was a bit of a zoo, but we all made it through without any hiccups. We were met at the airport by Deliris Carrion and Ronel Mesidor. Deliris is a full-time missionary living in Port-au-Prince, originally from Puerto Rico. Ronel pastors two churches in Port-au-Prince and coordinates with the VBMB to facilitate missions teams. We were all exhausted from traveling and did little more than eat and sleep after arriving.
We are staying in an area called Delmas 19 in a large complex managed by the Florida Baptist Convention. It is just down the road from where the Me and Rebecca Williams worked last year. It is a large complex that can house >50 people. Right now there are probably ~20 other people spread across 2-3 other groups that are staying here at the same time as us. We are slowly getting to know the others and have shared the past 2 meals with two older gentleman named Bud and Bill. They have come down a few days ahead of the rest of their group to round up materials and make preparations. They have been very helpful in getting us oriented to the facilities. They will be here until Friday, so it will be great getting to know them better.
This morning, we attended Pastor Ronel’s church in downtown Port-au-Prince. We arrived in the middle of the group praising God through song, and although we couldn’t understand a word of it, we could feel their happiness and passion for Jesus amid all the poverty in the area. That was a wonderful sight to behold. They sang many songs in the service and had a special group of girls visiting that evidently travel around singing songs telling the wonderfulness of the gospel, and we heard from them as well. A guest speaker also spoke the sermon, who also travels proclaiming the word of God. He spoke from Matthew 16:24 about how everyone has a path in life. We have to pick up the cross and follow Jesus, and that’s a decision we have to make daily. And when we carry that cross, we also have a responsibility to not do bad things. When we follow Jesus, we have to turn from the ways of this life and basically forsake ourselves. He told a bit of his testimony about how when he decided to follow Jesus, his entire family disowned him, but he couldn’t let that stop him. All of this was in creole, and we had translators with us translating all of this to us as the service was happening, and that was awesome to be able to interact with them. The service also ended up being two and a half hours long, which at home would have been a catastrophe, but these people would have been glad to be there all day and we were enjoying ourselves just as much. It spoke to all of us in different ways but it was definitely awesome to witness the worship of God in a place so desolate and see how much hope and joy these people have.
After that we went to a local supermarket and bought groceries to make our lunches this week; we’ll be taking them to the job site with us. Then we came back to the house for the rest of the evening and just enjoyed a good dinner and had a devotion and some guitar playing/singing.
We’ve talked about how the things we’ve seen have impacted us differently so far, and it will be interesting to see how much God changes our hearts and minds as the week unfolds. You’ll hear back from us today or tomorrow with an update on how the week is going.
Until then, au revoir!
-Jesse, Josh, Rebecca, Rebecca, Kristen, Nichole