Dear Supporters of Aid for Haiti, September 25, 2014
There are times in your life you anticipate an event for a long time. Sometimes the anticipation is not realized, sometimes it is. But when the anticipation is exceeded, the blessing is so special. It is a time that blesses, challenges, and changes you for the rest of your life.
I had an event from September 6 to September 13 that will forever be considered a great blessing of my life. For several years I prayed and wanted to go with a good friend, Caleb J. Trent, to Haiti. He goes to Haiti several times a year, mostly for medical clinics in the mountains of Haiti where there is a tremendous need.
First my work prevented me from going, second it was my wife, Chung’s, health. Last week I was blessed by being able to go to Haiti for eight days.
While I had seen on television and read of the conditions in Haiti, it was much different than I had anticipated. I had been in Asia in the 1960’s and had seen poverty. What I saw in Asia did not come close to the poverty I saw in Haiti. The average wage for a laborer or field hand is around $5.50 USD. The interpreters we had are paid about $15. We saw some boys, ages 12-15 working at the school for food to eat. Haitians spend about 70% of their income on food. I saw children begging on the streets. It was truly humbling to sit during our meetings with my iPad, realizing it was worth as much as some earn in a year.
I saw shanties like I could never have imagined. They were about 6 x 8 structures made from scraps of wood and corrugated metal. I saw families living in cloth tents that were given to them at the time of the earthquake in 2010. There is no sewage disposal system. All water has to be filtered.
Education is making headway. The pastor of the church we were at said that 10 years ago the children in his area could not read. Today most can read and speak a few words of English.
I had an opportunity to go to the mission base of Aid for Haiti, a non-profit organization. This is a small group that is primarily supported by its board members. There is no administrative overhead. All funds go directly to helping support medical clinics, pastor training, and the two Americans, Michael and Virginia Rudolph, a brother and sister, who live at the mission base which is under construction. They spend a good portion of their time helping the teams who travel to Haiti. They live 14 miles off the main road. It takes two hours to get from the main road to their mission station. The two Americans are living on faith in their God and have no guaranteed income.
Currently they do a variety of things. Michael has EMT training and was the director of a clinic for several years after the earthquake. He translates for teams that come. He has been blessed with the gift of learning Creole; he is able to speak Creole without an accent. Michael also spends much time going to the airport and driving the teams to where they are going to minister. Travel in Haiti is slow and difficult. Michael is also blessed by being able to solve problems that come up; he fixes and maintains all of their equipment. Michael is getting married in January.
Virginia has recently returned to Haiti. She had lived in Haiti in the past and then returned to the States for about a year before returning to Haiti to live indefinitely. She is a LPN. She will be spending the next few months learning Creole as she continues her ministry.
The team I went with was led by Phillip Rudolph, the father of Michael and Virginia, a very gifted teacher. Dr. Caleb Trent was the other team member who is also a gifted teacher. The purpose of the trip I went on was to conduct a seminar for pastors and elders. I think it was the tenth seminar they have held. Phillip and Caleb taught on a number of doctrinal issues. I spoke on my reflections of being an elder for thirty years and some promises of God that I was blessed with during the last four years.
One might ask why the need of teaching. The answer is, the church in Haiti has very little in the way of education. Many of the men in our group do not have a high school education. They also have very little in the way of literature to learn from. We have commentaries, books, etc. They have nothing. The Bible they have been using is very poor. They have just received a new translation of the New Testament which is good. The Old Testament is so poor that in places the chapters and verse numbers do not match the correct verse. It was not uncommon for men to come to each of us between meetings and ask questions as they look for answers from the Bible. They are eager to learn. They have not had the opportunity. It is an understatement to say the need of teaching is great.
It is easy to form an opinion of Haiti as being a very corrupt country, which it is. It has been pictured as people desperate to get on a rickety boat to try to make it to America for a better life much like my Irish ancestors did. Haitians are also stereotyped as being lazy and not willing to work hard. But that was not what I was blessed to see. I was blessed by not only being able to teach men who wanted to be taught, but also of meeting men of integrity. The only reason these men took a week from their normal activities was to learn the Word of God. I met men who want to serve God and are doing it in the best way they can. I met men who wanted to take up the command of God to serve and shepherd the flock of God. At previous seminars men walked three hours each way, daily, to attend the seminars.
While we were going up on the mountain on September 8th and I was looking out over the mountains enjoying the wonderful creation of God, I remembered that 50 years to the day was the day I met my wife Chung. It brought tears to my eyes. Two young people met, got married, had children, got saved and have tried serving the Lord. As I was thinking about Chung I thought about how pleased she would be for me to be serving the Lord in a new and exciting way.
I asked Michael what their greatest material need is. He answered that they have a need for a portable generator. It costs around $1,000 – $1,500. They need it because they travel to places that have no electricity. When I was there we had electricity at best eight hours a day. In rural areas there are places where there is no electricity. Electricity is critically needed for medical clinics and the teaching seminars. Currently, they have had to rely on borrowing a generator. Not only did the person who was supposed to bring it come late to the meetings, but it did not work. Michael worked through the evening to fix it so we could use it the next day. If you would like to know how to contribute to this, go to http://www.aidforhaiti.org or contact me directly.
Someone asked if I would go back and help again. It could very well happen, in the will of the Lord. There is a real need. In the near future there will be a medical team going. Perhaps in the fall there will be a marriage seminar. Next year there will be other pastor’s seminars.
Pictures from the pastor’s conference in Fond Doux, Sept. 2014