Second Mile Haiti

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Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Arriving in Haiti

I’ve never been big on daily devotional books maybe it’s because I prefer the consistency of a longer book or maybe I’ve just never found a daily book that I really enjoyed. But, this little jewel of a book called “Jesus Calling” was given to Jenn and I just a week or so before heading to Haiti. This devotional book was different from any other I’d ever come across. The words weren’t written as feel good stories or giving small doses of how-to-get-the-most-out-of-your-life advice. Instead, the words are based on truths and promises that come directly from the Bible and are written as though they come straight from the mouth of Christ.

Jenn and I both pray daily and are super focused on what our Father and Friend says to us in reply. We want to hear his perspective on every little step in this process. We’re ready for every bit of wisdom we can glean from His word and from talks with Him. After reading the first entry on January 1, I could see that through this little book we’d get still another dose of the truths and promises that God wants all of his people to hear and hold close.

Jenn and I arrived in Haiti on Monday morning. We flew to the Port au Prince airport and made a pretty seamless transition from Port to Cap. We had to do a few things to make sure we’d be able to connect with our friend when we got to Cap Haitien, like borrow a phone charger, change money, buy minutes for our cellphone, and make a few calls.

We had planned to return to Haiti with just our backpacks. But at the last minute we thought better of it and decided to buy two air mattresses for our sleeping comfort. At $9 a piece it was too good of a deal to pass up. Because of the mattresses and a few other purchases we needed to check one big duffle bag between the two of us. Any passenger baggage that doesn’t fit on the tiny island hopper gets sent on the next flight…or the one after that…

So while waiting 5 hours for the big red bag to arrive we vowed never to travel with anything other than “carry-on” luggage ever again. The wait is expected but most people have the luxury of leaving and coming back for their bags. Not us, but to tell you the truth we enjoyed the wait. We made a few new friends and ran into a few old ones. I even got a new facebook friend out of the deal. The boy that shines shoes at the airport was happy to see us, as was the woman who sells spaghetti at the airport. Jenn was always a pretty loyal customer. The weather is perfect in Haiti right now. There’s a hint of wetness in the air from recent rains. The sun is warm but not too hot. And the breeze is delightful.

We took a taxi. The driver’s gas gauge was well below empty yet by some miracle we made it the gas station where the driver paid a total of $6.25 and proceeded to receive 1 and a ¼ gallons of gas in return. This brought his gas gauge from well below empty to just below empty. We were happy to give him our business. We just barely made it up the hill where we live, a good reminder that we have to have faith for the little things.

We’re staying with Johanne, a Haitian woman we know well, and her four year old daughter Hannah. Johanne is the same age as Jenn and I. She also has a pretty awesome Canadian husband who happens to be in Canada right now. It was a pretty awesome feeling to lug our bags up to her place and be welcomed inside. I think the four of us make pretty good roommates. Last night I stayed back with Hannah while Jenn and Johanne walked about 1 ½ miles to get water. I think I got the better end of the deal, but it’s teamwork none-the-less.

Jenn and Hannah

They had a pretty crazy story to share with me when they got back. In that short walk their hearts were broken at the sight of a mentally unstable young woman that was throwing herself in front of passing vehicles in an effort to end her life. It was a sad reminder that psychiatric care in Haiti is hard to come by and ridiculously expensive.

On the upside, we’ve realized that are legs are in good form and we’re ready to travel as cheaply as possible (aka by foot as often as possible).

Word travels quickly in this town. Tuesday morning we got a phone call from a friend who’d heard we were in town and was ready for a visit! We planned to get into town via “tap-tap,” which is public transportation for just a few cents a head. But the three of us were unable to flag down a “tap-tap” with space. Instead we hitched a ride on a water truck and walked the rest of the way. It looks like we’ll no longer leave the Caribbean pale and pasty. I think all this walking may just result in a tan. 

Since we went by foot, it was easy for us to stop in on Jenn Love, Jenn’s god-daughter. Her mom tried to tell us that the 9-month old baby babbles “jennnnjennnjennnjennn” but she didn’t talk for us this time.

One half our mission into town involved getting a cell phone for Jenn. Someone tried to sell us a decent phone for a pretty high price. But we knew better. In an effort to work our way out of the deal Jenn created an elaborate tale in which her mom would be sending her a very nice phone for her birthday in four months, thus we’d be able to manage with cheapest phone seeing how it only needed to last for a few months. I liked my story better. In my story Jenn is not allowed to have an expensive phone since she loses them so easily. In the end we bought the cheapest model for a 1/3 the price and felt pretty good about it.  We ran into a few more friends in town and managed to squeeze into a Tap-Tap for the drive home.

When we arrived at Johanne’s she was back from work and ready to introduce us to the apartment manager. Here begins the tale of our first real obstacle. In this meeting we learned that the total number of vacant apartments in this compound is Zero. None. Nada. Initially it had appeared that one would be available in a few short weeks. But now that’s not the case.

Sa vle di, yo dwe schache yon lot kote?
So you’re saying they should look for someplace else?
Wi. Yes.

In our mind the Breda apartments are the perfect place to live while we search for land, buy a truck, and connect with additional Haitian contacts. But then again, it’s possible that God has somewhere else in mind. Or, it’s perhaps he’s asking us to pray, and to trust Him, and to wait patiently.

some views of the apartments

Later that night I read these words in “Jesus Calling” by Sarah Young.

I AM WITH YOU AND FOR YOU. When you decide on a course of action that is in line with my will, nothing in heaven or on earth can stop you.

(After the first line I looked up at Jenn with my most excited face and said “oh this is going to be sooo good! It wasn’t the most creative of descriptions but I wanted to keep reading and needed to get the words out of my mouth as fast as possible).

You may encounter many obstacles as you move toward your goal, but don’t be discouraged.-never give up! With my help, you can overcome any obstacle. Do not expect an easy path as you journey hand in hand with Me, but do remember that I, your very-present Helper, am omnipotent.

Much, much stress results from your wanting to make things happen before their times have come. One of the main ways I assert My sovereignty is in the timing of events. If you want to stay close to Me and do things My way, ask Me to show you the path forward moment by moment. Instead of dashing head-long toward your goal, le Me set the pace. Slow down, and enjoy the journey in My Presence.

(Romans 8:31, Psalm 46:1-3, and Luke 1:37)

Although it was January 10th and I was reading the entry for January 9th I knew that if I had read those words any earlier they wouldn’t have had such an impact. This was a perfect reminder to breath easy, to pray often, and to enjoy God’s presence as He walks us through this process according to His timing.

Thanks for keeping us in your prayers and for all the well wishes as we headed back to Haiti. We'll have more to share in the coming days. 


  1. So thankful y'all made it back. We will continue to pray for you. Tell Johanne hi from us. I am going to buy that devotional book!!! What an awesome entry for us to read today as we continue to wait on news from Haiti on our adoption. We have said all along that it would be in God's time and we have to trust Him. Take care of each other and we'll continue to pray for you.

    1. Got it! Will do. Yes, that book is an awesome way to start the day. There's something about focusing on the face of our Lord that makes everything else seem kinda small. We'll be praying for you too.

  2. I am using the same book. All this week I am thinking of you two with each day's readings. God really does have everything planned out and has equipped you to carry it out. Love, prayers, and hugs.