Report for ACWAM Haiti trip, March 8-15, 2014
Our team of 24 was primarily made up of the Youth Group from our Lady of Help Catholic Church in Wallaceburg. There were 9 teens, 6 parents and friends, 2 youth leaders, 4 long-standing ACWAM supporters and 3 ACWAM Board members. We have worked together for a whole year to prepare for this trip. There were meetings about once a month. A special prayer, called
The Kadosh (holy) prayer was written for this trip. They dubbed themselves “the Kadosh Team”. Since we traveled in Lent, the teens announced that the sacrifice that they were making was to give up their spring break to serve the Lord in Haiti. Throughout the year, we held several fundraisers to help the youth to pay for the trip and to be able to send money to HCRM for our building project.
– participated in the ACWAM walk-a-thon in May, 2013,
-held an auction sale in November,
-camped outside in December and collected donations from passers-by
– spoke at several churches and the Rotary club to raise funds and interest,
-wrote letters for sponsorship
-catered 4 dinners for the Wallaceburg Rotary club.
Not only did they raise their funds to go, but they also were able to send $8000 U.S. to HCRM to cover the cost of the building supplies needed for the guest house they would be working on.
Another of their responsibilities was to plan and prepare a Vacation Bible School program for the kids at HCRM. They did an excellent job and took down all the supplies needed for the crafts, games and Bible stories. They were a team even before they left Wallaceburg!
March 8th at 1 am we were prayed for by Father Jacek Kokosa and sent on our way by family and friends. We left Knox church in a full to over-flowing school bus. Our trip to Haiti went without a glitch. When we arrived at 2:30pm Pastor Jean Fritz was at the airport to greet us. We loaded into a big truck with our 49 pieces of luggage and set off to the orphanage. Riding through Carrfour was a real eye-opener for our new people. They couldn’t believe that people had to live in that kind of poverty, filth and hardship (but that is exactly why we came to Haiti- to help by giving people hope in the eternal). Once at the orphanage, we settled into our 3 bunk houses and then enjoyed a full meal of chicken, rice & beans, lasagna, french fries, salad and plantain. Variations of this menu was what we ate all week. Bed came early and felt good that night.
Sunday morning we attended Mass at a big church in Gressier. It was very meaningful even though we understood little of the French. The rituals of the service were similar to ours in Canada. It was a special bonding time as Protestants worshiped beside our Catholic brothers & sisters in Christ. Sunday, being a day of rest, we took ourselves for a swim in the ocean at a nearby beach. Even that was a “first” for some of our team.
Monday we started our work! Jean Fritz had hired several Haitian workers and a contractor to build the guest house and show us what we could do to help. Not only did the team work on the building, they also provided jobs for these Haitian workers. Although there was a slight language barrier that did not stop everyone from laughing and working together. As the week went on the Haitians and “Blancs” became good friends. When we left, our team gave hats, flashlights, shoes and even promised to send work boots for the workers. The work was hot and hard, but both men and women spent hours each day, from Monday till Thursday, building. The foundation and the re-bars were in place by the time we left. The building will be finished in a couple of weeks and it will be a lovely place for future teams and adoptive parents. The ocean view from the front porch will be spectacular.
Each afternoon that week the ladies held a Vacation Bible school for the kids. Eugene Mario came each day to be the interpreter. He was great with the kids! They enjoyed songs, games, stories and crafts. The team was well prepared for this ministry. It was a delight to hear the kids laughing and singing and to see the brightly coloured crafts displayed around the room. Trish brought her guitar and the kids loved to sing along with her. Some of the youth were camp leaders and they had much to contribute to the program.
The afternoons gave us an opportunity to meet with our ACWAM friends in Haiti. On Monday Pastor Sauveur and Kebert came to visit and we were able to bless them with money and books that were sent for them. On Tuesday Regine Necessaire (the student doctor, whom ACWAM supports) came to visit. We presented her with her bursary money and had a nice chat with the help of Mario’s interpretation. We also had a visit with another team from Brantford Ont. and their host Simon, who has a guest house near the Baptist Mission. One of their members sponsors a child at HCRM.
Monday morning several of our team went up to God’s Hope School. One of our members sponsors a little girl there and he wanted to meet her and take gifts to the family. Elisee is doing a good work at that school. He has over 100 students. They did a presentation for us and presented us with 3 God’s Hope T-shirts and a beautiful plaque for ACWAM.
Monday was Elaine’s special birthday, so we bought her a cake and gift and had a celebration at devotions. We shared the cake with the kids and they were so excited. That was the biggest birthday party Elaine has ever had. There were over 70 people in attendance. Each evening Elaine led us in devotions. The theme was rebuilding Jerusalem, found in the book in Nehemiah. It fit in perfectly with our building project and our building relationships. There was always a time of sharing and a few songs led by Trish on her guitar.
As the week went on, strong relationship were formed between our team members and the kids. In spare time, you could see them playing ball, having their hair braided, hugging and holding little ones, coloring together, and even just sitting and talking with each other. On the last evening, our team held a party for the kids. We made peanut butter sandwiches and handed out cookies and chips. They were given gifts of harmonicas and glow sticks. I think that a record was achieved! We had 20 sponsorships initiated from this team, Praise God!!!!! This kept Jayne busy trying to get up-dates, pictures and new kids on the sponsorship list.
On Wednesday, Elaine, Ed and Mary Pat joined Margaret Clark and they traveled up to L’Azile School. This is new school to ACWAM. We sponsor 18 students there. It is a well-run school with 180 kids ranging from Primary 1 to grade 6. They do a feeding program each day. It is a 5 hour trip up there so we arrived just as the school was letting out. We had arranged to stay overnight so that we could see the classes in action and get pictures of the sponsored children. In the evening they had a worship service and welcomed us. We brought greetings from ACWAM and Canada. The following day we got up-dates on our sponsored children and were treated to a presentation of songs by the whole school. Ed and Elaine shared encouraging stories with the children. After lunch, we started the long ride back to HCRM. Back at the ranch (HCRM) the team was continuing their building and VBS.
Friday was our “fun” day. We went up to the Baptist Mission. There:
– we met Nixon, who took Elaine and Ed and several of the team members up to Callebasse School, Lambs of the Light School and to the new God’s Littlest Angels orphanage. Everything seems to be going well at all 3 sites. Lambs of the Light has painted the rooms and it is much brighter and nicer. Nixon put the new window (that we sent money for) into the Callebasse School. The children are expected to be able to move into the new GLA by fall.
– We met Elisee and he took Pete and Mike up to Kenscoff to visit a boy that Pete has sponsored for 12 years
-the rest of us went over to the Lookout. It is much improved with real booths for the venders and a lovely restaurant on the viewing area. From there we went shopping for the party things for the kids at HCRM…
By way of a miracle, we all met back at the Baptist Mission about 1pm and had lunch together with our Haitian friends. After some shopping, we returned to HCRM. In the afternoon we packed, leaving most of our things for the kids. In the evening we had our closing party and devotions.
Saturday morning at 5:30 we were ready to load into the truck for the ride to the airport. There were long hugs good-bye and a few tears shed. The trip home was good, meeting all our flights and the bus relatively on time. We returned to falling snow – yuck!!, but it was good to crawl into our own beds at 4 am.
All in all, the team was great and the trip was most successful. From the evaluation sheets, I learned that this trip was a “once in a life time experience”, but everyone said that they would like to go back if they could. From the beginning this was “God’s Team”. Only He could have made such a success from such a large team, with such an age variance, led by 3 little old ladies (T3) from Wallaceburg. Prayers were answered, Praise God for our safety, our good health and our experience!
Respectfully submitted by
Mary Pat Elliott