Luke’s First Visit to Haiti — Misery & Hope
In April 2017, three of the Haiti Ministry’s leaders — Dave, Darrin and Luke — traveled to Haiti for the first time since Hurricane Matthew raged across Haiti’s southern peninsula on October 4, 2016. For Luke, it was his first visit to the country and to the Glory Glory Center. Following, is Luke’s recap of the trip.
Soon into the trip I found myself grappling with the following question. What does it mean to hold both the destruction, the sadness and the misery of what happened and what these people are going through, while simultaneously finding hope in the resiliency, rebuilding and camaraderie of the people?
One week before we arrived, a Miami-based non-profit found 240 people living in a cave in a town west of Pastor Sam’s church. This, 6 months after Hurricane Matthew made landfall. They had resorted to eating foods known to be poisonous in an attempt to satiate their hunger. This is the tension I held in one hand. Yet with the other, I was able to hear what Sam has done since October. In this time Sam, with help from Mariners, has fed over 18,000 people, rebuilt or repaired 115 homes and 5 churches. I know there are people alive because of Sam, his team and the generosity of our community.
The majority of my trip was focused on assessing any remaining relief needs and standing in solidarity with Pastor Sam as the first team back since the hurricane. Our trip began in a moving church service which was standing room only, a direct result of what Pastor Sam has done in the community following the hurricane. The next two days were dedicated to visiting some “local” churches. Our drives took us through very remote areas deep into the mountains and to the westernmost tip of Haiti.
A long drive and a short hike brought us to our first church. 150 people meet each week at the church you see to the right. It is cared for by a young woman who grew up in the area and although she has received an education and thus an opportunity to leave, she has stayed to lead the church in the absence of a current pastor. We were greeted by a team of women from the area who had been preparing lunch for us since early that morning. The plate of plantains and chicken were great helpings of hospitality and generosity.
The last church we visited that day was perhaps the most moving experience of the trip. Upon arriving we were soon greeted by a few of the pastors and elders of the church. Their faces held the tension of both pain and joy. They spoke of how difficult things have been since the hurricane. [They said to us,] “We thought people had forgotten about us.” They went on to tell us how much our presence was a present to them. We ended the time with words of encouragement and prayer.
What was impactful for them was that the three of us [Dave, Darrin and Luke] had no business being there, and they knew it. The difference between helping a problem and helping a person is proximity. We have to get close. The week after I got back was Easter and I found myself feeling like these pastors. It was a reminder that someone once came to be near to me who had no business coming to where I was. Not only did he come but once here, he died for me and you.
These are just a few stories of what our team and I got to do while there, and I hope they serve as an encouragement to you. If you want to know more or have any questions, please let me know.
Luke Hatakeda, Latin America Director
Global Outreach, Mariners Church