Back at Home

Thanks to everyone who prayed for myself and the Haiti mission team from Crossroads. We got back last night, landing at DFW on the seventh flight of our 8-day trip to the tip of the Haitian peninsula, where our sister church in Chambellan lives out the gospel in the midst of difficult circumstances. I was incredibly blessed and incredibly moved by the trip. Even though I had been once before, it was 16 years ago, when I was a mere pup of 18 years. I wondered how things had changed in Haiti. I wondered if I would recognize anyone from that time. I only recognized one person, a gentleman named Francois, but I don’t think he remembered me. That’s all right. It was good to see him again, anyway.

The travel was tough on body and mind. I didn’t mind the plane flights down there as much as I could have. I’m not a great flier. Turbulence. Take-offs. Landings. Lions. Tigers. Bears. Oh My. This time, though, one of the most looked-forward to aspects of the trip really beat me up: the drive over the Haitian mountains from Les Cayes on the southern coast to Jeremie on the northern coast. Sixty miles as the crow flies took us nine hours. The scenery was breathtaking. Haiti is a VERY mountainous country, with peaks rising from sea level to over 7,000 feet. The road from Cayes to Jeremie goes up a mountain pass to, I estimate, about 4,500 feet in elevation, then descends to a river crossing (no bridge) and winds its way through valleys and up hillsides. The first three miles were paved. That last 57 shouldn’t even be considered a road. Goat trail is more like it. Mountain goat trail. OK, I exaggerate. But it was rough travel. We were sandwiched into three cars with our RMI crew (translators and work team) and tossed around. But we survived.

While in Chambellan, a town of a little over a thousand with many more on the mountainsides, we attended a Sunday church service, where I got to preach and present the pastor with a letter from CBC. I wore a tan blazer for the very first time, one I inherited from my grandfather. I thought it appropriate to wear tan in the Caribbean. My clothes didn’t match. C’est la vie (it is life).

Photos by Rob Thompson, RMI

We also presented a plaque and each got to share our greetings.

We started work that afternoon on building a new roof on the new church building. I couldn’t do as much physical labor as I wanted because of my back and dizziness issues but I tried to help out wherever I could.

We spent three days in Chambellan and on Tuesday we finished the roof and helped the church workers level the floor and get the inside of the unfinished building ready for a Tuesday night church service. I preached again, this time an evangelistic message from Matthew 7 (I tied in the importance of solid foundations to the current building project). It may or may not have been captured on video. I haven’t checked.

Finally, Wednesday morning, we had to say goodbye. It was a very tough morning for me. I didn’t want to leave, to be honest. It seemed like such a rushed stay but I knew that we had to travel back to Cayes and then fly home. And everyone was very exhausted. So we held hands as churches and prayed, then shook hands and said goodbye.

Now that I’m home, I’m still processing what just happened to me. Whenever I come home from any trip I have to process. It’s just the way my mind and heart work. I have so many thoughts and feel so many emotions that I just have to be still for a while. I do know one thing — I’ll miss being around “the guys” every day. Our team was absolutely amazing. A real riot act. There wasn’t a day we weren’t laughing hysterically at something. Kent’s the fount of knowledge, Kenin the pillar of stability, Sheldon the leader with a goofy side, Mike the quiet guy with an amazing sense of humor, and LJ a voice of experience. Ruth is a calming presence with a heart of gold. I really got to bond with these guys and they put up with my puns, wisecracks, and quirky ways. I can’t imagine that’s very easy! And they each showed me a side of the body of Christ and incarnated His truth before me. I saw the range of Christian life and maturity in these individuals. And I was listening and watching intently. What a team. Praise be to God!

I’ll be sorting through Haiti stuff for a while, so please bear with me. I’m still a bit tired and I have a mountain of cleaning and unpacking to do. But I’ll drop in a post whenever I can.

Mesi anpil! (Thank you, very much) Bondye beni! (God bless!)

— John