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Support and Encouragement

April 4, 2014

During our worship service last Sunday, the gentleman who was leading us in prayer urged all present to pray for one another and to encourage one another, adding the comment, “No one in Haiti outside of this room is going to support and encourage you.”

A shockwave went through me. I knew without a doubt from personal experience just how wrong he was. Besides the few missionaries working here who are supportive of me, God has blessed me with many Haitian friends who come alongside me, encourage me, pray for me, and are there for me in many, many ways.

It was the people of Pierre Payen who befriended me, and when my relationship with the organization I had come to Haiti to serve with came to a sorry end, necessitating a move to Saint-Marc, those Haitian friends, particularly Kelele, pleaded with me to return to Pierre Payen, and searched out a home for me here.

Kelele almost always has a smile, but not for the camera

Kelele almost always has a smile, but not for the camera

When two years ago I was evicted from the house I was renting (my “landlord” turned out not to be the owner), it was Yonese, a Haitian woman, along with her family, who as soon as she heard, immediately insisted I come to live with them. It was her son, Evens, who soon afterward offered to rent to me, at a very affordable rate, a small home he had building for himself, then far exceeded his part of the bargain, building a rather luxurious home for me that he continues to upgrade. A small army of Haitian friends helped me move my belongings each time.

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Yonese, a dear Christian friend

Evens, my landlord and housemate

Evens, my landlord and housemate

Two and a half years ago it was Manericot Felix, a Haitian doctor, who believed in me and invited me to join with him and several other Haitian medial professionals (I have been the only foreigner involved in the project) in starting the nursing school in Saint-Marc, the first, by far the largest and arguably second to none in the area. Edlar, who works in the office with me, always looks out for me, seeing to it that I have all I need, not only in terms of my work at the school, but also personally. No request of mine is too big or too small for his concern and immediate response. Some of my students at times come to the office to encourage me, telling me how much they appreciate what I do at the school.

Dr. Felix, my "believer"

Dr. Felix, my “believer”

Edlar, my "go to" man

Edlar, my “go to” man

When I became very ill in October of 2012, and required hospitalization, Dr. Felix saw to it that I got the best of medical attention, visiting me twice a day, getting me an immediate appointment with an eminent internist in Saint-Marc and driving me to and from that appointment.  Dr. Felix and Edlar faithfully transport me to and from the airport whenever I travel to Canada. When my flights into Haiti arrive at Port-au-Prince too late in the afternoon to comfortably make the trip to Pierre Payen, Dr. Felix graciously opens his home to me. His charming wife, Mislie, herself a doctor, graciously attends to my needs while I am there, and maintains email contact with me when I am in Canada. Dr. Felix and Edlar often assist me whenever I find it necessary to fight my way through the very frustrating Haitian bureaucracies.

Mislie, Dr' Felix's beautiful wife

Mislie, Dr. Felix’s beautiful wife

It was Haitians who found me a more suitable venue than my yard to teach English to those in my community who wanted to learn. Each week they purchase from their meagre means the little things necessary for me to teach, see to it that I have water and sometimes a Coke when it is hot (which is almost always), and offer to pay for a moto-taxi to take me home, though I often choose to walk so that I have opportunity to make friends along the way. My students make it possible for me to teach, demonstrating seemingly endless patience for my imperfect Creole, filling in the gaps in my vocabulary and correcting my grammar.

My Haitian friends make sure my day-to-day needs are taken care of, often carrying water for me, burning my garbage, setting up my solar panels every morning (I cannot leave them out lest they be stolen) and reorienting them to take best advantage of the sun throughout the day. Someone always volunteers to make the trip by tap-tap to Montrouis or Saint-Marc when I need propane for my stove or kerosene for my lamps. Kado, a teenage boy, arrives at my house each morning, always anxious to do anything I need, most often without my asking and over my protests that it is not necessary for him to do all he does.

Kado, my faithful helper

Kado, my faithful helper

It is my Haitian friends who protect me, keeping me safe from those who might harm me. Whenever necessary, Evens uses his influence in the community to discourage those who might take advantage of me, and warns off the occasional person who causes me difficulty. When my iPod was stolen, Evens somehow located both it and the young culprit, and had him return it to me (minus all my music). When I am out of the country or travelling in Haiti, Evens assures that my belongings are safe.

My Haitian friends and neighbours often gather in my home to visit and share meals with me, bringing me vegetables and fruit on occasion, and supplying homemade peanut butter that is superior to anything I could purchase. Recently a few of the ladies have taken to doing the cooking for our gatherings, always cleaning my kitchen afterward. Lately I often arrive home from working in Saint-Marc to find Evens has prepared a plate for me when making his own evening meal.

I know Yonese always prays for me, and I occasionally have deeply spiritual discussions with this wonderful Christian woman. Praubner, a young man who is sheltered by the pastor at the church where I teach English, and a student of mine, regularly prays with me, and is always anxious to discuss Scripture. It was my English students who initiated a prayer time to close our lessons, and asked me to teach them Bible passages and hymns in English.

Praubner, my pupil

Praubner, my pupil

Recently Praubner invited me to travel with him to meet his family and friends in Dorlette, in the mountainous spine of Haiti’s south arm. Several Haitian pastors and their churches have invited me to visit them and worship with them, treating me as an honoured guest.

My Haitian friends are my faithful support here, making it possible for me to do what I do.  Without them I would probably long ago have left Haiti. I thank God for each and every one of them and pray that He will richly bless them. For I at times have surely been one of the least of these, and they have ministered to me.

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