Friday, August 19, 2016

Behind the Scenes

While the schedule is still very full of traveling to preach and lead Bible studies, I thought I would share a look behind the scenes and introduce you to some of the people we see a lot of and work a lot with. Many of you have been here to meet them, but its always interesting to see pictures and updates and get an idea of what happens in the spare moments between traveling to preach.


We met Gilbert several months ago when Barry received a request to go pray with a man who can't walk. Gilbert (pronounced Jil-bear) used to live in the mountains, but according to his story, his life changed for the worse overnight. One night, he says, he had a dream that he was crippled, and woke up the next morning without the use of his legs. As you may know, everyone must earn his keep in the mountain, so Gilbert came down to live in Williamson, hoping to find a means of survival and help with the more abundant resources and larger population. We found him and his very few belongings in about an 8'x10' room that he was renting, sleeping on a thin mat on the rough concrete floor. Doctors have told him they have no idea what's wrong with him, and concluded, not so elequently, that he's "finished." There's nothing they can do.

One morning, we received word that in the previous night's storm, one wall of Gilbert's house had completely fallen in. Although he now had only a raggedy canvas tarp over that side now, he was thankful that he wasn't home when it fell, since the falling rocks would have likely killed him if he was on his bed.

Gilbert continued living in his one-room home until suddenly the owner decided it was time for him to go, so he and his belongings were tossed out in the street. We never heard the reason why, but we assumed he hadn't been able to pay the rent. There's not a whole lot of promise for a crippled man without a roof over his head, so the search was on for a new place for him to go. "I'm not sure where to take you, Gilbert," Barry explained. There happened to be a woman standing nearby hearing everything take place, and she was quick to offer her current home for him to live in. Thanks to the donations of anonymous givers, Gilbert had six months' rent paid for a new home that is nicer than the one he was just "kicked out" of. This even allowed his adolescent son to move in with him, too.
Gilbert in his new home
Moving; No trucks or trailers needed

Many hands pitched in to move Gilbert's few possessions, including the single mattress and box spring he's been upgraded to sleeping on. More excitement came when Gilbert, who is typically downhearted and doesn't have much interest in trying, got up on his crutches and slowly but surely, walked with his thin, shaky legs all the way to his new home. Now that he's seen himself do it, he needs the encouragement to keep on trying! God can allow him to regain his strength and get back on his feet!


Just a few days after we moved into our house, we were sitting on our porch/livingroom getting ready to have an evening family devotion. The wall was not yet up around the yard, so the usual large crowd of children were gathered outside, peaking their little heads in through the bars, and laughing and carrying on in the dark where we could hardly see them until their bright white eyes caught the glimmer of the porch light. Most of them were young children, but there was one that was taller than the rest and stood quietly trying to keep them all in line. He said something that opened the door for us to see he could speak a little bit of English. The next few nights he was back again, making small talk with us and sort of supervising the younger children. One evening Barry said, "Let's invite him in and talk to him." The boy was more than happy to come in and take a seat on the porch. "What's your name again?" Barry asked. Like many of the Haitian names we hear, we couldn't quite make it out. "Piker," he said more than once.

"Ok, Peter." Barry declared. "I like Peter." I missed this part of the conversation and had no idea his name was not actually Peter until months later.  "How old are you, Peter?" We were both blown away when he said he was 18 years old, since his thin frame and youthful face had us thinking he couldn't be more than 13.

Some later night we invited him to sit with us for supper, and he's joined us for nearly every supper since. From the very start, we liked his calm nature. He was never saying "Give me Give me" like so many young children have been taught to say here. If he was here at supper time, we would all go sit down at the table, but he would never assume anything. He would very politely wait for us to invite him to sit down and join us. (After nearly six months he's almost part of the family, but sits down on his own after only a bit of hesitation). He's become a good friend to all of us. He's around to help Barry with many various tasks, and in return he's been thankful for the meals,some small pay to contribute to his household and savings, and many learning experiences.

His family situation isn't the best, and sometimes I wonder if that isn't what draws him around so much. His parents are seperated, and I believe he enjoys the time of gathering around a supper table and singing and praying and laughing together. Peter's mother and five younger sibings live just down the road from us, while his dad, Jean, lives behind us. The boys all take their turn going to work in their dad's large garden. Jean is also around a lot and is one of the nearby neighbors that Barry has enjoyed getting to know, thanks to the help of Peter's translating.

Peter in March, with his dad, Jean; taking a break while working on
the foundation for the widows' home.

Peter more recently. Barry took him to the market to buy a
calf. The calf belongs to both of them, but Peter takes care of
it. They have an arrangement that, when it's time to sell, they
will split the profit. It's a wonderful opportunity for him to learn
about how he can make an investment, work hard,
and earn a living.

We are thankful to have the opportunity to be involved in Peter's life. He seems to slowly be coming out of his quiet shell and learning and growing, both physically and spiritually. He was under 100 pounds when we met him, but is slowly adding to his undernourished frame. More importantly, his understanding of many Bible truths is growing tremendously. He is here most nights for our devotions and discussions, and now goes with Barry to hear most of the preaching and Bible studies.
The other day Peter and Barry were driving somewhere, and Barry asked him if his heart was clear. "Is there anything on your mind and heart, Peter? Anything you need to confess and clear up?"
Peter paused, and thought, "Yes," he said meekly. "I buy a pig from Jean, and I paid him less than you did for your pigs." Oh, the purity!

Into the Mountain

Its interesting to see the way people and events connect and lead to new places to share the Gospel. We have been in contact with a ministry that distributes reusable cloth diapers to mothers with babies all over Haiti. We were given several to distribute, so we decided to take some to the young woman who was recently widowed for her one-year-old son. While we were there vistiting, checking in with her, showing her how to use the diapers, and tending to her other needs, we were informed that her young daughter was sick, so she was five-hours into the mountain with her grandmother. The plan was for her return in a few days. Weeks before our visit, the Lord had been urging Barry to take the Gospel more into the mountains, where few, if any, have traveled to preach and share Jesus. If he voluteered to go pick up the young daughter, it would be an opportunity to go meet people, find new places, and hopefully another place to begin preaching and witnessing. That following Monday, the team picked up the young widow, and they headed out. It was a rather rough trek and very hard on the truck, but they made it to their destination. Josnel didn't make it that day, so without a translator the team made their way around handing out tracts and witnessing one-on-one. Lord-willing, they can return and set up and organized meeting with several people at once in this village.

The truck got stuck more than once; this time it took a crowd
of Haitians to get it out of the rut.

Reading a Gospel tract

A short time later, they returned to that same mountain road, but didn't go quite as far as the village. They came to a rather large market, and everyone that was along took his turn at open-air preaching, even quiet, reserved Peter! It was a blessing to see he and Josnel step out of their comfort zones and share with their own countrymen, "Jezi ap vini. Repente de peche ou!"
Barry preaching at the market while Josnel translates

Peter with the microphone, preaching at the market
Anytime Barry takes the truck up a rough mountain road, its very hard on the truck that we're blessed to have here to drive. With really being led to preach more in the mountains, it was becoming a tough call to make. Is it worth all the damage and repairs with every trip we make? Thankfully, this problem has been greatly helped. Yesterday we were able to bring home a dirt bike that will be able to easily and speedily handle the rough terrain. With that and the other motorcycle, the whole team can much more easily go to the difficult places they need to go in order to share the Gospel.

Praise be to God for always meeting our needs in order to do His work!

Michel, the voodoo priest

Another huge witnessing opportunity was nearby our house, after Barry met the voodoo priest who lives just a few houses down from us. For months they had been passing each other on the road, and at first Michel would not make eye contact. Eventually he started glancing over with a look of uncertainty about who we are and what we're about. One afternoon while we were visiting with Jean, Michel approached, wanting to ask Jean to build a coffin for him. When Barry asked him if he was a Christian, he quickly shared that he was into voodoo.  They agreed that they should meet and have a discussion sometime.

A short time later, we were finishing dinner when we heard the unmistakable sound of a brass band coming down the road, telling us there was a funeral procession passing by. We hurried out to find out who it was. It turned out to be another local voodoo priest. Apparently, this priest's girlfriend had cheated on him with another voodoo priest and became pregnant, so he cast a spell on the baby. When the baby died, the father of the baby then cast a spell on the first priest, and at 41 years old, he was now being buried. 

All of this taking place seemed to open the door for Barry to have a serious talk with Michel. He and Josnel went right into his "temple" and shared the Gospel with him. "I've never seen anyone be so bold and confident in Jesus," Michel said. After a long discussion, he seemed to be considering his life and pondering some things. It would take a great sacrifice for him to give up voodoo if he were to turn to Christ, as it is also his source of income.

Michel inside his voodoo temple

The paintings are all done by Michel

We're encouraged and confident, despite frequent setbacks. Please continue to pray for us as we plan to take the Gospel deeper into Haiti, where there is a different culture and all around different type of people. Pray also for the people of Haiti that they will hunger not for meat and drink, but for the Gospel that can save them.