Following what God is doing in the community of Mariani.
Saturday, April 9, 2011
From Plantain Trees to Trenches
The field that the church of Mariani purchased was covered in plantain and coconut trees. It seemed strange to me that this open field was right in the middle of a residential area. It also seemed strange to me that in a country where there seems to be a church on every corner, I hadn't seen one yet in the community. It was almost like that plantain field new what it was made for. Not for homes, or tents, but a church.
Harvey Oaks Baptist was the first team to serve at Mariani. The team of 18 was primarily made up of youth. Many people might say that youth groups shouldn't go to Haiti. This Harvey Oaks Baptist team proved that this is not true. Praying Pelican Missions and I know that every youth group is different. We also know that nobody knows each particular youth group better than their leader. When I first learned that the leader from Harvey Oaks was taking a group of youth, I did my best to fill him in on what he was getting into. Was he sure that Jamaica or Belize wouldn't be a better fit? "Yes", he assured me, Haiti was where God was calling them. I am convinced that the deciding factor shouldn't be whether you are 16, 26, or 60, it should be whether God has called you. If God has called you, He will equip you.
I'm not sure if Harvey Oaks was fully aware of what God had equipped them to do. They arrived in Haiti excited, pumped, and full of energy. We took the drive across town and they could tell they weren't in Nebraska anymore. They settled in at Cote Plage (the lodging facility that our teams stay at) and had an amazing meal prepared by our team of Haitian cooks. The next morning, they headed off to Mariani. They hitched a ride on a tap tap up the mountain and walked into the church service...on the street. The church had pulled out their benches, chairs, stools, etc right in the middle of the street. Why? Because it was level ground without any rubble on it. They strung tarps between the trees above them, added a few decorations, and that was it. Church is more than a building isn't it?
That day, the Harvey Oaks team took part in the dedication ceremony. In the middle of the plantain trees and coconuts, they broke ground and laid the first stone. Praying over the property, they asked God to bless it in a way they couldn't imagine. God is good.
With that, the week began. What did they do all that week? Dig trenches! As glorious as it sounds, the first step was to dig the footings for the foundation. Swinging pick axes and handling shovels was on the agenda. In the midst of that, there was a huge pile of foundation rock on the road. Their assignment: move it into piles along the trench. Was it hard work? Yes. Did our team do it alone? No. Leading up to their trip, the team spent many hard hours fundraising for their trip. Included in that fundraising was money to hire Haitian workers to work alongside them. The goal wasn't to come and take jobs that Haitians can do, but to employ Haitians that the team could come alongside. During the week the team was there, 40 Haitians had jobs that they never had before. This model is still being used today with the teams that are coming regularly.
Although this team worked hard, they were building more than a building. They were building relationships with the Haitian workers, local kids, and young mothers from the community. They spent time loving people which was so important. This team started the foundation for the church, but more than that, they laid the foundation for a healthy partnership with the community of Mariani.