Haiti Mission Trip, Part 2: Anything but Hopeless

Our week-long mission trip to Haiti is over, and I'm trying to capture both details and feelings. I'm not sure I'm succeeding, but here we go with Part 2.

The Goal
Our group's stated purpose was to build a home for a family who had lost theirs in the earthquake in 2010. Working through Baptist Haiti Mission, we teamed up with their proven group of masons to accomplish this goal in about four days of work.

When we arrived, the foundation was laid, the materials were at the bottom of the hill, and our team of masons was already at work. We got busy hauling bricks and sand about 300 feet from the road below. Some of us started laying the cinder blocks.

The building is about 10x14', and 12 bricks high.
This was basically a neighborhood -- there were 2-3 other homes on the hill, and the kids who came to watch became the best little helpers ever.
This was when we were told we had to haul another 100 bricks up from the road. Notice the enthusiasm.
When we'd haul the sand over to the site, we had to sift it to get the rocks out. Let's just say there is NO arm workout like sifting sand.
Haul sand in bucket. Dump bucket of sand into pile. Shovel sand into sifter. Sift. Toss rocks. Repeat.
The sand gets mixed with concrete to form the morter, which is put between the bricks first, and eventually "floated" onto the bricks inside and out of the house. This is when having professionals on site really helped. I don't know how many times I was shown how to "fling" the morter, but it would never stick for me. I resorted to using my hands to stuff morter where it belonged. No jokes, please.

See all the morter between the rocks at the bottom? I did that.
[And then someone came behind me and fixed it, I think.]

Helen was a master of morter by the end --
the masons wanted to keep her on their team permanently. 
We worked Friday and Saturday, then returned on Monday. At that point, the roof was on, and the wooden door and windows were in place. The "floating" took most of Monday, then we returned on Tuesday to finish up and turn the home over to the family.

Side note: This had a larger room, and then a wall separating one end -- creating a room about the width of a twin size bed. This will be just the living/sleeping space for this father and three children. We built this next to the existing kitchen:

This kitchen had a small cabinet, a stack of cookware,
and a metal frame that sits over a wood fire.

The Final Results:

The homeowner had us add colored powder (like chalk) to the morter put on the floor.
This is Wilfred, the homeowner, and Ednie, one of his granddaughters. They're holding the gifts we presented them: woven mats for bedding, two lanterns, and a Bible.
Our exhausted and very proud crew

The Rest of the Story
On our first workday, I posted this picture of our lunch site to Facebook.
Our view each day from the jobsite
Friends commented on how beautiful it looked, and asked if I'd ever come home, and then one friend noted that the "poverty and hopelessness in the region far outweighs the beauty." That comment stuck with me all week. Poverty, definitely. Even with some progress since the earthquake, this is predominantly a poor country. The government is corrupt, no doubt. The infrastructure is weak, and the chances for advancement remote.

But these are the people I encountered:

These lovely people are anything but hopeless. They are hard workers. They are determined. They are improving. They are dedicated to their country.

Hassan wants to go to medical school. And then he wants to return to help his country.

As I considered the adjectives I would apply, it occurred to me that I never once met someone asking for a handout. Sure, in the market, people wanted to sell me things, but there was always an offer. Never the "give to me because you feel sorry for me...I was injured...I lost everything in a tragedy...you'll never miss it because you're rich..." mentality.

Then I returned home to be bombarded with political ads, commercials telling me to boycott XYZ because they believe in something, and news about the latest welfare/Medicare/freebie of the week crisis. Oh, what would America be like if instead we adopted the working attitude of this poor nation to our south?

Okay, rant over. I don't do poliltics in general, and definitely on this blog. But if visiting Haiti has made me aware of anything, it's that I am tremendously blessed to live in this country, to have the things I have, to have access to education, and to be able to care for my family. If you're reading this from the same place, take a moment and say thanks.

One More Thing
I've got the coolest teenager on the planet.

This is Bug, using a beaded bracelet to share the story of Jesus with these sweet children on our first day at the jobsite. She worked through Hassan to make sure they all knew the plan, and they repeated it back to her. She did this again on our last day. There is nothing more precious than watching your child step out of her comfort zone, and deliver a message that's important.

I'm blessed to have had this experience. If you ever get a chance to do mission work, consider it. It will change your perspective.


  1. Two BEAUTIFUL posts!! I'm in awe of all that you did!! Incredible! You were truly a blessing and how amazing to be willing to be used by God!! You go sweet friend!!


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