In the next couple of days I am going to talk about what I feel like the biggest physical need is in our area of Haiti and what I feel like the biggest spiritual need is in our area of Haiti. We have been here for a little over 2 years now, so I am not even close to being an expert on anything that I am going to write. I am just thinking through the best use of our time and resources while we are here in Haiti and it seems like this would be a good start. I have started this dialogue with a couple of good Haitian friends just to find their take on it and I feel comfortable writing these next 2 blogs based on their initial reactions. Also, I know some of you who are reading this post are missionaries in Haiti or spend a good deal of time down here so I would love to hear your take on this as well. Again, this is not me thinking that I am an expert on Haiti or that I know what this country needs more than others, I am just getting the conversation started and beginning to think through how All Things New will proceed in the future. If I were to write this same blog in 2 years, it may be very different just like it would have been had I written it 2 years ago, but as of now, this is my take on this topic.
To start with, I am not going to tell you what I feel like the 2 biggest needs in our area are in this post. I just want to set the stage for the next posts where I will explain my feelings on this topic a little. When Jess and I moved down to Haiti, we did not move here to start or run an orphanage. We moved here specifically because GOD put these children in our lives and we knew that we were supposed to get them out of their previous living conditions (physical, emotional, and spiritual living conditions). We knew that we were here to love them, take care of them, and help them develop into the people GOD created them to be. To do this well, we started an orphanage (really a children’s home, but it does not matter what you call it) and we are prepared to take care of as many children as GOD calls us to take care of here. But, as you know, the 19 children that are with us now hold a special place in our heart.
The reason that I want to talk about these 2 overarching needs that I have noticed in the community where we live is simple. GOD brought us here specifically for our children, but He does not want us to stop there. After having some time to get settled, to make friends, to learn the language a little, and to get the orphanage on the right track it is clear that GOD is calling us to more. He has set us in a specific place with specific needs and All Things New wants to be faithful to the call that GOD has on this ministry. On the flip side, we do not want to begin 20 new ministries at the same time because we have seen how that ends here…Either in chaos or in the closing of an organization. We want to be careful to use the resources GOD is providing us on the right things and to not move too slowly or too quickly but stay in step with His call. With that said, GOD has shown us 2 areas of great need here and we want to try to plug into these 2 areas effectively.
As you read the next 2 blog posts that describe these 2 needs and some ideas that we have to become a part of the solution, please do not think that this means we are forgetting our children. This is far from the case. They are still the reason that we are here and will continue to be our number 1 priority. The truth is, if we can begin to meet these needs, it will be a huge help for our children and for our orphanage too. I might even go as far as to say that if we cannot begin to meet these 2 needs, then long-term we will not be able to successfully take care of children.
I will close this blog with a story about one of our older boys, Apolon. This story will give you a sense of where I am going with my next 2 blogs:
I was talking to Apolon the other day in the truck when we passed by a group of boys who live on the road next to the kids’ house. Apolon looked at me and told me that if the organization located next to us on the road ever opened an orphanage then those boys would be the first ones they took. So I told Apolon that the organization would not be opening an orphanage and that those children lived with their parents and that was better for them anyway. Apolon told me that it was not because they could not always eat, they struggled having money to go to school, and they needed help that their parents could not give them. So I asked him, would it not be better just to give their parents a job so that they could take care of them better. To which Apolon replied, “Don’t you know that people in Haiti have a lot of kids. To take care of their children, Haitians would need at least 10 jobs.”
There are 2 truths in that last statement that have stuck with me. The first is that Apolon was correct, many Haitians have more children than they could ever keep up with and many of those children happen outside of marriage in a nation where 94% of the population claim to be Christians. The second truth is that Apolon was correct again, it is very very difficult for Haitians to find jobs that allow them the freedom and financial ability to take care of their own families. It is sometimes funny how much wisdom you can find when having just a simple conversation with a child, even though I guess Apolon is more like a young man now than the child he used to be.