I think that anyone associated with All Things New, or any other ministry in Haiti for that matter, would have to characterize 2019 as a year of difficulties. It was a year of political unrest for sure, but it was also much deeper than that. The political unrest caused fear and uneasiness all around the nation. Even when there were no protests and the streets were calm, the people were scared…How could they not be?
On top of that, the hunger and poverty that is already rampant across Haiti was greatly exacerbated. There is a CNN article that goes into some detail about what this unrest could do to the nation in 2020 and beyond, but even now you can see the effects. We will mention some of the positive things that happened in 2019 as well for ATN, but it would be insensitive to not mention the hardships faced. Here are some of those difficulties:
- Our kids have not attended even 1 day of school since it opened in September 2019.
- From February 10 to February 24, the entire country was completely shut down. You could not travel, supplies could not come in, and people could not sell their goods in the market.
- From September through the middle of December, the country was on extended lockdown. It was not as severe as what happened in February, but it was over a period of 3.5 months and the length of the shutdown made it even more dangerous.
- Even when things were not on “lockdown” they were very tenuous. You could not plan travel and it was very difficult to get into town or for people to make a living either selling on the streets, in the market, or with tap-taps (taxis). These professions, unfortunately, are by far the largest industries in Haiti.
- There are continuing gas shortages, and even when there is gas there is the threat that the government will not be able to afford the next shipment.
- There is a looming political crisis where parliament may be disbanded and the President will rule the nation by decree.
- Aid is dwindling, organizations are leaving, and there is nothing to take its place. The international community seems to be experiencing “Haiti Fatigue” and it is difficult to blame them. Many organizations are either lessening their presence or leaving altogether.
- It is hard to tell the difference between the “good guys” and the “bad guys.”
It is almost like life came to a standstill for almost an entire year beginning last February. It is both hard to explain and very difficult to understand. A country like Haiti that has experienced hardships that we could never truly comprehend and they just keep happening. Ministries and missionaries are leaving, at least it seems like, every single day. Jessica and the kids have not been able to even visit since last February 2019.
There are many positives that came out of 2019 for All Things New, but not for Haiti. There is still an uneasiness, and it is not like the nation is banding together or unifying in any way around any type of leader or movement. It would be one thing if there was an element of moving forward and uniting around a cause or against an evil…There is not. There seems to be very little sense that the country is improving other than there are not riots every day any more.
So the question is…What do we do?
Do we run away or get so frustrated with things that we cannot continue? Do we start to believe that it will never get better and we better get out while we still can? Do we throw in the towel or even worse do we start to believe that it is hopeless? Of course not.
The truth is, if GOD had revealed everything that was going to happen in Haiti before we started ATN, we would have never started it. But that is kind of the point. He revealed our relationship with our kids and employees before He revealed the really hard things. He showed us that we can operate and even move forward even in difficult situations. GOD reveals things in His timing and that is why He is GOD. He revealed the difficulties after the relationships so that we would not even want to say “no” to the difficulties since saying no to the difficulties would be saying no to the relationships. (you may have to read that last sentence twice) So, What do we do?
We work and we fight even harder.
We know that GOD wants All Things New to exist and to operate in Haiti, so we take the positive things and make them even more positive! We realize that while we cannot change the entire nation, we can change the lives of as many people as possible for the better. Here are some of the good things that came out of 2019:
- Our Haitian employees stepped up big time and took care of our kids and the ministry when we could not. It is both amazing and freeing at the same time.
- We have built relationships with some new churches and we are continuing to try to find churches who will stand behind us moving forward.
- We have held up financially even when many other organizations have not. You could probably tell back in the middle of the year that we were struggling, but struggling is different than folding, and thanks to you we made it through.
- Our kids have had tutoring even when they have not had school, and that is more than most.
- We are moving forward with some job creation initiatives and especially our coding idea.
- We have spoken with a company here in Jacksonville about another potentially promising job creation opportunity.
- Our kids and our employees have not been in need or want throughout the crisis, and that is thanks to the people reading this blog right now.
In the next few days and weeks we are going to do some vision casting through this blog and we are going to describe what we hope 2020 and beyond might look like for ATN. We hope that everyone reading this will continue to pray for us and our kids as we continue to do ministry in Haiti.