Monday in Haiti

Today was a long day! We had a little truck trouble in the morning, so we got a late start. Youveline, one of our translators, sat down with me and gave me some Creole lessons. I picked it up pretty fast. 

We began our day in Dubout (pronounced De-boo) teaching VBS lessons. We taught a lesson over Noah’s Ark, and the kids made a paper plate ark with a rainbow over the art to remind them of God’s promise to never again flood the Earth. There were so many kids there, and we were told there would be more the next day. I met a sweet boy named Gambriel, who sat by me the entire time to work on his crafts. He was trying so hard to have a conversation with me – talking nonstop! I tried my best to figure out what he was saying. 

After finishing crafts in Dubout, we headed up to Savon Gra (pronounced Sa-von-graw) – a remote village in the mountains. We had to drive through Limonade (pronounced Li-mon-odd) in order to get to Savon Gra. On the 25th and 26th of July there is a festival going on in Limonade, which centers around VooDoo. It was a sight to see. Thousands of people travel to Limonade to participate in this festival. Mark and John pointed out the traditional VooDoo clothing – bright reds, royal blues, and women wearing all white.

I didn’t realize that VooDoo was still relevant in some countries but it is! Haitians know that when they see a group of “blancs” (blondes as we’re called) that we are missionaries. When we drive from place to place we wave at people walking or driving by. I was pleasantly surprised when I would wave or smile at someone wearing VooDoo colors, and they would smile and wave back to me. It really reminded me that they are people.... people who desperately need to hear the good Word.

We drove from a paved road to a dirt road, and it slowly narrowed down to just a walking path. We drove through some beautiful countryside, crossed a river, and hiked up a mountain to get to this small village.

There was this little boy who had never seen a white person before. I was standing right outside the door to the church when he walked out, looked up, and SCREAMED because the color of my skin scared him. Ephesian came over and began speaking to the boy in Creole. Ephesian told him it was okay and, to show him I wasn’t going to hurt him, Ephesian and I touched hands. The little boy still wasn’t having it, so I backed off for a little bit. A little while later an older woman brought him by me, and I said hello to him. He sat down in a chair next to me, and we began working on a craft together. I patted my legs as if to say “would you like to sit in my lap?” and one of the older boys encouraged him to come sit with me. It didn’t take much persuasion until he climbed up in my lap. We were best buds the rest of the day.

Marissa played some beautiful music, Katelynn taught the kids “Wi Jezi Remen’m” (Jesus Loves Me) with sign language, and the kids took turns singing to us! A little boy and I “played the drums” on the table for a few of the songs. We have so many talented people on our team. We are all blessed with different gifts, and I'm excited to see them put to work the rest of this week. 

Ashley Grissom, Mission Haiti 2016

Haiti Is Broken

Haiti is broken. It was broken before we got here, and it will be broken when we leave.

We started the morning with a devotional led by Mark, our leader. He had very wise words for us to think about for this trip. There is a circle, and in the center of the circle is the Cross. Some people are in the circle – these people know God and have been saved. The goal is always the center of the circle where the Cross is located. Unfortunately, some people are outside the circle – these people do not know God. Everyone in the picture is either moving towards the Cross or away from it. Our goal is to nudge people towards the Cross. For those that are moving away, maybe that means stopping them in their tracks or even turning them to head towards the Cross. 

We can’t change Haiti in one week, but we can change one person’s world. We can save them for eternity.

Church was suppose to start this morning at 9am. We got there early, so Mark and Ephesian took us to see a water pump. Haitians pump their water, and whatever they can carry home with them is their water for the day. This task is normally left for women and children. It was amazing driving down the street and seeing people carrying these huge buckets of water on their head! A few of the girls just had to try out the water pump. I'm sure the man with the bucket was very grateful for our desire to try to pump water! Boy, what an arm workout!

Church was quite an experience. They were speaking in Creole, so I wasn't too sure what the topic was but you could feel the love in the room. These people really love Jesus. They introduced us and had us stand up in the front of the room. All of a sudden, people started walking forward to shake our hands and lead us to a seat. One of the leaders asked them to "find a friend" to sit with during the service. It definitely helped me personally feel welcomed to their church.

Rick and Evelyn’s baby, Fletcher, was dedicated today and a young woman was saved – what a day to be in a Haitian church! This young lady met someone at the well this morning and they invited her to church. She then accepted Jesus as her Lord and Savior! WOW! That one small interaction at the water well changed this woman's life for eternity!

Michael gave a wonderful sermon to the Haitian people about discipleship which had three main points: service, prayer, and eternal focus. His wife, Marissa, led us in worship playing her guitar and singing "10,000 Reasons" and "Revelation Song". She's a rock star! Both of them were. What a team! 

After church, we returned to the mission house for PB&Js. After our little hour break, We took off for the children's home. I really had no idea what to expect when we got there. I'm a teacher and obviously have a heart for children, but I didn't know what walking into a children's home would feel like. I work with children all the time who just need love and attention, but I felt like this would be different. Big surprise – it wasn't! The second we drove through the gate I could see tons of smiling faces! They were so excited for us to be there. We jumped out of the truck, and I received hugs, handshakes, and 'bonswa' from each child. As we started walking around to the back of the house, one little boy grabbed my hand and started walking with me. We quickly became buddies and began a game of Uno together. There was the sweetest little 4 year old there. She had been dropped off only 2 short weeks ago, and you could tell she was scared. Sweet Julia was placed in my lap to hang out with me, which I gladly accepted because she was adorable! Still very involved in my Uno game, I felt this little girl slowly lay back and then all of a sudden she was passed out! Could it get any cuter than that?!

Coming here, I was very worried about not being able to communicate with the people. But did you know that love doesn't have a language? I learned that very quickly today. Spending time with these kids, a hug, a smile, or even a game of Uno speaks louder than any words I could speak to them. 

We separated out into three small groups. Girls over 13, boys over 13, and the young kids. Older kids were given lessons on how to be a Godly man/woman and the little kids had VBS lessons and crafts. 

We ended our time at the children’s home playing duck duck goose and a friendly game of soccer. These kids are good! I'm pretty fast, but one little boy was dribbling a soccer ball and still beating me! He even had some awesome soccer moves and kicked it right through my legs while he ran around me! It absolutely blew my mind! I held sweet Julia again for awhile, and I had to remind myself not to get attached because I'm a short term missionary. (Mark provided us with an article before we came about missionaries. Thank goodness because I definitely needed to hear the lesson in that article).  I understand a relationship I form here is short, but a 4 year old won't understand when I leave in 7 days.

It amazed me how the children took care of each other. Before the lessons, the kids had dinner. The older girls cooked in a little shed out back over coals and served up beans and rice in big bowls for each kid. I'm pretty sure that place could run itself without any adults around. 

Before I knew it, it was time to head back to the mission house. I can't wait to see what's in store for us tomorrow!

– Ashley Grissom, Mission Haiti 2016

You Can Never Over Pack

As a woman, I have been told MANY times that I over pack for my trips. 95% of the time I agree, once I get to wherever I’m going and realize I probably didn’t need 6 pairs of shoes – but hey I wanted to be prepared!

Tonight we gathered at the church, and for 3 hours we prepared VBS crafts for over 400 kids that we will be serving in Haiti!

From the minute I walked in, everyone was hard at work cutting, gluing, bagging beads, and doing whatever they could to contribute!

This truly is a great group of ethusiastic, hard-working people going on this mission trip!

Each of us will be carrying one 50lb bag, which doesn’t even include our own clothes and supplies for the trip. Let's do some math…. there are 15 people going x 50lb bag = that’s 750 lbs of goodies we are taking to Haiti with us! WOW! What a blessing! We have packed clothes, shoes, cleats, soccer balls, crafts for 4 different lessons, and I’m sure a ton of other stuff that I can’t even think of right now! For once, I am 100% sure we did NOT over pack!

As for myself, I have spent several days going over my list, multiple trips to Walmart & Target (repeating the words: sunscreen, bug spray, water bottle), Pinteresting ways to pack efficiently, carefully packing my snacks into baggies labeled by days (I’m overly efficient), and somehow managing to fit 7 days into a carry on and a backpack!

High fives for everyone!

Thank you for following us on this life-changing adventure. You can help us by using the “Back Home Prayer Guide” to pray for us each day!

– Ashley Grissom, Mission Haiti 2016