I always wanted to go on a missions trip to help the sick and less fortunate, but wasn’t sure what a techno-junky graphic designer could offer a Third World country. When a missions trip to Haiti was mentioned at my church, I was the first to sign up (and the first to try to back out!). In September 2016, seven women from my church flew to Haiti with no idea of what was to come.
You have probably caught glimpses of the devastation in the news. In 2010 a major earthquake killed 250,000. Then the catastrophic hurricanes in 2004, 2008, and 2016 left Haiti in severe disrepair. People, cars, rubble, trash, and dirt are strewn everywhere. Lucky to eat once a day, everyone does what they can to survive. Most live in houses made from concrete blocks and mud with no indoor plumbing or electricity. The poorest live in tents. Yet even in the bleakest of conditions, the Haitians smile and worship freely. They are an amazing people.
The white-knuckle ride from the airport to the compound introduced the seven of us to the chaos of the hurricanes’ aftermath. In Haiti, vehicles park and drive wherever they can fit as people, motorcycles, and even goats clog the streets. As we bounced along the rough and seemingly lawless dirt roads, I prayed non-stop.
After the shock from what we saw on the streets, the Brian’s UPCI compound felt like a safe haven. We were perfectly content with limited electricity and no air conditioning. The little lizards climbing up the walls, the potential of frogs in the shower, and the fear of sharing a bed with a spider seemed like minor inconveniences compared to what the people of Haiti endure.
As it did for us, the Brian’s compound also offers refuge to the children of the neighborhood. Every day after school, nearly sixty kids of all ages enjoy a playground (funded by the Louisiana District Sunday School Department) that includes a swing set, jungle gym, slide, basketball court, and a full soccer field. The children are often dirty, hungry, shoeless, and in the same clothes as yesterday. For a few hours every afternoon, they get to eat, play, and act like kids in a safe environment.
Yes, the kids are hungry, but more than food, they just want someone to pay attention to them. Every day, the Brian’s make it a priority to dote on these little ones. To survive, Haitians have to be hard, still these children crave physical contact and soak up God’s love.
On our first afternoon with the children, the language barrier proved challenging, but showing love is universal regardless of words spoken. We played with them, rocked them, sang to them, held them, grilled hotdogs for them, and prayed with them. We hardly noticed the sweat, the 97-degree heat, or the ever-present swirling dust. The kids had captured our hearts and we quickly understood God’s love for these orphans.
Over the next week, we visited several neighborhood orphanages, delivering food, supplies, and toys sent by our church family and friends. We visited Haitian schools where the Brian’s provide scholarships, we purchased benches for a struggling church, we attended two church services, and yes, we spent an afternoon at the beach (Haiti is a beautiful island, after all!). We saw just how much need there is in Haiti, yet the children sing and worship God all day long.
On the last day, the Brian’s took us to pray over a piece of land they bought in faith that one day it would house an orphanage, a Bible school, a church, and a medical clinic. Together, we prayed for God to provide a way for their vision to become a reality.
Once home, I shared my experiences with my family, showing photos that captured the desperate need and the joyful spirit of the Haitians. My father isn’t a big talker and he quietly looked at the photos while asking only a few questions. I didn’t think it made much of an impact, but God . . . God had laid it on my dad’s heart to use some of his inheritance money from the passing of his father to fund the building of the orphanage. Dad prayed about it, talked to his wife, and a few mornings later told me he felt led to do this, asking if I would get a figure from the Brian’s on the approximate cost to build the orphange.
With my brother, I returned to Haiti just three months later for the ground breaking of the Brock House. God unleashed an avalanche of blessings and generous donations to complete and furnish the project, as well as provide the necessities for the children. Once finished, the Brian’s found orphans who had a medical need and applied to house them and their siblings (they didn’t want to split up any families).
The Brock House was completed in November 2017. Built on Trudy’s Kids land, this fully functioning orphanage holds twelve children at max capacity. Next to it sits a church donated by Grace Pointe Church in Lakeland, Florida. Also on the prayed-over property, a school was donated by the First Pentecostal Church of Lexington, Tennessee.
When my family arrived for the opening, the nine kids were arriving in the truck in front of us, both cars for the firs time. We watched with compassion as they put away their few meager belongings in their new spaces. We helped the children make their beds for the first time, knowing most of them never had a clean bed to sleep on. Each child was also given a few new outfits, undergarments, toiletries, a new backpack and school supplies, and a few toys, all donated by amazing people. For the first time the children could relax, knowing they were finally in a safe environment. Their warm smiles were filled with gratitude.
You cannot un-see the turmoil embodied in Haiti, but what a testimony we have as seven ladies witnessed our great big God turn a prayer into reality in less than a year.
Perhaps God has put on your heart to support the Brian’s mission to the children of Haiti. The orphans at the Brock House need your continuing help to provide food, housing, education, medical care, and operational costs. It costs just $200 per month to sponsor a child in this orphanage. “Whatever you do unto the least of these you do unto me.” Will you prayerfully consider sponsoring one of these wonderful children.