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Haiti Summer 2013

The book of Joshua, in the Old Testament, Chapter 1: Verse 9 says:  “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous.  Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”

My name is Evie Showers. I had the privilege of taking a team of courageous missionaries to Haiti July 19 through the 27th

The team consisted of six adults and seven teens.  Our hosts were Marianne and Rene Lako, who live in Haiti full-time and who work for Hope Force, International.  After corresponding with the Lakos for over a year, it was a thrill to finally meet them face to face in the Port-au-Prince airport.  As we emerged from the Customs area into the heat, we were besieged by a sea of porters.  Clutching our luggage, we searched the crowd until I spotted my sister standing on top of a pile of rubble.  Her part of the team had arrived two hours earlier.  They were seasoned Haitians by now.

We were hustled to a bus where our bags were piled into the back.  I handed forty dollars through the window to pay the porters for our 20 bags and away we went.

Saturday was painting day. The houses painted by Hope Force are easy to spot.  They have red trim, marking them as Christian homes guarded by the blood of the Lamb.  We divided into two teams and took turns painting so everyone had time to cool down and hydrate.  Sunday we attended church and witnessed Haitian praise at its finest.  During worship, the whole congregation prayed loudly and sang spontaneously to God.  We felt surrounded by love.

Monday.  The kids were unruly and rude, and the ones without tickets kept trying to slip past the guard at the door.  There was a huge language barrier, even though we had translators.  With a heat index around 125 degrees, it was really hot.  We drank more water in one day than any of us had drunk in the past month.  We carried 4 5-gallon coolers with us to the village and it was the only clean water source for the entire Camp. 

That night, exhausted and discouraged, we debriefed, and Marianne and Rene helped us to understand what we were up against.  Haiti has been one of the poorest countries in the world for a long time. Slopes that should be covered in rainforest are barren and prone to mudslides in the rainy season.  80 percent of the people are unemployed; there are few jobs.  Access to education is limited. 

THEN in 2010, a 7.0 magnitude earthquake struck Haiti, killing over 100,000 people and crumbling the homes of hundreds of thousands more.  A country that had been the 5th poorest country in the world became the poorest country in the world.  Almost every structure in the village of Sous Savanne was destroyed.  We met family after family who are still living in tents or wooden structures with tarps for walls.  Imagine weathering a hurricane with walls of canvas. 

Even in the face of all this, there is a need that is deeper.  The spiritual conflict in Haiti cannot be denied.   The two main religions of Haiti are Christianity and voodoo.  There are 3 churches in Sous Savanne; there are also 3 voodoo temples.  Spiritual warfare is out in the open.

And yet the fun-loving spirit of Haiti is still alive.   As a team, we were aware that we were on the front lines.  We prayed a lot, leaned into Jesus, and began to feel God’s great love for the Haitian people.

Each morning at Camp Hope, we started in a big group with songs and puppets, and then broke into smaller groups.  I didn’t work with a group like the rest of the team until Tuesday morning.  My thought was to stay available to help where needed.  But there were so many children hanging around outside the church.  I noticed many were listening at the windows and singing the songs.  I asked Marianne if we could invite those children to join us.  Earlier in the month, Marianne had handed out index cards for tickets.  There are so many kids.  We had to limit the number somehow.  But now, Marianne sneaked outside and quietly asked some kids to come in, and a 5th group was born.  I was thinking five or six, but by Wednesday morning I had 21!  This new group remained a full day behind everyone else in the curriculum, but still, four of them prayed to receive Christ.

On Wednesday afternoon, we spent several hours at an orphanage a few miles away where 34 kids and their guardians live in tents.  We were struck by the children’s good manners.  Their circumstances broke our hearts.

By Friday, we had all seen a huge change in the behavior of the kids at Camp Hope. We told them it was their choice, but many chose to pray with their group leader to ask Christ into their heart. We even had the daughter of the local voodoo priest attend and she listened to everything! While she ultimately declined to pray with her leaders, we are certainly praying for her!  Please pray for all of our new believers to remain strong and courageous.

What’s next?  I don’t know yet.  But I think when God calls a team from the richest county in the richest country in the world to go to the world’s poorest country… it means God is at work.    

[John Wesley said this:  “Do all the good you can, by all the means you can, in all the places you can, at all the times you can, to all the people you can, as long as you ever can.”] put on a slide?


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Stop Hunger Now

At our Sunday morning service on August 11th Gateway Community Church had the chance to prepare thousands of meals for some of the world's poorest people.  Partnering again with Stop Hunger Now, we were able to turn a regular Sunday morning into a very tangible and rewarding relief effort that will have far reaching effects.  Not to mention how much fun it was! 
Stop Hunger Now is an amazing organization that is committed to ending world hunger.  Through their meal packaging program, volunteers are able to package nutritious meals that are shipped all over the world. The meals are sent directly to crisis-burdened areas or supplied to school feeding programs. The meals cost only $0.25 per meal to make, making it very accessible.
If you've never been to a SHN event, it is AWESOME!  It is hard to believe that we are able to package 20,000-40,000 meals in just a couple of hours!  Kids 4 and up can even help, making it very family friendly.  When you walk into an event you'll see tables with several different stations, all done assembly line style.  SHN brings all of the supplies, you just put on your hair net and get ready to pack! 
First, the rice, vegetables, and protein powder are scooped and funneled into the bags.  Then the runner (a kid favorite position) brings them to the weighing and sealing station.  Next they are boxed and ready to be loaded and shipped.  You hear the sound of a big gong every time a thousand meals has been packaged, followed by cheers of enthusiasm.  It is a great reminder that every bag completed makes a huge difference in the life of someone in need. 
It has been such a blessing for my family and I to participate in each SHN event at Gateway.  It is a powerful reminder of how God provides and a great illustration of the importance and impact of community.  I particularly love serving beside my 5 year old daughter and seeing her grasp the idea of helping to feed others that have less than we do.  Each SHN event gives us a chance to step outside of our busy lives and our constant self and family-centered focus and to literally provide food to people that desperately need it all over the world.  It is a very unique service opportunity that we always look forward to.