Our team has been home for five days now. Although I love writing and it usually helps me process things, I have needed some grace and space to find the words to honor all that I experienced on my first mission trip. I’m still not sure I’m “there,” but I will try. I will share my favorite and most impactful experience. I pray earnestly that my words will glorify God first, and secondly, bring dignity and respect to the beautiful faces, mostly of children, that are etched on my heart.
For our new readers, a little background first…..Ezra Vision Ministries is actively working in Onaville, a city that did not exist prior to the 2010 earthquake. Now Onaville is home to hundreds of thousands of displaced Haitians. We are actively building a school, literally from the ground up, and that was the focus of our work on day 3.
We set out for Onaville early in the morning with Anna, one of Nehemiah Vision Ministries’s awesome interns, accompanying us. Onaville is about a 30 minute drive via “tap tap” from the NVM campus. Our objective for the day was to clear the ground under the large tent that will house our school temporarily.
The “before” shot
We anticipated it would be an all day job. Benches needed to be hauled out, a stage broken down, all the rocks and debris cleared from the ground, and the torn tent siding removed. We prayed and set to work. Within minutes after observing what we were doing, a few Haitian men jumped in to help haul the heavy benches. Soon after, Haitian men and women joined us in clearing the grounds. They grabbed a rake or just used their hands and began clearing the rocks with us. Where large stones were embedded in the ground, our Haitian brother worked the pick ax like a pro! Our team of 11 grew to 20 in no time, and the work was completed long before expected. It was truly a beautiful thing to witness people from different cultures coming together for a common goal. We worked side by side with Haitian brothers and sisters we couldn’t even communicate with and yet, were of one accord as we begin pouring into the children’s futuree as we prepped the school grounds.
Removing an old stage
Loading and removing the rocky ground and debris
Our Haitian and American working group (and the kiddos who played nearby)
After completing our work, Anna, led us on a hike up the main road and along a mountain side there in Onaville. Several of the local children accompanied us. Some tightly held our hands, others walked alongside, playing with one another. They loved trying on our sunglasses and having their photos taken. When we reached our stopping point, Anna provided us some information about Onaville and the people who call this home since the earthquake. We were standing in the middle of extreme poverty. Anna reminded us of our mission to love and serve God wherever He calls us. A boy kept jumping up on me for me to hold him. He looked about 7. I was thankful I had the strength. From this point, there was a clear site line to the church, our temporary school site under the tent, and the cleared ground for our permanent school building. Homes were scattered across the mountainside around, above, and below us. As I looked around from this vantage point, I recall a story a former pastor told us. He shared his own story of visiting the city for the first time. The leaders of the church took him to the highest point in the city and had him look out over the valley. There they asked if he could see himself, loving and serving the people of the city. I found myself asking the same question. Ezra Vision Ministries intends to be in Onaville for a long time. Would I be part of it? Would God give me the honor and privilege of making Him famous in Onaville?
Before we started back down the hill, we prayed over Onaville. Our group circled up, held hands, and lifted several voices in one accord for the people of Onaville with several of the city’s own children in our midst. They didn’t understand what we were saying, but they stood in our circle, quietly, reverently and prayed with us. I will never forget that. When I opened my eyes, there was even a tiny one, maybe two years old, that had joined us. Praying with the children of Onaville over their city. That was a God moment. That was a moment with eternal perspective. That was the moment I fully got it. That was the moment I was all in.
The “after” shot. New tent siding will be added , along with interior partitions to mark the classrooms.
Written by Carrie Hawkins, Co-Director, Social Media