Literacy for Haiti Inc.
Commerce, Education, Medicine, and Hope in Christ for Haiti's Rural Poor.

Summer Trip 2019

     Actually, I rarely have time to write about Haiti while I'm in Haiti, but this year I decided to make time for it. Over the past few days, we've been preparing to give out loans beginning in a couple of days. This entails having a big meeting with all the participants, reminding them of the rules, encouraging them to invest, and setting the various days each group should come to get their loans. I had a chance to remind them that this is a program from God in the name of Christ. I told them about the work I have been blessed to do in prisons in the US and that I learned that many men in prison are open to serving Christ because they know they have done wrong and they know they are in prison for it and they need both forgiveness and release. But many times people who live outside prison walls are actually very much also in prison, unaware. They are in the prison of living with their head down- so distracted and concerned with the affairs of this world that they never look up and consider God, or what he has done for them. Nor do they consider how they might show their gratitude by serving Him. This is an often made observation by many in the churches usually when they feel it necessary to criticize the Lord's church. The idea that our culture is too busy for God is merely familiar rhetoric until you realize it applies to you. Then something has to change. I challenged the people to consider if they were in prison. I wondered if they looked at the loan program as just a way to help make ends meet or if they saw that the entire program is speaking to them about the love of Christ for their particular community. Five hundred Haitians were stone silent and intent upon listening while I spoke.

    For the last few days, I've been planning with Manno and sitting under my office mosquito net checking books, making estimates, organizing passbooks, counting money packets. Eight million goudes is a lot of goudes to account for. During my day breaks, I enjoy my hobby here- catching mosquitoes in a homemade net and crushing them to death. The critters are worse than usual this year and I must admit, although I know vengeance belongs to God, I take pleasure in destroying these creatures that were surely hatched in hell.

    In the evenings we usually take a walk to visit and check on our friends. I was happy to see that two men to whom I gave special personal business loans had paid back what they owed and wished to borrow again. I will loan to them again, but one of them asked for an amount I could not swing. He wanted a large professional copy machine to help his copy business down in the valley. The other paid back his loan but has had problems this year, chief among which was the death of his 9-month-old son from mysterious and unknown causes. He is a young Chistian man, yet he truly believes a voudou curse involving an evil spirit was involved. I asked if he had ever seen such a thing in the past and he said yes, several times. I had little to say to that.

    We also visited a woman we have known for over 22 years who was diagnosed with ovarian cancer last year. She must see a doctor in a far away town to get her chemo treatments. This means she must find the money for transportation and also walk quite a bit while she feels terrible from the side effects. She is very poor, so we will supply what she needs to help her keep her frequent appointments. We are thankful for the Hospital in Mirabelais, Haiti because it actually has the capacity to help her. She is weak, nauseated, has lost some hearing, and of course her hair, yet she was able to laugh with us about memories past. Some of you have heard her speak on video. She was the lady who recited the 23rd Psalm for you. It turns out she has committed large sections of scripture to memory.

    Next, we ran into the mother of one of my son's playmates from long ago. Her boy was chronically malnourished when he was young and his growth was very stunted as a result. We learned he also is in a hospital and paralyzed in both legs for unknown reasons. It seems the more people you visit the more problems you discover.

    We did learn of a great miracle and answer to prayer. Two years ago we visited a friend who's young and pretty wife had had strokes. She was bedridden, incontinent, unable to speak, and generally listless. We prayed for her, admittedly without a lot of faith that she would recover. But today she is continent, able to speak, and can walk with the aid of a crutch. Our friend thinks that in time she will discard the crutch as well. Shame on us, right?

    Manno and I are considering starting an internship program in which young educated mountain kids can work for the loan program for a year in exchange for scholarship funds to attend vocational school. They alternate working for a year and schooling for a year and so on. These young people will be carefully chosen because we hope that they will one day replace both Manno and me so the loan program can continue for another generation.

    I learned that Manno continues to be a visionary for his community. As elected Kazek for the area, people told him that he had not yet done anything for them. He truthfully told them that he was a government official, but that the government provided no funding for anything- just talk. But this bothered him. So he began writing letters everywhere to everyone asking for some money to help build some roads. He got small contributions from the local bank, local NGO's, a Haitian senator, and the use of a large bulldozer. Little by little a new road to the hospital in Deschapelles was built and the one to Damye improved. Of course, in a short time the rains will destroy this work, but in the meantime- Manno is a local hero- especially among motorcycle taxi drivers who love the smooth road- but also cautioned him not to make the road too good or small pick up trucks might compete with them.

    For 6 days straight we gave out loans to people of various classes. My day consisted of solving problems in the books and helping people who had problems with understanding the program, balancing the teller stations and finding their errors. It was a joy to see the people come and get their money in an orderly fashion as our 10 tellers, Manno, his wife Dieudimene, and others kept the lines moving. With this size work crew, 200 people can be served in a few hours and then the hard work of balancing begins.

    Today we went to church. The singing is always good. The message was about how evil people seem to prosper while God's people continue to find difficulties in this life. Manno encouraged the people to have patience and faith because one day God will bring justice and even vengeance upon those who merit it. Each Sunday School group stood in turn and said their memory verse together to the applause of the congregation. They read off the numbers in attendance, (about 75) how many song books were present (maybe 15), Bibles present (maybe a dozen), and today's offering was 85 cents US. This is normal each Sunday.

    The large group loans have to be processed tomorrow and of course, into the night I will be balancing teller work. It is a lot of book work to manage 8 million goudes in loans. How much is that worth? Well, 8 million goudes. There was a time when that would have been over 200,000 US. But Haitian money has been in free fall lately. You could probably get $125,000 for it today. We hope the currency will strengthen. There was a time when we thought 200,000 US would pay interest enough to pay all the loan program workers and fund the school fully. But the goal has proved to be a moving target as prices rise on every good that comes from the US, and that's a lot.

    After a little dinner, I find myself removing pollywogs from the water that comes from our cistern. Frogs and mosquitos have invaded it somehow so the water is only good for washing, after you remove the many interesting forms of life that now inhabit it. Strangely the adult frogs that mate in there give off an eerie croak that is amplified by the basin in which they find themselves. It's a low throaty sound that seems to say, “Go back, Go back, Go back.” I don't plan on doing so. The frogs sometimes get into the makeshift flush toilet we have too. They hide under the turn in the toilet bend. The Haitian word for “frog” is “crappo”. In such circumstances, it's a particularly fitting name.

    On Monday there was a lot to discuss with people in group loans who missed some payments or had other problems. It was a rather long and confusing session today, but in the end everything worked out fine. Soon the loan program will be finished and I will be free to arrange the programs that will help the people throughout this year, such as feeding the most destitute, paying for teachers at the school, dispensing medicines that relieve pain, and arranging evangelistic meetings that will take place throughout the coming year. I'll also begin preparing a presentation to give at Shepherd Road Church when we get back to the States.

    By Friday everything was finished and I met with Manno to give him his workload for the year, including the instructions for working with our first intern. Manno agreed to work more closely with several young people to get a feel for how much they could be trusted. We also decided to start some savings accounts for people. Many have asked for this and at last, we feel ready to help them with this vital idea of saving money. While waiting for our plane in Port-au-Prince, it occurred to me that even though we don't experiment with new programs very much anymore- what we do makes a very large difference in the lives of the mountain people and it continues to be a growing testimony for Christ on our mountain. How many weeks in the year can I say that I truly helped over 850 people in a vital way? Not one week, save this one. It continues to be an honor and a joy to be able to serve in Haiti. Bobbi and I thank you for your continued support and interest.