Steve Wilhite – Haiti Blog

Posted by on Jun 19, 2013 in Haiti Blog | Comments Off on Steve Wilhite – Haiti Blog

The People of Haiti-Wells of Living Water

By Steve Wilhite

I woke up this morning with the smells of Haiti on my mind. Images of the people I had left behind. And thoughts of the few that I had made that special connection to while I was there. My heart still full of memories a few weeks after returning home, of the some 420 students in two cities looking up at Dale and me with a hungry anticipation on their faces was amazing as we introduced ourselves and prepared to deliver the word to them with a fire hose affect. They had been praying and waiting for weeks with eager hearts to receive the New Testament survey teaching.

As I stood before them I was overcome with compassion and an even stronger passion to give every bit of my energy to these beautiful souls. I suddenly felt unequipped to teach this group then I remembered God is the teacher and I am the vessel from which He will teach and I felt very comforted by that fact.

Some of my story will include some journal entries. I have some fond memories and great anticipation of returning to my new friends and students In Port Au Prince and Les Cayes, Haiti.

Dale and I spent a night in Fort Lauderdale before making the flight to Port Au Prince on Sunday morning. I was thinking of my church family back home getting ready for services at Parkhaven Community Church. I knew they were in good hands and would receive a good word from God.

As I began to see Haitian soil for the first time from the plane, I immediately began looking for ruins and demolished landscapes. I was told the airport in Haiti would be hot, crowded and slow in processing us through customs. We disembarked from the plane via the old style metal stairway and walked across the field to the inside of the airport terminal. It was hot and humid as promised. We entered the airport and to my relief it was air-conditioned, clean and friendly. Dale was surprised to see that the interior had changed dramatically since his last visit. He told me at his last visit the airport interior was as hot as outside, very dirty and disorganized to our standards in the states. As we continued to baggage claim Dale reminded me not to let anyone grab my suitcase because they would charge greatly for the short hike to the car. After clearing customs we encountered the luggage carriers all dressed in red shirts. I was hit with culture shock as I saw the exit of the terminal open up to the front of the airport. It was dirty, there were people everywhere. They were trying to grab my suitcase saying “let me help, let me help”. I gently refused. And then we met Gilbert the pastor who would host us while we were there. Immediately I could see Gilbert was a spirit filled and kind man. He brought with him another pastor named Julio who seemed anxious and ready for the task at hand. They had a warm and welcome greeting for Dale as an old friend or family member who hadn’t been seen for a long time.  I immediately felt the same acceptance and welcome from them. I was excited that Dale offered the front seat of our transportation to me so that I could take in the sites of the city. I became a little anxious at that point because I had watched a virtual tour of the city from a taxi online before the trip and thought I would crash at any moment into one of the hundreds of motorcycles or Tap-Taps that were bustling about on the crowded and busy streets of Port Au Prince. The drivers all seemed to have some sort of sense of bouncing off some protective barrier in the mere inches between them as they drove about the city.

As we left the airport it didn’t appear that there was very much destruction still visible from the devastation of the 2010 earthquake. However, as we proceeded to drive into Port Au Prince the devastation and poverty became apparent. We took a drive to see a pastor friend of Gilberts a man Dale had also met on a previous trip. As we arrived near the pastor’s home there were about six heavily armed policemen at the head of the street. I didn’t know if they were there to escort us or what was going on. The street seemed oppressive. We entered the pastor’s house and found a large group of people there praying and tending to his needs. The man and his two children had been struck by a car on their motorcycle. The pastor had been seriously injured in the accident. I was told his son was ok. The bad news was that his daughter had been killed in the accident. My heart immediately broke for him. He did not yet know that his daughter had been killed. He could not speak and could only wave. He was lying on the hard floor on a couple of couch cushions. And his shattered leg was propped up on a hard wood kitchen chair. He had received burns to his leg arm and face. There was a small fan oscillating as it stirred the hot humid air. The man was in obvious pain. And his breathing was labored. When we left the pastors house I was overcome with compassion for him and the loss he was not yet aware of. I prayed for him silently as we tried to maneuver our way out of the small street and past the policemen.

The streets of Port Au Prince were in terrible condition and it soon became evident that they would not get any better as the trip continued. I was overwhelmed by the people everywhere. There were endless numbers of people walking as far as I could see.  The street markets were on every street and every corner. I quickly became aware of the enormous physical need this country faced. How could this man from California make any difference in a country I knew very little about? How could I possibly help with what little money I had with me? And I began to feel helpless to be able to bring any change to this impoverished nation. Once again, God reminded me that his purpose would be fulfilled.

There are people for miles and miles as far as the eye can see. There is non-stop life, non-stop usage of resources. There is rarely a break in the road where you don’t see, new houses being built, burnt up shacks, constant open markets, kids, kids and more kids. There were thousands of motorcycles and ‘Tap-Taps.  Every inch of ground was being cultivated and something growing out of it. There are people, people and more people. These are a people that appear to go from poverty to effluence to poverty and back again. There are pictures and words of ‘Jesus’ painted and printed everywhere. I was a little overwhelmed at this point. But I got it, they are living life.

As Gilbert drove through the streets of Port Au Prince I began to see some of the damage left in wake of the earthquake and the poverty that had increased because of it. I wondered where all of these people slept at night. I saw young children (Orphans) begging in the middle of the road. I saw people hustling for whatever they could get their hands on to sustain them for the night. There is no economic stability in this city and it appeared as though it was every man, woman and child for himself.

We arrived at Gilbert’s house and as we entered a gated courtyard we parked and unloaded our belongings. It was a beautiful home. We were welcomed and shown to where we would sleep for the next few nights. Did I mention it was hot and humid? Well my first night in Haiti (Sunday) I did not sleep a wink. Anticipation was great and excitement overwhelmed me. I felt good the next morning and surprisingly rested and ready for the days ahead. As I wrote in my journal Monday morning, “I saw a people who do life”. No laziness, no folding of the hands. This people live every moment, they spend all of their energy until it is gone, and the pace is extremely fast.  The people of Haiti are beautiful in appearance down to the soul. The air is hot and unforgiving.

I wrote in my journal, “I am wrestling with some doubt of my ability to teach this course, I am prepared because of you.”  The scripture at the bottom of the page read, “If you give, you will receive. Your gift will return in full measure, pressed down, shaken together to make room for more, and running over. Luke 6:38 (NLT) How amazing God is to hear us, to know everything we need and supply it in our time of need.

The curriculum was amazing. The layout of the teaching manual was outstanding. It was a seminary level manual from the Bible Training Institute. It was intense and fast paced. It was received by the students with glad hearts. The manuals were provided by donations from many people whom Dale was able to raise the money. The manuals are $10.00 dollars each. I was grateful for the translators Gilbert &______.

The groups in Port Au Prince and Les Cayes were mostly made up of very young men and woman. They were ready to be taught the Word of God. We gathered for three days in a Church close to Gilberts home. The students would have bread and coffee before class. God moves in mysterious ways. The first day was over in a flash. As Dale covered the period between the Old and New testaments and gave an introduction to the curriculum. I gave a comparison between the old and new covenants and we were on our way.

Dale taught with a flawless and seasoned ability. I will never forget the mentoring I received in watching him teach and engage the students. It gave me a great deal of confidence when it was my turn as I followed his lead. We were a tag team and worked the curriculum with an intense fervor.  He invited me to sing songs and lead some worship throughout the teaching which added to strengthening our relationships with the students.  One student in particular was a young lady named Lynda L. who I heard singing and was overjoyed by her angelic voice. I asked if I could help her with her voice and a friendship was born. I was able to help her develop her breathing and soon her voice became stronger and sweeter. I then challenged her to sing accapella, the song Alleluia which I had heard her signing the day before, in front of the class the next day. She had never sung in front of any group before. I instructed her to close her eyes and sing to God, which she did so beautifully.

We traveled to Les Cayes on Wednesday after class in port Au Prince had adjourned. It was a long 5 hour drive that could have taken 2 hours had the roads been good. Bump after bump, pothole after pothole we made our way to Les Cayes. Gilbert maneuvered the roads with great skill, occasionally forgetting about a pothole. It was a fun ride down as we chomped on hard street corn which Gilbert said, kept him occupied and focused for the drive. I don’t remember the French phrase he used for speed bumps but in English it was something like, policeman lying in the road directing traffic. We arrived at the hotel which was clean and guarded by an elderly gentleman who was the gatekeeper. He had a friendly smile and was there every day. This was his job and he took great pride in it. The hotel had AIR-CONDITIONING! What a treat. However,   I liked Gilbert’s house far better than the hotel.

We entered the Church where we would be teaching for the next three days and it was very large and open space. There were about 175 students there for the course. This was a more serious group. They challenged and pushed back on the teaching. They were as well prepared as the group in Port Au Prince. We had an amazing time here. The pace of the teaching was incredible and well received.

As our trip came closer to an end I became saddened. I had learned a lot about myself in these few days and the abilities God has given me. Teaching a seminary level subject was difficult and challenging. I have learned a lot more about the New Testament.  I prayed as the last day was upon us that God would give me and authority to teach His Word. I taught Mark, Luke and Acts in 3 hours. I have never done this before. I prayed, “I know you are with me Lord.” I am thankful for Dale and his support and affirmation throughout these few memorable days. We were exhausted (as promised) spent (I asked for it) with no energy left, I began asking God if He would like me to return. As usual at the bottom of my journal there is nestled that sweet gem of scripture; “He will keep you strong right up to the end, and He will keep you free from all blame on the great day when our Lord Jesus Christ returns. 1 Corinthians 1:8”.

The last day in PAP, Haiti I am full of joy and sadness. I have had the pleasure of the company of some of the most fascinating, loving people I have ever met. Gilbert his wife Lejette, Julio, Benjamin, Vultar, Lynda, Rose and so many more of the pastors and young teachers. I am forever blessed by this wonderful people.

When I introduced myself to each class on the first day I introduced myself not only as a teacher but as a fellow seminary student. I also expressed that I would not only teach them but that they would also teach me. Well this statement held true. As the last entry in my journal the day we left my new family and friends reads, “This trip has been a true sign of spiritual growth. I finally put my full trust in my God given ability on the last day in Les Cayes while teaching the book of Act’s. Pastor Gilbert is a great translator and truly a man of great faith and humility. Dale Barrett is an exemplary communicator and teacher of God’s. I have gained a great deal of wisdom from my ‘New, Life’ friend. Finally I pray that it is the will of God that I will be able to return to teach and minister to the people of Haiti.

There is so much more I could write about this life changing experience; the food, the mountains, the marketplace experience, the ocean. Oh and the picture of the fishing boat that I have on my face book page. This is where the Spirit said to my spirit, “Peace Be Still.”

I believe there is a revival and true awakening to the Word of God in Haiti. I asked the students of Haiti to bring this to the USA as ministers of the Gospel. I pray for this kind of Love for God, This hunger for His Word and this zeal to proclaim Jesus Christ come to the USA as I see it alive and well in Haiti.