By far, the most common question people ask me is, “When are you going back to Haiti?” and since April 18, the answer has been, “June 14.” Over and over people expressed surprise. “But that’s so far away!” And it was. But now the date is drawing close, and last minute preparations are being made.
On Monday, May 7, 2018, over 200 people gathered at Scotts Hill Baptist Church in Wilmington, NC, to celebrate missions around the world. On this night, 25 tables were set to share more about missions based in the Wilmington area but operating all over the world.
Two of the tables hosted by Pastor Roger Barnes, Sophie Leonard, Alexandria Augi and Jennifer Augi (all members of the March 2018 team) highlighted and told the story of Haiti Awake.
Sophie Leonard and Alexandria Augi were also able to talk with the children in attendance at this event about the Bible schools they led in Haiti while traveling with Haiti Awake. They encouraged the children not to feel limited by their age but to listen for God’s calling to go and serve being the hands and feet of Jesus.
The mission night was a wonderful opportunity to share in our local community how lives in Haiti are being changed through friendship, discipleship, community, teaching, resources, time, and most importantly the unifying love of Jesus Christ.
I won't describe Hannah Hewling as a new family member, as I described Alexandria yesterday, because Hannah's been a part of Haiti Awake since the first Bridge team came in the summer of 2016. Last summer Hannah stayed in Haiti with us for two weeks, and this year she's coming back to intern for the 2nd half of our busy summer.
Hannah is a third grade teacher in Garner, NC, who graduated from UNCW in 2017.
While living in Wilmington, Hannah was a member of The Bridge Church, where she met Becky. On her first trip to Haiti, Hannah instantly fell in love with the people and culture of Haiti.
Hannah can not wait to continue to build on relationships she has made as well as, use her teaching background to encourage the children. In July, She will be teaching English at the children’s home and assisting with the three teams during her trip.
How thankful we are at Haiti Awake for the many people God has brought to work alongside of our staff through the years. People like Hannah bring fresh ideas and new energy to our efforts.
Looking forward to a great summer!
We are planning for a busy summer at Haiti Awake with 6 teams - back to back to back to back to back to back . . . Our staff will work for 6.5 weeks without a day off! We are feeling excited - and challenged.
One of the only ways we'll survive this busy season is with additional sets of hands - one of those sets belonging to Alexandria Augi .
Alexandria Augi, daughter of Rich and Jen Augi, felt God was calling her to the mission field on her first mission trip to Arizona in 2010. She absolutely fell in love with sharing God and His love with the children there.
This March Alexandria traveled to Hait for the first time. It was immediately evident that she felt at home with our children and our staff - and they were equally comfortable with her. Just a few days into her trip in March, we began talking about the idea of Alexandria coming to Haiti to intern for the first half of our busy summer.
We're so thankful her mom and dad are allowing her to be part of our family this summer!
In her free time, Alexandria enjoys karate (and teaching it!), reading, and baking. While she is majoring in mathematics at UNC Wilmington, missions holds a special place in her heart and she is ready to follow God’s plan wherever it may lead her.
And this summer, He has led her to the summer internship at Haiti Awake. For this we are abundantly thankful!
It's been another year. We have another opportunity to look back and see God's providence, His faithful hand, His leading...and to see that once again, we never walked alone.
The first four months of the year were marked by change as the children came under our care. We also began to discuss the idea of expanding Haiti Awake outside of Port au Prince, hosted teams in the new upstairs guesthouse, launched our child sponsorship program, and added stateside coordinators - Hannah Telman, Liz Kyle, and Alicia Mercer.
Glwa pou Bondye.
The middle four months were characterized by teams - five of them to be exact . . . in addition to the four we had already hosted in the first four months of 2017. Fun times. Busy times. Times of growth. Many of this summer's team members became sponsors to our children, and for that we are grateful.
The latter part of 2017 brought great joy, as well as some hard times. The children returned to school for their 3rd year of schooling since Haiti Awake began providing for their tuition, and we rejoiced. Haiti Awake was also able to open the copy center and begin its first chicken project during this same period. We are thankful that God continues to expand our resonsibilities. We also were forced to think about the brevity of life when Wesly and Idelmy were involved in a serious accident. And we finished out the year with a wonderful Christmas celebration provided by friends and sponsors.
We look forward with great anticipation to where God will providentially lead in 2018. We anticipate growth through new business opportunities as well as outreach and expansion of responsibility outside of Port au Prince. But we recognize and affirm the truth found in Proverbs 16:9:
Tout glwa pou Bondye. Toutan.
One summer Five amazingly diverse teams. And now that it's all said and done, I believe the following words more than ever:
Thankful for what God has done. Thankful for what we know He will do. Looking toward the future with great hope and anticipation.
Glwa pou Bondye.
We are looking forward to a busy summer at Haiti Awake . . . including teams scheduled every day from May 31 to July 1 and a team later in July.
We are thankful that Linda Estep has agreed to come to Haiti for the month of June!
Linda is a music teacher in Wilmington, NC, and has been involved in church ministry from a young age. During college, she experienced her first short-term missions trip to Ukraine that burdened her to see the world and help others. Since moving to Wilmington, she has been to Haiti three times and has come to love the people that God has placed in her life through Haiti Awake.
This summer as part of her internship with Haiti Awake, she will be assisting with team Bible Clubs, the Children's Home, and every day operations of the household. She looks forward to building stronger relationships with old friends and meeting many new friends while she is in Haiti.
We at Haiti Awake are happy to announce that our stateside team is growing again! Liz Kyle, a pharmacist here in Wilmington, NC, has agreed to join our team as our US Volunteer Medical Coordinator.
Two of Liz’s main passions are learning and teaching. She received her pharmacy degree from her home state of Michigan in 2010 and shortly after moved to North Carolina to work in a physician’s office providing medical care for high-risk patients while collaboratively training health care professionals.
God put international ministry on Liz’s heart years ago, showing how He can reveal His power and love through intercultural collaboration. She enjoys learning about other cultures through international travel, including her first mission trip to the Dominican Republic in 2014.
In March of 2017, Liz was able to travel with a team to serve alongside Haiti Awake staff in Port-au-Prince. During that week, she was inspired by the work that was being done to bring development to the country through practical, Christ-centered interventions.
After returning to the US, Liz remained in contact with the Haiti Awake team to help coordinate care for the children of Haiti Awake. Liz is excited to be moving into a more formalized role as the Volunteer Medical Coordinator!
In this role she will coordinate care for Haiti Awake children as well as medical training for the staff and associates, thus enabling better community medical care throughout Haiti.
We are thankful to have her on our team!
When I am in Haiti, and we do not have a team, upon returning to the US people often ask me, "Well, what did you do?" Many times it is hard to articulate because we at Haiti Awake seem to stay so busy and the time goes by so quickly. . . and yet, how can I even describe what we did?
I decided to briefly document this trip so that you can have some understanding of what goes on at Haiti Awake "behind the scenes."
Thursday, April 13
- Arrived in Port-au-Prince, Haiti.
- Visited children.
- Hosted our first dinner for another organization - http://www.santespwa.org/blog/.
- Staff meetings.
Friday, April 14
- Woke up at 4 a.m.
- Took the bus to Aux Cayes.
- Bought food and rented a tap tap to take us to Pestel, one of the areas hard hit by Hurricane Matthew.
- Spent hours traveling through the mountains to Pestel. Struck by the irony that people had bags of charcoal for sale on the roadside all along the way . . . another reminder of the effects of the hurricane. Due to all of the fallen trees, it seems everyone decided to make charcoal. So, there's a glut of charcoal.
- Arrived in Pestel in time for dinner. Was welcomed with the best cup of Haitian coffee.
Saturday, April 15.
- Woke up early again.
- Food distribution through community leader.
- On the road by 9:30. Had a flat tire less within the first 15 minutes of travel.
- Stopped in Camp Perrin to visit a new friend
- Arrived in Aux Cayes about 3.
- Took a bus back to Port-au-Prince.
- Arrived at the Haiti Awake house about 8:30.
Sunday, April 16. Resurrection Sunday.
- Attended church with the children. Stayed with them in children's church. Impressed by the teachers who were working with them during the long church service.
- Lunch with a staff member.
- Took the children to Cite Soleil with us to do our first outreach there, partnering with families.
- Looked at a potential new location for Haiti Awake.
- Met our new "guard-dog-in-training" at the children's home.
- Had dinner with everyone and then began preparing for the team coming tomorrow.
- Caleb fell asleep holding onto my toe. I don't think anyone has ever fallen asleep holding onto my toe before . . .
Monday, April 17
- A busy morning making final preparations for the team's arrival.
- Went to have a heart-to-heart talk with the children and to tell them all about their new sponsors. Some of the sponsors had sent gifts which was exciting for everyone.
- Dropped some vitamins off for a friend at another organization.
- Quick lunch with a staff member.
- Airport by noon.
- Picked up the team.
- Went to the market to get the cake for Idelmy and Migerlson's party.
- Kids party at 2.
- The rest of the afternoon is a blur, but I know the team did a neighborhood Bible school, and I visited with friends in the community.
- The evening was filled with so much conversation with both the team and the staff.
Tuesday, April 18. Happy 2nd birthday, Caleb Steven Derard.
- Spent the early morning organizing supplies and thinking ahead to the four June teams.
- Went with Wesly to Stop-and-Go to get a birthday cake for Caleb.
- Sent staff members on a number of errands as I finished up my list of the daily to do's.
- Birthday party for Caleb.
- Airport by 1:45.
- Flight through Atlanta (long layover!).
- Home a little after midnight.
1. Haiti does a lot of things right—especially, relationships and worship. I learned that relationships can be built non-verbally, through interacting, and cross-culturally. I’m a talker. A verbal-processor. But I saw that sometimes words aren’t necessary. That touch can be powerful and that laughter is a global language.
2. Happiness does not equal stuff. Worldly possessions are fleeting—in an instant they can be taken away, lost, or become out-of-date. Being in a place that is not driven by consumerism, you see how society functions remarkably well without the need to constantly buy and consume the next best thing.
3. The power of touch. Sometimes you meet a person whom imprints on you and you know you won’t soon forget them. I will not forget much about my time in Haiti, but my most vivid memory is of a woman named Karen. This is a woman who has been struggling with a skin condition for the last 5 years. She has to wear long pants and long sleeves and a hat to cover her skin. Her skin itches and has marks all over it and she has to force herself to eat. No one knows what her skin condition is and, thus, the whole community has ostracized her. The only interaction she has is with her 6 sisters – all of whom live in the same room with just 2 mattresses. We visited her, brought lotions and medicines and talked with her. Before leaving, we put our hands on her and prayed with her. Tears streamed down her face as we prayed and I left thinking, wow, it has probably been quite some time since she has experienced human touch. I saw her several times throughout the week and as we smiled and greeted one another I knew we had bonded. Jesus literally broke this physical boundary and allowed us to enter into an emotional and spiritual connection with Karen.
4. If you ever get the chance, look at the world through the eyes of a child. Get excited. Be curious. Show affection to others. Be loving and nonjudgmental. Getting to spend a week alongside dozens of children in Haiti was a huge blessing.
5. Ministry can look different than what you are comfortable with. Sometimes it means getting dirty and serving, being the hands and feet of Jesus, sometimes it means sitting with and being uninhibitedly with another person, sometimes it means loving your team and helping them to process. Then, upon return, looking for ways to serve in the place you have been planted.
6. God is good all the time, and all the time God is good.
Written by Kelly Shannon, a grad student at UNCW studying social work. Kelly is from Huntersville, NC, and she is engaged to Tyler Johnson. Kelly organized, planned, and led the March Haiti Awake team.
The following was written by our friend, Kaitlyn Hopfer, who is pouring her heart into helping the people of Haiti and Haiti Awake.
I run a local non-profit called Mission Made Jewelry which is focused on creating jobs in developing countries through the sale of handcrafted items. Early last year, our founder suggested that I join him on a trip to be able to truly experience what it looked like to live in one of the counties we worked with, Haiti.
In June 2016, I boarded my flight to Port Au Prince, Haiti full of nerves, questions, and concerns. I wrote in my journal during the flight into Haiti:
Little did I know that from that day forward God would awaken in me a passion towards Haiti that is indescribable.
Upon our arrival, my team members commented on the smell of the burning trash, the animals scattered throughout the road, the state of living conditions throughout the area, but I noticed something else – the people.
All around people were huddled together, hugging and high fiving, helping each with heavy baskets or broken down cars, standing united in a way I had never seen before. As we were driving down the road we came to a sudden halt, the person in front of us had saw someone they knew and literally stopped the car in the middle of the road to talk to them. I quickly realized, Haitians take relationships seriously. They live out the command to love their neighbor in a way I have never experienced before.
I thought I was going to Haiti to "give back to those in need,” but I quickly learned that this experience was about something much bigger; it was about building relationships. I realized that I needed to open my heart to loving them, not fixing them.
In the book Helping without Hurting, Steve Corbett states:
I knew that if I wanted to make a difference in Haiti I needed to build meaningful and long-lasting relationships.
My friends in Haiti have taught me to love selflessly until it hurts. They practice fellowship in the way Jesus represented it, spending fellowship with his disciples, pouring into them and helping them grow. Jesus could have had 10,000 disciples, but he didn’t. He chose a select group of individuals to pour into, to love, and to share life with.
Haiti Awake gives us the opportunity to do just that, to walk alongside our friends in Haiti in fellowship.
In June I will be heading back to Haiti for my 3rd trip in less than 1 year. I continue to invest my heart into Haiti Awake because these are my friends. They are no longer nameless faces in a far-off country. Instead, they are the people I pray for daily and share fellowship with.
They are the people who I want to experience life with.
Each time I see them I know that God is helping us grow together for His kingdom. I believe that Haiti is the next crowning jewel of this world, that Jesus Christ will be known through the nation, and that Haiti Awake will play a huge role in making that happen.
The following is a guest post by Paige Carroll who traveled to Haiti with The Bridge team in August of 2016. She and her husband, Jacob, are monthly supporters of Haiti Awake, and they are leading their own team back to Haiti in June of this year.
This past summer, I traveled to Haiti with Haiti Awake. During the first few days of my 10 day experience, I quickly picked up on something different about Haiti than what I was used to in the US. In Haiti, relationships matter. In the Haitian culture people genuinely care about one another. Haitians take the time to learn about what’s going on in the lives of those around them. Whether they know it or not, they are living by the motto of “Love your brother as yourself.” People on the streets stop to help a brother in need: they take care of each other; they build relationships and value those relationships.
Haiti Awake is no different from the culture of Haiti. The staff of Haiti Awake believes that relationships matter. They take the time to know and care for their neighbors. They build relationships with others, leading by example that iron sharpens iron. The Haiti Awake staff builds heartfelt relationships with the children in the Children’s Home; spending time, money and energy learning about what makes these kids happy, what gets them motivated, what helps them learn, not because it is part of their job, but because they have that desire to build a trusting relationship.
Once I returned home, I was eager to do whatever I could to continue impacting those relationships I formed in Haiti, as well as what I could do to ensure that relationships continued to grow across that country. Haiti Awake taught me that it is important to invest all that I have into something if I want to see it succeed. I want to see Haiti Awake succeed. I want to see the Gospel known in Haiti. I believe that through the power of Jesus Christ, Haiti Awake is going to do great things throughout the entire country of Haiti - from Tabarre to Cite Soleil to Tabarre to Les Cayes, to those places God has yet to call them to.
This is why I invest my time, my money, my energy, (my Target clearance shopping trips!), my heart, in Haiti Awake.
This is why I support Haiti Awake monthly. I know that my support goes 100% to Haiti to meet these needs, that otherwise could be forsaken without my support.
People were created to be in relationship with one another.
Would you consider forming a relationship with Haiti Awake, and being a part of the work they are doing to bring Relationships, Gospel and Hope to the nation of Haiti?
What an amazing year God once again gave us at Haiti Awake. Here are a few of the highlights.
In January, God sent Hattie Pridgen to work with us. What an amazing lady she is. She worked harder than any of the rest of us each day . . .and was still looking for more that could be done. How we enjoyed having her in Haiti!
February brought sadness as one of our staff members lost his godfather through tragic circumstances. But we all came together to support and encourage him during his time of grief.
March and April allowed us the opportunity to host two separate spring break teams - one for Amplified Youth with Pastor Rusty Smith and one with a group from Wilmington Christian Academy.
June brought teams to Haiti Awake, as well as a new baby to Steeve and Manoucheka's home - Lorie. One of the teams was from Mission Made Jewelry. We are thankful for our partnership with Mission Made Jewelry.
In late July, The Bridge Church sent its first team to partner with Haiti Awake. What a blessing! We're looking forward to more teams from The Bridge in 2017.
Steeve began his second year at STEP, and Becky was able to spend a long weekend in Haiti in September, specifically focused on the children and their future.
October was difficult, but we saw God use Hurricane Matthew to expand our ministry . . .and open doors for 2017.
We had the privilege of hosting another team from Mission Made Jewelry in early November, and Rick and Becky also were able to go down in late November to visit the work in Les Cayes.
And, the highlight of December has been Steeve and Polo's US visit. So thankful for the opportunities God is giving them.
We look forward to 2017 with great anticipation as we praise God for all that He has done in 2016. Glwa pou Bondye.
The following is Hudson's report of the most recent work in Les Cayes.
We were back in Les Cayes, especially in "Gelee". This time God has made a path direction to Jack Charlie's house and his family.
We feel so much enthusiasm by how God uses our heart, our hands to make it work. Even everyday is a blessing day.
This family feels further blessed, and we got to feel the same way as them because God has touched our hearts and make us do the right thing.
They are so thankful, so happy, and they want to keep us in their prayers... We feel the same way too.
All our acknowledgment to God, Haiti Awake, and you all that've made this work possible.
Do not forget that God loves us.
Editor's Note: We will continue the work in Les Cayes as long as funds are available. Please consider Haiti Awake in your year-end giving.
This summer my wife and I were able to travel to Haiti to join our partner organization, Haiti Awake, in the incredible ministry they are doing in one of the most intriguing countries in the world. There were so many unforgettable moments that were crystalized in my mind, but one unique moment sticks out above the rest.
One afternoon while we were in Haiti, I was invited by Steeve—a local Haitian seminary student who works with Haiti Awake—to join him for some ministry in the neighborhood. I wasn’t exactly sure what he meant by “ministry," but I told him I’d love to join him since I’m always up for a new experience. I’ve been a pastor for years, so I was sure this wasn’t going to be anything new for me.
I was wrong. What unfolded was pure ministry bliss. Part of Steeve’s regular “ministry” in his neighborhood includes walking to various homes and praying with those who are sick or in need. So, for the next couple of hours, we walked and entered homes to spend time with people who are in need. We sat. We listened. We shared Scripture. We laughed. We cried. We hugged. And we talked about the goodness of God and how he cares for us as his dear children.
One of the families we spent considerable time was this couple. Though facing a trial in life, they were the happiest people I’ve ever met. Though walking through significant pain and hardships, they were confident that God was working all things for their good.
I’ll never forget that day. It was beautiful. It was amazing. It was a day I experienced the kingdom of God and learned more about the heart of true “ministry.”
- Ethan Welch
Note: Fre Jack, pictured above with his wife and Pastor Ethan, has been a vital part of our hurricane relief efforts. We are thankful for his hard work and the way God has allowed us to work together with him to bring healing and hope to our brothers and sisters on the southern peninsula of Haiti.
So, I'm home. Again.
But this time it's different. I came home full, not empty, thanks to the incredible team from The Bridge Church which came to Haiti Awake to minister alongside of us for over a week.
Thank you, Bridge family, for loving the people we love and working together to honor the Lord as you honored the people He created in His image.
You exemplified what a short-term missions team should look like.