A recent week filled with school visits was also filled with adventure! We needed to visit a few remote schools because they were selected for new school sponsors who were waiting for information and photos. There is no easy way to most parts of Haiti! Like any Caribbean country, the mountains in the center have to be crossed almost every time you go out. Usually there is a rough road with hairpin turns (and no guard rails). Sometimes there is no road but only a path to climb over them.
That was certainly the case one of the days that week as we had to climb over a mountain to get to a school! One of the days required riding mules and wading through two rivers, and one day we traveled to an island by a private boat. We always find a little school at the end of our journey! There is always a Pastor and his family that welcomes us who are living there serving the school and community. There is a church or cluster of buildings that they call school. Most of the times the church is used as the school during the week. They are always just scraping by.
We meet with the Pastor and director of these schools to evaluate and ask questions about the school, classes, education, and also what they are teaching spiritually. We then take pictures of the classes, school, and church. When the classes come together, sometimes we have the blessing of hearing them sing for us. We love to interact with the kids! If we have time we like to send off rocket balloons with them. They love the attention you give them! Occasionally we have a Haitian meal at the Pastor’s house such as chicken legs or fish, and rice and beans with sauce. They share the little that they have. It is very humbling.
The boat ride to the islands was really beautiful! Being out in the water was refreshing with the wind blowing in our faces. It was a wonderful break from the scorching heat! When we arrived at the first school on the island, one of the girls started crying when she saw us white people. It was the first time she had seen the “blan.” It was probably the first time for most of them? That is why we get so stared at!
At this remote school on the island (above), there were so many parents there that we knew it would be a good opportunity to share the gospel. After taking the pictures of the kids the Pastor sent everyone into the church close by. Marie Lucie translated the gospel message from English to Creole. Much more can be shared with the people when you have a translator!
Going up the mountains sometimes takes three hours to drive to the school, and it is always a very bumpy ride! Other times, you have to get out and walk after the difficult ride. But it feels so good to get out and stretch! Traveling up and down the mountain, we are always hanging on with a tight grip to keep our heads from hitting the roof or the windows! And watch out for anything that is loose in the car–it goes all over! The scenery is a so beautiful that it is a great distraction. You never know what you will see–anything from scenic mountains to a bowl of bananas on someone’s head to a person bathing in the river! Anytime we are out in the field it is a good time to share the gospel because there are people just everywhere!
Traveling on donkeys up the path to the schools was a real adventure! The donkeys were very steady as they stepped over rocks, tree roots, and up and down the steep paths. There were times when the donkey got really close to the edge of the river. It made you nervous but you couldn’t do anything but take a deep breath and pray! Those steady donkeys made it every time! When their master gave them direction, they were very obedient. The Bible came more alive to us in the story of Balaam and his donkey that talked to him, and Jesus who came riding into Jerusalem on a donkey.
Trinity didn’t have a choice when the Haitian tied a live chicken on the back of her donkey coming back from the school. She was always checking on that chicken to see what it was doing. It made her a little nervous that it might just peck her!
When we travel to each school we take “101 Bible Story” books and Bibles if we have them available. We are always looking for opportunities to share God’s Word! We now have new posters (The Ten Commandments) to give them to hang up in their church and school! When also like to donate clothes, underwear, shoes, etc., to these children when we have them. Other items we hope to give to the schools in the future would be simple toys–soccer balls (1 0r 2 per school), frisbees, or any kind of balls. The kids would be so excited and the directors like it too!
One day we climbed for two hours over a mountain to visit a remote school north of Bonne Fin. As we finally sighted the church in the distance, Marie Lucie said, “If Jesus went to church in Haiti, this would be the church He would go to because these people went to such great sacrifice to build the church.” Many of the people that we passed on the mountain were going to market and they kept stating that we were the first white people to cross their mountain. Then they would add, “Now we will get a new road!” (Especially after they saw the “white man” climbing the mountain!)
How do they do it? How do they build a building when there is no road to get materials over a mountain? We sit at a table in a house or sit under a tree on plastic chairs. We have just crossed a mountain on foot, rivers on foot, an ocean by boat. Every single thing they need has been carried in by pack mule, boat, or on their head for centuries. Amazing!