Tag Archives: newness

Reflecting on first week

Today marks one week that we have been in Haiti.  It is amazing how quickly this week has gone by!  One reason this week went fast is because each day, or even each moment is filled with new experiences.  The days themselves and life for that matter seem to go by at a slower pace but it is because they are so full of newness that it feels like yesterday we were getting off the plane at the airport.

Martha and I have been warmly welcomed by the World Concern Haiti staff.  The spirit here is very open and hospitable.  In the Port-au-Prince office, which is where we are based, there are approximately 40 employees.  I am learning that Haitian names are incredibly interesting and diverse.  Some are long, some short.  Some names reflect the French influence on the country and others, from my limited experience, sound like something deeper with an unknown Haitian meaning.  We are doing pretty well with the names so far and thankfully the staff are very forgiving.

Life here is interesting and lively.  This is probably because Haitians are interesting and lively!  Although I am not a lover of all things urban (if you know me, you know I would rather be lost in the mountains), I am learning to appreciate the things a dense urban city can offer.  The sound of women chattering as they cook, kids laughing, singing from a nearby church, are all reminders of community.  Haitians are communal.  This is of course very different from our individualistic culture in North America, but different is just fine.  I think there is plenty I can learn from those around me about community.

As you can see, our first week in Haiti has been about getting settled, becoming acquainted with those we will be serving alongside, and observing how people live.  We are eager to begin meeting the people World Concern serves and share their stories with you.  Since a picture says a thousand words, I will leave you with some photos of our first week here.

 

 

Haiti bound!

It was the end of December last year when Martha and I, after much prayer and consideration, decided to accept a position to serve with World Concern in Haiti.  We said yes not knowing when we would leave for Haiti but ready to begin the journey.  Well, one year later, Martha and I are excited to share with you that we have booked tickets and will be arriving in Haiti on January 18!  This would not be possible without the prayers and on going support of many people.  Thank you very much for your faith, time, resources, encouragement, and passion.

It seems like this past year went quickly, however I remember many days feeling very slow.  We spent this year traveling, reading, praying, studying, training, preparing, and waiting.  With all of those things came joys, tears, laughter, excitement, and frustrations.  It was a unique and diverse year to be certain.  Looking back, Martha and I are most of all simply thankful.  God has been terribly good to us and taken care of all of our needs along the way.  We have learned a lot about ourselves, each other, and of course the beautiful nation of Haiti.  Amidst the beauty, there remains many needs.  Martha and I hope not to fix things but work alongside our Haitian colleagues and partners to foster transformation both physically and spiritually.  Thank you again for helping us do just this.  Merry Christmas to each of you!

Stay tuned as we continue to share with you about this journey we are on to serve the most  vulnerable.  Haiti, here we come!

Hope you enjoy some pictures from our trip to Haiti in June.  We are thankful to serve and walk alongside some incredible people.

 

Giving Thanks

We said we weren’t going to think about all our “lasts” leading up to leaving for Haiti.  The last time to eat here, the last time to see them, and it goes on and on.  I suppose we just wanted as natural of a transition to our new life in Haiti as possible.  Despite trying to avoid this, I found myself a couple days ago as we sat around the dinner table on Thanksgiving Day, thinking just that.  I allowed the thought to stay because I realized I wasn’t sad at all when I realized that this will be our last Thanksgiving with family for awhile, it actually made me smile.  I smiled because I felt so grateful for that moment.  I (Austin) have not spent Thanksgiving with my family for several years.  So being able to be in Oklahoma on Thanksgiving, with Martha, and surrounded by incredible people that we love, definitely made me smile.  That moment on Thanksgiving Day put an exclamation point on an encouraging couple weeks where we have been constantly reminded of God’s faithfulness.

Here are some highlights…

Successfully packing up/giving away/selling our stuff, cleaning our apartment, and saying goodbyes to Seattle friends

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Completely our 2,600 miles cross country journey and arriving in Oklahoma in one piece

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Seeing some incredible friends on our road trip

Learning that our monthly support has continued to increase in the month of November (closing in on 90%!)

Receiving Martha’s new passport safely in the mail

Having an awesome family in Oklahoma that would receive us with open arms and allow us to live with them

Arriving just in time for Thanksgiving, eating great food, enjoying family traditions, and being reunited with distant relatives and friends

A full house!

 

 

 

 

 

Wouldn’t be a family holiday without some friendly competition

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

God has been so good to us lately.  Of course there are always bumps along the way, but we have been reminded recently of how faithful God is despite our own shortcomings and the craziness of life.  How are you seeing God work in your life recently?  We would love to hear!

Haiti Day 2 – Time to celebrate

Yesterday we were on the move, conducting interviews, and hearing stories of those impacted by World Concern’s work here in Port au Prince.  Today was a much slower pace but still memorable.  World Concern Haiti’s Country Director is stepping down this month after 22 years of service, and today was the day to honor and thank him.

 Christon Domond is a passionate man who is driven by his desire to serve his fellow Haitians.  The reception room at the hotel was decorated beautifully and full of World Concern staff from all over Haiti.  Martha and I were blessed to be in this room and witness the unity of the World Concern Haiti family.  We heard countless testimonies of Mr. Domond’s selflessness and leadership capabilities.  Although we are saddened by his departure, Martha and I are eager to return to Haiti and join the interim Country Director Pierre Uwimana and the other World Concern Haiti staff in continuing the work that Mr. Domond has committed his life to. 

Mr. Domond, thank you for the foundation you have laid for the next generation of World Concern Haiti leaders.  Many blessings to you and your family in your future endeavors! 

 

Haiti for the first time

Can you remember a moment, even recently, when you experienced something for the first time?  What was it like?  Maybe beforehand there was joy or butterflies or anxiety or eagerness or excitement or questions or…

I like “firsts.”  I appreciate the freshness and newness that accompanies firsts.  There are new perspectives to witness, new lessons to be learned, new opportunities to give and share and listen and see.

One week from today, Martha and I will experience a very big first.  We will be in Haiti for the first time.  This place that has been on our minds and hearts for the past 8+ months.  This place that we’ve read about, studied, and decided to pour ourselves into.  This place that we are committed to.  Our one week trip (June 3-9) will give us the opportunity to see our future home, meet co-workers, and witness the real and tangible work World Concern is doing.

In her classic book about the fall of ‘Baby Doc’ Duvalier and the subsequent events in Haiti during the late 1980s called “The Rainy Season,” journalist and author Amy Wilentz describes what she thought her first time in Haiti would be like…

“When I went down to Haiti for the first time in the early days of 1986, I thought I knew what the place would be like: I would fly down and the Tontons Macoute, Duvalier’s personal army of pampered thugs, would search my bags, confiscate my notebooks and my copy of The Comedians, Graham Greene’s banned novel about Haiti in the 1960s.  I’d walk through the cardboard slums in the daytime, shadowed by beggars.  At night I would retire to the hotel veranda and drink ten-year-old rum.  The Macoutes would spy on me, the rare foreign correspondent.  On the walls I’d see cheerful, encouraging frescoes of Jean-Claude Duvalier, the young President-for-Life, and his beautiful wife, Michele.  A handsome voodoo priest would guide me to a temple in the hills, and I would watch as the peasants played the drums and Baron Samedi possessed his worshippers, his serviteurs…I was wrong.”

It is nearly impossible for us as humans to not create some imagery in our minds about what a new place or experience will be like.  This may come from something we read, what a voice on the radio told us, or even purely our own imagination.  Although it is important to be informed and educated, Wilentz’s experience reminds us not to expect everything to play out as we think it will.  Basically, expect to be surprised and perplexed and amazed!

Like most things in life, moderation is probably best.  Therefore, a week before arriving in Haiti for the first time, I am at least attempting to do two things; ponder what I’ve learned about Haiti from a distance and prepare myself to be surprised by the things I could never have experienced from a book.  How effective this will be, well we’ll find out haha.

Martha and I are excited, curious, ready, and yes, a little bit anxious.  We are thrilled to have this opportunity.  Following this trip, we will surely be more prepared to return later this year affirmed in our calling and ready to get down to work, walking alongside colleagues and community members in creating a stronger and healthier Haiti.

We encourage each of you to pray for us and return to our blog next week as we share photos and stories about our trip and what World Concern is doing in Haiti.  Thanks for all your support and generosity.  We couldn’t do this alone!