Monday, October 13, 2008

The Tale of Two Mission Trips

By John Hall

First allow me to explain who we are. Our group is called Trinity/HOPE and our purpose is to raise funds and administer programs which provide a noon meal for the hungry and malnourished children who attend our schools in Haiti. At the end of the 2007-2008 school year we were providing a daily meal of beans, rice and a sauce to over 8000 children, teachers and cooks in 52 schools and are looking forward to being a blessing to these and others in the coming year. But this article is about two mission trips to Central Plateau which is one of the poorest areas of Haiti; the people there regularly buy and eat dirt cakes just to reduce the hunger pangs. (Picture—Caption—Dirt cakes being prepared for sale in the markets.)

We had attempted to start programs in this area before but for several reasons: funding, commitment of the local leadership, availability of the internet necessary for electronic fund transfers, email communications, etc. had all been factors in not being able to do so. In March of 2007 Alan Honea and I went to this area with one expressed purpose: To determine “once and for all” if we could start programs here, should continue to consider it as a viable area for the future or simply remove it from our list of areas to be considered.

When we arrived at the Lutheran School in Thomassique we found that internet service to the area had been established and the local leadership was now committed. But the real story was the children. We went from school room to school room and observed signs of malnutrition everywhere, children with vacant stares, thin emaciated bodies, rust colored hair and such a lack of energy and hunger that the children often slept or just silently cried. (Picture—Caption—Hungry and hurting children.)

But we also found these poor, improvised children had great faith. They had been told that the schools in the area were being considered for possible feeding programs. If they were to get one in the future that the parents and community would be expected to furnish the kettles, bowls for cooking and serving the food and water and wood for the food’s preparation. We were amazed to see that these children were coming to school carrying sticks of wood.

Alan and I looked at each other and we both thought of Hebrews 11:1 “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for and the evidence of things not seen.” We knew these children were going to be fed. We came home and Trinity/HOPE started raising the additional $40,000 needed to feed the four Lutheran Schools in the area. By the time school started, we had raised $21,000, trusted God for the remainder and started feeding the children. God not only blessed us with the funds needed; He provided enough so a fifth school could be added during the school year.

In March of 2008 Frankie Coleman and I returned. What a difference. All signs of malnutrition were gone. In fact the four schools had been a part of a Body Mass Index study by Bunny Pozehl, Ph.D. on our board of directors with some amazing results. At the beginning of the school year 40% of the children 4-6 year old were in the “at risk” percentile. After ten months of school and the daily meal provided by our feeding programs, the number of “at risk” children as determined by BMI had been reduced to approximately 10%. This is an awesome physical impact. (Picture—Caption—Healthy children enjoying their noon meal.)

The spiritual impact is fully as impressive. Our churches and their schools are doing an incredible job of spreading the Good News of Jesus Christ to their communities in Haiti. And while only 35% of the population in Haiti is Christian, about 90 to 95% of the children in our schools believe in Jesus as their Lord and Savior and they tell us that now 60 to 70% of their parents do as well.

This is not only a tale of two trips; it is a story of changed lives. We thank those of you who are already supporters of our work to feed and FEED the children and invite those who are not yet a part to become involved. 100% of all funds we receive go to feed the children. Trinity/HOPE, 2366 Cairo Bend Road, Lebanon, TN.