You never really know what life in Haiti will be like on any given day. Some days you wake up and your life is filled with trouble shooting; water tank issues, generator issues, plumbing issues and the everyday life issues that happen on a mission campus in a Third World nation. Then some days are filled with meetings, e-mails, messages to and from groups, and arrangements made for group travel. Other days are filled with ministry to malnourished children, pastors struggling to survive, and needs of people hoping to make it through a day and a thousand other details.
Here is a glimpse of the Harvey’s in Haiti:
Hosting Teams and Bringing Healing
Part of my job in Haiti is overseeing our summer interns. My daughter, Emily is one of those interns. When teams come to the mission, the interns facilitate their day-to-day activities and ministry. Last week, Emily was hosting a team from Southern California. They were going through the community visiting families and passing our TOMS shoes. As they were going they came across two families who had people with medical issues. One was a two-year-old little girl with a herniated umbilical cord. This is very common in Haiti since families have their children at home and a family member simply cuts the cord. This little girl had an extreme issue in that her cord actually hung over the waist of her skirt.
The other lady they met was a woman who used to work at the mission and is having major fluid build up in her lungs and abdomen. As God provides, a surgery team was on our campus. The team did surgery on the little girl, Emily even got to go into the surgery room and watch, and they had to send the lady to Port Au Prince because the procedure she needed was more extensive than the team here could preform.
One great part of this story is the response of the team that met these two individuals. Not only did they bring them back to the mission for help, they collected an offering to cover all of their medical costs. Sometimes you never know how God is going to work in the life of you, your team, and the people in the community. What started out as a day delivering shoes turned into a day of delivering healing.
Nutrition Babies and a Mother’s Heart
Alana has had a heart for children for as long as I can remember. Occasionally her mother’s heart gets exposed and she melts at the sight of some little cherub faced Haitian child in the community or around the mission. We have recently made changes in location of our Nutrition Program. The other day Alana decided just to walk over and see what was happening and see the new children we have taken into that program.
In order to qualify, a child must be on the scale of malnutrition set-up by the World Health Organization. Once in our program, the child and one family member come to the mission everyday for two meals as well as medical attention. The children also are put into our pre-school program and once they finish there they go to our mission school.
When Alana returned from the Nutrition Program, she could not stop talking about the precious children. She certainly was smitten! Later that morning, Alana and I walked out the gate to go somewhere. As we returned, several small children ran up to her, threw their arms around her and laughed. Needless to say, a mom’s heart melted.
Orphans and Teenagers
Teenagers are the same in most cultures. They love music, the girls are always talking about boys, the boys are always trying to impress girls and giggles and pranks are the language of love. Since she has been in Haiti, Kimberly has become connected with the kids in our orphanage. Most of the girls are close to her age. They love to play with her hair, ask her about America, and play funny pranks on one another.
Kimberly is right at home with these girls. She will spend hours at the orphanage or in the courtyard just being a teenage girl. They sing, they dance, and they love. To watch your child connect with children who desperately need connection is one of God’s greatest gifts to a parent.
Basketball, Toilets, and Being Seventeen
Not really having an official place is challenging sometimes at the mission. Where do I fit in? What can I do? Am I helping? Zach has found some great outlets to minister and connect with guys and serve teams.
Our campus director, Stephen Jernigan, has taken Zach under his wing. He has taught Zach how to control the water valves to fill the tanks needed on campus everyday. He has shown Zach how to properly flush a toilet in Haiti, not as simple as you think, and has gotten him connected in helping the campus run smoothly.
Zach has also been playing basketball with the orphanage kids, engaging in water wars and pranks, and getting to know the orphans in a new and deeper way. It is so great to see my big, strong, son loving on a special needs child or simply laughing with kids who need some laughter.
When teams are at the mission for a week of ministry, they often ask how my family likes being in Haiti for the summer. I always give the same answer: “We love it.” I swell with pride as I watch my family serve in big ways and small, life saving and life changing ways. My roles and responsibilities at the mission are unique, vary from day to day and can be overwhelming. But the role I love the most, the role I have to pay the most attention to, is the one that I take the most pride in; being a proud husband and dad!!