|Posted by Linda Stapleton de Martinez on October 5, 2013 at 1:00 PM|
I’m not sure if I should be writing this yet as I am still pretty discombobulated (great word, isn’t it) and frustrated after yesterday’s visit to Messef, but I have been praying for guidance as to what to write.
It was a terrible day and it was a wonderful day. Terrible in that every time we make the trip and cross the frontier, the authorities on both sides make it more difficult and more expensive to do what we believe God has called us to do, to care for orphans – “Pure and undefiled religion before God and the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their trouble, and to keep oneself unspotted from the world”. James 1:27. Well, we are willing but we are being tested to the limit. At least we have progress in that last month the food got across the frontier but we didn’t!
There is a long history of animosity between the two countries (the Dominican Republic and Haiti) that make up the island of Hispaniola and it has once again come to a head recently. It makes no difference, from either country’s point of view, if you are visiting to offer humanitarian aid (it is hard to imagine many people, apart from traders, going for any other reason), the only interest is in extracting as much money from you as possible.
Danilo set out from his home at around 3.30 a.m., after less than an hour’s sleep, and we arrived at the frontier before 9.00 a.m…..and were still there at noon. Although we do our best to go through each new obstacle the respective governments put in our way, each time they add a new one. Having prepared ourselves that the Dominican members of our ministry would now have to pay the same entry and exit taxes as us foreigners, they have now enforced the need for them to have a visa to enter Haiti, at the cost of $200 a year per person, which gives no exemption from the taxes for each visit. We just didn’t have this money yesterday and even if we had, the Haitian consulate, in charge of this, was not due to arrive at work until 2.30 p.m. (Haitian time?). After a lot of hanging around and attempting whatever else we could, we decided to once again transfer the food to a motorbike and cart and take our chances on crossing the bridge and border on foot, along with the hordes going to and fro on market day. After a fretful and hot walk, we all managed to get through and then proceeded to Messef on motorbike taxis as we’d had to leave the truck in customs. If you are having trouble following this, don’t worry, I was having trouble following it and I was there. Francesco, joining us for the first time, took all this in good humour, thankfully, but hardly a great introduction to the country he plans to volunteer in.
So, we arrived hot and bothered to be greeted by our beautiful children who were as pleased to see us as they were to see food again and all the frustration just melted away. If ever I feel like throwing in the towel because the Haitian government just does not deserve for its people to be helped (which is fairly often nowadays), I just have to think of their needs and how much I love these children and I cannot abandon this unless I have to.
Francesco fitted in immediately and we just left him to get to know everyone and find his way around, which he took to like a duck to water. He has volunteered in orphanages in Ethiopia and Brazil before and when talking on our way home, he said the conditions are worse here, but the children perhaps more loving and he can certainly see how he can help when he returns in the near future. So that was the wonderful part of the day, to know that there is some hope of being able to have a positive input in their lives on a more regular basis.
There are many changes at Messef. There are new helpers again. None stay long as Messef is unable to pay them a regular wage, just cover their living costs. However, Eunice is now in charge of the orphanage children and hopefully will stay. She is a Pastor, a single, mature woman with a quiet spirit and gentle authority, so please pray for her. There is also a new Administrator, Pastor Esaie Elie, who has been accompanying Onikel to the frontier to meet us. Pastor Altesse is still away in Port-au-Prince much of the time, preaching for the offering, to try to keep Messef afloat. There is also another young man, Ephesian, also a Pastor (there are a lot of Pastors in Haiti!) who seems to have some drive and good authority with the children, so it was great to meet him for the first time. He actually picks up rubbish and encourages the children to do the same!
So, the most important news – the children. There have been many changes with them, too. There are now no older girls at Messef, they have all gone to live with extended family or long lost parents. The inspectors are carrying out their plan to reunite children with family members and this is presumably part of the process. I was told that they were all happy to go but many have grown up at Messef so it must have been a wrench in many ways. I will have to update our website as so many of our familiar and loved faces are no longer there and a lot of information has changed. There are now 24 boys, aged from 3 to 18, and just 8 girls, from 4-13.
The most pressing needs are still to cover the monthly food run, putting a roof on the boys’s dormitory (we will continue our appeal to coincide with World Orphans’ Day at the beginning of November) and school uniforms. Thank God, we have a promise of new beds from A Serving Heart Ministry, so that is a huge blessing.
The hen coop is still great, with the adult birds doing really well. Unfortunately, they are not doing so well when they introduce young birds, probably because their condition is not so good when bought in the market on the frontier. (That word again!).
You can see the photos of this latest visit here. Best to view them in Slideshow mode on full screen, then you will see the captions
So, please forgive my ramblings. We have some hard decisions to make as to how we are going to absorb these additional costs. As you know, we are all volunteers and only claim our expenses but they are becoming higher and higher. If only we could devote all of this to the food budget. You may ask why not just send the money, but we are commanded by God to be good stewards of what he puts in our care, whether personal or on behalf of you, and we believe we are best able to do that by delivering the goods ourselves, checking on the well-being of the children and giving them the love they so desperately need. If any of you have any questions, comments or offers of help, please write to us at [email protected]
Danilo’s parting comment to me last night, as they dropped me off in the dark, was “Remember that we are here to serve, not to be served.” I forgot that briefly yesterday as we were stuck at the frontier, as I was throwing up with a migraine on the way home, but it was only momentarily, we will continue to serve the Messef children, with your help, for as long as we believe that it’s God’s will. Thank you all for your continued support and encouragement.
Categories: Visits to Messef