The next location our outreach team went to was a poor town, in the middle of no where, called Grand Rak. This is actually one of the locations that I went to on my DTS outreach in 2014. For those of you who may remember, during my outreach on the way to Grand Rak our van burst into flames and we lost all of our personal belongings, supplies and equipment. This is a place where Voodoo is very strong, and the enemy has no desire for us as missionaries to bring the truth and the light into this town.
We knew God specifically wanted us to do a mass wedding Grand Rak. Back on my outreach during a men's Bible study, Philipson found out that majority of the men in the group were not married, but living with a woman. He spoke to them about the importance of marriage and encouraged them to believe that despite finances, God would make it possible for each of them to get married. Before the end of the meeting all the men made a commitment to pray and do everything possible to get married by the end of 2015. So when we were planning the outreach to Haiti for this team, we felt God strongly put on our hearts the need to make this dream become a reality for each of these couples.
We connected with Pastor Penel and Pastor Luckner and asked them to begin to prepare all the couples in their churches to get married. Before we arrived we found out from the pastors that many of the couples thought it was “too good to be true” and didn't believe that we were coming to help them get married. So you can imagine their surprise when we did actually show up ready to plan a wedding.
We prepared everything from the balloons to the dresses to the food - it was a full on beautiful event. The most beautiful part, however, was seeing 18 couples finally get the privilege, in front of the entire community, to be married. For me personally it was extra special to see one of the women I connected with back during my outreach, my friend Selila, get married. Her husband was one of the men in the Bible study with Philipson and after that Bible study he walked over and proposed to her and promised that by the end of 2015 they would be married. So to actually be a part of this promise coming true deeply blessed my heart.
One of the challenging aspects about this wedding was the reception. In Haiti, especially because of the poverty level, many people go to weddings primarily for the reception – because they want food. The pastors informed us that both their churches would be coming to the wedding but also that many people from the community would be expecting to get a plate of food as well. But they also informed us that in previous weddings that have not had sufficient food for everyone to receive a plate, the people would usually riot and start throwing rocks at the wedding party. Sometimes they would even come with machetes and steel the food. They recommended that instead of doing a full meal, that we give each person just a snack and drink so to make sure that we had at least something to give everyone. We as leaders prayed and felt that we were not supposed to do that. We had come all the way here to put on this wedding for these couples and we wanted to do it the right way. So now all we needed to do was prepare a meal for 600-800 people!
Thankfully Philipson's sisters Nissi and Grace came to our rescue and they prepared and cooked all the food for 600 people. When serving the couples everything went smoothly, but when we started to serve the audience things went...crazy. They were all pushing and grabbing for the food – there was a sense of desperation...a fear that there wouldn't be enough food. The team was strong and despite the chaos they all worked together to serve the people. Miraculously, each person got a plate of food AND not a single rock was thrown. The pastors were actually shocked at how well the reception went. I think God honored our commitment to do a full meal for the reception and He not only protected us but used us as a blessing for the couples and the community.
Our team also had the lovely service of cleaning the school latrine. Literally we washed poop and gunk of all the walls and 6 “toilets.” And with it being a latrine primarily used by elementary school aged children...you can imagine it being all the more “fun” to clean. We then put a fresh coat of paint on to try and make it look more beautiful. Definitely an experience to remember!
In this poor, little town of Grand Rak God used our team to fulfill a promise, bring value to marriage, hope for the community, exemplify loving your neighbor, and a blessing to their tummies.
Stay tuned for the next Haiti outreach adventure coming your way!
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