Wednesday, February 17, 2016


“Translation is not a matter of words only: it is a matter of making intelligible a whole culture” says Anthony Burgess. 

I have been translating for more than five years and I am learning more and more to listen to the meaning of what the person I am translating for is saying rather than simply his words. This attitude enables me to be able to narrow down and translate multiple sentences at once. During a vision casting trip with one of our contact pastors, I experienced the truth of Anthony’s statement in its fullness.

Photo Credit: Hope Community Church Team

Pastor Bientot is one of the pastors who work with the Mission Evangelical Baptist of South Haiti, known as the MEBSH. He was sent to a community where he had to play the role of ambassador for God  by spreading the Gospel because  darkness and fear reigned in that community. He also had to be a witness for education and development in that community where there was not any form of modern education or any infrastructure. 

Photo Credit: Hope Community Church Team
Years after he became established in the community, he opened a primary school but his program was only up to 6th grade. Pastor Bientot then explained his eagerness to add three more grades up to 9th grade. As he was sharing, he explained why he added three more grades and his desire to add four more grades to cover the entire high school program. When asked why by one of the vision trip participants, Pastor Bientot went on about the history of the school and talked about the results he saw in the community after adding the 3 extra grades and why he wanted to go further in order to bring more results. For over ten minutes, he was sharing in Creole, of course, forgetting that he had me as his translator. I truly believe that he also forgot that the other 4 people that were sitting in front of him had no clue what he was saying and that they relied 100% on me to understand a word from what he was sharing.

Well, after about fifteen minutes of sharing a great vision that I could not dare to misinterpret, came my turn to translate into English everything he was saying to the group. Pastor Bientot is a very expressive and soft speaking person. He means every word he speaks and the team could feel his heart and his passion as he was talking. All I needed to do was putting his expressions into words that they could understand. Of course, they all turned to me and where wondering what I was going to say. "Good luck, Almando," said Pete, the participant who asked pastor Bientot the question. I looked at them and said, if I had to sum up everything he said in one word, I would say “Preserve”. Pete looked at me and nodded as if he automatically understood everything.

That very word was what I kept hearing even though Pastor Bientot did not mention it once in his long speech.

Photo Credit: Hope Community Church Team
Pastor Bientot started off by saying that he witnesses kids leaving their siblings and parents
behind to go elsewhere where they can continue with their schooling. That is the common denominator in all seven communities where he oversees a church. When kids have to leave for school, one of the parents has to leave with them also, and that creates separation in the family. Going deeper, the separation in the family is later a potential detriment to the family--both socially and economically.

Pastor Bientot explained that if both parents were farmers, with one of them leaving, there is less that one can do. That alone reduces the production of the family and the economy. When kids have to leave, the parents need to find a place for them to live in the targeted town or city. They have to either rent a house which costs money or build a small house on one of the most affordable locations, in order words, a slum. The worst case scenario is when both parents leave with their kids and in order to make that possible, they end up selling everything they have so they can afford life in the city. When the resources are gradually decreasing and the kids can no longer afford to go to school, they become exposed to social corruption like prostitution, theft, and gangs to name a few. He said, he has been witnessing farm land being abandoned, people leaving their hometown and never coming back and that doesn’t do any good to the country. People are losing interest in building and protecting the communities because they do not find the infrastructure they wish to have. Because of that, the communities have been subject to destruction by their own people who only come back to exploit the minimum of the resources they can find so they can afford life in the city.
Photo Credit: Hope Community Church Team
So, being able to have schools that cover the entire high school program is preserving families from destruction by keeping wives and husbands together with their kids. It is preserving kids from becoming socially corrupt by providing quality education for them in their hometown. It is preserving farm land from being abandoned by farmers. It is preserving the cities from being surrounded by slums. It is preserving nature from deforestation and infertility. It is preserving the economy by creating the infrastructure for more people to come and invest in those remote communities.  

“Translation is not a matter of words only: it is a matter of making intelligible a whole culture” says Anthony Burgess. 

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Women are Women--Everywhere.

In December, Almando and I were given the opportunity to share about what we do in Haiti. You know, how we see God working in and through us and the teams we coordinate and/or lead. We love these opportunities. We love sharing about what God is up to in Haiti and how we see Him using our ministry to change lives. In that Sunday School hour, one person asked a question. A simple question regarding the ministries that we have seen and which ones seem to have the most impact to the community. I could have touched on many different ministries--and I did, for a minute because I have seen so many ministries have great impact--before I landed on one that touches my heart every time: Women's Ministry.

The team was from North Dakota. They asked me after their first trip to Haiti what they could add to their trip to make a difference. I told them: "Reach out to the women." I talked about a tea party, a spa treatment, sharing stories and pictures, and fellowship. Being from another culture doesn't make women enjoy these things any less. You see, women are women--everywhere.

I am going to be honest, being a woman from the US living in Haiti isn't always easy. And it is difficult to find good friends here to share life with--yes, it has been a struggle. Women here, though, still desire the same things I do: fellowship, good conversation, laughter, and sisterhood. How do they get it? Where do they find it? I don't often see the women here going to a coffee shop with "the girls" or planning tupperware, jewelry, or 31 bag parties or going to a class at the gym. Women here get their fellowship elsewhere.

It's about time. There isn't much of it left after you have made breakfast for your family, got the kids to school, cleaned the house, done some laundry--a lot of the time by hand, started lunch and dinner (this is a VERY long process here because of how the food is prepared), and maybe even have gone to the market to buy or sell things. The day goes by quickly and the work is never done. Does this sound familiar to the women out there? So, instead of going for coffee or planning to do something, the majority of the women here find fellowship by serving each other.

My dear friend, Elizabeth, came over to visit one day a few years ago and as soon as she walked in the door she said, "Cassie, my sister, what can I help you with today?" I was confused by this question because when I have friends come over, I serve them. But she insisted that we work together on something. We cleaned off the bookshelves and dusted all the books--something that desperately needed to be done. We talked and sang and laughed together while we worked. We enjoyed each other's company and, at the end of the day, we had accomplished something that needed to be done. This is how it happens. Sisterhood by serving.

I see women washing clothes together. I see them walking down to the community well with empty buckets and talking and laughing then walking back up with full buckets on their heads still laughing and talking. I see them at the market, selling goods side by side. I see them cleaning rice or crushing spices. I see them cooking and cleaning. I see them still desiring relationship--sisterhood--and finding it in each other. It really is a beautiful thing.

These women have the same needs, wants, and desires that we all do deep down. When something comes along--like a tea party or a spa hour (because a day could be too long)--to share life with other women and fellowship with them, it is a gift. To the teams who have come and ministered to these women and developed relationship and shared your life with them: Thank you. Thank you for loving on them and learning about their lives and struggles and joys. Women desire this.


Women are Women--Everywhere.