WHAT THEY SAY: VALENCIA HILLS KONBIT REVIEW
**We asked Team Valencia Hills to write a review of their trip this past June with Konbit. Thankfully they agreed and we thought we'd share their review with you in case you wanted to hear from a team that has worked with us and you were considering coming yourselves.
How can we possibly write about a trip that changed our perspective forever?
A trip that gave us a firsthand view of life outside of our privileged American walls?
It’s no easy feat.
Rachael Coleman came to our church and spoke about her family’s mission in Haiti. To her it may have been outreach, but to us it was a calling. Three of us felt that calling deeply - Alicia LeValley, Tiffany Lee, and Heather Solomon.
When we thought about how to share what we experienced, which we were doing even when we were in Haiti, we really had to think about it because there is just SO MUCH. There is the obvious - the poverty. So. Much. Poverty.
We could tell you about the fact that Haiti has no public sanitation - which means that there is nobody to get rid of the trash. Everywhere you go, in a big city like Port-Au-Prince (the capital), or Gressier (the small town where Konbit is), there is trash being burned. EVERYWHERE. In the city there are canals filled with waste. FILLED.
Or we could tell you about the homes. In America we wouldn’t call them that. We would call them shacks, if that. Most homes don’t have good roofs, so when it rains they get drenched and are unable to sleep. You have to experience it to really understand what it’s like. The conditions are unlike anything we have ever seen. And this isn’t just a small portion of the population - it’s the majority of the population.
We could tell you about the children - the heart of Haiti. We could tell you about the fact that there is no public education and most families eat one meal a day. We could tell you about the fact that parents are so desperate to provide food, shelter, and a better future for their children that they try to give them to the orphanages (who are incredibly low on food or supplies themselves) or give them as slaves (the Haitian word is restevek) to other families. They cook, clean, and sleep on the ground. They are treated extremely poorly, as second-class citizens.
We could tell you about Etienne, a restevek that came to the gate of Konbit with horrific burns on her knee from someone throwing hot oil on her. Resteveks, like most Haitians, don’t get proper medical care, but thanks to Jessie (she is an amazing integral part of the Konbit family - and the only one who speaks Haitian Creole that the locals understand J), Etienne was healed after hours and hours of patient care to restore her to health.
We could tell you so very many things about the poverty and conditions in Haiti. And those things are really important to hear about. They are real. They are experienced by Haitians every single day.
But the more important things we wanted to share are the ways that God works in this amazing country. How he worked through us.
We didn’t know exactly what God wanted us to do in Haiti. We just knew that He was calling us to go, no question. So we started planning and prayed that if we were understanding God right, that he would open the doors. And let us tell you, he opened door after door.
From the timing of the trip to the fundraising, he opened doors. The way that Konbit works is your team raises money for the things that you want to do when you’re in country. Little did we know that, as always, God already had a plan. We had decided that our goal was to raise $1,000 for whatever it was God wanted us to do.
Shortly after we made that goal we got a call from Rachael that another missionary friend of hers was had just taken the role as the Haiti director of Awana. That if we could raise the funds we could have local churches trained on the Awana program, including two years’ worth of curriculum. There aren’t children’s ministries there, so this is a big deal! Rachael didn’t even know the extent of our involvement in Awana but felt like this was an amazing opportunity. She was even hesitant to tell us, but the cost of the program was $1,000. What a beautiful tapestry that God weaves!!! We were already aiming for that amount!! God is so good!! Not only did we raise the $1,000, but we nearly doubled our goal! We didn’t know what God wanted to do with the extra money - but again, he had a plan.
We had decided to bring the extra money with us to be used by Konbit in country when the day before we left, Konbit posted on Facebook that there was a medical emergency with a beautiful little girl named Djersie. The money needed for the CAT scan and surgery that she needed to save her life was the exact amount of money we had left. The tears poured freely among all of us when we realized without hesitation that this is what God was providing for. Djersie got her surgery and is a happy, healthy child thanks to God’s provision.
While we were so excited to share how amazing God is and how he worked everything for his good, we also wanted to share the beauty of the people and the things that were done while we were there. First let us say that Haitians are AMAZING. They are incredibly joyful and hardworking people.
**This is Djersie 3 days after being home after her surgery. Results have come back negative for anything cancerous and we foresee God doing big things through her life. Konbit is SO incredibly thankful for God answering our prayers for her through Team Valencia and a few others.
We were able to experience this firsthand when we went door-to-door and prayed with people and provided them meals. We were able to experience the true joy of the Lord. These amazing people had next to nothing but were so thankful to God for what they did have and what He provided through Konbit.
We were able to visit an orphanage and bring them supplies - but more importantly we were able to bring them smiles. An amazing Haitian woman runs the orphanage but she’s just one woman - she can’t provide for all of their physical and emotional needs. So we were able to just spend a little time with them and love on them. They especially loved Snapchat!
The last three days of the trip were dedicated to Awana training. We were simply the hands and feet - we cooked and cleaned up and were there for whatever they needed. Konbit employs an amazing cook named Jeanette (who is a huge part of the Konbit family) and working beside her to provide for those being trained was a great experience.
The Haiti Director, Katie and her crew did the training right there in the Konbit yard in Creole. We may not have understood the language, but it wasn’t hard to understand the passion they had to share the love of Jesus with the children.
After the second day of Awana training we invited 24 of the neighborhood kids to the Konbit house to participate in a mock Awana the next day. This was such an amazing experience in itself. Going door to door with Rachael and Elimage (the interpreter who is really more like a part of the family - just like Jeanette) and reaching out to the local children was amazing. We were able to see more of the local community, see the interactions between the parents and children, and, most importantly, invite them to participate!
The third day of the training the newly trained leaders held the mock Awana program. It was an amazing success. The joy was infectious. They even had a great Awana song that we hope to teach our Awana program this year! At the end of the third day the newly trained Awana leaders were commissioned and sent out to spread God’s word to the children. The had made us beautiful handmade cards that expressed their thanks for being able to provide this for the children of their church. It was such a blessing.
This mission is something we wish everyone could experience, even if just once. It changes you. Not just realizing that we, Americans, are incredibly privileged, but that we can make a difference! And no small difference, a tangible difference.
Please continue to pray for the country of Haiti and for Konbit. Consider giving, because we have seen firsthand the impact that our prayer and money make.
Until next time, Haiti!
Alicia, Tiffany, and Heather