We had our sightseeing day last Thursday and got to go to the Citadelle and swim in the Caribbean! Our sightseeing day started on typical Haitian time with the bus, that was supposed to arrive at 6 AM, showing up at 6:15. The team loaded up in five minutes, but then we realized that several of the people supposed to go with us (namely our missionary) weren’t even up yet!
After a few small delays, we were off. Driving through the cities very much reminded those of us who have traveled of other third-world nations we’ve visited with lots of open drainage and lots of people standing around with nothing to do. Driving through the countryside to the Citadelle was very different—no trees, just scrub brush, and then these random “Digicel” signs and random houses.
The Citadelle dominates the northern shoreline of Haiti. We arrived at the base of the mountain around 9 AM and then ascended 3000 vertical feet over the span of seven miles while riding on horses. The Citadelle itself was truly amazing. I don’t think anyone on the team (even those who have visited castles in Europe) have ever been in a fortress this size or magnitude. Taking over 20,000 lives to build (including the life of the French architect upon its completion so that its secrets would be buried with him), the fortress was built at extreme costs and consequence. Having two foundries within it to make all of its canons, it had a firing range over seven miles and is virtually unapproachable without the permission of those occupying it. Ironically, its history as a dominant force in the area was very short with its original ruler committing suicide only 20 years after the fortress’s completion. After touring the fortress, we headed back down on our small Haitian horses. Upon arriving back at the bottom, the team had a good time shopping and bartering for souvenirs. Then we piled back onto the bus and headed to the beach.
Around 3 o’clock we arrived at the beach, and the team went for a refreshing swim in the Caribbean. The water was warm, and the waves very light which allowed us to float around, talk, and in general have a very relaxing time. Once everyone had finished swimming, we headed to a local hotel which had a reputable restaurant inside. We were served local fare including avocados, fried plantains, and goat! After a delightful meal, the hotel allowed the team to go for a swim in their pool.
By the time we arrived back at the orphanage, we had enough energy to pray and head to bed. What a great day we all had!
Of course, when Friday morning came around, we picked up our tools and began working again. We’ve managed, in the last couple days of work, to build a drainage ditch for the community waterline we installed and to grade the road in front of the new security wall along the front of the property. We also finished digging the sump hole for the shower/bathroom block—and since the hole needed to be at least five feet deep, we used one of our team members, Emma, as a unit of measurement, since she is 5 feet, 1 inch tall!
Naomi Hendrickson: We are having a lot of fun in Haiti. Everyone is working hard and getting a lot of work done. We all really enjoy playing with the kids. We got to watch the first baptism of the church here. It was great to see the people and to know that they have fully submitted their lives to God.
Natalie Stravens: Being at Teen Missions has provided me with an ideal environment to learn and grow closer to God. In my day to day life, it’s easy to almost forget God and not have time to spend with Him. However, here, between the daily personal devotions, Bible marking classes, group devotions, and even the random mini spontaneous prayer meetings you find yourself in, it’s almost impossible to forget God. You can’t hide behind the “I’ve just been busy” excuse anymore. You’re forced to come face to face with your Lord and examine the state of your relationship with Him, and, quite frankly, it can be embarrassing to admit how you’ve ignored Him. Thankfully, being here involved with His Word and with Him in prayer, I can see my relationship with God improving. My constant prayer, however, is that when I get back home, my improving relationship with Him doesn’t change.
Noel Adamson: Haiti has been the best experience of my life—God has blessed me so much through my team. Working has really humbled me and caused me to rely on God even more. Words cannot describe how this mission has influenced me. I only hope that I can take home everything I have attained in this amazing place, and influence my siblings and friends as well. I cannot wait to come back next year!