Who Gets To Eat? Haiti

2 Comments 08 February 2013

Have you ever been on the front end of a mission? I’ve been on trips and known of others where you partner with an existing program and you build a house or feed kids or provide medical care. But have you ever been part of the group that decides which person’s house is rebuilt (and by virtue of that decision, whose house isn’t), which kids will be fed and treated (and which won’t)? Such was the trip I just went on with Servants Heart.

Look at this picture below. Which pastor’s/teacher’s students get to eat?

-Marc, whose church decided that instead of rebuilding their church after the earthquake, their church would meet under a tarp and rebuild the school instead (video).
-Michael S., with a degree in counseling and a love of math, who despite all the odds against them, was able to allow 10% more students to come to school- many of them child slaves.
-Claudel, the old man of God, who still dreams of building a library for the school aged kids of his church.
-Crosley, who is so dedicated to his students that he, his pregnant wife, and two kids lives in a 10×10 tarped off area in the corner of a classroom.
-Micheal Jean, the man with a great smile, who lives with his wife and five kids (including a two week old son) who live in a classroom of the school as well.
-Jean, an award winning administrator who has been able to make great improvements in a few years, but still often runs out of food for the kids.


So who do you think?

These are all good Christian men who love their students and church families and sacrifice so much for them daily. After meeting with them, our little team went to visit each at their church and school (in Haiti, they’re very often the same place), and began to ask questions- how many kids do you have in your school and church? What is your vision for the future? Have you ever done a feeding program? Do you keep good records? And many more. The goal is to pick one place, hope that Americans back home will donate money, pray and visit, work out the kinks on site at the Haitian feeding program, and then have something the other teachers and pastors can successfully replicate if funds allows.

The tough part is that all these kids deserve to eat, they deserve the chance to learn with something in their tummies. Often by 10AM, the kids can’t pay attention anymore because they haven’t eaten. How many of you deal with cranky, hungry kids sometimes? Now just imagine that it’s 100 or 300 kids, every day. They need that fighting chance to be healthy and help their families grow and be proud of them, and help lead their community and country out of the rubble. I guess the answer is to focus on those you can help, even if you’re always reminded there are more.

To learn about what Servants Heart has done for years in the Dominican Republic and is beginning to do in Haiti, and how you can help be a hero in a kid’s life, go to ServantsHeartMinistry.com.

haiti, Hope, Uncategorized

Headed Back To Haiti

No Comments 29 January 2013

I’m headed back to Haiti this week with Servants Heart Ministry and myLIFEspeaks, two great ministries.

On my first trip, we helped rebuild a house for a widow and her family.  The video that got the most feedback from friends say “HOLY COW THAT LOOKS DIFFICULT” was ‘The Long Walk’.  We hauled several hundred cinder blocks down 75 stairs down the side of a mountain in Haiti in July.  You can check out the video here:


This time we’re going to help start a ministry, with Servants Heart working with myLIFEspeaks to start a feeding program in Haiti.  You might remember Servants Heart from my trip last year when Krista and I took our girls on their first mission trip, to the Dominican Republic.

This time I’m leaving the family at home, where they’ll be in the safe keeping of my wife’s family, which is sort of the Italian version of “My Big Fat Greek Wedding”.  The joke is that there are more people at my house when I’m out of town than when I’m in town!

Please keep me, Rob, the rest of our team and our families in your prayers, and the people of Haiti and Neply even more so.

You can follow me on twitter @premierebrian, and http://instagram.com/brianlord.

What do you want to learn about Neply?  What would you like to know about the people there?



door, haiti, music, mylifespeaks, piano

The Mysterious Piano Door/When Haiti Became Real

No Comments 12 January 2012

My friend Scott The Playwright says there is a moment in every play when it must become real, or the entire message is lost.  I used to help with fund-raising for his theater company, Oracle Productions, and Scott was adamant we needed the extra money to get real metal swords.  He would say that when the hero and the villain fight, if the swords were to make some plastic “whack” sound, the play would continue to be fake to the audience and it would never have the impact intended.  But when those swords hit with an iron clash, something inside the audience says, “Those are real swords! Someone really could get hurt!”  They become drawn in, they buy in, they believe, and
the experience becomes real to them.

Today is the two year anniversary of the earthquake that shook Haiti and killed 300,000 people almost instantly.  In July, 2010 I arrived with a team to help rebuild a widow’s house.  When I arrived, my first impression was more of an entertaining experience- the ruins, the masses of people, the bright sun and the smell of unregulated car exhaust.  We arrived at the guest house, met with the folks in charge, and then went to the building site.  The houses, if you can call them that, are like a maze of unique buildings, with winding passageways, unseen doors, mismatched steps, all on a steep slope. Somehow it felt like it was something I was observing, like some movie, rather than an actual place.

It wasn’t until I came upon the blue door that my experience changed.

Unlike the doors in movies that change you, I never went through this one.  I passed that door probably 50-100 times a day that week, going up and down the 72 haphazard steps from the street level above down to the widows house below, carrying concrete block after concrete block, cement bag after cement bag.  I never saw anyone go in, or out. But it was what first made Haiti ‘real’ to me.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nfVvgKqo1l8]

As I walked by the door, I’d hear anything from the plunkings of a beginner on the white keys, to scales for a warm-up, to Chopin and Bach, and then back again.  The sounds reminded me of my sister practicing all the time as I grew up, or music lessons I heard at school, to my own single lesson in my half-hearted attempt to learn to play as a child.  Amid the rumble and the heartache and the poverty, people were learning to play piano.  Parents were helping their kids learn a love and skill with music, just like many parents here in the US.  That’s when my trip stopped being an immersive movie and started being ‘real’.

I am glad I stopped to listen a few times.  As you can see from the video below (about the 48 second mark), that was just a couple seconds in a long, exhausting journey, up and down a ravine, building a home by hand.  But stopping allowed me to start to know that this was real.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_EiXSnVC6cg]

Has there ever been a time in your life when the needs of those around you became real?  That you realized that they’re parents and people just like you, hoping to make a better life for their families?

Do you want to visit Haiti, sponsor a child, or pray for someone specifically?  Here are four great organizations, big and small-, all with people I know personally, who are dedicated to helping those in Haiti:

MyLifeSpeaks (serving orphans in Haiti)
VisitingOrphans (not surprisingly, they help you visit orphans in Haiti)
WorldVision (you can sponsor a child in need)
Conduit (serving children and families in Haiti)

bernard, haiti, hdmen, mylifespeaks

Mike and Missy Wilson’s Amazing Haiti Story on NBC’s Rock Center

No Comments 10 January 2012

challenge, coca-cola, coke, haiti

Coke (a-cola) in Haiti

No Comments 02 March 2011

Only one of these were mine. OK, two.

In an effort to lose some poundage, I’m literally throwing away a dollar bill every time I drink a Coke or sweet tea in the month of March.

My love of Coke (a-cola*) knows no borders. I went with a team to Haiti this past July to rebuild a widow’s house in Delmas (near Port-au-Prince). Breakfast and dinner were included at the guest house where we were staying, but Cokes were an additional $2.  Since I always made sure to have one, the guys made fun of me, and this picture was produced:

Near the end of the build,
as a thank you, the pastor of the local Baptist church (who was kind of the purchaser for the build), sent out and got our entire team Cokes.  Let me tell you, there is nothing more refreshing than an ice cold Coke late in the day after carrying cinder blocks and 92-pound concrete bags in 95 degree heat.  Thanks, pastor!

Even in the rubble, Coke sales go on.

By the way, some of our team along with some new guys are in Haiti right now building a house, including my brother Eddy.  Please keep them in your prayers, and feel free to follow them on our blog: http://hdmenhaiti.com/

Just wanted to give you some context as you root for me to not drink a Coke or sweet tea this month.

*My wife is making me add (a-cola) that, thinking some people would assume I meant the other type of ‘coke’.

haiti, hdmen

The Hills Are Alive In Haiti

No Comments 19 January 2011

The word “Haiti” literally means ‘high mountain’.  Once you get off the coast, everything around Port-au-Prince is on a steep hillside.  Just imagine San Francisco on steroids.  We’d drive up and down hilly streets.  You couldn’t see far because of buildings, but every once in awhile the you’ve have a clearing into a ravine, and you’d get a glimpse of another world. 

Our little section of Haiti was the neighborhood of Rue Delmas 87.  Rue Delmas is the main road through Delmas, one of the biggest suburbs of Port-au-Prince (‘rue’ means ‘road’; ‘Delmas is pronounced ‘Dell-MAH’).  Most of the side streets are just numbers off the road- so non-major cross streets are just Rue Delmas 1, Rue Delmas 2, Rue Delmas 3, etc.  Since we were on Rue Delmas 87, you know we were at the end of a very long road!  This turned into a neighborhood of patchwork streets, which led down into ravines where the people actually lived. 

View Rte de Delmas in a larger map

A few hundred 25 pound blocks were delivered and stacked up on the street, and it was our job to carry them down into the ravine.  I shot a video, following on of our guys down, which was the most popular video we sent back, called “The Long Walk”.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_EiXSnVC6cg?fs=1]

What’s a little cement among friends?

Go ahead and make fun of me for huffing and puffing just following him down with a little iPhone camera. (this was shot on the first day, and my French hadn’t caught up with me either.) In my defense, I’d been lugging hundreds of blocks up and down all day and was exhausted.  It took us two days to carry all the blocks down. We showed at the building site on the third morning and found an entirely new group of blocks to haul down.  We also had to carry down 94 pound bags of concrete.  Because of the pathway down and how awkward the bags were to carry, you couldn’t use two people to carry them or easily hand them off.  I carried 2 or 3 down, but my brother Eddy did 7.

Rochelle (neighbor) and Vanessa’s baby

Our project was to rebuild a concrete block house for a widow, whose home, except for one room, had been destroyed in the earthquake.  She lived with her daughter, Vanessa (pronounced vah-NEE-suh), Vanessa’s newborn baby, and her two grandsons- all in one room.  The widow’s other daughter had been killed in the earthquake, leaving her two grandsons behind.  Vanessa’s husband was there one day, but I assumed he worked elsewhere. 

I’ll show you the finished project tomorrow!

dwyane, haiti, hdmen, orphanage, wade

Mini-Dwyane Wade In Haiti?

No Comments 13 January 2011

(This week I’m doing stories from my trip to Haiti in July 2010 around the anniversary of the earthquake in Haiti to encourage people to Pray, Donate, Go!)

It was surprising it took so long, but on our last afternoon in Haiti, several of us decided to walk the 100 feet from the part of the Bethel Guest House where we were staying, to the wing of the guest house that had been converted into an impromtu orphanage after the earthquake.

Earlier we had visited the actual orphanage in Carrefour, the poorest section of Port-au-Prince (which is saying something).

You can see in the bottom right sight it is spray-painted with the word ‘demolir’, which means it is marked to be ‘demolished’.  They said it couldn’t be repaired, and would take $20,000 just to have it demolished, let alone the cost to rebuild.

Since New Life Link Orphanage no longer had a home, they moved the older kids to another site, and the younger kids and babies were moved to this portion of the Bethel Guest House.  Here is a quick tour:

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-fawc40VmOU?fs=1]

We had a lot of fun with them.  The kids reminded me of my 3- and 5-year-old girls, because all they wanted to do was climb on me.  I also tried to teach a couple of the older kids my one magic trick, but I’m not sure they ever got it.  One kid in particular, who I called Dwyane Wade for obvious reason, just wanted to hang out with me the whole time.

I didn’t have the urge to adopt all of them, but I do support people who are interested in adopting kids, and at least we found a great place where kids could live until they’re adopted.  I was told about 50% of the kids were already in the adoption process and waiting to be brought home.  Before the earthquake, adoption requests were about 50% from the US, and 50% from France. After the earthquake, it changed to 95% US, and 5% France.  I don’t know that France slacked off, but they did say the US really stepped up!

For a really inspiring story regarding New Life Link, here is the rather harrowing story of a local Nashville man who rushed to save his to-be-adopted daughter after the earthquake.  From that connection, Mike and Brent Gambrell Ministries connected with Bethel Guest House and New Life Link and are now hosting mission teams, helping kids get adopted, and changing peoples lives in the Haiti and US in amazing ways!

Also see www.HDMenHaiti.com

bieber, haiti, justin

Justin Beiber and the Surprising Music of Haiti

No Comments 11 January 2011

Any time you go to a new place, there are always things that surprise you, and the music I heard in Haiti certainly was one of them.   I’d tried to learn as much as a I could about Haiti before going down there, reading books about Haiti’s independence, it’s rise from dictatorship in the 1980’s, to humanitarian efforts in battling AIDS and TB. For music, I’d gone to iTunes and typed in “Haiti”, and gotten some offerings that sounded rather African to my untrained ears.  Since I was in charge of taking video for the trip, I downloaded a couple songs to use as music under photos or video that I’d then put on YouTube for the folks following us back home.  By the time I finished the trip, I realized I hadn’t heard any of that type of music while I was down there.

When we got to the neighborhood in Rue Delmas 87 (a suburb of Port-au-Prince), we had to go through a narrow walkway between several houses and then down winding sets of stairs in order to get to the widow’s house we were rebuilding.  What was the first song I remember hearing in this foreign land? Near street level a bunch of 3rd and 4th grade girls will hanging out and playing, singing along to a radio blaring “Baby, baby, baby, oh, sweet baby, baby, baby!http://rcm.amazon.com/e/cm?t=studi0d-20&o=1&p=8&l=bpl&asins=B003BZ0HRM&fc1=000000&IS2=1&lt1=_blank&m=amazon&lc1=0000FF&bc1=000000&bg1=FFFFFF&f=ifr”  Yes, Justin Bieber-mania had hit Haiti.

 (the girl on the left sang Bieber all day, except when she was working on her English with us.)

We probably carried a couple thousand 25-pound cinder blocks down via our human assembly line.  Even though the steps were higher and therefore harder, I liked being stationed on the area near the blue door.  All day, we’d hear piano playing coming from inside the door.  We figured out it must be a piano teacher’s house, since we’d hear simple scales, and then more advanced pieces, and then back to scales, as students from different levels would come in for lessons throughout the day.  It was one of those ‘ah-ha’ moments.  Even in a disaster-ravaged country like Haiti, people were still able to send their kids to better themselves through music.

The daughter of the woman whose house we were rebuilding was Vanessa (pronounced ‘vuh-NIECE-uh).  She often sang solos at her Baptist church, and had a wonderful voice.  We tried singing a few of the songs we knew in French, but it turns out Vanessa and her family and friends didn’t know them.  The family and their neighbors didn’t really know any songs in English, either.  Vanessa sang a beautiful song in French, which we couldn’t understand, but really enjoyed anyway. Finally someone hit upon a song it turns out we all knew, and we sang it together.

This was pretty funny in retrospect- English-speaking Americans and French/Creole-speaking Haitians joining together to sing a Christmas song in Latin in the middle of July.   But in reality, it was amazing- people from different countries and backgrounds and languages coming together to praise the God they share singing In excelsis Deo, “Glory to God in the highest”.

COMING UP NEXT: Mauled by a 3-Foot-Tall Dwyane Wade

faith, haiti

Why I’m Scared To Go To Haiti

1 Comment 13 July 2010

For the most part, I’m very excited to be going, but part of me is afraid. So why am I scared to go to Haiti?  Its not really the ‘normal’ stuff.  I’ve had several friends who’ve gone and come back unharmed, mainly by always staying in groups, staying with your guide/interpreter, and not going out at night.  Don’t drink the water.  Wear sunscreen and plenty of bug spray. Play nice.

I am certainly going to be out of my comfort zone. Heck, I’ll be working at a Habitat for Humanity building site in Nashville and be uncomfortable, just because I don’t know what to do, and now I’m doing the same thing, just in Haiti. (I had to Google ‘sawzall’ and ‘rebar’ since I didn’t know what they were.)  I’m also going to try to be a translator in training for a dialect (Creole) of a language (French) in which I’m only moderately fluent.  However, I more dread than fear the construction aspect, and I’m actually pretty excited about the translator possibilities, although I know I’m going to mess up a good bit.

What scares me are the kids.  Years ago, and what really got me started in having a ‘missionary’ outlook, so to speak, was a baby crying.  I was holding our little baby daughter Brooklyn, who was only a few months old at the time, and she wouldn’t stop crying.  I was going through my mental checklist- Fed? Check.  Diaper changed?  Check. Burped?  Check.  Despite doing everything right, she wouldn’t stop crying.  And then finally, she did.  But it hit me that somewhere out there, a mom or a dad was holding their little baby girl, and she wouldn’t stop crying.  They love their child just as much as I love mine, but they can’t feed her, they can’t clothe her, they can’t wrap her in a warm blanket.  They can’t take her to the doctor to help her get better.  They just have to hold their sick, tired, hungry little girl and hope she feels better, hope she stops crying, but hopefully not for the last time.  And there are some kids that don’t even have parents to hold them.  I’m also reminded of our trip to the ER this past February.

And that’s what scares me, the realization that I’m so small and helpless and I can’t fix it like I want to.  I know mentally that God is huge, and that He’s made for doing miracles and changing lives, but I have to get my heart there as well.

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haiti, maps

Going Out To Haiti!

No Comments 06 July 2010

hI’m very excited to be going to Haiti at the end of July.  I’ll write more soon, but in short, I’m going with a TPC team to do construction and/or demolition (we’ll find out which when we get there).  I’m also working on my French and learning some Creole as well, and hope to be able to lend some translating ability as well.

Here (the red dot) is where we’ll be working.

Here is where we’ll be in relation to the US.  For those not familiar, Nashville is closer to Haiti than it is to California. 

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