Team Ontario with Haitian co-labourers web

The second work team sponsored through HelpHaitiHeal (Canada) dedicated their efforts to a school reconstruction project in mid-October. The 10-member team was drawn from five Free Methodist churches in Ontario — two from Whitby (Burt McDonnell and Grant Sigsworth, Coordinator of HelpHaitiHeal Canada), three from Napanee (Rev David/Charlotte Dyer and Bill Wales), two from Odessa (Rev Glen Coates, Malcolm McFarlane), one from Pine Grove (Mark Pedlar) and two from Almonte (Terry Monette and Keith Payler). The team came together well considering that they only had one meeting before departure.

Keith Payler was the team’s Technical Leader, while David Dyer and Glen Coates served as chaplains, leading the team in a daily devotional time together. Charlotte Dyer was the team’s chef, preparing nourishing meals and snacks for a hungry crew.

This team was preceded by a 13-member work team led by Verona FMC in early October. Both teams worked on the same project in Guerin, a rural community near the city of Leogane, the epicentre of the quake. They erected a structure of 3 classrooms and a toilet area behind the FM church in Guerin, to replace the building which collapsed during the earthquake of January 12.

Five Haitians worked with the second Ontario team each day, making a solid contribution as framers, block layers, concrete mixers and rebar workers, and they learned some welding from our team. The Haitian co-labourers spoke no English and little French, and we had no Creole, so we got along famously by pointing and smiling. The Canadians and Haitians prayed together at the start of each work day – in one language or the other. The Guerin pastor could speak English fairly well when he was able to be at the worksite.

The two Canadian teams were lodged at the FOHO apartment in Port au Prince, and departed before 6am for the daily 30-km commute to Guerin on the back of a truck. The trip offered opportunities to observe Haitian life and also share bonjours with Haitians during the frequent stops due to traffic congestion and flooded streets from overnight downpours.

The team worshipped with the large Parc Chretien FM congregation (1300+) at their 6am Sunday service. Pastor David Dyer spoke briefly through interpreter to the congregation, giving a strong word of encouragement to remain faithful to the Lord during this period of particular hardship. Pastors David and Glen also exhorted and brought words of encouragement to the 15 pastors attending the Bible Institute which meets in the same building where the team was lodged. As well, the team had an opportunity to interact with missionary Rick Ireland about the circumstances in Haiti, the earthquake relief and recovery program, and the ministry of the Free Methodist Church in Haiti.

Team members were challenged in their faith and service to the Lord as they observed the post-quake destruction and living conditions, and observed the strength, commitment and sacrifice of Haitian Christians. After returning, team members gave witness to their experience and blessing in their respective home churches, and many of them gathered at Westdale Park FMC in Napanee to make a well-received presentation to the congregation on a Sunday evening.