Mission: Haiti 2009
Another heart for Haiti
By Elaine Fallesen
Vice president, Climbing For Christ
Each time I placed the earpieces of the stethoscope in my ears, everything changed.
The Creole din of the surrounding Haitian crowd, the babies’ cries, the wracking coughs, and the clucks of chickens in the hot sun and blowing dirt all went away.
When I wrapped the blood-pressure cuff around the next patient’s arm, put on the stethoscope and pumped to pressurize the cuff, I shut out everything around me in this foreign place. All was silent except for the steady crescendo and fade of the heartbeat of the person seated across from me. A person who lived in poverty like I’d never seen before. A person worn much older in appearance than they should look for their age. A person who’d never before been seen by a real doctor or treated for a medical condition, but who deserved just as much as me to be cared for.
Elaine Fallesen taking blood pressure during one of several health clinics on Mission: Haiti 2008. (Photo by Gary Fallesen)
Until December 2008, I’d only experienced this Haiti through my husband Gary’s eyes, listening to his stories of Climbing For Christ’s mission trips to the mountain people God had placed on his heart to help. Finally, it was my time to go and meet for myself these new friends who lived a world away in a nation bearing the unfortunate title of poorest in all of the Western hemisphere.
As He did with previous Mission: Haiti teams, God formed this one with a perfect balance and blend of hearts and skills. He used our hands, feet and minds in the mountain villages of Malasi and Gentilhomme to:
- Encourage and nurture our seminary of pastors and church leaders who are growing in the Word and knowledge of the Lord.
- Provide the materials and instruction to build toilets and begin improving sanitation.
- Design a way to bring clean water up to one village, and filter the water in two villages to provide a clean drinking supply.
- Bring physical healing and treatment for illnesses, burns, injuries, and pain, and prayer to treat depression and illnesses unseen.
- Share the Christmas story, gifts, deworming pills and vitamins with students in two schools.
Sarah Brownell, from the Mission: Haiti 2008 team, dances with schoolchildren in Malasi. (Photo by Elaine Fallesen)
In return for answering the command to “Go,” Jesus rewarded us greatly. For me, three of these blessings are especially treasured:
First, I was given the gift of meeting and hugging and getting to know Gilbert, a boy from Gentilhomme who almost died from an untreated broken leg, but whose life God spared through Climbing For Christ (C4C). His leg was lost, but his life was restored. God has a great plan and purpose for this gentle young man.
Second, an answer to prayer and a miracle for Santane, a little girl in Gentilhomme who has a crippled leg. Santane was introduced to C4C in 2006 when the team was taken to her home to pray over her and ask for healing of the withered leg. In December 2008, when Dr. Steve Quakenbush examined her leg and pronounced it curable through surgery and rehab, my heart burst with joy and excitement! Plans formed almost immediately to bring Santane and another young boy (Miche) with the same condition to the U.S. for the medical services they need to be able to walk without hopping or using a stick. Additionally, Gilbert would be brought to the States to receive a prosthetic leg and shed his crutches.
Third, a glimpse at the night of Jesus’ birth. When we arrived at Santane’s home, the first thing I saw in the yard was a baby lying on a cushiony bed of dry bean shucks, stems and leaves, bundled in rags. I thought, “This baby’s wrapped in swaddling clothes!” I was gazing for the first time at a real baby, wearing swaddling clothes and lying contently on a bed of straw. And later that week, I saw the stable in which Jesus was born when we attended an evening praise and worship service in the Gentilhomme church. It was our team’s turn to sing. As we softly began Silent Night, I looked out on the shadowy figures surrounding us, dimly lit by a single candle, framed by the crossbeams of the church and softened by the light haze from the dirt floor. I was inside the Lord’s birthplace, enveloped in the quietness of our voices and the peaceful reply of Haitians singing the same in their language.
As I wrote this story, looking out at the winter snow that buried my yard in sparkly whiteness, I daydreamed of December 2009. I couldn't wait to return to Haiti. God has broken my heart in the same He did my husband’s. I long again to be in Malasi and Gentilhomme with our brothers and sisters. I want to again witness the abundance of love and gentleness from these people whose homes are dirt-floored huts of one or two rooms, whose stoves are open fires, whose diets often consist of beans and little else. They are passionate and joyful when they worship the Lord. They love to sing and shout their praises to the heavenly Father. Their love for Jezi Cris shines as bright as the Haitian sun.
May their faith shine so brightly that it burns away the voodoo from this land.
Elaine Fallesen, a lifelong resident of Rochester, N.Y., is a Climbing For Christ founding board member. This story originally appeared in The Climbing Way (Volume 13, Spring 2009).
Posted Dec. 1, 2009