Nothing can prepare a person for the first time they step out of Toussaint Louverture International Airport and into the reality of Haiti. The smell alone is overwhelming. Port Au Prince has a population comparable to Chicago yet has no sewage system, leaving human waste to flow through the city’s open ditches. As you travel through the city, you encounter a deeply impoverished mass of humanity in a daily struggle for survival. Despite the shock and discomfort this brings to Faith’s short-term mission teams, many members return to Haiti over and over again.
Chuck Landgraf travelled to Haiti for the first time in March 2011. “It was overwhelming. It was really probably textbook as far as the process that you go through where you’re wide-eyed, then you’re not sure, then you get broken down, then you have that revelatory thing, ‘This is where I’m supposed to be.’”
Chuck returned to Haiti three months after the March trip. On their first day in Desiré, the team gathered for worship in the small shack that served as the orphanage’s church. Chuck was sitting amongst the children when two young boys tapped him on the shoulder and whispered, “Chuck.” He thought, “Wow, they remember you immediately.” “That solidified it all right there.”
Chuck has now travelled to Haiti a total of eight times. When asked about what keeps bringing him back he says, “It’s the relationships you form with everybody you meet. Especially with the kids, but I’ve tried to make it a point, as best as I can, to get to know the people at the hotel we stay at and the security guards that are with us. As you go back, you see their personalities coming out.”
Adam and Amy Hood also went on their first Haiti trip in March 2011. At that time, they barely knew each other. By their second trip in August 2011 they were dating, and by their third trip in March 2014 they were married. The young couple shares a love for children, and the orphans of Desire immediately held a special place in their heart.
The Hoods experienced the same initial shock when they first stepped off the plane in Port Au Prince. Adam says, “I was amazed by that smell and all of the chaos.” Despite the destruction and spiritual darkness that prevailed, they also knew that this was where they were supposed to be. Amy says, “I felt peace and comfort throughout the entire trip. I was never scared.”
While it is the kids that will continue to bring the Hoods back to Haiti, they have seen God working through these trips in other ways. Adam says, “When I go to Haiti, it gives me the opportunity to talk about my faith with the people that I work with. They are always intrigued, and I get to tell them about why I go and what we do.”
Chuck’s trips to Haiti have also opened up conversations with non-believers. “People understand why I go to Haiti but sometimes ask why we spend time witnessing to the orphans with Bible school. I explain that it’s going to give them hope. Probably, numerous times in their lives, whatever they thought was going to work is going to be blown away by a hurricane, earthquake, or fellow man. This gives them hope in God. They will understand that this isn’t all there is. They will have something to fall back on when all of this is yanked away from them.”
“People who have a heart for it ought to go check it out. I fully understand that it’s not for everybody. Some have gone and said, ‘That’s one and done.’ I’m not faulting them at all.” Oftentimes there’s this false hope that we will go down and fix it. You can’t do that in Haiti. It’s not going to get fixed. Only through the grace of God will it come close to getting fixed.”