Gertha’s New Home in Kapotyer
It was hot, Haiti hot, but I was excited. Cameron and I were on our way to go see the first Compressed Earth Block (CEB) house built by HCO, and despite the rough terrain and all the sweat, we could not wait to get there. We talked about Leston and his wife, and about their faithfulness in the church at Kapotyer. We talked about how they attended every day of VBS, despite their health and the difficulty of getting there, and what great examples of faith and trust they were to the congregation they serve.
We talked about God moving in the hearts of the kids at the school, and how much their new school expansion had transformed their community. We talked about the possibility of building other CEB houses and how that would transform not only the lives of those receiving houses, but those working in and around the construction projects.
Once we arrived, we were warmly greeted by Leston and his wife. She gave us a tour of the house, and she couldn’t stop praising God for what he had done. We rejoiced with them, cried with them, and after we prayed with them, we turned to leave.
Only this time we noticed something we had missed walking in. We noticed a dirt floor shack about to collapse, being supported by a few poles positioned to keep it from falling over the hill. We literally walked under the poles on our way in, but being distracted by our excitement, we missed it. More importantly we missed Gertha.
We began to ask about Gertha’s story. We found out that she was a member at the church at Kapotyer and had been bringing her kids to VBS that week. We also found out that she was widowed a few years ago, leaving her to raise six children on her own. We found out that she had no source of income and had been relying on her community to help meet her needs and the needs of her children. We found out that the dirt-floored shack was her home.
God broke us in that moment.
God works that way. A few minutes before we were celebrating a huge accomplishment and success. We praised God and felt blessed to have been a part of doing something for someone so deserving. But there in the shadows was Gertha. She watched as the planning and measuring and preparations for Leston’s house went on around her. She was there when the old house went down and the new blocks went up. She saw us walk under the poles holding her shack up. She was there watching when we rejoiced with Leston and his wife, and she might have prayed along with Cameron and me as we locked hands with them and prayed for them.
How did we miss it? How did we miss her? How did we not see her need?
It was in that moment that God brought clarity to us – it was time to act. I asked Cameron if a house could be built for Gertha and her kids if the funding for the house was available. He said yes, and I knew God had provided another opportunity for his glory.
The year before, in a similar moment of God-provided-clarity, the Lindside Christian Church (where I serve as the Senior Minister) partnered with HCO on a school expansion project to meet the needs of 150 additional students at Kapotyer.
Now, we had the chance to serve and minister to Gertha, a member of the same church and mom to kids attending the school.
As funds were being raised, a team from Trine University visited the site where the new home would be built. This time, Leston and his wife, Gertha and her children, RoRo, Cameron, and the team all prayed together, thanking God for using His church to meet this need and asking His blessing on Gertha, her children, and her new home.
Soon after, HCO’s crew of CEB workers began building Gertha’s home when they were not working on the construction of Peredo Community Hospital.
As of June 2017, the funding was complete, the building was complete, and I was on the same road toward Leston’s house, but this time I was going to see Gertha. I was going to see Gertha. God had provided. God had been faithful.
Over the course of that year, I learned to expand my horizon. It is easy to get distracted by victory and the mountain-top experiences like seeing Leston’s home for the first time, but we cannot live there. There is much work to be done, and people like Gertha are always watching from the shadows. May all of us always be listening for God’s prompting to act, and then in obedience, serve and meet the needs He shows us.
HCO Board Member
Senior Minister, Lindside Christian Church (WV)