When I arrived in Haiti the night of November 3, 2016, I had no idea what to expect. I had been on mission trips before, but I usually had a plan for what I would be doing. This time, as I set off to work with Jonathan Euler and The Beehive in Haiti, I left myself totally open for things to happen as God intended. He did not disappoint.
I was traveling with Cynthia Euler, Jonathan’s mother, and Barbara Ratterree, a dear lady from our church—both incredible women who would greatly enrich my life. When we arrived in Port Au Prince, our adventure began! After a lot of interesting interaction with the baggage handlers, we finally met up with Jonathan and climbed into what would be our transportation for the next ten days. At this point, I must stop and tell you that 4 adults would be sitting in the cab of a truck meant for 3, meaning that one of us would need to sit on the emergency brake which had been outfitted with a board and small pillow. Being the “rookie” in this scenario, I volunteered. What’s an adventure without a little bit of discomfort? It was an air-conditioned truck, after all, and the dear Haitians that would be working and traveling with us graciously traveled in the back in upwards of 80 degree temperatures!
We arrived at The Beehive Headquarters and Jonathan’s apartment in Carrefour, a suburb of Port Au Prince, and after unloading, Jonathan took us on a tour. I was immediately hit with the realization that this would be a very different mission trip than one I had ever been on, and I mean this in a good way.
We spent our first two nights at the city apartment in Carrefour. On Sabbath morning, we traveled a short distance to the orphanage lovingly referred to as “Mexny’s Orphanage,” one of several orphanages sponsored by the Beehive mission. Mexny is one of Jonathan’s workers who is a perfect example of what can happen when you take time to love and teach someone. I was immediately impressed with his cheerful disposition and winning smile.
This is where the heartstrings come in. On the road to the orphanage, I looked off to the right, and saw a very dirty toddler in front of a shack (which is a generous description), wearing a soiled, over-sized shirt. I could tell by looking at him that he was malnourished. I wanted to jump out and take him in my arms and love the daylights out of him. Seeing adults in need is hard; seeing children who are suffering from a lack of basic necessities is heartbreaking. He was not part of the orphanage; he was one of the many neighborhood children who are living in conditions that would not even be acceptable for our pets.
As we approached the orphanage, we were greeted by a beautifully-dressed group of children with huge smiles ready to hug us as soon as we got out of the truck! What a reception! They were wearing their special Sabbath outfits just for us! They gladly jumped in to help us carry items (on their heads) from the truck to the area where we would be setting up for a church service just for them. One of those items was a table with benches that had been built at The Beehive and purchased by Ms. Barbara for them to use for school and meals, etc. They LOVED it!
They grabbed our hands and quickly led us to an area where they had hung their sheets and blankets to give us shade from the heat. There was a table decorated with a beautiful arrangement of “flowers” they had made basically from items that would otherwise have been thrown away. They motioned us into some plastic chairs set aside for us, and then sang us a beautiful welcome song.
After that, we sang some more songs, and Ms. Cynthia led them in an interactive Bible story with felts. I then led them in a picture frame craft that we had brought, which had been donated by our church from some leftover VBS materials. We had these postcards with Bible story pictures on them to put in their frames; there were three different pictures, so I decided to tell them about each one, and they couldn’t get enough! My heart filled up, and I admit, there were a few times I felt choked up and beyond blessed to be there with these beautiful children and the incredible people that care for them!
One of my favorite parts of this day (and there were many) was when the children grabbed me and pushed and pulled me up and down the steep hillside inclines to show me their rooms and their garden with trees they had planted. As they described everything in great detail and with contagious excitement, I couldn’t help but think how much we take things like this for granted; things that are extremely precious to them.
On Sunday, we climbed into our air-conditioned, well-loaded truck and headed to the country location in Bohoc. What a long, bumpy trip that was! It goes without saying that my perch on top of the emergency brake began to take its toll on my posterior! When we arrived in Bohoc, and drove through the gate at “The Pearl,” I was in awe at how beautiful it was. I must say that Haiti is a country of contradiction. In one minute, you may be looking at a pile of garbage and in the next, looking at a beautiful view of water and mountains in a place covered in fruit trees. This was true on every part of our trip, even in the city. Similarly, you can be looking at a malnourished, dirty child with a smile as big as the sun. Contradiction indeed!
In Bohoc, we stayed in a large, open concrete building outfitted with water reservoirs for showers and a generator to run fans at night. Inside, there are several bunks, complete with mosquito nets, which I was very thankful to have. There is another similar building on the property, half of which is outfitted with bathrooms and bunk rooms, and the other half for storage and a workshop. This may sound like a simple place, but it is the result of the vision of Jonathan and his mentor, Scott Thurmon, who lost his life a few years ago in a car accident in Atlanta. Jonathan strongly believed in this vision, and with God’s will in mind and heart, carried out the plans he and Scott had dreamed about years before. Finding the property, and building this place of solitude for anyone who needs it has been a long road of prayer, sweat and tears, and continues to be a blessing to the people in Haiti and all of those blessed enough to visit.
I have many stories I can tell you about my experiences in Haiti, such as the increasing amount of children coming every afternoon to play, sing and hear Bible stories; I could tell you about the horse and hens we purchased at the market, or the chicken coop we help build. I could even tell you about the time Barbara nearly caught me on fire. Perhaps I should save those for a sequel or two in later editions of this newsletter. Right now, I want to speak to the hearts of everyone reading this, and ask for help for this incredible organization.
Most mission trips entail a group of people traveling to a location for a limited time to conduct evangelistic meetings or provide a particular service such as building a church or a school. I usually refer to these as “one and done” – type mission trips. That is not the case with The Beehive. Jonathan has lived in Haiti for over 6 years, and he hosts the people who come to help. The mission does not end when the mission-oriented visitors leave. Johnathan has given his heart to the mission field, and truly believes that the best way to help, especially in Haiti, is to give the people the tools to help themselves. If we are building, they are building with us, and they continue the job when we leave. The funds that are given to The Beehive have long-term effects. Every dollar has a purpose, and is managed by a man with a heart for bringing people to God’s kingdom in a very practical way.
Haiti is a country without a true government; the government they do have is clearly not designed to serve its people. Garbage and waste is piled in the street because there is no real system for collection and disposal. Running water and electricity are luxuries. Most of the people live in dilapidated structures that are not able to withstand a strong wind. The damage from the 2010 earthquake is still very visible; much of the rubble has simply been pushed into alleys between buildings. Many of the buildings that are severely damaged and should be condemned are still inhabited.
The people in Haiti are in despair and in need of purpose, and that is what Jonathan and The Beehive provide. At the headquarters in Carrefour, there is an impressive workshop in which men and women who have a desire to work and learn a trade build beautiful furniture and art out of garbage; mainly wooden shipping pallets.
Jonathan and Scott had a vision. They saw a great need, and God called them to do what they could under His power to meet it. All of The Beehive locations, including the orphanages, are equipped with gardens to grow fruits and vegetables and are designed to teach Eden’s principle of self-sufficiency. At the Carrefour and Bohoc locations, there are animals that they are learning to care for in a place that does not regard animals as we do here. Of course, they both have workshops where beautiful things can be made from common items typically thrown away.
Again, these seem like simple things, but they are life-sustaining in a place that is more familiar with despair than with joy. At The Beehive, they can find joy; at the Beehive, they can find a God who cares about them no matter what. At The Beehive, they can learn of a place that is being prepared for them, where there will be no more death, no more sickness, no more poverty, and nothing but love and peace.
Sure, there are other organizations, many in fact, that are reaching out to Haiti and doing a great deal of good, but most of these organizations come and go. The Beehive lives there. It is a part of Haiti’s fabric and culture, and there are new things happening there every day. The Carrefour location is turning out orders for furniture and paintings every day, but tools and supplies are needed to meet these orders; the Bohoc location continues to grow and offer a place of solitude for both Haiti and its mission-oriented visitors. In fact, in Bohoc, they are nearly done with a kitchen outbuilding complete with a roof and walls; when I was there, it was a dilapidated lean-to with an open fire, from which we had all of our meals. It is almost done, but funds are needed to finish it.
If you are interested in giving to a mission that is there for the “long haul;” if are interested in a mission that wants to show the people of Haiti a little heaven on earth, I urge you to reach into your hearts and give to The Beehive. There are many ways to do this; you can simply purchase things from Amazon Smile (www.smile.amazon.com) instead of Amazon and choose The Beehive for your charity of choice, or you can give through the website. You can also place and order and purchase items they make there; they are made to order and shipped to you.
I also urge you to pray for the people of Haiti, and pray for Jonathan, who has dedicated his life to God and His mission field. This kind of life, albeit rewarding and fulfilling, is difficult and wrought with many challenges, but when you set out to work for God, as Jonathan has, the possibilities are limitless, as God continues to prove in Haiti and at The Beehive day after day.
There is a familiar saying: “Give a man a fish, and he will eat for a day; teach a man to fish and he will eat for a lifetime.”
God gave us the Great Commission in Matthew 28:19 & 20: “Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world.”
Submitted by Kellie Nunley