One big transition I mentioned in my last post (and in posts prior to that) has been the transition from a team of westerners working with locals to do projects to a smaller team of westerners encouraging, supporting and working with Justice Water indigenous leaders.
It has been on our hearts for a while now that there are many things the west (us included) get wrong about missions and the developing world in general. We have seen the amazing results of training local people and believing in them, championing them and teaching them the God’s honest truth about how He sees them- worth it, capable. This empowerment piece has transitioned from something we have felt as “for us” to a whole new way to look at missions and working with the poor in general- we believe it is the duty of the western Christian to empower the poor. This has caused us to look much more differently than other organizations and missionaries, but we have decided that’s ok. We never really looked like them anyway ;) But really, as we have leaned into this call, we see that tremendous fruit comes from this empowerment. This is no act of our own, but a real prompting from the Lord. We also don’t pretend like there aren’t more hiccups or downsides- believe us, there are. However, this is also how we have seen effectiveness and fruitfulness in our ministries, too.
Jose Luis has been non-stop in working in his community in San Pedro. He runs seminars in a community center once a week and is focused on building up his team here, too. We are working on a larger partnership with Homes of Hope, another ministry he works with, too, which could be huge. He is maintaining projects and scoping out new ones, as well. He does this in addition to his monthly radio show teaching about Justice Water.
Willes is working so hard in Lubins, the 5th section of Haiti. No kidding, he lives in a tent in this impoverished area. He wakes up every morning and instead of looking to help himself, he works so diligently to see the people in this area have access to clean water and sanitation. He is training 11 guys and girls- local to the area and who have training in very little. He and his team will be starting a rain catchment tank in the next few days in an area close to him.
Mirtil is working in another difficult to reach area of Haiti with a local pastor. He teaches children there regularly on sanitation and hygiene with great results. In this place, with little to no access to clean water or bathroom facilities, this education is huge. He is hoping to expand into running seminars sometime in the Spring, as well.
Danielo and his wife, Clelie, are doing such a good job with their Justice Water ministry. Dan is working hard to complete the biggest latrine Justice Water has completed- for an orphanage of over 40 children- and with a complicated relationship. He has handled it so well! He is also planning on creating bath-houses for the canal near the Justice Water offices in Haiti and will be teaching about sanitation, too, by running seminars in the offices soon. His wife runs a children’s program for the neighborhood children a few times a week and over 60 kids come in an afternoon. She teaches them about Justice Water and more!
David and his family are adjusting to all of their changes. David is traveling to Jeremie as a satellite location, working in both Montrious and Jeremie this year. He has a small staff team he is raising up there to run Justice Water in the future. He will be constructing a tank at a local orphanage there in Jeremie in April and has plans to continue to develop the orphanage there with the staff team.
When I look at this, there is no way I could adequately describe the effectiveness and joy that comes from empowering locals. Because, in addition to running this ministry and doing projects, I also see these men and women as agents of change in more ways than the clean water crisis. They are believed in and empowered. That speaks so much more than us merely constructing a rain catchment tank and leaving. These guys know the culture, the language and the best way to do things far more than we could ever know- and we trust them so much. I have never been so inspired in my life, honestly.
This does not come without challenges, but we see these challenges as such awesome and amazing blessings for us, as well. We work together to problem solve and strategize. I see how all the crummy and trying situations over the years has allowed us to have a little authority in working with these amazing men and women of Justice Water.
This is a shameless plug to invite you to donate towards their projects and funding their ministries. They need vehicles to do their work, as well as money for projects. A little goes a long way! Consider donating on justicewater.net, allocating it to the Dominican Republic and Haiti.