Back to School

While the rain had put a damper on some of our activities, it has also opened up some opportunities that we have not had in the past.

Monday we started out visiting Dexia school. When we have visited in the past, there were five small classrooms with 20 to 40 students per room, and we got to spend about 5 to 10 minutes in each. Today, because of the rain, there were only about 25 students total, all in one classroom. We got to spend quite a bit of time with them, and got to give them a lot more individual attention. In the photo above, the children were singing Happy Birthday Josie, who celebrated her 16th birthday today.

After Dexia, we headed to Bambou. When we got there the school was closed. Instead of being disappointed, we toured the school, and probably got a better opportunity to get a feel for the size and lighting issues that they deal with.

And as if they had not impressed me enough, we went out back to find the students who have come on the trip with us praying over the school. Can’t wait to see the impact these young people are going to have on their own schools when they get home and share their experiences.

Since we usually attract attention everywhere we go, many local Haitians came to see what we were doing, and we ended up gathering all together and praying for the school together.

Then Tonja and I got to spend a few minutes talking to Charles, the Haitian child that we sponsor through 410 Bridge. He has grown so much since we first met him. If you are looking for a way you can make a big impact, child sponsorship not only changes that child’s life, but has a ripple effect through all the people that child will some day impact. In addition, when a school gets enough children sponsored, then there is also a benefit to the rest of the school as programs will be implemented for all the classrooms.

They say a picture is worth a thousand words. I stopped counting at around 160 kids when we visited Reno in the afternoon. And once again, the team impressed me with their willingness to jump into the chaos. If you look closely, you will find them scattered throughout all of the children.

At the end of the day, we got one more chance to celebrate Josie.

– Dave Breaux, Haiti Mission Trip Leader

Paske nou pa konnen ki jou Mèt nou va vini

Tonja and I have been coming to Haiti for a while now, so much so that it almost feels like a second home when we are here. But that means that it also feels normal to us, and we sometimes miss the feeling of those first experiences. It is amazing to see the wonder in the eyes of new members who find their expectations did not even come close to the actual experience. But on Sunday, Tonja and I got to experience a first for us, we got to take communion with Pastor Marcèl’s church. That is something that is probably going to stay with us for a while.

Unfortunately, the rain cut church short. In Haiti, most people travel a good distance to get to church, and most do it on foot. Rain or shine. We are once again reminded of how often our church attendance back home goes down when the weather is bad, and we all have cars. You wonder when it was that people lost that passion that made them want to come to church like that, no matter what. In America, church is just another event to some, but in Haiti, it is so much more than that.

After church we went back to the hotel to wait for the rain to stop.

Once the rain had stopped, we got to head to Gelèe Beach.
It didn’t take the boys long to find some kids to play football with. Kids in Haiti are more likely to play soccer, but throwing a ball back and forth is universal.

Of course, there is the beach tradition of drinking coconut water. It is, apparently, an acquired taste. This being Scott’s second trip, he had definitely acquired it.

Another testament to the ingenuity of Haitians. While litter and pollution is unfortunately a big problem in Haiti, some choose to look at it in a completely different way. The ability to make do with whatever they have is one of the things I love most about Haitians. Some would see litter, this person chose to see an opportunity.

After the beach, we went back to the church to meet with the youth (young adults). We were not aware that they had planned a little competition, and we were definitely not prepared. But after they had performed a couple of songs, Bailey, Maddie, and MacKenzie stepped up and got the team started. After that, it was just singing and laughter. Word of advise, don’t ever try to take Hunter in musical chairs, he is a beast.

Toward the end, the Haitian youth performed a song in Kreyol that we recognized, and many of us were singing along in English. They asked us to sing the English version, and afterward, we all decided to sing them both together. It was a great moment, and the entire activity just reminded us that we are different, but in so many ways we are the same. One of our translators often uses the phrase “Praises go up, blessings come down”. That is definitely what was happening here today.

I have been so impressed with this team so far. In Haiti, time is considered an unlimited resource. They don’t think they can waste it, there is always more. Things seem to move at a different pace. But even for them, there are some things that are a high priority, and that is what the Pastor preached on today from Matthew 24:42-43. Paske nou pa konnen ki jou Mèt nou va vini. Because you don’t know which day your Lord is coming. Keep praying that we continue to build relationships and show God’s love as our time here grows shorter.

– Dave Breaux, Haiti Mission Trip Leader

Rainy Days – Haiti Day 1

Our trip to La Croix was mostly uneventful. Starting out in the capital city, we saw crowds of people, the mayhem of the market, the houses right on top of each other, but minimal traffic.

Slowly the throngs of people give way to the slower life of rural Haiti as we continue to head West. Less people in the street, much smaller markets, more space between homes. The team’s first look at life outside of Port-au-Prince, and the difference is hard to put into words.

For the Haitians, it is that difference that keeps so many of them in the big city. Access to markets, public transportation, etc. We start to get the picture of how convenient our own lives are. Personal vehicles, stores around every corner. Life is very different here.


The last couple of hours of the trip, we drove in a rain storm. And the differences are highlighted even more. Riding in the back of a pickup truck is the most popular form of public transportation, and we saw more people than we could count on the back of those “tap-taps”, covering up with anything they could. The streets that were once full of people and small roadside shops are now flooded, with little drainage available.

Another team was heading to Morency today, and our Haitian trip leader said he was not sure if they would be able to get up that road at all today. Six months ago we were not able to complete some of our projects due to lack of rain, and now too much rain is threatening to stop more of our plans.


We made it safely to our hotel, and were finally able to meet with the leadership council, although not all were able to make it due to the rain. They apologized that we would not be able to get out and tour the village, but the amount of rain was making the roads hard to travel on. Instead, we just sat with them and talked, asked questions, and laughed. A lot.

In so many ways we saw our differences: transportation, housing, availability of resources. But then, in just a few minutes of fellowship, we were laughing and sharing stories, and reminded once again just how alike we are as well.

– Dave Breaux, Haiti Mission Trip Leader

Day in the Life

Yesterday morning we did our “day in the life” activity. For my group, we visited the home of one of the leadership council members, Chery Yolande.

While there, we did chores around the house, including doing the laundry by hand. We also got to eat some of the sweet potatoes that we had picked the day before.

Then we sat on the porch talking to her son, who spoke excellent English. He had completed University to be an agricultural engineer, and had spent time in Minnesota for training. He talked to us about that, and how he and his friends had set up an organization to take advantage of that time in America. Whenever one or more of them is in the states, they send back money that is used to send kids in Haiti to school.

We asked about the house across the street, so they went over and asked the owners if we could look around. They gave us a tour, and then gave us all a piece of cake.

In the afternoon, we went to a new locality that we had never visited before, Ka Rekillem.

After we sang some songs with them, we told the story of the Good Samaritan, and several of the team members acted out the story.

Then we went to a nearby field and played games with the parachutes we had brought.

After we finished playing with the children, we visited several houses and prayed with the people who loved there. Many had the same request, that we pray that their family stay close to God.

– Dave Breaux, Mission Trip Leader

Familiar Sites and Sounds

Our team sat down for their first meal in Haiti. The smell of Haitian cooking is a powerful memory trigger for me. Fried plantains always makes me happy.

Today was mostly a travel day. We will stay overnight in Port-au-Prince, then get up early in the morning and head west to La Croix.

Pray that the team rests well tonight, and that we arrive in the village tomorrow full of energy and ready to experience what God has planned for us.’

– Dave Breaux, Mission Trip Leader

The Center for English – North Knox Small Group Serving Project

The Center for English is an independent endeavor with a two fold purpose. To teach English skills and to promote effective integration (life skills) of refugees into their prospective communities. The program has over 20 countries represented and currently over a 140 students taking ESL classes. There are 7 levels of English taught from beginner to advanced. This is the only free ESL class offered in Knoxville.

My small group had the opportunity today to serve in the classroom assisting the teachers and presenting them with 9 language books provided by Faith Promise Church! We met  men, women, and children from Haiti, Congo, Iran, Burundi, China and the Ukraine. The volunteers and students were extremely thankful for the books and actually used them in the level 5 classroom today.

This was truly an eye opening experience, as someone who has desired to go on a mission trip. I’ve realized that Jesus is bringing the mission field to us, it’s literally right in our own backyard.

So thankful to be part of a church that encourages and supports Real Love for Real people!

Tracy Bussell

P4:8 Group Leader

The Importance of Education

Tuesday morning we were introduced to a young man who reminded us of the importance they place on education in Haiti.  When you ask a classroom full of students in Haiti if they like school, the resounding answer from all of them is always yes.
Public schools are not easy to find in Haiti, and are often understaffed and unreliable. Even if you can find one, the distance to travel is often too far. For most, the only real option is private school, and many children do not attend due to lack of money. Those who do attend often skip multiple years due to lack of money.

Benjamin is 16 years old, and he wants to be an engineer. However, he is in the 2nd grade. In order to have the money to go to school, he goes to work at the market every day. He pushes a wheelbarrow and delivers things for people to earn money.  His teachers could not stop talking about him, and how incredibly proud they are of him.

Most children in his situation in Haiti would likely never make it past the 6th grade. I would not be surprised to see this young man go much farther.

If you want to know how you can help children like this, visit

Guillem and Dexia

We spent the morning visiting farmland in Guillem.  It was the first time we got to see our old friends, Pastor Michel Cadet, who had been away for a family funeral. Pastor Michel had us help plant Okra and corn in a freshly tilled field. They explained that they had been waiting for rain to plant it, and since it had rained overnight, we would get to help.  That basically consisted of following the Haitians down the row as they dropped seed and covering the seed with dirt.

We then visited several local homes to see their local gardens. They explained that 410 Bridge had provided some seeds to start a program where families grow peppers, tomatoes, and eggplant beside their homes to cut down on food expenses and avoid the long trips to the market.

We also learned a lot more about the steps to harvest rice. We saw rice being planted, and the method they use to remove rice from the stalk. We found out that the rice is then boiled for 25 to 30 minutes to soften it up and make it easier to remove from the shell, and then it is dried in the sun for 2 days. After it has dried, it has to be taken to the mill to remove the shells, which costs a little under 1 American dollar per bucket, but produces about 6 dollars worth of rice.

Then we went back to Pastor Michel’s farm and helped plant the next round of seedlings that will be provided to local homes to grow their own vegetables.

We also saw some of Pastor Michel’s pigs. Many of the local livestock were lost during the storm, but his pigs all survived. In Haiti, there are few people who have bank accounts or make investments, and we learned in the past that they often use livestock to save money, which are then sold when they need something. There were still two large pigs at the farm, and one of them was nursing 10 piglets.  We were thankful, not only because of what it means to Pastor Michel and his family, but also because we know the impact he will have on his community because of it. When he has large liters, he has given pigs to other locals to raise. They take care of the pig, and share the litter with him when more are born. It helps him by taking away some of the responsibility of taking care of so many pigs, while providing the other home with a new revenue stream.

In the afternoon, we did Bible studies with kids at a local school. We talked about the virtue of the month, honor, and did some activities with them.

After, we played games in the courtyard with the children. Nelson even managed to start a soccer game that was pretty intense. It attracted a large crowd of spectators.

Tour of La Croix

Our first day in La Croix began sitting down with the leadership council at Madame Jezula’s house. There was such a look of joy on their faces as they saw how many people on our team were making a return trip.

After meeting with them, we walked across the street to the nursing home we had visited last year. We crossed the field that we had carried the plantain trees through. This field had once been shady and full of Mango and breadfruit trees, but was now planted with corn that was starting to come up. The trees are mostly gone, just about five left. As we reached the end of the field, we peered through the gates to the area where we had planted the plantain trees. What we saw was an empty field that looked very similar to what it looked like before we started. They told us that it was a beautiful field of plantains before the storm, and apologized that all of our work was in vain.

As we walked back through the field, they stopped at a breadfruit tree stump and pointed out that there was new growth starting, and the trees would be back. Like the Haitian people, they are resilient.

It was a great reminder that the projects are not why we are here. It is the relationships that we form during those projects. Though the trees are gone, we are forever connected to the people we worked with through that experience. Like the trees that have fallen, we learned that the roots are still strong, and will not be shaken by our current circumstances.

We then got to see a couple of the areas where 410 Bridge has been working since our last trip.  We visited a site where the chicken coops will be built to house the chickens that were donated through a 410 Bridge program. The program was meant to provide 10 chickens and coops to give them to a family to start an egg business. La Croix has decided to bring all of their chickens together and care for them as a community, sharing the proceeds. They are currently preparing the area, and will build the coops soon so the egg program can start.

We also visited the site of the new spring that was drilled a couple of months ago. A large gathering of the community was there, filling containers, bathing, washing clothes.  All things that they had done in the river just a few months ago. Future work will install a filtration system that allows them to continue to use the open source for laundry, cooking, and bathing, while providing a cleaner source for drinking. For now, it is still a cleaner source than what they had.

So, our first look at the community since the storm had some disappointment, but was more filled with encouragement. The landscape has changed, but the people have not. Excited for what God has planned for the rest of the week.

  • Dave Breaux


haitiHello Staff, Family and Friends,

As all of you know, Haiti was struck by Category 4 Hurricane Matthew on Tuesday morning.  The landfall location was about 40 miles west of La Croix (pronounced lah krwah), a community that Faith Promise sponsors through an organization called 410 Bridge.  Tonja (Dave) and I have made four trips to visit the La Croix community, one as a vision trip, and three leading teams.  Our fifth trip to the area was scheduled for tomorrow, October 7th, but it has been cancelled.

Right now it is hard to get information about the areas in the South and West that were hit hardest by the hurricane.  Most communications are down due to the loss of one of the major cell phone providers in the area.  The major road that connects this area to the capital of Port-au-Prince was struck hard, and the main bridge near Petit-Goâve was washed out, making travel to the area nearly impossible.  Further efforts have been hampered by washed out roads and mudslides.  Past dictators and regimes that controlled Haiti had allowed massive deforestation to gain money from logging companies without proper re-planting, and this has led to massive erosion and mudslide issues during minor storms, which is just made worse by reported 145 mph winds and 30+ inches of rain from this hurricane.

While we still don’t know a lot, I will tell you what we do know.  As of yesterday, Les Cayes, the closest major city that is where we usually stay while in Haiti, was reportedly still flooded.  This area includes one of the schools that we spend time with while visiting the local communities.  We were told that the mayor of Les Cayes was holding a meeting with other officials to discuss rescue plans when the house they were meeting in collapsed during the storm.

The nearby community of La Croix that we partner with is on the coast near Les Cayes, and is primarily made up of fishermen and farmers (mostly rice).  Reports are that most of the local houses have been destroyed and the area is flooded.  During the storm, even the shelter that was set up to get people to higher ground ended up under water.  They also report that most of the fishermen have lost their boats, kayaks, and fishing equipment.  Since most of their livelihood is through fishing and farming, the effects of this storm will be felt for some time after it has been cleaned up.

The full extent of the damage will not be known for a while.  Besides the loss of livelihood, the major concern with a disaster of this type is the contamination of clean water sources.  Clean water sources were hard to come by in Haiti before the storm.  There were over 26000 cases of cholera reported in Haiti already this year.  New outbreaks of cholera are already being reported along the coast.  410 Bridge has a partner in Haiti that helps with water projects called Water Missions, and they were already in Haiti with water treatment systems near the Port-au-Prince area.  Efforts are now underway to get those water treatment systems to the areas that are in need.  It is about 125 miles from Port-au-Prince to Les Cayes, but even without the storm damage, it usually takes 4.5 hours to make the drive.  Many communities that are a part of the 410 Bridge system are even further past Les Cayes.  Storm damage is currently preventing the water treatment systems from being deployed, but we hope they will arrive soon.  They are high-capacity systems that can produce up to 500 gallons per  hour.

While we have concentrated our relationship with the village of La Croix on development since it began, we now find ourselves in a relief situation, and hopefully soon will shift to rehabilitation.  Our goal will be to get them back on their feet and restored to where they were before the storm, and then we will shift back to a healthier relationship of development.  410 Bridge is working through the local church, helping to build them up and encourage them through this situation, as well as providing relief through them so that in the end, God’s church in Haiti is the hero, not a foreign entity.  We know that through this, and with all of your prayers, La Croix and the entire country of Haiti will come out stronger, and God’s glory will be evident through the mobilization of His people to help each other.

Please keep praying for Haiti, for all of the 410 Bridge communities, and for the La Croix community in particular.

410 Bridge has set up a page for donations.  They are working very closely with Leadership Councils to mobilize funds this week. Support received will be used for the most urgent needs as prioritized by local church leaders and their in-country staff. . You may also follow 410 Bridge on Instagram for current coverage of the Relief efforts.

Thank you,

Tonja and Dave