Haitian church members cut down palm trees with axes and machetes. They carved poles for the fence for the goat farm. Each pole had to be driven into the soil the length of the machete. Two shovels broke. The fence still got built.
The mission included a doctor. He and Olivia tried to treat the villagers as best they could with antibiotics, vitamins and other simple medicine. The patients suffered from malnutrition, dehydration, dysentery. The healers didn't have the means to handle the most serious illnesses.
None of the Californians spoke Creole, but pantomime and a joint sense of their journey bridged language and cultural canyons. "Two- and 3-year-old kids were helping us," Dustin says.
The goat farm was important because of the milk and cheese they produce. Goats usually have three kids a year, which makes the farm sustainable.
Besides the roof, the missionaries built 32 wooden pews, planks of wood they trimmed, sanded and varnished. They placed them in metal stands the Haitians had prepared. A line of people, headed by Dustin, ended by Haitian congregants, carried the pews into the church.
On Sunday Dustin preached. Under a mango tree. Choirs joined the service, some of them not Nazarenes. One female group all wore donated bridesmaid gowns.
The new church rocked with belief.
Next Tuesday, Atwater First Church of the Nazarene will hold a vigil for Haitian earthquake victims. It starts at 7 p.m. at 1374 Shaffer Road.
The co-pastors encourage anyone and everyone to come. Especially any Haitians in our community who can tell their stories. You can reach Dustin at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Olivia recommends a nonprofit, Nazarene Compassionate Ministries (www.ncm.org) as a place to send money. She says 100 percent of it goes directly to help Haitians -- "our local churches pay the overhead."
You don't have to belong to their church. You don't even have to believe in religion or God. But how can you not believe in people like the Metcalfs and Aaron and Johnny -- people who have put their belief on the line?
Frantz also wrote in his e-mail: "Almost all of the extra material you left at the clinic we have already given to take care of people from the earthquake. Thank you so much, guys. I love you so much. I want to let you know that you did a great job in Haiti."
Now it's up to the rest of us.
Executive Editor Mike Tharp can be reached at (209) 385-2456 or email@example.com.