EDITOR’S NOTE: The following is a blog from Jessica Vanderpool, assistant editor for the Arkansas Baptist News, who is traveling with a mission team in Haiti to report on the ongoing work.
Arkansas Baptist News
I don’t know how many times we packed and repacked the plastic bags of hygiene items we planned to take to the women’s prison. I don’t know how many times we tried to count the number of items we needed to buy for the bags versus the number of items we already had. It seemed like a losing battle. We needed this much soap but that much toothpaste, but we only had this many bags. But don’t forget to count the ones already packed. … It was endless.
In the end, we knew there were a certain number of inmates and guards we needed bags for - and we came up short. We were counting bags outside the prison with only minutes to spare before we entered - and we didn’t have enough. All we could do was shrug and assume there were fewer inmates than we had been told or that God would take care of it some other way.
Miraculously, they let us drive our car into the prison compound. We unloaded the items into the entry area of the prison.
We had decided a couple days earlier that we also wanted to take Bibles in the Creole language into the prison, and after much work, Roody had gotten more than 200 Bibles.
We unloaded the bags and the Bibles, and before we knew it, inmates were filing through. One by one, they took a bag and a Bible and left with a “Thank you.” One by one, we had fewer and fewer bags. I was in charge of digging the bags out of the suitcase we’d brought them in and handing them to my teammate who in turn handed them to the inmates. I watched as the pile of bags got smaller and smaller. The inmates kept coming.
I prayed for the Lord to multiply our bags. I prayed for the inmates to stop coming. I had no idea what we would do if we didn’t have enough bags.
Twenty bags left and they still came. Fifteen bags left. Ten bags. The line stopped. I looked up and realized it was over. I looked back into the suitcase. Six bags left.
There were fewer inmates than we had been told. And we had just enough bags. God had taken care of our needs. After we cleaned up from the distribution, we met with the warden. She was a kind woman who appreciated our help.
We asked if the women had ever received a full version of the Bible. She said the women had received French Bibles before, but never Creole Bibles. She said some prisoners had asked for them.
We head home tomorrow (Friday) morning. It has been a good trip. God has answered prayers and opened doors in mighty ways. We thank you all for your prayers. Please continue to pray for the work yet to be done in this country.