PORT-AU-PRINCE, HAITI — The leader of a mission group from Clayton says he has watched Haiti transform in the three years since a massive earthquake devastated the impoverished island nation.
"Today is a very busy day (in Haiti) to say the least," said Butch Huffman, a retired Methodist pastor who routinely leads mission groups to Haiti.
"That's been one of the beauties of having come early and coming on a regular basis," he said. "You can see the transformation that's taken place."
Mission team member Al Carpenter was in Haiti in January 2010 when the earthquake struck.
"As soon as the earthquake stopped, I thought, nothing is ever going to be the same. It's going to change me, it's going to change this country," Carpenter said.
He was right – Haiti has changed. Hotels and businesses are opening up in the capital, Port-au-Prince, while Haitians crowd the streets with goods to sell.
"There's a lot of investment coming into the country now," Carpenter said.
Haiti resident Yvon Pierre said conditions have improved in his country since the quake and that the disaster has strengthened the faith of many people.
"For the fact that God let them be alive, most of them give their life to Jesus right now," Pierre said.
Huffman said faith has carried Haitian people through hard times.
"When I come to Haiti, I know God is working within me," he said. "The people of Haiti are very loving. I think things are looking better every day, but we need to keep coming."
Little by little, the missionaries say, their work in Haiti will make lives better for the people who live there.
"Each person we help, that's one more person that's been helped," Huffman said.
"You work in a small area. You don't try to fix the whole problem," added Carpenter. "And it all just grows over time."