Strong faith in face of poverty eye-opening to missionary


Photo courtesy of Dustin Martzke During his mission trips to Haiti, Shawano resident Dustin Martzke has seen how the people of Haiti, despite living in poverty, have a very strong faith that keeps them going during difficult times.

As a fellow volunteer, I recently had the pleasure of meeting and getting to know the president of the Shawano County Humane Society board, Dustin (Dusty) Martzke.

He has served on the board for 15 years, first as secretary and currently as president.

“I am glad my employer, Cellcom, supports and encourages community involvement and volunteerism,” Martzke commented.

He has been the Cellcom store manager since 2008.

Martzke attends Hope Community Church and chairs the church’s mission program, Hope World Missions. Hope Community Church has two international partnerships; one is located in the Philippines (Dauis Baptist Church), and the other is with Pastor Diogene Pierre (Pastor Dio) in Haiti.

“I’ve been to Haiti five times since February 2014,” Martzke commented. “I plan to return in May 2019. Our group flies into Port au Prince, the capital and most populous city of Haiti. The length of our mission is generally 10 days. From Port au Prince, we travel to the village of Tricotte.”

He continued: “During our last visit in February 2018, the team from my church and I completed a solar project in the village of Tricotte. It provides power to the church, school, guest house and pastor’s living quarters.”

Prior to the installation of the system, a generator was used. Martzke said parishioners were so grateful for the system, because their weekly offerings were used to purchase a gallon of gas for the generator. Now their hard-earned offerings can be used in other ways.

The country of Haiti is very poor; many live on less than $1 a day. Fortunately, their climate is good for growing some types of fruits and vegetables to include bananas, mangos, papaya, avocados and peanuts. Most of what they grow is used locally, but there are some exports. One of the elementary school kitchens Martzke visited served rice and beans made in big pans placed on fires on top of large rocks. Things are very primitive with very few conveniences.

Martzke said: “Feed My Starving Children sends food to supplement the fruits and vegetables they are able to grow. Being a spoiled American, witnessing the poverty and their strong faith is quite eye-opening. When they become ill, they turn to God for help. Their first thought is not to seek a doctor’s help, but rather they first ask for help from God.”

Hope Community Church mission works closely with Pastor Dio. His home church is located in the village of Tricotte, but he has helped build schools and churches in many other villages.

“He is an amazing man with an inspiring story,” Martzke said. “As a young boy, he was determined to go to school. He walked five miles to get to a school. He would stay at the school for the week, go home for the weekend and then walk back again.”

Martzke continued: “He saved every penny he could earn so he could continue his education. He finally had enough saved to pay for his schooling. However, his father didn’t think he needed to go on to school, so he took his son’s money and bought a goat. However, with God’s help, he was able to earn and save the money a second time. He was able to attend school and fulfill his goal of becoming a pastor.”

If plans work out, Pastor Dio will be coming to Shawano and speaking at Hope Community Church sometime in late October and early November.

One of Pastor Dio’s wife’s dreams was to have an orphanage for the handicapped and children in need of a safe place to stay.

“It is more like a forever home,” Martzke said. “Some of the children have no parents, while others do have parents but they are unable to care for them.”

Martzke sponsors a young Haitian boy named Kiki who lives in the orphanage. Although the boy cannot speak, he has developed a friendship with the child and he spends time with him during each mission.

Martzke has only been on one mission to the Philippines although the church has had several there. He explained that the missions to Haiti are primarily project-based. The missions to the Philippines are more relational. The missions primarily focus on outreach; witnessing and sharing testimonies, teaching the word of God and inviting people to worship.

“When we leave for a mission, our goal is to help others,” Martzke said. “When we return home, we realize how much they have helped us. Our relationship with our Lord is strengthened. We look at things with new eyes. The experiences that occur during a mission are life changing.”

Question: What was the name of the restaurant and antique shop located at 151 S. Main St. in Shawano in 1959?

Clothesline Conversation Answer: Russell’s Restaurant owned by Russell Brei

Lorna Marquardt is a former Shawano mayor.