Prepare yourself, this one is kind of long. I said “Brief Biography” because, well… it’s not a whole book, but you may want to get comfortable for this one.
Mezilien, lovingly known as “Mezou”, was born into the Servius family on September 24, 1991. The Plateau is populated almost entirely by one family, and Mezou’s family is no exception. His last name is not common around here as his father is from outside the area but his mother is the daughter of Mme Raphaël (AKA Mme Fa), the younger sister of Dorré Dumelse, Manis’ grandfather. To explain it another way, the patriarch and matriarch of this large extended family were the parents of Manis’ grandfather. Dorré was the eldest and therefore held the most authority in the community after the death of his parents, aunts and uncles. His youngest sister, Erzili (Mme Fa), was Mezou’s grandmother.
Mezou has two older brothers, two older sisters and four younger sisters. He is the first of his family to complete highschool and as such bears a great amount of pressure to be the one to make “something” of himself. While he hopes to continue his education, he is working this year to help his mom become a bit more stable economically and by default to help his younger siblings continue their schooling.
Mezou’s youngest sister, Zilaine, at English camp this summer.
Although Mezou says he is close to and loves both of his parents, he says he has a particularly soft spot for his mom. “Some things she does bug me and there was more discipline in the house when my dad was around,” he says, “but she would do anything for us. I have seen how hard she has worked for us and I will always love her.” His mom used to have a micro-business but when his father left the family she had to use all her capital to take care of her children. Mezou is hoping this year to be able to set her up with a little business again.
“Only God could have gotten me here,”Mezou says of his life, and upon hearing his story I have to agree with him.
Mezou was not raised in a Christian family.
In fact, as a kid he probably could have counted the number of Christians on the Plateau on one hand.
He heard bits and pieces of the gospel from people who had come to preach in the area, and even went to church sometimes, but he didn’t understand.
He heard them say, “When you trust in Jesus you don’t owe anything anymore,” but he had no idea what they were talking about.
Then one night he went to the dedication of the airstrip that Lemuel had helped the community build.
At the end of the dedication service the Lemuel and MAF
(Mission Aviation Fellowship) staff played the Jesus film for the hundreds of people gathered on the new strip.
For the first time he understood.
He was saddened to see all that Jesus had endured to die in our place and he finally understood that his sin was the great debt that he had heard about.
He understood that because of his sin he deserved eternal death but that Jesus paid his debt and that if he trusted in Jesus he was promised forgiveness and eternal life.
He accepted that free gift right there on the airstrip.
“There was a lot I didn’t understand that night,” he says, “But God helped me grow in my faith.
It’s like when you plant a little tree,” he explains, “It doesn’t grow big right away.
It takes time, but God helps it to grow.”
Two years after that dedication service, Randy Christopher, a Canadian missionary, moved out to the Plateau to serve with Lemuel. Mezou had had to drop out of school that year because his parents couldn’t afford to send him. “I was given the responsibility to take care of the family cow,” he says. “Every morning I would take the cow to pasture. At noon I would go make sure the cow was not in the sun and that it’s cord had not become tangled. In the evening I would go back to bring the cow home. Randy noticed I was taking good care of the cow and told me he was going to give me a goat to look after for him. ‘If you look after this goat for me,’ he told me, ‘I will pay for you to go to school.’ I readily agreed and when I took the cow out in the morning I would take the goat with me too. Come September, Randy did as he promised and paid for me to go back to school. I had been good in school up to the third grade when I had had to drop out, but in fourth grade I was the stupidest kid in the class. When Randy saw 0s, 1s, 2s and 3s on my homework (in Haiti grades are based on 10 instead of 100) he was not happy. He told me if I didn’t pass that trimester he would not pay for me anymore. I was scared. I knew if I lost this opportunity, my school days would be finished. I tried to do better but I simply could NOT do division and my grades were not improving. The first trimester was coming to a close and exams were fast approaching.
Randy Christopher on the Lemuel House porch in 2004 treating a young girl who had cut her knee.
“I remember the first day of those exams. I was running from my house to the road to catch the 4-wheeler that Randy took into Anse-Rouge each day to take us to school. As I ran I prayed like I had never prayed before. ‘God,’ I said, ‘Please help me. Please deliver me like you did all those people in the Bible.’ When the teacher put the exam in front of me I wrote, ‘The Lord is my flag,’ at the top and started answering the questions.
“I had no idea how I had did on the exams. Everyone was asking me if I thought I would pass and all I could say is, ‘Only God knows.’ When I got the results I couldn’t believe it. I had gotten 5.25 (a passing grade in Haiti). I will never forget that number or how I felt that day. I had never gotten a grade that high during the whole trimester. I knew God had helped me.
“I guess God saw my faith, because He kept helping me. While I did dishes at night at Randy’s house I would listen to the other boys in my class studying and I would remember everything they said. When I got home at night I would only need to look over my lesson and solidify it in my mind. The next trimester I got a 7+ and was first in my class. From that day all the way through fifth grade I was always first in my class.”
Toward the end of Mezou’s fifth grade year Randy left and Mezou was again unsure of how he would continue his schooling. Manis came out to the Plateau around that time to calm some upheaval in the community. The water tanks had sat empty for some time and were full of crud. Someone told Manis Mezou used to help Randy and he sent him to go get Mezou to clean out the tanks. “Two guys came to my house and told me Mèt Manis needed me,” Mezou remembers. “He asked me to clean out the water tanks for him. They were really dirty! It took me quite a while but I got them as clean as I could. Mèt Manis was happy with my work and gave me other odd jobs to do and every day when they brought him his food he would leave a portion of it for me.”
Manis returned to Port-au-Prince to figure out what the next steps for the Plateau would be and to finish plans for a leadership retreat that was to happen before school recommenced. Having been impressed by Mezou and a few other youth on the Plateau, he invited them to attend the retreat.
“I was in the reception area of the Lemuel house and saw a list posted of all the kids Lemuel was sponsoring for the coming year. As I was reading over the list I was shocked to see my name on it! I had had no idea Lemuel was going to send me to school! Later Mèt Manis talked to me and told me officially that Lemuel would be covering my tuition for the next year.”
In the late Fall of that year, 2005, Manis moved to the Plateau. It had been decided by all the Port-au-Prince staff that he was the only one who could deal with the Plateau community as they were, after all, his extended family. It was a difficult time for Manis as he had never imagined moving back to the Plateau. He had poured himself into the work and kids in Port-au-Prince and now he would basically be starting all over again. Though struggling and sad in his heart, Manis launched into his new ministry with fervor. He started working with the church and reaching out to families in the community. Having always loved trees and agronomy he started planting trees around the house, where there was fencing to protect them from the goats. He employed one lady from the community to cook and clean and help water the new trees and gave all of the sponsored students jobs to do. One student stood out from all the rest and quickly became Manis’ right-hand man: Mezou. Mezou was a hard worker and learned quickly.
The Lemuel campus in 2005.
Mezou (back row, third from left) as part of the church youth singing group in 2006.
The next year Manis and I married and I moved to the Plateau. Mezou continued hanging around and helping out wherever needed. Soon he had learned all the basics of what needed to be done and began doing them before Manis even asked him to. Manis, seeing his potential, gave him more responsibility and got increasingly harder on him. “Some people may think Mèt Manis is too hard on me,” Mezou says. “But I know he is tough on me because he cares about me. When Mèt Manis decided Lemuel wouldn’t pay for our school anymore but would instead give us work so we could pay our own school, he taught me not to depend on people to do everything for me. He taught me to work hard and take responsibility for myself.”
Mezou, a few months after I moved to the Plateau, helping with yard work.
Mezou standing in the same place today.
Manis has said himself that he has never been so hard on anyone as he has been on Mezou. Through past experience he found that being soft on those you care about doesn’t do them any favors and only leaves them dependent, weak, and feeling entitled to an easy life. In a difficult country like Haiti that is no help.
Over time, as we were able to buy and build more fencing, hundreds, perhaps thousands, of more trees were planted, many of them by Mezou. Mezou and Manis would often be up before dawn watering the trees and out again at night watering by moonlight. Mezou would work before and after school doing any and every thing that needed to be done, and if it wasn’t done right Manis would make him do it over again.
I caught this picture of Mezou on his way to some task or another
while I was taking pictures of the Lemuel yard in 2008
Mezou in front of the Lemuel House today.
While he excelled in his work, he never slipped in his studies. You would hear him reciting his lessons as he worked and he always had a school book or notebook with him to look over when he had a little break.
Mezou in 2009 enjoying the tiller…
…arranging banks to keep rain water where they wanted it…
…and pausing to smile at the camera.
Also in 2009 Mezou taught in the primary school before going to school himself in the afternoons.
In 2010 we sent Mezou to live with Leon Cameus and his family in the Port-au-Prince Lemuel house in order to attend an excellent school nearby. Last year he completed the thirteenth grade in a school in Gonaives.
In Port-au-Prince with the other students from the Plateau in 2011.
We have missed him being around during the school year and are happy to have him back! He is covering the third grade until we can find a teacher and then will be working full-time in the community development department.
Teaching third grade for now.
In the future Mezou hopes to continue his schooling and go to university. He is looking at either agronomy or electro-mechanics. “I want to pick one thing and do it really well,” he says, “rather than do a mediocre job at a bunch of things.”
Most of all Mezou says he wants to be used by God, to serve Him in this community or wherever else he ends up. “I am no better than my siblings or my elementary school classmates that I should finish school before them,” he adds. “It is only because of God’s grace.” Recognizing all that God has done for him, Mezou says, “I always ask God to prepare me ahead of time for anything that would cause me to turn away from Him. That way when it comes I will be ready for it. I also ask God for wisdom and that He would help me control my speech.”
“I have big dreams,” Mezou concludes. “If you set your objectives to reach that mountain over there then you’ll keep going until you reach the mountain. But if you only set your objective to reach the end of this porch then when you get there you’ll sit down and never try to go any further. Sometimes people try set their objectives far, but the first time they fall they think life is over for them and they stop there. You have to get up and keep trying! That’s what I always tell my friends.”
Outside the inner campus today beside some of the trees he helped plant.
Behind the Lemuel House, beside another of the trees he planted.
Mezou’s “official” teacher photo.
All biographies and profiles shared on this blog are shown to the subject and back-translated for him/her before they are posted.