This was written by Summer, one of the many wonderful people I went to Haiti with. This was written so beautifully that I needed to share…
A Personal Reflection By Summer
On January 12, 2010, a 7.0 magnitude earthquake struck Haiti. The most recent estimates indicate that approximately 230,000 Haitians perished in the earthquake, and that number is low in comparison to those still missing.
The Haitian government estimates that the earthquake led to the collapse of an estimated 30,000 buildings and to some 250,000 collapsed or severely damaged homes leaving approximately 1.3 million people homeless. The homeless survivors are living in tents, under tarps, in other temporary shelters or on the streets.
Before the earthquake there were approximately 380,000 orphan children living in Haiti, and that number has rose significantly since. Some children are now not able to attend the schools they were previously attending.
The country continues to be threatened by tropical storms and hurricanes, and the damage to infrastructure and viable agriculture may take decades to repair. Major roadways are damaged from the earthquake and recent storms to the extent that the UN stands watch over major bridges.
Most Haitians have no access to clean drinking water, and recent flooding has perpetuated a cholera epidemic.
Why is it that some people are compelled to pursue mission opportunities and not others? What was God’s intention for calling us? Why us? Why Haiti?
Our team was nine strong and very diverse. Some young, some older, some single, some married, and all with very different secular careers. Most of us had never met each other before trip training. One member of our group was from New Jersey and found this mission opportunity by way of Google, never having heard of Church of the Resurrection before. Somehow, the nine of us mysteriously congealed together with a common interest in helping the people of Haiti in a largely undefined way.
Along with the desire to help, some of us were fearful of the unknown and of travelling to a third-world country. Some of us were anxious about the lack of modern conveniences, like hot showers, Diet Coke and Internet access. Some were concerned about threats of hurricanes or civil unrest with the upcoming Presidential elections in Haiti. Still, with fears set aside, we dutifully climbed aboard the plane, clothed in DEET-saturated casual wear and clutching our bibles, to answer the call – whatever that may be.
Not one of us was a professional construction worker, electrician, plumber, roofer, mason, or engineer. So, why did God urge the motley bunch of us to go to Haiti for “disaster relief”? What could the nine of us possibly accomplish in Haiti in one week’s time?
“God is love, and all who live in love live in God, and God lives in them. And as we live in God, our love grows more perfect… And He has given us this command: Those who love God must also love one another.” 1 John 4:16-21
“Lord, did I really fly all the way to Haiti to chip loose paint off a retaining wall and apply liquid termite treatment to 32 pieces of door-framing material? Really? I thought I would be re-building homes or schools that were destroyed in the earthquake or passing out food or medical supplies to orphans.”
We couldn’t help but be disappointed that the work we did on our mission didn’t appear to be “disaster relief” and that we didn’t have the satisfaction of putting roofs over heads or feeding the hungry. But, now that I’m home and thinking about the completed mission, I realize there is clear distinction between the actual “work” we did and our JOB in Haiti.
We were the first COR mission team in the town of Petit Goave. Our assigned work was to help refurbish an abandoned house with new paint, new doors and doorframes and help with masonry for a new kitchen. This house will be used to accommodate future mission teams that will work specifically in this town over the next few years.
Our JOB in Haiti was something else entirely.
Our JOB was to ride in the back of a pick-up truck everyday and wave and smile to Haitian children walking to school. Our job was to develop camaraderie with the Haitian construction crew we worked with and share a bag of lollipops and a few laughs. Our JOB was to orchestrate a soccer game with kids on the street. Our JOB was to attend a local church service and pray with Haitians about their joys and sorrows. Our JOB was to learn a few Creole words so we could say hello, thank you and good afternoon to as many people as possible. Our JOB was to share meals and thoughtful conversation with Haitians about their feelings and fears surrounding the earthquake and what we can do to help ease their pain. Our job was to love the people of Haiti as God loves us.
What could provide more “disaster relief” than sharing the love of God in a hug, smile or piece of candy? God doesn’t miraculously re-build your house after a tornado rips it down. He sends a friend over to hug you and tell you that everything will be okay eventually and that you are loved. Love and reassurance are what people need most when they are face-to-face with hopelessness.
Now I know why God picked us for this mission trip. We are, at best, a C+ construction crew with an A+ ability to love one another. Unfortunately, whatever buildings we physically worked on during our mission trip could be wiped out again in another earthquake, hurricane or flood. Hopefully, the love we gave will live on in spite of future disasters, and that will be our legacy in Haiti.
Prayers for My Team
Lord, I am so grateful for the opportunity you gave to me in this mission trip to Haiti. I am grateful that you showed me how I can better love people who are drowning in disaster, darkness and hopelessness. Please help me to be more cognizant of the needs of those around me and to respond to those needs in a loving and selfless manner. Please help me to be a better reflection of you.
I am grateful for our team-leader, Bryon. I love him because of his courage to lead our team and for the caring and responsible way he took care of us and the all details of our trip. Please bless Bryon and his future plans in graduate school.
I am grateful for Adrianne, our team member from New Jersey. I love her for her spiritual ambition to do future mission work in her home church and for the sincerity of her faith. Please bless Adrianne and give her opportunities to work with the orphans of Haiti.
I am grateful for Clark and Kelly. I love them for being the best example of a Christian marriage I’ve ever seen, filled with gracious consideration of each other and a deep love for God. Please bless Clark and Kelly and the rest of their family.
I am grateful for Mary. I love her because she has a tender and generous Christian heart. Please bless Mary and her family with good health.
I am grateful for Raymond. I love him because he is honest and forthcoming with his passion to follow Christ. Please bless him in his new mission to open a health clinic at Community LINC.
I am grateful for Stephanie. I love her because she is forever providing tips on how to be fit physically to be better prepared to serve spiritually. Please bless her in her future medical missions.
I am forever grateful for Bob. I love Bob because he is the eternal optimist and is a fountain of joy for those around him. Please bless Bob and keep him safe on his many bicycle adventures.
Lord, help us all to continue with our mission work. I think, collectively, we’re pretty good at it. Help us to not lose focus on our JOB once we settle back into our 9-5 work and help us to answer Your future calls to Haiti or elsewhere.
Lord, we love you most of all for being a living, breathing example of how to express God’s love for his children in their time of need. In Your precious name, we pray.
Prayers for Haiti
Lemaire, our interpreter, mentioned that the prayers needed most in Haiti right now are prayers for housing. Thousands of people still do not have tents or other shelter. Our prayer is that God will motivate those with the means to donate tents or other resources to establish shelter for the Haitian homeless to do so.
We also pray for peace and hope for the people of Haiti and that they forever trust in the Lord’s love for them and their wellbeing. We pray that the people of Haiti take comfort in knowing that the world is praying for them and that mission teams will continue to visit Haiti to bring hope, help and unending Christian love.