Last October, I signed up to go on a mission trip to Haiti. Our plans were simple; we were going to spend about 10 days there serving in an orphanage, doing small construction projects and fun activities with the children. Our plans changed in the same moments that changed the entire country of Haiti on the afternoon of January 12, 2010.
Our trip was scheduled to take place about 6 weeks after the earthquake so we were not sure that we would even be allowed into the country. Once it was clear that the airport would reopen, we were also concerned whether or not an organization would be able to host us. Our original site was unavailable but we were able to partner with a group called Mission of Hope: Haiti
. When we arrived the first week of March, we were the first non-medical support team to arrive at their site since the earthquake.
Even before last January, Haiti was ranked as one of the least developed countries in the Americas (146th out of 177 countries in a recent report by the UN). It has a long history of political corruption and oppression (if you watched the recent news coverage of the election, this is no surprise), causing approximately 80% of the population to live significantly below the poverty line. And these statistics were all before the earthquake. Now countless citizens are living in dangerous tent cities and are at increasing risk for contracting cholera due to the lack of access to clean food and water.
Last years trip was a life changing opportunity for me. We were able to help sort the overwhelming amount of donated supplies received by Mission of Hope (including moving 60,000 bottles of water by hand), work on construction projects, visit patients recovering in the clinics, and spend time with children living in tents who were too frightened to sleep or spend any time inside. One of the workers at an orphanage we visited said that our visit was the first time she had seen some of the children laugh or smile since the earthquake. I put together a ten minute video of my experience that you can see here
After all I learned and experienced during my last trip, I wanted to return right away. Of course work and other life obligations quickly entered the picture. When the opportunity came to return to Haiti this March I thought of every reason why I couldnt go. My job has changed since last March so my work responsibilities are different, my living situation is different, my finances are different. However, as much as I tried, I could not forget what I had seen and heard and could not ignore my desire to return.
In a little less than two months, I will be returning to Haiti for another 10 day trip. The team is currently in the process of training and preparing for the trip. We are meeting together to learn more about each other and how we can best work together as a team. We are praying diligently for the trip, our team, and for Haiti.
We are also in the process of building the team that will support us while we are there. We know we cant do it alone. There are several ways in which we are building support.
First, and most importantly, I desire your prayer as I take part in this ministry. There are several areas in which the team and I can use your prayer support. Please pray for safety and protection for us as we travel. Please pray for ministry opportunities and that doors will be open for us to make a difference in the lives of the Haitian people. I also appreciate your prayers for my health and the health of my team. The threat of cholera is not expected to impact us as we will have access to clean water and quick medical care (if caught early enough cholera can be as easy to treat as a bad flu)
. There were some small issues
with my diabetes while I was in Haiti last year (nothing that couldnt also happen in the US)
, but I would appreciate prayer that even these small difficulties would be absent this trip.
Financial support. This trip is made possible by the support and money raised by the team members. The cost of this trip is approximately $1,100. I finished addressing my letters to raise support last night (actually most of what you read here comes from that letter). If you receive a letter in the mail in the next few days, please know that I do not have any expectation of financial support. I am excited for what I am taking part in and wanted to be able to share that with my (diabetes) community of friends both on- and offline. Your prayer and encouragement is much more important and valuable to me than any financial support you are able to provide. That being said, if you are interested in knowing how you can support me or how the financial support is managed, please contact me so I can get you more information.
There are actually two different ways in which my team is raising support. As I mentioned above, team members have written individual support letters to send to their friends and family to raise support for their individual funds.
Additionally, my team has designed silicone bracelets (similar to the Livestrong bracelet) to raise money as a team and to encourage people to continue to care for Haiti. They say (in Creole) Hope for Haiti and include a reference to Matthew 25:40 (Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.).
The bracelets cost $3 and the money raised from them will go into a general fund to be divided by the entire team. If you would like a bracelet, please e-mail me and I will give you instructions to make sure your donation is directed correctly and that you receive the correct number of bracelets.
I am really looking forward to this opportunity and sharing with you everything I will learn and experience when I return. I cannot wait to see what God will do through this group of students as we travel together to serve others. Thank you for supporting me in this life changing experience.