The Buchele Adventure

This is record of the Buchele Adventure, as reported from West Africa.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Mission to Haiti, part 1

Twisted Re-bar from destroyed church building 
In July 2011 I accompanied United Methodist Volunteers in Mission to Haiti to help rebuild the Methodist Church in Mellier, which was near the epicenter of the recent earthquake. The earthquake came on a Tuesday, which was my second day at St. Philip’s. The reports started coming in that there had been one, and then about the devastation, and      collectively we wondered how best to respond. It was decided a special offering would be taken and to channel those funds through the United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR). That Sunday, I was so proud of my new church, that it would ask it’s people to respond by giving what was needed most, prayer and backing up those prayers with financial gifts.
I didn't know much about Haiti before the January 12, 2010 earthquake. I remembered a hurricane had hit the island nation in the Fall of 2008, mainly because the church I was serving at the time was not one that had a culture of receiving special offerings for aid in natural disaster relief. This time would be different.

In the weeks and months following the January 12, 2010 earthquake, there was a large outpouring of support from around the world, and Haiti was in the news as teams began to trickle down there to provide the initial physical relief. As the efforts turned to rebuilding, the   stories were not so dramatic, and soon the news and our lives moved on to other stories. 

Our Team, Chuck is third from the left. 
Our Team Leader was Chuck Newmann, who had watched many of the same news reports that we had after the quake. If you remember back to those days when we were just beginning to understand the extent of the damage, there was a great need for potable water. Chuck remembers seeing pallets of bottled water  unloaded from a plane from Sams, and thinking “now how long is that bottled water going to last, a day or so?” Chuck has served in the Army, and thought of the large water processing trucks he had worked on and wondered why we were not sending aid of that kind.      It was enough to stir his heart toward Haiti. He had to help. Ten months later, Chuck was in Haiti with a Volunteers in Mission (VIM) team helping to rebuild an orphanage. Eight months later, Chuck would be leading our team, Team #24, at the Mellier site.

I saw the announcement in our conference email last December, inviting applications for a team organizing from First United Methodist Church, Mansfield, Texas. They were leaving a few spots open for people from other churches. I spoke with Suzanne and Dr. Dale, and both seemed to think it a good idea that I apply to the team. 

We left early July 5 and arrived in Haiti after dark. I was not prepared for how much, at least on the surface, Haiti would remind me of Ghana. Sure, the humidity, but also the smells, sounds, and food, even the way the vendors stacked their mangos to sell beside the road. I felt like I was back home in my adopted country of Ghana. I would see situations develop and instantly understand what was happening. I also felt an immediate connection to the people of Haiti, which is the answered prayer that missionaries make, praying God would break their hearts for these people they have come to serve. It reminds me of the bridge of that Reuben Morgan song, Hosanna-
Break my heart from what breaks yours
 Everything I am for your kingdoms cause

I have observed that successful mission trips can be evaluated by the degree that each person on the team:
Connects with God
Connects with the people they came with
Connect with the people they came to serve

Connecting with God
Each night our team gathered for devotions, initially thought to last 10 - 20 minutes long, but each night the singing and sharing lasted longer and people from the village joined us, sitting outside our circle to listen and sing. These devotions allowed the missioners to process their day and tell where they saw God working among them. Our theme song became God of the City, and we sang it nightly as the lyrics became a heart song, or breath prayer, that guided our work. Over the next nine days, these lyrics became flesh; they took on physical meaning to us as walls of the church were built, block by block, and the walls that separate our cultures came down. 
You're the God of this City
You're the King of these people
You're the Lord of this nation
You are

Here is a video of some of the work we did there: