The Buchele Adventure

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

Monday, May 07, 2012

Mission to Haiti, part 2

Mission to Haiti, part 2

Here is a video of our Vacation Bible Camp in Haiti:  

Over the years I have observed that successful mission trips can be evaluated by the degree that each person on the team
Connects with God (covered in part 1)
Connects with the people they came with
Connect with the people they came to serve

Connecting to the people we came with
We were a team of nine people from different churches, two medium sized, and one so large that much of the host team only met at the team orientation. Some were experienced missioners, for others this was their first time out, and I wondered how this team would “gel.” 

Not all Mission Teams jell, but those that do, have a  predictable pattern to how quickly they    become as one (or jell). Ideally it happens between day two or three, but teams can also jell too fast. It is a false bond that is not strong enough to last the entirety of the trip. Some teams never jell, or jell so late that people just get a taste of that team feeling and then it’s over. 

Our team gelled (or jelled) fast and well, in ways I’ve never seen a team come together before. There was no drama or strife, and we worked alongside each other and the Haitians we had come to serve as equals. There is a Haitian Proverb that says “For a table to stand well, all legs must be of equal length”. We learned the proverb’s meaning by example:  for a group to work together well, all must work as equals - different abilities, but a same spirit of dedication.
You're the Light in this darkness
You're the Hope to the hopeless
You're the Peace to the restless 

Connecting with the people we came to Serve

Volunteers in Mission (VIM) is attempting a new organizational model for its Haiti effort. In this effort, the work is being guided by the Haitian Methodist Church, using missioners working alongside local people, using local     materials, appropriate technology and construction techniques to the culture (read: we did it by hand). 

For the time a missioner is in the country, four Haitian locals are to be employed in their support. For our team of nine, we had three cooks (who also hauled water for the toilets and bucket showers), two interpreters, a driver (when one was needed), and ten workers whom we worked alongside on the worksite. 

The food was amazing - mostly local dishes and locally grown foods, though one day we had Wonderbread and Spam sandwiches for lunch - which was delicious (really!) Vacation Bible Camp (think VBS) was held for the children of the village in the mornings. The first day there were about 80 kids with an equal mix of boys and girls, but by day three it was closer to a more manageable 40, and mostly boys. We learned that the girls could not come because they were needed to haul water for their families. We slept open air in cots inside the temporary school house, going to sleep and waking to the same sounds as the village, mostly barking dogs and chickens, and the ever present sound of the hand pump being used.

For greater things have yet to come
And greater things are still to be done in this City
Greater things have yet to come
And greater things are still to be done in this City
(God of the City, by Bluetree)

Why Mission is not just about the Money
I am often asked why we believers go on mission trips, when sending the money the trips cost would be so much more efficient. It’s a fair question, given the cost of transportation and the lack of most North Americans (myself included) to work the distance and abilities of the local work force. And yet I believe in short term mission teams because of the work they do accomplish, on site, and the continuing influence of the work as people resume their lives. Thus far in 2011, 97 UMVIM teams, representing over 800 volunteers, have served in Haiti. 

John Wesley believed that through prayer, God changes us so that we can change the world. I make no illusions about the work we did in Haiti; at best we added about six feet to the height of the walls that will become the foundation of the church building. Even though most of these walls will be buried when it’s back filled, I believe that we made a difference, not only in the continuing work on the church building (which will be complete in six months), but also made a difference in the lives of the children (ask me about a young man named Cladell), and put Wesley’s understanding of prayer into action, changing each of us so that we can go out to change the world. 


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