Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Haiti mission trip

Observations on Haiti mission trip
This being our first trip to Haiti, our first impression as we drive around Port au Prince is that this is a country devoid of your basic needs of decent food and shelter, the worst I've ever seen. There seems to be a total lack of a government structure to help deliver basic services. And there is little evidence that there has been much done since the earthquake to clean up and repair damaged buildings. A country that was in desperate need before the earthquake, is now even further behind. Although we see some teams from mission organizations trying to do some cleanup, for the most part there seems to have been very little cleanup and removal of the rubble left by the earthquake. But life goes on for the millions who call Haiti their home. They seem to be an incredibly resourceful people, making due with what little they have.

Port au Prince is extremely crowded with very poor roads to travel on and incredibly dirty. There are people in need wherever you turn. Any public land within the city of Port au Prince that once was a park or open area is now filled with tents. This nicest areas of Port au Prince would be considered extreme poverty in the United States.

There seemed to be opportunities for ministry all around us. The most impressive mission opportunity we visited was the Nehemiah Project outside of Port au Prince developed by Campus Crusade For Christ with other partnering mission organizations. Near a small community about 15 miles outside of Port au Prince, the mission has a School, Children's Home, clinic and housing for mission teams. They also provide a feeding ministry for the community at large. http://www.nehemiahvisionministries.org

We also visited an orphanage near where we stayed. Michael and Heather Popp had made contact about adoption through this orphanage and so we spent one afternoon interacting the with children and talking with the manager of the home. This would be a mission opportunity.

The Beree Baptist Church which hosted us, is a very traditional Baptist church which ministers to the educated and business class in Haiti. Pastor Jeanty preaches in French although he sometimes uses Creole when he feels it is appropriate. Pastor Jeanty sacrificed several days of his schedule to be with us and show us the city. We met with the mayor of Port au Prince and got to pray for him and visited the Baptist Seminary.

We also visited a hospital which was started by Pastor Jeanty's aunt. It was a nice, clean facility in port au Prince. We were surpassed to see so few beds occupied. There were only a handful of patients. We were told that most Haitians do not go to the hospital because they can not afford it.

One day was spent working with children at the Christian Academy. About 90 children came, either members of Beree Baptist or those who attend the Academy. We played games, did crafts and shared the Gospel with them.
While we were working with the children three of our team members lead a one day conference on Emergency medical training and medical care for amputees and the physically handicapped.

Any future partnership with Beree would be in either Prison ministry or conferences (medical or ministry related). The pastor and volunteers from the church visit the women's prison on Monday and Wednesday of each week .

The Walls International Guest House was a convenient place to stay. It was located near the church and orphanage. It hosted a lot of mission teams and was clean with a good breakfast and decent dinner included in the price. The downside is the lack of bathroom facilities. Our team of 12 shared two bathrooms and others in the house were using our bathroom also.

The one downside of doing missions in Haiti is the cost. Considering this is a third world country, the cost of food and services seem to be extremely high. Food costs are double what they are in the United States. We had to pay for our lunches each day and they were about $10 a person for meals that the church provided. We did have sandwiches one day at the seminary which were about $5 a person. Gasoline prices are incredibly high so the cost of transportation during your visit will be about double what it is in other third world countries.

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