I’ve supported an ongoing mission from my Church for several years and have been wanting to go see it in Haiti for some time.  Well the opportunity came up this spring to join a small team on a short term mission trip to help them with a leadership conference, the new church plant that has just started running for the last 4 weeks and to build some pews and signs for the new Church building.  I was happy to help in these areas and I had a fantastic trip where I learned a lot.

First thing I learned was just how beautiful Haiti is, despite everything you might see and hear on the media about the disaster it is in, the earthquake from 2010 and the poverty and problems there.  Most of that is true but in select areas, mostly around Port-au-Prince and elsewhere in Haiti it is much more of a tropical getaway. Don’t get me wrong, the economy is nearly non-existent in Haiti and it has very poor people throughout the country, however it has a lot of promise and hope at the same time.   I’ve been to the Dominican Republic several times before and Haiti has just the same country side, beautiful mountains and the only big difference is that there is far less forest and large vegetation in Haiti due to deforestation.   Unfortunately the crops and agriculture in Haiti is not really sustainable and many crops are grown for a higher price even if they destroy the little soil that is available.  This is important to help change as it will only continue to degrade their agriculture ability if they do not learn to improve their soil conditions and agriculture sustainability.  I helped to document the trip and so took many pictures while there, many of the scenery since I love nature so much. There are pictures of the landscape, mountains and vegetation, and some of the people and activities I was involved in which I hope you will enjoy in this slideshow of pictures.

During the trip, I was involved in helping to support the local church community that has just operated for 4 weeks with a new building on the property that my local church (OakPark Church of Christ) helped to fund.  The people in Port-Salut now are starting to feel that it is their Church to enjoy and they are operating the Church with a shared leadership group instead of a single Pastor who makes all decisions like most other Churches of Haiti.  We helped with a kids program that is totally new in the area where the kids can play games and have fun at Church while learning about God and stories from the Bible.  They love it and asked us every day they saw us if it was Kid’s Club day, which is right now only on Saturday.

We spent some time painting, putting up a couple of new signs for the Church and building pews since they only have some simple folding chairs right now and they will be needed for overflow seating since the Church right now only holds about 30 people inside, with room out on a covered patio for extra seating.  The local Haitians were very grateful and always willing to pitch in and help so we had a lot of fun building and working with them, even if we could barely understand each other.  Luckily, carpentry, painting and tools are quite easy to describe in a ‘Pictionary’ demonstration style, so it made working together easy and fun.

We helped teach at a 3 day leadership conference for the Church and community leaders from around the area and this was great to be part of.  They face many of the same leadership challenges as we do but they don’t have the learning resources and education available to them to help them deal with things.  This made the conference a big success since much of the material was new for them, they were deeply interested taking notes the whole time and shared with us how much they could use more materials and study materials if we can help provide that, which I certainly think we will be able to.  Its great to see how they are so passionate to learn and willing to tackle some of these challenges without being asked, they all want to improve the community and Haiti so badly, they are very willing to do whatever they can, its inspiring to see!

So, there are a lot of mission teams in Haiti, certainly not all Christian based, and there are many ways to help the people their so I encourage anyone who’s been interested in helping abroad and especially if Haiti has any special place in your heart, to find an organization to get involved with and to visit the country and experience the beauty, the great community of people there and to help inspire them to find ways to lead their country out of poverty.  I’m excited to have had this opportunity and hope to go again some day, to watch this work continue and to continue to support the people in Haiti who are leading change and helping to make it a better place for themselves and for their children, we can all hope for that at least!

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