VIM HAITI MISSION TRIP
ATLANTIC UMC – OCEAN CITY
NOVEMBER 12-19, 2011
After months of planning, fundraising and preparation the Atlantic UMC Haiti Team began its adventure in the wee hours of Saturday, November 12th. We left the church at 12:30 AM with eight members of Atlantic, and on our way to Reagan Airport, picked up Benita Harris (Associate Pastor, Asbury UMC, Salisbury) and Eric Bowman (Member, Asbury UMC, Arnold). Our travel to Port Au Prince was relatively uneventful.
Our team knew, in advance, that were assigned to a rural project in Arcahaie (ark-eye-aye) which is about an hour north of Port Au Prince. We were forewarned that we would be living with the extended family of the local pastor and that we should expect very basic accommodations. I am not sure we fully understood the ramifications of words like “latrine” and “bucket shower” but we quickly learned and adapted to our somewhat rustic lifestyle. The family we met were wonderful and kept us well fed and taken care of throughout our five days in Arcahaie. We came to very much appreciate being in this very real environment versus staying at a guest house as we experienced the true Haitian situation and culture.
Our work assignments involved both construction and a Vacation Bible School setting. The local Methodist Church had been rebuilt but they were adding a kitchen, storage and generator rooms in order to better serve the church and local community. The team members who worked in this spent most of our time moving cement blocks, carrying cement, moving boulders for foundations and digging where needed and assisting the Haitian work crew as much as we could. Each day the temperature exceeded ninety degrees, with heat indexes near one hundred, so we had to be cautious and stay hydrated. We were very gratified, that after our time there, we left with the walls of all of the buildings up
Inside the church several team members interacted with about fifty children, ages six months to sixteen years, doing games, crafts, sing-alongs, and providing lots of love to the kids. It was a difficult task because most of the children have very little and we found a definite “survival of the fittest” mentality. By the end of the week we were able to get most of them to share their toys and the overall experience was wonderful.
A highlight of our week was a church service on Thursday evening, during which team member Benita was asked to deliver the sermon, and the church was filled with the families and children we interacted with during the week. We found it very difficult to say goodbye to many of our new friends in Arcahaie when we departed on Friday but we felt gratified that God sent us there and that we were able to help.
As we traveled through Port Au Prince and the countryside we became aware that some rebuilding is definitely taking place. However, the plight of the average Haitian remains difficult. We have come to admire the strength and courage of the Haitian people who do everything they can to provide for their families. Their hope in the future certainly was an encouragement to our team to work hard and to potentially return again.