This is not a bus-related post, but what the heck. Billy and I lead a trip to Haiti every year. It started in 2013 with a trip to Haiti with The Outreach Foundation, a great organization that our pastor’s father is a part of. (They connect church congregations here in America with church congregations in other parts of the world.) We fell in love with the people down there, and when we got back we happily agreed to lead a trip down there the following summer. We did a lot of research on short-term mission trips. Are they helpful? Do they do more harm than good? Wouldn’t it be better to just send a check for the amount you spent on the trip? Doesn’t that just take away jobs from the locals? All good questions. And we believe that the answer is different in each situation. (Really, it is very fascinating – if you’re interested, this documentary is a great place to start!) There are, sadly, many trips that do indeed harm the very people they’re trying to help. We feel at peace with our trip to Haiti for a few reasons.
First, our mission partner is a Haitian organization. Started by Haitians (our dear friends Pastor Leon and Jacky, his wife), and run by Haitians. This is important because they know their own culture. They know the best ways to help the people in their community. We don’t approach the trip as superman trying to save the Haitians; rather, we recognize that many Haitians are already hard at work trying to improve their country, and we do what we can to provide encouragement and support.
Second, we’ve already seen the winning side to the, “wouldn’t it be better to send money?” argument. Friends that went with us one year fell in love with the country and are in the process of adopting two beautiful boys from Haiti. Someone came back so touched by special needs children at the home down the street from where we stay, that she got other members involved and jump started a feeding program, that has since been taken over by the Haitians there. When you’re there in person, it becomes personal. It becomes real.
Third, we’ve never taken a Haitian’s job. They will actually laugh at this concept. I don’t think they’ve ever met an American that could work the way they do, and for the whole day, at that. But, we do show up anyway. And we help them lug dirt. And we help them toss buckets.
They’re touched by the fact that we come. They’re touched that we care. It’s certainly not an excuse to ignore the people in need right under our noses in our own communities, just one of many ways to live out the great commission. (Matthew 28:16-20, in which Jesus commands his disciples to spread his teachings to all of the nations.)
Haiti has become such a big part of our lives. The people there often times have so little, and yet they’re so joyful. We can’t wait to bring the kids when they get a little older. Bondye bon! Good God is good!