Where and when did you do missionary work? Grand Goave, Haiti 1997 to present (travel with Lifeline Christian Mission)
What did you do when you were there? A variety of projects – Distributed Clothing, Shoes, Food & Gifts to children from their American sponsors and other donors. Participated in missions events (Church Worship Services, Bible Studies, Baptisms, etc), Helped build homes provided through the mission, and helped with any other projects as requested, from weeding missions flower beds to washing dining room chairs. All programs involved first having a devotion and/or prayer with the Haitians before beginning.
What made you want to go: Our area Church Camp (Woodland Lakes) offered a short term mission trip to Haiti instead of the traditional summer camp. My daughter was 14 and wanted to go. She had never been on an airplane or out of the country, so I volunteered to go as a chaperone. I am so thankful she felt the call! We returned together for several years.
Cost; how much did it cost to go and what about the experience made you find the expenses worth it? At the time, it cost $800 each, which was a lot of money to us. The trips now cost approx. $1900 (that includes all major expenses, such as airfare, lodging and food & project supplies in the field) – still a lot of money. Every trip has been worth every penny! Since going on the first trip, our finances have been blessed and we’ve been managing them much better. Seeing how little the Haitians have remind me of the difference between wants & needs and I tend to think twice about frivolous purchases. Instead, a hair appt translates to the cost of sponsoring a child for one month. Our trips are tax deductible, so that’s an added blessing.
How did you raise the money? The first year I made stuffed country bunny dolls and sold them. I would not recommend that because I was too busy filling orders to prepare myself spiritually. God blessed our finances to fund subsequent trips. Many team members mail letters requesting others to sponsor them and that usually works out really well.
What was the worst thing that happened on your trip? When we arrived in Haiti on the first trip, our luggage didn’t arrive on the same flight. We had to unexpectedly overnight in Port Au Prince and stay in a facility that had been closed for some time. It was overrun with some type of roaches. They were crawling up the walls and on the ceilings during our evening devotion! My daughter and I shared a twin bed and prayed one of the most sincere prayers of our lives for God to keep the bugs away from us while we were sleeping. We didn’t even see one bug in our room that night!
What was the best thing that happened on your trip? We fell in love with the Haitian people and grew tremendously in our spiritual walk. Our lives were forever changed. We learned more from the Haitians – seeing their faith in action every day– than we could have ever taught them. They truly depend on God, every day, for every meal; everything. Of course we also depend on him for everything here in the states, but it’s easy to forget it and take it for granted because our family is so blessed with food in the cupboard and conveniences like running water, a bed, safe home, etc.
Share anything you would like about the experience and the people you encountered? The Haitian people I’ve met are very appreciative of missionaries and the encouragement and hope they bring. They are very loving. I find it easier to be more bold about my faith when I’m out of my comfort zone. For example, before the mission trip I went on, I had not prayed out loud with anyone other than my family. During the trip, there were opportunities to pray for meals, devotions, patients in the clinic, etc. It was very rewarding to grow in that way.
There is nothing like attending a worship service in Haiti. At the churches we attend, the Haitians sing and pray with all their heart. I love church in Haiti!
What is your response to someone who says “I would love to go on a mission trip but I’m a little scared”? GO! Step out of your comfort zone. God can use you regardless of where you are in your spiritual walk. Your best is always good enough for God. There have even been team members baptized during our trips. “Greater is He that is in you, than he that is of this world”. I remember after I first volunteered to go on my first trip, I was panic stricken – feeling inadequate – and horrified that I had been a Christian all my life, but had never read the Bible from beginning to end. That fear “of being found out” almost stopped me from going. I’m so glad my daughter felt called to go ~ my concern for her was my driving force to overcome my fears. Since that first trip, I have taught Sunday School, led many groups to Haiti, led Bible studies, etc. It has completely changed my life for the better.
Anything else you would like to share. Every time I participate in a mission trip, I grow spiritually. It’s like being on a retreat when you are with Christians 24 hours a day. It is important to be a willing servant, with a humble heart, and be flexible to do whatever is needed in a cheerful manner. Be sure to communicate with your host in the field before you go. Find out what they need, the type of projects you’ll be doing and take supplies & tools, if necessary. Don’t go with your own agenda. The last thing you wish to be is a burden on the host or missions organization you are traveling with.