Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Haiti. It's Here.

I can’t believe I will be leaving on a jet plane to Haiti in two days!  It has been quite the ride in preparing, and I’m really excited to get there and see what God has in store.  First off, thank you so much to everyone who has supported me, whether it be financially, through encouraging words, or through prayer!  Not only did I reach my financial goal, but went way above it.  Your generosity was overwhelming, and I am so grateful for who God has put around me in life as I take on these adventures.  Please know that the extra money will be going towards supplies that COTN needs in establishing themselves within the country. 

I have not really updated you since my original post about Haiti, and I apologize.  The projects we would be tackling did not really take shape until about 3 weeks ago, so it has been a scramble at the end to organize everything we need.  Although drastically different, the vision for the trip has shifted a bit. 

COTN has been working hard to lay a foundation in Haiti, but things seem to take longer there than in most countries.  They realized their greatest need at this juncture was not for us to do any construction, since they are still nailing down a home base, but to focus on building relationships.  Here are the main tasks we will be tackling this next week:

1.    VBS & Soccer Camp. 

One of our main goals was to meet the kids within Haiti, and be father figures for these kids through the gift of presence.  We will be splitting our team between the two and running both simultaneously.  The younger kids will be going to VBS, and the older kids will take part in the soccer camp.  Another team from Seattle did the same thing last month, and by the end of the week, had almost 500 kids coming out.  We have no clue what to expect, but we are prepared to handle that much and more.  Since we are the second team, word may have spread!  We have a VBS guru on our team, and a few guys with soccer experience, so it should be good.  Although every team member may not be a natural with kids, I know God is going to use us in great ways to encourage these kids. 

2.    Leadership Conference
The COTN staff in Haiti really desired to offer this to the leaders in the community, as it is an area of need within the long-term restoration the country is facing.  We are expecting around 30 or so people coming to this, and pray that God is going to work through the language barrier!  Many of us will be writing our talks on the flights there (at least I will….), as we learned of this late, but we trust God is going to use our experience and knowledge to make a difference.  

3.    Beach Day with the Sponsored Kids
Our church took part in Hope for Haiti two years ago after the earthquake, and a large portion of our money went to support 12 children and their families.  Although the devastation was widespread, COTN decided to start somewhere.  Our church heard the stories of these kids, and they became the face of what COTN was doing in Haiti.  We have the privilege of taking those kids to the beach for the day to get to know them better, and hopefully create a fun and encouraging day for them. 

4.    Meals and Hygiene Packs

One of our main goals as a team was to help distribute the contents of the container that our church shipped over to Haiti this summer.  Flood came together and packaged over 150,000 meals on a Sunday, and also put together many hygiene packs.  We will be using those meals to feed kids for a few lunches, and if we have enough hygiene packs, will be handing them out, with explanation, to the kids at the VBS.  Although the container had to be emptied upon arrival, we get the privilege of seeing people blessed by contents.  

The VBS and Soccer will be happening in the morning from Monday through Thursday, and the Leadership Conference is slated for the afternoon on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday.  Beach day with the kids will be Friday. 

Prayer Requests:
Let’s get some obvious ones out of the way:
1.    Team unity.  We have 15 guys going, and there are some established relationships, but it’s a lot of personalities in one house with insane heat. 
2.    Safety and Health.  A lot of traveling and a lot of foreign food.  Enough said. 

Main Prayer:
There are many aid organizations that have come and gone within Haiti, mainly giving a handout and moving on.  Many people in Haiti have grown accustomed to merely asking, “What are you giving me?”.  COTN is continually building trust and respect there, hoping that the people realize that the ministry is there to stay.  We are representing COTN this next week, and our prayer is that God uses us, through our last-minute and imperfect plans for the week, through the language barrier, and through our general brokenness, to draw people to God’s love for them, specifically expressed through COTN.  Although we may not see results directly, we trust that God is using us to draw His children into His loving embrace. 

Personal Prayer Requests:

1.    I have had a really busy month, with a lot of organizing, planning, and delegating.  I have been in task mode for a few weeks.  Although I objectively know what I am stepping into, I have had a hard time connecting with the reality on a heart level.  I pray that God gives me space on the plane to slow down and prepare.  I pray that I will be able to be present and aware of what God is doing in Haiti, as well as in my own heart. 
2.    I have been on a long journey of growing in compassion, mainly through connecting my heart with my mind.  I really hope that God uses this trip to stretch me in this area, even if its shocking or hard. 
3.    I pray that I could lead the team well, giving support and encouragement when needed, but also giving myself space as well. 
4.    I want to be Inspired.  Shocked.  Broken.  I want my heart engaged.  I will most likely regret this prayer request.
5.    Pray for my re-entry.  My mind often goes extreme, especially within the area of money.  I pray that I can process in a healthy way.

Our team will send an update, and I’m sure I will send a few updates to Tatum.  I’ll let her pass along how I am doing.  Be back in a week!