Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Hearing the Call to Go to Haiti

In the spring, after a massive earthquake devastated Haiti on January 12, my church, Cornerstone Fellowship in Livermore, California, talked about going down to help rebuild an orphanage we had come into contact with. On April 25, the church organized an informational meeting, and some 300 people filled our gymnasium. I was one of them.

Our mission was simple: “to lift up fellow Christians through relationships as we build, disciple, care for orphans and treat urgent medical issues.” Too, “we wanted to lift up the Haitian church” through the process. I wanted to go in the worst way and work on the construction team, one of four projects being undertaken. I heard God calling. Then I heard the cost: $1,200. Maybe not.

The construction team, or Nehemiah, would be in Leogane, about 20 miles (or 4 hours) east of Port-au-Prince. During the summer, the goal was to help rebuild an orphanage, a church and a medical clinic, as well as show the locals how to build 10-foot x 10-foot modular homes. Everything would be built to California code, not Haitian code, which is what caused the mess in the first place, from mostly watered-down cement that lacked supportive rebar.

That first meeting, they made it sound so warm and fuzzy. We would be staying in a hotel with no air conditioning (95 degrees, 95 percent humidity days is typical in summer). Mosquitoes big enough to ride. I’d need to get my first passport (something that had stopped me from previous mission trips). And shots, lots of shots, for such things as tetanus, hepatitis A and B, malaria, rabbies and pills for diarrhea. Fun times, this Haitian mission trip. On top of that, meals might be sporadic, so we were warned to bring energy bars that didn’t melt, beef jerky, nuts and a few extra bottles of water to tide us over. Just in case.

The Nehemiah team would be partnered with the Barnabas team, designated to work with the orphans, which were 30 at the time of the earthquake but now number closer to 80. What were once all girls are now a mix of boys and girls. That team was going down to do nothing but love on those kids who had lost one or both parents in the earthquake, or their parents gave them up because they no longer could feed them.

Just love them, as Jesus would love them. And build walls as strong as the fortified ones Nehemiah built around his beloved Jerusalem. (The other two teams were medical and discipleship in a tent city in another part of the country.)

A month ago, I sent out more than 60 letters and e-mails asking for financial and prayer support. Last week, I got a note from the church saying my trip had been funded, as it had to be because I knew I didn’t have anything to contribute.

But God knew how much money I had. He put me in the path of many friends who admired my courage for going. Truth is, many of those donors want to go but can’t for various reasons. Others can’t afford to help me and my teammates financially, but they’re willing to pray. All three are needed to make missions trips succeed.

This trip isn’t just about those orphans, either. So many short-term missionaries talk about clearly seeing God and hearing his voice in a ways they never had. I have friends who have given up the corporate world to serve God full-time because they heard God calling them in the field. I hear God telling me to take other men to foreign countries to build things, but I don’t have any carpentry skills to speak of, so I need a few trips to build those skills. Helps to have a little bit of credibility to your calling.

On Saturday night, my 17-member team meets in Pleasanton to pick up tools and donated clothes to load in an extra suit case that each member takes along with him (two carry-on and one check-in, filled with stuff to leave down there). Then we head to San Francisco International Airport to the redeye to Miami and then Port-au-Prince on Sunday.

Monday morning, the real “fun,” begins. I can’t wait to see what God has in store for my teammates and me.

Here’s how you can pray for me and my team members:

  • A safe journey to and from, especially while traveling the roads of Haiti, which are treacherous at best (hence, the four-hour, 20-mile trip).
  • That none of us gets sick from the food or water.
  • That none of us contract malaria from the massive mosquito population.
  • That the orphan team truly be able to love those children and let them see the love of Christ through us.
  • That we be able to build relationships with potential Haitian contractors. Part of our mission is to leave worthy contractors down there so that the Haitians can rebuild their own country.
  • That we help bring healing to a small part of a nation that badly needs healing.
  • And, for me, pray for healing in my right shoulder, which I threw out a couple of weeks ago carrying a propane tank at the chili cook-off I won. I know how to manage pain well, and I'm doing everything I can to reduce the pain and swelling.

Thanks again for your support. I’ll blog again when I return August 8.

For a look at photos from Rose Duncan with Cornerstone's Haiti mission, go this link:

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