The cool moist Pacific air greeted me. I sent a text to Kristen, who was waiting in the cell phone lot. “I’m outside.” Three minutes prior I walked off my Southwest flight from Chicago, the last leg of my return flight from Port au Prince. A few minutes later and I saw her pull up in our white minivan. She slid over to the passenger seat, I tossed my bags into the back, and the trip was officially over.
In the morning I leave for a less-than-routine trip to Haiti.
I say “less-than-routine” because while it’s easy for me to get comfortable traveling to Haiti, it’s just one of those places I don’t want to ever get routine.
It’s been four years since the world awoke to the reality of the January 12, 2010 earthquake that devastated the Port-au-Prince area.
Millions were displaced.
Nearly every home was damaged.
Over 100,000 lost their lives.
The Western Hemisphere’s poorest nation, imploded.
The sounds of Haitian children singing worship songs to Jesus reverberate in my dreams.
This week I’m getting the opportunity to go behind the scenes with Praying Pelican Missions during their busiest week of the summer, shadowing Haiti Operations Director Jim Noreen. (He is overseeing 7 ministry sites around the country with about 170 participants in country.)
If you’ve never been to Haiti you need to know that it is a place of alluring beauty. I don’t know how to explain it but I draw energy from being here. It has a pace & vibrancy that’s intense. Everything is just a little bit turned up… noises, colors, humidity, etc. While I can’t share the flavors or the smells… I can certainly share some sights and sounds to give you a feel for what it’s like to be here.
Have you read When Helping Hurts? It’s a powerful challenge to church leaders and short-term mission organizations to think about the unintended consequences of “helping.” [Hint: Stop reading this post and go buy it now. It’s good.]
Short-Term Missions and Youth Ministry
Getting practical, and with an eye on youth ministry, we are often torn.
This morning I woke up at about 5:30 to the sound of Kristen unzipping our tent in Yosemite National Park. That sound was the last breath of my vacation. A week of swimming in mountain streams, playing games with the kids late into the night, campfires, hikes, and a million giggles. It was awesome. But waking up simply meant it was time to start packing.
“Hello. This is Berthan, have you forgotten me?”
“What? Who is this?” I replied into my office phone. It never rang. Why now? It must be a wrong number.
“Berthan. It is me. Have you forgotten me?” It was said so fast, with a powerful accent, and I was in the middle of something that I couldn’t think.