Joe's Reflections

The first question we heard from friends and family when we returned was, "How was your trip?" My response was always, "Challenging." This is true in many ways.

I found it very difficult to find my place among all of the poverty that we saw. Through our training sessions we had learned about the living conditions in Cap-Haitien. I thought that would be enough to prepare me, but it wasn't. I have been among poor conditions before, but not in such density. Mile after mile of shack houses one next to another really hit me emotionally. So many people congregating on street corners made me very uncomfortable. I didn't want to make eye contact for fear that I would somehow be accused of being too rich and not caring. I looked forward to our evenings at the guest house where I could be comfortable and with people I knew and understood. I am grateful that Larry and Budlin were there to help me work through and understand what I was feeling. I'm still trying to figure out how that experience affects my life here in Deerfield.

I'm awed by the way Pastor Codo and Bunie work. Their schedule is more than full of meetings and outreach and teaching and organizing and training and leading. I tried several times to talk about their life outside of their ministry, and finally realized that there is no such thing. Everything they do is about the people in their church and those they would like to see come into their church. All day, every day, their focus is on their ministry. It is not their job, it is their life, it is where they find significance and joy, and they seem to need nothing else.

Though we were there for only six days, I was struck by how connected people are to one another. Their idea of family is not confined to people not related by blood. People want to know names and phone numbers to stay in touch (even when the phone number is an international call). The assistant pastor prayed for our pastor's daughter during the worship service on Sunday, though the two have never met. Favors are given and received gladly, knowing that soon circumstances will be different and the giver and receiver will reverse roles. Their interdependence contrasted sharply with our independent ideal here in the US. The Haitian people have much to teach us about what it is to live in community.

Salt and Light Church mostly needs resources to expand its ministry. They have workers to build their school, what they need is materials. They have evangelism teams who do a much better job of communicating with their neighbors than we could. They have a wedding ministry to help those who want to get married, what they need is dresses and rings for the couples. They have enough students to fill their elementary school classes, what they need is food to give them because they learn better when they are not hungry.

There are a lot of construction projects going on around Haiti, and we met several large teams from other US churches at the airport who were working on them. I believe that NSCCC can provide a different kind of support to Salt and Light, including medical, educational, and theological support that many other churches don't have to offer. I hope that future teams sent by NSCCC will go to Cap-Haitian prepared to fill specific needs that we are uniquely capable of accomplishing.

May people see the good works that we do and glorify our Father in heaven. (Matt 5:16)