Name: Benjamin Ward
What city/state you live in: Round Rock, TX
Occupation: Self employed
This trip was your first one to Haiti
Of all the places you could have gone, why Haiti? It was the one that was available for me to go on. I would have loved to have gone anywhere.
What impacted you the most on this trip? Despite the lack of material wealth that we are accustom to in America there does seem to be any necessity for these things day to day. Not that I did not already know this but it was encouraging to see life go on without a television with cable in every home.
What was the greatest thing you learned/received from the trip? Watching what God is doing in Haiti that we do not get the priviledge to see in America.
Did the trip change how you perceive your day-to-day world? If yes, how? It did as I have a desire to live with less than I do now and was encouraged to see that I could at any time.
Name: Jess Stephens
What city/state you live in: Round Rock, TX
Occupation: VP of Business Development – Lake Oilfield Services and Lake Truck Lines
This trip was your 3rd one to Haiti.
Of all the places you could have gone, why Haiti? Three years ago my destructive way of living a selfish life came to a halt as I lost my business and desire to live. Two years ago I surrendered my life and put all of my hope in the one true living God. Shortly after that decision, He dropped a missionary into my life and I was on a trip to Haiti a few months later. The relationships developed and needs that have been revealed on those previous trips have created a love for the people and work that God is doing in Haiti.
What impacted you the most on this trip? The Genada family and their unconditional love and sacrifice for the people of Haiti. This was the first trip that I was able to spend time seeing them in action (the second trip we only met them and had a meal) – their testimony is powerful, however, they do not live in the past – they are constantly seeking God’s work and joining Him where He reveals the need.
What was the greatest thing you learned/received from the trip? I was able to see that Augustine was in a great place – both physically and spiritually. God loves that young man so much that He put this broken American man in Haiti in the fall of 2011 to randomly meet him on the streets of Dessalines. Augustine is touching lives in Haiti – both Haitians and Americans that visit the deaf school and orphanage in Gonaives.
Did the trip change how you perceive your day-to-day world? If yes, how? I don’t believe you can go to a third world country and not have a change in how you perceive your day-to-day world. On this third trip, I believe it was more of a reminder of perspective. These children didn’t choose to be born in Haiti any more than we chose to be born in the United States. When you are blessed – live a life that exemplifies that – every blessing He pours out, turn it back to praise.
Name: Mike Erwin
What city/state you live in: Round Rock, TX
Occupation: Relationship & Business Development Manager
This trip was your third to Haiti.
Of all the places you could have gone, why Haiti?I had the opportunity to go to Honduras 6 months prior to my first trip to Haiti. That trip fell through. I think today that was a God-timed event. Had I gone to Honduras I would not have had the chance to go to Haiti. I arrived in Haiti 10 months after the 2010 Earthquake that decimated Port au Prince. The sites were indescribable with living conditions so poor, so overcrowded and so shocking that it didn’t fully register for several days. After spending a week with people who seemed to simply refuse to be broken by circumstances I knew I would be back as often as possible to support them in whatever way I could. Haiti is a special place that has many personas. There is the face that splashes across newspapers and commercials soliciting financial support; the face of deeply impoverished people living in squalor. And this is partially true. And then there is the face you don’t see from outside the country. This is the face of deeply connected communities who understand they are in this together, regardless of how much they “like” each other. I return to Haiti to help those communities take their nation in the direction they desire it to go. Through that community based movement the impoverished persona that splashes across CNN when there are headlines to report is slowly being transformed through small steps of progress.
What impacted you the most on this trip? By and far the most impactful aspect of this trip was praying over and spending time with the sick. Despite the progress taking place, death and illness are still a daily threat for those living in many areas of Haiti. We barely grasp this concept in the West where even if our wealth is not making into the hands of the sick and hungry within our own country, at least it exists here. In many places in Haiti it simply does not exist. In the US our poorest and sickest look across the street at institutions capable of caring for their needs and improving their quality of life. There is a unique tragedy in the fact that despite this provision and wealth, people do not receive this care. In Haiti, people die from treatable forms of cancer, or broken bones simply because care is not available. This speaks of the incredible importance of the work being done by Claire Hureuse Hospital. Meeting with some of those receiving treatment at the Hospital, many who traveled many miles by foot or by motorcycle, I marveled at how “convenient” our healthcare is and how quickly these exact people would recover with the kind of care we have here. I was also impacted by the relative detachment we have with death. I met a friend who I’ve gotten to know over my trips. I asked him how his daughter was doing. I met her during my last trip. She was right at a year old then. I expected the normal report we always hear when we ask our friends that question; she’s growing, she’s fussy, she won’t stop eating. Not this time. The report on that day was that she had died several months earlier. My friend lost his smile for the briefest of moments before moving on to a more positive subject. With an infant mortality rate of about 50%, parents literally half-expect their children to not make it to see 2 years old.
What was the greatest thing you learned/received from the trip? The answer to this question remains the same each time. I receive and learn humility and gratitude.
Did the trip change how you perceive your day-to-day world? If yes, how?Absolutely. After three trips, I still return changed by my experiences and with a deeper love for the people I meet. Most of the time we develop friendship with people whose lives look much like our own. In this way, we are not really challenged to see things differently than we normally would. In fact, our perceptions are reinforced by our friends who live lives that look just like our own. As I develop friendships with people who live completely differently than I do, I have no choice by to see my situation differently. I am at the same time incredibly grateful for what I and my family have, and deeply motivated to share as much as I can with anyone with a need I can meet. And this is not out of guilt, or shame, or a feeling that I owe an explanation for the blessings I’ve been given. And this is not from a sense of wanting to be a savior to anyone. Rather it comes from a deeper place of love and respect for people who overcome more than I could have and with an unconquerable quality and spirit. If I have the chance to share my possessions that is a blessing. But it is equally a blessing that through service to these people I become more aware of my own life, and those I share it with.
Name: Billy Everett
Age : 65
City: Denver City, Texas
Occupation: Pastor—Methodist church
Trip #1 to Haiti
Why Haiti? The people of Haiti have been on my heart for years, but increasingly so since the horrific earthquake 0f ’08. I had talked to a couple of people who have been on short-term mission trips there, and they talked about how receptive and friendly the people were—especially the kids—and how desperate they were not only for material needs, but for hope, acceptance and the assurance that people cared about them.When my friend Jess Stephens mentioned that he was helping to lead a team for mission work in Haiti in the spring, he discerned a “leap in my spirit” and ultimately arranged for me to be included on the team, for which I am very grateful.
What impacted you most on the trip? The quick and easy answer would be the beautiful and amazingly resilient children. But what most deeply impacted and inspired me was the commitment and sacrifice of those leading the on-going faith-based and humanitarian services to the Haitian people—namely the hospital in Dessalines, the orphanage and school in Dessalines established and run by the Peavey’s and the orphanage, school and church in Gonaives established and run by the Genada’s. The dedication, perseverance and selflessness of these people, especially through unimaginably difficult times, left an indelible impression on me—one that I referred to in numerous sermons after I returned home. I thank God for allowing me to meet them; to be able to hear their stories of how God had called them–out of their love and commitment to Christ–to give their lives for the serving and ministering to “the least of these; and to witness the difference they are making in the lives of so many precious people.
What was the greatest thing you learned/received from this trip? One of the most difficult issues for a participant of a short-term mission trip to an area of such tremendous and overwhelming needs is to overcome the feeling the what little they were able to do or contribute didn’t make any real difference in the whole scheme of things. But what I was reminded of—what was reaffirmed for me—is that touching the life of a single person through the offering of a prayer, the provision of a meal, the giving of a cup of cool juice, extending a loving hug and all the other ways that gives an indication to a person that they have worth, that they are not forgotten, is reason enough to know that a difference was made, even if it was for one moment of one day in the life of one person.
Did the trip change how you perceive your day-to-day world? If yes, how? Certainly as a reminder of how incredibly blessed and privileged most of us in the USA are, and how easily and unexpectedly natural disasters change the course, if not the destiny, of a person’s life.But perhaps the strongest reminder is that the greatest treasure in a person’s life is not measured by material means, and the greatest wealth is not in the things that money can buy.
Name: Joseph Flanigan
What city/state do you live in? Round Rock TX
Occupation: Going into senior year of high school
This trip was my 2nd to Haiti
Why Haiti? I went the previous summer with people from my church’s youth group and loved it. I’m also very interested in being a lifetime missionary in a foreign country. It was a real blessing to be able to go again.
What impacted you most on the trip? I didn’t sanitize my hands after playing with a bunch of kids who lived at our work project site. So i got sick with E-Coli the next morning. I don’t know if I’ve ever been that sick. I vomited all night and my stomach would not take any water. So we went to the hospital and got antibiotics and I called my mom in the afternoon after a restful nap and told her about it. It was a painful experience, but God hit me the reality that if I want to do mission work in a foreign country for my whole life, it’s going to be tough. It wasn’t a mountaintop experience for my faith, but I’m really glad I got to go and hear the hearts of the missionaries that live there.
What was the greatest thing you learned/received on this trip? Mike told me about this book called Radical by David Platt. I recently picked it up and it has changed how i perceive things more so than both Haiti trips. I remember how shocked I was getting home from the first trip at how much junk I have and how the money for it could be used for much better things. I saw what I had and I saw that the Haitians had almost nothing. So mostly because of the book I’ve been rethinking how I enjoy my American luxuries. Seeing it in person in Haiti also helps me, because the startling statistics about poverty and death in the world are real to me now. I also saw the effects of demons. They are real and you can even feel the darkness in Haiti. It’s a country dedicated to Satan, so it’s really no surprise.
Did the trip change how you perceive your day-to-day world? If yes, how? I can’t enjoy my riches as much as I used to knowing that there are people who have nothing in Haiti that need the gospel. I was planning on going to college for 4 years like everybody else but God is changing those plans. I want to learn something that can really help the people in need so I can earn the right to speak to them. The reality is that Jesus is the only way to heaven and there are over 4.5 billion people who don’t know Him. We all need to say yes to Jesus and get the gospel out wherever He calls us. Too many American Christians are taking little bits of the gospel and twisting it to our comfortable rich American lives. God has called us to action, and I don’t plan on being complacent. God used both of the trips to change me and he has! All praise and glory to Him!