Trip Recap: Our Savior’s Lutheran serving in Mariani, Haiti (3/26/15)
This past week, Bethany and I had the pleasure to spend another week in Mariani with the youth group from Our Savior’s Lutheran Church (OSLC) in Naperville, IL. Though they have been coming to work in Mariani each year since 2011, last year was the first opportunity that Bethany and I had to lead their group. It was awesome to be back in Haiti with them again this year!
The main ministries that the team served in during the week were continuing the church construction at Mariani and ministering to the kids in the community through songs, Bible skits, and fun crafts. This team actually broke ground on the church foundation 5 years ago and this year, they got to attend church inside the building! Along with that, they spent some time hanging out with the kids at Good Shepherd Orphanage in Carrefour, AND also.. get this.. they got to attend a triple Haitian wedding!
It’s not uncommon for couples in Haiti to avoid getting married because of financial reasons. To help overcome that, the church at Mariani has a ministry that provides weddings for people who might not get married otherwise. Last Sunday, there were three couples that got married in one ceremony. One of the guys getting married has been super involved with the construction at Mariani since the beginning, so the team enjoyed getting to congratulate him and his new wife!
It was such an amazing experience, being in a wedding in another culture. From the Pastor being upfront about sexual freedom after marriage, to the flower girls dancing to “Colors of the Wind”, to the entire church ERUPTING when the couples kissed, it was so much fun to be a part of. They even made us the VIP guests of the wedding! So, we got to sit up front during the ceremony and eat first at the reception. It was a humbling experience, and a blessing to be a part of.
Towards the end of the week, we always talk with the groups about how to share their experience when they return home. This week, the adults from the group led the rest of the team in a debriefing time and had them share how their week went in one word. As we went around the group, words like overwhelming, colorful, life-changing, intense, and comfortable popped up. For me, the word I chose was refreshing.
There’s a few reasons. It’s been 8 months since I was last in Haiti. That means I’ve essentially been doing office work for 8 months. Phone calls, emails, meetings, conference calls.. It’s all necessary for what we do, but it can sometimes be a drag! Coming back to Haiti means a chance to refocus and get back to the core of what we do. We get to see friends, connect with pastors, get updates on projects, eat some acra and pikliz, and fill our hearts with the love of the Haitian people.
Not only was it refreshing to be in Haiti again, but it was also refreshing to lead a group like OSLC. In the big picture, they are committed to partnering at Mariani for the long-term, foreseeable future. They understand the value of the relationships they are building there and it’s awesome to hear them speak of how God is using those relationships to impact their lives. They clearly have their priorities in the right place! On top of that, they are just a stellar group of people that are a blast to be around!
So yes.. although it’s hot and the days are long, I can absolutely say that this trip so far has been refreshing. Thank you Lord for a great week.
Looking ahead, Bethany and I have some down time this week as we prepare to host and lead the annual Haiti vision trip. Be praying for us and our staff as we host about a dozen pastors and youth pastors next week that are interested in serving with us in Haiti.
To close, here are a few of our favorite pictures from this week. (And thanks Nicole for being such a great photographer!)