A week in Haiti inspires Craig group to give more
November 24, 2016
Craig — A group of 10 missionaries sent by the Journey at First Baptist Church in Craig to Haiti has returned after a week helping the Baptist Haiti Mission. And plans are already in the works to provide more help.
The group traveled to Haiti on Nov. 6 and stayed for a week to minister and give aid to the mission that serves the poorest county in the Northern Hemisphere, said Journey at First Baptist Pastor Len Browning.
The county is currently recovering from several natural disasters, including Hurricane Matthew that hit the Caribbean Island in October.
The Craig missionaries removed downed trees, fixed broken washing machines, repaired roofs and electrical systems damaged by the storm, wrote Terry Calvert in an email sent to the newspaper from Haiti.
"They are a proud people, a good people," Calvert said during an interview after the group's return to Craig. "We have a lot to learn from those people who are making due with what they have and still living good lives."
Courtney Jenison helped take pictures of children for the mission's child sponsorship program. She imagined taking photos like the ones she sees of crying, desperate, needy children on T.V.
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"The truth is the kids are the most happy kids. It's part of their culture to look serious in pictures," she said.
Jonah Jenison found the cultural difference fascinating. "We usually have to retake the picture if we aren't smiling," he said.
Gisela Garrison had the opportunity to assist the sponsorship director in helping a young blind, deaf child go to a special boarding school where she will learn sign language and lip reading.
"We learned that she has started school. We plan to continue to help with on-going expenses," Garrison said. "There were so many situations where I got deeply touched."
The mission employs about 150 Haitians to run a campus consisting of over 34 buildings that provide medical care, church development, education, child sponsorship and self-help under the guidance of a small team of church missionaries, according to the Baptist Haiti Mission website.
"I noticed a contrast of those who had found faith in the mission from those outside of the compound who seemed angry and overwhelmed," Browning said.
One long-term vision of the mission is to build a new, larger hospital to replace the 82-bed facility toured by Garrison and other members of the group.
Each day in Haiti started with morning devotions
"Those lessons were really inspiring," said Cody Rogers.
He said it was powerful to start the day off with a Godly attitude towards the work and everyone he met.
The food and people of Haiti were also inspiring, especially to the youngest members of the missionary team.
"Almost all the kids I saw were happy. As long as they were playing… even when they were playing soccer with a tennis ball or water bottle, they were still slap-happy," he said.
Of the projects tackled by the Craig team, organizing an overwhelming amount of well meaning, but unneeded donated goods at a storage depot, caused the group to rethink what Haitians really need.
"It was full of chairs, medicine, gowns and scrubs," said Jonah Jenison.
The donations create an unintended problem. Without trash removal services and landfills there's few ways to dispose of items that are expired, too damaged to be used or unneeded.
"Good willed people are sending junk over to Haiti," Browning said. "We need to stop the yard sale mentality. To bring something better, to give them the good shirt instead of sending the one with the hole in it."
Often what's needed most is cash and the support for the people of Haiti to decide how it's best spent, Browning said.
The missionary team from the Journey identified at least three ways they intend to continue their support of the Haiti Baptist Mission:
• Funding deaf-blind school for their sponsored child.
• The expertise and labor to support electrical repairs and improvements.
• Raising funds to build a new hospital.
"It's a long hard problem and the solution has a long hard answer," said Justin Jenison. "Problems don't get solved overnight or with money alone, they get solved overtime with discipleship."
To learn more or lend support contact the Journey at First Baptist in Craig.