I’m back home after another trip out of the country. Once again, I am more grateful for the things I have and recognize the things that I do not need. The feeling that I have overall? I’m simply inspired.
It’s inspiring to be with people who think beyond themselves and their own profit or well-being. This past week, I was with a lot of people who live that way…people who work day to day in jobs that pay their bills, and who use their vacation time to do something for others. God is doing amazing things through these volunteers in mission in Haiti.
There’s Warren McGuffin from the San Francisco area who heads up a team that includes brilliant, successful people wanting to use their lives for the good of the world. Warren went to Haiti on a mission trip years ago and saw kids staving off hunger by eating cakes made of mud. The trip changed the course of his life. Instead of funding meals for the kids though, he and his team came up with a program that feeds the body, spirit and mind. Working with Methodist Schools in Haiti, they are raising funds to provide solar powered computer labs used to educate students and their parents; rain-catch systems with water purifiers to provide clean (and free) drinking water for the whole community; local farming assistance aided by the profits that will come from services at the computer labs; and hot meals for the children who will be physically better able to learn as they get the nutrition they need. I got to spend the whole week with him and his in-country manager James Lazarre. You know how we pray, “Thy kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven”? They are giving their lives so that God can work through them to make that as much of a reality as possible.
Then there’s Valerie Mossman-Celestin who is from Michigan, and serves as U.S. Executive Director, Haitian Artisans for Peace International (HAPI). God has given Valerie a passion for empowering women and fostering entrepreneurship in the rural community of Mizak. Healthcare, economic empowerment of women and families, education, micro-credit all play vital roles in this work on a mountain that is difficult to reach, yet filled with beauty in the landscape and the people. United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR) has provided funding for a new, solar-powered, multi-purpose building. The plan is to install communications technology there so the community can learn new skills and market their entrepreneurial efforts. Valerie gives her life to encourage and promote the gifts from God in those around her. Many talk about sustainability in mission, but God has created through love itself sustainability – so that as it is given away, it is passed on and grows. As Valerie lives a life of love for God and neighbor, she fosters sustainability of the very thing that helps humanity tackle yet another day.
This trip began because of an invitation from Rev. Cayce Stapp, Pastor, Missions beyond Kansas City at Church of the Resurrection in Leawood, Kansas. Cayce has a vision for empowering people and moving church missions away from charitable giving that so often cripple economies and stifle the human spirit. His leadership fosters this desire in others, and through him, I was able to sit in on a federation meeting that seeks to promote community development of indigenous people. Leaders representing Protestant, Catholic, Haitian Vodou, agricultural and government sectors came together discussing the needs that are apparent within their constituencies. The commonalities were apparent: all leaders spoke of the need for healthcare, education and food stability. Their work together will unfold over the coming years during which time this organized 501c3-type body will decide local priorities and how to partner with others to reach goals. In the meantime, Church of the Resurrection expands upon the work they began years ago – with communications technology at the Petit Goave guest house, which was a communications hub of the church in the earthquake’s aftermath, and at Harry Brakeman School where a site assessment is determining how to best place ICT for education and community empowerment. Cayce wears his heart for serving God on his sleeve – observing and readily acknowledging God in others. He helps all who know him want to live better lives.
Now, if I were to mention all of those who inspired me this week, this blog would go on for days. I will write separate articles on other topics and include other people…just wait.
So here I am, back in a home with hot water, air & heat, plumbing (and plenty of toilet paper!), food, employment, personal transportation, health, a family who has no history of devastation from dictatorships or natural disasters. I have a faith in God through Christ that helps me see the world beyond an individualistic lens – that reminds me the things I possess are not simply here for my good pleasure but for the good of the world. Perhaps as the others in the blog go about living their passions, I do as well, knowing that my passions have been ignited from theirs and others along my path.
When all is said and done, I want to know what matters and what does not. I want to live a life that really does make God smile. I want to keep laughing about personal faux pas that others may be embarrassed by. I want to stand strong for those who are weakened under unjust rule and political systems. And I never want to forget the world and those I have seen beyond my own home, so I can rejoice when we all meet again one day.