Haiti is known as one of the poorest countries in the world. In 2009, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) confirmed that Haiti was the second poorest country in the Western Hemisphere, just behind Nicaragua. A large percentage of Haitians live in poverty, while all face serious daily challenges to simply survive. The country has a history of natural disasters that continually threaten the culture. The 7.0 magnitude earthquake that struck Haiti on Jan. 12 has further damaged an already struggling society, leaving hundreds of thousands dead and more than one million Haitians homeless.
From Aug. 7 to Aug. 13, our team of young adults was encouraged to build relationships with the local people as we traveled throughout the capital city of Port Au Prince -- visiting an orphanage (a large tent with cinder block outhouse), worshiping at community churches, and helping to build a new sanctuary and school (with tools you’d find in your garage) for the Mariani Baptist Church. This project will cost approximately $10,000 U.S. dollars, 10 percent of which was donated by Middlebrook Pike United Methodist Church.
Some of the most precious things we will keep from this mission experience are the relationships we made with the Haitian people. It’s a wonderful blessing to be able to look back and see how God was working through us ... and at times, even in spite of us! So much good was done for so many in such a short amount of time! We are incredibly humbled that God chose us to show his love to the people of Haiti. This trip has been a life-changing experience, and we will never be the same.
Eric Bonkala is director of youth and college ministries at Middlebrook Pike UMC in Knoxville District.