July 31, 2013

ByJennette Barker

Eleven members of First UMC in St. Charles embarked on a week-long journey on June 25 that was an experience of a lifetime. Our eclectic, intergenerational group spanned the age range of 50 years. We came together from a variety of backgrounds and nationalities (Zambia, United States, Colombia, Ghana and Haiti) with one mission: Dlo Pwop – Clean Water. We went to provide clean drinking water for Haitian families.
    
We have to start by thanking all of the First UMC Community, family, friends and the Office of Creative Ministries for their support; prayers, well wishes, supplies, financial, etc.  We also want to thank Pastor Chali for his leadership and organization. Finally, the trip would not have been possible without our talented Haitian friends, Robenson – Group Leader and Translator, Gaspard – Translator, Wilber – Driver, Aldi – local GPS for Arcahaie.
    
Upon arriving in the capitol city, Port Au Prince we acclimated ourselves to the weather and stayed in the Methodist Guest House. It was interesting to hear about Methodist Missions in Haiti (in general) and the next day we rode to our home for the week, Arcahaie. We stayed the rest of the week at the Methodist Church in Arcahaie.
    
The work began as we divided the many supplies and gifts we brought with us to distribute. We joined homeowners at the first seminar where we all listened and watched a water filtration system being put together as a display. Later that day, we went into neighborhoods and the homes of those who attended the seminar. After each water filtration installation, we held hands and said a prayer, before moving on to the next home. While we weren’t in any one home for an extended period of time, our interactions, time together and memories made will last a lifetime. We left each family with a small gift – thanks for your generosity!
    
We continued the installation process for the next three days and were able to install a total of 88 units. Word spread quickly and as neighbors witnessed the installations they signed up to attend the seminar and receive their own system. There were some needs we were unable to meet because we ran out of systems and time. The need for clean water in Arcahaie still exists.
    
Some of our church members were on a waiting list to go on this mission trip. We are hopeful that another team is able to attend next year and continue to work by providing systems for clean water.  The group who went gathered and grew together as we became a team. We looked out for each other, prayed for each other and celebrated together.
    
Everyone had their own favorite part of the journey; becoming friends with church neighbors, walking through neighborhoods and into peoples’ homes for the installation of the system, connecting with homeowners through smiles, gestures, song and dance, prayer and words, bonding as a mission team, trying new foods, and nightly devotion. Several people have asked if I would return or do it again. Without hesitation my response has been ‘YES’.