Tag Archives: YMATH

the story of marassa

i’ve written about the haitian tent community of marassa many times here (most thoroughly here), because it impacted me so deeply. it’s one of those experiences i will remember, in fine detail, for the rest of my life. it looks like i’m going to return to haiti at the end of may, and my prayers are daily for the people of marassa, and what i will find when i return (their tent community was built on a broad, dry riverbed — but the month-long rainy season has hit since then).

but, as ian robertson, our brilliant team videorapher (seriously, if you need a videographer for some freelance work, this is your dude), recently sent along this longer video version of our experiences in marassa. and, while the memories and feelings were never very far away, the force of them came flooding back watching this (and seeing the faces of the people — people i met, people i want to see again).

i’m sure some of you are tiring of me posting about haiti. to modify a quote from bono, from one of the u2 dvds (can’t remember which one… rattle & hum?), “am i buggin’ ya? ’cause i mean ta bug ya.”

i have two last videos to post in the days to come. but if my tentatively planned return trip really happens in late may, you can count on hearing more from me on this subject — these people — that i don’t want us to forget. i spent 30 minutes on the phone last night with a senior pastor whose youth group are planning on going to haiti this summer with adventures in missions. he’s a local pastor, who just happened to know that i went with AIM, and that i would have opinions both on haiti and on AIM. he wanted his youth team to go, but was getting a bunch of resistence from adults in the church who thought it wasn’t safe, or wasn’t good stewardship (“they should just send the money”). my response was that, going with the right organization (like AIM), haiti is as safe or safer than a short term trip to any american urban center. add to that that god’s spirit is clearly moving in haiti; and, well, anywhere god’s spirit is moving is the best place to be, safe or not. as for stewardship, my experience was that haitians (and haitian church leaders) are not used to droves of short term missionaries coming to them, like so many mexican border towns. so the impact on going drives deep into needed encouragement. and hands are still needed, as well as hearts. i think it’s good stewardship to go.

a story from haiti: michelle and her husband

i wrote, a few weeks back, while in haiti, about meeting michelle. she was in a hospital we stopped at just over the border into haiti. she shared her horrendous story with us, of having her twin 17-month old sons die in her arms when her house collapsed on top of her. but there’s more to the story than that. ian robertson, our amazing videographer, just put together this video, which both shares the story, as well as some of our reflections later that day.

social media and missions

my friend lars rood just published a piece on youthworker.com (youthworker journal’s website) about how we leveraged social media on our recent trip to haiti. it offers a somewhat different perspective on our trip than our blog post about stories from haiti. and it certainly brings out some implications for how youth workers might think about using social media for their short-term trips.

here’s a snippet from the end of the article:

Utilizing social media to get more people to team up with the YMATH team has resulted in a huge outpouring of support and a desire within others to go to Haiti. The experiment of using social media to engage people with the stories of Haiti has proven to be an incredible new way of doing missions. No longer will parents drop off students at an airport and have to wonder what they are doing during their trip. Church congregations don’t have to be separated from their ambassadors as they serve in far-away lands. Using all the available technology will help families, churches and friends experience the trip and feel as though they are a part or the experience. This is a new reality for missions.

connecting haitian pastors and american churches

adventures in missions has some very cool stuff brewing along the lines of a meaningful connecting between american and haitian churches. but, for now, here’s a wonderful video from our first trip to haiti (with the youth ministry advance team: haiti), talking about the strength and movement of god stirring in the haitian church.

the relationship between suffering and hope (talking about haiti at my church)

the church i attend was in a sermon series called “god-o-nomics” (a play on freak-o-nomics), really about what faith looks like in financially difficult times. days after i returned from haiti, i was chatting with our teaching pastor, ed noble (who i’ve known for more than 20 years, and was my boss in omaha a couple decades ago). after hearing some of my stories, he had this sense that what’s happening in haiti, and what i experienced there, was a hyper-version of the topic for the final sermon in the series, which was about “both struggling and being ok.”

so ed gave up 20 minutes of his sermon time to interview me about our trip, and how it connected with this topic.

people really connected with it, and i was pleased with how the whole thing connected with our own experience in tough times (even though the magnitude is clearly very different).

here’s a link to the mp3 of the sermon (my part is the first 20 minutes or so). and here’s ed’s blog post about it.

haiti: now what?

i’ve been home from haiti for more than a week. but i’ve had a hard time figuring out how to re-engage blogging. it’s almost like i used so many words that week, and so much of what little emotional bandwidth i have, that i haven’t had reserves left for whatever this — post trip life — is supposed to be. i made it through a speaking event, but restlessly. and i’ve been plunking away at the little details of life: driving the kids to school, answering emails, making phone calls. but i can’t seem to find my way into some of the more creative or time-focused projects i have to work on; and maybe that’s because i’m afraid of what i’ll find when i go there.

tonite (friday) and sunday morning, i’ve been asked to do a 15 – 20 minute interview about haiti as part of the sermon at my church. the sermon happens to be about living with both longing and desire while still holding onto hope. and — wow — what i saw and experienced and soaked in during that short time in haiti is such a strong example of that.

but i’m choking up just typing this, and those faces keep coming back to me.

where’s johnny sleeping tonite? how about pastor chevalier? have the march rains started to impact the marassa tent cities yet? will their little stick-and-sheet tents be swept away? will these people with nothing be left with even less than nothing?


do they still have that hope i saw? what about the joy?

and, really, HOW is it that suffering leads to hope and joy? and why do i ever think my life will be full of hope and joy if i run from, boundary and buffer myself from, and medicate away from suffering?

so… what now?

well, i’m working on setting up another trip. more on that later.

in the mean time, i want to suggest ways you can do something. a few of my friends from the trip have written about this also (including rhett smith, adam mclane, and lars rood). here are some thoughts:

1. pray. yeah, we say this, right? but, seriously, there’s something unique in our lifetime happening in haiti right now. pray for healing and restoration. pray for the leadership of the haitian church. pray that the hope people are experiencing in the midst of their pain and suffering will continue to be anchored in jesus christ. pray that help will come, long after the american media has stopped reporting on the earthquake.

2. give. it was amazing to see the outpouring of financial help during the first couple weeks after the quake. but the need is so great. give to organizations you trust.

3. go. to the naysayers who were saying, a few weeks ago, that people should stay away from haiti unless they have a skill that is specifically needed (medical help, etc), i say, “you are completely full of crap and have no freaking idea what you’re talking about.” hands are needed, and backs, and ears, and hearts. and they’re needed by the thousands. of course, i’m not encouraging anyone to go without a plan. but, find a group that is thinking responsibly about how to help, organize a small group of friends, your youth group or young adult group or men’s ministry or adult small group or neighborhood block party club and go. bring a big heart, listening ears, and ready hands.

as far as who to go with, i can’t recommend adventures in missions more strongly. i love their thoughtfulness and approach. i love that they’re developing a strategy that involves working alongside and in partnership with the haitian church (foreshadowing: they’re putting together an amazing church partnership program that is going to be off-the-charts cool and impactful). AIM — who also host low-cost domestic trips worth checking out if you just can’t do the haiti thing — is already up and running, ready to host groups in haiti, tailoring a trip for the maturity, readiness, and abilities of your group. seriously: check ’em out. make plans for this summer, when most people will have already forgotten about haiti, but the needs will be just as present as they are today.

ok. that’s what i have to say today. my wife just told me she has tamales inside, and i need to go eat one of those. then i’m off to church to talk about haiti and see if i can make it through without blubbering on stage.

a moment of levity in port-au-prince

in the midst of an otherwise intense day in haiti, i had this moment of sheer levity, punk’ing adam mclane, who was sitting on top of the bags of rice and beans we’d just purchased for a poor community. maybe it was the tension of that day that made me laugh so hard; maybe it was adam’s legs flying up in the air; or maybe it was his earnest “yeah, but don’t do that again” in response to the driver’s “are you ok?”. but this video makes me laugh every single time i watch it.

rudy singing bob marley’s “redemption song”

i posted a link to this video days ago, but wanted to embed it now that i have bandwidth. we found rudy in a tent hospital, where he was healing from a surgery on a broken femur. he sang this beautiful version of “redemption song” for us that brought us all to tears. rudy taught himself english by listening to music.

yes, please, god; bring your redemption to haiti.

driving through port-au-prince

here’s a video from our trip — just some shots from our van as we were driving. you’ll see what the “tent cities” look like, as well as some views of the city center in port-au-prince. finally, a long food distribution line by the city port. this was a very sobering drive for all of us. we’d seen some of this on the news, but were brought to silence by the miles upon miles upon miles of these views.