Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Flexibility, Openness, and Faith: The Ultimate VIM Skills

Flexibility, Openness, and Faith: The Ultimate VIM Skills We are now less than two weeks away from taking off for Haiti and I find that the strangest experiences will take my mind there. For example, I’ve been fighting off a mild stomach virus the last few days. Normally, I’m a bit wimpy when I get sick. This time the experience took me to last October when I got such a bad stomach virus in Haiti that I couldn’t keep anything down for two days. It was there that women from the Mellier community, this small rural area just outside of the epicenter of the devastating 2010 earthquake, came to me and washed my head and wiped my face with their bare hands. It was there that one of the community leaders went into the city to get ingredients for anti-diuretic medicine. It was there that even in sickness, I was able to gather with people I loved and sing with them at night. Mellier holds a very special place in my heart. The last two years, the community’s been a spiritual center for me and I love the people there dearly. It’s for this reason that I felt especially disappointed a few days ago when I heard that the work in the Mellier site in Haiti was to be suspended. The decision was made by our local partners in Haiti, the United Methodist Church of Haiti and United Methodist Commission on Relief (UMCOR), as they are navigating the best ways to balance supporting locally driven solutions with the need to have stakeholders on the ground be accountable for doing the work that was promised. The intention and mission of our Haiti ministry team is to respect local decisions and work for a broader systemic process that will lead to sustainable development in Haiti. While this doesn’t make this reality of work on the site being suspended any less painful, we are still called as a church to be a positive force in Haiti and so our work will continue forward. The Foundry VIM team will spend the week of October 6th through the 13th in Guillotte, a low mountain farming community several miles off Haiti’s main national highway. The community is in the same district circuit as Mellier, about a 20 minute drive away, and is served by the same district superintendent. Like Mellier, the area projects a type of community orientedness that feels uniquely rural Haitian. Recently they’ve created a community garden that the community invests and benefits from. That’s all we know so far on paper. As I write this I can’t help but get excited. I know that it’s not what’s on paper that will make this trip, but the relationships and friendships that are to be made. Like the original trip we took in February 2011, everything is going to be so new and the experience would demand flexibility. I couldn’t have known that in February 2011 a small rural community in Haiti could provide me such a transformational spiritual experience and make me feel so much more connected to my church. And it is these new experiences and relationships that I’m looking so forward to. I also feel very blessed for the many gifts this Foundry VIM team brings. Returning to Haiti will be Lauren VanEnk, Doug Kim, Margaret Yao, and of course our experienced leader, Kevin, whom I’m looking forward to getting to know better. The team will also be joined by Megan Bradley and Sean Murphy. This team of talented, committed individuals has been working the last few months on a plan to invest Foundry in a more formal relationship in Haiti, whether that be within an individual community or in some broader systemic way. This trip will involve assessing the assets in Haiti for Foundry to enter into a strong partnership. We’ve been working for months on coming up with the right questions and plans to implement a covenant relationship in Haiti and now we will to be flexible and adjust. We believed and still believe that this trip and the relationships we nurture in Haiti are as important to our individual spiritual journeys as it is to our church’s ability to fulfill our mission to, “create engaged community through inclusiveness and caring, and to transform the world through active service and prophetic leadership.” We’re also still going to continue with our plans. We have the type of people going on this trip who give me confidence that we will succeed. Yet we have also been reminded that regardless of how much we plan, there will always be unknowns in the equation that will be out of our control. That is what makes a mission trip a true spiritual exercise. We’ll do our best as a team and as a church and leave the rest of it all in God’s hands.