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Mission Trip Blog

Learn about the journeys of Westminster’s various mission trip teams.

  1. Mission Trip Blog : Report on the Haiti Education Mission Trip

    — By Dorene Palermo

    Thanks to great support and conversations with mission teams from Indiana, contacts from Florida, Haiti Outreach Ministries (HOM) board members, Pastor Leon and his daughter Nadege, and other friends in Haiti, WPC’s Education Mission Team proceeded to Port au Prince for a very successful trip.

    This time we worked with teachers and staff at two HOM elementary schools: Repatriot, where we went in 2018, and Terre Noire, a campus new to most of us.

    A reduced number of team members necessitated a revision of our original plans for the children’s classes, but thanks to creativity, planning, team work, and good translators, our team, with the help of the Haitian teachers, was able to introduce materials and methods to every level (pre-K through second grade), including the use of Kindle Fire tablets. The noise, the excitement, the sounds of children responding to questions, the joy on the faces of the Haitian teachers, and even the thanks we got from the translators, reflected the value of the classroom experiences for everyone involved.

    This year our music class was entirely led by Kathy Hancock, her flute, and a translator, who also played guitar. Kathy played the flute as part of the church service on Sunday for the 600-member Haitian congregation. As it was last year, the delicate music of the flute was an interesting contrast to the bold, rhythmic music of Haiti.

    In addition to the value and experience of our in-classroom work, we were able to give the schools a lot of materials and teaching tools — from pencils, erasers, chalk, and wall posters in French to manipulatives and materials for math and science studies, maps, and puzzles. While these things are basic to our classes here, they’re not available to the teachers in Haiti.

    In Repatriot, the “brain child” of Stacy Whitenight, who was unable to make the trip down, was developed and delivered to all 17 teachers of grades pre-K through sixth grade by JoAnn Lytle-Olson. Aided by her techie husband, Jon, she selected age-appropriate applications, games, and books in French and English to be used in the classrooms. Working with the librarian at Repatriot, herself a graduate of HOM schools and a great tech-savvy translator, JoAnn set up a Media Center at the new library in Repatriot. By the second day the librarian — now called the Media Administrator — was able to lead classes for the teachers in the use of and care for the tablets. By the last day, every teacher was able to bring a few students to the class and start to train their own “teaching assistants “on the tablets. At the end of the week we held a “graduation lunch” of sandwiches in the library for all the teachers, which was a great success.

    This Media Center endeavor is one we need to focus our attention on for future trips – providing additional tablets, setting up access to appropriate content, extending the opportunity to the other schools, and providing funding for purchasing content. I believe this is the way we can make the greatest contribution to HOM students’ education in the future, preparing them to be global citizens.

    Because of the political situation at this time in Haiti and because HOM does everything necessary to preserve our safety, we did not go “shopping” at the Tin Market or visiting downtown museums. Instead we toured the ever-growing campuses of HOM, seeing the classrooms, watching the high school add buildings and classrooms each year. (They now have the BEST chemistry classroom in Port au Prince and top teachers are asking to come to Barye Fe school to be able to teach in the great lab there!).
    On Cite Soliel campus are the classrooms, the church, library, the medical clinic with a full-time Haitian staff, the pharmacy (where our medical teams go), a dental office and eye exam rooms for mission teams, and vocational school classrooms for sewing and for computer training.

    On Terre Noire campus are the classrooms, church, library, a medical clinic used by Family Health Ministries (a Durham NGO), a guest house for mission teams, a vocational school for sewing, and the offices for Nadege Gay, daughter of Pastor Leon, and his wife Jacky. Nadege is in charge of all three elementary schools. Helen Harrison and Emily Strader will be going to Terre Noire this month to provide supplies and inspiration to the students in the sewing school, along with additional clothing (created by our Mission Stitches ministry) and shoes for students.

    On the Repatriot Campus, the newest elementary school has added a sixth grade class and a new kitchen. Now they have a new media center, too.

    At the newest campus, Barye Fe, the high school is growing year by year, managed by Pastor Leon’s wife Jacky. She has been creating this new facility one grade at a time – they’re currently at the tenth grade. HOM pays for students to go to other private schools to finish high school for grades they don’t have, so completing the high school will simplify the efforts and improve opportunities for the HOM high school students.

    From discussions with Nadege and several of the teachers and watching the videos of the tablet class at Repatriot, it is clear that our trip was a tremendous success, in spite of the last-minute challenges. Serving in Haiti is life-changing and demands flexibility, creativity, a sense of humor, faith, and stamina. The song we sang here recently at worship – “The Summons” by John Bell and Graham Maule – was one we sang one evening in Haiti as part of devotions. It should be our Mission theme song!

    Will you come and follow me if I but call your name?
    Will you go where you don’t know and never be the same?
    Will you let my love be shown? Will you let my name be known,
    Will you let my life be grown in you and you in me?

  2. Mission Trip Blog : October 5, 2018

    Blog post by Benny Joyner

    Day Six:  Our Final Day in the Clinic

    What a day! It began with a quick return trip to the middle and high school, Barye Fe, for some of us to drop off medications and provide instructions for use of some of the medications that we had prescribed on Wednesday. Others in our group went straight on to the clinic to get started as this was our last day and not only did we have to see patients, but we also had to conduct closing activities, cleaning, and inventory.

    Our Team on their final day in Haiti

    Upon arriving at the school, we quickly found our students and passed along the medications and instructions. The students surprised us by writing a letter expressing their gratitude, appreciation and a desire to pray for us and our work. It was a touching note that was even more special given the earnestness of their message. While we could have lingered longer in the presence of these impressive kids (all smartly dressed in their school uniforms), the reality was that we needed to get to the clinic and see patients.

    Pulling up to the clinic for what was supposed to be a “slower” day seeing fewer patients – only 60 were scheduled – we were greeted with a much different reality. The porch of our clinic was packed with patients, and there were patients already awaiting us in triage and in the waiting areas. But a situation that had originally seemed overwhelming, quickly gave way to a sense of accomplishment as we realized that many of the patients waiting were return patients! Patients with ailments that necessitated follow-up, that were sent out earlier in the week with a prescription, instructions to return and a prayer that they would…and they did!  Many had not only returned, but also improved – some dramatically so! From the child with a forehead abscess that resolved to the child with a chronic infection in his lower leg that had markedly improved, there was evidence of the importance and the necessity of our work. This isn’t to say that we could solve all the problems that we encountered as there were many that were beyond our scope. But, for these patients, we were able to consult our Haitian colleague and arranged] for follow-up and treatment at another time.

    A moment of silliness with the kids

    By 2:00pm on Friday, we had seen approximately 500 patients, drained abscesses, provided breathing treatments, prescribed countless prescriptions, and prayed for and with our Haitian friends.  I’m always struck by how exhausting yet rewarding the work is, but what strikes me even more deeply is how sad I am that the week is over and that the clinic work is done. I will miss our team – not only the 13 individuals from the states who made the trip, who come together to efficiently see and treat nearly 500 patients in a week, but also our incredible team of Haitian translators (Paulinx, Markens, Eugenie, Wood, Evans, Osmack, Marline, Andy, Calvin, and Joseph), without whom our work could not have happened.

    We concluded our day as we had all week by debriefing the day’s events, but we also had a special treat in that Pat had invited our Haitian physician colleague, Dr. Quency, to join us for dinner.  What a treat! Dr. Quency embodies the humility, class, intelligence, and kindness of the Haitian people. To think that the efforts of our week are his reality week in and week out is a humbling thought.

    Final team debrief – what a week!

    Our evening devotion discussed the transfiguration of Jesus Christ and how the high that we all feel right now will slowly wear off over the coming days and weeks and how to re-enter our everyday lives. I wish I had the answer to that because I know, from prior experiences, that the next days and weeks will be tough. It will be hard to “re-acclimatize” myself to my “first-world problems,” knowing that people not so far away are facing much more stressful conditions daily. But I end knowing that despite this, their hearts are filled with joy and they are praying with and for me every day.

    With joy from Haiti,


  3. Mission Trip Blog : October 4, 2018

    Blog post by Jami Howell

    Greetings from Haiti! Today we had to rise and shine earlier than usual. Our tap-taps picked us up at 6:00am to take us to the school at Terre Noire. All the children line up at 6:45am to sing the National Haitian anthem and listen to announcements from the Headmaster. Unfortunately, two children were disruptive and had to kneel in the corner.

    Nadege, Pastor Leon ‘s daughter, gave us a tour of the classrooms, where we visited with the students in one three-year-old and two Kindergarten classrooms. Remarkably, the Kindergarten students were writing in cursive, which appeared more more legible the handwriting of some of our team members! We also visited the kitchen where the cooks were preparing meals provided by Rise Against Hunger over a wood fire. We stopped in the library where Nadege shared that there are no public schools or libraries in Port-Au-Prince. Of the ten private school libraries, HOM has five of them!

    Some team members were able to visit with their sponsored child. HOM enrolls 180 three-year-old students each year, all needing sponsorship. Parents contribute a portion of the tuition while the remainder is covered through sponsorship.

    Finally, before leaving for the clinic, we shopped at the onsite gift shop, buying Haitian made gifts for loved ones back home.

    After all that, it was only 8:30am, so it was off to the clinic for a full day of seeing 98 patients. God is working indeed!

  4. Mission Trip Blog : October 3, 2018

    Blog post by Woody Warburton

    Today is day five, but only our third day in the clinic. It was exciting just getting to the clinic as there is road construction outside the Palm Inn with huge piles of gravel and barely enough room to get by. One tap-tap had to push the other to get over the curb!

    Today’s clinic brought the usual mix of patients, ranging in age from one week old to 80 years old. A good number of patients were dehydrated. It’s amazing what two liters of Gatorade will do for a 65-year-old person who is feeling poorly and barely able to walk. The other common problem is hypertension. Just like in the US, it is a major challenge to get folks to take their medications every day!

    We only saw 80 patients in the clinic and were finished for the day by 2:00pm. Jackie Dorleans and Nadege had asked that we see some students at the new high school (and see their new building) in Berye Fe.  Six students have grown to 80+, so we took the full team with translators, triage equipment, and a supply of medications, guessing at what kinds of health concerns we might find there. It was an excellent and rewarding experience – an impressive group of 7th-10th grade students. I asked every one what their favorite subject was; their answers were physics, biology, math, commuter science, and languages. Not one said PE or soccer or recess. It was very nice to see the future leaders of Haiti. Yes, education is the ticket out of the pervasive poverty.

    We are blessed with a wonderful group of 10 translators. They are a joy to be around. All are amazing. Here’s a brief profile of this group who are so critical to our work:

    Paulinx: Age 25, lead translator, studying law, tutors, and helps with technology problems
    Markins: Age 35, a third-year law student, likes journalism and sports
    Eugenie: Age 34, English teacher, married with eight children – a two- and a four-year-old at home and six who live in the US
    Wood: Age 31, 3rd grade teacher, married with a wife and four-year-old child in Paris
    Evans: Age 31, just graduated from law school
    Osmack: Age 26, 4th-6th grade English teacher
    Marline” Age 24,speaks Spanish and German and is studying Japanese; has studied theology
    Anderson: Age 24, teaches 3rd grade
    Calvin: Age 25, college student studying telecommunication engineering, likes to paint and do electrical work
    Joseph: Age 18, works with kids and is writing a book

    What a talented and wonderful group!

    The devotions tonight were from First Thessalonians about authentic joy. Our translators exhibit this as they care for us. We are truly blessed. We closed with the reminder that the joy of the Lord is our strength.

    With love and joy from Haiti,

  5. Mission Trip Blog : October 2, 2018

    Blog post by Andy Dunk

    A few of our awesome Haitian translators

    Bonswa from Port-Au-Prince! Tuesday was a great day in clinic. The team worked as a wel- oiled machine with a day’s experience under our belts. In fact, we were efficient enough that we finished early and wished we had requested a few more patients for the day.

    At the end of clinic each evening, our lead translator asks how many patients our team would like to see the next day. Patients walk to clinic in the early morning hours, lining up as early as 5:00am. The clinic then gives out tickets for visits for the day. When 125 tickets (or whatever number we choose) have been given out, the line is cut off. Patients then wait outside the clinic in the hot Haitian sun until their turn to be seen. The system works well, and there’s no need to cut off the line while there are still people waiting. But, it can be challenging to estimate how many patients we can adequately care for in a given day since the type and acuity of illness is so variable.

    Our devotion on Sunday evening before the start of clinic centered around Matthew 22:35-40 – the commandments to love the Lord our God and to love our neighbor. I have been thinking this week about how broadly we can define “neighbor.” I feel privileged to serve with my neighbors from WPC and those from Topsail, NC and Rochester, NY.  I feel privileged to serve with our neighbors who are our translators, many of whom worked with us last year and greeted us with warm smiles and big hugs. I feel privileged to serve our Haitian patients, who face so many challenges and live in such a different world than me, but who laugh at the same jokes, who cry when their children are in pain, and who are comforted by a doctor’s reassurance and a nurse’s care.

    We look forward to another busy day tomorrow. Please keep us and the people of Cité Soleil in your prayers.

    Much love,