Even though our mission was dentally focused, we made sure to participate in the many ways God is working through United Christians International in Haiti. This final blog post will attempt to summarize the overall experience beyond the dental mission project. Part of the experience of a short term mission trip is the spiritual side. As we participated in devotions and worship together, one of the themes we decided to take home was the concept of choosing joy.
As mentioned in the previous post, our first day was longer than expected as we were stuck in Port au Prince for a few extra hours. This made us arrive quite late and tired to the mission site of UCI (United Christians International). Therefore we were unable to get organized for the first day of the dental clinic ahead of time. Thankfully everyone was willing to keep a positive attitude and work around the initial disorganization.
Though the focus of the trip was on dental service and supporting the dental clinic and UCI dentist, Jocenel, we also had several non dental members in our team - friends and family. Several worked as critical support of the dental mission by directing, educating and entertaining the kids. Others worked on such projects as electrical wiring at the university along side a small team from California. The first day also included a few team members helping in an English class and organizing food and clothes for distribution in the area including at another primary school a few miles away.
The team also was able to participate in a feeding clinic at a nearby church where around 50 children on Friday November 9, help place a concrete floor in a home and distribute food and clothing in another community on Saturday.
A couple team members were able to join another team from California on a prayer walk in which they were able to participate and witness and man commit his life to Christ. We were blessed as a team to be able to experience a men’s choir and the testimony of a former witch doctor who converted to Christianity. Pastor Mark Vande Zande was able to teach at a pastors retreat and preach at the Sunday morning worship service.
It is easy to describe the things we did and accomplished. But the reality is, those are all temporary in regard to impact. Kids will get more cavities, clothes will wear out and stomachs will be hungry again - but the spiritual transformations are what can have an eternal effect. UCI is a Christian ministry and proclaiming the gospel is involved in every aspect of the mission. So our hope is to bring the love of Christ to the people of Haiti, but as is often the case - they showed the love of Christ to us.
Two of our main take home messages and challenges are to consider how we can leave a mark of Christ’s love on those we interact with and to choose joy. The people of Haiti are generally a very friendly, loving and joyful people. This is a lesson to take home. No matter our situation, we need to choose to be joyful. When we aren’t choosing joy, which comes ultimately from Christ, the we are by default choosing to be unjoyful. Many of our team agreed that this is a challenge in our daily lives as we tend to see the negative and not the positive and allow ourselves to be angry and resentful rather than joyful and loving.
We strive for and have been told we are a friendly and kind dental office with a great team. We hope this will continue, but also hope the joyfulness will shine through even more after our experience in Haiti.