Church group discovers a different world
If you donated a backpack and shoes for children in Haiti last month, here’s your chance to see where they ended up.
The Thanksgiving Eve service at Faith Lutheran Church will include a message from members who returned Oct. 21 from a humanitarian mission trip to Haiti.
The mission team of 12, with eight from Faith, spent a week at an urban slum, a rural village, two schools and a shelter for abandoned women.
Faith member Joyce Getchell serves on the board of Reiser Relief, a Catholic-based 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization founded by her uncle.
Reiser Relief delivers clean water for free to the poor in Cité Soleil, located in the Port au Prince metropolitan area.
The poorest slum in the western hemisphere, Cité Soleil has no toilets or running water.
“There’s a wall of garbage, feces, outhouses, green water, pigs, kids running around in bare feet,” Getchell said. “Ninety minutes from Miami, and you can’t even believe your eyes. It’s a whole other world,” she said.
“The neat part is there’s so much joy. It shows us that stuff doesn’t equal joy. They’re so grateful for 5 gallons of water. They praise God and are so happy for anything they get.”
Each pail of water must last all day for one family’s drinking, cooking and washing needs.
Managing the water truck provides employment for four Haitians.
“We try not to do any work that Haitians could do,” Getchell said. “They are desperate for jobs.”
The purpose of the mission trip, she said, is to open people’s eyes and transform their hearts to serving the poor.
The shoes and backpacks that Faith collected at the Rockin’ for Relief concert on Sept. 20 went to two schools supported by Reiser Relief, Terre Promise in Cité Soleil and Reiser Heights in Donte, a small town in the rural area of Les-pinasse. Together the schools educate 1,000 students.
To make school affordable for families, Reiser Relief pays the teacher salaries (averaging $70 a month), builds classrooms, delivers water and provides food, school supplies, desks and uniforms.
Faith members also spent one day at a shelter for abandoned elderly women run by the Haitian Sisters of the Companion of Jesus in the city of Leogane.
Located west of Port au Prince, this community was in the epicenter of the catastrophic earthquake in 2010.
The Forest Lake visitors brought peanut butter sandwiches and sang with the residents.
This was Getchell’s fourth trip to Haiti, but her first traveling with members of Faith.
“I’ve been a Faith member for five or six years,” she said. “The whole congregation has been supportive.”
Next summer a Faith youth team will visit Haiti on a mission trip from July 7 to 14.
Travelers to share
Favorite Thanksgiving songs will be featured in an evening of praise, reflection and gratitude at Faith Lutheran Church at 7 p.m. on Wednesday, Nov. 27.
The Thanksgiving Eve service will include a message from members who recently returned from a humanitarian mission trip to Haiti.
Please bring non-perishable food to stock the shelves at Family Pathways and Community Helping Hand. Monetary gifts will go to ELCA World Hunger.
Stay after the service for pie, coffee, cider and fellowship.
Faith is located at 886 North Shore Drive in Forest Lake.