New York Pastor Enthusiastic about His Haiti UMVIM Experience
by Susan Meister
March 8, 2011--When Pastor Steve Butler returned to McKownville UMC, Albany, NY, he announced to the congregation, "It's perfectly safe to serve in Haiti as a United Methodist Volunteer in Mission! But it's more than safe--it's wonderful!"
Butler was part of a Haiti Partnership UMVIM team from Upper NY Conference, co-led by Roger Richards and Barb Gay, which served in Haiti in February 2011. The team spent time replacing a collapsed security wall around the Methodist church and school compound in Cabaret.
But the team spent time doing more than construction work--they formed relationships with the people of Cabaret. Their team experience is a good example of the UMVIM work being accomplished through the Haiti Response Plan, working with the Methodist Church of Haiti to address damage from the January 2010 earthquake.
In Steve's words: "The people of Haiti have made major progress since last year's earthquake and there's (still) a lot of work to do. But I'm very happy that our mission efforts are going quite smoothly there. All funds and materials sent through the Haiti Response Plan are excellent investments in God's Kingdom!
"Our ten-day trip in February 2011 had no serious 'glitches.' Our flight arrived on time. Accommodations were basic, but clean, safe, and secure. We worked in Cabaret, at the Methodist church and elementary school. Half of the security wall had fallen, and our job was to help the community rebuild and replace it.
"The project money we sent paid for materials and labor for at least ten Haitian workers each day, plus a cook and two assistants who prepared our meals and did our laundry. We were the 'unskilled labor' on the job. We made friends with everyone: teachers, children, neighbors, and passersby. We ate very well, stayed reasonably clean, slept on cots with air mattresses in the school, and there were very few mosquitoes.
"On Sunday we worshipped with the congregation, helped serve Communion, and two of us sang with the choir (in French!). One of our team members preached, and we served rice pudding and vanilla wafers to everyone after church. Sunday afternoon we took a trip to a nearby beach. We all enjoyed a warm swim, and I had Caribbean lobster for dinner.
"The church had evening services all week, and I loved the singing! They asked me to preach one night, and we had a very happy and lively time. Each afternoon I spent time at the basketball court with the local kids. I supplied the ball, watched while they played, and had wonderful conversations with the people. One man even invited me into his home to pray for him and his family!
"We found the Haitians wonderfully welcoming, energetic, industrious, and hospitable. Everyone wants to work. Their main problem is that so few can buy materials or hire them. So we supplied the funds and friendship. We worked every day and worshiped, sang, and played together every evening. Thank you for helping me take part in this wonderful ministry on your behalf!"
Butler concluded his recap with an invitation to church members to join him on the next trip to Haiti. For more information about joining a volunteer team, contact the US-based Calendaring Coordinator at firstname.lastname@example.org or find more information at the web site, www.umvimhaiti.org.
Susan Meister is the US-based Calendaring Coordinator for UMVIM Haiti.
Date posted: Mar 08, 2011