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Imagine an Olathe, Imagine a Mapou.

I've yet to find the right response to the age old question, often posed by friends and acquaintances following a trip to a foreign country... "How was it?"

Sometime a few years back, I began to encounter a restless discomfort when I anticipated a return to the United States from a visit to a developing country. I think, early on, I was content with the way that my immersion into another culture -- my temporary adjustment to differing social environments, levels of ordinary amenities, etc... -- allowed me an opportunity to recognize the blessings of my own life back in the States, and in turn, experience a greater value for those things that I consider "normal" in my everyday. 

However, that was then. As I have returned home from Haiti this trip, I believe the Holy Spirit is challenging me to ask another question. Is appreciation enough of a response? Is God calling me to a deeper, more active and involved, response to the people of Haiti? How do I even begin to be more deeply involved alongside the people of Haiti, in the midst of the busyness of the everyday that we all are familiar with?

I think the solution is found in a collaboration


col·lab·o·ra·tion

the action of working with someone to produce or create something.

If you've been following the stories from this trip to Haiti, you will likely have noticed that there is something curious to the purpose of College Church sending a team to Mapou. Instead of constructing a new building, we went to build relationships. Instead of running our own medical services, we joined into the already existing and sustainable structures being provided in the community.

Our involvement in Haiti is collaborative, and we aren't the dominant voice in the relationship.

So what does this mean for my return to the United States? It means that I don't have to return home, appropriately appreciative, and leave it there. There are actionable measures that I can take part in, that will keep me bound in relationship with the community in Mapou. Just as I can influence and be influenced by the people that I encounter because of geographical proximity, I can be involved in relationship with a people that live in another region of the world.

There is a common vision that serves as the undercurrent to our College Church family, as well as the community in Mapou...

It is "Imagine a Place". 

Just as we in the Olathe area are yearning to see our community be a place where the lost are found and the hurting are healed, where the young are nurtured and the old are cherished, etc... So too do the people of Mapou have the same desire. God is moving amongst the communities, together.


What does this mean for us?

We are going to ask you to be involved, in the most literal way. We NEED you to begin praying now of the ways that you might be able to take part in this collaboration in Mapou. Perhaps some may even sense God stirring them to be in country, on the ground in Haiti with our friends. There will soon be opportunities for that to take place, and we'll keep you up to date with information on these opportunities as we move into the Fall of 2017. 

For now, will you pray with us that we might be a people moved to engage this collaboration with great compassion and humility? We have much to learn from the people of Mapou, and there will be continued moments of discomfort in our future if we are to be faithfully engaging the community as a people committed to hearing their hearts, and working together for a common vision. 

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Mercy Project Haiti | Medical + Leadership Training Recap

While JP spent all of day 3 in Mapou working with the Federation, the remainder of the group continued for another half hour to a small village within Belle Anse by the name of Machese.

Our focus for the day was purely medical. Another day spent on vitals and running what we referred to as our makeshift pharmacy, with everyone contributing to ensure patients need not wait longer than necessary for care. 

The highlights of our day were split. From the medical perspective, the nurses in the group enjoyed viewing and assisting in the care of a substantial knee wound sustained from a fall off a motorcycle. Seeing how the medical staff reacted and treated the patient with the supplies available showed us the true meaning of the phrase our friend at Heart to Heart taught us on night one: “De ga jé”…do the best you can with what you have! For pure enjoyments sake, though, we were also treated to personal fresh coconuts. It was the first time experiencing a treat for many of us, and in the midst of long days working through dozens on dozens of patients, it was particularly special.


On day 4, the full group returned to Mapou to finish out our work both with the Federation and the medical clinic support.

The medical support team saw another 50 patients, bringing the total of their patient load to over 200 for the week so far. To imagine the impact that aid has brought to the village is truly amazing.

Finishing up work with the Federation gave JP his first opportunity to teach and interact directly with the members. Kicking off his leadership training with relaying to the group that “…we can only learn as long as our bodies allow us to sit,” JP set forth in leading the group through a series of team-building exercises after helping to establish among the Federation what it is that actually constitutes a true team. How do you pivot from simply a group to a functioning team

The first exercise JP led the group through was the human pretzel. If you have ever personally taken part in such an exercise, you know how difficult it can be. Now take that difficulty, and imagine if you can, trying to explain such an exercise through an interpreter to a group of adults who have never before taken part in any sort of icebreaking or teambuilding activity. After three attempts, the group managed to succeed, and the smiles on the faces of the Federation members reinforced why such efforts are so impactful. Don’t let go. Never give up. You only grow when you learn to work and act as a team. It won’t be easy, and may even seem impossible at the outset, but by taking time and working through the hardest parts, you are bound to eventually succeed.

 

Next up? The human chain. Having still retained the two groups naturally established (by histories and boundaries unbeknownst even to us on day 1), they were tasked to create as long of a chain as possible, with the intention being for one group to eventually realize that by binding their “groups” together as a “team,” they can achieve success together. While JP intervened to bring them together and drive this point home, there was noticeable resistance against the shift from competition to cooperation.

 

Having witnessed the exercises and group dynamic over the course of these four days, it is evident the Federation needs to be one team. There still runs through the group a moderate undercurrent of competition and tension amongst the Federation. It remains clear there is still a need for outside guidance to continue steps forward in creating a truly cohesive team working towards unified goals for Mapou. Guidance we look forward to providing in the months and years to come as we continue to work with this village and its people we have come to know and care for.

-Jennifer Liles, PQMD 

 

 

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Mercy Project Haiti | Medical + Leadership Trip Day 2

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Mercy Project Haiti | Medical + Leadership Trip Day 2

By guest writer: Jennifer Liles, PQMD

They say the day begins when the rooster crows. We quickly learned on day two of our time in Thiotte how true that sentiment is...some earlier than others!

We woke ready to truly watch the purpose of our journey unfold as we started the trek back to Mapou. While we spent some time in the village on Monday, today would afford us the opportunity to "fully immerse" in our mission. Medical clinic support for some, and for others (myself included), a day of leadership training alongside the Mapou Federation (which had first come together on last year's trek). 

Arriving at the Mapou school yard, our Medical & Federation hub for the week, we found both a group of those eager for medical aid as well as another group waiting for us. We quickly identify them as members of the Federation. We learn that among them are the local principal, a priest, government and mayoral ambassadors, and a youth ambassador, among others.

Sterling, our engaging leadership trainer, brought us together along with Heart to Heart International leader Josue to begin. The topic of the day? Resources. How do you define, identify, and take advantage of what is available to you? While Sterling begins by speaking in generalizations, it is clear the purpose is for those in the room to identify more specifically what the resources of Mapou are. And in doing so, the Federation itself may help to clearly define to what sources of Mapou the community should focus their energy.

Having spent a good hour in split groups, we learned what the local populations consider to be local resources. Answers ranged from fruit, the sea, animals, professionals, the health clinic (with the help of Marie Aline), and the land. But how to capitalize appropriately? Where lies the need? Proper tools, proper training, and the care to continue capitalizing appropriately stood out.

The question for us then becomes…where do we aid? How do we best use our resources in order to enable them to have success with their resources? Questions we hope to investigate more in our remaining days, but ones we are also sure to bring back with us.

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Haiti Medical + Leadership Trip | Day 1

It’ll likely take a few more hours for my mind to quiet and my body to relax after today.

 

Though this is my second time in Haiti, and I knew what to expect from the commute from Port-Au-Prince to Mapou, today caught me off my game.

 

Our team of 6 set off from Heart-to-Heart (HHI) headquarters in Petionville (near Port-Au-Prince) this morning at 6 AM (Eastern). Our plan was to journey south along Haitian Highway 1 toward the town of Thiotte (pronounced Chote), where we are staying throughout the week as we meet with our friends in Mapou.

 

Here is the thing, though… “highway” is a misnomer. It didn’t take long for the team to realize just how remote the village of Mapou is. As we wove our way out of the bustling city streets of Port-Au-Prince and began to climb the roads that led further and further into mountainous countryside, it became clear as to why few ever make it to Mapou.

7 hours later, we arrived in the village that we’ve anticipated returning to for so long. The intent for today was to allow our medical team to be present with the residential nurses that Heart-to-Heart has planted in the local community. You may remember that in December of 2016, College Church partnered with the federation leaders (more on federations in the next post!) to hire a nurse who could be a consistent presence in Mapou. Nurse Marie Aline was hired and has been administering aid to the community since early January—and it was alongside her that we were able to interact with our neighbors in Mapou today!

 

We’ll continue to share our thoughts and pass along what we learn from the federation leaders this week. Check back often at collegechurch.com/mercyblog to stay in the loop!

 

How you can pray:

+ for the energy and health of the team that is representing College Church.

+ The mental and physical challenges as the Team commutes from their lodging to the Mapou village (a little over an hour each way).

+ that God’s presence would be revealed in the interactions our team takes part in.

 

 

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Fully Immersed with our Friends

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Fully Immersed with our Friends

The word compassion is derived from the Latin words parti and cum, which together mean “to suffer with.” Compassion asks us to go where it hurts, to enter into places of pain, to share in brokenness, fear, confusion, and anguish. Compassion challenges us to cry out with those in misery, to mourn with those who are lonely, to weep with those in tears. Compassion requires us to be weak with the weak, vulnerable with the vulnerable, and powerless with the powerless. Compassion means full immersion in the condition of being human.

Compassion, Henri Nouwen

It would be easy to lay the claim that I have GONE to Haiti.

I chose to board the plane, buckle my seatbelt, and sit back as I was whisked away. Yet, to do so would seem to make me the main character/actor in this story. I wonder if this is healthy or even fully accurate when I/we become the centerpiece.

There are 6 of us on this team headed to Mapou, and though we have traveled on a plane, it is not us who chose; rather, it is God who has called and we are simply responding. 

We hope this week to experience mercy and compassion…a compassion as Nouwen has described it in the above quote that is not only willing to suffer with, but a compassion called to be “fully immersed in the condition of being human”. I have a sense we might learn/receive as much about being fully human this week as any hope of teaching it.

I offered this prayer for our team before we left, and I hope you can pray it over us this week too:

May God send us, like Christ, broken and poured out for the people of Mapou. May we not see brokenness, poverty, sick, or jobless; rather, may we be captured by the face of a human and in-so-doing, peer deep into the eyes of God.


Below is brief overview for the next few days in order that you can continue to lift us up in prayers:

SUNDAY: Worshiping in Port-Au-Prince with a local gathering. 

MONDAY: Travel to Mapou… 6-8 long hours in the back of SUV’s being tossed back and forth on roads locals have said aren’t even fit for a goat!

TUESDAY - FRIDAY: Working in medical clinic along side Nurse Ailene (CCN has been employing Ailene, who is from Mapou, in the health clinic at Mapou since December)Other team members will host a 3 day Leadership Development training seminar for selected leaders of Mapou.

SATURDAY: Return to Heart-to-Heart Headquarters in Port-Au-Prince

SUNDAY: Kansas bound

 

 

 

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A Flourishing Haiti

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A Flourishing Haiti

Pine trees…not one or two, but a forest of pine trees!

Catching my breath at 7,000 feet of elevation after climbing the final ascent as the Kenscoff Mountains plateaued, I was greeted by a forest of pine trees. I must confess I didn’t know what I would experience trekking 40 miles through the middle of Haiti, on our way to the community of Mapou, but I guarantee these trees were the last thing I expected would greet me.  This forest was only the first of many unexpected but beautiful surprises we encountered in exploring Haiti. 


Since a young age I have been captured by the idea of adventure and jump at any opportunity to explore. There is a tinge of doubt and a pinch of fear of heading into the unknown; yet, when kept in their proper place, fear and doubt are not debilitating but propel me further into undiscovered frontiers.

I assumed our hike through Haiti would be about exploration; yet, I quickly discovered it was not the adventure propelling me through the arduous trek…it was the pedestrian view of a beautiful culture and people that captured me.

Each one I encountered a tenacity, relentlessness, resourcefulness and generosity of which I had not previously encountered in all my travels. Christophe is one of these great men I had the pleasure of meeting. He had the opportunity to travel to France in order to complete a graduate degree in Community Development and decided to return to his homeland in order to help rebuild a country he so desperately loves. He could have stayed away, but he chose to walk into the unknown utilizing his God-given gifts in order to see Haiti flourish once again and the Kingdom of God continue to break into the darkness.

We at College Church had to answer a similar question in whether we would walk away or return to the people of Mapou, Haiti. 

It has been a year since my feet first touched Haiti’s soil, and I am excited to return in a few short days with a team from CCN in order that together we can continue to discover the beauty of Mapou’s people and begin working together in order that this remote area will be able to experience a flourishing community. What beautiful surprises await us this trip? We don’t know, but we are committed in taking the next steps of collaboration with leadership capacity building and assisting in their medical clinic. May God continue to provide us with a sense of adventure that we might learn and discover more of His Kingdom that He has already established in and amongst the people of Mapou. 

 

 

 

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Anticipating a Return by Preston Goff

It’s been just over a year since I first visited the community of Mapou.

I remember the whirlwind that was my last experience in Haiti. A small team of 4 from College Church had traveled into the village, hiking through 40 miles of the small island nation, to reach a place so remote that UNICEF isn’t even present.

In the days following many conversations were had, but far beyond that, relationships were developed. Food was shared with one another, dreams and visions were discussed, songs were sung.

By the Fall of 2016, it was evident… The story of College Church would now be connected with the story of the people of Mapou, Haiti. A collaboration had begun.


Now we look towards our return.

July 15th-23rd, College Church will commission a team of 6 individuals—including 3 professional nurses—to travel and serve alongside local Haitians in the Mapou community. We will be focusing on two key objectives while present, including:

1.     Medical Relief

2.    Leadership Development

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Medical Clinic

Mapou, Haiti

Throughout the week, our team of nurses will be reinforcing a team of local medical professionals as we offer care to children, pregnant mothers, elderly, and others. This care will meet an immediate need, providing relief to treatable illnesses and disabilities that, likely, would otherwise go untreated.

At the same time, we will be working directly with the local Federation leaders in Mapou, teaching and developing leadership skills that will continue to allow them to move forward with the vision for the community in years to come.


Will you commit to pray with us, and for us, in the time leading up to and through the on-site trip?

You can pray specifically for:

  • The health and safety of our team of six… Their names are: Binny, Kristy, Jadhon, J.P., Jennifer, Preston.
  • The medical treatments and relief that will be offered by the collaboration of our nurses, and the local medical professionals.
  • The leadership development training that will be taking place in Mapou.
  • That the Holy Spirit would proceed ahead of us, and create unique opportunities for demonstrating Christ’s love to the people of Haiti.
  • That our eyes and ears would be concentrated on what we are experiencing, and God would empower us to discern His movements in the community, in unique ways.

 

To learn more about what is taking place in our collaboration with Mapou, Haiti, check out this documentary from the exploration trip last June. 

 

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