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.
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.