Why I’m Going To Haiti

I haven’t blogged about this yet, but I’ve teased it a bit in my facebook status: I’m going to Haiti in a couple weeks.

My reluctance and reasons-not-to-go are just barely shy of the sum total of factors that mush together into my compulsion to go.

Some reasons not to go:

– I like comfort. I like my bed; and when I travel, I like staying in a hotel bed.

– As confident as I seem, and — to be honest — often am, I still have plenty of insecurity about many things. included in those are “what people will think of me.” In this case, I’m uncomfortable with the fact that going means some will comment here telling me I shouldn’t go (or, at least think so), that some will think I perceive myself as a little messiah. and I’m uncomfortable with the possibility that I’ll be an inconvenience to the team I’m traveling with, either because I can be a whiner, or because I can snore like a “mutha”, or for a hundred other (not really legitimate but still oppressive) notions about what people will think.

– I cannot stand — really, deeply — hit-and-run missions, missions that’s really tourism, or missions that’s really about making the participants feel better about themselves for a short period of time. A big reason for my pickiness on this is that I’ve been taking teenagers on missions trips for a very long time, and I’ve made some of those mistakes (and I’ve seen even worse).

– I think that short term missions, done poorly, creates an even greater us/them divide that objectifies the “recipients” and has very little to do with the Kingdom of God.

– My family has given money, and we will certainly give more — so, is it arrogance in me that causes me to think I should go, rather than just sending the money it will cost for me to go?

– Oh, and one more, for now: I’m a rookie when it comes to really feeling things. I don’t think I deeply felt anything until Yaconelli died. And that was only 6 years ago. I’m on this crazy love/hate journey with trying to honor God by being present to and honoring my emotions — but I suck at it, and I hold them back all the time. I know that if I go, I’ll wrestle with this in hyper-reality; and I’m not sure I want to.

but then…

– I was stunned, as we all were, by the news as it started to pour in. very early on, I had this sense that God was telling me I should go. but I didn’t have a means, and I completely dismissed it.

– I starting working with an organization I love and trust, an organization with an amazing track record of responding in ways I find both theologically true and culturally sensitive. I was working with them to put together a group of youth workers to travel to Haiti — kind of a small “representative sample” of the youth worker community I love so dearly, to go on our collective behalf to both serve, as well as assess how other youth workers might be able to respond. and, somewhere in the midst of this — never thinking I would be part of the group — I realized I was actively ignoring that heart-tug from God.

– I talked it over with my family. it had big implications for them, because the trip ended up falling on a week when my kids have a week break from school, and we had tentatively planned to do some fun family stuff that week. But when Max (12) looked me straight in the eyes and said, “Dad, you have to go!”, I was a wreck. God spoke through my son.

– Ultimately, I’m going for two reasons: I sense God is in this, and I think I can actually do more for the people of Haiti and the Kingdom of God by going than by not going. I hope and pray that my broken heart, my service, and my reporting to all of you, will have a greater impact than a check alone (I’m not skipping out on the giving part, btw).

So here I am — 2 weeks and 2 days out from my departure date, which is February 11. I’m terrified and energized, second-guessing myself and confident all at the same time. In the days and weeks to come, I’ll blog several more times about the team I’m going with, the organization we’re partnering with, the work we’ll do, and all kinds of other stuff. During the trip itself, I hope to post stories of pain and beauty, stories of the Kingdom of God breaking through. I hope many of you will join me on this journey, by praying for me and praying through this journey for the people of Haiti. and I hope I’ll be able to offer practical advice to those who might think about going, or taking a group, as so much help will be needed in the year(s) to come.

 

(btw: i was having internet probs when i first posted this, and the last 1/3 was cut off, and somehow comments were turned off. all fixed now.)  

by Mark Oestricher
WhyisMarko.com
Mark Oestreicher has been working in middle school ministry for 25 years, working in Illinois, Nebraska and California. Formerly president of Youth Specialties, Mark has written or contributed to dozens of books for youth ministry, including the popular Wild Truth and Great Talk Outlines series. Find out more about Mark’s ministry at WhyisMarko.com.
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