Tuesday, July 12, 2011


Each week I prepare teams to go to Haiti. I help them understand what to expect, how to dress, the snacks to pack, and the lens with which they need to view the culture. Now, most of those things seem small, but in fact they are very difficult to do. No matter how I prepare teams, they are always surprised once they arrive. And usually somewhat discouraged.

This past week we sent three teams from a local Atlanta church to work in the community of Bohoc. Bohoc is really the first community that The 410 Bridge started in in Haiti (other than a brief stint in Port au Prince right after the earthquake). It has a Leadership Council that is responsible for prioritizing the needs of the community, and working with our teams to ensure that they are helping and not hurting the local businesses, churches, orphanages, schools, etc.

Despite my best efforts, and our Haitian staff's best efforts...things fall through. Connections don't get made, tires go flat in the middle of a 6 hour drive, a van will get stuck in mud, or a guest house will forget that they agreed to host a team of 32. That. stuff. just. happens. And what I have a hard time doing on my end is preparing a team and a leader for that stuff to happen. It is normal. And it is not because we didn't plan enough. Haitians are so focused on surviving today, that a lot of the time they don't know how to plan for the future. They do the best they can, but we want to do anything but force our American type-A mindsets on them. We want them to be empowered and to lead us in how to better serve Haiti. And sometimes thats not as comforting as we want it to be.

We get complaints all the time that the roads are bad, the food didn't quite accommodate all the needs of the team, there was a flat tire, or there weren't enough tools for the team. We love the feedback and work diligently to keep those things from happening for each team. But recently I've been changing how I prepare teams. And the way I've done that has been to re-frame how they view these "hiccups." If they are looking for things to go wrong, they will almost always find them. But if they are looking for opportunities to be used or to be challenged, they will be excited and blessed and continually encouraged that God is at work.

This is the blog from the teams that are currently in Haiti, and it is cool to see them take advantage of each of the times that appear "unplanned" or problematic. Because in reality, we have no idea how God will want to use us, or where our most significant conversations or relationships will come. With these three teams, I've worked really hard to help them see opportunities rather than opposition. Because God is big and strategic, and is not sending hundreds of people to Haiti without really cool plans in store for them. But we have to be open and looking for those things, otherwise we'll miss them.

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