Group returns from Haiti with renewed sense of purpose
A group of women from Beaverton Christian Church recently returned from a 10-day mission trip to Haiti, where they distributed clothing, shoes and food to more than 1,500 children and their families.
Under the leadership of Shari Swanson, director of Beaverton Christians womens ministry, the local group joined female missionaries from across the United States at Lifeline Christian Missions compound in Grand Goave, a small village about 40 miles west of Port au Prince. Lifeline has had a presence in Haiti for more than 30 years and been involved in the relief efforts after many tropical storms, hurricanes and the devastating earthquake that struck in 2010.
As the poorest nation in the Western Hemisphere, and still struggling in the aftermath of the earthquake that killed 300,000 and left many more homeless, Haiti continues to be the focus of global relief efforts.
Swanson was on a short-term missionary trip to a Haitian childrens school in Grand Coave when the Jan. 12, 2010, earthquake struck.
The buildings were seriously damaged in the earthquake, but the children and staff members all survived, she said. It took my breath away. I saw a school that had crumbled to the ground, and I thought what if that was me?
Swanson said Haiti has made some great improvements since the earthquake.
There arent as many tent cities, more homes have been built by Lifeline, and the rubble has been cleared away, she said. Many nonprofit agencies have come to help the Haitians, and they are responsible for getting things done.
One has to remember that Haiti has been ravaged by tropical storms and hurricanes for years and years, so it was a pretty devastated area prior to the 2010 earthquake, and theyve had many storms since that date. It seems as though the people are just bouncing back from one tragedy when another hits.
The Haitian people remain resilient, she added.
In talking with the Haitian translators, they have renewed hope in the new presidents vision to do all he can for the country, she said.
During their time in Haiti, the Beaverton women said they were constantly surprised by the warm, gracious nature of the Haitian people. With an unemployment rate of 85 percent, most people survive on wages of less than $5 a day. Despite not having electricity, running water and sewer facilities in many areas, the people of Haiti are able to survive in difficult conditions.
Having travelled to Haiti numerous times, I have new experiences each time I visit, said Beavertons Jan Lefebvre. Whether its through the eyes of someone who has not been there before or engaging with dear friends there, I am blessed more than I can express by the people and the resilience they demonstrate.
They are strong and inspiring people and cause me to live a better life, showing Gods love here in my home.
In addition to providing the bare essentials, the Beaverton women also distributed 27 beds, 135 soccer balls, 36 layettes, 44 Bibles and financial support to many families.
Giving out new shoes to the children was one of the most rewarding things I have ever done, Swanson said. They come with either mismatched shoes or shoes that are barely held together and leave with beautiful new shoes. The look on their faces is priceless, and I was in tears several times at the joy I saw there.
K.C. Davidson was overcome with joy and a feeling of unconditional love when she met the Haitian child she has sponsored for three years for the first time.
The joy of meeting each other is like when youre having another baby and you wonder how you are going to love that baby as much as the first child and then God makes a way, she said.
The Beaverton group helped put on a Ladies Day for more than 500 women who came from as far as five hours away. It included a day of singing, rejoicing, teaching and connecting with one another.
The womens ministry spent months of preparation for this years trip by holding food, clothing and shoe drives throughout 2012. In addition, Sewing in Love for His Kingdom met monthly at the church to make clothes for mothers and babies.
The womens group hopes to increase the number of shoes distributed during a return trip to Grand Coave in early 2014.
Beaverton Christian Church sponsors several short-term mission trips each year with visits planned for Japan in March and the Arizona Navajo Trails in June. The church also supports full-time missionaries in Japan, Russia, Poland, Kenya, United Kingdom, India, Zambia and Guinea.
For more information on the missions program, contact the church office at 503-646-2151 or visit bcc.org.