By Channon Watkins
Liberty United Methodist Church, Liberty, led by their pastor, Rev. Michael Goldston, partnered with Empowering Haitians from the Virginia Annual Conference and UMVIM SC to take a continuing education mission trip to Haiti July 18-24. Rev. Tenny Rupnick, Rev. Ernest Frierson and Dr. Anna Goldston joined a team of four from Virginia to learn their mission model and serve the people of Haiti.
In the mornings, they worked with local people to build a new church in Cap Haitien, Haiti, from the ground up.
“We are literally forming this building from dust, sand, rocks and cement, bound together and shaped with precision by master masons into a building for worship and community activity,” Goldston said in a series of blog posts he wrote about the trip (see the posts in full at http://goldythoughts.blogspot.com).
In the afternoons, they helped provide food for the people of Haiti, played with the children, and worked on arts and crafts. They also visited a prison and gave the inmates money for food.
During their trip, Goldston said he often became overwhelmed with feeling. He began to put into perspective Haitian lifestyle and values versus those in America. In Haiti, he realized, it is often normal for adults to go days without eating and for children to only eat once a day.
While there, he said, the locals also had a tendency to put the missioners on a pedestal.
“They hugged me and cheered like I was a combination of Superman and Santa Claus. Which is not really a good feeling, because it puts me over them in a weird way,” Goldston wrote in one post. “One minute, we are loading block together, the next they worship me, the next we are all playing and having fun together. It’s like that feeling when your kids open presents from you on Christmas, times 100 and with added dehumanization.”
While they fulfilled their mission, Goldston did not hesitate to mention several times that, “Haiti is hard.”
He will be returning to Haiti in January.