Day 4 is coming to a close and we are now at the MPP Compound in Papay, the entire place runs on a generator, so while there is internet, I am at the mercy of curfew.
I'll start with yesterday and our time with the Carlins and Ms. Shannon at the COmprehensive DEvelopment Project (CODEP) in Leogane. Nichol and Mike Carlin are from Pittsburg and, while not officially related to the Presbyterian Church (USA) they were part of the PC(USA) mission personnel orientation and the PC(USA) has had connections to CODEP and the Haiti Fund in the past. Through reforestation projects, agribusiness, fish ponds, etc. they hope to partner with local folks to cooperate with and assist the people of rural Haiti by initiating, funding, administering, and sustaining development programs aimed at increasing self-sufficiency.
The amazing ministry aside, what I as really moved by were Mike and Nichol's willingness to take on this challenge that God was calling them to in Haiti. With campus ministry roots, four kids and English as their main lingo, they up and moved to Haiti to help lead this project. As we sat and talked, it is clear that God is calling them to this place at this time. Their willingness to reflect upon, but not dwell upon the past in order to best discern what God has in store for the future was remarkable. They do this both as folks called into a particular role in the organization as well as for the project itself. I was so very blessed by my time with them, I can't wait to see what will happen as they move forward.
And then today was a day spent with Presbyterian Mission Co-Worker, Mark Hare [BLOG] and the project that he works with Papay Peasant Movement (MPP). I have heard of Mark from friends and read his blog about Haiti and agriculture. After just a few days with him, it is clear that this dude is the real deal. After spending time previously in Haiti and then in Nicaragua before returning to Haiti, Mark and his wife, Jenny are what I would think would be the epitome of Mission Co-workers. It is obvious that Mark has gained a great level of trust with the community, he uses his gifts and skills well, and most importantly he is doggedly committed to being present in a way that lifts up those among whom he has been called to serve. With a quick wit in many languages and serious agricultural skills, anyone spending time with this project and Mark would see call in action. And FWIW, I did a little "work" with Mark's Road to Life Yard Crew so take it from me, if you want to get schooled on issues of sustainable agricultural practices, be sure to follow his blog.
So it is with the Carlin's and Mark in mind that I have been reflecting greatly upon the ministry of global mission. Yes, there is always mission to be done in our very communities, but just as there is a particular calling to other unique ministry contexts, I am getting a quick glimpse into the lives of Mission Co-workers. You see, out of all seven of the delegation, I am the only one without significant mission service within a context outside of the United States. I am also the only one that does not speak at least three languages. *sigh* I am just going to take it as a compliment that they have been able to be so free to talk and interact with eachother without worrying about keeping me included, so I feel like I have been privy to some profound and deeply rooted conversations on mission service. I have been able to get a peak into some wonderful history, some current joys/struggles and some musings on what might be . . . what a privilege.
Now I did tease folks that I was going to blog about the what I am picking up to be a quirkiness about those that answer a call to mission service, but for now, I'll just focus on my reflections. After all, i still have a few days with these folks and who knows what else I will learn 😉
While I have a deep desire to engage in mission works someday, it would be far to easy to romanticize the experience. Just as with any call to ministry: new church development, chaplaincy, campus minister, head-of-staff, etc. there is now ranking of what is better. In the eyes of God, a call is a call is a call. HUMANS may unintentionally may have built up prioritization "sexy" callings, but God certainly has not such list.
I remember when people have said to me what a great job planting a church must be: how freeing, how exciting, how fun, etc. It would almost always be said as if I chose something easy and wasn't willing to "suffer" like them. Good grief, it only feels that way because I was CALLED to it and all the crap that we all deal with in ministry has been part of the joy-filled experience of church planting. Yes it was hard, frustrating and overwhelming, but in the end it was what God wanted me to do and my heart and soul have been filled with joy.
As I have spent time with these past and current mission workers, it is clear that the experience brings them joy. There may be a ton of struggle, but in the end it seems as if they know that God is meeting them in this particular place for a particular reason. When that happens, that is call. And in the context of Haiti now, finding joy in the midst of call, that is truly of God.
So for all mission workers in the Presbyterian Church (USA) and elsewhere who have answered the call, thank you.