We love our short-term teams. They are a vital part of the work we do in Haiti and are always an encouragement to our family. They are extra hands to help teach children and instruct church leaders through their efforts here in Haiti. They bring needed items from the United States and Canada for our family. And the short-term teams encourage us even as we show them what our ministry in Haiti looks like.
I thought it would be interesting to let you know what my wife Heather and I (and the children as well) have to do to prepare for the arrival of a team. The actual planning to have a team to Haiti really begins months ahead of time. Church contacts are identified, the scope of the team work is outlined and dates are chosen for the trip. On our end we begin to talk with the church leaders here to ensure the team will be a helpful addition to the ongoing work. The trip often seems a long way off but the time goes quickly. Plane tickets get purchased, transportation on the ground is arranged, passports, medical checkups and soon it is only a week before the team’s arrival.
The last week does always seem the busiest. Napoleon said that “an army marches on its stomach.” This is definitely true for short-term teams. So Ben goes off to Port-au-Prince to shop for groceries. Since you can’t get all the necessary items at one store it usually involves at least two trips. The truck returns home chock full of boxes of noodles, rice, cereal, bread by the time the day is over. Heather also makes a trip to the local market to get the fruits and vegetables necessary to feed the team.
Back at home Heather and the kids are busy cleaning the house. Mopping, sweeping, cleaning out the cupboards and generally organizing. Not only will the downstairs guest room be used but the team will also be occupying what is normally our dining room. Furniture gets moved around and the mattresses are counted to make sure everyone has a place to sleep after a long day of work. Even Esther helps in little ways.
A lot of the preparation for the visit takes place on the phone. Calling our driver Nader to make sure he will be at the airport with his little minibus. Talking to our chauffeur on Lagonav to arrange the daily trips out to the churches. Organizing the interpreters for the team so their carefully prepared lessons can be understood by the children. Calling everyone again to make sure all the details are in order or to see if there are any last minute changes.
Is it all worth it? Our family would respond with a resounding yes! We have learned to try and prepare as early as possible so we are not left doing everything at the last minute. Once the chores are done, the supplies are purchased and the days organized, we can relax. We always look forward to our Sunday before the arrival as it does give us a chance to rest. And to pray. Prayer is the most important things we can do to prepare. We encourage you to pray as well as we host Team Haiti 2013 coming from southern California this week.