For just a few hours tomorrow afternoon we’ll have only two SPRINT students outside the United States, marking today as a mid-point in SPRINT’s summer. (For a full list of this summer’s trips, visit the SPRINT webpage).
I know you’re primarily interested in reports from teams’ trips, so I’ll keep this post brief. Quickly, though, I wanted to offer some background information on the SPRINT program and our goals for all of this international travel, learning and service you’ll read about on these pages.
University-sponsored short-term missions at Seattle Pacific University date back to the early 1960s; participants in Operation Outreach, later renamed Seattle Pacific Reachout INTernational, have volunteered in countries around the world for many years. Serving in teams alongside in-country local leadership, the objective of SPRINT trips has always been to provide needed help, a witness to the Gospel and important learning opportunities for college students.
Today SPRINT is advised and supported by SPU’s John Perkins Center for Reconciliation, Leadership Training and Community Development. Perkins Center staff (that’s me) and student leaders partner to recruit, train and send the SPRINT teams you’re reading about this summer.
It’s important for us to connect students with effective, sustainable, community-developing work that promotes long-term transformation rather than the negative, dependency-creating outcomes sometimes associated with short-term missions. To that end, our pre-trip training and host-partner selection focus on a set of values outlined by the Christian Community Development Association, emphasizing local leadership development, empowerment and reconciliation that bridges both social and spiritual gaps. Our hope is that students will learn from effective community engagement models and apply these lessons to their future work, wherever God leads them.
Another key aspect of the SPRINT process is our emphasis on post-trip reflection and application. Neat experiences, great photos and fun stories about new foods do not equal life transformation. However, when students are intentional in reflecting on their experiences, learning take-aways and challenges of the trip they’re more likely to discover God at work throughout the trip experience and beyond.
To encourage the reflection process we’ll send each student a copy of the Global Citizen Journal, published by the Krista Foundation for Global Service as he or she returns home. The journal highlights the importance of incorporating service and mission experiences into one’s life through reflection and application. You might find this sample article interesting: In “Staying for Tea” Aaron Ausland reflects on the importance of long-term commitment and listening to community in order to find one’s place of effectiveness as an outsider coming in.
Thanks again for your support of students as they participate in SPRINT this summer. If you’d like more information on the program, ways to give or ways to be involved, please contact me at (206) 281-2932 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
After two weeks of sweating, we’re now in the states, which means we’re back to wearing pants and sweatshirts. Its about 2:00 A.M. here in the San Francisco Airport, where we are all trying to catch up on some much needed rest. Isaac and Brinlee are no longer with us, as they took different flights to get home. So we’re down to four, Kaylee, Danae, Lex, and myself will be hanging out in the airport until our flight at 5:30…jealous?
While in Haiti, Kaylee and I made a series of bets, one of which I lost and as a result I wasn’t allowed to sleep on the plane ride from New Jersey to San Francisco…thats a six hour flight. Fortunately for me, Kaylee was next to me and stayed up with me for a majority of it. Having all that time, gave us a good chance to just look back and think about the trip. We talked alot about what we got done there, good memories we had, relationships we made, things like that. But the biggest thing we talked about was how we wish we had more time there.
Haiti is a place that has made a tremendous amount of progress in their efforts to rebuild after the earthquake. However, they still have much, much more to do. The work we did and the people we met there made us realize how much more there is to still be done. It left us wishing for any little bit of more time, a day, five days, a week, anything, we just wish we could have turned the plane around to go back.
To few of you who might be reading this (and by few I mean Zach) and haven’t yet gone on your trip, take our advice and really appreciate the time you have there. We’ve all been blessed with the wonderful opportunity to go out and be disciples. There will be times when you’ll miss home or you’ll just be ready to leave, but don’t let those feelings distract you from the work you’re doing. It’s stupid how fast the time goes by while you’re there, we were there for two weeks (Owen, if you’re reading this, Kaylee and I decided it should be around 20 days), and it felt like less than a week went by. Really try to make the most of your time there because before you know it, you’ll be on your flight home, talking and looking back on your trip, just like Kaylee and I.
Connor, Kaylee, Lex, Danae, Brinlee, Isaac
Revelations 3:15-16 “I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other! So, because you are lukewarm – neither hot nor cold – I am about to spit you out of my mouth”
Here’s an update: Brinlee’d flight to Richmond will be late.
United flight UA4119 on July 24 is delayed due to a late-arriving aircraft.
Now departs: 10:10 p.m. on July 24 from gate A26a, Newark-Liberty Intl (EWR)
Now arrives: 11:31 p.m. on July 24 at Richmond (RIC)
We can’t believe that our trip is almost over. In only two more days, we’ll be on an airplane heading back to the states…provided we make it through all the chaos which is the Port au Prince airport. We’ve had such an incredible experience here. We all can’t wait to come back to share with you all the amazing ways we have seen God at work here. Sorry this kind of post wasn’t up earlier, like we said before, we didn’t have wifi at the hotel we were staying at, so we thought that its better late than never to give a little shout out to all our loved ones.
Connor – I can’t believe that the trip is coming to a close. These past two weeks have been eye opening and life changing. I’ve seen God work in so many different ways and it has been so great seeing a completely different culture believing in the same, very real God we believe in. One of my greatest memories here will definitely be when we visited Gotye Village. After taking a trail through some woods we found ourselves right in the middle of a remote village where we passed out hygiene kits complete with soap, shampoo, tooth brushes, tooth paste, and a few other things. As we made our way through the village we slowly built up a posse of Haitian children who followed us around and kept petting Kaylee’s hair. Once we passed out all the kits, the village treated us with coconuts and sugar canes that they grew locally. It was an experience I’ll never forget, it was amazing to actually walk through and meet people in the village. I’d never seen anything like it. I can’t wait to get home to tell you all about the other stories I have. Love you all and miss you so much!
Danae – I’m loving it here in Haiti! I have met so many people here, so it will be really hard to leave them, but I am looking forward to sharing all of my stories with you all! Be ready to see my 600+ photos when I get back! My favorite things we have done here so far have been handing out sandwiches to the people at church, and hygiene kits to a nearby village. It’s amazing to see how joyful these people are, yet they have nothing. I also really enjoy learning the language, Creole. Everyone here is really patient with us while we learn the language and they all love to teach us! What will I not miss? Working in 100 degree weather, finding a cockroach in our bathroom, and being proposed to multiple times at the work site.
P.S. Mom: let’s not have rice and beans for dinner for a while, please…we have it here just about every night!
Brinlee – It is hard to believe this trip is coming to an end! It is the third mission trip I have been on but it is definitely the hardest mentally and physically. One of the hardest things about this trip is the language barrier. The little kids especially don’t understand that us Americans don’t speak a lick of Creole. I was coloring with some girls and they were telling me to color things for them. I eventually figured out what they were asking of me. kay- house, flower- fle, sun-sole, moon- la lun. Then a kid threw out a new one and asked me to draw a “bekann.” It sounded like they were saying bacon so not knowing what the heck that was in Creole, I just drew a piece of bacon. The two kids looked at each other and I have never seen two people look more confused in my life. I later found out bekann means bicycle.
Kaylee – A blog post can not begin to explain the things we have experienced or have seen here. These last two weeks have been incredible. We’ve been staying busy working on the school site, playing with kids at various villages and having a lot of team bonding. One of my favorite memories this far was the morning we drove to a remote village to hand out hygiene kits. We would walk up to the villager’s huts and welcome them with “bonswa” (good afternoon), “mwen kontan we ou” (I’m happy to see you), and “mwen yon bagay pou fanmi ou” (I have something for your family). I completely butchered the last sentence, but the woman I was speaking to just smiled back, said “mesi” (thank you), and kindly took the kit. As you can tell, Haitians are some of the kindest people I’ve ever met. This is just one of the many experiences I will never forget. Haiti has been amazing and I’m having the time of my life here.
Isaac – This whole trip has been a huge blessing and an incredible experience! The moment that sticks with me the most was on the 18th, when Konekte (the other group we were working with) started their soccer tournament composed of Haitian teams. My group and I were playing with the kids of the village and were just having fun while we watched the incredible soccer games. I started walking and playing with other kids and I saw a small child that I knew from our visits to other villages. I ran over to him and tapped him on the shoulder. He was probably no more than 1 1/2 years old. When he turned around his face lit up with a huge smile and he ran into my arms. I picked him up and held him close to me. After a while of walking and watching the soccer games the child fell asleep in my arms. This moment i wish would never end, cause this child will always be in my heart and I will always think of this child, not because i was able to put him to sleep or because he was extremely adorable (he was though!), but because I looked at this child and wondered if he would have the same opportunities as me and if he would be able to have as much of a chance to have a great education as I have had. Thinking about these questions made me feel so many emotions and it humbled me. I often take for granted my education while people here in Haiti would kill for that education. This trip has been so incredible! God has blessed me so much!!
Quote of the Day: “Wave to the white person!”
After two weeks in Haiti, the team will return to the States this week. As you prepare to receive them, here are some things I hope you’ll think about to help the team make the most of this trip.
For those of you meeting students at the airport, here’s flight information:
Danae, Connor and Alexis return to SeaTac on July 25 at 7:55 am on United 278.
Isaac returns to Denver on July 24 at 11:09 pm on United 993.
Kaylee returns to Portland at 7:53 am on United 556.
Brinlee returns to Richmond on July 24 at 10:28 pm on United 4119.
As the group returns, they’ll continue to think through this experience and its implications for their lives. It’s likely that this mental processing will involve at least some of these elements:
· Relief upon returning to familiar surroundings,
· Frustration with aspects of home culture that appear less desirable than the cultural values experienced during the SPRINT experience,
· Sadness and joy over relationships and memories developed during the trip,
· And hopefully, Resolve to incorporate the learning from this trip into daily life as life moves on.
It’s our hope that SPRINT participants will return to “life as usual” with expanded worldviews and a clearer sense of God’s work in their lives. The learning process continues after the trip experience; students will participate in a debriefing gathering in October, and will be encouraged to continue meeting with their SPRINT team to share the story of their host’s work and encourage future generations of SPRINT participants to serve.
I encourage you to give your student time to catch up on sleep, then set aside an extended period of time to share pictures and stories. Don’t expect completely-formed opinions immediately; the reflection process takes time. We remind returning SPRINTers that not everyone will have time to hear the whole story, but that they should find a few people with whom to share the longer, more in-depth account.
I’ve mailed team members some discussion questions and a copy of the Global Citizen Journal, published by the Krista Foundation for Global Citizenship (www.kristafoundation.org), to help them think through their experience as they move forward. If you’ve got time, I’d encourage you to talk though some of these materials with your student.
Thanks for your support of students on this team! Please let me know if you have questions.
So…sorry for the delay, believe it or not we didn’t have internet at the hotel we were staying at, weird right? Basically, this trip has been absolutely incredible. Word’s cannot describe the way God’s working here. Leading up to the trip we weren’t really sure what to expect. A place so torn by the earthquake lead us think that the nation would be broken, both in a physical sense and emotional sense. To our surprise Haiti and it’s people can only be described with one word, beautiful. As we began meeting people and really seeing Haiti for ourselves, the first thing we noticed were the people.
When we would enter into a village or camp, we were greeted with nothing but smiles, hands to hold, and children to carry. They were ecstatic to see us. They would run up to us and smile, say a few words we couldn’t understand, to which we would respond with a God awful attempt at making a coherent sentence in Creole. Next thing you know, you were holding their hand and running around everywhere with them. Once they got ahold of you, you never wanted to leave them. You just wanted to keep on showing them love.
It was amazing to us that people who had gone through such a terrible tragedy, had so much love and optimism. The look in their eyes was not one of emptiness but instead a look of faith and hope. They are not a people who have just given up, but instead they are a people who live their lives the best they can while they do everything they can to make better all that was lost in the earthquake.
We weren’t alone while in Haiti. With us, there was also a group from Princeton, New Jersey called Konekte which means “to connect” in Creole. The group was made up of parents, students, and coaches from the Princeton Futbol Club. At first, it was a little difficult aligning our goals and mission with theirs, but by the end of the trip we were all one big family with one collective goal.
Together, we were able to accomplish a lot. For example, we put on a soccer clinic, played soccer games, and hosted a huge tournament for four local teams from various villages. It was incredible seeing how excited and how into the games the Haitians were. There were fans for each teamIn addition to the soccer games, we spent a lot of our time on the vocational school worksite. There, we dug a trench which will serve as the foundation for a wall surrounding the school, as well as laid concrete down for the roof of the school. For more info on the worksite you can check out the Foundation for Peace Website (http://www.foundationforpeace.org/missiontrips/haitiresponse.php).
And now we find ourselves at Pastor Valentine’s house. Konekte is on their way back to New Jersey and we have left the Peace and Love Hotel, where we’ve stayed at for the past nine nights. It was sad saying goodbye to everyone as we actually grew very close and made good relationships with members of the other team. However, we need to focus on these next three days to make them the best they can be. Now that we’re at Pastor’s house, we’ll be able to update the blog, so expect another update tomorrow night. Much love, and thank you for all you’re prayers and support!
“Can ya dig it?”
Kaylee, Connor, Isaac, Danae, Lex, and Brinlee