The Haiti Orphan Project has led trips to Haiti three times already in 2014 and has six more trips scheduled (for nine total in 2014). Our groups typically visit two children’s homes over four full days in Haiti, delivering some needed supplies and spending a lot of time loving on orphaned and abandoned children and visiting with the children’s home staff (the house “mamas” and cooks). In addition, we now conduct mobile medical clinics for the community via our HOPE Medical Project initiative.

But as sometimes is wondered out loud, Why go to Haiti? Why not just send the money? That’s a fair question and is dealt with at that link. But let us add the voice of a long-term missionary to the answer for “Do short-term trips really help”

Ali and Phil live on board the world’s largest non-governmental hospital ship, the M/V Africa Mercy, where they work with Mercy Ships to bring hope and healing to the forgotten poor in West Africa. Recently she wrote,

As the calendar marches on and we prepare for yet another Field Service, I’ve been thinking a lot about short-term mission teams and how much we need them. Here on Mercy Ships, the years follow a predictable cycle. (As predictable as anything in West Africa can really be.) We sail to a new port in January, untie everything that’s been secured for the sail and scrub down the hospital before setting everything up so that we can function. We train the crop of new nurses, hold screening and admit the first patients for surgery. For the next ten months, we operate and care for the patients on the wards and in the outpatient clinic and eventually it’s time to close up shop and move on. We double-bleach every surface, pack everything away in carts and on pallets and we tie everything back down to the bolts in the floor. Somewhere in December we sail away to a first world port so the crew can have a break and maintenance can be done on the ship. Christmas, New Years, and it’s January again. Lather, rinse, repeat.

It can get old.

This is where the Mercy Teams come in….They’re a breath of fresh air for those of us who are used to doing all this on our own. We have a team here from Texas (and one random guy from Rhode Island, but we won’t hold that against him), and the amount of work they’re gotten done in the last week is incredible. They emptied a room that was packed literally floor to ceiling, wall to wall, in a single day. They’ve set up beds and put together tents on the dock and made medication packs for pharmacy and I just saw them getting roped into helping unload a container with the sales team.

I’ve heard a lot from people who say that short-term trips aren’t really beneficial, that the money should just be given to the organization rather than paying for plane tickets when the people on the team aren’t really going to have that much of an impact in two weeks.

And you know what? It wouldn’t matter if these guys and girls never even talk to a single Togolese person while they’re here. They’ve blessed and encouraged and strengthened those of us who will be here for the long haul. We’ll go into this Field Service energized by their energy, more ready than ever to pour out our lives for the people here in West Africa.

Life is pretty difficult in Haiti. Just getting along everyday is a labor unlike almost anyone in the US has ever experienced. Do you think the people in Haiti would rather we just send the cash? Perhaps some do. But that’s not what they tell us. Listen to our friend in Haiti in an email to me from a few months ago. He is a member of one of our church partners in Haiti doing daily orphan care. Note that his English is pretty good, though not perfect.

Hi my Brother,how are you doing, and your family?  I hope now you are in the way to come to Haiti. that good to us everytime you are coming to see us.that make our hope is grow. we are all hapy to see you in tree  more days.Love you.

With that, we’ll plan to keep going. Would you like to come along and help be a part of making their hope grow?

(This is a re-post of an earlier post with some updates)