There are about to be a lot of people making that early morning trip to the airport, anticipation getting their nerves all bouncy as they meet up with a group – maybe of complete strangers! – to go step into the unknown together. Summer is a non-stop season of experience trips…and we are excited to receive them!
Awesome stuff happens every time we are obedient, and definitely every time we punch fear in the face with that obedience. So experience teams = awesome stuff.
As I’m going outside to neighbors that teams will be coming to visit and coming back inside with to logistically plan both teams and nine awesome Compassion Corp Intensive Training participants for the summer, I am distracted. I am consumed by the ways I want to help, now. If I am not consumed, I am feeling guilty for getting apathetic as a way to cope and somehow be productive for the day.
And they – the things distracting me – aren’t on any itineraries for this summer, because they aren’t simple.
I want to get a job for the young mother, who is renting a home with borrowed money that she will work off because otherwise she’d be homeless. After almost a month of fighting an infection with medicine we luckily had at the house (she otherwise would either be untreated or form an unhealthy dependence on me handing her money to go to the pharmacy)…she is sick again. I think it is still an infection, but manifesting in a different way. The problem is, she has no income. She WANTS to work and I have no work to give. She cannot check up on her infection, get normal check ups, go to a doctor we KNOW is good, or even drink good water while sick to help get healthy. I recently got back from being in the states and asking doctors why in the world I am always sick. On top of cleaner living, better water, multiple meals a day, more rest, and moringa….I am adding vitamins that I have deficiencies in. Meanwhile – this young mother and friend doesn’t have a job. How does she eat? Compared to you – she pretty much isn’t eating. How on earth will she ever get better? I want a job for her. I want a business started to employ, teach, empower, and disciple young mothers. I want financial training so that loans can be given with the knowledge that they are not in vain – but instead, that a young mother can start “commerce” with a basic knowledge of savings and what to do with profit, as well as reinvesting in personal business.
I want to come alongside the youth who have a vision in Bercy and give them jobs or some way to fund all of their dreams. Trash initiatives and nice trash cans all over Bercy! Trees planted! Education for people! Events that the community can enjoy together, come together to take part it, and be proud of! They have the committee. They have the dreams. They have the same problem – how to make these dreams a reality.
I want to connect over-consuming Americans to consumer-less locals with creativity and a business mindset. There are so many dreamers and hard workers – but they can’t get off the ground because there isn’t a customer base. There are people who are interested – but they have no money. My neighbors want to start a restaurant – no one can afford a meal over $3. Unique leather shoes? No one has the money for that. Meanwhile, “YOUR FAV STORE*”‘s specials (I LOVE “YOUR FAV STORE” TOO, okay? But….) are taking people in Haiti and other countries and underpaying/over working them – and Americans aren’t flinching as they pull wallets out, admitting “I didn’t even come in here for that!”….So…Americans are buyers. Haitians need buyers. Americans have multiple sources that don’t provide fair wages/working conditions – Locals here could be given good wages and working conditions. WHERE IS THE MIDDLE MAN TO MAKE THIS HAPPEN?
I want a safe place for young mothers, for preteens, for older kids – a place where tutoring and modeling of healthy relationships can happen. A place that doesn’t present the gospel and walk away – but lives it. Day in, day out – all the tough relational grittiness included. A place that takes a stand against domestic violence, teen homelessness, and no place to go (which is a strange concept in a place that is praised for it’s community feel – which is totally real).
I want creativity to have an outlet. Music and art are real – in therapy, in expressing oneself, in something to be an outlet for positive and negative. In something to be proud of. In killing time, honestly, when there are no jobs and few opportunities. I want to see kids, teens, young adults, older adults come ALIVE in a chance to express themselves. One of my favorite ways to hear about the gospel is through hip hop. What are we missing out on if we aren’t tapping into this?
I want real training. Programs that are long term, investing, and sweating it out alongside of locals willing to be all in. Programs that a week can be a PART of (bring an expert in for a three day seminar!) – but that are not started and ended in a week. Programs that follow up, have long term goals, and change a community….one life at a time. I want to see more people get that spark in their eye when someone sees their skills and abilities and says, “I want to see you do that again – can I come alongside of you?”. I want to see more young parents show up at our gate before our teeth are brushed, EXCITED and pushing us to start an 8-hour-work day because they get to try and build upon their skills.
First off – the things in front of me are LOADED ELEPHANTS. They are not simple problems. Okay, that’s life….that, I can deal with. Makes sense. Little by little, over time, this church planting movement WILL keep making a difference with one bite at a time of those elephants. Come on – experience teams are part of a long term relationship between North American church and local community…..those are GOOD TEAMS!
But there’s some kind of missing factor because these GOOD TEAMS and the day to day don’t always come together. Teams are full of one time events, like a circus coming through town. Come one and all, get your balloons and come play all day! Only here for a week! You know? It’s not BAD – it’s just a disconnect.
Where are the middle men? Where are the business minded people who will roll up their sleeves to take that amazing mind and education and apply it to something that not only will not benefit them – but probably cost them? Where are the financial wizards, able to come teach on things I never could? Where are those who have been blessed with more – who will use their network to come alongside of a community and dream? There’s one other factor – deep investment. I’m talking dollars, time, multiple trips to Haiti a year. 10 failed attempts before a glimpse of starting to understand how to do it. Discipline to say no in the moment because there is a long term dream you are committed to. Committing to a long term dream – with the excellence and strategy you would expect a business team in your hometown to do. Moving here (not always! But sometimes – yeah. Especially if running a business). Without these people, my itinerary making with the pastors will always be “What do we do this week, VBS?”
I don’t know how to get these real, daily issues onto the itineraries of teams. But I want to ask the question so we can start to tackle it.
I don’t know……but I don’t want to settle. Not when I know there’s so much potential.
*name changed, cause we aren’t here to bash. But it’s all over, friends.