Student Mission Trip - Haiti 2012
For over 20 years, Orchard Hill has been extending the gift of mercy to the nation of Haiti. This spring, the entire Orchard Hill community continued the tradition by donating over 250 pairs of shoes, filling countless hygiene kits and making donations to cover the expense of shipping. To culminate the 3-week drive of support, a team of 10 high school students and 3 adult leaders travelled to Haiti to personally deliver the gifts and give of themselves to make a difference in the lives of others. In the Cap Haiten region of the poorest nation in the western hemisphere, Orchard Hill provides ongoing support to the EBAC and IDADEE orphanages and the children who live there.
For five days, the team worked throughout the region. Much of the time was spent at the orphanage. Smiles filled the faces of the orphans as they received colorfully wrapped shoe boxes which also included gifts, candy and notes written with prayerful consideration. The younger children enjoyed the opportunity to smile, play and experience the love of another. The older residents were also given the opportunity to watch The Passion of the Christ followed with a message by Director of Family Ministry Brandon Rickard. This was a powerful opportunity for students from across cultures with a common faith to just share life together - a true fellowship of believers.
The ministry of the trip reached beyond the orphanages and moved into the surrounding villages in unique and life-changing ways. The team traveled to a rural church delivering hygiene kits to children from the poorest regions. They also participated in a Sports Program with teenagers in a local village. Through this program, teens have a place to come and experience structure, learn about responsibility, and hear the message of Jesus Christ. These teenagers live in a hard environment filled with drugs and violence. To participate in the weekly soccer games offered through the Sports Program, they must first attend Bible study. Sam Norris, a Student Ministry staff who served as a leader on the trip observed, "This program has a tremendous impact on these teenagers who live in a very difficult environment. Being responsible gives them value. By respecting another, they in turn feel respected. Though there is no racial reconciliation within in this village, it was inspiring to watch Americans and Haitians playing soccer together in peace." Knowing about the significance of this Sports Program, one of the Orchard Hill students collected donations for six months and presented 80 soccer balls, corner posts, ball pumps and other equipment to support the Sports Program.
The students had the opportunity to support another ministry when they visited Izeal, a home for 40 mentally and physically disabled children. Run by Catholic monks, this is not a place where mission teams visit. The monks provide care 24/7 for these children. The Orchard Hill students were able to help by dressing and feeding the children, not only providing direct care to the kids, but also supporting the monks in their ministry by offer the emotional and spiritual support of working alongside them in ministry.
The Easter celebration was another highlight of the trip. Almost 400 Haitians participated in the Easter worship service, a direct result of the families who participated in KidsFest Haiti. The children experienced a mini-KidsFest during the service, while the adults watched The Passion of The Christ. The language was Aramaic and the subtitles were English and those attending understood neither language. But they did see the Gospel enacted on film. On the following day, the Student Team traveled into the village with evangelism teams. Together they went into the homes of the Haitians to present the message of the Gospel. "This was a beautiful experience for the team," shared Sam. "The students were able to enter into the lives of Haitians. They saw real brokenness and were able to pray for people. The most moving experience after evangelizing in the village, was allowing the Haitian evangelism team members pray for each of the students. There was a universal language of God's love that was heard by all."