During winter break, students from MNU traveled to Haiti with the aid organization Heart to Heart International. During their ten day stay, the group helped paint a newly completed school in the village of Cascade Pichon in Port Au Prince, and attended its dedication.
The team and the community worked together for four days painting and putting the finishing touches on the school before the dedication. Dylan Aebersold said that being able to work alongside the members of community helped to solidify the bonds the team had created with the Haitians.
The students had learned that the village was in need of the school during a previous trip to Haiti in winter 2013, while assisting in the construction of a medical clinic. Aebersold headed up MNU’s Passion to Serve project to raise awareness and funds for the building of the school.
Although the students were not able to make the trip down to Haiti to aid in the construction themselves, the project raised $70,000, primarily through speaking in chapel and talking to donors with ties to MNU.
Terrin Garber was a member of both trips to Haiti. For him, going back to Port Au Prince came with a huge culture shock.
“In Port Au Price, it’s really dirty and there is a lot of trash everywhere and it’s very poor," Garber said. "Haiti is the poorest country in the western hemisphere. So in the same day, you leave Johnson County and by that afternoon you’re driving by rivers of trash.”
Although noting there is a huge difference when comparing the wealth of Johnson County and Haiti, student Brittany Walker said that the Haitians show richness in other ways.
“They don’t have very much, but they’re the most loving and compassionate people I’ve ever known,” Walker said.
During the trip, the team learned that Quincy Foster, a friend of several members of the group and a member of the first mission trip the group took to Haiti, had passed away. Stuart Rowell said that the loss of Foster set the tone for the trip, but not in a negative way.
It set the tone that we are not here for us, and there is something greater at work here," said Rowel. "It was an overwhelming amount of emotions just from going through loss, but then also, we dedicated the school while we were there…we honored Quincy in that dedication.”
During the dedication ceremony of the school, Aebersold was honored by the community for his work. The dedication lasted for about an hour, with close to 200 people packed inside of one of the rooms in the newly built school. Aebersold said that the passion that the community, and the passion of others that were involved had for this project, was incredible and being able to experience that was one of the most rewarding experiences that he, as well as Garber, Walker, and Rowell, had on the trip.
When asked what it was like to be honored by the community, Aebersold said that it was a very humbling experience.
“It wasn’t just something we were talking about, or writing about, or seeing pictures of," said Aebersold. "It was actually there, and it was happening…it was very humbling…I learned how to receive grace as a gift. lot of times we want to not let people serve us. It takes humility to serve others, but it takes a lot more to let people serve you.”
If you are interested in getting involved with mission trips, contact Amanda Stolba at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Videos by Dylan Aebersold