Looking Back and Looking Forward (Part 1 of 2)
By Susan Watkins, Haiti Ministry Team Leader
January is the time for backwards reflection and future planning. This January, Dave and I have the honor to be doing this from Haiti, where we’re spending a couple of months with our church partner Pastor Samuel at the Glory Glory Center in Valere. This time is a blessing, as we’re able to reflect all together on the many ministry successes of 2015, as well as the mistakes, and discuss freely and honestly how the Mariners Haiti Ministry can best partner with Sam in 2016.
In this piece, we’ll be looking back at the successes of 2015. In February, we’ll follow up with the mistakes — or learning opportunities — of 2015 and look forward at 2016.
As for the successes, there have been many. On Sam’s side, the 26 children who arrived at the Glory Glory Center (GGC) in fall 2014 have become fully integrated with the 26 children who were already there. Today, they’re one huge, happy family. A couple of staff changes have resulted in a team of terrific “house moms” and one “house dad” who have the maturity to guide the kids as they get older. There are now 12 kids officially in their teens (13-18 yrs.) and 10 who are on the cusp (12 yrs.). For those of you raising teens of your own, just imagine! In the past year, more than 200 trees have been planted on site, as well as a variety of food crops (palms, avocados, mangoes, almonds, beans, okra, corn, and plantains to name a few). Though the trees have a ways to grow, the food crops are already yielding produce for the kitchen. The church onsite has grown to 100+ attendees, with services on Thursday night and Sunday morning, multiple Bible studies per week (co-ed, men’s, and women’s), a Kids Club on Saturdays, an annual end-of-year picnic, and a formal Bible School (training 18 pastors from Valere, Arniquette, Port Salut, Charlotte, and Les Cayes.
Back at home, we’ve experienced a few successes as well. We’ve grown our core leadership team to include volunteer leaders in Communications, Finance, Sustainability, Mobilization, and Faith Adventures. These men and women have brought a wealth of new ideas to the team, in addition to providing Dave and I with some much needed support. On the support front, we also welcomed a new Latin American Coordinator (a Mariners staff position) to our team. Paul Han has integrated into our team seamlessly, is a joy to work with, and serves as intermediary between our ministry and the church. We received a very generous gift from Mariners spring Fearless campaign, which went directly towards the monthly financial support we provide for the GGC. We got back on the Sunday morning donut table schedule and hosted multiple donut tables in 2015, raising additional funds to support the GGC. Finally, 34 people total (two groups) from Mariners Church spent a week each in Haiti with Pastor Sam and his extended family, building relationships with him and the kids and staff, doing outreach in the local community, and learning how God is on the move all across the world, and how they can participate as members of the God’s global church.
In terms of sustainability and cross-cultural partnership, 2015 was a learning year. Next month, we’ll look at some of the initiatives that are being reevaluated and reworked in 2016, as well as some of the cross-cultural differences that led to the challenges they faced. The beauty of it all is that we’re in this for the long-haul. We have time, and we have God. All good things come from Him in His time, and that’s the premise we’re working from.
Blessings to you all for a wonderful new year!