Serve, see, encourage: Team SonRise provides mission support during Haiti trip
A team of seven people from Southbrook Baptist Church in Wadena and four from the 7:10 Foundation joined forces to assist Haitians during a mission trip in January.
The purpose of the Haiti trip was to serve, see, encourage and help in development. The 7:10 Foundation is constructing a campus for widows in LaDigue, Haiti, and is assisting local Haitians and national (Haitian) church ministries in caring for orphans, building/operating a school for the poorest kids, and providing/developing efficient agricultural concepts.
Southbrook Baptist Church members joined the 7:10 Foundation as "Team SonRise" to help with the mission.
"We had been preparing for this trip for months, speaking from personal experience and also going through a study titled 'Helping Without Hurting,'" said Tanja Dwire, with the 7:10 Foundation. "This study helped us all prepare to support lasting change in ourselves and to the materially poor in Haiti. The concepts were new to most, but from the beginning we wanted the team to focus on relationship building, and not physical building (ie. churches, homes, schools)."
Pastor Jake Heppner of Southbrook Baptist Church said the goal was to focus on relationship building and work with the Haitians.
It was a culture shock for many of them.
"It was a lot to take in," said Karen Swain. "It was rewarding, though. Doing the prayer walk, it was amazing that people who had nothing asked for health and God in their lives instead of monetary items."
Heppner said they have been asked why they chose to go to Haiti and they had several reasons.
"Haiti is the poorest country in the world and it's close enough to get to without several legs of a flight," he said.
In addition, a lot of mission work has already started there so they can join a group and be confident that they will be doing good in the right places, he said.
The group worked on a church roof, did a village prayer walk and paid attention to needy adults and children. They brought gifts to give through local Haitian ministries rather than directly from them.
"There's a limited amount of service that can be done without seeing and understanding the people and culture," the group explained to church members after returning from their trip. "The trip necessitated a lot of seeing. We visited many homes and even did a museum one day, which answered many questions about how the Haitians found themselves in the situation they are in today."
Team SonRise encouraged Haitians through helping the locals as they attempt to meet the needs of those in their community that are in the most need through building schools and teaching.
"We really had no idea what to expect upon arrival," Dwire said. "One of the prominent men in the village prepared his home for our team to stay in. I had seen the home once, I had no photos, and the team had no idea where we would be staying."
They said they were blessed to arrive at their home and were surprised by the hospitality from people they had never met.
Michelle Kern said she hopes to alter the views of people who thought Haiti was a dangerous, scary place to travel.
"It wasn't that at all," she said. "I want to alter those expectations and let people know that there are good people there and we're making connections."
Team SonRise included Tanja Dwire, Jeremiah Dwire, Sherry Dwire and Emily Ziegler from the 7:10 Foundation and Pastor Jake Heppner, John Heppner, Michelle Kern, Dan Kern, Ben Swain, Karen Swain and Faith Swain from Southbrook Baptist.
The 7:10 Foundation will continue to take trips to Haiti and encourages other groups to partner with the organization, Dwire said.
For more information about the 7:10 Foundation, visit www.710foundation.org.