May 2022: by Todd Erlandson, Haiti Team Leader
In 2021, First UMC’s Stewardship Campaign focused on Then, Now, Next. Your continued support of Haiti as friends and congregation have done JUST THAT. From our first service project in 2010 to repair after the earthquakes, to our current need for roofing, to our planting of peanut seeds for the future, we are changing lives and taking care of Haiti friends in so many ways. We have so much to celebrate – thank you so much for all who are participating in changing lives in Haiti!
The Pennies for Peanuts project is progressing well with our original 10 fields prepped and planted, and 10 new plots also prepared and planted with seeds from last year‘s crop. This means that 20 families are participating in the Pennies for Peanuts project this year! I’ve heard that other families in the village have been inspired by our project, and are starting their own peanut planting projects with their own funds.
The Pennies for Haiti 2022 project is also progressing, repairing storm damaged roofs on homes for the most needy. We have completed four homes to date, with six more happening in the next few weeks, if funds allow. Old roofing material has been removed and new material installed by local teams, trained during our past missions. The community is planning a celebration when these 10 homes are complete, to celebrate the planting of the peanuts and the repair of the storm damaged homes.
Thanks to our hard-working on-site team who are making these projects happen. We pray for everyone in Sobier and look forward to a time when we can be together again with them in Haiti. We are always in need of additional funds to keep the projects on track. Please consider a gift at anytime, you can contribute through the link at the top of this page.
March 2022: Pennies for Haiti 2022
On Sunday, March 13, we welcome Haiti Team leader Todd Erlandson, who will present a Moment for Mission during worship, kicking off this year’s Pennies for Haiti fundraiser. This year’s funds will go towards repairing the roofs of five most-needy families in Sobier. The work will be performed by local labor, who were trained during the construction of the medical clinic in 2016 – 17, and will be overseen by our in-country project management committee of Caz, Osnel and Jacob. Every Penny Counts!
Drop off your loose change, cash or checks at in-person worship, or give online at: www.santamonicaumc.org/give, select Pennies for Haiti in the drop-down menu.
Haiti Update: 01/22:
From Caz, our Haiti contact for our friends in Sobier, about the recent Christmas party they were able to host for the kids in the community: “We want to thank our dear friend, Todd, and the Santa Monica Methodist Church! A simple thank you is not enough to express our gratitude for helping us make this great Christmas day with 38 children, they were very happy and appreciate the gifts we have given them. This act will be remembered by every child. May the Lord pour out blessings on you! We wish you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year 2022!”
Haiti Report 12/21: Todd Erlandson, Haiti Team leader
“We were able to make the Thanksgiving-inspired food drop to Sobier in the first week of December. Due to the challenges of civil unrest, and gangs controlling the main roads out of town, Caz was not able to go to Sobier and had to transfer funds to Osnel, the lay-leader of the local UMH church, and his wife Anthonine. Caz called a store in Miragoane, a town closer to Sobier, and ordered the food, which Osnel and Anthonine picked up and distributed.
We were able to supply staples such as rice, flour, sugar, spaghetti (breakfast favorite in Haiti!), oil and canned salmon. These were distributed to fifty families in the village, and much appreciated!”
Haiti Report 10/31/21: Todd Erlandson, Haiti Team leader
I know the information from Haiti over the last few months has been constant and not so positive, from the assasination of their president in July to the earthquake and tropical storm in August, followed by the current fuel shortages and gang rule throughout the country.
I am fortunate to speak regularly with David Draeger, Mission Volunteer Coordinator at the UMH Guest house in Port Au Prince. He told me yesterday that the city is shut down due to the shortage, and there is no end in sight. And while outlying areas are less affected by the gang rule, it is very difficult to move goods, and earthquake relief efforts to the southwest cities of Jeremie and Les Cayes have been slowed.
Finally, we’ve all heard about the terrible kidnapping of Mennonite volunteers, being held by gangs at $1M ransom each. They have been shown on tv in Port Au Prince over the last week to prove they are alive and healthy, but little is known about how their situation will resolve. Their group, Christian Aid Ministries, has asked for prayers that, “the gang members would come to repentance and faith in Christ”, and though fearful for the hostages, their families are amazingly united in their desire to follow Jesus’ teaching of forgiveness.
These are very somber times for the Haitian people. Their lives are very difficult. They continue to be challenged again and again. I encourage you to follow the news to keep abreast of their situation and difficulties, as these stories are not always “front page news”.
A few positive notes I can report:
Following the July earthquake, this congregation and other community members were able to raise almost $15,000 in two short weeks. This amount was part of a much greater donation of $250,000, contributed by Methodist congregations directly to the United Methodist Church of Haiti. That money has been used to provide regular food shipments and water filters and make critical repairs to damaged buildings in the affected areas. David Draeger is expecting an additional grant from UMCOR any day now, in the amount of $95,000, earmarked for both medical relief and reconstruction. Additional funds are continuing to flow in, and our congregation will continue to support UMH efforts in Haiti as we are able, always with your help.
Our friends in the village of Sobier are doing well, mostly because of their self-reliance and ability to live off the land, although costs for rice, flour, oil and other staples are very high due to short supply. Their peanut crops are growing well, reported through our interpreter Caz, and harvest should happen next month. We pray that fuel will be available to get these crops to market, as they are an important source of income and will provide funding for the next planting. And Caz’ baby daughter, Bryanrich Caz Souffrant, who was born in August, is doing well and growing with her family and siblings.
I am ever grateful for David and Caz, as direct conduits to the Haitian people, always alerting us of their needs and making sure our funds go where they are most useful. With the challenges of teams not being able to visit Haiti now and in the foreseeable future, these funds will be more greatly needed, as the UMH moves from disaster relief to rebuilding, prioritizing local Methodist schools. Please join me in continuing to pray for our Haitian brothers and sisters, and supporting the efforts of the United Methodist Church of Haiti in their relief. Our online giving portal is always available, or checks can be made out to the church with “Haiti Mission Team” in the memo line. Thank you.
September 2021, From David Draeger – EMH Mission Volunteer Coordinator:
“Things can get busy and time seems to fly by. Other NGOs are becoming active. I see food convoys from USAID making deliveries to both Cayes and Jeremie. I have made two major deliveries with food, medical supplies and temporary shelter materials. I have a third planned for early next week.
Rescue operations have been completed. Relief operations are in full gear. Activity is being paced by delivery of funds. Thus far we have received over $100,000 with another in the pipeline. I am aware of more potential funds as groups throughout the US are doing fund raising. We received a $10,000 solidarity grant from UMCOR and I am working on a grant proposal for more.
Thus far supply of critical items such as food and medical supplies have been adequate. Sometimes we may have to make multiple stops to multiple vendors to acquire what we need but generally are successful. Money is still the best way to support the effort.
Security remains a major issue. Attempted kidnappings and robberies have increased in the past several weeks. Delivery by truck is problematic. The gangs at Martissant have gone back to their normal mode of frequent roadblocks, shootings and kidnappings. I am still able to travel to Les Cayes and Jeremie by getting up and on the road by 4:00 am when most of the bad guys are sleeping. Returning in the afternoon or evening is still a major issue. We have to spend the night at someplace like Petite Goave and be on the road by 3:00 am in order to clear Martissant. Unfortunately Martissant is a singular pinch point in the road and there is no way to avoid it. The gangs of course know this which is why they are where they are.
The relief phase will realistically last for the next six months and items like food and medical supplies will still be required. Regular and consistent donations are certainly appreciated.
The recovery phase is just beginning as home owners and organizations like the church are figuring out what is required and starting to make repairs. Derly Charles, the engineer that served us well during the 2010 earthquake, is now on the payroll for the next three months. He and his colleagues have just started to develop plans and budgets so that we may prioritize work.
With the current global attitudes toward contributing to repairs projects, I suspect that the recovery phase for this event will take decades if not generations to accomplish. I am still optimistic that with God’s help we can make positive progress. Limited funds have been received and work is beginning on repairing the security walls at the Les Cayes manse and the Jeremie Guesthouse.”
August 17, 2021: Over the weekend, Haiti was hit by a magnitude 7.2 earthquake that crumbled homes and buildings and killed more than 1,400 people to date. Our prayers are with Haiti once again during this natural disaster. We pray for God’s peace for the people and country, and also for those with whom we have a personal connection: Caz Souffrant, a member of our support team in Haiti, has lost family members in this tragic event.
We stand ready to take action to help. Through our on-going relationship with David Draeger, mission volunteer coordinator for the Methodist Church in Haiti, First UMC is in a unique position to get much-needed funds directly into the hands of those who can use it today.
Because the roads are impassable due to major landslides, the local team will be chartering planes to fly critical supplies in, including necessary parts for water filtration systems. Donate now to help: https://app.clovergive.com/app/giving/clodo-santamonicaumc, select Haiti Mission Donation in the dropdown menu.
Todd Erlandson and our Haiti Team welcome your questions and thoughts. We will be posting updates as they become available.
April 2021: Pennies for Peanuts Update
Lots of great progress is being made in the village of Sobier, and the peanut planting process is in full swing! Over the last two weeks, teams were hired to clear and prepare ten plots of land around the village. Each field is roughly 20 x 40 meters, or 60 x 120 feet, which is quite a bit larger than we first imagined! This week we have sent funds for fertilizer and seed to get the planting started. In the spirit of Easter, green shoots will soon be rising up form the rich earth! We hope to have some drone images soon to help us all understand the full scope and scale of the progress.
You may have heard that Northwest Haiti has lately been hit by heavy rains which has caused extensive flooding. Several of the Haitian Methodist congregations in the region have been severely affected and the number of people displaced by the flood waters has grown to 5,000. Hundreds of homes have been damaged as well as crops and livestock. Because of your generosity in exceeding our targets for the Pennies for Peanuts campaign, our congregation has been able to send relief funds in support of the flood victims. Thanks to Michael Kelly and the Heart of Hollywood Foundation for joining us in this support, along with UMCOR. Luckily, although they got lots of rain, our friends in Sobier have not been affected by the flooding. This should be good for the peanuts!
Haiti Mission Update: Pennies for Peanuts!
As reported in the December issue of the Sentinel, the Haiti Mission Team and our in-country team of Caz, Jakob and Osnel, have learned that peanuts are a valuable cash crop that requires little water to maintain. Our plan is to supply select families with resources for preparing the land, fertilizer and seed to grow a crop of peanuts that will be sold for profit and used to prepare the crops for the next season. We have about half the funds required for this project currently. We are running our “Pennies for Haiti” campaign in February, asking for continued donations from the congregation, friends and neighbors to raise the additional funds.
Tune in on Sunday, February 21 during the 10 a.m. Online Worship Service as Haiti Team leader Todd Erlandson presents a Moment for Mission, kicking off the Pennies for Peanuts fundraiser. To donate, click on Give Online at the top of this page. Select “Haiti – Pennies for Peanuts” in the drop-down menu on the donation page. Thank you for your support!
Pennies for Peanuts runs through Sunday, March 7.
As you all know, we have not been able to travel to Haiti recently, but we have been using earmarked funds to support the people of Sobier, most recently in the form of monthly food relief.
We will continue our supply of food in November and December, but meetings between our in-country team and the community have identified an idea to help them to be more self-sufficient going forward.
Through research, we have learned that peanuts are a valuable cash crop that requires little water to maintain. Our plan is to supply select families with resources for preparing the land, fertilizer and seed to grow a crop of peanuts that will be sold for profit and used to prepare the crops for the next season.
We have about half the funds required for this project currently. We intend to run our Pennies for Haiti campaign in the new year, asking for continued donations from the congregation, friends and neighbors to raise the additional funds.
We are so grateful to all of you who have donated to Haiti relief through FUMC in the past. Please continue to keep the people of Haiti, and our in-country team, Caz, Jakob and Osnel, in your thoughts and prayers. – Todd Erlandson
Update as published in the September 2020 Sentinel Newsletter
As reported in the August Sentinel by Todd Erlandson, Haiti Team Leader, a large food shipment to the Haitian town of Sobier was made possible from the funds raised by Pennies for Haiti. Since his last update, an additional $3k was raised by the congregation, making possible the next month’s food drop, with an additional three more months planned ahead. Flour and sugar have been added to the food package, along with oil, canned salmon, spaghetti and rice. Thank you to all who donated towards the Haiti relief effort!
Update as published in the August 2020 Sentinel Newsletter
Haiti Mission Update
by Todd Erlandson, Haiti Team Leader
As many of you remember, back in February we launched our annual “Pennies for Haiti” fundraiser intending to purchase fifteen goats for the community of Sobier, in lieu of our annual Haiti work team, which was cancelled due to social unrest.
What we did not know, as we prepared to wire funds in March, was that Haiti was suffering as we were from the effects of the Covid 19 pandemic. Mandatory “shelter in place” rules from the government directed people to retreat to their homes. As people rushed to the market, stocking up on supplies for their families, prices skyrocketed and reserves dried up, leaving many locked in their houses with nothing to eat, creating great need.
Through direction from our Haitian support team, we were able to pivot from the purchase of goats to the more immediate need of getting food relief to the people of Sobier. With the available funds we were able to provide 35 families with food packages to support them for the short term.
This past month former mission volunteers in our congregation, with support of church leadership and the Mission Council, have identified reserves earmarked for Haiti relief, and have committed a portion of these funds for continued food drops. Last week our in-country team delivered more food to supply 50 families with staples such as rice, oil and canned food, enough to last them up to three weeks. [See photos below shared by Caz Cardiny.] These 50 families surround the center of the community of Sobier, a location and population that so many of us are familiar with. We intend to continue this food aid support monthly with the available funds, and we welcome additional donations if you are so moved.
[Give Online Here]
We are so grateful to all of you who have donated to Haiti relief through First UMC in the past. Your generosity has built these available funds. I would also like to offer great thanks to our in-country team: Caz Cardiny, our interpreter, Jacob Jean Claude, our generous host in Sobier, and Osnel Louis, the local church lay leader. They are tireless in their care for the community – collecting funds, renting vehicles, purchasing and delivering food and calmly and safely distributing to those most in need. We could not do it without them. Please think of them as they risk health and safety, and keep them in your prayers.
This week’s #ThankfulThursday reaches all the way to the tiny rural village of Sobier (pronounced soh-bee-aye), Haiti. 🏝️
Several days ago our contact and guide, Caz, along with his team, distributed food kits to 50 local families. These food kits were made possible by your continued support, prayers and gifts. 🙏
This Sunday, we welcome Todd Erlandson, Haiti Service Team co-leader, as he shares updates on our Haitian brothers and sisters during worship service. Tune in at 10 a.m. on Facebook live or our YouTube channel.
Update March 2020
by Nathan Oney, Pastoral Associate
Goats are the G.O.A.T.!
Goats! Many in the LA area may know them as adorable little parkour artists, yoga assistants, or Taylor Swift impersonators, but did you know that goats are actually great farm animals? Each of the last several years, our church, with the help of friends and family, has collected spare change and other donations in a program we call Pennies for Haiti. The funds that we raise are used to purchase baby goats (also called ‘kids’) for our Hatian siblings who live in the remote village of Sobier. These goats serve as an investment in the families and economy of the region, and are a great tool for helping families escape systemic generational poverty. But what is it about these square-pupiled, bearded beasts that makes them such great gifts?
- Goats can produce up to four gallons of milk per day! This can also be used to produce cheese, butter, and soap. They provide nourishment, and the excess can be sold for income!
- Goats are excellent agricultural experts! They help crops to grow by clearing land, eating weeds, and providing fertilizer (you know what this means…).
- Goats are very sanitary. They eat almost anything, so they can help with the cleaning! Do your kids do that? Do they?
- Goats can carry loads, and even pull small plows!
- Goat hair can be used to create clothing and other fabrics.
- And they are great for children! Are you reading, kids? They are playful and make great pets!
- Okay, stop reading, children. Goats can also be used for their nutritious meat and in the production of leather. Every stage of the life cycle is filled with benefits. Goats really are the G.O.A.T.!
This year, since we are unable to send a team to Haiti, we have set ourselves a lofty goal of raising funds to supply a boat-load of goats, literally. (They are transported to Sobier by water, and the boat can hold 20 goats). Our fundraising will begin Sunday, March 8 and will continue through March 22, so bring your change and look for the orange “pennies for Haiti” buckets in the Narthex and Simkins Hall. Feel free to drop a check in the bucket as well or give online. Thank you for your gifts!
Update November 2019
by Nathan Oney, Pastoral Associate
Love for Haiti
As the Christmas season comes upon us and we begin to fix in our minds those who are in need of hope, we encourage you to be in prayer for the people of Haiti. Due to an ongoing political crisis, the country faces severe food and medicine shortages, the Guest House has ceased operations, and UMVIM is no longer supporting Haiti as a mission destination due to the risk of violence. For these reasons, we will be unable to return to our Haitian siblings in the near future. We do not know when the situation will change, and it is difficult to receive accurate, up-to-date information. Because of this congregation’s heart for Haiti, we are currently seeking ways to support the people in this hour of dire need, including partnering with other Methodist churches in creating a temporary relief fund with support and oversight of organizations on the ground. Our prayer is that the leaders of the country bring a swift end to the crisis for the sake of the people.
Update July 2019
Construction Continues in Haiti!
Thank you to everyone for your continued interest in and support of our mission to our siblings in Haiti. As you probably know, we suspended our trip to Haiti earlier this year on account of civil unrest do to protests against government corruption. Instead, we made a contribution to our continuing support of the community of Sobier by the purchase of goats for economic development and toward additional construction needed for their medical clinic. The funds reached the community (hope you saw the pictures of the goats!), and they have begun construction on the medical supply storage depot. This construction is facing challenges as the transportation infrastructure is still stressed by the continuing protests and some violent clashes in the Haitian capital. The village of Sobier sends its thanks. Please continue to be in prayer for Haiti.
Update: June 2019
Pennies for Haiti Update: Thank You!
In Early May, our guide “Caz” Cardiny purchased 15 goats at the local goat market in Haiti using the funds raised during our Pennies for Haiti fundraiser. The goats were transported by motorcycle, boat, and by foot to the village of Sobier and were distributed to the most needy families in the community, as determined jointly by our team host Jakob, Caz and the lay pastor of the local church, Osnel. By the pictures sent by Caz, it appears the goats are happy, healthy and secure with their new owners. Blessings and thanks to all who contributed to their purchase.
Update: November 2019
by Nathan Oney, Pastoral Associate
Dear Friends and Valued Donors,
Thank you so much for your support of Haiti through your donation to First United Methodist Church Santa Monica missions. Your giving has made a material difference in the lives of the Haitian people at a time of deep need. As you may know, we postponed our trip this year due to civil unrest and protests against the government, which paralyzed travel and the movement of critical goods and supplies in the country, inhibited our ability to do our work in the remote village of Sobier, and would have exposed us to an undue amount of risk.
The civil unrest–a response by the people to governmental corruption in Haiti–has once again created a situation of great need across the country, just as earthquakes and hurricanes have done in the past. With prayerful consideration, we have determined to use funds you donated this year to support organizations in Haiti that help bring relief to the people, and which foster ongoing relationships
between our church and the people of Haiti in our absence: the Methodist Guest House, which is instrumental in coordinating missions teams across the country; and construction and supplies for the Sobier Medical Clinic, which will now begin operating. Additional donations through our Pennies for Haiti campaign have also made it possible for us to purchase a number of goats for the people of Sobier, which will serve as a much-needed investment in the future of the Haitian people.
The Sobier Clinic has finished construction on the main building, but we are now beginning work on a secure storage facility for the highly valuable medicines, supplies and generators that the clinic uses for its operations. With these donations, you have helped some of the most important missional organizations maintain their operations of serving the people of Haiti through what would otherwise be a devastating disruption. Going forward, our teams and others will be able to help the Haitian people turn this clinic into a beacon of hope for the surrounding communities.
We pray that the government of Haiti keeps its word on the reforms that it has promised its people, for the sake of their prosperity, and so that we might go to them again in the future. Our commitment to the people of Haiti continues, and we thank you so much for your support on their behalf this year.
Update: February 2019
Haiti Service Trip Postponed – Donations Still Needed
Sunday, February 17, 2019
It is with great disappointment that we will be indefinitely postponing the Haiti service trip. Based on advisories from the US State Dept., news reports, and conversations with people on the ground in Haiti, we have concluded that travel would be unsafe at this time. Additionally, our ability to complete our mission of serving the village of Sobier would be greatly diminished by current events; in fact, our presence might even be more harmful than helpful. We are committed to exploring other options as we continue to find ways to support our brothers and sisters in Haiti.
At this time, we’d like everyone to continue to pray for the country and people of Haiti, along with the missionaries who are there now as they return to the States.
In the meantime, we will continue to raise money for Pennies for Haiti. The Haitian people need our help now more than ever, and we want them to know that we have not abandoned them, but are continuing our commitment to help them, even as the mode of that help changes.
Mission is not merely something we do; it is also who we are as a Christian people. It is an attitude that we bring to the world as an outpouring of the grace of God within us as the Body of Christ. We pray that we all carry this stirring of the spirit into our daily lives, our workplaces, our relationships.
For questions please contact Nathan Oney firstname.lastname@example.org.
Rev. Patricia Farris helped collect Pennies for Haiti at the Haiti Fundraiser Dinner Party on Saturday, January 26th. Enough money was raised to purchase 13 goats that will be given to the neediest families during the upcoming service trip. Livestock are an essential source of income and insurance for the families that are fortunate enough to own them.
In 2010, a devastating magnitude 7.0 earthquake crippled the impoverished country of Haiti. As we witnessed the devastation of the earthquake, our congregation heard a call to be in an ongoing mission partnership with the Haitian people. Since then we have sent a team annually from our church to be in service to a Haitian community. In the fall of 2016 the country was devastated by Hurricane Matthew. Haiti remains the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere. Many live without clean water or adequate sanitation. They still need our help.
In collaboration with Haitian Methodist partners, our efforts thus far have made tangible progress in rebuilding churches, clinics, schools and homes. We believe that our biggest impact in the rebuilding effort in Haiti, however, is in giving hope and building relationships with our fellow Haitian brothers and sisters in Christ. Some team members go for the first time and others have returned for their third or fourth mission to continue their own spiritual growth and to be of service.
2018 Haiti Mission Team Report Back
The 2018 team consisted of: Grace Cho, Charity Goldberg, Katie Goldstein, Mahetzi Hernandez, Glenda Martinez, Michael Olsson, John Pfister, and leaders Todd & Sherry Erlandson. At the Report Back luncheon, each spoke of their own personal impressions on the trip, while also describing the continued improvements made in their work team efforts. Working together with Église Methodiste d’Haiti (United Methodist Church of Haiti), and Michael Kelly at Hollywood UMC, the building of the medical clinic in Sobiér that has been in progress for the last three trips is close to completion. For the first time this year, the local men who have been training on the building sites are now leading the projects, rather than working under outside hired crews. The team delivered suitcases full of school supplies for the children (75% of Haitian children go to school), and 600 toothbrushes were distributed to local women for their families. Following last year’s effort to purchase goats for the neediest families of the village, this year 10 more goats were purchased with the money raised from the Pennies for Haiti fundraiser, and given to 10 more families. Last year’s goats are thriving and multiplying. This is one of the most tangible ways to bring income and relief and to the families there.
Aside from the hard work being done, each team member was clearly touched by the spirit and people of Haiti. Every day after work, Sherry Erlandson would gather the team to talk about their impressions of their day, and in prayer and reflection, the First UMC Lenten Devotional was read out loud and discussed. Each team member relayed that in spite of the hardship and need in Haiti, the presence of God was clearly evident in the beauty and nature of the environment, and the spirit and grace found in the many moments experienced during the trip.
View select photos from the 2018 team.
A Look Back: 2017 Haiti Mission Trip
Every Penny Counts!
During the trip at the Sunday Worship Service, the Haiti Work Team learned that Hurricane Matthew claimed some of the goats in the village of Sobier. Livestock are an essential source of income and insurance for the families that are fortunate enough to own them. With Pastor Robert’s guidance, the team unanimously voted to use the donations raised ($400) from Pennies for Haiti to purchase female goats. With the help of a few church and community leaders, a goat was given to eleven of the neediest families of Sobier. The team witnessed firsthand how every penny really does make a difference. Thank you for your donations!
The team met a British doctor at the Methodist Guest House who has served in Haiti for many, many years. He showed them an inexpensive and very doable way to purify water for drinking. It’s so simple, yet so effective. You put your water in a clear, non-colored plastic water bottle, seal it tight, leave it under the morning sun for some time. The sunlight itself purifies the water, making it safe to drink.
The women of our team wanted to share this life-giving approach with the women of Sobier. With the help of the lay leader and translator, they gathered at the Catholic church and our women developed a rapport with them, gained their trust, demonstrated this process, leaving behind an incredible gift—water they can use for cooking and drinking. No cost. No fancy equipment. Potable water.
But that’s not the whole story, as I heard it told. It wasn’t just about “us” doing something for “them.” It’s a story about breaking down the language and cultural and racial barriers that might have separated them. It’s a story about new relationships of love and trust beginning to form. It’s a story about life-giving water welling up in the hearts and souls of our team members who discovered within themselves new sources of strength and faith and hope that they had not thought possible.”
-Rev. Patricia Farris, 3/19/17 Sermon
To say that the 2017 Haiti Mission Trip was an incredible experience is an understatement. The Work Team witnessed firsthand how far your financial support went in the rural village of Sobier, which is located approximately 3 hours south of Port-au-Prince. We personally handed out the healthy snacks, clothes, school supplies, and toothbrushes and paste you generously donated. We helped continue building the much needed medical clinic but, more importantly, we built relationships with the wonderful people and many children of Sobier. We are grateful to you, church and community, for coming together to help make a difference in not only their lives but also in ours.
-The 2017 Haiti Work Team: Jason Beckerman, Bonnie Bennetts, Shalimar Carducci, Jan Hanley, Jim Kirtley, Dan Nessel, Greg Moul, John Pfister, Leaders: Todd & Sherry Erlandson.
2017 Team Reflections
My hands and heart were opened wider each day by the love and trust the people of Haiti and Sobier showed us. -Bonnie Bennetts To read more click here.
Haiti welcomed us, but Sobier truly embraced us. The simple life of the small village brought me back to my childhood in the Philippines, reminding me of what matters most in my life and that is love and God’s blessings. I now have a new found love in each of my team members and heightened respect for construction laborers and building with minimal tools! A piece of me will always be a part of Sobier and I hope to return there again, perhaps even with my daughter when she’s older. -Shalimar Carducci
In addition to getting to know 9 great people better, eating wonderful Haitian food, experiencing very sweet Sobians, taking bucket showers and waking to roosters. The following is the last verse from the song I wrote…
‘As Haiti welcomed us with open arms we shared our gratitude.
Working together making bucket lines, dug holes and stained our shoes
As we listened to each other, we found God in everyone.
Made time to dance with our brother and watch the children run
Sobier it’s the way to find the Joy in you.’
It was such a great experience!!! -Dan Nessel
Being part of First UMC Santa Monica’s Haiti Service team was like being on a retreat (convention) on STEROIDS! -Greg Moul
I am extremely grateful for the opportunity to serve on First UMC’s Haiti Mission Trip. I want to thank Robert and Patricia for inviting me to be a part of the team, Todd and Sherry for their amazing leadership throughout the trip, and the entire team for their grace and commitment to serving the people of Sobier. It was a life-changing experience, and I hope to have the chance to return to Sobier in the future! -John Pfister
I am grateful for the way that the presence of this building in the village of Sobier has changed things in so many ways. I love how the young people have gained real construction skills, so that now they can lead our team in the work effort. The building will also mean so much to their futures, to the health and welfare of their aging parents and young children. They have built this building with our support, and it will continue to make a difference far into their futures. -Todd Erlandson
I want to thank everyone for the opportunity to be part of this mission team with a great group of people. It was an incredible experience both humbling and rewarding.. The people of Sobier have opened their hearts to us and allowed us to be part of their lives. You don’t need to know a lot of Creole to relate to the people of Sobier, only the universal languages of “friendship,” “ faith,” “hope” and “joy.” Haiti will always be in my heart. -Jan Hanley
2017 Haiti Mission Trip – Sobier, Haiti by Greg Moul