About the First UMC Haiti Mission
Every year since the devastating 7.0 earthquake in 2010 near Port-au-Prince, First UMC of Santa Monica has sent a work team of 10 people to live and serve in the country of Haiti.
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.
Each team member covers their own travel expenses; therefore, 100% of all donations raised make a direct impact on Haiti such as:
- Purchasing site building materials
- Employing Haitian laborers
- Employing Haitian translators, drivers, guesthouse cook & staff
- Giving to the needs of the local people
Along with your prayers and spiritual encouragement, you can help the next Work Team by making a tax-deductible contribution. Checks can be made out to First UMC and in the memo line please write in Haiti Mission or give online by going to the Haiti Giving Page.
Thank you for your continued prayers and generosity.
– The Haiti Work Team
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 the video from the Report Back held on Sunday March 4 in Simkins Hall.
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 medial 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 ours.
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. Iwant 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