LOCAL

Youth group connects with youngsters in Haiti

Shawn Hardy
Members of the Common Ground Youth Group got to know boys from the Rev Home during their missions trip to Haiti. From left, standing Nate Fulton, Zach Hain and Bryce Michalsky. Seated: Luke Norris and Joel Hart.

Members of the Common Ground Youth Group from Otterbein United Brethren Church found common ground with needy youngsters during their annual missions trip to Haiti this summer.

Youth group members and chaperones on the trip were Josh Lance, Zach Hain, Luke Norris, Shawn Priest, Nate Fulton, Bryce Michalsky, Joel Hart, Eric Bush, Katie Myers, Shirl Clarke, Bobbi Richardson, Faith Richardson, Elizabeth Simmers and Abi Fuller.

Lance, the church’s youth pastor, said after arriving on Saturday, he spoke at a Haitian church Sunday with the help of a translator.

That evening, members of the group got to know youngsters at the Rev Home, a children’s home for mainly “poverty orphans.” Their families are in poverty and unable to care for them because of natural disasters like hurricanes, earthquakes and floods.

Otterbein has committed to working with the Rev Home for three years through Global Partners in Peace and Development.

Rev is Creole for dream, Lance explained, and said its residents range from 3 to 21 years old and all are still in school. Because of the upheaval caused by natural disasters, some of the older ones are still only in 10th or 11th grade.

From Monday through Thursday, members of Common Ground — with assistance from some of the Rev youngsters — conducted Vacation Bible School in the Port-au-Prince area.

“Sometimes the Rev kids would take over. That’s what Global Partners wants to see,” Lance said. “That was exciting for us and we hope to model it on future trips.”

A highlight was spending time with special needs children.

“They love wheelchair races,” Lance said. The youth group took the children to the park and for some of them it was one of the first times they left the home.

“There’s so much poverty there is no way to take care of the special needs kids,” Lance said. “We pray with them and love them.

“Our team was great, really, really great,” Lance said. “Their whole mission was to love on those kids as much as they could. If you sit, you have four kids climb on your lap.”

People say missions trips impact those going on the trips as much as those they serve, Lance said.

“I really saw them grow closer to Christ this year. Some of the guys really made heavy life decisions,” said Lance, who baptized some of them in Haiti.

There are fundraisers throughout the year for the annual missions trip. This year the group took about 800 pounds of donations along. Not only is the country poor, but everything has to be shipped in so it is more expensive.