Mission Trip Testimonials
I first heard about ACTS my seventh grade year during chapel. I felt a calling to go to Haiti. I instantly fell in love with the country. The people will capture your hearts with their hospitality and smiles. Their culture is so inspiring. They live in poverty and with trash everywhere but nothing can put out their fire for Christ. Their passion for Christ burns brighter. They open up their country not for pity but to share their love of Christ. I continue to fall more in love with the country and their culture with each year. There is so much to learn from them. There is beauty in brokenness
Going to Haiti with ACTS is a true eye opening, heart opening and mind opening experience. In a country that could just give up and has no reason to have any hope for the future, they continually show us that the true hope is Jesus. This should give us even more hope. I have been going every year since the beginning and every year I learn more about God’s love and more about myself.
Haiti has definitely changed my life and I am so glad that I listen to God to go on this trip. I came back a changed person and a different heart. I just completely fell in love with Haiti and all the people and also enjoyed and loved the A.C.T.S team that I was able to share the experience with.
Over the past year, I felt the Lord’s prompting that the timing was right for our family to do a mission trip together, as none of us had been on mission trip yet and our two children are currently a junior and sophomore in high school. In the spring of this year, I investigated local mission groups, but my closest connection was to A.C.T.S. through my colleague, Jeff Kaser. While not every member of our family was equally excited about the trip, none of us could deny God’s hand in orchestrating several timely words of encouragement from others, as well as each detail falling into place to make it a reality.
While the A.C.T.S. team did a very good job of preparing us for the trip, it was impossible to fully prepare for the culture shock when we arrived in Port au Prince, even though I have traveled abroad for work. The heat, trash, rubble, unfinished buildings, torn-up streets, smell, noise, and crowds were initially overwhelming. During the first day or two, each of us in our family experienced doubt that we would be able to survive the entire week. I kept remembering what one member of our team (who had been there before) shared about her first trip. When she was miserable with a migraine, she reminded herself that she was going home in a few days, but most Haitians don’t have that option. Each day, as we completed distributions of food, clothes, toys and candy at schools, orphanages, and churches, and as we spent time with the Haitian members of our team (security guards, bus driver, translators, and the house staff) as well as the children who lived at the school/house and the Haitian young people who came to play soccer, basketball, and games with our teens in our group in the evenings, we felt an increasing connection to the beautiful people of Haiti and an increasing desire to demonstrate God’s love to them. The irony of it all was that instead of us blessing them, they were the greater blessing to us. While their living conditions were horrible by our American standards, the small material gifts that we gave away did not compare to the love and joy that they shared with us. In each of the churches that we visited, the love of the Christ radiated from them in their enthusiastic worship and gratitude for our help.
One particularly touching church visit was the day that we visited the school at “the land” in the morning, and then a church in the mountains in the afternoon. Due to his stomach issues, my husband’s greatest fear about going to Haiti was getting sick while we were away from the mission house. Soon after we arrived at the church, he began feeling very sick, so we stepped into a dirt courtyard area behind the church where we gave him a wet cooling towel, water, and some medicine. Our Haitian bus driver made it his priority to look after Randy and ensure that he was as comfortable as possible, and after a few minutes Randy was feeling well enough for us to sit just inside the door of the church so that we could participate in the worship service. Later in the service, the pastor shared that one of the American missionaries was feeling sick. I was first struck by the fact that while we are on mission trip, I had never considered that we were actually missionaries! But then when they asked (via our interpreter) for Randy to come to the front of the church so that they could pray over him, we were deeply touched by their demonstration of love toward us. In addition to being impacted by the loving Haitian people that we encountered on our first mission trip with A.C.T.S., we created great friendships with the others on our team who made the trip from Warsaw. Despite the challenging environment and no real privacy for a week, everyone got along so well and was encouraging to one another.
While all the glory belongs to God, one cannot be involved with A.C.T.S. for very long before recognizing the vision and Godly leadership of Clark Shepherd and his family, which has contributed to the success of this organization. Their commitment to put their faith in action and to demonstrate the love of Christ is infectious. We are also very impressed with their vision to not just meet a short-term need with food and clothes, but to develop solutions that get at the heart of the problem by educating Haitian children so that they can change the future of Haiti, and by finding ways to provide employment to adult Haitians so that they can improve their families’ lives and the overall Haitian economy.
We are very blessed to have had the opportunity to join A.C.T.S. on this year’s mission trip and to help with the larger mission of impacting Haiti. It was a truly impactful week for our family, and I suspect every one of us will return to Haiti again at some point in the future. Here are a few of the things that members of my family learned (or re-learned) during our trip to Haiti this year:
- Material things give us a false sense of security. When you have nothing on this earth, you have true faith in God.
- There isn’t a safer place than “smack-dab” in the middle of God’s will.
- Joy cannot be bought. Americans are really some of the poorest people on earth in terms of what really matters
- Not all parents can afford to raise their own children.
- You only go to Haiti for the people!
- Electricity, hot water, bathrooms, trash service, and good roads are all truly luxuries.
Our family will be forever impacted by the opportunity that we had to serve with an organization that puts their Christian faith in action, by the dear friendships that we made with our American and Haitian teammates, and by the joy andtrust in God that we saw consistently radiating from hundreds of people who possess so little materially. May God continue to bless A.C.T.S. and every precious soul that we are privileged to touch in Haiti.