Shocco staff preparing for trip to Haiti
by SHANE DUNAWAY
Staff members from Shocco Springs Baptist Conference Center recently visited Jacmel, Haiti to assess and prepare for their summer mission trip in August.

Buster Taylor, executive director for the center, will lead 17 members of the staff, including 12 college-aged members of the summer staff, hosting a Vacation Bible School for Haitian children at two churches in Jacmel, assisting at an orphanage during their down time and helping to build benches for the churches.

“Our purpose is to provide an overseas mission opportunity for college students working here during the summer,” Taylor said.

The day-to-day events during the VBS project consists of a morning Bible school, lunch for the children, and activities and games during the afternoon.

“We’re trying to see if we’ll be able to organize a game of soccer with the children,” Taylor said.

Of course, the trip doesn’t come without challenges. Those who are participating are required to raise their own funds by seeking donations from their respective churches or by participating in self-organized fundraising endeavors.

“The cost to go on the mission trip to Haiti will be roughly $1,200 per person,” center recreational manager Elizabeth Cook said. “People who would like to donate to support the trip can do so by mailing a check to Shocco Springs and including ‘Haiti Mission Trip’ in the memo block.”

Once the group arrives in Haiti, they’ll have to overcome the language barrier. The primary languages spoken in Haiti are French and Creole.

“The majority of the people we will be working with speak Creole,” Taylor said. “We will be fortunate to have interpreters available to help us communicate with the people and spread the word of the Lord.”

According to Taylor, the religion statistics for Haiti are vastly skewed because even though 90 percent of Haitians are considered Catholic and 10 percent are considered to be Protestant, an overwhelming number of their citizens still practice Voodoo.

“When I think of Voodoo, I think of the little doll with the pins you stick in it,” Taylor said. “That’s not what they do. Basically, when someone approaches a Voodoo priest with a problem, the priest will tell them what they need to do or what you need to give him. Sometimes that can mean the sacrifice of an animal or the sacrifice of a family member.”

Precautions also must be taken in regard to temperature as Haiti transitions from its rainy season to its hot season, Taylor said.

Taylor learned of this mission opportunity from Baptist leaders assisting relief efforts when Haiti was devastated by an earthquake in January 2010.

“Some of our leaders were in-country surveying the damage and looking for ways our volunteer groups could go over and assist the country,” Taylor said. “During the process, they met a man named Samuel who was caring for 16 children who were orphaned in a tent. He was scrounging however he could to find food for them and used his tent to shelter them.”

The story of Samuel led to the creation of an orphanage on the same site as the tent.

“When we visited, we were very fortunate to be there for the dedication of the girl’s dorm and the director’s residence,” Taylor said.

The orphanage, named Children’s Hope, currently houses 23 children. During the visit, Cook met a girl named Esterline, who had been rescued from her life as a restavec, or child slave.

Though the trip is a few months away, Taylor seemed to be focused on the task at hand.

“Shocco Springs has been blessed by God and we want to bless others,” Taylor said. “There are certain countries and parts of the world who are much less fortunate than we are, and this gives us an opportunity to give back and be a blessing to these people. We will share Jesus Christ and a relationship with Him as well as a relationship with us to help impact these people’s lives for eternity.”

Contact Shane Dunaway at sdunaway@dailyhome.com

© 2013