Mission leaders plan work in Haiti

Volunteers In Mission leaders are hard at work planning for our response to the devastation caused by the January 12 earthquake in Haiti.

Many of you are probably aware that the United Methodist Church lost two key leaders in the earthquake: Sam Dixon, executive officer of the United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR) and Clint Raab, head of the Mission Volunteers office at the General Board of Global Ministries (GBGM) in New York.  They were in Haiti planning – along with other mission leaders – improved health services in the Western Hemisphere’s poorest country.  They were killed in the collapse of the Montana Hotel in Port au Prince.

Volunteers In Mission only go on mission when invited, and in mid-February we received an invitation from the Methodist Church of Haiti.  A delegation of VIM leaders met in Miami with the UMCOR disaster response team for Haiti and travelled to Haiti on February 25.  This team’s eight-day trip included meeting with church leaders in Haiti ascertaining their immediate needs and prioritizing projects.  They also looked at potential host sites for teams.  This will be a slow process in order to ensure that the delicate infrastructure is not overwhelmed and that appropriate precautions are taken for the welfare of our Haitian hosts and our teams.

VIM is working with UMCOR and GBGM to develop a U.S. based office for calendaring teams and also staff on the ground in Haiti to help with the hosting.  Teams are being asked not to attempt to schedule teams independently of this process as it will create further delays and difficulties.  Further updates will be provided soon.  In the meantime, please keep this team in your congregation’s prayers.

Article by Ben Botti, EPA Conference VIM Coordinator.  If you would like to be included on the email list to receive updates, please email Ben at bbbotti@verizon.netand ask to be put on his distribution list. 

March 20, 2010 – Volunteers in Mission Team Leader Training: A Volunteers in Mission Team Leader training session has been scheduled for Saturday, March 20, 2010 from 10:00 AM to 4:00 PM at East Stroudsburg UMC.  This will be a full session focused on traditional VIM teams, both national and international but is also appropriate for Early Response Teams (ERTs).  The training includes planning the project and travel, spiritual formation, team orientation, cultural sensitivity and culture shock, safety and health, and emotional responses upon return home.  It will be led by Greg Forrester, NE Jurisdiction VIM Coordinator.  The cost of the training will be $40 and will include a copy of the VIM Training Manual for Mission Volunteers and lunch.   Cost will be $15 to those who already have manuals.  Registration will be limited to 30 people.  Please make your reservations by March 12 and mail checks payable to “EPA – VIM” to Ben Botti, Eastern PA Conference VIM Coordinator, 127 Barndt Road, Sellersville, PA 18960.  Reservations may be made via email to bbbotti@verizon.net.   East Stroudsburg UMC is located at 83 S. Courtland Street, East Stroudsburg, PA 18301.

May 15 – Early Response Team Training Session Scheduled: A date has been set for an Early Response Team training: May 15, 2010 from 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM at Welcome UMC in Landingville.  Cost of the training is $15 per person with lunch and a light breakfast provided courtesy of Welcome UMC.

Early Response Teams (ERTs) are the folks who go in right after the emergency phase of a disaster to muck out homes, remove wet drywall and insulation and cut up downed trees to make homes safe, sanitary and secure.  No repairs are performed by these teams.  They often need to be totally self-sufficient, taking care of their own meals and transportation into and out of the affected area.  Training is mandatory in order to participate on one of these teams.

Our goal is to eventually be able to deploy ERTs from each of the six districts in our conference, each with their own, fully equipped trailer.  Please consider serving in this ministry.  If you wish to attend, please notify Helen Newell at jihenew269@aol.com  or (610) 584-4057.  Checks payable to “EPA-VIM” with the notation “ERT Training” may be sent to Helen at 954 Garfield Ave., Lansdale, PA 19446.

Welcome UMC is located at 107 Main Street, Landingville, PA 17942.