Back to Haiti for Dots in Blue Water
A group of 22 individuals left South Adams High School on Monday morning en route to the Detroit International Airport, launching spot for this year's Dots in Blue Water mission trip. Twelve students and 10 teachers departed from Detroit to fly to Fort Lauderdale for a stopover on Monday night before leaving for the flight to Haiti. The team will be returning early in the morning of June 27.
Last year's group installed water purifiers made by the local students in their science classes and various mission opportunities that presented themselves while they were there. Faculty members Michael Baer and Myron Schwartz have laid the groundwork in shepherding the project.
This year, high school principal Trent Lehman and several other faculty members decided to help chaperone the effort.
Lehman, who worked with Campus Crusade for Christ for several years, said his interest involved curiosity over what SA students are doing, his support of the mission and his interest in clean water projects.
"I want to see what our students are doing," said Lehman. "I taught biology for eights years and worked in a water testing lab with chemistry before I was in teaching.
"I know that our overall goal is to provide clean drinking water to the families in Haiti. What a ministry to them and their family members. I want to learn how to do this. I would like to carry this over to Campus Crusade; maybe this is something we can expand on so that they can do that, too," Lehman said.
"I'm not as nervous as I thought I would be," said sophomore MaJena Gerber. "I don't know what I will be like once we get on the plane. I've never ridden on a plane before. "
Gerber said that it has amazed her to see God put things together for her trip, including funding and provision for the project.
"I look at all of this and I feel like God has led me to go," said Gerber. "God has really blessed me. So much stuff has happened, I believe in miracles more than I ever did."
Baer said that group members would be following up last year's project to see how the purifiers that were installed are working. He noted that at Onaville there is a displaced persons camp with around 200,000 people in it. Several members of the team were in Haiti in April to help them get a well drilled.
"Now we are going to see what it takes to finish off the well so that they can use the water," Baer said.
In addition, team members are going to start collecting data about wind speed, direction and velocity in the area.
"We are collecting data to see if there is potential for wind-generated electricity," said Baer. "'Dots' just received a grant for $14,000 from the Toshiba American Foundation' to develop a wind turbine there."
In addition to the Berne group, a second group from a Quincy, Illinois church will be meeting the local group to work on the same project. The group is led by a youth pastor who once was an intern under Baer when he served as a youth pastor.
"There are 11 going from there. I guess you might refer to them as, Dots in Blue Water, Quincy," said Baer.
After the group returns, the second week Baer and South Adams teacher Jeff Lehman will stay over and travel to the north coast of Haiti to scout additional locations where there is need for water purifying assistance.
South Adams teacher Ashley Fosnaugh served as a chaperone with last year's mission team. Initially, she hadn't planned to go this week, but there was need for a female leader that had been there before so she consented to go.
"I'm excited about going but I'm not prepared for the heat," noted Fosnaugh. "I'm probably more experienced than I was last year but I have seen how God can use us there. Now I'm prepared to be used in bigger ways. I'm excited to see the kids again that we saw last year. They probably won't remember us but we will remember them."
Faculty member Josh Roby will also be going for the second time. Roby said that he is excited about seeing friends that were made last year, and also the progress of the mission.
"I've learned not to complain about things around here," said Roby. "If I start to complain, my wife says, 'Haiti,' and I stop right away. After being there, I am very grateful for what I have."
South Adams junior Erika Miller is making the trek to Haiti for the first time. She admitted that she is a little nervous, but she is also looking forward to seeing God's plans for the group unravel. Miller said that she felt the call to go to Haiti when she was challenged by Schwartz in class.
"I believe that we should look beyond our own needs to the needs of others," Miller said. "I have been praying about this for several months. It is something I feel called to do."
For the second year in a row, Geneva parent Mike Schwartz has said good-bye to daughter, Samantha, as she left for the Dots trip. He admitted that there are always parental concerns at such a moment, but he is also grateful for faculty members who are willing to invest their time in leading students into such projects.
"I think it's great that we have a staff and teachers that are willing to expose the kids to world," observed Schwartz. "Humanitarian efforts like this have such a special way of teaching students' lives for a lifetime. I'm excited to hear about what all Samantha will tell me about after she has been there the second year. I learned a lot from all that she told me last year. I benefit from it, too."
"Those kids win a permanent place in your heart," said Samantha Schwartz of her anticipation for this year's project. "I'm so excited to see them again. And I'm excited to do more work for them. That is what it's all about."
Sarah Schwartz, daughter of Myron Schwartz, felt called to be a part of this trip based on the descriptions of her father when he returned last year.
"I'm excited to be with the little kids and spend time with Haitian children," said Schwartz. "My dad talked about the trip last year. I can hardly wait to see it."
"I know this is going to be an eye-opener for me. I always love having the opportunity to help other people," commented student Abbie Fisher, who is making the trip for the first time. "I really prayed about going on this trip. I feel like it is the right thing to do. It's something that I want to do. I've never been out of the country before."
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