19
September
| 2018 |

Tips on How to Engage with Locals

Written by: Clare Marlow, Mission Trip Team Member

One of the most rewarding experiences you will have on a mission trip to Haiti (and quite possibly the most rewarding) is the opportunity to spend time in the villages with the incredible Haitian people, extending to them the love and grace of Jesus face-to-face.
Haitian Student in School
Each one of these men, women, and children matter to God and to Mission of Hope. Your personal contact with them is a chance to provide them not only with practical things like water filters and goats, but also meet their health and spiritual needs. As Mission of Hope team members talk to moms and dads and play with children in their own neighborhoods, they are reaffirming to these people that they are worthy of kindness, dignity, and care.

It can be intimidating or awkward for team members the first few times they try to start conversations with Haitians. But it doesn’t have to be! For those of you nervous about approaching someone you don’t know, here are a few tips to help you engage. If you practice these, you’ll soon find it as natural as striking up a conversation with your own neighbors back home:

  • Remember that God does the connecting and the work. You aren’t going to be judged or graded on your conversation with someone in a village. You are a tangible representative of Christ, demonstrating His unconditional and kind love to the people you meet. Your interest in them affirms their value.
  • Pray before you step foot in the village. Ask God to direct you to those who need Jesus and connection to their local church. Pray that the Gospel would spread through your conversations, the painting of houses, and the providing of goats and trees and water filters. Pray that Haitians would find the hope they need in Jesus.
  • Make your motive to bless, not be blessed. Trust us, you will be incredibly blessed by the Haitians you meet! But if you make your focus their comfort rather than your own, your conversation will flow more naturally out of your heart rather than your head.
  • Recognize how alike you are. You love to talk about your family, right? About your friends, activities, challenges and joys? So, too, do Haitians. Ask questions about their families and children. Ask them what their day is like. Ask about their hopes and dreams and struggles—we’re all in this together.
  • Take breaks. During work days—like painting houses or planting trees—take breaks to have short, casual conversations with the people you are helping or the many neighbors who typically gather to watch. Don’t be surprised if these “unplanned” breaks turn into some of your favorite memories.
  • Simply ask. If you are an introvert, rather than feel the pressure to launch a conversation, you can simply ask how you can pray for someone. It’s best if you can do it as part of your visit, but if you aren’t comfortable praying out loud over someone, find a member of your group who is.

Most of all, have fun! Celebrate the joy of meeting new people and blessing them with a smile and a hug and the promise of a new life in Christ.

If you aren’t heading to Haiti on a trip but you support Mission of Hope financially, recognize that you are a vital part of all the friendship and hope that team members extend in our 12 partner villages. Your support and prayers are the foundation that equips our teams to pursue the vision of life transformation to the people of Haiti, and create healthy people, healthy schools, healthy churches, and a healthy economy in this beautiful nation.