Recently, a small team of pastors and leaders went to Haiti to strengthen relationships and have conversation about the ongoing partnership between the synod and the ELH (Evangelical Lutheran Church in Haiti). It was clear that God was present in the meetings, the conversation and sharing, the singing and prayers, and throughout the trip. There is renewed strength and vision in the ELH that was evident throughout our time together. Pr. Anna Figuero and Pr. Steve Winemiller’s previous trip just a few weeks before, laid the foundation for us being able to move through the agenda with a clear vision of how the ELH wants to position itself for the future.
Dr. Raquel Rodriguez, from the ELCA Division for Global Mission, facilitated the agenda and conversations that allowed the ELH to share the context of their ministry on our first day of meetings. The challenges of daily life in Haiti are enormous and widespread and yet, the ELH continues, with God’s help and guidance, to offer hope and healing for their communities. On the second day, we shared the realities of the ELCA, the Florida-Bahamas Synod, and the Global Mission Committee. The afternoon was spent coming together and developing our mutual action plans and vision of accompaniment for the priorities identified by the ELH.
These project plans include an immediate desire for funding for seeds, plants and farming tools as the second phase of the emergency response from Hurricane Matthew. The first phase involved funding for food and immediate supplies needed in December. There is more work being done around this project proposal, but the need for seeds before the end of the planting season is significant.
The synod has previously partnered with the ELH around the costs of repairing a much-needed vehicle, which is still outstanding due to the logistical complications of ordering and securing parts necessary for the repair. Pr. Livenson, president of ELH and frequent visitor to synod assemblies and events, continues to stay in close conversation with the Global Mission Committee of the Florida-Bahamas Synod around this project, as well as around the realities of the church and community in Haiti.
Overall, the visit to Haiti was a rich time of fellowship, conversation, visioning and planning. It was a joy to gather with leaders who have become friends due to the ongoing partnership between the church and the synod, and even to meet and celebrate the life of Pr. Livenson’s son, Johnson.
What a joy it has been to walk alongside these brothers and sisters in the Gospel, and see the way the Spirit has used the resources and relationships provided by the congregations in the Florida-Bahamas synod to strengthen and support the ministry of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Haiti.