By Kayla Pickrell, Intern
When traveling on a mission trip, the most important aspect is creating the lasting connection and relationship with those you meet and help, according to Brad Milner.
Milner is a Falmouth native heading and planning a 10-day mission to Haiti with five others to teach Vacation Bible School at New Christian Church of Tabarre.
Milner chose a 10-day mission because he likes to be able to get to Haiti on Saturday in time to introduce themselves Sunday to Pastor Jean-Prenor Brisenault and the church, as well as be there for the following Sunday.
The trip costs $2,000 per person, totaling $12,000 for everyone.
“We have a little more to go with funding,” Milner said, “but I’m hoping people will raise a little more.”
The main line of fundraising is through support letters, Milner said. The six missionaries sent out letters to family and friends to ask for money to support the trip.
The group has also participated in County Clean Up and organized “Taste of Haiti” in Alexandria, Kentucky. The “Taste of Haiti” brought churches from multiple counties together to raise funds for the mission trip. The event featured several Haitian entrees.
The missionaries include Milner’s sister and cousin, all from Unity Christian Church, one Cynthiana native from Oddville Christian Church and two teenagers from Augusta, Kentucky.
Milner is the only individual from the group to have been to Haiti before, and most of the group has not been to another country, let alone on an airplane, he said.
Avi Bear, owner of Oven Art, Inc., has been to Haiti three times to keep a close friend’s orphanage and bakery open.
“We take for granted everything we have here,” Bear said. “It’s a different mentality there, and you can’t be judgmental.
“People need to help them help themselves because that way they would be better off.”
Milner has been to Haiti twice before, once on a week-long trip in Summer 2006 and an internship in 2007.
After his first trip, Milner wanted to create something for the community that will last a lifetime. He now heads Project Cornerstone, a project with Pastor Brisenault that collects donations and creates housing for Haitians and water purification systems.
In return for receiving housing, the recipients help with the building of the house if physically capable, and pay a very small amount back to the project for five years to help return some funding to create new housing.
“Recipients will be giving back some money to bless others and not getting their home ‘for free,’” Milner said.
If the family is not capable of paying the monthly fee at certain points, Milner said the church members will work with them.
So far, one house has been built and donations for a second one are being collected.
“I’ve tried to keep a relationship with Pastor Brisenault and people in Haiti,” Milner said.
New Christian Church of Tabarre capped the amount of elementary kids to attend VBS at 200, Milner said.
Every night, the missionaries will make breakfast for the kids the next morning, which will consist of 200 peanut butter sandwiches. The church will be preparing a small portion of rice for lunches.
The theme of VBS is the Lord’s Prayer. Every day, a section of the prayer will be pulled out and taught by another Haitian within the church because of the language barrier. Stories will be pulled from the Bible to implement the lesson.
After class, Milner said the missionaries will teach simple crafts, play and teach English worship songs in the music rotation.
“I’m hoping that one of the Haitians will teach us Haitian worship songs to sing with the children as well,” Milner said.
A big problem is the language barrier in Haiti, where the official language is French, but common language is Creole, Milner said. The students are taught very little English in school and don’t have the opportunity to practice it and use it outside of the classroom.
Translators will be walking around with the missionaries.
Milner is hoping to add more to the trip. Ideas are being tossed around in the group, but “nothing has been finalized,” Milner said.
Ideas include splitting into groups of two and visiting homes, round table discussions with the youth and site-seeing.
“I want us to be able to see a little more of how they live,” Milner said. “I want the team to be able to see how faith works and how it’s influenced by the places you live.”
A major concern is the safety of the missionaries.
“Certain things have improved in Haiti, and certain things have not,” Bear said. “The most important thing is personal hygiene.”
Bear said the crime is not bad, and Haiti is for the most part very peaceful, but it is important to not drink the water, put hands in the mouth and to make sure to use plenty of hand sanitizer.
“The problem is the diseases,” Milner said. “There are some new diseases that cannot even be vaccinated against.”
The missionaries will be leaving July 19, following a week at Camp Northward in Falmouth, Kentucky, where the missionaries will lead the camp’s activities.
Milner hopes that not only will they be helping children and families in the long run, but also gaining a learning experience for themselves.
“If you go there once,” Bear said, “you have to go back again.”